Which Park Ticket is Right for You | Disney World + Universal Orlando

Just about everyone that I talk to about a vacation to Disney World or Universal asks the same question: which ticket should I get?

There is no one size fits all answer for this! It depends on what your family is like, what you want to do, and how long you’ll be there. So these are the questions that I ask my clients to help them figure out which ticket is right for them.

How many days will you be in the parks?

Before we even talk about add on options, you have to figure out how many days you want to spend in the parks. Do you have an early flight in or out? Do you want to go to the parks those days or spend your pre/post travel days at the resort, Disney Springs, or CityWalk? Do you want to split your trip between Disney World and Universal? Do you want to do a day at SeaWorld? Does Mom want a day at the Outlets? 

Should you get a Park Hopper/Park to Park?

Most people on the internet will tell you that you HAVE to do it, but I’m here to tell you that it isn’t always worth it. Disney World can be done in 4-5 days with a base ticket, and Universal Orlando can be done in 2-3 days with a base ticket. There is enough to do at each park to fill an entire day, and a base ticket doesn’t mean that you can’t leave the park to go chill in the room for an hour or two. You can go in and out of the same park as many times as you’d like, you just can’t go to a *different* park on the same day.

If these statements apply to you, I would recommend a base ticket:

  • this is your first trip or you are going with someone who hasn’t been
  • you want to spend most of the day in the same park
  • you have small children
  • you have a large travel party that wants to stay together 
  • you have 4-5+ days at Disney World or 2-3+ days at Universal Orlando
  • you are trying to save money where you can

I’m going to be honest, we park hop regularly at Disney, but we drive to the parks and don’t rely on Disney Transportation to get to and from each park. Park to Park at Universal is a whole other ballgame because you can walk from one park to the other in under 5 minutes, but if you are waiting on Disney buses, you can easily lose lots of time. Most of the time, the buses are there every 15-30 minutes, but it’s not unheard of to have to wait 45 minutes for the next one. So just as an example, if you leave the park, get to the bus stop, catch a bus that is there within 15 minutes, take the 10-15 minute bus ride to the next park, go through security again, and then walk into the park, you could easily lose an hour of your day {at best}.

This is the #1 reason that I don’t recommend a Park Hopper to first time Disney World goers! I don’t say any of that to scare you at all. It’s not hard to get from one place to the other, it can just be time consuming. So if you only have 12 hours in a park, you don’t really want to spend an hour {or more} of it on a bus trying to make the most of your Park Hopper upgrade when it could have been spent in line for Space Mountain, you know? 

However, there are plenty of people who pay the extra money for a Park Hopper everyday, and wouldn’t do Disney World without it. My family is one of them, so if you think that your group is up for hopping, by all means, go for it! 

If these statements apply to you, I would recommend a Park Hopper/Park to Park ticket:

  • you have been to these parks before {preferably more than once}
  • you want to jump around between parks
    • examples:
      • you or someone in your group wants to ride the Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando – this is only possible with a Park to Park ticket
      • you want to go to Magic Kingdom for late night Extra Magic Hours after another park is closing
      • your family loves multiple restaurants at Epcot, and you want to have dinner there most nights instead of eating in other parks
  • you want to go to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon {Disney World}
  • you have a smaller travel party or don’t mind splitting up
  • you have less than 4 days at Disney World or 2 days at Universal Orlando

Is Park Hopper/Park to Park worth the extra cost?

Adding Park Hopper/Park to Park to your ticket isn’t cheap. Just to compare options, check out these prices:

Walt Disney World – Adult 4 Day Ticket {with tax}

Base Ticket – $404.70
Park Hopper Ticket – $484.58
Park Hopper Plus Ticket – $511.20 {includes water parks}

Universal Orlando – Adult 2 Day Ticket {with tax}

2 Park Base Ticket – $175.72
2 Park 2 Day Park to Park Ticket – $282.22
3 Park 2 Day Park to Park Ticket – $340.80 {includes Volcano Bay}

If you are trying to keep your trip on a smaller budget, you can see how going with a base ticket can help cut costs. If you have a large family, you can easily save hundreds of dollars on that alone. I think there is definitely a benefit to park hopping, don’t get me wrong, but I think that you can also have a great trip without it.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, you need to do what’s right for your family and your vacation, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks you should do. If you want FREE additional help planning your trip, we suggest contacting one of the agents at Embrace the Journey Travel.  They are experts in Disney and Universal travel as well as many other destinations, and they are more than ready to help make this your most magical vacation yet! 

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