With so many options, buying Walt Disney World theme park tickets can be an overwhelming process for first (or second or third) time visitors. I’m here now to demystify one aspect of the ticket selection process: The Park Hopper.
What exactly does Park Hopping mean?
In Disney-speak, Park Hopping means that you visit more than one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios) in one day. If you want to go to more than one of these parks in a single day, then you need to have the Park Hopper add-on for your Disney theme park ticket.
Some folks consider the Animal Kingdom to be a “half day” park and want to spend the rest of their time at a different park. You need a Park Hopper to do this.
Do I need a Park Hopper if I’m going leave and return to the same park during the same day?
No. With a Disney base ticket, you’re welcome to leave and re-enter the same theme park as many times as you like during the same day. So, if you want to visit the Magic Kingdom in the morning, go back to your hotel room for a nap, and return to the Magic Kingdom for the evening fireworks, then you do not need a Park Hopper ticket. However, if you visited the Magic Kingdom in the morning, went back to the room for a nap and then went to see the fireworks at Epcot, then you would need a Park Hopper.
Do I need to get a Park Hopper if I’m just going to pop into a second park to eat or shop?
Yes. Any time you want to set foot in a second park during the same day, you’ll need Park Hopper (with one type of exception which I’ll get to in a sec). There is no “just eating” or “just shopping” or “just seeing the fireworks” way to avoid needing a Park Hopper. The Hopping has nothing to do with going on rides, it has to do with entering the park turnstiles (which are not actually turnstiles any more, but I digress).
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