To Buy or Not Buy: Park Hopper Tickets

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When planning a trip to Disney World, there are several add-on options to the basic Magic Your Way pass.  One of those choices is the Park Hopper option.  Is this selection worth the additional expense?  There are several items to consider.

Having Park Hopper tickets allows one to go in and out of any of the four main parks as much as desired in one day for each day of a trip.  Sounds great, right?  And it is very enticing to first times guests who feel that Disney will be a once in a lifetime, or even a once-every-five-years trip.  At first glance, it also appears like a great deal at less than $8 per person per day.  Not bad, right?  Are you ready to add on? 

However, take a few minutes to calculate the number of people in your party, as well as the number of days you plan to be in the parks, and the price quickly increases.  Also consider the time spent transporting between parks, as well as the energy required to be at various parks from sun up to sun down.

On our first trip to Disney, with three small children, including one young enough to receive free admittance, we chose to add the Park Hopper option.  The additional cost for two adults and two children with five days of passes was approximately $150.  As Disney amateurs, we considered this a good bargain.  A year later, with only a little more knowledge of our favorite vacation spot, free dining as part of a special deal, and a child still young enough to be free, we once again chose to hop the parks. 

Three discoveries were made after those first two trips.  First, the Park Hopper option exhausted our family.  Because we had paid a significant amount of money for this addition, we felt compelled to take advantage of it and hop parks each day.  We would begin at one park that offered early extra magic hours, and hop mid-afternoon to another park that stayed open later.  If we felt that we had done all we wanted to do for the day at one park, we would hop over to another instead of heading back to the resort and relaxing by the pool.  By the end of the week, as we headed back home, we felt in need of another vacation – one of rest after our action-packed week. 

A second discovery was the amount of time wasted in a day going from park to park.  As we left one place, we often had to wait 20-30 minutes for the arrival of transportation to our next spot because it was not a busy time of day.  While this could be considered prime resting time, sitting on hard benches or concrete floors waiting for a bus with three small children is not relaxing. 

The cost of the Park Hopper option increased for our family once our youngest son turned three and we began paying for him.  We also decided after our first year that we preferred at least six days of tickets.  A final, and most exciting discovery, was that for less than the price of the park hopper option, we could add a night at our resort, along with an additional day of tickets, and extend our vacation.  While we would not be able to visit more than one park per day, we would have more time and could choose our favorite park for the extra day.  Because we have only booked our recent trips with the free dining offer, there has been no additional food expense, but instead more free meals and snacks.

When choosing to buy or not to buy the park hopper option, we choose not to buy.  Instead, we add a day to our trip and enjoy more time at one of our favorite places on earth!

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