As Disney World ticket prices continue to inch higher and higher, there’s a tendency to forgo any additional ticket cost that is potentially expendable. The park hopper ticket option potentially falls into the expendable category.
As the name implies, adding the park hopper option to your base ticket allows you to “hop”, or some might say, “visit” multiple parks for each day you have a valid ticket. For example, you can visit Magic Kingdom in the morning and “hop” to Epcot in the afternoon. A base ticket, on the other hand restricts your entry to only one park per day.
In the good ole’ days, the park hopper add-on was a flat rate regardless of the number of base ticket days. Like everything else, that too has changed. At the time of writing, the cost to add park hopping to your base ticket is:
- $63.90 for a 1 day base ticket
- $74.55 for a 2 or 3 day base ticket
- $85.20 for a 4 day or longer base ticket
The situational nature of this question is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction….and approach. Unlike our choosing the best value resort post where we had a clear cut answer, we attempt a “best” answer here and define it as the reason most cited by experts to buy park hoppers. In this instance, 50% of experts surveyed (18 total) say you should buy park hoppers if…
You value having maximum dining flexibility.
The idea is the park hopper’s greatest upside is that your dining options aren’t restricted to the first park you choose to visit on any given day. The experts explain…
The Park Hopper ticket is handy if you plan a lot of dining reservations. Park Hopper allows visitors to have meals wherever they want, even if it isn’t at the theme park they first visited.
Without Park Hopper, you're forced to dedicate an entire day to a park if you want to dine at any of its restaurants.
Why would I want to Park Hop?...You like to dine at one park more than the others.
If you love dining at Epcot for dinner you can do so every night, while still touring any of the other theme parks...
If you want to spend the day at the Magic Kingdom, but come back to Epcot for a nightcap, then grab yourself a Park Hopper...
If you like the idea of..heading to a different park for a relaxing dinner and evening entertainment, the Park Hopper may be a great value to you.
If there is a possibility that you will need to dine at a restaurant for breakfast in one park and dinner inside a different park...you may want to think about the Park Hopper.
Park Hoppers give you the flexibility to keep existing reservations, even if you decide to spend most of your day somewhere else...
One big reason to have the Park Hopper Option for your Walt Disney World Tickets is to eat multiple nights in the World Showcase.
The runner-up opinion from 33% of experts surveyed (6 of 18) is that you should buy park hoppers if…
You want to take full advantage of Extra Magic Hours.
Like the consensus opinion above, the idea is there’s value in the fact that you don’t have to spend the entire day at the park scheduled for extra magic hours. You get the benefit of extra magic hours without the entire day commitment. The experts explain…
You may benefit from heading to the AM Extra Magic Hours and then hopping to another less crowded park during the morning.
If you have a Park Hopper, you can visit EMH and then leave the crowds behind...The most important park to utilize Extra Magic Hours at is Magic Kingdom.
With a Park Hopper you have the option of leaving [the EMH park] and heading to a less crowded park.
Take advantage of a morning Extra Magic Hour and then get out...This is a wise strategy, as the Extra Magic Hour park tends to become over crowded.
Park hopping offers a lot of flexibility for guests who don’t like to be tied down to a set schedule.
Take advantage of the Park Hopper feature by exploring a [park] during EMH, then leaving once it gets busy.
Remaining expert-cited reasons for buying park hoppers include scenarios where…
28% – You are a returning visitor
22% – You are visiting either 1-2 days or 5+ days, are NOT traveling with young children, or want to maximize available park hours
17% – You ARE traveling with young children, want to revisit favorite attractions, want night time entertainment flexibility, or are visiting during less busy times
11% – You have the budget to purchase, plan to break daily, or want to maximum planning flexibility
5% – You want the max # of park visits, have a mix of children ages, want to visit missed attractions, want to purchase missed souvenirs, are visiting during busy times, value Fastpass flexibility, are visiting non-Disney parks, or are staying at a resort close to the park
Additional Experts Surveyed
We’re in the minority here, but we think the 11% of experts who cite “maximizing vacation planning flexibility” get it the most right.
Since our family began vacationing to Disney World on a regular basis, circa early 2000s, we’ve always purchased park hoppers. Do we love paying even more for tickets that are already expensive? Not a chance. But we think the value add of the park hoppers is enough to overcome the relatively inexpensive price bump.
We’re a family who really tries to squeeze every bit of value out of each trip – and the park hopper lets us do just that. As part of our planning process, we pick the “best” park to visit in the morning and the “best” to visit in the afternoon for any given park day – factoring in extra magic hours, anticipated crowd levels, Fastpass availability, etc. We always break to the resort mid-day for there’s no additional transportation time loss in hopping. Without the park hopper, we would end up planning our trip around the Extra Magic Hours schedule…something the experts note above is not ideal.
Finally, we have park hopped so much at this point, we can’t really imagine staying in one park for the entire day. We find that breaking up each day into two different park experiences (morning and evening), that the day just “seems” fuller and more varied by the time you reach the end of the day. You won’t find that analysis on any other site, but it’s a real thing.
Do you typically add park hoppers on your visits? Let us know in the poll below. Also, let us know why you do (or don’t) purchase them in the comments section.