Choosing between two plans - Park Hopping v Non

Okay, so I’m working on round #3 of which parks on which days for an October trip of this year. I already have ADRs booked, but am open to moving a bunch of them around if need be. Currently the reservations over-index to Character meals so that I have options, but once I have a more solid plan, I’ll probably end up dropping some of them.

-Roughly 7 people on the trip at any moment. My immediate family (DH, me, DS7, DD4) will be there the entire trip, my parents will either be there the entire trip or will switch out with one at Disney and the other at home - depends on their dog, my brother will be coming for the latter half of the trip.

  • 5 park days for “core” group - W, R, F, Sa, Su. Flying in on Tuesday and leaving on Monday. If my parents switch, they will do it on Friday. My brother arrives Friday and leaves Mon.
    -Staying at SOG, likely walking to Poly for most transportation. We went in 2015 and this worked well for us. Only concern is then DS was 4 and in a stroller, now at 7 he’s too big for a stroller, but that walk at the end of the day might be a lot for him. But that’s another topic to discuss.
    -We will have park hoppers as six of us will have military salute tickets which include park hopper so depending on what I decide on park days, we will likely get park hopper on the last ticket anyway just to be safe.
    -RD is highly unlikely. Unfortunately, our trip has mixed early birds v night owls. I don’t see us being able to RD. DS is more early bird, DD is more night owl. We could potentially split up the group, but DH is also night owl and he and DS are the thrill riders while DD and I are not. So the splitting up would be difficult.

On to the point of the post, I am toying with a few different options for park days. One includes a lot of park hopping, the other does not. The last time we went, my DD was only 1 so most days my parents took her back to the park for a nap. This time I think we might want to build in more mid-day park breaks given DS7 not having a stoller this time which lends to park hopping but I’m somewhat afraid we will lose too much time and we should have just stayed in the park all day.

Option 1 - Not planning on Park Hopping
W Day 1 - MK (CL6; EMH to 11pm)
R Day 2 - AK (CL5)
F Day 3 - EP (CL6)
S Day 4 - HS (CL7)
S Day 5 - MK (CL8)

Option 2 - Park Hopping and taking advantage of MNSSHP lower crowds
W Day 1 - HS (CL4) /MK (CL6; EMH to 11pm)
R Day 2 - MK (2) /EP (4)
F Day 3 - MK (4) /EP (6)
S Day 4 - AK (7)
S Day 5 - Whatever park we want more time at

A few thoughts:
Day 2 of Option 2 I have reservations at Chef Mickey’s at 8:25 and Akershus at 1:40. It is a MNSSHP day so MK would be the morning before the park closes for the party, but our ADRs are better for Epcot in the morning. So maybe I switch this to a whole day Epcot.
I feel like we need to do MK on day1 for DD4 as HS probably isn’t going to interest her much. I was thinking maybe I could Park Hop over to MK with her earlier than DH and DS who would have more things to do at HS, especially with the new Toy Story rides.

This is a really long post to say - do you think I should go with Option 1 or Option 2 or something else all together? If Option 2, are we losing too much time park hopping or is it worth it so we can hit lower CLs? I know TPs make up for CL, but I’ll likely need to make two sets of TPs for each park visit so trying to optimize what parks when before I start making all of the TPs (one thrill/one princess).

Especially if you’re taking a break in the middle, option 2 looks much better to me. But we hop. Even if you don’t break back at the hotel, the switch always gives us more energy for something new. I have found a lot of different opinions on hopping, but I’m glad we did it.

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Thanks. I’m not set on taking a break in the middle, but it gets recommended so often I am testing out what we could do with that. The biggest reservation I have is that we aren’t going to be RD’ers. So if we aren’t getting to the park early enough, is it worth the break? Also, neither of my kids are nappers - they both stopped before 2 years old. I’m not really sure that swimming will count as relaxation, they are usually more exhausted after swimming than not, so maybe going all of the way back to the hotel isn’t worth it.

I do like the idea that even if we don’t go back to the hotel the actual travel time can be considered a bit of a break.

When you hop, are you RDing as well? Anyone out there who is a hopper that doesn’t RD? If so, when do you recommend making the switch?

I use the hopper and have never rope dropped.

We often just go to the first park until we’re done, which varies from 3-4 hours later for DH and longer for the rest of us. We then tend to either do something back in the resort for dinner, or hop to the second park for the evening.

So we use the hopper to be able to do all the evening stuff separately from the day park. We might be at MK but decide to go to Illuminations that evening. Arrive at Epcot around 6/7ish, see what’s available or just visit a couple of the national pavilions and then watch from wherever we are at around 8:30 (assuming Illuminations at 9pm).

Or head to DHS early evening, eat somewhere and then watch the Star Wars show and/or Fantasmic. Maybe get in a ride or two if we get an FP or the line is really short. Or go into OMD or Launch Bay.

ETA - I don’t plan the evenings. I have a list of what people want to do in the evenings, and I have 2 or 3 possible nights for each (over 10-14 days). We then just cross them off as we do them,

I like option 2 also. But we hop and take longer trips, so I think that has an impact on my thoughts.

Is DD4 going to be in a stroller? I try to limit the amount of times I have to open/collapse a stroller.

And, also… with a touring plan crowd level selection is far less important.

We didn’t exactly rope drop but were there early usually between 9 and 10. Did our FPP, stayed til 1ish, headed out and/or park lunch before heading out.

A stroller is another issue I’m not 100% on. I think yes, because it is a lot of walking but having no stroller makes it less likely that DS will want to be sitting in it even though he’s too big. I’m tossing around the idea of renting towards the latter half of the day if needed.

If we do bring a stroller it will be a small lightweight umbrella stroller, so I’m less concerned about folding it. We’ll also likely take the monorail to the Poly and walk back to SOG when that’s an option so another way to avoid having to fold.

That helps - we can totally make a start time between 9-10, RD just isn’t going to happen.

Thanks @Nicky_S and @danimoon67 - longer trips I think definitely allows for more flexibility with park hopping. I think I’m leaning toward option 2 at this point. And I guess if we are in a park and people really don’t want to hop they can just stay in the park they are at.

I’m going to have to let some of my ideas for ADRs go to make Option 2 work, but as long as I get my daughter to Akershus at some point during the trip I’ll consider it a success.

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