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