Teach me to hop!

So, me + 4 kids in July. 8 day hoppers. We’ve never had hoppers and I’m struggling with how to do it without wearing everyone out. We’ve never gone in the summer but it was super hot last in October last year and just completely zapped everyone’s energy. I’m trying to balance maximizing the park hopper thing with not melting into the pavement.

My current plans are getting into whichever park has EMH early and leaving by early afternoon. I’ve also booked EMM in TSL and FL two of our mornings.

I’m almost hesitant to schedule things in the evenings not knowing how much the heat will drain the kids. How do you guys normally do that? I have booked some dinners at night at our resort (AKL) but should I also book some dinners in the parks and just bump and run whichever one doesn’t work for us that day depending on how energy levels are holding up?

Park hours are currently 9-9 most days, with MK currently scheduled to close at 10 maybe two nights during the trip. EP and MK also each have one night with evening EMH but I’m nervous to bank on those. My kids will be 13 (DNiece), 8, 7 and 5. The older three I’m expecting to hang really well but the 5 year old is the one who often needs the most sleep…but sometimes she surprises me and will occasionally be able to stay up late.


I think there are so many ways to plan; everyone is going to have different strategies to suggest. But I think you kinda answered your own question.

I would RD your park of choice and take advantage of whatever EMHs you wish to attend. Then, by 11-12pm, when it starts getting unbearably hot and crowded go back get lunch, go to the pool, etc, then make your way back to the parks by 4-5 pm or so. With the break, your party will be less drained and more energetic for the evening outing and you’ll avoid the hottest and most crowded hours of the day.

Just for the record, my 4 year old did really well with 7:45 am EMM and midnight DAH with proper napping/breaks in the middle of the day. I was afraid of two things: 1) He wouldn’t be able to hang that late, and 2) His sleep schedule would be all messed up afterwards. Neither of these were a problem as long as he got that nap.

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I think the key is not to worry too much about the fact you are “hopping”. What would you do if you were planning to return to the same park? We try to maintain a balance between nights when nothing is booked (and we eat QS) and those where we have an ADR. This gives us flexibility on some nights and allows us to relax at the hotel if we feel like it.

Where are you staying?

At AKL. Which I feel like may not be great for park hopping.

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It’s a little harder to hop from AKL than it is from the EP resorts or perhaps the monorail resorts. I wouldn’t let that deter you from taking a break back at AKL, especially with a 5 year old in tow.

Despite AKL’s location, transit times shouldn’t be horrible. The buses seemed to be running really smoothly both times I’ve been earlier this year. The live bus info on MDE helps to minimize your wait times.

July will be hot and super humid. I’d rather go strong from RD to noonish, skip the afternoon heat/humidity, then hit the parks at night when I think they’re at their best and the crowds are thinner again. Obviously, you don’t have to do this everyday. It depends on whether there are things you want to do in the park at night or not, like HEA/ROL/F! etc. Whether you go to the same park or 2 different parks in a day is up to you. Just my $0.02.

eta: I wouldn’t add on the hopper for the sake of actively trying to hop. It just gives you the flexibility to do what you want, when you want, really.

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Yes, unfortunately that’s true. However, we stayed at OKW which is worse, in my opinion, and still park-hopped. During that time of year, I really think that you should take a break, although (I’m assuming) you’re Texans, which we are not- we live where most homes don’t even have AC- but the heat is just so draining for everyone, I think.

One thing that works really well for us is to schedule an early TS lunch in the park. It’s such a wonderful relief to step in out of the crowds and heat into a cool oasis. After lunch we might see a show like Philharmagic or Muppets 3D, then leave, usually by 1 or so. Almost all of our TS reservations are at lunch.

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Sorry, one more BIG thing to consider. I see you are doing EMM. We did EMM FL too. You will have done probably 8-10 rides during EMM, probably another ride or two at RD, and another 3 rides with FPP likely all before noon. That means you probably will have ridden about 15 rides before lunchtime!

You’ll be ready for a break, or to move on to another park for the afternoon.

Absolutely. I’ve been spoiled by January and February trips and being able to easily stay in the parks all day. I’m trying really hard not to over schedule. And yes, we are from Texas but from the Dallas area which is hotter temperature wise but more of a dry heat. We were in Orlando two years ago in July for vacation (not WDW though) and it was so oppressively hot. I would bet Houstonians fare better in the Orlando humidity than us Dallasites. :slight_smile:

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I don’t think it is hard to hop from any resort. If you take a break back at the resort mid day, it does not make any difference time wise in most cases, if you return to the same park, or go to another.

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That’s a good point!!

