How to Maximize Park Hopping at Disney World

by | Dec 7, 2023 | WDW Blog

Wondering how to maximize your Park Hopper ticket at Disney World? We’re sharing the best tips and tricks to get the most from your ticket.

Park hopping is a popular way to take on all four Disney World parks whether you’re visiting for only one day or ten days. With a park hopper ticket, you unlock extra flexibility, enabling you to start your day in one park, head to another, and be back in time to see the fireworks before the park closes. But, it’s not always as simple as it seems.

Over the past three years, Disney has implemented several changes to park hopping and more are coming in 2024. So, it’s more important now than ever before to know what the policies are and plan for how you’re going to make the most of your days in the parks. From navigating Disney’s transportation system to picking the right combination of parks to getting a spot in line for the newest rides in Disney World, here’s the secret to maximizing your day at Disney World when park hopping!

Know The Park Hopping Rules

Park hopping became a bit more complicated when it returned to Walt Disney World in 2021. Over the past two years, anyone with a park hopper ticket has had to wait until after 2 PM to begin park-hopping and have visited the park where they have a park pass reservation first. So, while you can still park hop to any combination of parks of your choosing, needing to wait until mid-afternoon to head to the next park makes it a bit more difficult to visit three or even four parks in one day – there’s just less time to work with!

However, Disney World’s park hopping rules are changing soon! Beginning January 9th, 2024, all-day park hopper access is returning for guests with a valid park hopper ticket or Disney World Annual Pass. This means that you can visit any park of your choosing at any time during park hours (subject to capacity limits). 

While park hopping will get easier in 2024, it’s important to note that you may still need to make a park pass reservation and scan into that park (essentially “validating” your ticket) before you make your way to your second park. This will only apply to guests who have a non-date-based ticket or an Annual Pass beginning January 9th, 2024, as Disney will no longer require that guests with date-based tickets make a park pass reservation.

Plan Your Parks Around Disney Transportation

One of the biggest obstacles when park hopping is how much time it takes to get between the parks. Disney World is huge and the parks can be pretty far apart depending on where you’re going. But, there is still one way to save time when park hopping!

Disney offers free park-to-park transportation for anyone who is park hopping, but all of the transportation options aren’t created equally. While Disney bus transportation is likely what first comes to mind when you think about getting to the parks, some parks are actually connected by other, and faster, transportation methods. For example, you can take the monorail to get between Magic Kingdom and EPCOT and the Disney Skyliner connects EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

disney pros skyliner park hopper disney

Photo by Laurie Sapp

You can save on transportation time and spend more time enjoying all the rides and attractions by planning your park hopping itinerary around these transportation options. So, plan to visit EPCOT and Magic Kingdom on the same day, or choose to hop between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The only park where bus transportation is your only option to any of the parks is Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Choose The Right Park Combinations

There are a lot of different park hopping strategies out there, and there’s a reason they exist. Each theme park offers its own unique set of things to do and you need to plan carefully to ensure that you get to do it all during your vacation. For example, EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios all offer their own nighttime entertainment (a.k.a. fireworks shows). And, the parade in Magic Kingdom only happens once a day. So, planning the wrong park hopping itinerary can really cost you.

park hopper disney

Photo by Morgan Flaherty

To avoid missing out on things like shows, parades, and fireworks, be sure to check the daily schedule and note what times everything happens at. Then plan around them!

Want To Ride Disney World’s Newest Rides? Start Your Day There

Currently, two of Disney’s newest rides require that guests join a virtual queue to ride including TRON: Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT. Prior to January 9th, 2024, all guests must have a park pass reservation for the specific park for a chance to join the virtual queue at 7 AM or 1 PM, while the park hopping rules will change after this date, it is still recommended that you plan to start your day in the respective park to have the best chance at riding.

The virtual queues tend to fill up quickly (often within seconds), so you want to give yourself the best shot at getting in! However, there is one way to bypass the virtual queue and the need to be in the park at 1 PM (as guests can join the virtual queue from anywhere at 7 AM). 

Each ride is currently available as an Individual Attraction Selection in the My Disney Experience app meaning that you can pay to skip the virtual queue line and select a 1-hour return window of your choosing (subject to availability). So, if you don’t want to have to plan your park days around virtual queues, you can opt to pay the additional fee to schedule your ride into your park hopping itinerary. Otherwise, it’s best to dedicate at least the first half of the days you want to ride these attractions to those specific parks.

Check Park Capacity Limits Before Park Hopping During Holidays and Peak Seasons

While it’s not too common for parks to reach their capacity limits, Disney does make it clear that you can be denied park hopping access if a park reaches its limitations on any given day. This tends to happen at certain parks around peak travel times and holidays (like New Year’s Day and Christmas Day).

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Photo by Laurie Sapp

Park hopping somewhere where you can’t get in can waste a lot of time and result in a less-than-fun experience. Luckily, there’s a way to avoid the disappointment. If you’re concerned that a park may have reached capacity before you get there, you can call Disney’s capacity hotline at (407) 560-5000. You may also receive a notification in the My Disney Experience app so keep your eye out!

Be Flexible

The final key to having the most success when park hopping in Disney World is to be flexible! Park hopping provides you with a lot of added flexibility to begin with, but you still might stumble upon some obstacles that alter your plans. Lines for rides may be longer than you anticipate, rain could cancel a show that you wanted to see, or you could encounter transportation difficulties…it’s hard to plan for it all.

Regardless of what issues you may come across, remember that you’re still in Disney World! And with park hopping you can change your plans at any point and still have a great, memorable, day in one, two, three, or even all four parks.

So, start making those park hopping plans and then be prepared to adjust them…and then adjust them again. A lot of guests find that they can really enjoy the ability to go with the flow thanks to park hopping.

Posts by Jenna Saxton

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