UPDATE AS OF 11/20/20 – Park Hopping will resume at Walt Disney World in January 2021. This article will reflect opinions prior to that announcement.
Today is the penultimate (second last) article in our “Did You Miss Me?” series where we look at components of Disney vacationing that have been temporarily postponed or cancelled due to post-COVID regulations. Last week, we look at the temporary stoppage of FastPasses and how we felt that it gives you more time to slow down and enjoy the aura of the parks. Another way to slow down and enjoy the aura of the parks is to stay in the same park the entire day. That brings us to the 6th article…
Welcome to Believe Vacations’ Weekly Post where today, we continue our “Did You Miss Me?” series by looking at a service that has been vital to maximizing your hours in the parks on any given day and that is Park Hopping. Are you the type to visit 2, 3, possibly all 4 parks in one day? No need to hop to any other site as we’ll get started with the article.
What was Park Hopper?
The current version of how most guests know as Park Hopper was part of the “Magic Your Way” ticket package introduced in 2005. Prior to that year, guests who were staying any length of time at the WDW Resort could bundle tickets but only enter 1 park per day. With this version of Park Hopper, guests could enter as many parks as they would like on any given day for a ticket upcharge of only $35. Park Hopper was the perfect way to experience your favorite attractions in multiple parks in the same days. Once Extra Magic Hours became a consistent part of park hour schedules, Park Hoppers became more popular because you could either start at one park before the crowds arrived and then hop over to another park, or, close down a park and then hop over to a park that would stay open much later.
What are the options now?
There is not much to write about here as the current operations only allow for 1 park per day. You can enter and exit the same park during the day but once you clear the turnstiles for one park, you will not be able to enter any other park that day. On top of that, you are now required to have both a ticket AND a park reservation. To reduce the insane amount of guests to a park on any given day, the guest is required to make a park reservation using their My Disney Experience account. Without a reservation, you will not be permitted entrance. Your Believe Vacations agent will be able to assist you and walk you through the reservation process and help you plan what day you should attend what park.
What do the Believe Vacation Agents think?
If you were to ask our team, most of us would’ve admitted that we were worried about no Fast Pass. It simply became a way of life and a huge component of our complimentary services. But when we experienced it for ourselves, we couldn’t believe all the…freedom? “I love the ability to have a more relaxed day at the parks and to not stress about sticking to a schedule or always being on my phone to pull the next FastPass experience” said owner, Mary-Morning Radcliffe. “I love being able to plan my day around the crowds/wait time and general feel rather than months in advance,” said agent Kyle Holland. Agent Ashley Suit added to the sentiments, saying “I’m hoping we don’t see FPs for a while.”
However, there have been obvious increases in wait times, especially as we get deeper into the Halloween and soon, Christmas seasons. “I would miss FP with the hour waits I’m seeing lately,” said agent Kristi Shipp. Agent Ashley Holland added, “We were there with such low crowds and we didn’t need them. I will definitely want them back when crowds increase!”
Why it’s OK?
You’re not rushing from one attraction to the other. You’re not mentally keeping a game plan and second-guessing where to go at what time. You’re not obligated to stick to a plan you made 2 months ago. You can be flexible. You can stop and look around and take in the aura of the parks. You can enjoy the elaborate queues. You can slow down. You can stay off your phone!
What options do I have if I want to skip the lines?
Obviously we are not condoning faking either of these but Disney is still enforcing their queue and boarding procedures for those with disabilities and also rider swap. Other than that, you are lining up in the stand-by queue and social distancing your way to the front.
What we think will happen in 2021?
Fast Passes will return and unfortunately, we may see more tiers. Hollywood Studios and EPCOT already enforce a tiered Fast Pass system. Animal Kingdom currently does not and may not have a need for the short term. But Magic Kingdom will soon debut the highly anticipated TRON attraction. And with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train being more popular than ever and Splash Mountain soon to undergo a huge transformation, don’t be surprised to see at least these 3 in the new Magic Kingdom tiered system.