Should We Pick Park Hopper?
We are trying to decide on park hopper tickets. If we decline those, is it possible to go to one park in the morning, leave for a rest, the return later in the same day?
Park Hopper can help you see every show or parade - Photo by Judd Helms
Dad’s Nice and Easy Answer
Kelly, Disney World is sure full of confusing ticket types, huh? Single Park, Park Hopper, Water Park Fun and More, Annual Pass, Premium Pass… the list goes on and on. Even Dad has to take a look every couple of months to make sure the rules haven’t changed. But don’t worry – the answer you’re looking for is nice and easy.
If you have a regular ticket (that is, one without the Park Hopper
option), you can only go to one park a day. That simply means you have to pick a park and stick to it – if you’ve selected Magic Kingdom, there’s no sneaking off to Epcot for dinner. On the bright side, at whichever park you pick – you’re free to come and go as many times a day as you like. So, as long as you only return to the park you originally entered that day.
Nice and easy, right?
But wait, there’s more.
If you’re not sure about whether you need the Park Hopper option on your ticket, don’t buy it in advance. You can upgrade your ticket at any time during your trip for the same price as if you had added on the option when booking. So if after a day or two you decide you want the freedom to swap parks, just wander up to any ticket counter and they’ll be glad to help you. But if you buy it in advance, it’s a done deal – you can’t "un-buy" it if you decide not to Park Hop.
Now, if you don’t Park Hop, that’s more than okay. Park Hopping is not necessary to have a magical WDW vacation. But you should make sure to do some planning well in advance – we’re talking about 6 months in advance.
Without Park Hopper, take time to enjoy Disney Springs - Photo by WDW Shutterbug
You see, at 180 days before your trip you can make your Advanced Dining Reservations
(if you want to make them to ensure you can have a table service or buffet meal). If you’re only planning to eat Quick Service, you can skip to the next section. In order to know what ADRs you can make, you need to have selected which parks to go to on which day.
The next milestone is 60 days out (if you are staying on-property at WDW). That’s when you can make your FastPass+
Reservations. And again, you need to know which park you will be in on which day in order to do this.
So, to start you need to figure out how many days you will be in the parks, which parks you want to go to, and how many days you will be at each park.
Next, look at the operating hours for each park on each day of your trip (you don’t want to end up going to Magic Kingdom on a day when it closes early if you could go on a day when it’s open late!), as well as any show times available (some shows only happen on certain days, and you wouldn’t want to miss something you want to see because you picked the wrong day for that park.
Now you should have a good idea of what park you are going to on what day, and what hours you’ll be there. Pre-plan your possible rest times to leave the park so you don’t miss any shows or reservations. Then pick your Advanced Dining Reservations and FastPass+ reservations to fit in around the times you plan to be in each park. Nice and easy, right?
It sounds like a lot, but planning in advance is really, really helpful and takes the stress out of your trip once you arrive. Dad actually has two tools that he uses to make sure his trips are in order: Touringplans
to pick the best days for each park, and the Get down to Disness Agenda
for scheduling out each day. They’ll help you a lot, trust me.
Dad's Bottom Line
Kelly, even without Park Hopper you are free to come and go as you please. Leaving the park for a few hours in the middle of the day is a great day to recharge for some fun at WDW after dark!