When Park Hopping returned to Disney World in a modified way earlier this year, we had quite a few concerns about it, including whether it would be worth the cost, how the modified system would work in actuality, and more.
One BIG concern we had was whether guests would even be ABLE to park hop, as it is based on capacity and availability in the parks. When it was first announced, it sure seemed like we had to brace for the inability to hop due to capacity limits. Has this been an issue for us yet? Is it an issue you should be worried about for your next trip? We’re breaking it all down for you right now!
What’s Going on With Park Hopping Right Now?
First, let’s go through a quick break-down of how Park Hopping operates in Disney World right now. As we mentioned before, Park Hopping returned to Disney World in a modified way earlier this year. There are a few important things you need to keep in mind if you want to Park Hop under this modified system.
First — you need a ticket with the Park Hopper option or a pass that includes park hopping abilities (in other words, a basic one-day, one-park, standard ticket won’t allow you to hop around).
Second — you need to make a Park Pass for the first park you want to visit each day of your trip. Third — you MUST visit that first park in order to hop later. You can’t just skip that first park and go directly to a second park later. Instead, you MUST enter your first park (the park you have a Park Pass for), and THEN you’ll be allowed to hop.
Fourth — you can only hop to another park beginning at 2PM each day. Disney has noted that this 2PM Park Hopping start time is subject to change in the future, but that is what it is set at right now.
Fifth — and this is the real kicker — you can only hop at 2PM IF there’s availability. Park Hopping to each park is limited by the park’s capacity limitations. So, there is a possibility that one of the parks (or all of the parks) could be at full capacity with no availability for Park Hopping when you try to hop in the afternoon. If that’s the case, then you wouldn’t be able to hop to those parks without availability. You can call a number to check each park’s Park Hopping availability.
Why Was Park Availability for Hopping Such a Concern?
Park capacity is limited in the Disney World theme parks right now. Based on the most recent information Disney has shared, capacity is capped at 35% at the moment. So, capacity and availability to get into the parks is limited on a general scale.
Let’s say all of the Park Passes for all 4 parks for all of the days of your trip are completely full — that means the parks are ALL expected to be at capacity those days. The concern is that if all of the parks are at capacity (or are just very busy), there may not be availability to Park Hop. Among all of the other factors, this is one of the things that really made us wonder whether park hopping would be worth the cost in 2021. If you WANT to hop to another park but can’t, is it even worth spending the cash for a “what if?”
Essentially, you have to pay to use the Park Hopper option, but you are not TECHNICALLY guaranteed to hop at all.
There is a possibility that you’ll get to the 2PM Park Hopping start time and one or more (potentially all) of the Disney World parks will be entirely full, without any availability to Park Hop at all. This could happen for one day of your trip, two days, or maybe the entire trip. Yikes.
There’s even a possibility (as far as we know under the information Disney has presently been shared) that you could see a park has Park Hopper availability, get on the bus to go there, and then arrive only to find that it reached capacity for hopping while you were traveling there and you’re no longer able to enter. You could go back to your original park or go to another park with availability, but that would still result in a lot of lost time and effort.
Things Have Surprisingly Worked Out
So…do you need to be afraid of there not being any Park Hopping availability? Have we ever tried to hop to a park only to find there’s no availability, as we previously feared? It turns out the answer is…”No!”
Seriously! Things have actually surprisingly been fine for our DFB reporters. Our reporters are in the parks essentially every single day getting all the latest information and updates for you. They’re even in the parks during those VERY busy holiday weekends. Overall, our reporters really haven’t experienced issues with Park Hopping availability after 2PM each day. Even at the busiest we’ve seen so far, Spring Break, we hopped each day with ease. We kept checking the phone number — all parks available each day!
But, That Could Change! Here’s What You Need to Know
Now, this is just what our reporters have experienced, so it’s possible that other guests have experienced something different. We’ve asked around and, to our knowledge, we haven’t seen anyone encounter a park at capacity for hopping. And it’s very possible that things could change soon, so the fact that we haven’t had issues with Park Hopping availability is NOT something to take for granted.
The summer season is coming up, which is typically a very VERY busy time for Disney as kids are out of school and many parents take advantage of that time to go on trips. From what we’ve seen, this summer will likely be very busy. Park Passes have been filling up already, although some have later become available again for certain dates.
We actually haven’t experienced a “true” summer with Park Hopping yet, as it only became available when the parks reopened last July, when part of the summer had already passed by. Plus, crowds were notably lighter when the parks first reopened. We also didn’t get to experience a summer with Park Hopping at 35% capacity, as the parks were previously capped at 25% capacity. And there’s a chance that capacity could be increased even more in the future.
During the summer months, we could see more days hitting capacity, and potentially more crowds staying IN the parks, creating Park Hopping availability issues. If the parks reach capacity and enough guests don’t leave or hop to other parks, we could see some parks without any hopping availability when the afternoon rolls around. So far, it hasn’t been an issue (at least for us), but it could become a problem soon.
What can you do to try and avoid this Park Hopping availability issue? First, before you plan to hop (whether you go right now or during the summer), check the Park Hopping availability. You can 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. Again, we recommend you call this number BEFORE you leave your first park.
If you and your family absolutely MUST visit a particular park or ride a specific ride, then you’ll probably want to make a Park Pass for that park and make it the first park you visit (at least during one day of your trip). That will help you at least guarantee your entrance to the park, and (if the ride is up and running) give you the chance to ride whatever ride at that park you’ve got to see.
If your plan only includes that must-do park as one you’d hop to in the afternoon, you run the risk that the park might not have Park Hopping availability and you might not be able to enter it. If it’s a must-do, you might not want to leave it to chance.
And if you’re traveling during a really busy time when the parks are set to reach capacity, you might want to consider whether Park Hopping is something you absolutely need, whether the cost is worth it for you, and whether you should plan your trip for the possibility that Park Hopping won’t happen. Again, it hasn’t been an issue with us yet, but it could be in the future.
Overall, being able to hop to the parks we’ve wanted to visit, even on busy days, hasn’t been the issue we were concerned it might be. But, it could certainly become a BIG issue in the future, and we think it’s something you’ll probably want to think about when planning. Given the rules of the modified system, you just need to take a close look and see whether Park Hopping is something you really need and whether it’s worth it for you.
Remember that you can always add on the Park Hopping option to your tickets (even part-way during your trip). But, Disney will charge you as if you’ve added the Park Hopping option on for your entire trip. So if you have a 4-day ticket and you decide to add the Park Hopper option on day 2, you’ll still be charged the park Hopper upgrade for all 4 days. So, if you are going to add it to your ticket be sure to do so early on! And keep in mind that you generally cannot remove a Park Hopper option from a ticket, so you want to carefully consider whether you need it before paying for it!
Check out the video below about the return of Park Hopping!
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Do you usually Park Hop in Disney World or just stick to 1 park per day? Tell us in the comments!