Walt Disney World Ticket Options: FAQ – Park Hoppers, Water Parks, and More

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Walt Disney World sells several version of park tickets. Understanding the differences between these ticket types can help you get the most out of your vacation. Beyond the many variations of annual passes (most of which are not currently offered), the four main types of Disney park tickets are:

  • One Park Per Day
  • Water Park and Sports Add-On
  • Park Hopper Option
  • Park Hopper Plus Option

Note: Disney often tweaks their ticket offerings, particularly for Florida residents, but the four listed above are those typically available to the general public.

If you think Animal Kingdom is a half-day park, you may want the option to hop elsewhere during the day

What’s a One Park Per Day ticket?

The most basic ticket type is the One Park Per Day ticket. Not surprisingly, this ticket allows you entrance into one of Walt Disney World’s four theme parks (Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom) during one day.

If you buy a multi-day One Park Per Day ticket, you can enter any of the parks each day, but only one of them. For example, with a 5-Day One Park Per Day Ticket You Could:

  • Go to Magic Kingdom (and only Magic Kingdom) on five days
  • Go to Magic Kingdom on two days, go to Animal Kingdom on two days, and go to Epcot on one day
  • Go to Epcot on three days, go to Magic Kingdom on day, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on one day
  • Go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on one day, Epcot on two days, Animal Kingdom on one day, and Magic Kingdom on one day
  • Go to Magic Kingdom on four days and Epcot on one day
  • … there are many other similar combinations.

So what happens if I want to visit more than one theme park in a day?

If you want to visit more than one of Disney World’s four theme parks in a single day, you need to purchase the Park Hopper Option that, you guessed it, allows you to “Park Hop.”

Note: There is one large exception to this. See below.

What exactly does Park Hopping mean?

In Disney-speak, Park Hopping means that you visit more than one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios) in one day. If you want to go to more than one of these parks in a single day, then you must have the Park Hopper add-on for your Disney theme park ticket.

Do I need a Park Hopper if I’m going leave and return to the same park during the same day?

No. With a Disney base ticket, you’re welcome to leave and re-enter the same theme park as many times as you like during the same day. So, if you want to visit the Magic Kingdom in the morning, go back to your hotel room for a nap, and return to the Magic Kingdom for the evening fireworks, then you do not need a Park Hopper ticket. However, if you want to visit the Magic Kingdom in the morning, go back to the room for a nap and then see the fireworks at Epcot, you would need a Park Hopper.

Do I need to get a Park Hopper if I’m just going to pop into a second park to eat or shop?

Yes. Any time you want to set foot in a second park during the same day, you’ll need Park Hopper (with one type of exception which I’ll get to in a sec). There is no “just eating” or “just shopping” or “just seeing the fireworks” way to avoid needing a Park Hopper. The Hopping has nothing to do with going on rides–it has to do with entering the park.

You don’t need any ticket to visit most of the dining and shopping at Disney Springs

Why would I want to Park Hop?

Lots of reasons. Some might be:

  • You’re at Walt Disney World for just a few days, but want to go to all the parks.
  • You want to add variety to your vacation days.
  • You’d like to remain flexible in case weather or illness forces a change in your plans.
  • There’s a park you only want to visit for part of a day.
  • You particularly enjoy one part of a park (a certain ride or show perhaps) and want to revisit just that area several times over the course of your trip.
  • You like to dine at one park more than the others.
  • You’re visiting at a time of the year when some of the parks close quite early and you want to expand your entertainment options in the evening hours.

Important note: Post-pandemic, guests may only Park Hop after 2:00 p.m. and only after they have previously visited the park where they have a valid Park Pass reservation. You MUST have a Park Pass for your first park, but it is not necessary for the park(s) you hop to later in the day.

What is the price difference between a One Park Per Day Ticket and a Park Hopper ticket?

The price to add Park Hopping varies depending on how many days ticket is. To add Park Hopping capabilities to a One-Day ticket the cost is $65. To add Hopping to a 2 or 3 day ticket, the cost is $75. The price to add Hopping to a 4-10 ticket is $85. This price is per person – with the Hopping add-on priced the same for adults and children ages 3-9. (As ever, children under age three get into the WDW parks for free.)