Did your kiddos ever just rest during your break but not nap? My 5 y/o never naps so I’m really not counting on her to actually fall asleep during our breaks. More just hoping she’ll rest her feet/body and get out of the heat. Even that will help her I think although I don’t know if she’d be able to hang until midnight. That’s impressive!

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Hah, for sure! My DS27 did a summer internship in Houston (he now lives in Amarillo) and yes, there is a difference! He loves where he is now but melted down there on the coast. I was surprised how well he acclimated to Panhandle heat, but it is a different kind of heat compared to Houston.

Our DS4 never naps anymore either, but he did after getting up at 6:00 for EMM without much effort. On a few of the other days, we just went back to the pool to relax. On the nights we did DAH and HEA, I managed to get him to take a nap by walking around Crescent lake with him in the stroller. (He doesn’t usually use a stroller anymore either, but I definitely don’t regret having one in WDW). Those naps were crucial for the nights we were up til 10pm or later.

Of course, you know your group best; I will say that I was really impressed our DS4 was able to stay up that late too though. The energy and excitement of it all kept him awake with no problem. Again, that stroller was crucial when he began to crash on our walk back from HS after DAH!

Hmm. You have me rethinking a stroller for DD5. She turns 5 in June and we’ve always had a stroller for her in WDW (last trip was in February). Since it’s on the longer side (I think I said 8 days before. It’s actually 9), and we have the July heat it may not be a bad idea to have it.

I’m thinking I may hold my park hopping plans very loosely. Where I struggle with hopping is which park to pre-book FPs. Anyone have a particular strategy with this?

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i am not a huge lover of rope dropping on emh days. During food and wine, we like to start our day in one park and then hop to EP to graze the booths and do WS. Or if i want to do HEA, i start in EP and then over to MK

I always pre-plan which park we’re going to every day prior to the 60 day FPP window. Then, I make FPP for the morning park for each day. The exception tends to be EP, where there are few rides you really need a FPP. Here’s my thoughts on the individual parks, considering you are doing EMM TSL and FL:

  1. MK - Crucial for pre-booking headliners, if you want to do them. EMM will free you up from not having to book 7DMT or PP.
  2. AK - Crucial to pre-book FOP or Navi, less so for everything else there. Most are easy to get day-of.
  3. HS - Since you’re doing TSL EMM, probably only RnR and ToT are important to prebook FPP if you want to do them. ToT especially because it’s running on lower capacity due to refurb.
  4. EP - Not very critical to prebook FPP. Due to tiering of FPP, you can almost always get a FPP for a tier 1 ride a few days ahead or even day-of, and RD another one of them.

After taking our DS who was 4.5 in March, I wouldn’t do it any other way. But that’s just me. I plan on getting a stroller in Aug when he will be turning 5 too. It’s just too much walking for him. Plus, it’s handy for storage. I’ve rented from Kingdom Strollers for the last two trips, and they give you the City mini GT, which folds and carries super easily for buses.

As said in an earlier post, everyone has a different planning style and family needs. Here are a few random observations:

  1. I always have PHs because I either have an AP or am using MilSalute tix, which automatically come that way.

  2. I have no kids so I can’t comment on how it would affect them; I most frequently tour as a solo adult, who typically goes from RD to closing with no breaks other than 2 TS meals.

  3. I never go in the summer.

  4. On a 4 day trip I almost never hop unless one park closes early and I hop to a park that stays open late. I would not pay extra for PH in this case.

  5. On a 5 day trip, I would likely get the PH so I could visit more than one park on my “5th day”. If I had kids, the “5th day” would inevitably be a second full day at MK, so I probably would not get the hoppers.

  6. 6 or more days I would probably not pay extra for a hopper.

  7. I think AKL transportation issues are completely overblown. I’ve stayed at half a dozen different resorts over the years (including AKL, my favorite) and if you average everything out, I really doubt that overall bus time for a trip will be significantly different no matter where you stay. And if a 5 minute longer bus ride is a huge issue for you (collectively, not specifically the OP), then you might be too high-strung for WDW :slight_smile:

All that being said, it sounds like I am “against” hoppers - I’m not; it’s just that my touring style and length of stay make it not worth the extra money I would have to pay if they weren’t included for most circumstances. I have no idea what I will do for my December trip; I’ll have 5-day PH, but SWGE just makes the whole thing a major question mark…

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This is who we’ve used as well but always a double.

Ok, this is super helpful and well reasoned. Thank you for helping me wrap my head around this and making it seem like it could be enjoyable instead of stressful. FP day is coming up later this month so I need to make a decision on what park we’re doing when.