Keep on Hopping

17 Aug

When purchasing a Magic Your Way park ticket to Walt Disney World, you have the opportunity to add the “Park Hopper” option.  Without even thinking, I always add it.  To me, there is no other way to visit the parks.  I MUST have the flexibility to come and go as I please between the four main theme parks at WDW.

Photo credit: news.getaroom.com

Why is having the ability to hop so important?

I think one of the reasons I’m so accustomed to “hopping” is because many of the trips I’ve taken to The World have had a duration of four days or less.  For a period of ten years or so, my visits to WDW consisted of day trips during our beach vacations or weekend trips over Thanksgiving break.  If I didn’t have the ability to hop between parks, I might have missed a whole park entirely.

Another reason I always add the Park Hopper option has to do with the way I explore the parks.  I would classify myself as an aggressive park guest.  My level of satisfaction is directly correlated to how much I accomplish (on my list of must-do’s) during my trip.  I appreciate the details, the history, and the stories associated with every corner of WDW.  Those attributes are often what make a headliner attraction so popular.  They are usually the most immersive experiences and therefore usually have the longest lines.  In addition to the headliners, I have a list of less popular attractions that are must-do’s – often for nostalgic reasons, to rest and cool off, or because I like the attraction narration/music.  To sum up, my list of must-do’s is extensive and having the ability to hop between parks is essential.

Photo credit: chipandco.com

How do I hop?  I’ve tried different strategies and have come to my own conclusion.  Yes, I’ve been to all four parks in one day.  No, I do not recommend it, but if one day is all you have and you have a ton of energy, go for it.  Since WDW requires between 45 and 90 minutes travel time between each park, you can reach a point where you’re spending more time on buses, monorails, and ferry boats, than you are in the parks.  This is not ideal.  Three parks in one day is not unheard of, but you can run into the same issue of having too much travel time consuming your day.

Photo credit: disneymeetings.disney.go.com

I have found that visiting two parks each day provides a nice balance.  It helps break up the day by either going back to the hotel for a nap or simply by changing scenery to boost my adrenaline.  Besides Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I try to experience each park once in the morning and once the evening on every trip.  Since DAK often closes early, I only visit that park in the morning.  On three-day trips or less, this system does not work.  I have to decide if I want to visit DAK at all.  On four-day trips, this system works perfectly since I can spend one morning in each park.

I think the only way I could decline the Park Hopper option would be if my trip was a minimum of six days.  Even then, I think I would have a hard time being restricted to a single park each day.

Out of curiosity, how important is the Park Hopper option to you?  Do you or anyone you know purchase MYW Base tickets without the Park Hopper option?  Please enlighten me and comment below – what are your hopping strategies?

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2 Responses to “Keep on Hopping”

  1. abbymillsaps August 18, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    My husband and I did NOT purchase park hoppers for our very first trip to the World together in 2008. We figured we’d save $100 combined, and since we were going for 5 days it wouldn’t be a big deal. Boy were we wrong! It’s very stressful to feel like you *have* to see or do everything in one park in just one day. We spent the first day in MK (14 hours thanks to EMH) and the second in EPCOT (11 hours). We were so physically exhausted after those two days! We still joke about the schedule of that trip, and we gladly pay the extra amount for park hoppers now.

    • malloryobryant August 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      14 hours in Magic Kingdom?! There’s no way I would’ve made it that long, but I can see how you would feel the need to “get your money’s worth” by maximizing your time in the park. That’s how I would feel. I think the base tickets work best for people who are not visiting the parks for the attractions – the people who take their time and don’t care what they do or don’t accomplish. ??? I guess once you have the ability to hop, it’s difficult to stop! (I didn’t mean for that to rhyme)

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