Walt Disney World announced last fall that all-day parking would return to the resort after over three years. When the parks reopened in July 2020 after a three-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, park hopping was not longer available so Disney could control attendance. Park hopping returned in January 2021, but guests had to wait until 2:00 p.m. to park hop. As of January 9, 2024, guests can now park hop at any time they want.
Park Hopping Basics
Park hopping is the ability to go from one Walt Disney World theme park to another on the same day. The option is available to guests who have the park hopper option on their ticket. This is an upgrade from a regular ticket or included on all Annual Pass levels. If you do not have an Annual Pass or have not purchased a ticket with park hopper, you can only visit one theme park per day. Park hopping does not include water parks.
Park passes are reservations for a single park on a specific date. This system was also introduced following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney has indicated they plan to keep park passes around but did recently make changes to the system. Guests with dated tickets no longer need to make park passes to visit Walt Disney World theme parks. Annual Passholders and Cast Members don’t need park passes on select “good-to-go” days.
Guests who need a park pass to visit (guests with non-dated tickets and Passholders on select days) may park hop only after they first enter the park they have a reservation for. So if you have made a park pass for Magic Kingdom, you need to enter that park before hopping over to EPCOT.
You only need a park pass for the first park you plan on entering in a single day.
Note that Walt Disney World theme parks can reach capacity, especially during the holidays, although the park pass system curbs this somewhat. There is the chance you will try to park hop somewhere but won’t be able to enter because the park is at capacity.
There are various ways to travel between parks when park hopping. Bus service is available between most parks starting at 10:00 a.m., although the parks do open and you could park hop before that time. Bus service is not available between Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, but they are connected by the Monorail, which begins running 30 minutes before EPCOT opens and ends two hours after EPCOT closes.
Guests can also use Friendship Boats to hop between EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios but will need to transfer at a hotel. The hours of watercraft service vary subject to water and weather conditions.
Bus service, watercraft service, and Monorail service are all complimentary.
Guests can always drive their own car to and from parks. Parking fees do apply for most guests (Passholders park for free).
Genie+ and Lightning Lane
When all-day park hopping returned, there were issues with Genie+ and Lightning Lane. However, this is how the services should work with all-day park hopping.
At any time, guests can purchase Disney Genie+ through the My Disney Experience app. Guests have the option to purchase the service for a single park or for all four parks. The latter option is the same price as the single Magic Kingdom option, while Genie+ for the other three parks is cheaper. Pricing for Genie+ varies depending on the day of the year.
After purchasing Genie+, you can book Lightning Lane access to a specific attraction. Guests can purchase Genie+ and make their first selection as early as 7:00 a.m. on the day of their visit. (Disney announced last year that they are working on a version of the service that would allow advance reservations, but this has not launched.) Currently, you cannot select a different return window for Lightning Lane access to an attraction, only the timeframe that Genie+ gives you. You can book a second Lightning Lane for a different attraction after using the first, after the timeframe for the first has passed, or after 120 minutes have passed — whichever comes first.
If you are park hopping and have purchased the “multiple parks” option for Genie+, you can book Lightning Lane access for an attraction at any of the four theme parks at any time, regardless of your park pass, if you’re not in a park, or what park you’re in.
For example, if you have a park pass for Magic Kingdom and a park hopping ticket, at 7:00 a.m. on the day of your trip, you can purchase the multiple parks Genie+ and book yourself a Lightning Lane for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You still have to use your Magic Kingdom park pass first, so make sure the return window for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is late enough that you have time to travel between the two parks.
If you have a date-based ticket or are a Passholder visiting on a good-to-go day, you can purchase Genie+ and book your first Lightning Lane without worrying about park passes.
The most popular Walt Disney World attractions use individual Lightning Lane, meaning access to them isn’t included with Genie+. Booking these when park hopping works similarly though. Beginning at 7:00 a.m., you can purchase individual Lightning Lane access for an attraction at any park at any time, regardless of what park pass you have or what park you are in.
Individual Lightning Lane access pricing also varies depending on the date and can be purchased via the My Disney Experience app. The following rides have individual Lightning Lane access and aren’t available with Genie+:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom
- TRON Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle Run currently use virtual queues daily. Some popular attractions — like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — may also use virtual queues during special events and future attractions will likely have virtual queues when they open.
Virtual queues are kind of like Lightning Lanes but replace standby and therefore don’t cost anything. They help prevent new and popular attractions from having hours-long wait times. At select times during the day, virtual queues open and guests can join them via the My Disney Experience app. Guests will then be given a boarding group number and an approximate wait time. When their boarding group is called, they will receive a notification and a return window. They must return to the attraction within that window or forfeit their spot in the virtual queue.
Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queues both currently open at 7:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. (During extended evening hours for select resort guests, virtual queues open again at 6:00 p.m.) At 7:00 a.m., guests do not need to be in a park to join a virtual queue. At 1:00 p.m., they must be in the same park as the ride to join the virtual queue. Guests cannot join the virtual queue for the same attraction twice in one day and can only join one virtual queue at a time.
With 2:00 p.m. park hopping, this meant guests could only join a virtual queue at their first park of the day and could not use more than one virtual queue in a day. With all-day park hopping, guests can now ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle Run in one day using virtual queues.
There are a few things to keep in mind here. If you have a ticket requiring a park pass on the day of your visit, you can technically join a virtual queue at 7:00 a.m. for an attraction at a different park. However, you have no control over your return window, so you might not have time to go to the park where you have a park pass and then go to the park where you have a virtual queue.
Also note that if you have a ticket requiring a park pass, you must have already made that park pass before attempting to join a virtual queue.
If you have a date-based ticket or are a Passholder and it’s a good-to-go day, you can join a virtual queue without worrying about which park you have to go to first.
When virtual queues open at 1:00 p.m., you still need to be in the same park as the ride. You can’t join the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue from EPCOT. But you can freely park hop from EPCOT to Magic Kingdom at any time before 1:00 p.m. and attempt to join the queue at that time.
During the rare 6:00 p.m. virtual queue openings for extended evening hours, you do not need to be in the same park as the ride to join. But all other rules apply.
Virtual queues can stay open for hours — but they can also fill up within seconds. Attempting to join a virtual queue as soon as it opens doesn’t guarantee you will get a boarding group.