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Robert Niles
Editor

Vote of the week: To park hop, or not to park hop?

Published: July 8, 2011 at 11:43 AM

In all our talk about Walt Disney World theme park tickets, one of the questions that keeps coming up to which there is no "right" answer is:

"Should I add the park hopper option?"

WDW Monorail

Some people enjoy hopping on the monorail or bus (or getting in their car) and visiting multiple parks on the same day. Others prefer the simplicity of sticking with one park per day. (Which also maximizes your "in-park" time, as you're not using time traveling from park to park.)

You can add a "park hopper" option at Disneyland or a "park to park" option at Universal Orlando, too. But with those resorts comprising just two theme parks within easy walking distance of each other, the equation's a bit different than it is at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Ultimately, there is no correct answer. It's just a matter of personal preference. But I'd love to hear which you prefer, and why. So let's put it to a vote.


Tell us why you prefer one over the other, in the comments.

Replies (31)

Justin Kermgard

Published: July 8, 2011 at 12:47 PM

I chose park hopping because its just what I usually like to do when I visit Disney World. I personally just like riding the big attractions at each park and then move on to the next park. If I were to allow time to do the smaller, less thrilling attractions then I would spend one day at one park and I have done that before, but like you said, its a personal preference of mine to park hop.
Nick Dakuginow

Published: July 8, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Living in Jacksonville, Florida and visiting Walt Disney World probably about once a month, maybe closer to once every month and a half, but I go on one day trips, leave early in the morning and return home at night. I have my annual pass, but park hopping to me is essential as I'm there for only one day at a time and want to see my favorite attractions which are spread out across the 4 parks. The usual WDW day trip goes like this on a 9 AM rope drop opening across the parks...

Leave at 6:10 AM.
Be at rope drop at whichever park by 8:35 AM.
Usually hit 3 parks during the day.
Leave for home around 5-6 PM.

Melissa Donahue

Published: July 8, 2011 at 1:00 PM

I know this comes down to everyone's personal preference, but my husband and I absolutely love the park-to-park option at Universal Orlando! The convenience of side-by-side parks makes it especially easy to bop back and forth to our favorite attractions and restaurants without any hesitations. I love being able to change my mind on a dime! It's great if you're only in the mood for one or two rides before heading over to the other park. This option is also an advantage based upon line length. I wouldn't go to Universal any other way!
207.239.64.130

Published: July 8, 2011 at 1:11 PM

I always aspire to Park Hop and purchase tickets with that option but end up not taking advantage of it.
Robert Niles
Editor

Published: July 8, 2011 at 1:15 PM

At Disneyland and Universal Orlando, it's park-hopper or park-to-park, all the way. But at Walt Disney World, with the distance between parks there and the transit times, I prefer to visit one park per day.

Granted, I don't spend more than 2-3 days at Disney World each time I visit Orlando (I have the no-expire option on my tickets, which is a whole 'nother question...), and like to give my full attention for the day to each of the parks I visit on those days. That means I don't see every park on every visit, but that's fine with me. I choose the ones that have the newest major attractions, or if there's nothing new I haven't seen, I just go to Epcot. :^)

If I were visiting for six days or more and staying on site, I could see using the park-hopper to visit a few things at one park in the morning, then returning to the hotel for the afternoon before going to another park in the evening. That makes sense to me. But it's typically not the way I roll when visiting WDW.

Nick Dakuginow

Published: July 8, 2011 at 1:16 PM

^ Oh, how great would that have been if all the 4 parks at WDW were next to each other? lol. That is what drains me the most, especially if we go to the Magic Kingdom with the monorail... then tram to the parking lot where my car is... then driving to the next park... then tram... but I love it all anyway.
Tom Rigg

Published: July 8, 2011 at 1:26 PM

In general I find that park hopping ends up taking up more time than I want. If I am staying on property and using Disney transportation I won't park hop. If I have my car I will be more likely to, but not necessarily.

At Universal I would definitely park hop as its easy and both of those parks can be done in a day on a slow day.

I also park hop at our local parks: Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country U.S.A. It's fun to go hit the water park in the morning and then finish off the day with coasters.

Donna McKay

Published: July 8, 2011 at 1:41 PM

I do a bit of both. I usually spend a day in each of the parks the on my last day I hop between them re-doing my favourites. I always finish up by seeing Illuminations at EPCOT then jumping on the monorail to MK in time for Wishes
Dave Stroem

Published: July 8, 2011 at 1:50 PM

I like to hop when we go to WDW, mostly because we like the restaurants at EPCOT. My suggestion to others that travel to WDW is to plan on hopping and put the money for it aside. If you want to hop, add it on to your tickets, if not, then you have a little more to get a new set of Mickey Ears.
98.21.197.196

Published: July 8, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Park hopping to me is a waste of time unless you are only going to do like one or two things in each park. For those of us who want to take our time and enjoy the parks without rushing around.... I feel like the add on charge is not worth it and it would be better to just do one park a day and take your time to enjoy that park that day.
98.196.139.94

Published: July 8, 2011 at 3:38 PM

I much prefer park hopping. Even given the distances, which is a valid concern in some cases, when those parks close, I try to hit one that IS open and get a few more things in.

