Parkhoppers are a great idea, allowing you to “hop” from park to park in the same day. Without them, you’re restricted to one park per day no matter how many days are on your ticket. But they’re also expensive. A family of four can expect to add around $225 (they’re around $55 each) to their total ticket cost, regardless of whether they stay one day or ten. Still, I find the park hopper option invaluable. It allows me to visit one park earlier in the day even if I have a dining reservation in another park. I can also leave one park and go to a less busy park if I have the hopper option. But they’re not always a good deal for everyone, particularly those with young children.
So the question is, should you buy parkhoppers if you’re mainly visiting the park with kids? Ask yourself the the following:
1. How old are the kids? If they’re under five-years old, one park per day is probably more than enough for them and it’s going to be easier on you.
2. How well do your kids do on Disney transportation? You’re going to be getting on and off buses several times a day even if you don’t park hop. This can get tiring after a while, especially during the hotter months. If you’ve got one or more kids in the stroller, it’s also time-consuming.
3. How serious are you about keeping your kids on their regular schedule? Park hopping, in my experience, always messes up my kids’ schedule because we’re spending more time going from park to park. Invariably, one of them will fall asleep in the car or stroller. Focusing on just one park per day allows me to fit their naps in more easily because I’m not dealing with as many variables.
4. Can your budget absorb the cost? Today, family vacations are a luxury. A lot of people are skipping them altogether or if they’re going, they’re cutting back on little things that can really add up. If your budget for your Disney vacation is already pretty bare bones and you still want to cut some costs, this is a good way to do it. Adding that extra $200 to your food and souvenir budget can allow you to say “yes” more often to your kids when they want a treat.
If you decide not to add the option, you’ll need to prepare a bit more carefully. Always check park hours before you make your dining reservations; they’re both out at the 180-day mark. Then, make sure your park days coincide with your dining reservations. You don’t want to end up in the Magic Kingdom on a day when you have a Fantasmic dinner package reservation at Hollywood Studios later that day. The good news is, if you find that you need the option, you can always add it later in your trip. There’s no advantage to adding it before you go; even discount brokers charge the same amount.