February 23, 2024, 8:03 PM ·

Thinking about a family vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida? Have you been pricing tickets, hotel and travel… and wondering how you could afford this trip?

You’re not alone. The price of visiting Disney has been outpacing inflation for decades – and certainly blowing well past average American wage growth. But you do not have to be wealthy or willing to go in debt to visit Disney World. You just need to find the right places to save on your trip. I will be writing about several of those strategies, so please subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to get those tips. But today I would like to start with what I believe is the easiest way to save money on your Walt Disney World theme park tickets. Don’t buy the Park Hopper upgrade.Park Hopping at Walt Disney World is not like going in between parks at Universal Orlando, Disneyland or other major, multi-park resorts. The Disney World parks stand far from one another – sometimes miles. Each has its own security bubble, meaning that you must be rescreened each time you park hop. Whether you drive yourself or queue for Disney’s transportation, you can expect to miss at least an hour of potential attraction time each time you change parks. Sometimes more.

Park hopping is doing Disney on hard mode. Sure, there is reward to be had there, but only for advanced players. If you are a first-time or infrequent Disney visitor, do yourself a favor and plan to spend a full day at each of the four parks.It’s easier to focus on a park without thinking about the other parks. You won’t waste time moving in between parks. That allows you to get in an extra attraction, or two, or maybe even three. And you will save the $95 per ticket that you would have spent to add the Park Hopper option for each person in your family.If that money is just burning a hole in your pocket, spend it instead on either the daily Disney Genie+ upgrade, or an Individual Lightning Lane. That will allow you to visit even more popular attractions than you would have been able to visit if you’d spent that cash on Park Hopping instead.Park Hopping isn’t a bad idea at Disney World. It’s just not worth the cost for inexperienced visitors who are there for less than a week. Park Hopping is included with Walt Disney World’s annual passes, so there’s no financial savings in sticking to one park per day if you have one of those. (Though there are potential logistical and time savings.) The cost of adding Park Hopping drops to under $10 a day if you buy a 10-day WDW ticket, and if you’re staying that long, you’ll be ready to play on hard mode by the second week of your trip.So it’s great that Disney offers the option of Park Hopping. But don’t forget that’s all it is – an option. You don’t need it, and skipping it can save you some cash without harming the quality of your visit.Indeed, for some families, not Park Hopping might even make your Disney World visit better.* * *
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