I've planned a number of trips for a number of wonderful families.
One persistent question I receive is about theme park tickets, especially for Walt Disney World. There are a couple of different options that can drastically affect a Disney vacation.
Park hopping is a fairly easy concept. It might sound a little funny to the non-Disney theme park visitor, and doesn't require any actual hopping. A smile, maybe. Patience, sure. And a little extra cash, definitely.
The Park Hopper option for Disney theme parks works like this: you can visit any theme park you want, just as long as you have a valid theme park ticket for the day. Wait, what? Here you go- you can visit Magic Kingdom in the morning, "hop" over to Epcot over the afternoon hours, and then finish the night at Hollywood Studios.
It's also helpful to explain the alternative. If you don't have the park hopper option, here's how it works. You visit Magic Kingdom in the morning, well, then you are only able to visit Magic Kingdom for that day (or whatever park you decide to visit). Yes, you can leave the park and come back to the same park.
Why is this a problem? Well, there are a couple of drawbacks. First, you are limited in your dining options- you may only eat at the Disney resorts or at a restaurant at the theme park you start at. Some people don't use free Disney vacation planning services (like I offer), and go to a theme park, and forget they can't leave to go for their Dining Reservations in another theme park. However, you can definitely plan ahead to try and avoid any problems if you don't have the park hopper.
Another issue is that all theme parks at Walt Disney World might not require a full day visit for some families. However, all of the theme parks offer marquee attractions, and may be you or your childs favorite attraction. It's crazy for someone to go to WDW and skip out on some of the world's best rides because they didn't want to spend a whole day in a specific theme park. On a related note, a family may find that they really enjoy a particular ride or area, and will want to come back and spend more time there. The park hopper option will allow you to do that.
Some of the draw backs?
Well, you are going to spend more time on Disney transportation (or driving if you have a car). There can always be minor frustrations that occur during this time. I know I've spent plenty of trips on a Disney bus with one holding my 2 year old son, the other holding our stroller, and standing because all of the seats are full. I feel like I'm walking a tight rope and I feel every bump.
Also, it's going to cost you more. How much more? $60 to be exact. And here's the deal- it doesn't matter if you have 1 day or 100 day theme park tickets. It's going to be an additional $60 per ticket. So, if you want to visit WDW and get 5 day theme park tickets, then it will be an extra $60 for the park hopper. Want to add an extra day? The only price increase would be for the theme park tickets, but there's no increase in the park hopper option.
Is it for everyone? No, definitely not. But this is a big decision, and for many, a necessary expense. It is important to being knowledgeable, so you can make an educated decision. And if you need any help, well, you know where to find me!