Animal Kingdom closes at 6 pm? I'm heading to EPCOT for IllumiNations. Cleared out everything I want to do at DHS before dinner? I'm heading to the Magic Kingdom for more time on the Haunted Mansion.

Dominick D

Published: July 8, 2011 at 7:17 PM

I agree with exactly what Robert said. I enjoy exploring the parks rather than rushing through and seeing a few. Universal on the other hand is much easier to park hop,as you can get alot of things done in 5 hours, well at least for me.
James Rao
Writer

Published: July 8, 2011 at 4:59 PM

This vote really only applies to the Disney parks and Universal Orlando, right? Nobody else really has a park hopping option, do they? Anyway, presuming you are visiting for an extended vacation (three days or more), there are enough attractions at the Disney/Universal parks to occupy a full day, making park hopping an expensive and unnecessary option.

Now, if you only had one or two days, park hopping becomes a more viable option.

Brian Creedon

Published: July 8, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Robert nailed on the head! Shorter stays, one park per day, longer stays, you hop. Hopping is great for the longer stays. We tend to use the hopping option mostly for the second half of our trip, we spend the last few days in multiple parks hitting all our favorites. We usually only go to WDW every other year but stay 10-11 nights. The first 4 days are typically one park per day. Hopping also give you more flexibility when it come to dining reservation, which is important when you're on the dining plan.
Albino Pygmy

Published: July 8, 2011 at 8:37 PM

When I used to live nearby and had a friend that'd comp us in for a day that comes with park hoppers, we use them. We'd start off parking at Epcot, taking a bus to AK for a couple hours, bus over to DHS, stay there for a couple hours, and then take the resort ferry to the World Showcase gate at Epcot, and work our way to the front of the park, hop on the monorail to MK 'til close. Not only do we use the entire day going through all 4 parks using every available method of transportation, we also avoid the hassle of leaving a parking lot when riding the monorail back to an empty Epcot lot.
Ben James

Published: July 8, 2011 at 10:57 PM

I am going to chime in but for this purpose.

In 2006 I only had 2 days for WDW and I did all 4 parks in those 2 days and for my first time visiting WDW. I did park hopper. Sure I missed alot of shows. But, I didn't care because I knew I would want something to draw me back. I saw 1 parade and 2 shows. I did most of the big attractions missed POTC (renovation in progress at the time) BTMR, and SM. I missed Soarin and lots of performances at Epcot. Saw the key pieces of Animal Kingdom and missed RR at Disney-MGM now DHS.

I wouldn't trade that for anything. I was by myself and was not on anyone's schedule and didn't try to push to see everything. If I made it, I made it, if I didn't then I didn't.

My only regret is not knowing about the reservations system and I think that it kinda sucks that the restaurants book themselves completely full. I feel there should be some open seats kept just for walk ups of 1-3 people in a party.

I did do park hopper at Disneyland in 2008 and I loved it cause the entrances were literally about a football field apart.

I would recommend if your by yourself and not worried about a schedule. Do the Park hopper at WDW as you will be able to do anything on the change of a dime. Just be prepared to accomplish about 2 parks per day and just do what's important to you. We have made some great guides on this site and you could choose them, but I believe ultimately just go without a schedule, well, except for meals. LOL. You will enjoy the parks more and you won't stress yourself.

98.21.197.196

Published: July 8, 2011 at 11:19 PM

I actually think the opposite of what was said before...... longer stays means more time to relax and take each park at a time and really enjoy it..... so no need for a parkhopper. Shorter stays where you are concerned about hitting all the E-tickets and a few special things that are your favorites in a short period of time might be more neccessary to have a park hopper.
Bob Liebe

Published: July 9, 2011 at 1:18 AM

I think that this question depends on a lot of factors. If you are new to Disney World or don't go very frequently, I would recommend not getting the Park Hopper because it really takes a full day (if not more) to fully experience each park. But if you have been to WDW quite a bit and just want to go to the big attractions, a Park Hopper makes perfect sense!

One other thing to consider is that it does take time out of your day to hop back and forth between parks because of the distance between them. At Universal I would recommend getting the Park-to-Park because it is easy to walk between Studios and IOA. But like on my last trip to WDW I had a 4 day ticket with the Hopper option and I only used it once.

