There are so many important decisions to make when planning a Disney vacation that it can be overwhelming if you don’t do your research. Deciding on which Disney World park tickets you’ll get is definitely one of those important decisions! One of the most popular questions I receive as a travel advisor for Disney destinations is “What’s the difference between a Park Hopper and base ticket, and which one is the right fit for my family?” And honestly, those are great questions!
If you’re wondering the same thing, my ultimate guide to Disney World park tickets is sure to help clarify it all.
Have you thought about taking a Disney Cruise Line vacation? I’ve laid out all of the pros and cons of both a Disney World vacation and a Disney Cruise Line vacation. Check it out here!
So, What is a Base Ticket?
A base ticket will allow you to visit one park per day. There are 4 Disney World theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. A base ticket is less expensive in price than a park hopper ticket, and pricing varies depending on which day of the week/month that you go.
With a base ticket, you cannot go to multiple parks in one day. But you CAN take a break and leave the park you entered first at any time during the day and come back later. For example, if you entered Magic Kingdom in the morning and you decide after lunch you would like to go back to your room and rest, that’s perfectly fine. You will still be able to come back to Magic Kingdom at any time during that day. You can exit and enter the park as many times as you would like.
What is a Park Hopper Ticket?
A Park Hopper ticket will allow you to visit more than one park in one day. Park Hopper tickets are a tad more expensive, but it might be worth it depending on what your family’s vacation plans are (we will get to that in a bit!). So for example, with a park hopper ticket, you can go to all four parks in one day if you choose to.
Now that you know the differences between the two ticket types, here are some things to think about before making your decision on which one is right for your family.
Some Things to Consider When Choosing Park Tickets
Are you a first time visitor?
To the first time guest, Disney World can be SO overwhelming. If it’s your very first trip to the parks, I don’t recommend getting park hoppers because it can be very time consuming to switch parks. It can take at LEAST an hour if you are using Disney transportation, and that’s on a good day. By the time you get off the bus, boat, or monorail and scan your bands at the entrance, you probably won’t have time to fit in all of your “must-do” attractions because you will have wasted all your time switching parks.
For first timers, I recommend doing base tickets and strategically planning out your day. You can fit a lot more in if you come up with a plan and stick to it, but don’t overload yourself. Squeeze in some time for breaks and relaxation. If you’re stuck figuring out how to effectively plan out your days, I can help with that! My services are completely free and, as a Disney expert, I plan every detail for you so you can maximize your time as much as possible.
If you’ve been to Disney World multiple times or you don’t want to try to “fit it all in”, a park hopper option may be worth it for you, especially if you want to dine at different restaurants at different parks in the same day.
Are you on a Strict Budget?
As I said before, the base tickets are less expensive than the Park Hopper tickets (as of September 2019, there is about a $60 per day difference). So if you are on a strict budget and don’t care about switching parks, a base ticket will most likely be great for you.
How Flexible Do you Want to Be?
The Park Hopper option definitely adds some flexibility to your trip. If there is a certain park you don’t want to spend a lot of time in but you still want to walk through and check it out for a bit, you can do that with a park hopper. For example: if there is a restaurant that you really want to go to in Epcot, but you don’t want to spend time at any of the attractions there (and then go to another park after you eat), you would need a park hopper to do this.
If you are the kind of person who likes to go with the flow and explore on your own without a set plan, then I would strongly suggest a park hopper. If having a plan makes you feel less stressed, then I would suggest a base ticket.
How Long is Your Trip?
You should also think about the length of your trip when considering which park tickets to purchase. If you are going on a short weekend trip and want to fit in as much as you can at each of the parks, then you might want to go with a Park Hopper and only do your “must-do” attractions. If you are staying 4 days or longer and have time to do everything you want to do at each park, you should go with a base ticket.
So Let’s Recap:
A base ticket lets you visit one of the 4 Disney theme parks per day. A park hopper ticket lets you visit more than one park per day. There are 4 things you should consider when choosing your park tickets:
- Are you a first time visitor?
- Are you looking to save money?
- How flexible do you want to be?
- How long is your trip?
A Park Hopper is Right for You IF:
- You want to visit all four parks in one day
- If you’re not a first time visitor
- If you are going on a short vacation
- If you’re not on a strict budget
- If you like to “go with the flow” and not have a set plan
- If you want flexibility
A Base Ticket is Right for You IF:
- You don’t care about visiting all four theme parks in one day
- If you are a first time visitor
- If you are staying 4+ days and have time to do everything you want to do at each park
- If you are on a strict budget
- If you would like to have a plan