Don’t Make These 5 Park Hopping Mistakes in Disney World

by | Dec 1, 2023 | WDW Blog

We’re sharing our tips and tricks for the mistakes you’ll want to avoid when park hopping in Disney World.

You don’t have to settle for visiting just one Disney World theme park per day, you can visit two…three…or even all four parks if you want to with a park hopper ticket! Not only can you experience more of Disney World in one day with park hopping, but it also gives you the flexibility to make the day exactly what you want it to be without planning months beforehand.

Park Hopping Mistakes to Avoid in Disney World

Since 2020, guests have had to wait until 2 PM to start park hopping, but, now, all-day park hopping access is back for guests who purchase a park hopper ticket and Disney World Annual Passholders. And, it’s time to start preparing to make the most of it! Here are five of the biggest park hopper mistakes we see people make and how to avoid them!

Not Scanning Into Your First Park (If You Need To)

Currently, most Disney World guests are required to have a valid theme park ticket and make a park pass reservation for the park they plan to visit on that date, even if they plan to park hop. This means that you have to pick which park you’re going to start your day at and then actually go there before you start park hopping. If you head straight to your second park, you’ll be denied access.

However, that has changed slightly in January 2024, as you now don’t have to make a park pass reservation if you purchase a date-based ticket. So, if you have a date-based park hopper ticket, you’ll be able to pick any park to start your day and get to park hopping right away if you like! 

Keep in mind that you will still need to make a park pass reservation and scan into that park before starting to park hop if you have a non-dated ticket or are an Annual Passholder. So, be sure that you keep track of where you say you’re headed to first and scan into that park…even if you turn right back around and head to your next park.

Not Purchasing the Park Hopper Disney Genie+ Option

In 2023, Disney added new options for purchasing Disney Genie+, the new (paid) way to skip the lines at select Disney World attractions throughout all four parks. Now, you can purchase Genie+ for one park or all four parks and, if you’re planning to park hop, you can end up wasting money if you choose poorly.

While the park hopping Disney Genie+ option is the most costly, it’s essential if you’re hoping to skip the lines at rides across multiple parks. To purchase the park hopper option, follow the prompts to begin purchasing Genie+ in the My Disney Experience app and then select “Multiple Parks” from the menu. If you start your day thinking that you’re only going to be visiting one park and purchase the park-specific Genie+ option but later decide you’d like to park hop, you can upgrade your single-park selection to the “multiple parks” options by visiting Guest Services at the front of the park or any Guest Services locations around the park (just look for the blue umbrellas!).

Missing Virtual Queue Enrollment

If you’re hoping to ride two of Disney World’s newest rides – TRON Lightcycle / Run in Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT – you’ll need to sign up for the virtual queue, as no standby line is available. Currently, the virtual queues for these rides open at 7 AM and 1 PM daily and if you don’t get a spot in line, then you won’t be able to ride that day (though you can also opt to purchase a spot in line through Disney’s Individual Attraction Selection service). And, if you plan to park hop, you’ll need to do some careful planning to be sure you get to ride these popular attractions.

TRON Lightcycle / Run Soft Open park hopping disney world

Photo by Cliff Wang

Prior to January 9th, 2024, you’ll need to ensure that you make a park pass reservation for the park that the ride is located in (Magic Kingdom or EPCOT) to have a chance at the virtual queue. While you can enroll in the virtual queue from anywhere at 7 AM, you do need to have a park pass reservation for the correct park, and, since park hopping doesn’t start until 2 PM and you’re required to be in the park to enroll in the virtual queue when it opens at 1 PM, you’ll need to already be in the park and can’t use the park hopper to your advantage.

However, after January 9th, 2024, all-day park hopping returns and you’ll be able to park hop to either Magic Kingdom or EPCOT to test your luck when the virtual queue window opens in the afternoon at 1 PM. However, you will still have to be in the park at this time, so park hopping any later could mean that you miss out on your chance to ride. Your best chances at getting a spot in line is to be available for both the 7 AM and 1 PM opportunities, so it’s still worth considering starting your day at the specific park if you don’t want to miss out on the chance to ride.

Underestimating Travel Time

One of the biggest things that people underestimate when park hopping is travel time. Disney World offers multiple free transportation options to get between the parks including buses, boats, the monorail, and the Disney Skyliner and it’s important to know which ones get you where. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Buses: Transportation between all four theme parks unless another transportation option is available. Note that bus transportation between parks may not begin until later in the day so check the bus schedule before you make your plans.
  • Boats: Transportation between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • Monorail: Transportation between Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.
  • Disney Skyliner: Transportation between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

While the amount of time it takes to get between parks can vary, we suggest allotting 30-45 minutes of travel time, especially if you have a dining reservation to get to or don’t want to miss a show or parade that starts at a specific time. Failing to calculate travel time correctly can lead to a lot of stress and that’s definitely something we’d all prefer to avoid during a Disney trip!

Not Checking Park Hours

There’s nothing worse than park hopping just to find out that the park you’re at closes in the next few hours. Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid this – check the park hours on the My Disney Experience app before you park hop! 

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Photo by WDW Magazine

This mistake is easy to make, especially because park hours can vary so much from park to park. For example, while many of the parks stay open until 9 PM or later, Disney’s Animal Kingdom often closes much earlier around 7 PM or 8 PM. There are also times when parks like Magic Kingdom or EPCOT close early in the evening for a special event. So be sure to check the park hours when you make your park hopping plans so that you can avoid this disappointment and make the most of your day!

So, keep these in mind when you’re planning your next Disney World trip so that you can be a park hopping pro!

Posts by Jenna Saxton

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