The most frequent question that I am asked by a person planning their first trip to the Walt Disney World Resort is “Should I purchase Disney Park Hopper Tickets?”.
Believe it or not, my answer is different for each family. If you’re planning your first vacation to The Walt Disney World Resort, I have listed below three scenarios when I believe adding a Park Hopper Option to a Base Ticket is a win to achieve a perfect vacation and three reasons that I believe the cost of adding the Hopper option is a waste of money.
Reasons to Purchase the Hopper Option
(approximately an additional $60 cost per person to the base ticket price)
If your kids have entered into the tween and teenage years, have left the nest or you’re travelling without kids, go for the Hopper Option. Everyone in your family can stay up past 7pm and you’re ready to get the party started! During slower seasons, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park often close earlier than Epcot and Magic Kingdom. Once one park closes hop on over to another park.
- Your time at The Walt Disney World Resort is limited to three days or less. If you’re planning on seeing all four parks, it’s not going to happen unless you have the Hopper option. I highly discourage this if you have small children.
- You Really Really Really want to keep special reservations within a certain park but do not plan on allocating an extra day to that park. For an example, within the Magic Kingdom, Beast’s Castle’s “Be Our Guest” restaurant is an extremely popular place to get dining reservations, as is Cinderella’s Royal Table. You will most likely have reservations for these special dining locations on separate days, yet you may not want to spend the entire two days at Magic Kingdom. For instance you might want to spend your day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom until park closing and then go to the Magic Kingdom Park for a 7pm reservation.
Reasons to Purchase a Base Ticket Only
(Referred to as a One Park Per Day Ticket)
If your family includes small children, elementary grade school age or younger, it’s a good idea to stick to a base ticket. A Walt Disney World Vacation is TONS of fun and TONS of physical movement and mental stimuli. Most times too much to make it from park opening to park closing without meltdown consequences. My family often leaves midday for a nap and returns at dinner time. This helps us stay longer than bedtime, but not to park closing. Having said this, each park offers much more than could be experienced in a day, even if you are there from open to close. Realistically, you will need to stay put in that park or return to the same park later in the day to even come close to seeing everything on your “must see” list.
Your resort stay is longer than four days. Currently (September 2013), the cost difference between a 4 Day Magic Your Way Base Ticket and a 5 Day Magic Your Way Base Ticket is $10. Instead of adding the additional $60 fee for the Hopping Option, add an additional $10 instead and spend another full day in the park you intended to hop to. Even if you only do a half day in the park, it’s still very cost-effective.
- Slow down a notch. Hopping from Park to Park is fun, but exhausting and you miss out on time spent in a park while you’re travelling. Reduce your vacation stress a bit by taking a moment to sit with your kids and eat a Premium Mickey Bar. Let them watch the swans in Magic Kingdom or jump in front of the Jumping Water Fountain at Epcot instead of rushing to the next attraction. You may witness the most special magical moment by sitting back, relaxing and simply watching.
The second question I’m usually asked is, “Where can I find the cheapest place to purchase tickets?”
I personally purchase my tickets through Undercover Tourist. I’m not affiliated with this company, nor am I recommending you purchase your tickets from them. I can only speak in regards to my experiences. I’ve never had any problems with this company and I’ve always found them to be the least expensive. If you’d like to visit their site, their website is listed below.
You could also purchase your theme park tickets from Disney directly. Here is their website:
Most importantly, when you receive your tickets, take a close up photo of the back of them. I take the photo with my iPhone. This way I if the tickets are lost, I can have Disney reissue my families tickets very easily.