Hopping to Magic! – Daffy Does Disney

With our morning and afternoon in Animal Kingdom in the books, we head back to the Poly so we can “hop” via monorail back to the Magic Kingdom. For the uninitiated, “hopping” is theme park parlance that means roughly: “moving from one park or resort to another park or resort during a single vacation day.” Well, that’s in the neighborhood of accurate, anyway. On a base ticket a guest to Walt Disney World has to decide which of the theme parks they want to visit that day. And then that’s it. You can re-enter the same park you went into first, but if you want to visit a different park in the same day, then you’ll need to have either a special park-hopper ticket (which costs a little more) or be an annual pass holder (exactly how expensive that is kind of depends on how many days you spend in a Disney World park over the course of the year.)

For a first-time visitor staying for a decent number of days, park hopping may not be all that necessary. I never used to do it at all. I’d just decide on which park I wanted to visit each day and be done with it. Of course that was before Hollywood Studios started closing attractions like wildfire and before I bought my annual pass this year. We’ll see how I feel about it when I let my pass expire. I might really miss being able to park hop after having the ability to do so for just one year.

On this trip, park hopping became really necessary for a couple of reasons: the new fireworks show in the Magic Kingdom “Happily Ever After” and the dinner reservation at ‘Ohana that had popped open when I was searching out dining arrangements. If you have ever sat down to get dining reservations for your Disney vacation then you know this is the sort of spot where you grab the table and ask questions later. Only a few places like Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and California Grill are perhaps more difficult to get good tables at than ‘Ohana. What this meant was that since our Magic Kingdom day was on the same day as that dinner, if we wanted to see “Happily Ever After” we’d need to go over for it on a different day. And that meant park hopping.

Join us, won’t you?


Posted on October 2, 2017, in Daffy Does Disney, Magic Kingdom, theme parks, travel, Trip Report, Walt Disney World and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. We have alternated between using the hopper option and not hopping. It was nice when it was included in the price of the ticket. Now that it costs extra, I think you really have to examine whether or not you will hop enough to get your money’s worth. The threshhold for being “worth it” will go up for each member of your party. Flying solo, the added expense isn’t that much. Multiply that by four and it’s something to consider.

    At a high level, hopping is inefficient in that transportation from one park to another will consume roughly an hour of your day. If you were already planning to leave the park for an afternoon break, that factor gets mitigated. But if you are taking an afternoon break, a “half day park” can fill an entire day. So, there’s a value judgement to be made there.

    My favorite thing about park hopping is the flexibility it allows. As your example illustrates, dining reservations can rope you in to certain appointments. On one trip, we had three dining reservations at Hollywood Studios, but we sure didn’t want to spend three days there! Hopping allows for that sort of thing. Of course these days with FP+ appointments, spontaneity requires more planning than ever! 😉

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    • The first time I park hopped at Walt Disney World (it’s an absolute no-briner in Anaheim), was in fact exactly a year ago when the group I was traveling with wanted to see the Main Street Electrical Parade one last time before it left WDW “forever” (we’ll see if that holds up). While I was happy to upgrade my ticket to go along with the crowd, it’s probably not something I would have done on my own at the time. I did enjoy the feeling of freedom it gave me, though.

      I bought my annual pass on my very next trip based on other concerns, so whether or not to spring for park hoppers has not been a question on my last two trips. I will admit that it has been nice to know that I’m not locked into one park per day, especially during a shorter trip when I’m trying to do all the new things I can.

      My annual pass will expire in April, so we’ll see how I feel about it after that.


      • I’m thinking back on our history with park hopping:

        2003 – Pre-“Magic Your Way”. Park Hopping was not yet an upcharge
        2007 – We were comped Park Hopper tickets
        2008 – Also comped Park Hopper tickets
        2010 – We paid for the Park Hopper option that year
        2012 – Decided we didn’t need to hop
        2014 – Stuck with no hopping

        So, we’ve done some hopping, but only paid for it once. I think all of the free park hopping kind of had us taking it for granted as essential. But then when I started looking at how frequently we hopped (or didn’t) and how much it cost, (the price of the Hopper has increased quite a bit since then) I decided we could do without it. It requires a bit more planning, of course. But I haven’t missed hopping since we stopped doing it.

