From price increases on snacks to the end of Disney’s Magical Express, there are a number of new things to consider when planning for your Disney World trips in 2022 and beyond. What about Disney World park tickets? After Hours event tickets? Other upgrades or add-ons? Which ones are worth the cash and which might you want to skip? Today we’re giving you a breakdown so you can make those decisions for your upcoming vacation!
Without further ado, let’s get into some Disney tickets and upgrades that you might NOT want to buy right now!
Park Hopper is a paid add-on to your Disney World park ticket that allows you to visit more than one park per day. This option was removed as an option when Disney World reopened in July of 2020, after the pandemic closures.
It returned as an add-on, on January 1st, 2021, to much fanfare. The price of this add-on depends on how many days you’re buying tickets for. 1-park-per-day tickets start at $109 for a 1-day ticket and start at $55 per day for a 10-day ticket. Keep in mind that those are just starting prices. The actual price of the ticket will depend on the day/days within the ticket range as each day falls under a specific pricing bracket.
Tickets with the Park Hopper option added to them start at $174 per day (that’s an addition of $65). But if you are buying a ticket for more days that per-day cost for the Park Hopper add-on goes down. For example, for a 10-day ticket with the Park Hopper add-on, the cost is $64 per day — that’s just $9 more per day when compared to a 1-park-per-day pass for 10 days.
Even if you get a ticket with the Park Hopper option, you’ll need to keep in mind that it’s not the same old Park Hopping you might remember. Certain restrictions are now in place and compared to the Park Hopper of old, it simply might not be worth it for some folks.
The first limitation is that you must wait until 2PM before you even CAN hop to another park. This means that you are dedicating at least half of your day to the first park you’ll be visiting (which you’ll still need to get a Park Pass reservation for). While this might not seem like much of an inconvenience, it does severely cut down on the time you can spend in the parks you hop to. If you were the type of person that liked to hop early in the day, then the current Park Hopping system might not work well for you.
The second limitation to Park Hopping right now is that you must get a Park Pass reservation for the first park you want to visit AND you must actually enter that first park before being able to hop. For example, if you get a Park Pass reservation for Magic Kingdom and want to hop to EPCOT later that day, you MUST enter Magic Kingdom first before hopping to EPCOT, even if it’s after 2PM. That means that if you decided to spend the morning at the pool, it’s now 3PM and you wish you could just go to EPCOT, you won’t be able to. You’ll have to enter Magic Kingdom first and THEN head to EPCOT. Of course, you could switch your Park Pass reservation to EPCOT to avoid this issue, but that would depend on there being an EPCOT Park Pass available.
This requirement can limit what you can accomplish at your second/third/fourth park of the day and also takes away the flexibility you once had to adjust plans on the fly.
The third limitation of the new Park Hopper system is park capacity. You can pay for that Park Hopper ticket, but you are not technically guaranteed the ability to park hop to any park of your choice. The ability to hop to another park is entirely dependent on the other park’s availability and capacity limitations. If the park you want to hop to reaches capacity, then you won’t be able to hop there.
Disney has implemented a hotline for guests to call to check capacity before traveling to a new park, but the chance for this to happen still begs the question, is it worth it? Now keep in mind, we visit the parks essentially every single day of the year and we haven’t had many capacity issues when it comes to Park Hopping, except on rare occasions. On Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, for example, Magic Kingdom reached capacity and Park Hopping was not available for guests seeking to enter that park. If you’re planning to travel during an especially busy time, then this possibility is something you’ll want to take into account before purchasing that Park Hopper ticket.
Another limitation of the current Park Hopper system only applies to select Park Hopper Plus purchases. Park Hopper Plus is the add-on where, in addition to being able to Park Hop, you also get a select number of visits to other spots — specifically Disney World’s water parks, certain sports options (like golf or FootGolf), and things like the Mini Golf courses.
The main issue with this is that select options that are normally part of this ticket are NOT available at the moment. Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park is closed at the moment, leaving you only other water park to visit (Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park), and sometimes that water park can be closed on cold weather days. You’ll have to crunch the numbers to see if getting any of the even MORE expensive add-ons are worth it, and whether you’ll really get your money’s worth out of it considering their limitations.
Despite these negatives, there are some major positives to being able to Park Hop! The first is that you get to visit multiple parks in one day. If you are coming for a limited amount of days and have no other option but to fit a lot of stuff in a few days, then a Park Hopper may be worth it for you.
