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To Hop or Not to Hop?

Adding the park hopper option to your park tickets can be a wonderful addition, or a big fat waste of money. When I planned our first family trip, we bought the park hopper option. We ended up having to return those tickets that were purchased through an outside party. When we decided on our package through Disney, we ended up without hoppers, and it was the right decision for us at the time. So here is how I advise clients on when to buy park hopper and when not to.

When to Buy Park Hopper

Photo Credit: Redbubble

When there are all adults in your party

Part of the reason that I was glad that we didn\’t pay the extra for Park Hopper is we had a 3 year old in our travel party. It would have been difficult for him to keep up with park hopping. Adults can hang as long as they need to and stay flexible! It would be easy for my husband and I to spend half a day at Hollywood Studios hitting the big rides, and then hop over to Epcot to drink around the world.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

When you don\’t have a full day to dedicate to each park

Regardless of who is in your travel party, if you have less than four park days, I would suggest buying a Park Hopper. There are attractions in each of the four parks that you can\’t miss! It\’s worth it to be able to spilt your days. Just keep little ones and their schedules in mind when planning your days if they\’re traveling with you.

When it is part of a bigger discount

This past spring the free dining offer was released for fall. The promotion required purchasing Park Hoppers as part of the package. Of course, everyone goes crazy for the free dining offer, but as an agent, I had to run the numbers to make sure it came out to be good deal for each guest. After looking at it closely, sometimes it was cheaper to get free dining and purchase Park Hoppers than to purchase dining, skip Park Hopper and let go of the offer.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

When you are visiting during Mickey\’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or  Mickey\’s Very Merry Christmas Party

When you visit during the fall, there are special hard ticket events at Magic Kingdom. This means the park will close early on those days, and the regularly scheduled nighttime entertainment will not be available to regular park guests. Party dates are good days to take advantage of lighter crowds in the morning at Magic Kingdom, then hop over to Hollywood Studios or Epcot to see nighttime entertainment. On non-party nights, you can spend the day in Animal Kingdom, for example, and then hop to Magic Kingdom to see Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, and Celebrate the Magic.

When not to buy Park Hopper When you don\’t know that you need it

We bought it because I hadn\’t done my homework, and I just assumed we needed it. Make your plans ahead of time and look at the days you will be spending in the parks. If you see that you\’ll need it, then buy it. Don\’t just buy it because you think that\’s what people do. Keep in mind that you don\’t need Park Hopper to enter the same park multiple times a day. You can leave and re-enter the same park with a base ticket.

When you can\’t afford it

It does add cost to your trip. If you can\’t afford to add a couple hundred dollars don\’t feel bad. It\’s not the end of the world to not have it. You can still have a wonderful trip without it.

Lauren Tanner is a Disney travel planner with Wishdrawals Travel. After planning her own family\’s magical vacations, she now plans magic for her own clients!  Contact her at

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