Overall I would say that the WDW Hopper isn't a necessity, but if you do get it USE IT! :-)

Mary Ann Nowak

Published: July 9, 2011 at 6:17 AM

I am a park hopper. One year we made all 4 parks in one day, but I am a return visitor, even though I live in Indiana. The park hopper can become convenient, because not all of the evening shows are on every night. I still highly recommend Fantasmic if you have not seen it, but it goes dark some nights. If you have the hopper, you can visit other parks during the day and get there for the night show. One of our strategies is to get to Hollywood Studios at rope drop -- do Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Rock 'n Roller Coaster -- fit in a few more things before noon and move on to another park. If you start at Epcot at rope drop: Soarin, Test Track, and then a few others before moving on to next park. It does take a bit of time to travel back and forth to park, but we haven't found it to be an issue
208.103.52.73

Published: July 9, 2011 at 6:33 AM

We get park hopper when we visit. We like to use it on our last day because we can ride our favorite rides again or see the show one more time.
Anthony Murphy
Writer

Published: July 9, 2011 at 9:41 AM

I am usually a one park, one day person, but sometimes I like to hop around, especially if a paticular park is open late or closing early!
Adam Nodjomian

Published: July 9, 2011 at 9:54 AM

If I stay more than four days i like to park hop. Otherwise, I go for the one park per day deal.
travis traymoore

Published: July 9, 2011 at 10:36 AM

I would never recommend park hopper to new travelers b/c its easier for them to spend an entire day at one park and experience it instead of park hopping due to confusion being a new park visitor but for returning guests I'd definetely recommend it!
KJ Simpson

Published: July 9, 2011 at 11:06 AM

I can't imagine not hopping anymore- hoppers are a must for our family. While Magic Kingdom and Epcot are more-than-one-day parks for us, the other two are not. I wouldn't know what to do with myself all day at Animal Kingdom! Once we hit Expedition Everest and Dinosaur, maybe see a show or grab a bite to eat and a drink...it's time for a swim, then off to a different park. Same with Hollywood Studios- there are some attractions here that I love, but I definitely wouldn't be here from morning til night. I do love the atmosphere here at night, though- so again, the hoppers come in handy when we've been somewhere else during the day, and want to pop in here for a fun night. I think the hopper add-on is well worth the price (not so for the waterpark & more option...but that's a different post)... :)
Anthony O'Neal

Published: July 9, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Interesting to see the way everyone handles their vacation plans.

I am a "Hopper" all the way, short visit (if you're there for 2 days, you could still conceivably hit the best of 3 parks) or long visit (take advantage of every minute and switch to another park when one closes). . .

I don't know about everyone else, but we've done three of the parks at Disney World in less than a day. I'm pretty sure we did almost all of the standard stuff.

The only time I would consider NOT having the Park Hopper is when I really just want to slow down, it's a short visit, I know that the parks I'm going to will be two of the ones open later, and I'm able to see the fireworks or parades I want to see. Those conditions have yet to happen.

74.110.28.17

Published: July 9, 2011 at 4:43 PM

I love to go to one park in the morning and a different one to eat dinner at. Animal kingdom is not open late so you have to parkp hop on that day if you want to still be in a park.
173.189.12.85

Published: July 9, 2011 at 9:35 PM

I think I mainly think of Disney World with Park Hopper..... which I would not want to park hop so much because only Magic Kingdom and Epcot are close enough for not to take too long to get to one from the other. I spent like an hour trying to get from Animal Kingdom to Epcot through the bus system last time. I felt like I missed out on stuff at both parks. I don't get to Disney World but every couple of years.

Now, for Universal or Disneyland I might see it. Their gates are closer to each other..... especially Universal. Maybe in those cases I'd say yes, but for DisneyWorld I'd rather just enjoy my day in the park and enjoy as much as I could at each park if I had the option.

M. Ryan Traylor

Published: July 9, 2011 at 11:06 PM

Park-hopping but for food purposes. Want to be able to eat where I want every night.
74.217.37.58

Published: July 11, 2011 at 8:14 AM

As WDW Annual Pass Holders, we (me/wife/kids) embrace both philosophies depending on if we are accompanied by non-AP holders and/or how long we are visiting the Orlando area. If it's just me/wife/kids we'll often visit one park as the focus of the day and then a second park in the evening just for dining, or a particular ride/character meet.

If we are also traveling with friends who are non-AP holders, it usually depends on the length of the stay as to if we recommend the added cost of a hopper. If it's a stay limited to 2 full days of park attendance AND they have never been before, we will usually recommend a hopper to maximize their ability to hit all of the major attractions at all four parks. If they are there for 3 or more full days OR have been to WDW before and/or return fairly frequently, we recommend forgoing the cost of the hopper and sticking to a single park each day, even if that means missing a park on a 3-day trip.

Anon Mouse

Published: July 11, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Park hopping is inconvenient for the casual visitor especially if you visit for three days or less. The added expense is much too high. I can see the convenience and freedom it gives to the frequent visitor, but the benefit diminishes the more you go. Getting around takes a lot of time. You sometimes want to go and stay there awhile.

WDW needs a better transportation system to make park hopping worth the hassle. The monorail Magic Kingdom to EPCOT links is convenient especially since they stay open the latest. EPCOT is right next door to the Studios park, so 3/4th of the parks are covered. Animal Kingdom is isolated. They should put in a light rail tram ride for fast access. The parking lots should stay open longer for park hoppers.

Jack Curley

Published: July 11, 2011 at 1:02 PM

I generally like to eat dinner in Epcot, so I always have a park hopper. I also use them to take advantage of morning and evening Extra Magic Hours in different parks.

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