On January 1st of 2021, Park Hopping returned to Walt Disney World and we got to try it firsthand!
Throughout the day, we visited all four parks to test the modified system. We used Disney’s park-to-park transportation and got answers to many of our questions. Throughout that day, we learned A LOT, including some great tips. So today, we’re sharing our advice for the 7 big Park Hopping mistakes you DON’T want to make!
Not Making a Disney Park Pass Reservation
This first point is a very important technicality for the modified Park Hopping system. The Disney Park Pass reservation system is how Disney currently monitors its park capacities, and guests will still be required to make a Disney Park Pass reservation if they plan to Park Hop.
Ahead of your visit, make your Disney Park Pass reservation for the first park you plan to visit that day. You won’t be required to make a reservation for your second, third, or fourth parks, you’ll just hold on to the reservation that you made for the first while you hop.
Without a Disney Park Pass reservation, you won’t be allowed to enter any of the Disney parks. If you need more information on the Disney Park Pass system or would like a tutorial on how to make a reservation, click below.
Not Purchasing a Park Hopper Ticket
Possibly the biggest mistake you could make when attempting to Park Hop is to not purchase a Park Hopper ticket. Guests who wish to visit more than one theme park in a day will need to have a Park Hopper capable ticket or annual pass to do so.
Park Hopper tickets cost more than regular tickets, so you’ll need to decide for yourself if the extra cash is worth it. If you’re purchasing tickets for a group, getting the Park Hopper can add hundreds to your total, so keep that in mind when making your decision.
Skipping Your First Park
Here’s another big no-no when trying to Park Hop — DON’T skip your first park! In order to Park Hop later in the day, you’ll need to make sure that you visit the park you made a Disney Park Pass reservation for FIRST.
If you skip your first park and try to head directly to the second (even if it’s within Park Hopping hours), you’ll be denied entry. Then, you’d have to go all the way to your first park, scan in, then go back to your second park. That would be quite the hassle, so make sure you do your first things first!
Trying to Park Hop Too Early
One of the caveats to the new system is that guests are only allowed to Park Hop during specified Park Hopping hours. These hours are currently listed on the Walt Disney World website.
Currently, the Park Hopping window begins at 2PM, but there’s a chance that time could change in the future, so make sure to check the hours ahead of your trip. In our experience, we could get into our second park up to 15 minutes before the posted Park Hopper hours, but not any sooner.
Basically, don’t think that you’ll be able to visit Magic Kingdom first thing in the morning, then hop over to EPCOT for a mid-day lunch. If you try to do that, you’ll have some very “hangry” people waiting outside the EPCOT entrance for a few hours, and you’d be wasting valuable park time!
Not Checking Park Capacity BEFORE You Hop
As far as Park Hopping goes, everything is subject to availability. Guests will only be able to enter a Disney World park if it’s not already at capacity. Thankfully, Disney has a solution for sharing the availability with guests.
If you’re planning on hopping, call (407) 560-5000 for the most up-to-date information on park availability. When you dial, a recording will tell you which parks have availability for hopping. We recommend calling this number BEFORE you leave your first park.
If the park you plan to hop to is full and you’re already in transit, then you’ll be faced with the problem of adjusting your plans while on the move. Sure, you can head to a different park or just go back to your first park, but either way, you’ll waste time.
Forgetting to Budget Time for Transportation
Budgeting time correctly is a problem many guests face when visiting Walt Disney World, but it’s especially important if you plan to Park Hop. Traveling between two parks takes time, and you’ll likely need to schedule an extra hour into your day simply for transit.
If an hour seems like too much, keep in mind that you’ll have to leave the current park, walk to the Disney transportation you plan to use, travel, then go through temperature checks, security, and the entrance at the second park. This may take even longer if you’re driving and you have to allow time for parking.
We’ve found that Disney’s park-to-park buses begin running about 15 minutes before the Park Hopping hours begin, so if you want to be at your second park right at 2PM, you may want to Uber, take the Skyliner, or hop in your car (if you brought it).
Your methods of Disney-owned transportation include Friendship boats and Skyliner between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. (There’s also a walking path, but it takes a while.)
Keep in mind that the EPCOT monorail is not currently running, so you’ll have to ride the bus, drive, or rideshare if traveling to/from Magic Kingdom.
Not Checking Park Hours or Planning Ahead of Time
With the modified Park Hopping system, you’ll be required to do a bit more planning in advance. Since reopening, Disney World has typically had shorter park hours than in the past. Right now, there are even some days when Animal Kingdom closes at 5PM!
If you want to Park Hop, you should definitely check out the park hours on the website or in My Disney Experience before your visit to help you decide which park to go to first. Since Animal Kingdom is closing so early, you may decide to choose to visit it in the morning. Otherwise, there may be a day where you only get 3 hours in the park! Similarly, EPCOT is often open the latest, so you may get more time there in the afternoon.
Similarly in the “planning ahead of time” category, you’ll want to visit Hollywood Studios first thing in the morning if you want to ride Rise of the Resistance. A Disney Park Pass reservation is required to get a boarding pass, and both boarding group drop times happen before Park Hopping hours begin.
We definitely recommend sitting down and thinking about your plans for Park Hopping if you’re paying extra for the ticket! It’ll save you time and stress in the parks if you know where you’re headed and when.
There are a lot of things to know about Park Hopping with the modified system, but we’re here to answer all your questions! As we get settled into this new way of doing things, we’re sure to learn a lot more tips, so stay tuned to DFB!
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Have you tried the new Park Hopping system yet? Let us know in the comments!