If I buy a multi-day ticket, do I have to use it on consecutive days?

No.

If you buy a one-day ticket, you must use that ticket on the date you selected at purchase time. For multi-day tickets, you have a window in which to use your park admissions, which varies depending on the number of ticket days you’ve chosen. The windows are:

  • For a 2-day ticket, you may enter the parks on any 2 days within 4 days beginning on the start date
  • For a 3-day ticket, you may enter the parks on any 3 days within 5 days beginning on the start date
  • For a 4-day ticket, you may enter the parks on any 4 days within 7 days beginning on the start date
  • For a 5-day ticket, you may enter the parks on any 5 days within 8 days beginning on the start date
  • For a 6-day ticket, you may enter the parks on any 6 days within 9 days beginning on the start date
  • For a 7-day ticket, you may enter the parks on any 7 days within 10 days beginning on the start date
  • For a 8-day ticket, you may enter the parks on any 8 days within 12 days beginning on the start date
  • For a 9-day ticket, you may enter the parks on any 9 days within 13 days beginning on the start date
  • For a 10-day ticket, you may enter the parks on any 10 days within 14 days beginning on the start date

Those extra days allow you to do things like take a rest day in the middle of your trip to sit by the pool, visit the beach or other Central Florida attractions, spend a full day shopping at Disney Springs, or to hang out at the WDW water parks (more on that in a sec). They also give you a buffer in case someone in your party becomes ill or if you find that the weather does not cooperate on a day or two.

Multi-day theme park tickets do not have to be used on consecutive days. Many folks take a mid-trip break to enjoy the amenities at their hotel.

Water parks? Can I get into the Disney World water parks with any of these tickets?

The ticket options above will not get you into the Disney water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon). To visit the water parks you need a single-day water park ticket or you must add the Water Park and Sports Option to your ticket package.

I assume a single-day ticket will let me into a water park for just one day?

That’s correct.

One day water park tickets cost either $69 or $64 for adults and either $63 or $58 for kids ages 3-9, depending on your date selection.

Note: In the past, Disney has offered water park annual passes, these are not currently available. Also note: there may be slightly different pricing available for Florida residents or for Disney Vacation Club members.

What’s the Water Park and Sports Option?

Previously called the “Water Park Fun & More Option”, the Water Park and Sports Option allows guests a certain number of admissions into other Walt Disney World properties. These include:

  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park (Currently Unavailable)
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (Currently Unavailable)
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course – FootGolf. Played on Disney’s 9-hole golf course, FootGolf combines the excitement of golf with the fast-paced nature of soccer for a unique experience.
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course – standard golf.
    Enjoy a 2,913 yard, par 36, 9-hole walking course with fun for everyone, from developing golfers to experienced players. Greens fees only.
  • Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course (prior to 4PM)
  • Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course (prior to 4:00 PM)

What does “certain number of admissions” mean?

The number of Water Park and Sports admission allotments you get is based on the number of days of your base theme park admission ticket. A four-day theme park admission ticket is allowed four Water Park and Sports admissions. A five-day theme park admission ticket is allowed five Water Park and Sports admissions. And so on …

How much does it cost to add the Water Park and Sports Option?

Adding the Water Park and Sports Option to your ticket increases the price by $70, regardless of the number of days of your base ticket and regardless of the age of the ticket holder.

The Disney World water parks can be a great way to beat the summer heat.

Wait, am I reading that right? I’ll pay $70 to add the Water Park feature and I can get multiple water park entries?

Yes!

The Water Park and Sports option is a stealth value in the world of Disney tickets. If, for example, you purchased a 7-day theme park ticket and added the Water Park and Sports feature, for just $70 you could go to a water park SEVEN TIMES. Compare that to the one-day water park admission cost of $60+ and it’s a no-brainer that if you’re going to visit the water parks more than once, or if you’re going to visit a water park and play mini-golf, then the Water Park and Sports add-on is a great value.

