Park Hopping at Disney World- Is It Worth It? How to Park Hop

Park Hopping at Disney World is a term used to describe how guests can go from one theme park to another within the same day. Walt Disney World has four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and Animal Kingdom.

Guests can purchase a park hopper ticket which allows them to visit more than one park in a day which is where the term park hopping at Disney World comes from. Obviously, these tickets are more expensive than a one-park-per-day ticket.

Our guide answers all your questions about park hopping at Disney World. Is park hopping at Disney World worth it? How do you park hop at Walt Disney World? What is the quickest way to park hop at Disney World? Keep reading for all your questions to be answered!

What is Park Hopping at Disney World?Magic Kingdom Height Requirements

The term “Park Hop” means you visit more than one Walt Disney World theme park in a single day. Your Walt Disney World theme park choices include Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom. Each one offers unique attractions, shows, dining, and Disney characters. In theory, park hopping can involve visiting all four Walt Disney World theme parks.

Walt Disney World Resort contains four separate theme parks. Each one demands paid admission for access.

If you want to go to more than one of these theme parks in a day, you must have the Park Hopper add-on for your Disney theme park ticket.

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Disney World Park Hopping: What Does it NOT Mean?

If you enter a theme park, leave that park without entering another theme park, and return to the same theme park, that does not count as park hopping. You do not need a special higher price add-on to your ticket to do that. So, if you want to visit Magic Kingdom, leave for lunch at Steakhouse 71, a popular restaurant located at Disney's Contemporary Resort located on the monorail loop, and then return to Magic Kingdom, you are not park-hopping. Also, Walt Disney World will not charge you extra with this plan.

With a Disney standard or base ticket, you can leave and re-enter the same Disney theme park as often as you like during the same day. However, you may want to visit the Magic Kingdom in the morning and finish your day enjoying a food festival at Epcot, a different Disney theme park over five miles away from the Magic Kingdom. You must spend more money on the park hopper option to do that.

Park Hopper Ticket Add-On and Pricing

Speaking of spending more, the park hopper add-on does cost more than a standard ticket. According to Disney’s website, the park hopper option allows guests to visit more than one park daily. Guests must make a theme park reservation via the Disney Park Pass reservation system for the first park they plan to visit. Currently, guests do not need to make a park reservation for subsequent theme parks after seeing their first theme park of the day.

The park hopper add-on costs extra, but this price varies. However, we checked for a weekday in April. The single-day ticket price was $149. Adding the park hopper option made the single-day ticket cost $223. The privilege to experience more than one of the Walt Disney World theme parks in a day comes with a price.

Regarding pricing on the park hopper add-on option, if you have a standard seven-day ticket, for example, that you'd like to upgrade, the price will range from $70 to $100 to be able to park hop every one of those seven days total. The cost of park hopping looks more economical the longer your stay. For this example, the price is between $15 per day, making park hopping look more appealing.

Why Would I Want to Park Hop at Disney World?Park Hopping at Disney World- Pandora, Animal Kingdom

Since the ability to park hop at Disney World costs more, why would you want to do that?  We thought of a few good examples.

1. You will only visit Walt Disney World Resort for a few days. At this point, you do not know when you will be back again. Nevertheless, you want to see all four theme parks on this trip. For example, if you only have three days, a park hopper add-on will be your only way to accomplish this. During your three-day trip, you must “hop” at least one day to experience all four Walt Disney World theme parks.

2. Based on your group, you think you will only be at one of the Walt Disney World theme parks for part of a day. For instance, if you have several small children in your group, then Disney’s Hollywood Studios might only be a half-day park for your group. Or, if your group loves thrill rides, Disney’s Animal Kingdom could be a half-day park, also. In these cases, the ability to hop to another theme park on the same day might appeal to you. This would allow you to have a full-day experience if desired.

3. While looking at the theme park hours, you notice that some Walt Disney World theme parks close early while you are there, and others stay open far later. For example, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party forces Magic Kingdom to close at 6:00 p.m. You, on the other hand, want more theme park fun that day. You see that Epcot stays open until 11:00 p.m. This might be an excellent reason to park-hop to another Walt Disney World theme park to keep the fun going.

Walt Disney World Special Events

The theme park operating hours factor into park hopping at Disney World decisions. Based on when you plan to visit, keep an eye on the Walt Disney World theme park hours of operation. These do change based on many factors. Generally, Disney's Animal Kingdom opens earlier and closes sooner than the other three theme parks.  Generally, Epcot and Magic Kingdom stay open later.  Still, as mentioned above, from August until Christmas, Magic Kingdom has several special after-hours events so that it will close at 6:00 p.m. on select evenings.

4. Speaking of days when Magic Kingdom closes at 6:00 p.m., those days make ideal ones for park hopping. Since people without the ability to park hop do not want to use a day ticket on Magic Kingdom when it closes early, the crowd level tends to be lower on those days in the morning and early afternoon. If you can park hop, you could start at Magic Kingdom. When the people attending the after-hours event arrive around 4:00 p.m., you can hop away to avoid those crowds to another theme park. You will have enjoyed a lower crowd level day at Magic Kingdom and stretch your day out by bouncing to another theme park.

