It has been a while. To recap quickly: I started hanging out here around 2019 in hopes of planning a trip to WDW, which would be the first for my now 12-year-old and 10-year-old (hereafter K12 and K10). We originally planned to go in the fall of 2019 but had to postpone as my dad, the primary driver (and financier) of this trip, had to deal with a series of health scares. Then we rescheduled for May 2020. You can imagine how that went.
But the trip is on again! My dad has given permission to look at April 4-8, the kids’ spring break week. I have my Unofficial Guide '22 and my renewed Touring Plans membership, and the credit from our original tickets.
Here’s the layout:
Definite travelers are me, Dad (age 73, no health problems but, you know, he’s 73), K12 and K10. Possible travelers are my husband, who is not the Disney type, and his mother, brother, and nephews (aged 19 and 17), who all now live about an hour’s drive from Orlando and might be interested in joining us for a day.
We will almost certainly have a car (we’re in Atlanta so can drive down).
Dad’s higher priority is proximity to the parks – he wants to be able to go back and rest if he needs to, et cetera. I don’t think he’s factoring in how much, say, the Contemporary would cost when he nostalgically muses about taking the monorail (if it’s even available – Undercover Tourist is reporting a lot of Disney resorts are just plain sold out for that week). But other than “nice” and “easy to get to and from,” we have no strong hotel preferences.
I do have one day of Universal tickets so the kids can do the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Although neither of them is as HP-loving as they were when we originally started planning, I still think they’ll enjoy it.
The big advantage we have is that, with the possible exception of Star Wars, neither kid is super-attached to any Disney IP. (K12 used to be a Star Wars fanatic; if we’d made our original trip it would have been crushing to not get on Rise of the Resistance. Now I’m not as sure.) So I can afford to be flexible with rides, and say it’s not a big deal if we don’t make it onto Ride X or Ride Y. It might be a good idea for us to get one of the better hotels and balance actual park time with enjoying-chilling-at-the-hotel time (but see above re: WDW hotel availability).
(Okay, the one exception to the above is, I would like to take the kids on Haunted Mansion.)
Right now TP is saying that all our days would be Crowd Level 6; I suspect that’s going to be revised upward. All parks are available for reservations.
Character dining: would have been fun in 2019, we won’t miss it in 2022.
My kids are old enough now (and my dad’s sleep schedule erratic enough, now that I think of it) that rope drop every day will be a hard sell.
Finally, I have a master’s and a doctorate, and had to do statistical analysis using R packages for my dissertation, and subsequently was hired to teach undergraduates by the major research university that gave me my master’s and doctorate. I am a pretty certifiedly smart cookie, as cookies go. And yet: I cannot for the life of me understand how Genie+ / ILL works. I have read about it, I will read about it again, I think Becky Gandillon is doing an amazing job. Nonetheless: wow that is some nonsense.
Anyway. Y’all are free to shower me with advice; I suspect I’m going to need it, given that all my Disney planning knowledge dates to the long-ago FastPass+ era. But mainly I just wanted the fun of being able to hang out here again as I planned.
Welcome back. I’d check all the Epcot and Skyliner adjacent hotels and book something asap. Those would be the best for grandpa to easily take a break from 2 parks. It is possible to still do the parks with a touring plan and without G+.
We’d grown accustomed to not using FP much in the before times.
We are however less about how many rides we’ve done.
I’ve read about trips lately where folks got awesome ride numbers using Genie and LL.
Then there are the not so awesome plans went awry reports.
Traveling as a peer of your dad, my great time is fewer rides, more meals, fun things like drawing with an animator, or watching character cavalcades.
On our December 2020 trip most of our favorite restaurants were closed and we actually had fun trying ones we’d never been to or revisiting ones we’d not been to in a couple decades - Kona being one. They have these dessert glasses that are awesome.
We’re not interested in being on our phones much at Disney tho we do have the K17 that’s great at keeping up with wait times, without seeming to be on the phone all the time.
Watching wait times - but more for this ride near us right now has less than 30 min - helps a lot.
We also scored at least 2 great meals watching the restaurants for walkup availability. Altho we were only 4.
Should we be lucky enough to get another trip in, we’d focus on flexibility in the parks.
Pre-trip I’d use the crowd calendar to try to firm up park reservation days.
I’d use touring plans pre-trip for a ball park idea of what’s a likely daily schedule.
I might try for a TS meal daily but would be happy to mobile order from some of the newer qs in parks.
We had a good times at resort TS for late lunches. Some of our group don’t like to pass by stores, especially resort stores.
We could get Genie+ for Magic Kingdom, I’d probably skip it for everything else, we’ll see. The big problem is going to be the hotel: Undercover Tourist now says there is not a single Disney property hotel with rooms available for our dates.