Also remember that if you have, say, a 7-day theme park ticket, you have a longer period of time to use all those admissions. You could fill those extra days economically by adding the Water Park and Sports feature.
And – bonus – if you add the Water Park & Sports option, you get an extra day to use your entitlements. Meaning that if, for example, you add the Water Park option on a five day ticket you get 9 days to use everything instead of the 8 days listed above.

Can I get a Park Hopper AND the Water Park and Sports add-on?

You sure can. You can add either the Park Hopper, the Water Park option, or both of these enhancements to your base ticket. This version of Disney World tickets is called “Park Hopper Plus.”

Do I have to use all the Water Park and Sports admission allotments on different days?

No. You can double up, using more than one Water Park and Sports allotments in a single day, if you have them. For example, the Winter Summerland mini-golf course is immediately adjacent to Blizzard Beach. You could do both of those activities on a single day, if you had enough Water Park and Sports admissions available.

Will I be missing out on something if I don’t Park Hop?

Not necessarily. It depends on your touring style, the composition of your family, and your ability to plan.

Guests who are traveling with very young children may find that more than one park per day is too much stimulation. Guests who are staying at Walt Disney World for a longer period of time may be able to arrange multiple visits to each park without needing that to happen during the same day. Guests who are visiting during peak times (Christmas to New Year’s Day, July 4) may find that park closures due to crowd levels will impede their ability to hop.

Do most people go to the water parks?

I wouldn’t say most, but certainly many do. If you love going to the beach or hanging out at the pool, chances are you’ll enjoy time at the water parks.

But know that the water park experience is quite different from the theme park experience. You’ll be wearing a bathing suit and getting wet all day at the water parks, which doesn’t happen at the theme parks. There is lots of physical activity at the water parks — which may not be appropriate for some guests. And parents of very young children may be stressed keeping an eye on them around water.

But the water parks can be a blast for the right family. And visiting the water parks can be a fantastic way to extend your Disney World experience at a minimal upcharge.

I’ll be at Walt Disney World for six days, but only want to Park Hop on two of those days. I can’t buy just a two-day Park Hopper for a lower price?

No. The Park Hopper add-on is a flat fee item. The price is the price whether you choose to hop on one day of your visit or on all of them.

If I decide that I want to Park Hop during the middle of my trip, can I add the Park Hopper option then?

Yes. You can add the Park Hopper option to a WDW base admission ticket at any point when it is still valid.

If you’re visiting Walt Disney World for eight days and you decide on day three that you want to Park Hop, just go to any park ticket window, guest relations office, or resort concierge desk and they’ll hook you up. Of course, adding the Hopper option mid-trip means that you’ll have fewer days of hopping flexibility.

Is there a price difference if I add the Hopper late in my trip?

No. The price is the same flat rate (based on the number of days in your base ticket) per person no matter when the option is added. If you’re pretty sure that you’re going to hop at some point during your vacation, then it makes the most sense to add the Hopper option as soon as possible. This way you’ll have the more ability to hop should circumstances warrant. For example, I find the Animal Kingdom somewhat inhospitable in the rain. If I were at Animal Kingdom and it started to pour, with the Park Hopper I’d just head on over to Epcot to enjoy some indoor attractions. Without the Hopper, I’m stuck with a wet safari.

It looks like it’s cheaper to add an extra day to my ticket than to add the Park Hopper option. Can’t I just do that and use two different “days” to get into two different parks?

No, no, no, no, no, no. And a little more no after that.

Seriously, this is perhaps the biggest area of Disney ticket confusion out there. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen guests use extremely foul language and nearly come to blows with guest relations cast members who informed them that they could not use a base ticket at two parks in one day.

Don’t do it. Don’t try it. It won’t work. The entrance reader will reject your ticket; people will be called over; someone will get upset. Save yourself the trouble and just put this idea out of your mind.

You simply cannot scan the same ticket (MagicBand, RFID, whatever) at two parks on the same day without having the Park Hopper add-on.

Really?

Yes, really.

I totally understand your logic. Depending on your travel dates, the price difference between an 8-day base ticket and a 9-day base ticket could be as low as $5. You’d rather spend $5 and swipe twice than spend $85 for the Hopper. I get it. But it just won’t work.

