Park Hopping at Walt Disney World is one of the big questions—do I or don’t I? Remember with a “base” ticket you can leave a park for a break and return to the same park later in the day. With the Park Hopper you can go from one park to another. There is an expense to adding Park Hopper to your tickets, so you need to take that into consideration when making your decision. But, there can be a lot of advantages to the flexibility it offers. Here are 8 tips for making the most of park hopping at Walt Disney World:
8. Make it Worth the Cost
If you are going to add the expense of park hopper to your reservation you want to make sure you utilize it enough to make it worth the added cost. You’ll want to incorporate it into your plans early on to hop from one park to another during a day. Or maybe you want to do a 4 parks in 1 day challenge using your park hopper. It doesn’t have to be a defined plan—you could say we are going to start at Magic Kingdom today and then in the evening we have the flexibility to go wherever we feel like.
7. Have a Car
You might consider driving to the parks if you have park hopper. If you drove to Walt Disney World for your vacation or rented a car at the airport and you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort you are able to park for free in the theme parks. It can be much more efficient to park hop if you have your own car with you. This way you can drive to park #1, then whenever you are ready drive directly to park #2 instead of waiting on Disney buses or having to make multiple transportation transfers to get where you are going. Just remember that Disney resorts do charge for overnight parking now.
6. Know the Best Routes
If you do not have a car you will want to study up on the best routes from one park to another if you are park hopping since Disney transportation can be a bit confusing. For instance, if you are at Hollywood Studios or Epcot and want to go to the other one you can walk along a path or take a boat—both start at the International Gateway entrance to Epcot. If you are at Magic Kingdom or Epcot and want to go to the other one you could take the monorail (remember there is a transfer). From Animal Kingdom to Epcot you could take a bus to the Beach Club and walk over to Epcot. There are many options, so just take a look at Google before you travel to figure out the most efficient routes.
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5. Hop for Something Special
You may want to park hop for something special like a dessert party. This is a great way to incorporate park hopping into your plans. Maybe you spend most of the day at Animal Kingdom and then you go to Magic Kingdom to enjoy the Happily Ever After dessert party. Or enjoy Epcot during the day and walk over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular dessert party. There are so many fun options.
4. Planning your FastPasses
If you are park hopping you have a slight disadvantage as you are only able to make FastPasses at one park. So all 3 of your first FastPasses will have to be in the same park. In general I like to make those for my second park. That way I can arrive before the park opens and “rope drop” the first park taking advantage of lower lines at opening. Then when I hop over to the next park I have FastPasses waiting on me. If your first park is going to be one with a super popular attraction, like Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom, you might want to consider doing that FastPass (if you can get it), then trying for subsequent FastPasses at your other park once you use up your first ones. Magic Kingdom is a good second park in this situation since it has so many FastPass eligible attractions.
3. Plan Dining
When you are park hopping you are not tied to one park for your dining reservations. This is really great because you could go to Hollywood Studios for fun during the day and then hop over to Epcot for some great dining at the World Showcase that evening. Or, if you are having trouble getting a tough reservation like Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table on your designated Magic Kingdom day you have some flexibility to make it on another day because you can travel between parks.
2. Stay in a convenient location
Park Hopping is so much easier when you are at a resort located near a park. When I have guests who book their stay at a Magic Kingdom or Epcot area resort I am much more likely to recommend that they get Park Hopper to add on to their tickets. When you are at one of these resorts it is just so easy and convenient to decide to go to the close park for a little more fun at night regardless of where you went during the day. Say you went to Animal Kingdom and you’re staying at the Polynesian. You might get back to the resort and look on the My Disney Experience app, snag a Buzz Lightyear FastPass and decide to head over to Magic Kingdom on the monorail to ride and watch fireworks. It is so easy to jump on the monorail from the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary (or walk from Contemporary) and head to the Magic Kingdom. Even Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness make it pretty easy to get to Magic Kingdom. Guests at the Yacht & Beach Club or Boardwalk get double the fun as they can walk to Epcot or Hollywood Studios or take the boat. I can see these resorts getting very popular when Galaxy’s Edge opens in 2019.
1. Take a Break
While the temptation to hop, hop, hop and go, go, go is very strong at Walt Disney World you can quickly wear yourself and your family out with all of the walking and the heat. If you are going to park hop consider taking an afternoon break at your resort to cool off, swim, relax, and maybe even nap. Sometimes this even simplifies the transportation routes from #6. No matter how much fun it may be in the parks if you are tired and grumpy the fun is hard to find. Make sure you make your park hopping investment worthwhile and factor in some breaks between parks.
What are your tips for park hopping at Walt Disney World?