Four parks. Three roommates. Two matching shirts. One magical day.
If you’re a fan of Disney parks (which I assume you are if you’re reading this) then you probably have an opinion on park-hopping and it’s probably one of these:
- It’s the best thing ever because you get up to four parks with one ticket and can do so much in one day.
- It’s alright, but you don’t really do it because you spent a lot of money to go to Disney and don’t want to waste a ticket by spending half the day travelling between the parks.
My family strongly identifies with the second thought. In all of my years of Disney-going, I’ve never actually been to all four parks in one day. Normally, my family spends an entire day at Magic Kingdom and if we do park hop, then it’s usually a split day between Epcot and Hollywood Studios. (Sorry, Animal Kingdom, we just always considered you a glorified zoo so we rarely see you. After my program, I know that’s only kind of true. My sincerest apologies, DAK.)
Anyway, I highly recommend park-hopping as a cast member–I mean, why not? You have unlimited access to the parks so there’s no fear of wasting a ticket and chances are you’re going to get to know your way around the property pretty well, so it reduces travel time between parks and you’ll know when to hit each park for less wait times on your favorite rides.
Our only goal for this long day was to do something in every park so it felt worthwhile to drive around Disney World all day. Plus, this was one of our last days together, so we wanted to make the most out of it.
My suggestion for park-hopping would be to make reservations and get fast passes. You’re already taking time off your day for travel time between parks, so you don’t want to spend even more of it standing in lines or waiting for food. We made a lunch reservation for Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom and had fast passes for Hollywood Studios in the late afternoon, so that also gave us a semi-schedule for the day. If you couldn’t tell, I’m a planner, so I liked to know we wouldn’t get stuck at one park and not complete for four park challenge.
We started at Animal Kingdom because we wanted to go to the back of property and then work our way back so we weren’t driving back and forth all day. At Animal Kingdom, we met Tarzan (which was hilarious),
watched the Festival of the Lion King,
and took our picture with the Tree of Life.
Next up was the Magic Kingdom, where we ate at Be Our Guest (seriously, try the grey stuff because it’s honestly delicious),
rode it’s a small world, saw the Festival of Fantasy, and got some castle pictures.
At Hollywood Studios,
we had fast passes for Toy Story Mania (which was honestly what we built our agenda around),
rode Tower of Terror and played the best game of rock, paper, scissors anyone has ever played,
and rode Star Wars. We also got to meet Chewbacca, which was my first time meeting him! I made a quick outfit change and put on my R2D2 tank top I had made for the Star Wars Half, which Chewie loved. PS, Chewie gives the BEST hugs, so I would suggest screaming, “CHEWIE, I’M HOME!” the first time you meet him like I did and he’ll just hold you for a while. (Hey, what do you expect, my name is Princess Leah after all.)
As we were leaving Hollywood Studios to walk to Epcot, all of the characters for Fantasmic were out, so we stopped and got some pictures and autographs with rare characters–it was incredible!
Tip: Characters come out for surprise meet-n-greets OUTSIDE the park between about 5-6:30 p.m., roughly two hours or so before the first performance of Fantasmic. Every character that is outside is taking pictures with people on their own free will, so they’re sometimes the most fun to meet because they volunteered to see you.
Also, be nice to the Queen, because she’s terrifyingly amazing.
We definitely slowed down at Epcot, where we got a drink in Japan,
and said hi to Donald Duck
before heading back to Hollywood to watch the Star Wars fireworks to end the night.
This was one of my favorite days of the program simply because all three of us had the day off work and were able to fully enjoy ourselves. Once we got home, we made some ramen and popcorn, poured the wine, and watched a Disney movie like the little kids we are.