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Park hopping has returned to Disney World as of January 1, 2021! This is exciting news for the many guests who prefer the flexibility of switching parks.
Of course, Park Hopping now comes with some new rules that didn’t exist before.
What Park Hopping Looks Like in 2021
First, this applies to all guests with Park Hopper tickets, as well as Annual Passholders with park hopping abilities.
There are modifications to the typical park hopping process, which really just consisted of leaving one park and showing up at another park.
At this time, park hopping is allowed from 2p through the rest of the park hours. Park hopping is not permitted prior to 2p.
This time is subject to change, so check the official Disney hours to make sure you know what time park hopping starts during your trip. They do make mention of different parks having different park hopping hours.
So it’s possible that Animal Kingdom could start park hopping at noon, while Magic Kingdom stays at 2p.
This can be checked on the Disney World website, or on your My Disney Experience app.
Guest still need to make a Park Pass reservation for the first park they plan to visit that day. They must also go to that first park before park hopping is “unlocked” for that day.
At this time, a Park Pass reservation is NOT required for the second park of the day. This too is subject to change.
Of course, park hopping ultimately depends on the available capacity at the second park you go to. If you arrive and that park is at capacity, you will likely be turned away.
Disney released this handy dandy graphic which explains it all pretty well.
Also, make sure you check out the Know Before You Go section of the Disney website all about tickets. The most updated news about park hopping can be found there.
Possible Impact on Crowds
It remains to be seen how this will impact that overall crowds at each of the parks. Hopefully this spreads the crowds out a little bit more so no one park is bearing most of the crowd.
This could just be wishful thinking on my part, but time will tell.
The most noticeable change regarding crowds will likely come at the end of each day. The last few hours of each park day notoriously have some of the lowest crowds of the day. With park hoppers we could see this disappear.
For example, Animal Kingdom currently closes at 5p. At that point, I would probably hop over to Epcot, which is still open for a few more hours. And I certainly wouldn’t be alone in this strategy.
My true hope is that the return of park hoppers actually leads to extended park hours. Hopefully, this is the first step towards the return of a more “normal” Disney experience.
What transportation is available to get from park to park?
All of the standard transportation is available for you to use, except the monorail from Magic Kingdom to Epcot.
Of utmost importance, bus transportation is now available to go from park to park during park operating hours. However, there are some caveats.
In order to prevent people who don’t truly need to take a bus from one park to the next, only guests with valid park hopper tickets are allowed to board the buses.
Cast Members will check to make sure you have a valid ticket prior to boarding.
My Thoughts on the Return of Park Hopping
I am beyond excited to see the return of park hopping. While it’s not a necessary component to a Disney vacation, it certainly is helpful.
When my family was there at the beginning of November, there were definitely times I wished we could change parks. That’s always been our go to strategy, and it chafed not being able to.
I also think the modifications they put in place around park hopping are reasonable. This continues to give them a little bit of control over the flow of people. My main hope is that they have some sort of method of telling guests if a park is at capacity, close to capacity, etc. That way they don’t waste their time traveling to a park that can’t take them.
I completely understand why it wasn’t permitted before, and also agree with the restriction. But I’m so happy to see this flexibility return.
What about you? What do you think about the return of park hoppers? Let me know in the comments below.