Walt Disney World has seen its fair share of announcements this week! But one really stood out for me as a local and frequent park guest, PARK HOPPING IS BACK as of January 1, 2021. For some, this announcement means everything and for others it’s “take it or leave it”. I do have so many questions in regards to how this will affect crowd fluctuations in the park. Will we have to be held at the gate if the park we are going to is at capacity? Will these wait times be long and will it be often? How does this affect dinner reservations if I am held up at the gate? And most importantly, does this make your Walt Disney World Experience any better? So many questions, so little time!
We have to assume that parks like Hollywood Studios, which is at capacity more often than not, will have a wait if you’re attempting to hop from another park. Like other establishments such as World of Disney, we can assume it will be a one in one out door policy, which would make complete sense. The reinstatement of park hopping enables the park to remain at a constant crowd level in order to maximize revenue. Anyone who has been to the parks in the closing hours of the day recently knows this is the best time to take advantage of low crowd levels and you better believe if we see this common trend, so does Disney. Epcot and Animal Kingdom will most likely have the least wait times when bouncing from one park to another, but as wait times and reservation availability have told us since July, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios will most likely pose the most headaches for park hoppers. Paying attention to trends, blogs, and vlogs will be key to gaining a quick understanding on what’s going on around the parks come January.
Let’s be real, Disney fans are planners. We all love to plan for our next Disney vacation months in advance. Some of us are planning our next trip while on our current Disney vacation. I admit, I was one of those people, so what happens when we have a reservation at Brown Derby and there’s a longer than expected wait time at the gate? As we’ve learned recently, there probably won’t be any exceptions to the park hopping rule for dinner reservations. The approach we will most likely have to take is showing up early. This unfortunately has various cons especially if you’re only at Walt Disney World for a short period of time. A Disney vacation is often a sprint, not a marathon. We are trying to cram as much fun in as possible, even if it’s at the expense of our comfort zone. Now that we’re all worked up and stressed out by the mere thought of all this running around, I ask you, does park hopping make your Walt Disney World experience any better?
Over the past four months, I have had the opportunity to host numerous guests who have frequented Disney for many years. I recognized a more thought out pattern as it relates to dinner reservations, hotel bookings and nightly activities based on the park they chose to go to that day. My sister for one, booked a two-night stay at various Disney Resorts in relation to their park passes for those days. Epcot and Hollywood Studios park passes meant staying at Boardwalk or Beach Club and making dinner reservations at Il Mulino or Trattoria al Forno. Magic Kingdom park pass meant they stayed at Polynesian and made lunch reservations at Jungle Skipper Canteen. Sure, we could argue that this sounds like a lot of work but as I said before, Disney die-hards are planners by nature anyway. We love being involved in all things Disney, even if it is, what would seem like to most, tedious and strenuous planning. Now add the ability to park hop into the equation and now your choices become almost limitless, adding that much more stress to the planning process. Sure, we all love the spontaneous, “lets hit Epcot for a gelato” while at Magic Kingdom seems like a fun idea, in reality you probably haven’t experienced EVERYTHING Disney has to offer in the area you are currently standing in. The inability to park hop recently has forced me to do things I’ve never experienced at Disney World. It has also helped me appreciate experiences that were outside of my “go to” things to do while at the parks. So does park hopping make the Walt Disney World experience better? I think that will be up to who you ask as well as the objective and time frame of your trip. Though, we do know that not having the ability to park hop has helped us gain new perspective when visiting the parks.