Park hopping but missing first park

Yes my title makes no sense. But have I gotten your attention?

My family is visiting 5/1-5/8 (my husband, daughter and myself). My mother was able to get some time off work and will visit us for part of the trip. I knew park passes would be limited, but we decided to buy the tickets and see what we can get. We did buy park hopper tickets, so I thought okay we can book her whatever in the morning (aka Epcot) and then at 2 PM she can meet up with us. Knowing her, she may instead decide to lounge by the pool. I know that you must visit your first reserved park in order to park hop, but what if we decide to cancel her first park essentially leaving her with no first park. When park hopping opens at 2 PM if there is availability to park hop can she then book a park and when we hop to a park, she instead goes to the park for the first time? One of the days there are 0 parks available right now, so if she needs to first use a park reservation in order to later park hop, how can she do so that day?

I feel so lost in this new park reservation system, I’m usually the go to Disney expert in my circle, but this is our first trip with the system in place so I don’t have all of the answers I need, I’m hoping someone here has experienced this and knows what we may be able to do to make the most of her short trip.

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From what I know, you literally have to tap in to the first park. If you just cancel the first reservation, you take a serious risk of not getting into any park that day. If people could do this, the big Disney sites like DIS and wdwmagic would be all over this.
Edit: I want to be clear about this - you don’t book a reservation to the park you’re hopping to. So if you cancel the initial park reservation, they have no entry to any park that day. Park hopping availability isn’t linked to park reservations. So people leaving the desired park at 2 didn’t mean they will open more reservations.

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She can’t.
Buying a ticket doesn’t guarantee entry. Right now it’s very difficult for spontaneous touring or deciding to join a group that already has plans.

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Yes I did know you don’t need a reservation to park hop, I just didn’t know if a park having hopper availability also meant you could book a last minute “first park reservation” there. We decided to go for the 5th day anyway because it was only $20 more than 4 days, so if we can’t get a reservation it’s not a huge loss. Thanks!

If there was availability she could book a reservation for the park the rest of you are planning to hop to.

I would suggest you try to actually book a park, even though the calendar says they’re all full.

If you can get any park for her then she, or someone else, would have to tap her in at that park before hopping.

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That’s what I’m planning to do. We are staying at the Caribbean Beach so at least if I can book her Epcot, all she has to do is hop on the skyliner, check in, and then she can either stay there by herself or just head back to the resort pool until we are all able to meet up for a park hop.

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I was finally able to get her a park pass for every day of the ticket! The first day of her tickets was showing no availability on the calendar but I was able to book Epcot. So at least her ticket can be used that day, even if it means we park hop over to Epcot with her at 2 PM (pending availability).

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You absolutely have to tap into your first park. Was there last week and I took the boys to AK while the wife went to DS. We then all went to MK and she was nearly denied entry. I forget their exact wording, but they basically said that they use the counts from the morning to determine park capacity for park hopping, which seems like a load of crap because they know exactly how many people have reservations. Not sure why it matters if you tap into your first park because they can’t predict how long you will stay or what park you will hop to in the afternoon.

A manager came over and got on their iPad and said that they found a guest who hadn’t tapped in to MK in the morning and used that reservation and gave it to my wife and allowed her in.

That was on Tuesday. On Thursday, we went to MK and then got on the bus to AK. There was a father-son on the bus from MK to AK simply to tap in at AK and then head back to MK because they wouldn’t let him in because he hadn’t gone to his first park.

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I’m glad they were able to resolve that for you, that must have been worrisome at first. I understand the capacity issues but some rules seem to check a box rather than achieve safety. So that father and son were on a bus, exposing themselves to others and vice versa, just to tap into AK and get back on a bus around more people to go to MK, when if they could just hop directly into MK the same goal is achieved with less movement by them. It’s kind of like the grocery stores having directions on the aisle, I understand the concept but now I’m walking down the pet food aisle around people unnecessarily just so I can go back up the pretzel aisle. There is no perfect answer though, I know that the businesses are achieving safety as best they can.

Luckily we were able to schedule parks that will work for her, she may end up tapping into Epcot around 2:00 just to then park hop somewhere else, but we can make it work.

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Honestly, I don’t understand how this could be thought to enhance safety. You can park hop into any park that has capacity, right? So long as you had a reservation for a park in the morning, WDW has a headcount of the maximum number of people who may be in the parks that day. It really makes no sense to me to require one to tap into the “reserved” park. I don’t see how it provides WDW with any additional information.

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I absolutely agree with you. I really wish I could have remembered word for word the explanation they gave us. The best word to describe it would be “malarkey.”

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This is my take on it. By insisting you tap in to park#1 they can then see when and where people are hopping to.

If you are in MK and then tap into AK, they can see where you were originally. So it will help them track to some degree and will no doubt also help inform them to enable them to have up-to-date info on park hopping “trends”.

Before park hopping started, all they had to go on was when the wait times for rides decreased and by how much. That and a general “feel” for how busy a park was. That gave them an approximate time to start allowing park hopping, as they could anticipate when the park would start emptying out.

