Best FP+ strategy with little kids/park hopping

Hi guys,
We are heading down 11/27 for 2 weeks with my family and our 2 little ones, who will be 4 years old and 13 months old at the time.

I am wondering what, in your opinion, would be the best FP+ strategy taking into account we’ll (try!) to do ropedrop on park days, mid day break at hotel, and park hop to another park for the evening.
My concern with only booking FP+ at the evening park is what if the kids (or us!) are just too exhausted to head back out to a park? I wouldn’t want to “waste” those prime FPs.

I was wondering if anyone has ever done FP+ for late morning (10:30-12:00ish), hit a bunch of rides at drop drop, and tried their luck booking their 3 addl at another park for the evening? I do realize the “headliners” will not be available in this case for the evenings, however going for 2 weeks gives us time to hit those in the morning.

Since you’ll be rope dropping you will not have tremendous waits in the morning park. I would use the FPP for your second park. As to your wondering about wasting them, it is a real risk - we have opted to skip going back out ourselves before - but depending on what your evening park is and what attractions you’ll be hitting, it will be worth taking that chance. The first few hours after rope drop are really magical in terms of short waits.

We have successfully picked up additional FPPs at a second park. We often RD, hit a few rides and then have FPPs booked for late morning/early afternoon in the first park. As soon as we use that third FPP, we start looking for availability at the park we want to go to in the evening. We leave the first park and take a swim break or just rest at the hotel. Then head to the second park in the early evening. The key is to keep refreshing. The options seem to change every time you refresh. You do it long enough I have found some great options even for headliners (but I have never been lucky enough to score an additional FOP FPP).

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I’m going to offer a different view here.

With little ones, are you sure you’ll manage rope drop?

I would get the FPs for the rides you really don’t want to miss. Even if you can rope drop some of them, you can then ride them again later. And sometimes the 4 year old might just want to ride the Carousel 5 times in a row, or Dumbo, or the Magic Carpets. If you’re banking on getting to Jungle Cruise before the line gets too long, that could throw you completely. Either that or you have to drag them off and risk a melt down.

For that reason, I have always gone against the grain, and got FPs for people’s must-do rides/shows, no matter how daft they may appear.


So we did a variation of @Nicky_S’s suggestion when we took DS1. We were also 60/40 on our chances of making rope drop, though we did pretty well. But I used the morning FP+ as more of a backup than anything else. I also wanted to take some of the pressure off of rope drop because I was determined to be flexible (as impossible as that is!). We did Peter Pan at like 9:30 because we really wanted to do that and knew that if we missed rope drop we would be in for long lines. If we had made rope drop, then we easily could have modified that to something else. DS1 didn’t really care, but your 4 year old will probably have preferences so maybe go by his or her wants!

We hopped, but also did this as more of a “bonus” park than a plan. 3/5 days we did not return to a park but stayed in the pool or went to DS. We went during F&W so it was nice to be able to go to Epcot for dinner a couple of times or, in our case, bust out of Epcot on Sunday morning when the crowds started pouring in!

Ok, we literally just did this a couple of weeks ago with our 7-year old son and 11-month old son. Of course all kids and every family is different, but this is what worked for us:

We were able to do rope drop every day except one in the middle, and that day we should have skipped a park or done just very light touring, maybe in the evening in hindsight. Given that you’re there two weeks, you should consider scheduling some lazy mornings/break days, but try to do rope drop other days. Otherwise, rope drop was pretty easy because our younger son was our alarm clock, waking us up around 6 every day :).

We did back-to-back FPs starting at park opening, (9-10-11, sometimes 9:15-10:15-11:15 depending on what we could get). Then once we tapped in for our 3rd FP, we would try to get a couple of more, which we were pretty successful at doing (made some 20-30 minute waits 5-10 minute waits - in one case we got a 4th FP for Test Track after lunch, saving a whole lot of time). Then when we were ready to leave the park, we’d get a FP lined up for the park we were planning on visiting that night. Our visits to parks at night were light, usually dinner and a few attractions, as we planned our heavy touring in the morning/early afternoon. That’s the advantage to getting them done early, you can end up with more FPs and more short waits. Plus, then if you don’t make it to the park in the evening, nothing lost, you’ve already used your FPs.

Also, take advantage of grace periods (5 minutes before/15 minutes after) that are built into the system. If you show up anytime within the grace period, the system will let you in automatically. After the grace period, it’s up to the discretion of the cast member.

The other thing to keep in mind is rider swap. If there’s any rides you might go on with your 4-year old (like 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, Soarin, etc) that have a height requirement, get a rider swap. They are usually good until the end of the current calendar month, so often times we would have a FP for a headliner like Splash Mountain, and one of us would do it with our son, and the other would get the rider swap Fastpass, which allows three people to get on an attraction. We’d then use it on another day/night when returning to the park. The only time this gets tricky is if the month turns over…

I can’t overemphasize how critical the mid-day break was for us. It reset us, gave everyone time to recharge, and we were able to enjoy some time in the parks in the evening at a relaxed pace.

Things I’d do differently:

  • I wouldn’t schedule anything for the first hour to hour and a half of the day - lines are pretty short then. I’d schedule my first FP to start sometime between 10 and 10:30…
  • I would spread them out a little bit more. It’s hard to get from one FP attraction to another within the windows, especially if you have a little one who needs diaper changes/feedings/etc. If I were to do it again I’d leave at least a 15 minute gap between FP windows (so say 10 AM, 11:15, 12:30) unless two attractions were pretty close together.

Oh, and one bit of unsolicited advice - plan on things being more delayed than you think between attractions. TouringPlans does a great job building plans with wait times, walking time, etc. What they don’t take into account is the diaper changes, the feedings, etc that having a baby/young toddler demands.

Good luck, and have fun!