I know! My dad went into what I call Omicron hibernation and we hadn’t seen him since Christmas, so I wasn’t able to broach the possibility of traveling before last weekend.
I am employing my usual strategy of being super profligate with hotel reservations, so I just booked two rooms at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, but I’ll be surprised if I actually go through with those; that was just the first place I was able to score through Mousesavers. I’ll check Disney and the various DVC sites next.
Just to reassure everyone here (especially @OBNurseNH ) we do have existing hotel reservations now – three of them, in fact: two rooms at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista and the Caribe Royale Orlando, and one four-bedroom villa at Magic Village Views. All three are cancellable by March 29th; I will be cancelling at least two, possibly three.
@drvillarejos what is your stalking strategy? I checked Disney directly yesterday and didn’t see any availability. Dad has suggested Swan / Dolphin / Yacht Club to me in the past.
My big concern right now, honestly, is whether this lack of hotel availability is going to translate into especially crowded parks. (It’s possible that staff shortages mean that even mediumly-crowded parks imply no hotel rooms; I’m still new at Pandemic!Disney Planning.) Like I said, we’re going to be pretty chill about rides and such, but Level 10 crowds will be discouraging.
It is possible that I will present the current plan to my father and he will vote to postpone until I can get a closer room and/or we might be facing smaller crowds. I just experimentally ran the first week of June and most Disney resorts were listed as sold out on UT, but I might be able to get Swan; Disney’s own site is showing Coronado Springs available for the second week of June. Problem is, I’m not sure we should bet that summer = lower crowds; I imagine that as mask mandates start dropping more and more people will feel comfortable scheduling vacations. (And it will definitely mean higher temperatures.) There’s also, as my husband reminded me last night, the risk of a summer surge, which would likely cause Dad to back out.
So y’all freely bestow me with your opinions: am I right that April 4-8 is more likely to end up a 9-10 crowd level than the 6 it’s at now? Or have the good people at TP already priced in (so to speak) spring break?
It’s been busy - exceptionally busy - and it looks like that trend is continuing as we go. I would expect and plan for CL10 and hope for less. If you’re looking for a less busy time to visit I feel like it’s going to be a while. With Omicron abating and vaccination now possible down to age 5 more and more people are traveling all the time who have delayed through the pandemic. Summer has never represented a slower time and is, rather, a peak travel time. I would not count on that at all. And as you say higher temps too which is challenging. I won’t travel there in summer again by choice.
That’s my thinking too; I’m just surprised it’s not already reflected in the calendars. This blog post says they’re planning to update again in a few weeks; I wonder if we won’t be officially seeing CL9-10 predictions by mid-March.
My family is traveling late April and I just asked each person to pick 4 things in each park that they want to do. We will visit each park at least 2 times so that will hopefully be manageable with some overlap between requests helping some. If we do more than what is on our list for a given park during a set timeframe, so much the better. But at least we should all come away satisfied that we got to do some of what we each wanted during our vacation (recognizing that we do want to do it all, and understanding that that’s entirely not possible even under the best circumstances)
I first go to hotwire and priceline and check the hot deals and express deals first, ( I check to see if any “hidden” hotel specs match the advertised specs on each respective site), followed by the advertised hotel on each site. Then I check Marriott. I’ve found and booked availability at a relatively good rate (@ or under $280 both times, refundable, could have been cheaper non refundable) but plans fell through. If I’m looking for a specific trip, I check 3 or 4 times a day. If I’m just looking for a maybe if the stars align trip, I check once or twice a day.
Edited: took out Expedia as I haven’t used in a few years but maybe worth a shot.
So I told my dad the room situation, and rather than being discouraged as I expected him to be, he apparently was inspired, to – I am not kidding – book me and the kids a room at Boardwalk Villa and him a room at the Contemporary.
No, I don’t know how he did this! When did my dad turn into a Disney-hotel-room wizard?
I’ve cancelled two of my reservations; I’m going to hold on to the Magic Village Views one for another week or so juuuuust in case. (“Just in case of what, Belle?” I’m not sure, the Magic Hotel Reservation Monkey’s Paw my dad accidentally activated goes into effect, or something.)
Next steps are to (a) call my MIL and let her in on the plan (Dad has offered to fund her ticket if she wants to join us for one of the park days); and (b) figure out what park we’re doing when so I can call Undercover Tourist (…I guess?) and apply the old ticket credit to new tickets. I’m thinking MK and Epcot are our two highest-priority parks, and then we might let AK or HS go altogether, since one day will be Harry Potter at UO day. I’m not sure. HS may be kind of a wash if we can’t get any Star Wars rides, but I’m not sure AK has enough to offer my kids to spend a day on. I need to go through the book and see what stands out to me.
Oh also (c) figure out where I oh-so-cleverly hid the tickets and MagicBands.