Tips for Park Hopping at Disney World in 2024

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 January 9, 2024.)

Let’s start with the latest update. All-day Park Hopping is back, meaning that for the first time in 4 years, guests with a Park Hopper ticket or an Annual Pass are once again able to visit another Walt Disney World theme park at any time of day during regular park hours! Prior to now, Park Hopper access has only been available after 2 p.m. each day. Now, there’s no more waiting.

The only limit going forward will be capacity limitations. This means that, in theory, you could get turned away upon arrival if your destination park has already hit its attendance limit–but that was true even with the 2 p.m. Park Hopping rule. To my recollection, this has only ever been an issue once in the post-reopening era–for a few hours on October 1 at Magic Kingdom, the day of the park’s 50th Anniversary.

Otherwise, Park Hopping has not once been restricted, including on incredibly busy days, like the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In fact, that peak week that rang in 2024 was the busiest period at the parks in the last 4 years, with the highest average wait times since 2019, and not once were there any capacity closures. Avatar Flight of Passage maxed out at a 300+ minute wait time and over a dozen other rides had triple-digit waits, but there were no limits on Park Hopping during that week.

It’s important to stress this reality because getting turned away is a common concern among readers, but it just has not been happening. 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.)

Walt Disney World dropping the Park Hopping restriction is one of several changes to improve the guest experience in 2024. This included bringing back the Disney Dining Plan, an end to park reservations for most guests, and the pre-booking of Lightning Lane ride reservations. (That last one still hasn’t rolled out.)

There are a couple of other important changes taking effect as a result of Park Hopping going back to normal for 2024. The first is transportation. Per Walt Disney World, bus transportation is now available between the theme parks beginning at 10:00 a.m. each day. Guests may also take the monorail when traveling between Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. Bus services are not available from Magic Kingdom to EPCOT at this time.

Speaking from extensive past experience with Park Hopping right around the start time…we’d recommend non-bus transportation whenever possible. Like the Pirate’s Code, that 10 a.m. rule is more what you’d call “guidelines” than an actual rule. Which is to say that you might be waiting a while for a bus to show up–don’t expect one to arrive at 10 a.m. on the dot and take you to your second park. This is true of buses departing the parks in mid-morning, generally, not just Park Hopper transportation. They’re very hit or miss.

Whenever possible, plan your Park Hopping so you’re using the Skyliner gondolas, monorail, boats, or your feet. Those options are much more consistent and predictable. As we’ll discuss below, the Skyliner is our favorite option for Park Hopping. Non-stop loading and frequent flights make it a winner.

The other change isn’t so much a change, but that this will make it simpler to strategize for virtual queues. Guests are able to join one attraction virtual queue at any theme park where they have valid admission. Guests may hold only one attraction virtual queue at a time. Additionally, here’s the official policy from Walt Disney World:

  • Guests do not need to be inside a theme park to request to join the virtual queue at 7:00 a.m.
  • Guests must be inside the theme park to request to join the virtual queue at 1:00 p.m.

In theory, this means you could do the 7 a.m. virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, use our speed strategy recommendations to score an early boarding group (same tips apply to both rides), redeem that around 11 a.m., take the monorail to Park Hop over to Magic Kingdom at noon, enter the park, and join the second virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run at 1 p.m.

One thing to note–especially as Park Hopping restrictions are dropped–is that Walt Disney World’s official policies almost certainly are not 100% correct. It has never been the actual policy that you need to be in the park for the 1 pm entry time. Everyone in your party does need to tap into Magic Kingdom or EPCOT (as the case may be) at some point before 1 pm in order to “unlock” access to the virtual queue at 1 pm.

In the past, none of the virtual queues have been geofenced or based upon proximity—this functionality has unlocked in the My Disney Experience app for each guest after they have physically tapped into the park’s tap/turnstiles. You can leave after tapping in and still join during the afternoon entry time from your hotel room or wherever–you could literally be inside Magic Kingdom or Manitoba, it wouldn’t matter.

The virtual queue system only validates whether you’ve tapped into the park where you’re trying to join a VQ (meaning Magic Kingdom or EPCOT), not your current location. It can actually be advantageous to leave the park midday, as that’s when crowds and wait times are worst. If you’re like us, you also may prefer to do lunch at a Magic Kingdom area resort rather at Walt Disney World’s worst food park.

