The Unofficial Guide to All-Day Park Hopping at Walt Disney World

All-Day Park Hopping at Walt Disney World

All-day park hopping has returned to Walt Disney World for the first time since before the pandemic, and the Unofficial Guides team has all the tips and tricks you need to take full advantage of this perk.

Unofficial Guide coauthor Seth Kubersky posing outside the Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios during the return of all-day park hopping at Walt Disney World in January 2024.
Tackle both Tower of Terror and TRON in a single day with our updated 2024 Unofficial Guide to all-day park hopping at Walt Disney World. (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

Park hopping—the common term for visiting multiple theme parks during the same day using one admission ticket—has long been a popular add-on option among visitors to Walt Disney World. But ever since the coronavirus closures of 2020, guests have only been able to take advantage of it in the afternoons. Fortunately, after years of being restricted to park hopping after 2 p.m. only, guests at Walt Disney World can finally (once again) park-hop from park opening until closing time.

The Unofficial Guides team was there on January 9, 2024, when all-day park hopping returned to Walt Disney World, and we’ve field tested these tips, tricks, and hacks to help you take full advantage of your park-hopping privileges during your next trip to the World.

All-Day Park Hopping at Walt Disney World

Park hopping is an optional feature that can be added on to any standard single- or multi-day Walt Disney World theme park admission ticket (and is included in all Disney annual passes), which permits guests to visit two or more Disney parks within the same day during normal operating hours. Since 2020, visitors could only transfer to their second park after 2 p.m. each day, which severely restricted usage of the benefit. But now that park hopping is allowed all day again, it’s much easier to hit three or even all four parks in one day, which makes the park-hopping upcharge a significantly better value proposition.

In order to take advantage of all-day park hopping, simply enter the first theme park of your choice any time after the gates open, and then exit and head to your next park as soon as you like. As long as park hopping is permitted with your admission type, you don’t have to worry about what time it is when you leave your first park, as long as your destination is open when you arrive!

Park Hopping and Park Reservations for Annual Passholders

All single- and multi-day theme park tickets currently being sold for Walt Disney World are date specific and no longer require an advance theme park reservation. That means that as long as your ticket is valid on the day you are visiting, you don’t have to worry about picking which park you are going to ahead of time.

With no park reservations required, you’re free to start your day at any of the theme parks, which can be convenient when testing your luck with the morning Virtual Queue (as explained below). And with the return of all-day park hopping, you can head off to your second park as soon as you’ve completed your rope-drop agenda.

Things are slightly more complicated for Annual Passholders because they are still required to make park reservations on most days in order to enter the parks before 2 p.m. After that hour, passholders may enter any Walt Disney World park (as long as they aren’t blocked out) with the exception of Magic Kingdom on Saturdays and Sundays. However, in order to take advantage of all-day park hopping (as well as the morning Virtual Queue distribution), Annual Passholders will still want to make a park reservation for the first park they plan to visit in the morning.

One final reservation wrinkle for annual passholders is the recent introduction of “good to go“ days. When viewing the online park reservation calendar, passholders will notice certain dates circled in green. On these “good to go“ days, park reservations are not needed and cannot be requested; any reservations booked before a day is designated as “good to go“ no longer count against the passholder’s reservation limit. As long as a day is marked “good to go,“ passholders can enter at any time after park opening and take advantage of the following options—including park hopping and Virtual Queue—whenever they like without any advance planning.

Walt Disney World Park Transportation and Park Hopping

Along with the return of all-day park hopping comes the restoration of morning park-to-park bus service at Walt Disney World. For several years, direct bus service from Magic Kingdom to Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom was not available until 1 p.m. each day. Now, you can board a bus between the theme parks as early as 10 a.m.

In addition to the direct park-to-park bus service, guests can also use the monorail between EPCOT and the Transportation and Ticket Center, or the Skyliner and water taxi services between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, any time from before park opening until well past closing.

Keep in mind that, although Disney’s park hopping transportation is free and convenient, it isn’t quick. Count on a minimum of 30 minutes for gate-to-gate travel, and add in extra time if you’re trying to get to a reservation. For optimal efficiency, it may be faster to take a private car—your own, a rideshare, or Minnie Van—when park hopping.

Virtual Queues and Park Hopping

Two of the top thill rides at Walt Disney World—namely TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT—are still utilizing a free Virtual Queue system instead of the traditional standby line. In order to ride these attractions without purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane pass (described below), you must participate in Disney’s twice-daily distribution of Boarding Group numbers, which amounts to a fastest-finger contest inside the parks’ smartphone app.

Virtual Queue boarding groups for TRON and Cosmic Rewind are distributed at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. The return of all-day park hopping has had no effect on the morning distribution, which guests can participate in from anywhere outside the parks. However, it has a big impact on the afternoon drop, which mandates that guests enter the appropriate park before receiving a boarding number. When park hopping didn’t begin until 2 p.m., there was little hope of getting Virtual Queue for one ride at 7 a.m. and the other in the afternoon. But with the restoration of all-day park hopping, it’s now possible to use Virtual Queue at both TRON and Guardians of the Galaxy in the same day, as long as you redeem your first boarding group and get to the second park before 1 p.m.