By tracking people as they enter the second, and subsequent, park of the day they get a much better picture of where people are going to. If you don’t tap into the first park, they need to keep that slot open in case you turn up at 5pm. Of course you could return to MK at 5pm after hopping to AK but they can reasonably deduce that it would be an exception rather than a rule.

If there was no requirement to use that park reservation, then it could encourage people to book anything with no intention to go to that park. Which doesn’t help them plan and is unfair on those who can’t get into a park at all.

Think of it as Touring Plans trying to build a historic picture of crowd levels. They use average wait times over a specific period to determine a crowd level and then use that to predict crowd levels for the same date in the future. Disney need to do the same so they can determine a pattern to park hopping.
-where do people start
-where do they go
-when do they go

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I know they insist that you tap in. I also believe some people think they are counting (well, I know their job is to count but I believe they think someone actually looks at those numbers). Since they have never limited anyone, I personally believe it is theatre. Just my personal opinion.

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It will be interesting to see if really unique single park draws require them to limit hopping.

I would definitely check hopping on May the 4th before attempting to hop to HS.

And Epcot when the rat ride opens.

Those sorts of things.

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I still don’t buy it. There is no tracking-based benefit, as far as I can see, to making people reserve a park in the morning and tap into it just so that they can hop in the afternoon.

Their ability to track where and when you enter a park in the afternoon isn’t contingent upon seeing you tap into a park in the morning. If you’re staying onsite, chances are good that WDW knows where you are every second of the day!

If they allowed you to just go to whatever park in the afternoon, they have even better data.

  • X customers didn’t attend in the morning, but they used up their day-long ticket at park A in the afternoon. That’s accurate.
  • Y customers attended park B first (when actually, 1/6 of them just tapped in so they’d be allowed to hop, they didn’t really attend park B) and then moved to park A in the afternoon. That’s skewed/misleading data.

So why require a park-specific reservation at all for those folks who just want to attend in the afternoon? Maybe make a new category of reservations - “afternoon park hopping only” or something - to keep the number of people planning to enter the parks under control. (Does that make sense?) Then you could say “if you want to go to the park in the morning you need to reserve a slot in that park. If you want to skip the morning and go to any park after 2 pm, you need to reserve an afternoon-only slot”?

Because in effect, right now if you only want to attend in the afternoon, you are forced to make a reservation for any old park, even if you have no intention of using that park beyond tapping in, so that you’re eligible to attend whichever park you want in the afternoon.

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Hmmm if I want to go to the park after work I have to make a park reservation and they hold my spot until closing. And I get two emails reminding me and asking me to cancel if I am not going to attend. The emails say to arrive between “these” hours (park hours, used to be a 2 hr time slot).

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They still have capacity limits to stick to. Park reservations and making people tap into them are their way to ensure those aren’t breached.

And the park reservation system is cloned directly from the FP system. Remember how you could only book Fps in one park in advance? But that once you’d tapped into your first park, you could book FPs in another park?

Same thing here, although they didn’t go the extreme of making people book their subsequent parks. It was a relatively quick and easy clone of one system to another to achieve much the same thing.

Allowing park hopping was a move in the right direction, towards the old “normal. But they still need the park reservation system to ensure they don’t exceed the parks’ capacity.

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Thanks for continuing to offer your perspective! This is all theoretical for me as I won’t be in the parks anytime soon, but I find it interesting to ponder.

Requiring reservations limits capacity; requiring someone to tap into their morning park does not. Requiring customers to tap into their am park before they hop won’t change the number of people in the parks. It just makes them travel more, which increases transmission risks if anyone is sick.

I maintain that forcing people to tap into their first park does little, if any, good. It doesn’t prevent someone from making a park reservation that they have no intention of using (other than tapping in to get permission to hop). It doesn’t alter the number of people that could be in the parks in the afternoon. In terms of the wasted slot at the morning park, people can already reserve a spot, not use it, and go to a different park in the afternoon - as long as they make the trip to their reserved park, tap in, and then turn around and go immediately to their next park. If the concern is holding that slot indefinitely for that customer, I don’t see why WDW can’t “release” the customer’s reserved slot when the customer taps into their afternoon park without requiring the theater of physically tapping in and leaving.

Yes, I hear what you’re saying there. Do you think that they’re reusing code from the FP system? Because to me, the system/rules seem to be poorly designed, but if it’s designed that way so that WDW can copy coding with minimal changes, I could kind of get that. Especially if creating new programming would take more time than they really had before they wanted to implement the park hopper system.

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Because they can still return to their reserved park at any time, even after hopping elsewhere.

That is exactly what they did. It’s the FP system. The only change they really had to make was having three pools of reservations at the start, based on the guest info on MDE (Resort guest, offsite guest, AP).

No reason to go to the expense of new code specifically for park hopping, which is why you don’t have to book your subsequent parks. That would be even worse.

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