This means that you could arrive at Magic Kingdom for Early Entry or rope drop, do a rides for the first few hours, and then walk over to Steakhouse 71 at the Contemporary for lunch, and try for TRON Lightcycle Run at 1 pm from your table. Likewise, you could start out by taking the Skyliner from Caribbean Beach to EPCOT for park opening, do rides for a few hours, take the gondola back to your room for a midday nap, and join the 1 p.m. Cosmic Rewind virtual queue from there.

The key detail in both cases is that you’ve only “unlocked” access to the virtual queue for the park you were in. If you started in Magic Kingdom and left for Steakhouse 71, you could not join the virtual queue for Cosmic Rewind from the table–only TRON Lightcycle Run.

What’s currently unknown is whether entering a different park would override your ability to join the VQ for the first park. Meaning that if you enter Magic Kingdom but then Park Hop to DHS, would you still be able to join the 1 p.m. TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue? Way back in 2020, this was possible with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance…but that was 4 years ago and a ton has changed since! (We’ll be doing strategy testing soon and will keep you posted.).

Some Walt Disney World guests never Park Hop, others do every day of their trips. To each their own, but we fall on the “aggressive Park Hopper” end of the spectrum. We love to switch parks when we hit a wall in one after riding the rope drop wave of crowds, for Advance Dining Reservations, or for a variety of other strategic purposes. So it’ll be nice for us to once again resume doing all of this.

When it comes to Park Hopping strategy, there are a multitude of different approaches. One is to “emphasize” Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the mornings. 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, and we’ve demonstrated time and time again that it’s possible to do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as a walk-on before hitting Toy Story Land or the Sunset Boulevard headliners in our Early Entry step-by-step reports.

On a good day, you can accomplish a ton at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the first few hours of the day, especially if you’re one of the first thousand or so people through the turnstiles for Early Entry. I Did Every Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Before 11am Via Standby Lines offers a very unrepresentative but nevertheless illustrative example of this.

The opposite is also true. On a bad and breakdown-filled day, it can be very smart to cut your losses and leave DHS if multiple attractions are unavailable. Another recent post, Early Entry at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Report ~ Tinseltown Breakdowns!, offers a look at how that can play out.

However, this only works if you’re eligible for Early Entry. If not, you need a different strategy for DHS. You do not want to rope drop Disney’s Hollywood Studios at official opening–you’ll be way behind the curve.

One such strategy would doing 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 early afternoon 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. As such, it can be a better course of action to start elsewhere, and book Lightning Lane reservations for DHS while at that other park. (For more info and answers to common questions, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQ.)

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.

We absolutely love it, and recommend watching once from Main Street and once while fully “immersed” in Fantasyland. (See our Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Guide for recommendations.)

Another great way to take advantage of Park Hopping at Magic Kingdom is during Party Season. On days when Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is held, the park closes to day guests at 6 p.m. Because of this, it is usually not very busy up until about 4 p.m., since those guests without Park Hopper tickets don’t want to visit on a day with partial hours.

Zig when they zag and go to Magic Kingdom on those days to take advantage of the lower crowds, then Park Hop to a different park around 3 p.m. for the rest of the day, and do Magic Kingdom on another night when it’s open late. (Just be warned that the days with ‘full’ hours are significantly busier–the other side of the low crowds coin–so we do not recommend spending the entire day in MK on those dates.)

Another advantage that Park Hopping offers that’s underrated is with difficult Advance Dining Reservations. This is obvious because so many people already make their Walt Disney World vacation plans around tough ADRs. Restoring full-day Park Hopping opens up more possibilities for doing ‘difficult’ lunches in other parks–or just building your itineraries around restaurant preferences. There are a ton of fans who do precisely this, and that includes us.

This is potentially underrated because Advance Dining Reservations have been significantly easier over the last several months so this has become less of a pressing priority…but that likely won’t last. The return of the Disney Dining Plan and also the return of Free Dining in 2024 is likely going to make many ADRs suddenly become much more competitive.

Our suspicion is that this dynamic will be most pronounced at character dining experiences–such as Minnie’s Seasonal Dine–for a number of different reasons beyond the scope of this post. (See our Guide to Scoring Difficult ADRs at Walt Disney World for more advice and strategy.)

Ultimately, we’re happy to have Park Hopping back to normal for 2024. 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 Tickets for 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!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Are you excited to Park Hop without restrictions once again at Walt Disney World? What’s your preferred Park Hopping strategy for tackling multiple parks in one day at Walt Disney World? Planning on doing a 4-parks challenge in 2024 now that you’re able to Park Hop earlier in the day? 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!

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