This morning, we received some great news from Disney — Park Hopping will be returning on January 1st, 2021!
We know there are a LOT of questions about this big change, and we’re here to help! With that being said, since still have to book our park passes ahead of time, which park should we choose to visit first thing in the morning?
With this update, guests must make a Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park they would like to visit that day, and will only be able to hop to another park after they’ve entered the first park AND if the other park is not already at capacity. Park Hopping will only be available after 2PM, and guests who wish to hop between parks must have a ticket or annual pass with Park Hopper benefits.
DO Start Your Day Here if You Need More Time in the Park
It’s no secret that a day in Disney World’s original park can be intimidating! This park has more attractions than the other three AND more character cavalcades! With so much to do, we typically recommend spending two days in this park — if you can swing it. If not, then even an extra half a day would be a big help in accomplishing everything on your must-do list.
You could spend one whole day in Magic Kingdom, THEN go back another morning to wrap up the rest of the park. Once you’re done with everything you wanted to do, then you hop on over to another park to continue your vacation! (As long as it’s after 2PM!)
DON’T Start Your Day Here if You Want an Easygoing Morning
With all those attractions and things to do, Magic Kingdom can get a little, um, intense. More than 20 rides in one park means that you’ll be hitting the ground running first thing in the morning to get everything done. Other guests are usually doing the same, so things can be pretty hectic!
Lines can be really long for popular attractions first thing in the morning. (We’re looking at you, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!) If you want to avoid the chaos, we’d probably suggest trying a different park in the AM — Animal Kingdom is probably your best bet.
DO Start Your Day Here if You Want to Avoid Evening Crowds
EPCOT can get pretty crazy in the evenings — especially during festival season! Locals show up to eat dinner, and when Park Hopping is available, many guests like to stop by for an evening stroll around the World Showcase.
Some areas of the World Showcase can cause some pretty serious bottlenecks, and if you want to avoid all that, then it may be better to only spend the first half of your day here! Visit World Showcase earlier in the day (eat all the snacks), then get out of the park before the dinner rush.
DON’T Start Your Day Here if You Want to Make the Most of Your Time
Looking forward at EPCOT’s park hours in January, the park currently isn’t slated to open before 11AM any day of the month. While these hours could change in the future, a late-morning opening time gives guests a pretty small window to enjoy the park if they plan on Park Hopping.
By visiting another park in the morning, you could currently get up to two or three extra hours of park time for the day. You can accomplish a LOT with three hours!
DO Start Your Day Here if You Want to Ride Rise of the Resistance
With the new Park Hopping system, the only way to ride Rise of the Resistance will be by visiting Hollywood Studios first thing in the morning! Guests looking to use the new boarding pass system at 7AM must have a Disney Park Pass for the day to get a boarding group, and Disney has made clear guests planning to hop to Hollywood Studios will NOT be allowed to try for the 2PM boarding group.
So, if Rise of the Resistance is a must-do for your family, MAKE SURE to visit Hollywood Studios in the morning with a Park Pass, or else you won’t get the chance to ride.
DON’T Start Your Day Here if You Want to Avoid Crowds
If you’re headed here first thing in the AM, be prepared to wait in pretty long lines for your favorite attractions. It can also get pretty crowded at restaurants during mealtimes — even affecting how long you wait for Mobile Order. We typically find this park is easier to navigate in the afternoon and wait times tend to dip a bit as well. So if your number one reason for visiting Hollywood Studios ISN’T Rise of the Resistance, this park is a great option for Park Hopping in the afternoon. With Park Hoppers unable to get a Rise group, it’s possible it won’t be as popular to visit in the afternoons as we’ve seen in the mornings.
DO Start Your Day Here if You Want to Make the Most of Your Time
Since reopening, Animal Kingdom has historically had the earliest opening time of the four theme parks, opening as early as 7AM! So, if you want to get the most “bang for your buck” as far as your Park Hopping goes, then this would likely be the park to choose.
If the park opens at 8AM, by the time 2PM rolls around you’ll have had a full 6 hours to do everything you want to do! Then, if you head over to a park that closes at 9PM, you’ll have another 6 hours to spend there. (Factoring in travel time between parks.) The parks aren’t always open 12 hours a day, so this could be a great way to squeeze in some extra park time!
DON’T Start Your Day Here if You Want to Sleep In
Like we just said, Animal Kingdom has often been the Disney World park to open the earliest in the morning. On top of that, it’s also one of the hardest to get to. It’s set further away from most of the resorts and the other parks, and the only Disney transportation you can use to get here is the bus.
Because of these reasons, you’ll likely have to wake up nice and early on your Animal Kingdom day, which may not be the best if you aren’t a morning person!
Ultimately, of course, which park you choose to start your day is up to YOU. There’s really no wrong answer (aside from Hollywood Studios…they’re not playing around with Rise of the Resistance!) so look at what goals your family has for each park and come up with the best game plan to knock it all out! Well, hopefully all that information helps you decide which park is right for your family to visit first thing in the morning! Stay tuned to DFB for the latest in Disney parks news and updates!
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Are you excited for the return of Park Hopping? Let us know in the comments!