When I planned my itinerary for Walt Disney World, figuring out my Park Hopper day was a priority. After all, my Disney vacation planning started when I won four Park Hopper passes in a charity auction at the Howard County Conservancy. Now, I have recently traveled to Walt Disney World when I used my passes, and I have some insight into how to best utilize your Park Hopper passes.
Walt Disney World Park Hopper Passes: Are They Worth It?
Whether or not the Park Hopper passes are worth it depends on a few factors. First, since we bought the tickets in an auction, we paid hundreds less than what four Park Hopper passes would cost during regular season. Buying a good deal influenced our decision to see more than one park in a day.
Animal Kingdom Morning Safari
In the morning, we began our day at the Animal Kingdom. Arriving early helped us get the most from our day. Even though we arrived not long after the park opened, it was an incredibly hot day, which made some of us less enthusiastic.
Our beautiful surroundings helped us get into the spirit of Walt Disney World. I marveled over how beautiful the large tree in the center of the park was.
I was very excited to check out the animal theme park. I had never been to anything like it.
Animal Highlights In Africa
Our first stop was Animal Highlights in the Africa section of the park. There, we immediately boarded the Kilimanjaro Safari. We hoped to see the animals early in the morning because we had heard that it can be harder to see the animals when they try to find shade later in the day. I was awestruck over the beauty of seeing multiple giraffes grazing near our open-air vehicle. While the Harambe wildlife reserve was a gorgeous place, the safari ride was a great way for my tired kids to rest.
Harambe Wildlife Refuge
Throughout the safari, we constantly saw new animals. The zebras were next. Our driver was very thoughtful, and he would stop the vehicle to allow all of the guests to take plenty of photos.
Later, we drove by the elephants. Being so close to them was very exciting. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to see the lions, but there were several more animals we saw that I wasn’t close enough to photograph.
For a short, 45 minute drive, the safari was well worth it. Fitting the safari in first thing was an excellent choice, especially for a Park Hopper day. We were able to fit in a buffet character dining experience at the Tusker House Restaurant in Africa (which I described in this article) before continuing on to a new section of the park.
Maharajah Jungle Trek In Asia
Next, we visited the Maharajah Jungle Trek in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom. I thought this part of the park was gorgeous!
To me, the best part of the Maharajah Animal Trek wasn’t the animals. I thought the animal viewing opportunities were better at the safari. However, the decor and surroundings were incredible. I was very impressed with the detailed paintings. Clearly, there was a lot of effort put into making this area of the park look authentic.
After India, we were ready to head to our next destination, Epcot. We left Animal Kingdom early in the afternoon and we felt very positive that we were using our Park Hopper passes wisely.
Park Hopping To Epcot
Taking the bus to Epcot in the afternoon was easy. Most people weren’t taking buses at that time, so the trip there was not very crowded.
Enjoying An Afternoon Overlooking The Water
Samantha and Ryan left to board the Soarin’ ride, which they both loved. Soarin’ ended up being Samantha’s favorite ride from the whole trip, so it must have been incredible.
Waiting for them to get back from such a busy ride took up quite a bit of time. To stay busy, Georgiana and I explored The Sea with Nemo & Friends and the Imagination! section. After a while, Georgiana fell asleep, and I could take in the beautiful view.
Meeting The Characters
Park Hopping gave us the opportunity to meet more characters. Even though Georgiana had met Daisy Duck at the Tusker House restaurant, she bought her first autograph book at the end of our time at Animal Kingdom. Spending the afternoon at Epcot gave her the chance to get some autographs.
When Georgiana fell asleep, we carried her into the Epcot Character Spot. She was surprised and overjoyed to wake up and see all of her favorite characters. During her visit to Walt Disney World, she had most wanted to meet Minnie Mouse. Finally, she got to during our afternoon at Epcot.
Visiting a third park gave us a lot of opportunities that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Walking To Mexico
Next, we started to walk around the World Showcase. Samantha was at a good age to appreciate the beauty and culture in each section.
Visiting Anna And Elsa In Norway
Samantha and Georgiana’s favorite place in Epcot was Norway. While in Norway, we went on the highly regarded Frozen Ever After ride. Without a Fast Pass, we waited for at least an hour to go on the ride. I’ve heard that the wait is not nearly as long if you’re able to get a Fast Pass.
By our third day at Walt Disney World, we had seen the best rides, and often had shorter waits, but overall we enjoyed the Frozen Ever After ride. We thought the ride could have been longer for the wait, but we had a good time on it.
Picturesque Evening Sky Over The Water
As the evening sky changed color, the sky and water looked magical. Being at Epcot at dusk was perfect timing.
Nighttime Meal In Italy
About an hour before the park closed, we walked into a restaurant in Italy. Unfortunately, service was slow, but our pizza and pasta was delicious.
Next time, I would try a quicker restaurant to get more time to explore the park. When you’re park hopping, timing is everything.
Exiting The Park
Surprise Firework Show
Unfortunately, since our dinner experience was so slow we missed the night time fireworks at Epcot. By happenstance, we caught a delightful firework show that came from Hollywood Studios across the water. With this being our very last night at Walt Disney World, the surprise fireworks were the perfect way to end our evening.
Shopping At Mouse Gear
On our way out, we stopped at Mouse Gear for some souvenirs to take home. Even though all of the other shops were closed, there was still plenty of time to take a leisurely stroll through the aisles of Mouse Gear to pick up just the right items.
If you’re traveling with small kids, park hopping can be difficult. Since we used our Park Hopper passes on our third day at Walt Disney World, our kids were completely exhausted. I loved seeing Animal Kingdom for the first time, but I was disappointed that we didn’t make our way to more countries at Epcot. In the future, I would consider buying separate tickets for Animal Kingdom and Epcot in order to get more from each park.