Park Hopping Returns to Walt Disney World

by Mike LaRosa
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What better way to celebrate the beginning of 2021 and forget the mess that was 2020 than by park hopping at Walt Disney World?! Thats right! As of Jan 1st of this year, Park Hopping as returned to Walt Disney World!

Back in the pre-COVID days as long as you had a ticket for a Walt Disney World theme park, you’d be able to park hop to your heart’s delight. While Disney Park fans all rejoiced when Walt Disney World resort re-opened in July 2020, guests were limited to only visiting one of the four parks per day. It was great to be able to return to the place “Where Dreams Come True”, but with extremely limited hours you weren’t really able to get a full bang for your buck. You’d have to pay full price for a regular ticket, but only get to one park. A big bummer, especially in the case of Disney’s Animal Kingdom which routinely closes at 5pm.

Park Hopping – With Some Strings Attached

Well, park hopping has returned, but not without some strings attached. First, you still need to have a valid Park Pass reservation for one of the four theme parks, which you need to visit first. That’s anytime from open til 2pm. At 2pm, park hopping will commence, but you can only enter a park if it has available capacity. (Chances are high that Disney’s Hollywood Studios might not be available right at 2pm, compared to Epcot or Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

If the park has availability, then you will be able to enter after 2pm. Busses have resumed service between the parks but only during park hopping hours (after 2pm). If you are relying on Disney’s bus transportation, Cast Members will check your ticket and pass prior to boarding. You will not have to go through this type of check if you’re using the Skyliner or driving.

Photo courtesy of Marti Hines

You will be able to hop multiple parks, as long as capacity remains. This is a change from original policies that lead us to believe you’d only be able to park hop once. Last but not least, you also need to have a ticket that is eligible for park hopping.

All Tickets Are Not The Same

Yes, you read that right. You need to have a ticket that is eligible for park hopping. That’s right. You need to pay (sometimes WAY more) to be able to park hop.  For example, a 1 day (1 park) ticket for January 23rd is $134. If you want a Park Hopper ticket for that day, it’s $199. You do have the option of just purchasing a 1 park ticket or adding on only the water parks, only the park hopper or both.

We’re still in early days of the return of Park Hopper, so nobody is really sure how much capacity Disney World is dedicating to allow for park hopping.  We’re sure there’s some reserved capacity or Disney wouldn’t have started selling the tickets again.  But, it’s entirely possible you pay extra for Park Hopper tickets and can’t actually hop.

In the past, Disney World has been very flexible in allowing people to upgrade their tickets at a Guest Services counter upon arrival.  If you’re not sure what crowds will be like or just don’t want to take the chance of locking up the money ahead of time, we’d suggest purchasing standard tickets and trying to upgrade at Disney World once you have a better sense of the crowds during your visit.

The Recap

Yes, park hopping has returned, but there are things you need to know before you hop away. You still need to have valid park pass reservations and have visited your first park prior to hopping. Park hopping doesn’t happen until 2pm. And, you need to ensure that you’ve purchased a ticket that has the Park Hopper option (AKA spend more money). The only people this does not apply to are any existing Annual Passholders.

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