Should I buy Park Hopper?
One of the main questions I see again and again asks “is Park Hopper is a good idea”. For those who might not know, Park Hopper is an add on to your Walt Disney World ticket. It cost about $55 - $80 more per person and you CAN’T buy it for only one day of a multi-day pass - you have to add it to all of the days or none. What it does is let you visit multiple Disney World parks in one day. With a normal ticket you pick one Disney park and you stay there all day. You can leave and come back but only to the same park. With a Park Hopper ticket you can start the day at Animal Kingdom, go to Epcot for dinner, then finish the night with fireworks at Magic Kingdom. There is no one size fits all answer to whether Park Hopper is right for you or your family, so I will try to answer this question by exploring reasons you might want Park Hopper and reasons you might not.
How long will you be at Disney World?
This is a really big question to ask when deciding if Park Hopper is right for you. If you are only at Disney for a very limited amount of days you might want to consider it. For instance; if you are there for 3 days I feel like Park Hopper is a must for you. This way you can do 2 parks as full days, and split the other two parks in a half day. The way this usually works out is that your group will pick the two most important parks for them as the full days, and the two less important parks become half day parks. However on the opposite hand if you are going to be in the parks for 4 days then I would probably just stick to one park a day and not worry about jumping around. For me the hardest number of days to decide whether to hop or not is 2. You can either buy a standard 2 day ticket and do Magic Kingdom completely over the course of your 2 days, especially if you have young children, or you can do any two parks thoroughly. The other option is of course to park hop. This would let you either spend a full day at one and park hop the other day or park hop both days giving you a chance to visit every park. You will not get to see everything if you try to see 4 parks in 2 days but you will definitely get a good feel for all the parks and get to ride something in every park. I would probably not park hop 4 parks in 2 days with young children, as they will drastically slow you down.
How many people are in your group?
This is another question that can really force you to pick one way or another. If you have a very large group that wants to do everything together I would not park hop. Even with a group of adults capable of moving quickly, once you go beyond 6 people you are going to have a hard time hopping. With lots of people in your group trying to stay together you are going to move very slowly. It takes time to get 12 people on the ride. You are going to constantly be waiting for them to make space for you everywhere. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t park hop you just need to be aware that it will be difficult and it will take more time. If you drive your own cars you are going to need to probably wait for the next tram, and if you are getting on the monorail you will probably need to wait for the next one as well. You are going to have to get very used to hearing the phrase “step to the side, we will get you on the next one” everywhere, and it will slow you down a lot.
What restaurants are you planning to go to?
Restaurants. (sigh) This one has forced my hand so many times in the past… Before we moved to Disney we used to get Park Hopper most of the time, and restaurants were the main reason why. It can be really hard to get some reservations. So lets say you finally got that Be Our Guest lunch that you were trying to get. Only problem is it was only available on the day you got the Fast Passes for Flight of Passage. So you can either drop something or try to do both. In this case I always vote for park hopping. Getting those reservations or Fast Passes can feel impossible. And for me, it could be totally worth it to just spring for the ability to hop. You will start to feel like every minute is scheduled, so if you are someone who wants to drift around the park doing what you want when the moment strikes you I would not try to jump from park to park - having to be at this breakfast and that lunch with Fast Passes at some other park.
What age are the people in your group?
If you have very old or very young people in your group be mindful of their speed. Really this goes for any age. Think about how long it takes you to move around and get things done at home. If it takes your family all day to do the zoo or go to the mall than it is going to take you much longer to do everything you want to do at Disney. What this means for park hopping is that you might have been planning to hop but if you have only done 2 rides by noon you will probably not want to head somewhere else yet. Or if you made a challenging schedule full of restaurant reservations in various parks in the same day, your small children may not make it and you will not only end up canceling reservations but you may pay for park hopper that you never use. If you’re going to hop then I highly recommend easy hopping only for families that move slow. Magic Kingdom to Epcot on the monorail is easy, Epcot to Hollywood on the (upcoming) Disney Skyliner is easy, however Magic Kingdom to Animal Kingdom can take a very long time and multiple forms of transportation.
If you have small children or any other person that might slow down your group or have difficulty traveling I would not plan to hop more than once in your trip. It still might be worth it for your group for that one hop but I would not make constantly hopping your plan. Getting on and off of Disney transportation with wheel chairs and strollers can be a challenge. At the end of the day all of this is doable but you have to remember how much time you are spending on transportation. Make sure the time you are spending, sometimes over an hour, is worth it to you.
What is your goal for Disney World?
At the end of the day it comes down to the kind of trip you want to have. If your goal is to see everything you might need Park Hopper or you might need to just add a day to your trip - which could actually end up cheaper! If you want to just see where the day takes you, Park Hopper might make it easy for you to go where ever you want or it might give you too many options and feel like a waste.
In conclusion, Park Hopper is a great way to make it so you get the most out of your Disney World trip however by no means is it right for everyone. I hope this helps you and your family make the right decision so you can have the best Disney trip ever!