Park Hopper tickets may also be worth it if you’re the type of family that likes to be in the parks from sun up to sun down! If you’re looking to really squeeze every last second out of the day, then a Park Hopper can help you do that by giving you the chance to hop to other parks — potentially ones that stay open later. If you’ve got little ones who will need to stop in the middle of the day, the Park Hopper might give you the chance to take that nap and then come back to a park that stays open later. But you’ll want to remember that you can’t Park Hop until 2PM, so that can throw a wrench in your plans.
You may also want to add the Park Hopper option to your ticket if you want to maximize your flexibility. Despite the limitations, having the Park Hopper option still gives you more flexibility than if you don’t have it at all. The reality is if you don’t want to commit to spending your entire day in any one park each day, you may want to think about adding Park Hopper.
So, is a Park Hopper worth it? The answer is not the same for everyone. Our advice? Take a look at the park maps and list of attractions. Write down what your family wants to accomplish. See if you’ll realistically be spending full days in each of the parks, without any time to really hop to the other ones; or if you’ll have some time and want to Park Hop or need to Park Hop to get all of your must-dos done.
One thing to remember is you don’t have to make this decision right this second. If you want to hold off until you get to Disney World to decide, you can add on the Park Hopper option to your standard 1-park-per-day tickets at the same price it would have been had you bought the Park Hopper ticket to start with (a.k.a. it doesn’t cost you more if you choose to add it on later).
In fact, if you’re on the fence at all about the Park Hopper option, we’d recommend that you wait until you arrive to add it. Once you’ve bought the Park Hopper option you can’t really take it off and get your money back, so it’s best to wait until you’re sure you’ll need it.
Just remember that when you add it on, Disney will charge you for ALL of the days you have tickets for so you’ll want to add it on early in your trip to take full advantage. In other words, if you have a 5-day park ticket and add on the Park Hopper option on day 3, you’ll still get charged for that Park Hopper option for days 1 and 2. So if you want to buy it once you’re in Disney, just be sure to buy it sooner rather than later!
In 2021, Disney World replaced Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party with two After Hours events — Disney After Hours Boo Bash and Disney Very Merriest After Hours. These events came with pared-down offerings as compared to their counterparts from previous years, as well as a heftier price tag.
For 2022, it has been confirmed that Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will return, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is also coming back. However, even with the cheaper prices and much more on the to-do list, are these holiday parties actually worth your time and money?
The first thing you’ll need to consider is the hours of the events themselves. In 2022, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will run from 7PM to midnight on select nights in August, September, and October, which means that you’ll need to commit to staying out late if you want to get your money’s worth. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will run in November and December from 7PM to midnight.
The good news is that those with party tickets can actually enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4PM. This gives you time to wander the park, check out the attractions, and enjoy things that are offered for general day guests before the holiday fun begins.
But for groups traveling with small children, it may not be convenient to keep them up so late past their bedtime. And if you’ve already been in the parks all day (or even multiple days that week), you could be extra exhausted and might not be able to fully enjoy the experience.
The second limitation of these events is the cost. This year, tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will run you anywhere from $109 to $199 depending on your event date. Annual Passholders and DVC members can save $10 per ticket on select nights. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets range from $149 to $199.
It’s not quite as pricey as it was to go to Boo Bash or Mickey’s Very Merriest last year, but it’s still nearly as expensive as (or more expensive than) a single-day park ticket to Disney World. With a holiday party, you’re only getting a maximum of 8 hours in Magic Kingdom, whereas on a typical park day, you could get 12 hours or more. (And you could visit during your normal waking hours instead of late at night!)
But aside from those things, you’ll want to look at what the party offers that you CAN’T get during the daytime. The entertainment for the party is a big draw with things like the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular and Mickey’s Boo to You! Parade at the Halloween event or Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks at the holiday event — you can’t watch these things on a regular day in Magic Kingdom.
On top of that, there are special fireworks, trick-or-treating, unique character meet and greets, and even dance parties available throughout the night. It’s a very different experience from Halloween at Magic Kingdom during the day.
So basically, it’s a balancing act. Are you willing to sacrifice a few hours of sleep and some extra dough to enjoy the holidays in Disney World to the fullest? You can still see Magic Kingdom’s decorations during the day, and there are other ways to celebrate the holiday around the resort, with daytime treats (typically at Hollywood Studios) and Minnie’s Halloween Dine or Minnie’s Holiday Dine character meals at Hollywood & Vine as a much cheaper way to see characters in their costumes.
Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selection
What kind of list would this be if we DIDN’T talk about Disney’s newest add-on expense?! Last year two new paid services took the place of FastPass+ in Disney World. Those new services are called Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selection.
One reason why you might not want to utilize these services is the very obvious fact that you have to PAY for them. To use Disney Genie+, guests have to pay $15 per day per guest. That $15 allows the guest to select the next available time to return and use a ride’s Lightning Lane (a.k.a. the old FastPass+ lane). When the return time activates, the guest can skip the standby line at that ride and instead use the Lightning Lane. The guest can then continue to make these selections 1 ride at a time throughout the day.
