Walt Disney World guests who buy Park Hopper tickets and Annual Passholders can visit Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom all in the same day. This guide to Park Hopping shares important details, info & tips, and strategy. (Updated June 8, 2023.)
Let’s start with the latest update, or rather, non-update. Walt Disney World announced 5 major changes to improve the guest experience in 2024. This included bringing back the Disney Dining Plan, the pre-booking of Lightning Lane ride reservations, an end to park reservations for most guests, and more.
Not mentioned among the changes was an end to the current Park Hopping limitations or even moving forward the start time from 2 pm to something earlier. Disneyland has relaxed its Park Hopping start time on a couple of occasions, and we’ve been expecting and hoping Walt Disney World would follow suit. It doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen–at least, not yet.
It’s unlikely that the Park Hopping rules will be totally eliminated until Disney Park Pass reservations are gone for most guests, which will occur as of January 2024. Once that happens, it’s reasonable to expect that Walt Disney World will also roll back Park Hopper rules.
In our view, it feels like Park Hopping policies are going to change sooner or later. Just because nothing was announced now doesn’t mean it’s not coming. There’s still plenty of time for Walt Disney World to make more 2024 announcements.
With that in mind, we’ll start with basic info on modified Park Hopping at Walt Disney World for 2023. As implied above, Disney Park Pass reservations are still required for now at the first theme park you’re visiting each day.
Not only do you need to have a Disney Park Pass reservation, but you actually need to scan in at the turnstiles and enter your first park to “validate” and enable Park Hopping. Savvy as the decision might seem, you can’t book DHS but skip it and head to Magic Kingdom to loop Country Bear Jamboree all day. That requirement should be pretty simple for most guests to fulfill due to the next caveat.
You also do not need a reservation for subsequent parks that you visit. More accurately, you can’t book Disney Park Pass reservations for multiple parks per day. There also are no limits on how many parks you can visit when Park Hopping. It’s possible to do all 4, and it’s also possible to return to the original park you booked.
The only limitation with Park Hopping at Walt Disney World is predicated upon capacity caps. This means that, in theory, you could get turned away upon arrival after 2 pm if your destination is already hit its attendance limit. However, in reality this has only ever been an issue once–on Magic Kingdom for a few hours on October 1, on the 50th Anniversary.
Otherwise, Park Hopping has not once been restricted, including on incredibly busy days, like New Year’s Eve, Christmas, or Thanksgiving. It’s important to stress this reality because getting turned away is a common concern among readers, but it just has not been happening aside from the actual 50th Anniversary day, and even then, Park Hopping resumed after only a few hours of being paused.
If you’re still concerned about the capacity status of a park to which you’re considering hopping, the easiest way to find out is by calling Walt Disney World’s Park Hopping phone line at (407) 560-5000. We’d caution against simply asking random Cast Members inside the park you’re visiting–that’s not knowledge they’d have. (The bus stop Cast Members should know, though.)
The most interesting wrinkle to modified Park Hopping is that park-to-park bus transportation begins running each day shortly before to the start of Park Hopper hours.
In terms of transportation, options are car (yours or rental), ride share (Uber or Lyft), Skyliner gondolas, FriendShip boats, or Disney buses. MagicBands and/or tickets are no longer being scanned at the buses to verify whether guests are eligible to Park Hop, but you should know whether you bought Park Hopper tickets. (They cost more!)
When it comes to strategy, there are a multitude of different approaches. One is to “emphasize” Disney’s Hollywood Studios when making your Park Pass reservations. This isn’t really new advice, but the reason has changed.
This is because DHS has more high-profile headliners than any other park at Walt Disney World. Knocking those out early in the day can be incredibly advantageous, but only if you’re eligible for Early Entry. If not, you need a different strategy.
One such strategy would be booking EPCOT in the morning and Park Hopping to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the afternoon or evening. There are a few reasons why this approach is advantageous.
First, a lot of guests who arrive for park opening get “burnt out” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, since most of its popular attractions draw hour-plus wait times by noon. This leads to a mass exodus of guests around 2 pm and falling wait times for the remainder of the day. Because of this, the last few hours of the day tend to be especially uncrowded.
Second, if you spend the final few hours of the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios doing headliner attractions, it’s difficult to also see Fantasmic. (This actually depends upon when you’re visiting–on busier days, Fantasmic has a second showtime that’s 30 minutes after park closing, which is a perfect way to extend your day at DHS and have the best of both worlds!)
The reimagined Fantasmic is fantastic and absolutely not to be missed. Accordingly, spending multiple evenings–or a combination or mornings and evenings–at DHS makes a lot of sense. (As is probably obvious from the forgoing, we are not fans of spending the hours of 10 am until 3 pm or so at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.)
Finally, due to the top-heavy nature of the attraction lineup mentioned in the first point, Genie+ return times are often in the afternoon and evening in Disney’s Hollywood Studios even if you start the day there.
It’s easiest to Park Hop between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios due to the Skyliner, boat service, and walkway between the two parks. Intuitively, this makes these two parks the perfect pair. While we love World Showcase at night, you aren’t missing much if you skip the EPCOT Forever fireworks.
We think starting your day at Animal Kingdom and bouncing to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the afternoon and evening also makes a lot of sense. This is our preferred way to experience both parks, which also works well given normal operating hours. If you’re really ambitious, you can also do EPCOT during the middle of the day, or at the very end of the evening.
One great way to extend your day at Walt Disney World is starting out at Animal Kingdom (normally open starting at 8 am, which is earlier than any other park) and finishing at Magic Kingdom or EPCOT, which typically close at 9, 10, or 11 pm.
This works well because it’s easy to accomplish everything at Animal Kingdom in roughly one half-day, whereas many guests like multiple days in Magic Kingdom. (Although it’s not always possible due to operating hours and sunset times, we also love evenings in Animal Kingdom. The last two hours that park is open, lines are virtually nonexistent.)
Two nights in Magic Kingdom can be especially advantageous for seeing the Happily Ever After fireworks twice during your trip. While not as unique as the reimagined Fantasmic, this is arguably the best fireworks show that Walt Disney World has ever produced.
Ultimately, we’re happy to have Park Hopping back, even if it’s not the totally normal version, which may never return. Even though we could easily spend a full day in every single park at Walt Disney World, there are a number of strategic reasons to do two parks in one day. For all of these reasons, we highly recommend buying tickets with the Park Hopper option–see our Guide to Discount Walt Disney World Ticketsfor money-saving tips and other need to know info.
This is especially true with Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which can be frustrating to do in a single day. Splitting it up into multiple mornings or evenings makes for a considerably easier and more enjoyable experience–and you can save a ton of time in lines that way. To a lesser extent, Animal Kingdom and EPCOT also can be conducive to half-day visits, albeit minus the same time-savings. Anyway, hopefully these updated Park Hopping tips provide you with more strategy to add to your “toolkit” for visiting Walt Disney World!
Are you excited to Park Hop once again at Walt Disney World? If you’ve been postponing a trip, does this move the needle for you, or do you still need more ‘temporarily suspended’ offerings back? Think this will have a ripple effect on anything else at Walt Disney World? What do you expect to come back next? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!