Reader Question: Should I Purchase the Park Hopper

Hey Pete,

We’re currently planning our 10 day Disney World vacation. It’ll be me, my wife, and my two daughters (9 and 12.) We’ve been playing with our budget and weighing our options. We would look to get to the parks early and take a break in the afternoon. Should we get a park hopper? Is it worth it?

Mike,

Dallas Texas

Hey Mike!

The simple answer to your question is that it really depends on your needs and preferences. Some people love the Park Hopper, others can live without it.

My family loves it. It’s a small price to pay for the amount of flexibility it gives you. It’s also a bit of an “insurance policy” for your trip. Let’s say that you enter Magic Kingdom and it’s packed. Ride wait times are astronomical and Main Street is nearly impossible to navigate. You’re kind of stuck at that park for the day. Sure, you can leave and try and come back later – but you may be turned away due to phased closures. With a hopper, you can leave Magic Kingdom and go to a less-crowded park, such as EPCOT.

Here’s another scenario: imagine that you have one day left at Walt Disney World. You never got the chance to go on Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster in Magic Kingdom, or see Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. One daughter had her heart set on Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster, the other wanted to see Fantasmic! With the Park Hopper, you can head to Magic Kingdom in the morning and ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster, and then head to Hollywood Studios at night for Fantasmic!

In November, my sister and I are swinging by Disney World for a quick trip before our annual Christmas vacation. Having the Christmas trip to fall back on certainly helps, but we’ve decided to forgo the Park Hopper. We plan on spending one day at EPCOT for the Food and Wine Festival, and the next day at Magic Kingdom. Guests can really go either way when it comes to short trips. Some guests may want to pack as much as possible into their time at Walt Disney World. I’ve even heard of guests who have tried to tackle all four parks in one day! If you ask me, that’s a recipe for disaster! I’d much rather dedicate my shortened trip to one park per day and make the most of it.

When it comes to our Christmas vacations, we like to bounce around the parks – especially with the high crowd levels. We’ll usually try and tackle everything within the first few days of our trip. The second half of our vacation is spent bouncing park to park, doing anything that we may have missed, as well as repeating our favorites.

As I mentioned earlier, the Park Hopper also serves as an insurance policy. The crowds can be a bit overwhelming during Christmas. Having the freedom to leave one park and go to another offers a huge advantage.

Last, the Park Hopper plays an integral role in planning our Christmas vacation and seeing and doing everything. Looking back on our previous vacations, our plans really relied on the Park Hopper. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve changed things up intra-trip. Maybe we have dinner at EPCOT but wanted to see a show at Hollywood Studios or catch rope drop at Magic Kingdom so that we can finally ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Without the Park Hopper, our options would really be limited.

We actually used a board to plan our ADR's in 2013. Without the Park Hopper, a lot of these plans wouldn't be possible!

We actually used a board to plan our ADR’s in 2013. Without the Park Hopper, a lot of these plans wouldn’t be possible!

In summation, it really comes down to personal preference, as well as when and for how long you go. If seeing and doing everything is important to you, or if you plan on visiting the parks when the crowd levels are high, I’d recommend the Park Hopper. If you only want to see one or two parks or crowds should not be an issue, you can go without the Park Hopper.

 

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