Ticket prices for Disney are insane. I’m not going to argue that with anyone. The value and ROI for those prices are always debatable and, I will always maintain, are relative to your situation. Many of us take for granted the fact that we can even consider whether we’d like to spend the money on this kind of thing, so I make no presumption everyone agrees with me on this. For our first trip together as a family, I was ready to go all in, but it didn’t make entering my credit card number any less painful.
At that point, most of the big-ticket items for our trip were covered. We had a place to stay, food to eat, and a way to get there. We were already in for a few thousand dollars, so what’s another few hundred-dollars on top of that to get in the parks? Well…
I had a hard time deciding whether to get one day-one-park passes or spring for the park-hopper passes. There’s certainly a difference in price and, at that point, I was painfully aware of just how many dollars I had already committed to this trip, not including the interest on my card that was most certainly accumulating while I waited for that “extra paycheck” to roll in to cover some of it.
Which brings me to my next struggle: timing. I had a timeline for each aspect of our Disney trip and knew what deadlines needed to be met. I also knew when I could afford to pay for each part of that ever-mounting dollar figure. More importantly, I knew the deadline for FastPass+ reservations was quickly approaching and I needed park passes to make them.
Since we were staying on property, we benefited from the 60-day in advance reservations window rather than the 30-day window guests staying at non-Disney resort properties got. If we wanted to ride some of the more popular rides without selling our souls to the Florida humidity, we’d definitely need the full 60-days. That meant I needed to purchase the park passes before that window opened.
Miss O has done a theme park before, which we often forgot during our planning, so we’d go back and forth over whether we thought she could do a whole day in one park, let alone two parks in one day. The last time she was in Florida was during an unseasonably warm and humid October, which actually felt more like July in Florida, and she shut Universal down that night. She was 5. She also did both Universal parks and CitiWalk that day, so we had faith she could probably handle it, at least for one day.
What pulled me back each time was considering that we were now going to Disney World and we were going for a whole week. Did my girl really have enough stamina to repeat that feat every day? Did I?!?
We considered each park and what rides, shows, and character interactions were most important to us as we built our park plans. Paramount in all of that consideration was the ability to be flexible within that enough to take a break and go back to the hotel and grab some pool time or a nap. We felt it was also important to recognize that some parks may not resonate as much with Miss O as they do with us and honestly, some really don’t take a whole day to do everything we wanted to do or she could do. At six years old, Tower of Terror isn’t really at the top of her list.
We briefly considered doing the Park Hopper Plus passes, which give the option to visit Disney’s two water parks, and a mini-golf course in addition to the big parks, but Miss O is just learning to swim and doesn’t really have the confidence she’d need to truly enjoy those big water slides. We figured we’d save those for the next trip…if we survive this one first.
Ultimately, we wanted the flexibility to be as fluid as possible within the framework we knew we’d build with our attraction wish list and FastPass+ reservations. The extra money, as it were, was really going toward the ability to customize our day on the fly as much as possible. If we were in EPCOT and the kids were begging to go back to Animal Kingdom that night, I didn’t want to have to say no. This trip wasn’t supposed to be about saying no…at least not to that.
For us, the ability to not be locked into one park each day was worth the cost. Whether we use that ability or not, I still feel better knowing we have the option. My piece of mind is definitely worth the extra price, and with everything I’ve already stressed out over to get this trip planned, I deserve piece of mind wherever I can get it.
What’s your preference for park passes? Do you hop around or stick to one park per day?