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10 Tips for Park Hopping at Walt Disney World

1. Use Disney’s transportation

Even if you choose to bring your own vehicle to the Walt Disney World Resort, on days when you plan to park hop it may be easier to simply rely on Disney’s transportation. In some cases, the bus/boat/monorail ride can act as a needed break between parks, and in many cases you’ll spend more time getting to the car, leaving the parking lot and driving to the next park than you would with Disney’s transportation. It’s important to tour the parks efficiently when you plan to park hop, and using Disney’s transportation system can help save you some time.

2. Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours

Another great way to save some time is to use Extra Magic Hours to your advantage (if you are staying at a Disney resort–which you should to make park hopping even easier!). Plan on visiting whichever park opens the earliest first, and get there at or shortly after opening. Use the same logic when planning the last park of the day. If one park is open later due to Extra Magic Hours, make this your last stop.

3. Have a backup plan

If you change your mind and trail off for a lunch at a resort, don’t stress about not getting to the next park in time. Likewise if you planned on taking the monorail but find yourself on a bus instead, don’t worry about it. Create backup plans on the go and roll with it– park hopping in itself is fairly spontaneous and changes can come up even with lots of advance planning.

4. Make your FastPass selections for the first park of the day

While lines for attractions are shorter in the morning, we still suggest that you make your FastPass selections for early in the day. After you use up your first three FastPasses, you’ll be able to make more one at a time throughout the day. By making the first three selections in the morning at the first park of the day, you’ll be able to continue making selections as you hop to the other parks later.

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5. Stay on top of the time

Keep tabs on the time so you can tell if switching parks is worth it or even still doable. If a park closes at 8:00 for instance, and you’re still in line for a ride at another park at 6:00, hopping over may not be worth it. Watching the time can also help plan your day, and help you decipher which attractions to ride when, and when to hold off and save something for your next visit. When planning out the timing of park hopping, don’t forget to factor in the length of the attractions themselves. While most are short, Splash Mountain is 10 minutes long and Spaceship Earth is 20, both can slow you down if you’re rushing to leave the park when you’re done.

6. Prioritize low-wait attractions

Focusing on low-wait attractions is especially important when you’re getting ready to hop over to another park. Getting stuck in a long line can mess up your timing, so it’s best to line up early, use a FastPass or save the longer-wait attractions for when you’re done park hopping for the day. While looking for low-wait attractions, remember to consider the timing of shows. Many shows that run on a continual basis have short waits, but the shows themselves can sometimes exceed 15-20 minutes.

7. Know when to take a break

If you’re tired, stop for a break. Head over to the nearest resort and just relax on the grounds away from the parks, or grab a table and some water at a quick service restaurant. Park hopping isn’t a contest, and you aren’t any less of a Disney fan if you stop for a break when you need one. More importantly, know when the kids need to take a break. Their legs can get tired far before yours, and they are (most likely) much more prone to meltdowns than you are.

8. Don’t feel like you need to rush

On top of knowing when to break, remember that you don’t need to rush. Unless you’ve made up some sort of challenge for yourself, you won’t gain anything by running from ride to ride. If you’d rather take it slow and soak in all the details of the park before hopping onto the next one then do that. Realistically keep track of time, but don’t rush to the point where you’re wearing yourself out.

9. Get some family photos

One of the easiest things to forget during a Disney vacation is to take photos of the whole family. Whether you’re doing a Four Parks Challenge, or just planning on spending the evening in a different park, be sure to stop for at least one photo in each park. You’ll want to be able to look back and remember your day park hopping, and what better way to do that than by snapping a few photos?

10. End the night with a bang

After spending a day park hopping, make the end of the night a celebration of sorts. Get together for Fantasmic or see the fireworks in Epcot or the Magic Kingdom. Celebrate how accomplished you’ll feel after park hopping all day, and spend some quality time taking in the magic in the last park of the day with your family and friends.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a graduate of St. Anselm College, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree in History. She completed two Disney College Programs, one at Dinoland U.S.A., in Animal Kingdom, and one at Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Hollywood Studios. She is the author of “Brittany Earns Her Ears,” a memoir about her experiences on the college program, and she currently resides in Massachusetts.