Park Hoppers, should I or shouldn’t I? That is the question.
Wait……what is a Park Hopper? That may be your question. The Park Hopper option is a function that can be added, at an additional cost, to your base theme park ticket which allows you to visit multiple Disney theme parks in the same day.
In Disneyland you’ll enjoy same-day admission to both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park each day when you upgrade your park ticket.
In Walt Disney World you’ll enjoy same-day access to all 4 theme parks–Magic Kingdom park, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
So if you’re in a dilemma about whether or not you should add the Park Hopper option to your Disneyland or Walt Disney World park tickets, let me share with you a few tips for deciding if the Park Hopper option is best for your Disney vacation.
1. Is there enough entertainment value in each park, for the whole day, to hold my family’s interest?
If you said yes, then Park Hoppers aren’t really necessary.
If you said no, or fear no, then the flexibility of adding Park Hoppers to your park tickets will give you the option to go from park to park within the same day without worry.
If this is your first Disney vacation, and you don’t know what kind of entertainment is in each park, get with a Mouseketrips agent. They can tell you, based on the ages and abilities in each party, what attractions, events, and shows are available in each park and they can help you decide if the Park Hopper option would be in the best interest for your Disney vacation.
**Nikki’s Note** Don’t underestimate the time it takes to watch a parade, or any of Disney’s great shows, even some attractions can last 40 minutes…….and don’t get me started on character meet and greets! These can fill up your day fast! So when considering if there’s enough to do each day without needing a Park Hopper, don’t forget to add in these time thiefs!
2. Are we trying to save money?
If you said no, will you adopt me?
If you said yes, Park Hoppers are an added expense to the cost of your vacation that you can avoid if you’re trying to make your Disney dollars stretch! The current costs to add the Park Hopper option to your park tickets are listed below:
$39 per person in Disneyland
$63.90 per person in Walt Disney World
And because these costs are per person and not per day, you’ll end up paying the same amount for your Park Hoppers whether you use them 1 day or everyday of your vacation.
Avoiding Park Hoppers is a super easy way to save a little Disney cash to use on more important things……..like churros.
3. “Dude, where’s my dining?”
If you’re like me, you love to eat. You almost look forward to eating at Disney more than attractions! If you like in park dining then having a Park Hopper will allow you to make dining reservations in any Disney theme park, regardless of where you’ve planned your activities for the day. Which means, if there’s only one day of your vacation that you can get a reservation at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom but the crowd levels are better in Hollywood Studios that day, you can do both! If you decide to pass on the Park Hoppers, you’ll either have to “bite the bullet” and fight crowds in the Magic Kingdom to keep your coveted Be Our Guest reservation, look at dining options inside Hollywood Studios to take advantage of those lower crowd levels, or make a reservation at one of Disney’s great resort hotel restaurants.
**Nikki’s Note** One of the great things about booking your vacation with Mouseketrips is having an experienced and knowledgeable agent, who can create for you an itinerary that takes advantage of lower crowd levels as well as coordinating your dining reservations to fit your vacation schedule. A well planned itinerary can help you avoid the need to use a Park Hopper at all.
4. Will it give me the “warm fuzzies” to add a Park Hopper?
Piece of mind when going into such a special vacation that you’ve put your time, energy and money (yes lots, and lots of money) into, can be the difference between loving a vacation and dreading it.
If you like having the flexibility of going from park to park during your Disney vacation, it makes you feel better just knowing you have it even if you never use it, and it doesn’t put you into Disney debt…….THEN GO FOR IT!
So why should I park hop in Disneyland and not in Walt Disney World…….?
The Disneyland park and Disney’s California Adventure park are close in proximity and smaller in size, compared to their Walt Disney World counterparts. Both parks still pack a big punch with great shows, parades, fireworks and attractions but because the parks are so close to one another having the Park Hopper option added to a Disneyland park ticket gives guests more flexibility to avoid crowds in one park by just walking across to the other without a lot of wasted travel time. Travel time between parks in Walt Disney World can be considerably longer, which can take away a lot of valuable time from your vacation.
During non-peak seasons, the Disneyland Resort will also run certain shows, parades or firework displays on a limited basis. So you may only be able to see the fireworks or Fantasmic! on a weekend in the winter or Mickey and the Magical Map on certain days of the week, which doesn’t always fit with your family’s schedule or when crowds are lower, having the Park Hopper in Disneyland allows you to visit the shows and attractions at your convenience instead of Disney’s. Walt Disney World will typically run all of their shows and fireworks daily, with a few exceptions, which gives you more opportunities during your vacation to watch whatever show is tops on your list.
Some would also argue, that since most of Disney’s California Adventure major attractions have taller height requirements, that the park isn’t as geared toward smaller children as the Disneyland park is. While I don’t necessarily agree with this point-of-view, there is some validity to it. That’s where having a Park Hopper at the Disneyland Resort can come in mighty handy. If your smaller kids are bored with the few rides available to them at Disney’s California Adventure, you can hop on over to the Disneyland park where there are more attractions to choose from that have no height restriction. In my opinion, each park at Walt Disney World has so much to offer (both children and adults) that it’s easy to find enough entertainment to fill a day, which really makes adding the Park Hopper option a luxury.
There you have it! And while I still believe that choosing to add on the Park Hopper option to your Disneyland or Walt Disney World park tickets is a personal choice, I hope that some of my tips will help you decide which is best for your Disney vacation…….even if it’s just for “warm fuzzies!”
Nikki Greene is a married mother of 3 from Portland, Oregon. She specializes in family travel and especially travel for families enjoying Disney with special needs. She carries first hand knowledge of theme park and resort hotel wheelchair accessibility as her family always travels with her oldest daughter who experiences multiple disabilities. She’s all about the details and will always make sure your once in a lifetime Disney vacation is “practically perfect in every way!” – Find out more about Nikki Greene