Both coasts offer the Park Hopper upgrade to their base tickets. For an additional cost, you’ll have the flexibility to visit more than one park in a single day, but is it right for you and is it worth the extra cost?
Consider Park Hopping if…
1. You’re staying within view of a park.
Navigating the Disney World bus system isn’t always, well, a walk in the park, especially if you’re looking at a long line at the bus stops after hopping all day. When staying in a Magic Kingdom or Epcot area resort, though, you could easily and quickly head over to your respective park after a day elsewhere.
2. You’re taking a shorter vacation.
If you’re looking to fit a lot into a few days, the park hopper can be a big benefit for you. If you only want to hit a few attractions per park, you can easily hop to two or more parks each day.
3. You do Disney on a whim.
If you haven’t made many (or any!) plans, a park hopper can provide flexibility. Your chosen park of the morning a little too crowded? Cruise on over to your second choice and see how the wait times are there. Snagged a last minute dining reservation at Disneyland while waiting in line for California Screamin’? No problem!
4. You’re at Disneyland.
As mentioned in our first point, park hopping at Walt Disney World can be a little…involved. While each of the theme parks are connected to another via some mode of Disney transportation, it sometimes feels like a little more trouble than it’s worth. At Disneyland, though, you’re golden! In order to park hop, you walk a few yards across the esplanade between the two parks. That’s it. The main park entrances are across from each other. How’s that for convenient?!
5. There are special events at the parks.
During Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, we tend to hop over in the evenings to grab a bite to eat before calling it a day, especially when we are staying at one of the Epcot resorts. If you’re partial to a certain event during Star Wars Weekends, hit Hollywood Studios during that time, then maybe bus over the Magic Kingdom for fireworks. Or if Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party has the Magic Kingdom closing early, head over to Epcot for Illumnations or whatever park has evening Extra Magic hours.
Get Park Wise: Epcot’s two major festivals (Food and Wine or Flower and Garden) also offer concerts in the evenings. Take a look at special event schedules to decide when to hop to the park.
Consider Keeping Your Base Ticket Basic if…
1. You’re looking to save a little cash.
The park hopper option is a flat rate per ticket, so if you’re looking to cut costs somewhere, this is an easy place to do it, especially if you’ll be visiting for multiple days and have time to visit each park
2. You’re traveling with young children.
This is different for each family, but it seems like I hear over and over that when families come “home” for a pool break or just to relax, the kids are often content to enjoy the resort. Disney is a lot for little travelers, and they may only have the stamina or attention span to visit one park each day.
3. You’re an ultimate planner.
On the first few trips for the kids, we stayed with base tickets not only because they were younger and sometimes needed the early nights back at the resort, but because I planned like a mad woman. I knew I wanted to expose them to as much of the parks as possible because everything was new to them. It was easy to keep to one park per day because we experienced everything we could in each park. Now we’ve become park-hoppers because they have favorites, and we may hit their top five at Magic Kingdom in the morning then head to Epcot for lunch and shopping and catch Fantasmic! before bedtime.
4. You’re not sure what you want to do.
If you think you might park hop but aren’t 100% sure you’ll need it, don‘t purchase the park hopper option prior to your trip. This is a non-refundable purchase, and you may find that you’re too tired to hop or that there‘s more to do in the park once you start studying your guide.
Get Park Wise: Park hopping can be added at any time during your vacation (as long as your tickets are still active). Head to the park on your first day and see if you feel the need to hop to a second park.
5. It’s your first trip.
Like I mentioned earlier, there is so much to do in each park that you can’t possibly do it all in one trip. If it’s your first time at the parks, consider spending your day there exclusively so you can explore everything it has to offer before moving onto the next one.
Do you enjoy Disney park hopping? What are your reasons for hopping between parks or just staying put in just one?