This standard Genie+ service does not, however, include some of the most popular rides at Disney World. For rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you will need to pay an additional fee subject to surge pricing, called Individual Attraction Selection.
Individual Attraction Selection allows you to pay that specified amount to use the Lightning Lane once at the ride you buy it for. Guests are limited to buying 2 Individual Attraction Selections per day. The prices for these can fluctuate depending on the ride, the park, and the date. We’ve seen some priced at $7, while others have been at $15.
One of the big limitations with Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selection is that you cannot plan your selections too far in advance. As of June 8th, 2022, you can only purchase Genie+ starting at midnight on the day of your park visit. Before that date, you can add it on to your park ticket ahead of time, but it has to be for the entirety of your tickets (you can’t pick and choose which days you do and don’t want it). Once you purchase Genie+, you will not be able to make your Genie+ selections until 7AM on the day of your visit. For Individual Attraction Selections, hotel guests can make those starting at 7AM, while other guests have to wait until the park opens.
If you liked pre-planning what 3 rides you’d be able to skip the lines for WAY in advance, then that aspect of the system might be a bit frustrating for you.
Another part of Genie+ you should know about is that you can generally only make one lightning lane reservation at a time. This means your day will be dictated by what is available at the time you’re making the selection. Certain selections can fill up quickly (though more spots for them might become available later). Still, we think there are some rides you’ll want to prioritize.
Note that it is not a requirement to purchase Genie+ to ride the attractions at Disney World. But if you want to SKIP the standby lines, Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selections are what you’ll need to turn to.
But things with Genie+ aren’t all bad. Some have indicated that they’ve felt like Genie+ was worth the money in specific parks, like Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Others said that it helped them ride a lot of rides with little to no wait. But some fans are not pleased with the service or are on the fence.
Not willing to shell out the cash for these paid services? Consider rope-dropping the parks so you can try to get in as much as possible. You’ll also want to look at things like Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours (if you qualify) because those can help you spend time in the parks before larger crowds arrive.
If you have limited time in the parks, or you are only coming for a short trip and you want to get in a LOT of rides in a shorter amount of time, it is quite possible that Genie+ or Individual Attraction Selection could be beneficial for you, at least in select parks.
The last, and probably least controversial of the bunch, is preferred parking. Preferred parking is exactly what it sounds like. The difference is typically around $20-$25 MORE per day compared to the standard theme park parking. Standard parking for a regular car is $25 per day. Preferred parking is typically around $45-$50 per day, although that varies seasonally and by date. If you pay for preferred parking, you get a spot closer to the park entrance. That sounds pretty nice (and great for long days when the last thing you want to do is walk back to your car). The question remains, is it worth it?
In Magic Kingdom, the parking lot is currently operating its parking tram. as is Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Parking trams have not yet returned to EPCOT or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, however, although they should be returning sometime in 2022.
You might feel like preferred parking isn’t worth it in a spot where the trams have returned, but it’s worth it in a parking lot where all of the transportation will be left to your two feet.
If you arrive at the park when it is first opening, you might find that preferred parking is not worth the additional cost. If you arrive early enough, you may end up in a parking spot that’s fairly close to the preferred parking spaces without having to pay extra.
However, you may want to consider the preferred parking upcharge if you come later in the morning/day when you might find yourself parking further toward the back or if you are Park Hopping for that day. Remember that, like with other parking costs, once you’ve paid for Preferred Parking for the day, it will work at any of the Disney World theme parks you visit that day.
This could be good news for all you Park Hoppers out there. While it may not benefit you that much at your first park, it will carry over through the rest of the day and may end up being a lifesaver.
There are plenty of instances when preferred parking might be a good choice. Maybe it’s raining cats and dogs, and you just can’t even anymore…
…or maybe you’re traveling with a party of 17 people and the thought of parking far away and wrangling all of these kiddos and adults to the front of the park is something that makes you want to cry…
…or maybe you are just tired and want to minimize your steps as much as you can. Ultimately, the value and whether it’s “worth it” will depend on what you personally need.
On the other hand, if you’re okay with walking and don’t want to fork over the extra cash, then Preferred Parking might not be worth it. You might want to use that money instead for more snacks, merchandise, or other things during your trip!
So are any of these tickets or upgrades worth the additional cost? It all depends on you and your family’s wants and needs. We hope this helped you as you plan your visit and consider what costs might or might not be worth it. As always, we will keep an eye out for more Disney updates — stay tuned here to DFB for all the latest news.