Monday, August 4, 2014

Disney Planning: Adding the Park Hopper Option

By: Lindsey

One of the things that I love about this blog is that it is written by three different moms. While we all share a love for Disney, we all have different viewpoints, different aged (and genders!) children and different opinions. That means that you won’t get a one-sided view on anything Disney related! That’s especially true for the question of “Should we add the park hopper option to our tickets?”

My answer to this question, for our family, is “YES!” Honestly, we don’t do Disney without this option. BUT, the beauty of it, not everyone feels this same way. This post will tell you why we choose the Park Hopper option and how it benefits our family. First, let’s talk about what exactly the Park Hopper option is.

Base Disney park tickets is where you start. You select the number of days you want. The more days you select, the bigger the discount. The amount of money that you are spending to visit the parks for six days actually isn't that much more than choosing to visit the parks for five days. With the base tickets, you can visit one park per day per ticket. Each of your family members can go to a different park each day but they can only visit that park that day. So “Jane” can go to Hollywood Studios while “Mark” goes to Magic Kingdom, but you can’t both meet back at Magic Kingdom later in the day.

Park Hopper adds a little more freedom, at a little more cost. Let’s say you want to go to Magic Kingdom in the morning, but you have dinner reservations at Epcot that night. Plus you kind of wanted to see the Fantasmic show at Hollywood Studios that evening. You could do it! Well, theoretically. Whether or not the logistics of that many park switches would work out is all up to you, your planning and your mode of transportation, but the option would be there should you so choose to try.

Since the Park Hopper option was introduced, I’ve never been to Disney without it. When I began to plan my first trip as an adult, Anniston a couple of months away from being two. Naps were essential for her at that age. We also knew that the kid does not nap in a stroller (or car) ever. She likes a nice, comfy bed. Knowing that, we decided to come back to the room each day for nap time.

There are several rides at Disney that Nick knew for sure he wanted to ride. And they weren't rides that I was interested in riding with him. So, we decided once again to include the Park Hopper option to our tickets. On that trip, it gave Nick the flexibility to visit a different park to ride the rides he wanted while Anniston and I went back to the room to nap. He wasn't locked in to the same park we had been to that morning.

It came in handy again when we went to make our dining reservations. Being newbies at planning our own trip, we waited to book until we got an offer in the mail. Which means we booked our trip about two months out from when we left. Now we know the different options about applying discounts after you've booked or reserved your trip. There will be another post about Disney discounts later.

When we went to make our dining reservations, there were very few options left. Luckily, I was able to get the restaurants we wanted, but I was not able to get them on the days I had originally selected. Which was okay since we had added the Park Hopper option. It meant that if we were scheduled to visit Animal Kingdom that day, but our dinner reservation was at Magic Kingdom, no big deal. We just adjusted our evening activity to be in the park that our dinner was in. Now if we were making a lunch reservation, we tried to keep it in the same park that we were in that morning just for convenience sake. Especially if you are using the Disney transportation system to go from one place to another. Again, another topic for another day.

At Epcot in the morning

And at Magic Kingdom - Be Our Guest for dinner

When we booked our second trip. the Park Hopper had worked out so well the first time, we decided to just do it again. Then when we booked our dining reservation, this time 180 days out, I again didn't have to worry about days and times. I was just able to say, “I want this restaurant sometime during this date range.” And we got into every restaurant we wanted. It was nice to have that little bit of extra flexibility.

In the end, it all comes down to if the little bit extra (at the time of this post $60 per person for a six-day ticket) money is worth the extra flexibility. Take a look at your budget and see if you can consider it.

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