Heading to WDW March with DH, DD9 & DD11. Staying at the Dolphin for 6 nights, with 5 full days to visit parks. We want to visit all 4 at least once, plus a water park.
Last visit to AKL, kids were 5 & 7 and we did not park hop. But with the Dolphin’s location, park hopping is easier and opens up dinner possibilities in World Showcase.
We don’t NEED to park hop to accomplish our goals, but SHOULD we park hop for a more flexible experience? Or go with base tickets and invest the savings into Genie+ and ILLs for shorter waits?
I’m really weighing the costs against the benefits, and would love to hear from the experts
In early 2020 we stayed at the Beach Club and had park hoppers. We love Epcot and our room was in the building closest to IG (down a flight of stairs and over the bridge). We hopped in and out of Epcot often. It was during Festival of the Arts, so grabbing a bite at the booths was fun. One morning we went to the Norway bakery for breakfast then went to another park. Hopped in for dinner in Italy and the nighttime show. I realize our way of touring isn’t the norm.
Such a great question. I can’t wait to see what people come back with on here.
Plan what you’d like to do if you had hoppers, and the choice will be pretty clear. When staying at an Epcot Area resort, I think hoppers are a great idea, but our family LOVES Hollywood, and we are very early risers. Rope dropping or early entry to Hollywood or Epcot is an absolute BREEZE, and also hopping to those parks later in the day, or returning to the room at park close was a breeze as well.
I’d suggest planning an actual itinerary with hoppers vs without, and not just buying them to be "flexible’ with no clear plan on why to spend the extra money.
When staying at Beach Club my son & I would pop in to see the night time shows at Epcot and HS on nights we felt like it. With park hoppers that was easy to do. Without park hoppers you have to schedule that out for a specific day. We have also used park hoppers to pop in for a dinner at Epcot on days we didn’t have scheduled.
Overall I think it depends on if you value flexibility and if your kids, or at least one of them, is a night owl that would enjoy an impromptu to journey to catch a night time show that’s kind of a bonus.
I had hoppers in April for the first time with DS10. We stayed at YC. They were useful when used along with genie+ because we could use a few in the AM and then stack for the evening. Our goal was to ride the more popular attractions as many times as possible, and park hoppers allowed us to do that. For that reason I would say they were worth it for his age & our goals. I haven’t considered the logistics around hopping & not using genie+ though.
I found it very tiring. I preferred in the past when we’d done just one or two nights in another park (like going to a party or AH event, we didn’t even make it to the EEH because we were so tired lol).
If the choice is between parking hopping or Genie+ / ILLs, I would pick Genie+ / ILLs every time. The value gained by being able to do more in one park outweighs being able to go to a second park in the same day.
But I’m ride-focused. I get the most value by accomplishing a lot of rides/shows/experiences.
If you want to do more of a relaxed walkthrough without hitting a ton of rides, you might want to pay for the hoppers over the time-saving option.
The question I would encourage you to answer is “What will give me the most value with the extra cost?”
In general, I feel like park hopping adds a lot of mileage to our feet and hassle (transportation). For certain park touring types (pop in to a park for just a couple rides), they make sense.
But for us…we have a hard time leaving a park (there’s always “just one more” ride / show / shop / snack). And if we do head back to the hotel midday, we have a very hard time going back out. Clearly my fam is bad with transitions…so hoppers have little use (they were perfect for DH and I’s adults only trip!) and tend to add to the stress (me pushing them out the door again, most transportation logistics, etc).
Between DHs knee issues and my feet get very sore with all the standing, I’ve also become a lot more conscious of managing the miles we’re putting in. Even just “popping in” to Epcot from the Dolphin adds a lot at the end of the day.
Crescent lake resorts are now an automatic yes on park hoppers for me as well because of how lovely it is to pop in and out of Epcot for food and shopping.
I also made a memorable mistake once by skipping the option while at BC. We have a strict 1 biggish lovey per trip per kid rule and DD takes the decision very seriously. She finally, after weighing the many many options, decided on something that she had seen in Mitsukoshi in Japan but we did not have another day in Epcot scheduled. It felt awful because it was RIGHT THERE but we couldn’t just go get it. It must have been a one parent trip because I would have just bought a one person ticket to go in if I could have left the kids with my husband but as it was buying tickets for myself plus 2 was just too excessive. We wound up having it shipped from actual Japan but for a markup plus shipping that probably came close to whatever I’d saved skimping on the PH.
