Walt Disney World's updated Park Hopper Access explained

The sign for Magic Kingdom on the monorail platform. Photo Credit: Brian Miller
The sign for Magic Kingdom on the monorail platform. Photo Credit: Brian Miller /

January 9, 2024, was a day of celebration for many as Disney officially removed the reservation requirement to attend its Walt Disney World theme parks.

Under the previous reservation system, theme park visitors who wanted to visit more than one park in a single day had to wait until 2:00 p.m. before they could "park hop." They would have to first visit the park they had a reservation for, and then wait until 2:00 p.m. before they could visit any of the other Disney World parks.

As of January 9, 2024, guests with a Park Hopper ticket as well as Annual Passholders can now visit another theme park any time of the day during park hours. However, there is still a small restriction for Annual Passholders.

Park Hopping as an Annual Passholder

Even though Disney removed the reservation system, that technically only applied to those with date-based tickets. Annual Passholders still need to make a reservation for a specific park. Naturally, this impacts your ability to park hop.

On days where a reservation is required — any date that is a "good-to-go" day — the Annual Passholder must visit the park they have a reservation for before they can park hop. For example, if you have a reservation for Hollywood Studios but want to hop over to EPCOT to eat lunch, you'll first need to visit Hollywood Studios before you can go to EPCOT.

The good news is you no longer have to wait until 2:00 p.m. You'll be able to park hop at any time after you visit that first reserved park.

Using the same two parks above as an example, you can reserve Hollywood Studios first to get a quick thrill with Rise of the Resistance and then simply leave the park at any time after visiting to head over to EPCOT to eat. There's no longer a requirement that you stay until 2:00 p.m.

One more caveat...

Of course, there is one small exception to this rule. It doesn't apply to Magic Kingdom Park on Saturdays or Sundays. This is likely because it's Disney World's most popular park and busiest on the weekend.

A return to simpler times

Lifting the reservation system (mostly) and doing away with the 2:00 p.m. restriction for park hopping is a welcomed return to the old days of Disney before the pandemic. The reservation system and park hopping limit were two of the most unfavorable things to come out of Covid so to see them finally, mostly lifted is a breath of fresh air. It's still not perfect for Annual Passholders, but perhaps this will lead to further changes.