Happy Easter! In honor of the ‘Hoppiest Holiday of the year, let’s take a look at the Park Hopper! The Park Hopper allows guests to come and go as they wish through any and all of the four main Walt Disney World theme parks for each day of your pass. I’m a huge advocate of the Park Hopper option, especially during Christmas and other crowded times. But many people don’t use the Park Hopper to the best of its advantage.
The Park Hopper gives guests an added level of flexibility during their vacation. The ability to “hop” back and forth between parks allows guests to evade overly crowded parks and visit multiple parks in one day.
Who does it benefit?
Well, let’s first look at who it doesn’t benefit. Are you planning on going to Walt Disney World for one day? Unless you plan on doing your own personal Disney Ironman and visiting every park (which I don’t recommend,) you don’t need a Park Hopper. Guests planning on visiting one park or visiting a park for an event, like the Food & Wine Festival, can forgo the Park Hopper.
Guests who only plan on going to one park per day during less-crowded times can also do without the park hopper. While I think it’s ill advised to plan one park per day during Christmas, guests may get away with this during less-crowded times like November and mid-December, or during the work week.
The Park Hopper benefits those on both short trips, as well as longer trips. Let’s say you’re planning a three-day trip to Disney. You plan on spending two days at Magic Kingdom and another at EPCOT. With a Park Hopper, you can spend an entire day at Magic Kingdom, an entire day at EPCOT, then split a day between Hollywood Studios and wrap up anything you missed at Magic Kingdom in the evening.
On longer trips, such as the one my family takes every Christmas (8-10+ days), the Park Hopper is nice as it adds some variety. Let’s say you polish off almost everything in Magic Kingdom during your first two visits. All you have left is the nighttime parade and the Wishes fireworks show. With a park hopper, you can spend the day touring EPCOT or Hollywood Studios then hop over to Magic Kingdom for the evening.
It especially benefits guests touring during crowded periods of time. Christmas can be crazy crowded, as can Easter, July 4th, Spring Break and most of the summer. If you head to a certain park and it’s beyond crowded, you have the luxury of leaving and hopping over to a less-crowded park.
The Curious Case of Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios hasn’t been a one-day park in quite some time. Granted, when we vacationed over Christmas it was beyond crowded. This was due in large part to the popularity of Star Wars, which opened the week prior, as well as the Osborne Lights being in their final year.
But with all the construction and the Osborne Lights being defunct, Hollywood Studios will be a half-day park for the next few years. With Fantasmic and the tiered FastPass+ system in place, a Park Hopper becomes a necessity if you don’t feel like waiting in long lines or walking aimlessly throughout the park between your scheduled attractions. We usually plan days of EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. My family likes to head to Hollywood Studios for a morning and use our FP+ for attractions like Tower of Terror (tier 2), Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (tier 1) and the Frozen musical (tier 2). That night, we’ll head to EPCOT for a dinner ADR and Illuminations. Another day, we’ll spend the afternoon roaming the World Showcase. That evening, we’ll hop over to Hollywood Studios for Toy Story Midway Mania (tier 1), Tower of Terror (tier 2 – a totally different experience at night) and Star Tours (tier 2). Then we’ll spend the night walking the Osborne Lights and end the evening at Fantasmic.
All in all, a park hopper adds variety to your vacation, as well as a sense of freedom. You’re able to schedule dining reservations within parks, then hop over to another one. If it’s too crowded at one park, you can hop to another. It also allows you to experience nighttime attractions and shows without spending the day at that park. Most importantly, if there’s a few attractions you missed during the first few days, you can hop around and see and do everything you may have missed.