Exciting News! The Park Hopper option will return to Walt Disney World on January 1, 2021. Guests will need a Park Pass to enter their first theme park of the day, then beginning at 2:00 pm, will be able to use their Park Hopper Option to move to another theme park. For more information on changes to Walt Disney World, please check out this post!
Walt Disney World has four theme parks spread out over 40 square miles. That is a lot to pack in to the average 5-7 day trip! How do you see as much of Walt Disney World as possible? The Park Hopper ticket to the rescue!
Walt Disney World has a number of different ticket options. Base tickets include admission to one park per day. This means that you can visit one park each day, and you are welcome to enter and exit that park as many times as you like in that single day. But you cannot visit any other theme park, even just to shop or eat.
The Park Hopper Option gives you the ability to visit multiple parks in one day. So you can start your day at the Magic Kingdom, and move to Epcot for the evening. (Or even try the Disney “Grand Slam” – four parks in one day!)
The Park Hopper Plus Option includes admission to the Water Parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and the mini-golf courses. This option is nice for longer trips when you will have more time to explore, but probably not necessary for a shorter or first trip.
Now that you know the basics of Walt Disney World park admission, here are the “Top 3 Reasons to Get the Park Hopper Option at Walt Disney World!”
Use the Park Hopper for Weather
Florida is known as “The Sunshine State” for good reason. But whoever coined that nickname has clearly never been to central Florida at 3:00 pm in August, when a daily rain shower or thunderstorm is all but guaranteed.
The weather in Florida can change quickly. What looked like a sunny day in the morning can become a torrential downpour with little to no warning! And by the same token, a rainy morning does not mean the whole day is a washout. My favorite park in the rain? Believe it or not, Magic Kingdom. There is something magical about splashing in puddles on Main Street USA. Plus rain tends to drive away the crowds so if it starts to rain, I head to the Magic Kingdom to enjoy shorter lines and some great photo opportunities!
The heat is also a big factor when it comes to visiting Walt Disney World. The early morning and late evening hours, especially in summer, are among the most comfortable for touring. My perfect day may start at Animal Kingdom when the cooler temperatures mean that more animals are awake and active on the Kilimanjaro Safari. But come the heat of mid-day, both me and those animals are hot and tired. What park do I want to be in mid-day? Epcot! Where most of the attractions are located indoors in the blessed air conditioning. (Not to mention, Epcot is where the good food lives, and it is lunchtime!)
The Park Hopper options gives you the flexibility to change your mind about what park you want to be in. (New for 2021, guests can begin using their Park Hopper option at 2:00 PM, provided they have already visited the park they had a Park Pass for.)
Those clouds rolling in may mean trouble! Weather can change quickly at Walt Disney World.
Use the Park Hopper to Avoid Crowds at Walt Disney World
While websites like TouringPlans use historical data to predict crowd levels, even they can get it wrong sometimes. If a park is more crowded than you were anticipating, without the park hopper option, you are stuck.
Another thing to keep in mind about crowd levels is that your tolerance for crowds may change throughout your trip. At the beginning of a Disney trip, the excitement and thrill of finally being at Walt Disney World may help you power through high crowd levels. But a few days in, and you may find that your patience is getting thin. Having the ability to pick up and go somewhere else can be just the thing when crowd levels start to feel overwhelming.
Crowds are just a reality at Disney Parks right now. So please understand, we are not suggesting that just by going to another park, you will suddenly find yourself alone in a magical place with no lines. It is degrees. But the difference between a 7 out of 10 crowd level, and a 10 out of 10 is HUGE. Even moving to a park with just slightly lower crowds can make a big difference in your enjoyment and ability to get on attractions.
DPP (Disney Park Princess) Tip: Unsure if the crowd levels are better elsewhere? Take a peek at the wait times on the My Disney Experience app! This is a good gauge on how crowded a park may be.
So Monday is the only time you could get a Park Pass for Animal Kingdom, but 6:00 pm on Monday is the only time you could get a dining reservation at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom. What do you do?! Have no fear, Park Hopper is here!
You make Park Pass reservations (hopefully) as soon as you book. But you make your dining reservations 60 days in advance. It can be frustrating when the perfect itinerary that you mapped out, doesn’t work out. Having the Park Hopper pass gives you the peace of mind to know that even if the above scenario happens, it is okay! You do not have to sacrifice one “must do” item for another. You will be able to do both!
Weather, crowds, and dining are three great reasons to get the Park Hopper option for your Walt Disney World vacation. But it really all boils down to one ultimate reason – flexibility. With the Park Hopper option, you are not locked in to one plan. You can pivot and make adjustments as your vacation unfolds! And that is worth its weight in gold.