If you’ve been planning your Disney World trip for any length of time, you’ve come across the term park hopping.
What is park hopping and do you need a Disney park hopper ticket?
A standard, base ticket will allow you to visit one Disney World park per day – that’s one day each for Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. You’ll need to purchase a Disney park hopper ticket in order to “hop” to another park in a single day.
But, is a Disney park hopper ticket necessary? Is it worth the additional cost?
That’s what will be covered in this blog post. We’ll discuss how to park hop, the additional cost of the Disney park hopper option on your ticket, and whether park hopping is right for your family.
Spoiler alert: The answer to that “is it worth it?” question is … it depends! Spending more for park hopper tickets isn’t necessary, but it’s also a no-brainer for some families. Read on to determine if purchasing park hopper tickets is right for you!
What is a Disney Park hopper ticket?
When choosing your Disney World theme park tickets, you’ll need to choose a ticket type.
The 1 Park Per Day ticket base ticket allows admittance to one of Disney World’s four theme parks per day. You can choose a different park for each day of your trip, but you’ll only be able to enter one each day. If you leave the park for an afternoon break and then want to spend the evening in a park, you may only reenter the same park you visited earlier that day.
With a 1 Park Per Day ticket, you would need at least a 4-day ticket to visit all four Disney World theme parks.
The Park Hopper Option is a ticket upgrade that allows you to visit more than one theme park for each day of your ticket. You may visit one park in the morning and then “hop” to another park in the afternoon.
A Park Hopper ticket allows you to see all four parks in less than four days.
In addition to a theme park ticket, you will need to make theme park reservations using the Disney Park Pass system for every day you want to spend in the parks. Read all about How to Make Disney Park Reservations.
Disney Park Hopper Ticket Price
The Park Hopper option price varies depending on the length of your ticket. These are the costs added on to each ticket with the Park Hopper option:
- 1-day ticket – $65
- 2- to 3-day ticket – $75
- 4-day ticket or more – $85
Are Park Hopper tickets a good value?
The value of the Park Hopper add-on increases with the length of your ticket. You’ll pay the same amount for the Park Hopper premium whether you purchase a 4-day ticket or a 9-day ticket so the per-day price decreases as the length of your ticket increases. Adding the $85 park hopper option to a 4-day ticket is just over $20 more per day while the per-day cost for a 9-day ticket is only $9.
When only considering cost, Park Hopper tickets are a lesser value on tickets with fewer days. In fact, you may actually spend more for a Park Hopper ticket compared to a 1 Park Per Day ticket with more days.
For example, a 4-day ticket with the Park Hopper option that starts on January 19, 2021 will cost $511.40 while a 7-day 1 Park Per Day ticket that begins on the same date costs $483.95. If you have the time, you could spend less on 7 full park days compared to 4 park hopping days!
The value of Park Hoppers extend beyond the price of the ticket, however, and we’ll discuss reasons that the Park Hopper option may be right for your family further down…
Disney World Park Hopper Ticket Rules
Park Hopping returns to Disney World on January 1, 2021. You must have purchased a theme park ticket with the Park Hopper Option or have an annual pass to “park hop” and visit more than one park in a single day.
Park hopping pre-COVID was simple. The Disney Park Pass system didn’t exist and you could dip in and out of as many parks as you wanted throughout a single day as long as you had a ticket that allowed park hopping. You could rope drop one park and enjoy a few rides before the crowds arrived, then hop to another park for the rest of the day, and even visit a third park for dinner in the evening.
Many even completed their own “4 parks 1 day” challenge which I wrote about Stress-Free Disney World Four Parks Challenge.
However, park hopping isn’t as carefree in 2021.
You’ll still need to make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park you’ll visit during the day and you must enter that park before you’ll be able to enter another.
Park hopping then begins at 2 PM – the earliest you can “hop” to another park. You do not need a Disney Park Pass for the second park – only the first park you visit each day. However, you may be prevented from visiting a second park due to capacity limits.
