This is a question I get a lot: Should I get a parkhopper? After all, it adds an extra $70 per ticket to your family vacation. That can really add up. Still, a hopper can add much needed flexibility to a trip that’s undoubtedly tightly scheduled already and make planning your trip a lot easier: No need to make sure your fastpasses and your dining are in the same park. It also extends your day. Spent the day in Animal Kingdom? Feel free to hop over to the Magic Kingdom and close out the night. Sometimes, that extra $70 gives you a lot of value, but if you don’t use it, it’s a huge waste. And I’ll be honest, I frequently hear from clients that they didn’t use it. It’s one of the reasons I don’t suggest adding it. So who should get a hopper? Here are some guidelines.
Don’t get a hopper if:
- You’re traveling in a large, multi-generational group, particularly if your group has different physical abilities. Hopping can be physically taxing, especially during summer.
- You don’t like spending valuable park time going from one park to the other.
- You’re on a tight budget–your money can be spend elsewhere.
- You’re a first-timer. First-timers have the luxury of everything being new. You won’t see everything you want to see on this first trip anyway. No need to rush from one park to the other.
Get a park hopper if:
- You’re not a planner and you prefer to stick to a more flexible schedule.
- You are having difficulty meshing your dining reservations with your fastpass+ reservations. This can be an issue if you book your vacation closer to travel or make changes to an existing reservation after your fastpass+ window opens.
- You want as much time in the parks as possible.
- You like to leave the park you’re in if it gets too crowded and go to a less busy park or one that handles crowds better (say, for example Epcot). This is especially useful during busy holiday periods.
- You’re staying at a resort within walking distance of the parks (Epcot or Magic Kingdom). This is more of a personal one, but I find it really difficult if I’m staying at the Contemporary Resort, for example, on a night when Magic Kingdom is open late and not being able to walk over and hang out, even if I’ve spent the entire day in another park.
Unless a client is sure that they want to hop, I usually recommend waiting until you get on property just to see how your trip is going. After all, every trip is different, and a visit you take with a couple of toddlers where you wouldn’t consider hopping, might be different with a couple of kids in grade school. So play it by ear.
Another option, and I like this one a lot, is to add it for just some members of your party. For example, I just told a client to consider adding the hopper for just him and his wife. They have three small children who will likely be in bed early. One parent is going to have to stay with the kids. But why should the other parent not enjoy a little bit of grown up park time? And the beauty of that is they can switch off, so each one gets a little free time (and a chance to ride the Haunted Mansion without scaring toddlers!). If you do this, just do it at the parks. You can’t upgrade one ticket at your resort without upgrading all of them due to the different way each computer system (park vs. resort) views your tickets.
What’s your take on park hopping? Is it a must do or do you just skip it? I’d love to hear in the comments.