Disney World Park Hopper Pass

The Disney World park hopper pass is an option that you can add onto a Disney World ticket purchase. Today we are going to assess the value of Walt Disney World park hopper passes.  Are these passes worth the money? Is it a luxury that isn't necessary? Before you decide, lets analyze exactly what the park hopper does, and then you can better decide whether to buy this ticket add-on or skip it.

What is a Park Hopper Pass?

The park hopper pass is a ticket add-on that allows you to enter any of the four Disney World parks on a single day.  Without a park hopper, you are restricted to one park per day.  The park hopper pass is currently priced at $64.00 for a single-day ticket to the parks. The cost is $75.00 for a 2 or 3 day pass, and $85.00 for any trip of 4 days or longer. So if you are coming to Disney World for 10 days, a family of four would have to pay an extra $340.00 to have the park hopper for 10 days.

The Pros of having a park hopper pass

I feel that this pass is extremely important on long vacations. It increases flexibility, helps you plan, and allows you to make quick changes on the fly. Let's break down some positives from the park hopper pass.

Restaurant Reservations – If you are doing the Disney Dining plan, your dinner reservations will be severely restricted if you don’t have the park hopper pass.  Enjoy dining at Epcot?  We do.  We usually eat at 3 or 4 Epcot restaurants in a typical 8-10 day vacation.  However, we would never consider having 3 or 4 full Epcot days, as it's the worst park for rides.  So a park hopper gives us the flexibility to tour the parks we want during the day, and then come to Epcot to eat at night.

Unexpected Crowds – Lets face it, we all use crowd calendars to estimate which parks will be busy on certain days.  While we can usually do a pretty good job anticipating this, there are times where we are dead wrong.  On those days, a quick switch to another park is often a good idea.  If you’ve ever been to the Magic Kingdom on an insanely crowded day, you know how miserable it can be.  When you have to wait 45 minutes to ride Small World, it might be time to look at another park.  The park hopper greatly increases your flexibility.

Night-time festivities – Each park has different night-time festivities.  However, without a park hopper pass, you are forced to go to the same park both in the morning and the evening.  Now perhaps this isn’t a big deal to you.  But if you’ve already toured the park in the morning and your family doesn’t want to see the nighttime event at that park, you are stuck where you are. With a park hopper, you can bounce over to the firework show that you want to see.

The Cons of a park hopper pass

In reality, the only con is money.  The money is admittedly pretty steep if you are only going for 2 or 3 days, as it costs 30 bucks a day for the hopper pass.  Often on a short trip, you won’t need park hopper passes, as you know exactly which parks you want to be at.

But the money issues fade away as your trip lengthens.  The price falls to around 10-12 dollars a day on long trips.  That’s a small price to pay for the flexibility to go where you want, when you want.

Understandably, we all penny-pinch and look for ways to save money at times..  Cutting out 340 bucks over the course of a week for a family of four is a lot of money.  I don’t want to give the impression that you can’t have a good time without a park hopper pass, because that isn’t true.  You just aren’t quite as flexible as you otherwise would be.

There are plenty of people who have a blast at Disney and have no need for a park hopper, as it just doesn’t fit into their “style of touring”.  For instance, if your family likes to sleep in, head to one park, eat dinner and then head to the pool, a park hopper pass might not be worth it.

Our Recommendation

If this is your first trip to Disney, and if you are going for longer than four days, I recommend purchasing the Park hopper.  Since you haven’t been before, you haven’t really established a “style”.  Also, many new people find that there are certain parks that they just don’t like.  Without a park hopper, they are stuck at the park, with nothing else to do but head back to the hotel.

If you buy the park hopper and find that you don’t use it, then at least you’ll know for future trips.  But trust me, nothing is worse than shelling out thousands of dollars for an expensive trip, then being frustrated at the limitations due to your touring style.

Maximizing the benefits of the Park Hopper Pass

First, plan early mornings at each of the four parks.  As we always stress, getting to the parks early is the key to optimal touring.  Then switch up your evenings based on the night-time festivities and your dinner reservations. 

Finally, maximize those Epcot dinners.  There are many fabulous dinners at Epcot, and without the pass, you can probably only try a couple, as you probably will not want to spend 3 or 4 days in Epcot.  Allowing yourself to sample the fine cuisine in the evening hours is a great reason to spend the extra money!

We haven't even talked about the Food & Wine Festival! In the fall, this festival makes Epcot a "can't miss" dining experience. But without a park hopper, you're limited in the number of times you can go. During the Food & Wine Festival, a park hopper is a must!