Also, if you’re considering hopping to Hollywood Studios after visiting a different park earlier in the day, you will not be able to attempt to join the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance. Only guests with a Park Pass who visit Hollywood Studios as their first park of the day will have access to the virtual queue.
Read all the official Disney World news about park hopping guidelines.
Are Disney Park Hopper Tickets worth it?
Remember that the park hopper option is just that … an option. They are not required.
As I previously mentioned, simply adding more days to your trip and sticking with 1 Park Per Day tickets can actually cost less than park hopper tickets.
My general advice for anyone who doesn’t visit Disney World regularly, especially first time visitors, is to choose 1 Park Per Day tickets.
There is plenty to do at all four parks to fill a single day. Between rides, attractions, food, shopping, and simply taking in the atmosphere, a full day in the park will allow you to experience most of what each park has to offer without feeling rushed. If you happen to come across a long line, no worries! You’ve got time to wait a little longer! It’s common for rides to temporarily close due to technical issues. Staying at the park all day will allow you to simply return later in the day when ride operation has resumed.
I also highly recommend full days in each park to fully experience the theming. Disney World isn’t just another theme park. Its immersiveness and theming are what set it apart. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom each have a distinct atmosphere and feeling. These parks are more than just rides and food. By park hopping and only visiting one park for half a day, you’ll miss out on what truly makes Disney World parks special.
By spending a full day in each park, you won’t need to rush and you’ll have time for unexpected, magical moments like stopping for the character cavalcades that randomly parade through the parks, meandering the pathways around the intricately detailed Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom, and taking a closer look at the beautiful countries in World Showcase by completing a festival scavenger hunt at Epcot.
Transportation between the parks is another strike against park hopping. Never underestimate the time required to travel between parks at the sprawling Walt Disney World Resort. Plan on an hour every time you “hop” to another park which accounts for the time to leave the current park, travel to the next, wait through the security and park entrance lines again, and walk into the next park.
While Epcot and Hollywood Studios are quite close, the other parks are spread apart. If you’re used to Disneyland in California where the two parks are literally right across from each other, that is not the case at Walt Disney World!
Why You Should Consider Park Hopper Tickets
Flexibility in your plans is a major reason to consider adding the Park Hopper option to your tickets.
Many wouldn’t consider visiting Disney World without park hopper tickets because of the flexibility they provide. If you’re visiting one park in the morning and realize it’s too crowded, you’re free to simply “hop” to another park instead.
If you want to see all four parks, but have less than four days to do it, park hopper tickets are a must. This will be the only way to enter all of the parks in three days or less.
Consider a park hopper if you’re staying at an Epcot area resort including Beach Club Resort, Yacht Club Resort, and BoardWalk Inn. Being conveniently located right at Epcot’s International Gateway entrance, you’ll be tempted to drop in for some food even if you’re at another park the rest of the day. A park hopper ticket will allow you to stop by Epcot for one of its numerous restaurants around World Showcase or to enjoy festival food every night of your trip!
Park hoppers are a great option if you want to maximize your days in the parks. The four Disney World theme parks all have different operating hours with some opening earlier and closing earlier, while others open late and stay open later. Park hopping will allow you to start at a park that opens early and then hop to on that closest late.
For example, Magic Kingdom opens at 9:00 AM most days (check Disney’s calendar for the most accurate park hours) while Epcot doesn’t open until noon. However, Epcot almost always closes later than Magic Kingdom. Park hopping would allow you to begin your day early at the Magic Kingdom and then hop to Epcot until its late closing time.
If you’re mainly interested in riding the headliner rides, park hopping may be the best choice for you. If you only have three park days, but simply have to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Test Track, Rise of the Resistance, and Flight of Passage, you’re only going to be able to hit headliners in all four parks in less than four days by park hopping.
Will you be purchasing 1 Park Per Day or Park Hopper tickets for your next Disney World trip?