park hopper

3 Tips to Successfully Navigate Disney World’s Park Hopper and Park Reservation System

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Guess who’s back…back again…the Park Hopper’s back, tell a friend!

It’s 2021, Disney World continues to increase capacity and re-introduce fan favorites like the Park Hopper. Much of what we discussed in our Planning a (Retro) Walt Disney World Vacation post is still accurate:

  • Early Access to FastPass+ (and the whole program): SUSPENDED
  • Disney Dining Plan: SUSPENDED
  • Extra Magic Hours: SUSPENDED
  • Park Hopper Tickets: REACTIVATED
  • Eating in Line: SUSPENDED
park hopper
COVID-19 has caused Disney World to pause several benefits, though it’s exciting to see some like the Park Hopper make a come back.

The Nerds thought the one park per day requirement in 2020, due to the suspension of the Park Hopper ticket, was an interesting development. It was the first time visiting Disney World (since the Nerd’s inaugural October 1989 trip) that we did not have a Park Hopper. But this wasn’t just about us, nobody had a Park Hopper ticket and it changed the way people toured.

Plus traveling to Disney World during COVID-19 brought a unique set of challenges, though guests navigated these changes extremely well.

As the day’s wore on and people left for midday breaks, they often did not come back. The parks seemed to thin like “the old days” as people grew tired and were not lured back to the parks with a FastPass+ reservation made at a secondary park 64 days earlier. Instead, people toured the parks with less strategy and the Nerds found themselves spending less time on their phones trying to secure the next FastPass+, moving tomorrow’s reservations and trying to secure a last minute ride.

Instead, we were more present and enjoyed the slightly “chill” version of Disney World touring. This is not to say that we didn’t strategize our next attraction and try to outsmart the crowds, we are just acknowledging that it was different. And much of this has remained the same even with the addition of the Park Hopper.

So how will planning a visit to Disney World be different with the Park Hopper reinstated? Expect to see an uptick in crowds around headliner attractions in the mid afternoon and into the evening. We also expect that advanced dining reservations may be a little tougher to secure now that guests have the option to start their day in Magic Kingdom and end their day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for dinner at the Sci-Fi Dine in.

Enter the Nerd’s 3 Tips and Tricks for Navigating Disney World’s Park Hopper and Reservation System

Tip #1: You can make your “primary” park reservation when you book your tickets – and you should!

Disney World is amazing – and not just for the Mickey Pretzels (though this is a huge part of it). And we’re huge fans of their hotels and we are never shy about our affordable favorites and deluxe splurges. But let’s face it, you came for the rides. And the Nerds can think of nothing more sad than a Disney World vacation, tickets in hand, and being unable to walk through the turnstyles. So do yourself a favor, make a reservation as soon as you book your tickets.

park hopper
It’s always a good idea to confirm park availability prior to committing to a ticket purchase – though availability has been good lately.

You can always modify your plans and that’s a lot less stressful than not having plans to modify.

Tip #2: You can travel to a second, third or fourth park that day by making a reservation on the fly – but you do need a reservation!

The Park Hopper ticket allows you to travel to a second park on the same day, crowd capacity permitting. Guests are allowed to enter their second park after 2pm (so this does put a crimp on trying to do multiple “rope drops” or just riding the major attractions across multiple parks all day).

Tip #3: Keep an eye on the app

See Tip #1. If you purchased a Park Hopper, use it! Again, you can always change your mind (we do!). The day you intend to park hop, entry to the second park begins at 2pm. Check the Disney World app, confirm there is capacity and head to the your next Disney park destination.

Using the My Disney Experience app, guests can continue to make reservations at multiple parks until closing.

Given the rumored recent increases to park capacity, we suspect that unless it is a busy weekend or holiday, most guests will be able to find a second park to enter. Especially if they followed Tip #2.

So, grab your MagicBand, hop on the Skyliner and go enjoy an amazing day at 2, 3 or even 4 Disney World Parks!!

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