The age old question is “To hop or not to hop?” We’ve been debating the Disney hoppers for years. Some families (ours) purchase a hopper for every single trip. Regardless. We are the type that must get every minute of magic in and if that means we hop from park to park so be it. Other families (families that I also consider to be Disney experts) never hop. They prefer to focus on one park per day. Period. There is no right or wrong answer. I think it is simply a matter of preference, time of year, and the age and temperament of your kiddos- in that order.
Preference is the biggy. You are either a hopper or not. It’s ok either way. Hoppers tend to enjoy starting out early in a park to catch all the major attractions before the crowds hit. They will be strategic in choosing a NON extra magic hours park for that first hop. This gives them a good chunk of time in one of the less crowded parks of the day. After completing their to do list, they will hop over to another park. Typically the second park is the one that has evening extra magic hours. This gives the guest a huge bang for their day. Smaller crowds in the morning to knock out the big hitter attractions, followed by a late night at the second park.
Others base their park hopping preference on dining. Some parks ::cough:: Hollywood Studios ::cough:: have very (very) limited choices for counter service meals. I will avoid a counter service meal at the Studios like the plague while I find a plethora of choices for Magic Kingdom and Epcot’s counter service. This means I will start my day at one of those parks with a counter service lunch and then hop over to the Studios for evening. Hollywood Studios offers a good table service meal at 50s Prime Time or The Brown Derby or maybe even Sci Fi– which admittedly is known more for the experience than the food.
The time of year plays an important role as well. If a guest is there during peak season they will be able to get a FULL day in at any park (besides Animal Kingdom but that is a blog for another day). There isn’t as great of a need to hop during peak times. Save the money if you wanna. I’m all for saving money. But if you go in the off season- park hours are limited and that is when the first hopping scenario comes in handy. Besides, if you are there in the off season, you already saved a ton so adding the park hopper shouldn’t break the bank.
Finally there is the issue of children. This is just my thought- you can hop with any age kiddo but it is going to be “easier” if the kids are not in a stroller. If they are walking on their own, you can get on and off transportation and through the gates with ease. Babies don’t seem to be that big of a deal either. Toddlers and hopping…well…that’s not as easy. It can be done. I’ve certainly done it and wouldn’t have it any other way but again I am a hopper by nature. If you aren’t sure and you have a toddler, ask yourself these questions-
*Will my kiddo throw a fit when we leave this park because they don’t realize we are going to another one?
*Do I have 3 backpacks, 2 diaper bags, 1 stroller, and 15 shopping bags to take through bag check?
*Is the stroller a royal pain in the derriere to get on the bus/monorail//boat/?
*Will my husband have a melt down at the mere thought of “hopping” to another park?
If you answered yes to any of these, you might hold off on the hopping this trip. However, I can tell you that when our kids were little they would get a cat nap in during our transition from park to park. That improved their attitudes and our evenings.
Still undecided? That’s ok. You can certainly book your package without the hopper and then choose to add it when you get to the parks. So save the money and know that if you change your mind you can easily have it put on upon arrival. Final words of advice: When in doubt, leave it out.