And I know that the next question that usually comes up is, “But why?” The answer to that it is simply, “Because Disney said so.” They’ve structured the ticket pricing to be more financially advantageous for them than for you. That’s just the way it is. Time to move on.

Can I go to more than two parks in a day with the Park Hopper?

Sure, knock yourself out. I often use Park Hopper tickets to visit three parks in a day. And a few times for very tiring four-park days. But again, remember that you currently can’t start hopping until 2:00 p.m., so your ability to multi-hop might be constrained by the park hours.

Is having a park hopper worth the price?

“Is it worth it?” is one of my least favorite questions. Your impression of worth will be colored by the length of your vacation, your income, the composition of your traveling party, your overall vacation expectations, and a thousand other factors.

That being said, Touring Plans has surveyed our readers (admittedly a biased group) asking them whether adding the park hopper option was worth it to them and they responded “yes” by a factor of two to one. For every reader that said park hopping was not worth it, there were two that said it was.

I’ve got a family of five. For us to add Park Hoppers to our tickets would cost more than $400. Adding the Water Park option on top of that would be another $350. Are these upgrades worth it?

Again the most vexing question of all: Is it worth it? Only you can make this decision based on your unique situation. Some things to think about as you decide are:

  • What is my total vacation budget and what percentage of my budget would be consumed by Park Hoppers?
  • Is this a lets-relax-and-be-luxurious vacation or a save-every-possible-penny vacation?
  • Is having the ability to be spontaneous important to you?
  • Are you traveling with guests (children, infirm adults) for whom Park Hopping or water park visits might be physically or emotionally challenging?
  • Are you a good planner? Are you sure you’re going to be able to accomplish everything you want to in a park during a single day?
  • What else could/would you do with the money during your Disney vacation? More souvenirs? Better dining? Backstage tour?
  • What else could/would you do the money at home?

For me, Park Hopping is a near imperative. I add Water Park tickets once every fourth or fifth trip depending on factors such as weather, who I’m traveling with, and what else I have planned during my visit. You may have different priorities.

Do I need a Park Hopper to go to Disney Springs?

No. There are no admission tickets needed to visit Disney Springs. A few venues within Disney Springs require tickets (the movie theater, for example), but you don’t need a base ticket, a Park Hopper, or anything else to visit Disney Springs to enjoy the shopping, dining, and outdoor entertainment.

Is going back and forth between parks a time waster?

It depends a bit on where you’re staying and where you’re going, but often it’s not overly time intensive.

My family often stays at the Beach Club Villas and we love dining right next door at Epcot. When we stay at BCV, we typically visit the Magic Kingdom in the morning, go back to the room for an afternoon nap or swim, and then eat at Epcot in the evening. I feel like this ultimately saves us time rather than wastes it.

Do I need a Park Hopper ticket if I’m going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, or other after hours event?

No! This is that exception to the Park Hopper rule that I mentioned earlier. MNSSHP, MVMCP, and a few other experiences are called “Hard Ticket” events. You need a dedicated ticket to enter that’s unrelated to your regular theme park ticket.

So, if you only have a base park admission ticket (one park per day) and you visit Epcot during the day, you’re still welcome to go to the Magic Kingdom in the evening without a Park Hopper if you use a Halloween Party of Christmas Party ticket to get in. The Party tickets do not impact your regular tickets.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

2 thoughts on “Walt Disney World Ticket Options: FAQ – Park Hoppers, Water Parks, and More

  • June 2, 2022 at 11:44 pm
    Permalink

    If I buy a 5 day park hopper plus ticket does that mean I get to go 5 days to one of the four parks and an additional day at a waterpark (for essentially 6 days of adventure), or is the waterpark considered one of my 5 days?

    Reply
    • June 3, 2022 at 11:51 am
      Permalink

      The water park (“plus”) admission would not count as one of your five days of theme park admission. Adding the Plus option is a good way to add activity time to your trip for a relatively affordable price. In the situation you describe, you could actually work in more than six days of admissions.

      Reply

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