So now, as much as most questions deserve a lot of consideration of various touring styles, plans and other variables, I just answer simply yes - get the PH.
That’s a good next step, thanks! I’ve started a bit of planning, and one thing I feel somewhat strongly on is spending the last night in MK. I just think there’s something so magical about the castle at night as the last WDW memory.
Hoppers allow us the ability to do that, without locking MK in for that date only (however right now, crowd level is the lowest at MK on that date, so good chance I’d pick it anyway!)
I’ll look at a few more dates for night shows and such before deciding.
Truth be told, I’ll probably cave in the moment and get G+/ILL anyway, having long forgotten about the money I spent on tickets months before
But still, I want to budget wisely and don’t mind a bit of extra planning to save where we can.
Ha! It’s funny how it ends up working out like that. Gotta love Disney Math!
I’m totally in favor of both G+/ILL AND park hopping. There are some days where you are just done with a park at 1 pm. Either it’s too crowded, rides are down, or you’re at AK and it is hard to fill a full day there. Personally, I love to park hop and then be able to ride my top rides on more than one day. Maybe you hit FOP in a morning AK visit, but 2 days later you ride it again with an ILL in the evening.
Or maybe I’m just so ADD that I have trouble staying focused in a single park for an entire day.
My experience is this - if you plan to rope drop, then get hoppers. If you don’t rope drop then it’s hard to justify. We always stay at BLT these days (so easy hopping access to MK) and I used to LOVE to rope drop and park hop back to MK every day, BUT since 1) Genie + and 2) boarding groups and 3) downtime on popular rides at park open, i just find less and less value in rope dropping - thus way less value in hopping. I can get so much done by stacking LL’s in the morning, having my coffee, go for a walk, and letting the kids sleep in and then hitting the park at lunchtime through end of evening. My teens REALLY work better on this schedule than getting them up at 6:30am every day after going to the parks every night. I am going next in March as well and our choice is spend the money on 4 days of hoppers (with one rest day) OR 5 days of straight tickets, and i’ll take the one park a day every time now with G+ and BG’s. This is especially true using Extra Hours at EP and MK. Just my two cents - every family works different.
I can argue for either. We typically get hoppers, but by no means is it necessary. Really depends on how you want to frame your days. Hoppers gives flexibility like going to AK during the day, but then is closed early, so hop over to MK or EP for fireworks…that kind of thing.
Also, if you are less about getting all the rides in and more about relaxing and smelling roses, then hoppers make sense. If, however, you want to get every ride in as much as possible, hopping wastes time and the money could be put towards G+ and/or ILLS.
Longer trips, hoppers have more value (since you don’t pay more as you add more ticket days). Shorter trips, hoppers have less value.
With 4 park days, I would stick to 1 park per day and utilize Genie+ and ILLs. Remember on 2 of those days you will be in HS or EP. The other day MK- so your evenings are pretty much spoken for with the exception of AK and your water park day. I would save the money spent on park hoppers and plan a couple nice meals at a resort, or spend the night on the Boardwalk and have pizza and ice cream.
I agree, make plans both ways. If you find yourself sacrificing things to make park hoppers work, then it isn’t a good fit this trip. We do it both ways. We have 6 days coming up in Nov/ Dec. I’m getting park hoppers because of all the party nights at MK during our trip and we will be going to the room for mid-day naps anyway. But, if there were no parties and no naps, I’d be less inclined to park hop.
Ahhhh ok, this is a good argument against park-hopping this trip. And you made me rethink our day of the week strategy, rearranging early nights before longer days (i.e. AK or water park the day before MK so kids get to rest up the night before).
I definitely think we can do all the things we want to without park-hopping, but our kids are in this “sweet spot” travel age when they can wake up early (not yet teens) but also stay up late (no longer littles). Park-hopping might be the perfect fun adventure, but it’s also a costly one… your point about special dinners is a great one too.
I know I can’t burn it at both ends, lol. Park hopping is nice if you want certain parks only during the day and others at night. But it gets trickier in planning on shorter trips, imo. You could always see what it costs to add 1 day vs ph. On water park day you can pop into a park that evening, unless you’re planning to stay late, late at the water park (not sure their hours its been 12+ years since we went to Blizzard Beach).
Interesting to compare prices on that! Using pricing from Disney’s website for a single adult ticket, it’s better to do the 4-day hopper+ than the 5-day base+.
4 day hopper+: $728.35
5 day base+: $760.38
Appreciate the outside the box thinking though, that’s what this group does best