        Now, if I was traveling solo, that would change the numbers quite a bit. And if you want to visit all four parks in less than four days, obviously, there’s no other way to do that than to hop. Over a longer trip, your hopper upgrade costs less per day, but it also becomes less essential since you have more time to visit all the parks.

        We typically find that on a 5-7 day trip, there may be one day where hopping would be useful for us. But if you’re only hopping once in a week it’s not worth the $255 it currently costs to upgrade four tickets. If you’re the “Orlando commando” type who goes to Extra Magic hours in the morning and then hops to a park with later operating hours, the cost of the upgrade is negligible. My family is at least two commandos short of being able to utilize that strategy.


        • Yeah, there are people I know on line who pretty consistently do split days between parks. One guy does it almost every day of his trips. All I can say about that is that if it works for you then you should do it.

          My 6-day April trip last year took advantage of park hopping exclusively through the now-defunct express bus service, which as you know I liked a lot. But there was really only one day on which hopping really helped make my planning easier. That day I spent my morning in DHS and had lunch there before hopping over to the MK so I could be close to Kona Cafe for my dinner with family there that night. DHS isn’t a full day park right now, so that worked out nicely. The other day I used it was when I hopped to all 4 parks, which was fun but not in any way a requirement for my trip.


        • It’s definitely not a one-size fits all decision. My best advice to someone who is uncertain about hopping is that you can always upgrade your tickets later if you decide you need to hop. No reason to pay for it up front if you are not sure you will get your money’s worth.


  2. As AP holders, we hardly ever park hop. Maybe to see a fireworks show…but not as a habit. Quite frankly, I think the Fast Pass + system has made that almost impossible…especially now that they’ve changed it so that your fast pass times cannot overlap at all. To do three fastpasses as a park takes at least a 4 hour time window for scheduling. That makes it a little difficult. There’s always the get to one park at rope drop, ride everything you can and then get over to the 2nd park where your fastpasses are. That seems sort of stressful to me and not much fun. I am still holding onto hope that Disney might make further changes to the FP system (more than 3 at a time, FP at different parks on the same day, etc), but it’s been a while since they’ve made any “good” upgrades to it…so that glimmer is fading. 😦


    • I agree that not being able to have any overlap is frustrating. Even a fifteen minute allowance for overlap would make a real difference (though I would prefer 45).

      I will say that the second day of my April trip worked pretty well for me. I showed up to DHS at rope drop and knocked out most of the main attractions prior to lunch. then I hopped over to the Magic Kingdom where I’d arranged for all of my FastPasses. When I left Kona Cafe that night I went back to the MK to see “Wishes” for the last time. With DHS in its current state, a partial day or park hopping is almost necessary. Of course, that’s not an ideal thing and they are in the process of fixing it.


    • Disney plans to make some big changes to FP, but you probably won’t like them. Inside sources say that paid FP is coming. The details are being hammered out. What that means for “free” FP is uncertain. Maybe everyone will continue to get three free, but I won’t be surprised at all if Disney does away with it entirely. There was a time when they were looking into 4 or more FPs but with monetization on the horizon, I don’t think we will ever see that.


      • You are right. I’m going to be really po’d about that change.


        • It won’t be a popular decision when it happens. I am actually okay with it depending how it is implemented. One thing my family likes about Universal is that we have the option to buy Express Pass (or stay somewhere it is included).

          FastPass isn’t really much of a benefit since it just redistributes existing capacity rather than actually reducing overall wait times. If I had the option to pay for extra FP, I would have to consider it depending on the price. Apparently Disney is looking to create FP tiers. Guests at different tiers would have access to different levels of FP. Some tiers would have more restrictions than others. For example, you might be able to buy unlimited FP for three specific rides. Or ignore the FP restrictions at Epcot or Hollywood Studios. All for a price of course.

          I have to imagine Disney won’t do away with the free FP although I am sure they want to. They have been trying to get rid of Extra Magic Hours for years now, but they can’t because it’s an important part of their marketing. I think they know their fan base would revolt if they didn’t maintain at least some form of free FP. Time will tell. From what I have read, the place is going to get a lot more expensive when Star Wars opens. Disney is looking at that expansion as an ATM and they want every dollar they can wring out of it.


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