Overall, the value of the park hopper at Disney World option comes down to your group. Based on your group, you must decide whether this add-on improves your vacation. The fundamental issue revolves around how and when your group will utilize park hopping privileges.

How to Park Hop at Disney WorldPark Hopping at Disney World, Hollywood Studios entrance to Toy Story Land

Assuming your Walt Disney World ticket media entitles you to park hop, the process fails to be as simple as it used to be. Walt Disney World restricts when this can occur. Officially, guests may enter their second Walt Disney World theme park at 2:00 p.m. or later. This park hop rule went into effect after the theme parks shut down for several months in 2020. Due to that, many guests still attempt to park hop each day before 2:00 p.m., finding themselves turned away.

For Walt Disney World guests desiring to park hop, you must first enter the theme park where you have a theme park reservation. So, unless you are a Walt Disney World annual passholder after April 18th, you can only enter an alternate theme park if you have checked in at your first designated theme park, even if it is already after 2:00 p.m. when you arrive.

Theme park reservations are made using the My Disney Experience system either on a computer or the Walt Disney World mobile app. Before you enter your first theme park of the day, you must have valid admission and a theme park reservation for the first theme park you plan to visit. Theme park reservations are limited, so we advise booking these as soon as possible. Theme park reservations can become unavailable, leaving guests unable to start at their desired Walt Disney World theme park.

The physical process of park hopping differs based on the theme park where you start. The Walt Disney World transportation system connects it all. However, one can easily find themselves needing clarification. Walt Disney World Resort offers a massive free transportation system, including bus service, water transportation, the monorail system, and the Disney Skyliner.

Park Hop from Magic Kingdom

One should take the Monorail system if looking to hop to Epcot from Magic Kingdom. You will exit Magic Kingdom and take the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). Walt Disney World’s Transportation and Ticket Center is an important location for Walt Disney World transportation. If you drove to Magic Kingdom, this is where you parked. This area functions as a transportation hub. From the TTC, guests take ferry boats to the Magic Kingdom theme park. From the TTC, guests can utilize the monorail system to travel to Magic Kingdom, one of the Deluxe level Disney hotels along the monorail route, or to Epcot.

When you exit the monorail from the Magic Kingdom at the TTC, walk to the monorail to Epcot. If you need clarification, ask a cast member, the Disney employees. Cast members are available to help. The monorail to Epcot will take you near the front entrance to Epcot. If driving a car, this park-hopping strategy will allow a monorail trip back to your vehicle at the TTC after your time at Epcot.

If leaving Magic Kingdom to go to Disney's Animal Kingdom or Disney's Hollywood Studios, the bus service will be your best option. The Walt Disney World mobile application says a bus will arrive every 20 minutes. If you do not have the mobile app installed, you should download it and spend some time practicing it.

Water Transportation

Park Hop from Disney's Animal Kingdom

You will use Disney bus transportation to park hop based on Animal Kingdom's location. Please find the bus stop for the theme park you'd like to visit. Once again, cast members will be happy to help. The only transportation options to Disney's Animal Kingdom are by car or Disney bus transportation.

Park Hop from Disney's Hollywood Studios

Unlike Disney's Animal Kingdom with few transportation methods to visit that theme park, Disney's Hollywood Studios offers the most options on Walt Disney World property.

Disney's Hollywood Studios has bus transportation to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. The bus service functions as the only direct way to park hop from Hollywood Studios to those two Disney theme parks.

To Epcot and Beyond

However, a trip to Epcot offers plenty of variety, To travel back and forth between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, you can:

1. Use the Disney Skyliner. The Skyliner consists of fully enclosed gondolas suspended on wires high above the ground, moving from station to station. As scary as that might sound, this system of Disney transportation offers a relaxing time with some excellent views. The Skyliner route runs to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. If utilizing the Skyliner, you will have to transfer to a different Skyliner at the Caribbean Beach Resort stop. This process works very smoothly.

2. Take a ride on the Friendship Boats. These run between Hollywood Studios and Epcot. They make several stops at the Boardwalk area resort hotels along the way.

3. Believe it or not, you can walk between these theme parks. These two Walt Disney World theme parks are the only ones you can walk between. Disney states that the walk takes about 20-25 minutes. We suggest it takes most people about 30 minutes.

4. In case of bad weather, Disney will start bus service between Epcot and Hollywood Studios since the Skyliner and boats stop running when it rains or storms.

Disney World Park Hop Extreme Example

For example, you made a theme park reservation to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom on a specific day. However, you woke up to thunderstorms in the Walt Disney World area. You decide not to go to Animal Kingdom but sleep in and have a late breakfast. The weather forecast indicates the rain will stop around 3:00 p.m., so you decide to make the best of this day at that point. You notice Animal Kingdom closes at 6:00 p.m., but Epcot stays open until 11:00 p.m. Thinking you want to enjoy later theme park time after none that morning, you decide to visit Epcot instead of Animal Kingdom. When you arrive at Epcot, your ticket media will not allow you entrance. The cast members tell you that you have a theme park reservation elsewhere.

