Park Hopping Has Been Controversial At Disney World, And Commenters Did Not Hold Back In Viral Post

Partners Statue at Magic Kingdom
(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

When theme parks first reopened after the pandemic, they had to do so at a fraction of their maximum capacity. This meant most of them implemented systems, to assure that the parks didn‘t get too crowded. One thing Disneyland and Walt Disney World did was limit guests ability to park hop, move between the different parks on the same day. And while most every park has done away with these limited systems, Disney has kept them, and fans are not happy.

Currently, if you buy a park hopping ticket at Walt Disney World, you must still make a reservation at the park you plan to visit first. You must go there first, no matter what time you arrive at the parks, and you cannot change parks until 2pm. Orlando theme park reporter Ashley Carter recently tweeted a request to see this park hopping rule go away, and based on the response, you can see just how strongly others feel the same way.

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The rule works slightly differently at Disneyland than Walt Disney World. Guests on the west coast can park hop an hour earlier than in Orlando, 1pm, and there is no requirement to go to your reserved park first if you don’t arrive until 1pm. Of course, the two Disneyland Resort parks are only yards away from each other, while at Walt Disney World you need to use some method of mass transit to get from one park to another.

Much of the frustration in the comments and responses is actually focused on the reservation system, because it’s actually the mechanism that requires park hopping be limited. If you don’t limit park hopping, the reservation system becomes mostly useless, as any guest could walk into their reservation park, and then turn around and head anywhere. This was certainly my focus when I responded to this tweet myself before it went totally viral. 

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Most theme park resorts don’t have multiple parks, so they simply don’t need to deal with this question. However, Universal Orlando Resort does have two parks, but does not limit travel between them. As Orlando Parkstop’s Alicia Stella points out, it would be crazy if the Hogwarts Express just didn’t run in the afternoon. Meanwhile, there’s a monorail between Magic Kingdom and Epcot that is essentially useless to theme park guests in the morning.

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Limiting park hopping just prevents guests from having total freedom to spend the time in the parks the way they want to, and it’s easy to see why that frustrates people. It helps Walt Disney World know what people to expect in what parks, and forces guests to spread out to other parks to some degree, which is good for Cast Member management, but while these systems have value to Disney World, it’s hard to imagine what value the restrictions have for guests. 

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I’ve gone on record that I don’t often park hop at Walt Disney World. I find the time that it takes to get from one park to another to be mostly a waste of time I could spend having fun in the park that I am in. But that’s part of why some of the Disney World park hopping rules are so crazy. Even if you’re a local that just wants to go to Epcot for dinner, if you can’t get that park reservation, but you can get a different park reservation, it can take a long time to go to two parks, only to end up at the place you wanted to go anyway. 

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While there are a few responses to the initial tweet from people who don’t seem bothered by the reservation system and the park hopping limits, what there is not is anybody who is trying to argue the rules are necessary or good. Nobody likes these rules.

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Unfortunately, we’ve been told time and again that the reservation system at Disney World and Disneyland is not going away, and as long as that is the case, the limited park hopping is all but certain to hang around as well.  

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.