Tickets are among the highest expenses for your Disney vacation – most families are easily dropping over $1,000 alone just for park tickets. With tickets being such a huge expense I started looking for some ways to minimize the costs of those very expensive tickets.
What I started noticing was that a lot of people (including myself) were purchasing the costly park hopper option for their tickets. The park hopper option allows you to enter either of the four parks as many times you want for that day, allowing you to hop from park to park during that day as many times as you want.
I know many people love love park hopping including myself. I’ve actually done all four parks in one day – talk about a lot of commuting but it was a fun (and exhausting) day. I really love being able to hit Magic Kingdom in the morning, head over to Hollywood Studios, view the early Fantasmic then hop over to Epcot to end the night with Illuminations – sounds like just about a perfect day to me.
Just about every trip until very recently we have purchased the park hopping option but after looking at the costs recently I started thinking – is it really worth it?
Park hopping does give you a lot of flexibility – to be able to get to the Magic Kingdom early to hit the mountain ranges then head to Epcot on the monorail to catch dinner at a country and end the day with Illuminations sure is a lot of fun.
Disney loves to offer this option on their tickets because it doesn’t cost them much of anything – you’re already paying for your base fare, it doesn’t matter if you go to 1 or 6 parks in a day from their end.
Here at Frugal Mouse I’m working to make sure that your Disney vacation is as affordable as possible so with that mission in mind I must take the stand:
We will put an end to park hopping!
Even though I love park hopping why am I taking the stand against park hopping?
Park Hopping Is Expensive
Park hopping is an add on that you can select when purchasing your base tickets. Disney charges an extra $59 per ticket on top of the base price to give you the ability to hop between parks.
For example if I wanted a 4 day ticket with no hopping, gate price would be $297 or $74.25/day.
If I were to add the park hopping option that price would go up to $360 or $90 a day. With tax that adds up to an extra $63, multiply that for a family of 4 that comes out to an extra $252!
As with their ticket pricing structure, hopping gets cheaper the longer you stay so with a 3 day ticket you’re paying an extra $19/day to hop. That goes down to an extra $7 a day if you’re doing an 8 day ticket and so on. Taking a look at some of the discount ticket sellers – it looks like right now a 5 day non-hopper ticket is going for $292. The same 5 day hopper ticket is $350, an extra $58 per ticket.
Park Hopping Takes Time
I always live by the motto that time is equal to money, especially when you’re on your expensive Disney vacation. Park hopping takes away from time that you could be spending in the parks enjoying the attractions or shows.
You have to leave the park, wait for transportation, commute over to the park then walk to when you’re trying to get.
It may not seem like a lot of time but I would rather spend as much time in the parks as possible and not spend it commuting on a Disney bus and walking. Most times you’ll be doing your park hopping in the afternoon which can put you in the parks right during the busiest afternoon times.
If you think you’re going to hop over to Epcot and ride Soarin’ or Test Track in the middle of the afternoon during a busy period think again. In addition to taking out precious time it required more walking which can be hard on your feet and tire you out faster compared to just staying in one park.
You Don’t Really Need It
Park hopping is fun to give yourself flexibility with your schedule but do you really need it? When Animal Kingdom was smaller I could see more of a need for hopping because AK was only a half day so you would need to hop.
You can easily now spend four full days (or more) in each of the parks so what is the need to hop? Take your time to enjoy each park from start to finish, open to close.
I especially love watching the parks transform from the morning to mid-day to nighttime when the lights come on. Something about spending a whole day in a park is especially enjoyable for me. I find that when I have purchased park hopping I always feel the need to take advantage of it because I paid all of that money to be able to.
Even if we were having a great time in the park or were on the tired side we would always have to haul over to another park to make sure we got our moneys worth. If I didn’t have the park hopping option I would have stayed put and still had an amazing time with a couple hundred extra dollars in my pocket.
Sometimes grounding yourself in a park allows you to explore some of those lesser known attractions, shops or secret areas in the parks that you have never experienced before. Or you could be like me and ride Rock’n’Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror for 2 hours straight (yes I did that and it was awesome).
For your next trip I would highly recommend against purchasing the park hopper option. Pick a park for each day and stick with it – explore the whole park from start to finish instead of trying to race to hit 3 parks in a day.
There will be many instances that it may make sense to park hop on your trip which I fully understand but if you are able to stick to 1 park per day it’ll save you hundreds of dollars on your vacation. Not only will you save time, money but also possibly your sanity – plus your feet will thank you!