At this point, you have choices. You can cancel your Animal Kingdom park reservation, but you'll need to make sure that Epcot has theme park reservation slots available. If Epcot does not have park reservation slots open, you must scan into Animal Kingdom before entering any other Disney theme park.

Does this sound like a pain? If so, then this extreme explanation conveyed the need for planning regarding park reservations and park hopping.

Walt Disney World Insider TipsSkyliner Guide - pirate

Officially, park hopping may start at 2:00 p.m. If you plan to park hop as early in the day as possible, you may see a queue of people waiting until 2:00 p.m. to enter their second Disney theme park of the day. Since this policy began, guests have been able to scan in at 1:45 p.m. (not wait until 2:00 p.m.) to enter their second theme park. So, if you acquire a tough to get a dining reservation at the popular Space 220 restaurant at Epcot for 2:00 p.m., you could still make it even if you park hop. As always, policies change at Walt Disney World often, so be prepared with a backup plan.

In addition, if you drove a car to the first theme park of the day and had to pay for parking, then we have some good news. If you decide to park hop and drive your car to the second theme park, you will not have to pay for parking the second time that day. Please save your receipt and show it at the parking booths. Sometimes the best way to park hop involves using your car.

Disney World Ride Share

If you want to use the least amount of time possible getting from one Walt Disney World theme park to another, you could use a ride-share service like Uber or Lyft. Most of the time, this will get you to the next theme park faster than Disney transportation. However, this method does not work as well when going back and forth to Magic Kingdom. Standard ride-share services have to drop guests off at the TTC. However, if time is money, Disney offers “Minnie Vans” that work within the Lyft app but cost far more than an ordinary ride-share. Nevertheless, Minnie Vans will pick you up at the Magic Kingdom entrance/exit area and drop you off there.

Best Ways to Park Hop at Disney WorldEPCOT spaceship earth

Speaking of the best ways to park hop at Disney World, one criticism we hear about paying for park hopping privileges revolves around the time it takes to go from one theme park to another. We have suggested a few good ways to reduce this time issue.

However, Disney’s mobile app indicates that a bus from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to Magic Kingdom will take about 50 minutes from your arrival at the Animal Kingdom bus stop to being dropped off at Magic Kingdom. Since many Walt Disney World vacationers visit for only a few days, time is valuable.

In contrast, a 20-minute Disney Skyliner trip between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot makes an easy park hop trip. Many Disney guests utilize this method to have a meal at Epcot in the evening. Park hopping between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is an efficient option based on proximity. In addition to the Skyliner, you can take boat transportation. In fact, if staying in the Boardwalk area of Walt Disney World Resort, you could stop at your resort hotel for a break in the middle of your fun park-hopping adventure,

Animal Kingdom Factor

Another common park hop strategy involves starting your day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom consistently opens earlier than the other three Walt Disney World theme parks. After taking a break (or even a nap) at your resort hotel, you can park hop to a second theme park that offers a nighttime spectacular like fireworks at Magic Kingdom, a nighttime lagoon show at Epcot, or Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This would create a more extended theme park utilizing the park hop advantage. If you have a group with children that need an afternoon nap, the park hopper option allows them to rest and experience a brand-new Disney theme park after nap time on the same day. Many guests report children enjoying this. In fact, adults might appreciate a nap before going back to the theme parks in the evening.

Maybe the idea of a nap sounds foreign to you on a theme park vacation. How about this? You could start your day at a Disney theme park. After that, you take a break and return to your hotel. Now, at this point, you have a light lunch and spend some time at your hotel pool. Unofficially, many Walt Disney World guests stated that the children's favorite part of the vacation was the hotel pool. After pool time, you visit a second Disney theme park. In doing this, you enjoyed three different entertaining locations on one theme park day.

So, Is It Worth it?

Despite the excellent ways to utilize the park hopping option, the question comes down to whether it is worth it. No one can provide a perfect answer to whether park hopping is worth it for you and your group. Nevertheless, adding the 2:00 p.m. park hopping limitation decreased the overall value. Before you can answer this question, you must decide if you pay for park hopping ability, will you use it? If your group will be happy going to only one Disney theme park per day, then you could use the money you would have spent on the park hopper options on something else.

Will your group feel limited on your Walt Disney World vacation, only visiting one park per day? Does your group like to take its time enjoying each theme park? Will your group find using transportation from one theme park to another a waste of valuable time? If you answer these questions positively, the park hopper option may not work well for your group.

However, if your group wants to experience as much as possible in a short amount of time, then park hopping makes sense. If your group can handle visiting more than one theme park in a day, then the extra money might be well spent. If a flexible schedule works well for you, then the park hop option can do that. This decision comes down to the priorities for your group. Remember, if you purchase tickets for more than six days, the price of the park hopper option looks economical, around $15 per day.

Finally, if you change your mind and want to add the park hopper option later, you can do that. This will use some of your valuable theme park time to visit a guest service location. However, that option remains open for you. Whether you park hop or not, enjoy your Walt Disney World vacation.

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