Vote of the Week: To park-hop or not to park-hop?
Published: May 30, 2014 at 9:18 PM
Some fans like park hopping, so they can visit another park after Disney's Animal Kingdom closes for the day, for example.
Without the park hopper, you can visit only one Walt Disney World theme park per day. But with the park hopper, Disney World's entire four theme parks are yours on each day of your visit. Adding that option might sound like a no-brainer, but let's remember that Walt Disney World isn't Disneyland or Universal Orlando, where the parks stand within walking distance of each other. Traveling from park to park at the expansive Walt Disney World Resort requires getting into a car, a bus, a boat, or a monorail, and spending that time to go between. (You can walk between Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot, but it's a long haul.)
It's much easier for first-time visitors (and many long-time fans) to just go with the one park per day. There's no hassle with and loss of time going between parks, or need to return to another park at the end of the day to retrieve your car, if you drove and used Disney transportation to switch parks. You can just be where you are and not have to worry about crowd patterns in multiple parks in enjoying your day.
But many repeat visitors have learned to find the value in park hopping. With the park hopper option, you can extend your day by visiting a park that's open later after another closes for the day. If you're only visiting for a day or two or three, park hopping allows you sample from all the parks, rather than missing one or more on a visit. If you're trying to get the most from a Disney Dining Plan, having the ability to visit Epcot's abundant table-service restaurants, even on days when you're playing in other parks, helps many families feel like they're getting a better deal.
We've recommended that visitors looking for the lowest price and least hassle in a Disney World vacation skip the park hopper. But for other families, who are willing or able to spend a little more and to put a bit more advance planning into their trip, adding up to $60 per person for the park hopper can become a great investment in unlocking extra value from a Disney World visit. (It's currently $60 to add the park hopper to tickets of four to 10 days, $49 for two- and three-day tickets and $40 for a one-day ticket. That's per ticket, not per day.)
So, what do you and your family do? Are you park hoppers? (Note that we are limiting this question to Walt Disney World. With theme parks much closer together at other multi-park resorts, as well as with other pricing levels there, the value proposition is different at other resorts.)
Please tell us your thoughts about and strategies for park hopping, in the comments. And, as always, thank you for being part of Theme Park Insider!