Remember, guests with certain promotional tickets and Annual Passholders still need park reservations to participate in the morning Virtual Queue distribution, except on “good to go“ days.

Genie+, Lightning Lanes, and Park Hopping

Although they aren’t free like the former FastPass+ system, purchasing Genie+ and/or Individual Lightning Lanes for expedited access to attractions can help you maximize use of your all-day park-hopping privileges. When park hopping was restricted to the afternoons, guests were unable to book Lightning Lane times outside their first park prior to 2 p.m. But with the removal of park reservations and park-hopping restrictions, you can now reserve Lightning Lanes all day at any park, in any order.

There are a couple of basic strategies that you can use to combine Lightning Lanes with all-day park hopping. One technique is to secure the earliest possible Lightning Lane return time for your favorite attraction in the first park you’ll be visiting, use it as quickly as possible, and then get the next available return time in the same park. Once you’ve experienced all your top priorities, or the wait until a return time becomes too long, get a Lightning Lane for your next park and hop out of the gates. This method maximizes the total number of Lightning Lanes you’ll use during the day, but some might not save much time over the standby wait, and popular rides at the parks you later visit might sell out before you can secure a return time.

An alternative strategy is to book Lightning Lanes for the most-popular ride at the park you plan to visit during the afternoon (or evening) when they become available at 7 a.m. This is especially useful for rides like Slinky Dog Dash or Frozen Ever After that routinely distribute late-day return times during the early morning hours, but you can modify your reservation for a later return if the time you get is initially too soon. As long as your return time is still in the future, you’re eligible to get a second Genie+ Lightning Lane two hours after park opening, and another every 2 hours after that. By “holding and modifying“ multiple Lightning Lane return times, you can enjoy an evening of back-to-back expedited rides at your final destination, after taking advantage of shorter standby queues during rope drop at your first park of the day.

One last tip to keep in mind if using the hold-and-modify method with park hopping: You can only modify a Genie+ reservation for the same attraction or a different attraction inside the same park. If you want to trade your current Genie+ return time for a ride in another park, you’ll have to cancel it first, which resets the aforementioned two-hour timer.

Sample Four-Park Park-Hopping Itinerary

Here’s a general outline of how you might maximize a full day of park hopping at Walt Disney World, based on our own recent personal experiences at the resort:

  1. At 7 a.m. on the morning of your visit, use Disney’s app to join the Virtual Queue for TRON Lightcycle Run at the Magic Kingdom. Try for the lowest boarding group possible!
  2. Park at the Transportation and Ticket Center (if staying off-site) and make your way inside the Magic Kingdom at least 30 minutes before the park officially opens.
  3. At rope drop, go ride your favorite attractions until the standby waits become too long.
  4. Go ride TRON as soon as your Virtual Queue boarding group is called.
  5. Exit the Magic Kingdom and take the bus directly to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  6. Experience your favorite attractions at Animal Kingdom. If you want to ride Avatar Flight of Passage without an excessive wait, consider buying an Individual Lightning Lane.
  7. Exit Animal Kingdom and take the bus directly to EPCOT, being sure to enter the park before 1 p.m..
  8. At 1 p.m., use Disney’s app to join the Virtual Queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
  9. Walk to the International Gateway exit of EPCOT, stopping to experience favorite attractions along the way.
  10. Take the Skyliner or water taxi to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  11. Experience your favorite attractions at Hollywood Studios. If you want to ride Star Wars Rise of the Resistance without an excessive wait, consider buying an Individual Lightning Lane.
  12. Return to EPCOT via Skyliner or water taxi after your boarding group has been called, and ride Cosmic Rewind.
  13. Enjoy any other attractions at EPCOT, then end your evening by taking the monorail back to the Transportation and Ticket Center.

Do you plan on park hopping during your next visit to Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!

For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Threads, X, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.

2 Comments

  1. Jacob February 15, 2024Reply

    I purchased my 3-day base ticket last year literally days before the announcement of the end of 2 p.m. park hopping. As you mentioned, the value proposition under the prior regime was pretty weak which was why I skipped it. I plan to add park hopping to my ticket upon my arrival in a few weeks.

    The one issue I have with park hopping, as someone who prefers Disney transportation, is possibly leaving my car in a park that closes relatively early. My concern is that I might hang around in a late-closing park and then have difficulty getting back to a parking lot that closed some time earlier. I guess I’ll just need to figure out ahead of time where I want my car to be in order to avoid this.

    • Seth Kubersky February 15, 2024Reply

      Hi Jacob, that’s a great point. In my example, I parked at Magic Kingdom both because I was starting out at TRON, and because the park was open late that day. If I’d started at Animal Kingdom, and then stayed until closing time at another park, I could have had issues using Disney transport back to my car at the end of the day. If you are self parking, be sure to check the park hours when planning your hopping!

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