DLR Vetaran 1st time going to WDW... Advice needed for structure of plan

My family of 4 (DH, DS4, DD2 and myself) are taking on WDW for the very first time April 2016 and I need some advice on the structure of the plan we have created already and the possibility of re-arranging the cosmos if needed…

We will be touring with another family that has a little one right in the middle of our two littles and they are experienced WDW APs but I want to get lots of different perspectives, so here I am!

We have been DLR AP holders for the last 2 years and try to make the 9-10 hr drive 1x a month to curb the addiction we as a family have developed for all things Disney, so tackling the scale of WDW planning has been a little daunting. We do have ADRs in place but an opportunity to re-arrange has presented itself in that we may have one additional adult ( Grandma to the kid from the family that will be touring with us) that is interested in coming and we can’t just tell grandma, sorry the ADR date has passed there’s no room at the inn…

Here are the specific things I’m wondering:

  1. To park hop or not? I initially voted no to a) save money b) we have two littles c) it’s our first trip and I don’t think we’d be very effective at while learning the ropes d) the scale of WDW is just much more massive than the DLR we are used to and e) we probably won’t be renting a car because we don’t necessarily want to tote around the required car seats if we can use free shuttle and MDE transportation since all we are doing is WDW. Now after reading trip reports, I’m re-thinking my logic because if we splurge on park hopping and are already taking a hotel midday break we may be able to park hop without missing much in the way of transportation AND we can then make use of EMH which we completely threw out when designing our plan for the 180 ADR. Our friend basically said since I wasn’t planning on having a hopper option we should avoid EMH park like the plague. So any insight you have about why you park hop (or why you don’t) would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Car rental vs. uber and does anyone have any idea if Uber cars near/around WDW have car seats? We are trying to avoid lugging extra things through the airport and it would make my DH so happy not to have to bring car seats. So could we rely on uber and look for drivers with car seats in order to make ADRs? Or would renting a car really be our best option?

  3. This is what we have planned in terms of park days/ADRs ( planned with no park hopping, avoiding EMH and some insight from CLs here and recommendations from easyWDW for parks to visit). Sanity checking for potential mis-steps or potential disasters welcomed!

Day 0 Mon 4/4- overnight flight arriving to MCO 5am next day
Day 1 Tues 4/5- DSH CL 4 (planning on late arrival but if RD is possible, will be a plus) WCC 9:45

Day 2 Wed 4/6- Epcot CL 3 potentially not doing RD to conserve from prior day’s arrival to late night. GG 11:00, followed by face stuffing at F&G all night ending with Illuminations

Day 3 Thur 4/7- MK CL 6 rope drop welcome show all the way. Completly free ADR day.

Day 4 Fri 4/8 AK CL 5 RD again. Ohana 8:15 ADR after AK closes.

Day 5- Sat 4/9 1900 PF Supercalif. Bfast 8am. Monorail to Epcot CL 7. More face stuffing at F&G for evening. Prob won’t make RD either so just realized we’re not likely to RD Epcot.

Day 6- Sun 4/10 AK CL 8. Lazy day at AK. 12 ADR at Tusker House. Planned for either pool time or Disney Springs time. Whatever family votes for.

Day 7- Mon 4/11 DSH CL 7. No ADRs. No plans yet. Maybe RD depending on how rested, how we are doing with time change… (We are in MT time two hours behind ET).

Day 8- Tues 4/12. Last park day. CRT 8:25 ADR. So MK with CL 6 and BOG 6:25 for dinner. Close the park down is hopeful plan. Again depends on what family is up for.

Day 9- CM brunch ADR 11:35. Leave for MCO 2:30ish (flight leaves 5:40).

Any insight from all you wonderful experts is welcome!

:: pen poised ready to take notes ::

I like your plan, although since you are coming a two hour time difference, I do not know if I would avoid PM EMH. I would think a late start and EMH may work. That being said- I live your plans and ADRs! As I was reading it I was thinking about the FPs you could book!

I do always PH, just the way you say. Although I arrive at opening to parks, do not use FPs, and then after a break I arrive at the second park and use FPs. I think with the time difference you may be better off with your plan. I am concerned that with late starts at some parks (especially AK) you should always just stay until you have completed your plan.

You can walk from EP to HS ( but unlike DLR it takes about 20 minutes) and you can hop monorail from MK to EP, but transportation at wdw takes twice as long as you think.

We are in the same boat as you, being a DLR AP holder for last 5 years but the 16 hour drive is killing me. Found upgrading to Premier was cheaper than 9 day park ticket. So we are doing WDW for the first time. I like your plan because your not over doing it. Ours has very little break time and try to RD everyday. Our only break is in the middle with Typhoon. And we are in the middle of trying to adjust to a 3 hour difference. Making everyone wake up at 3 and 4 am before we go so it wont be such a shock.

Good luck with your plan, and remember to have fun! So much planning involved its crazy! So used to just showing up to DLR/DCA and just going with the flow…

I love that your brain was already thinking of FPP! What did you come up with so far? We haven’t started discussing those yet, but I know me and my little DS4 Master Planner (he LOVES knowing the plan) are both anxious to figure that out to continue on with the rest of the plan.

If we park hop we will definitely make use of the PM EMH’s!

I would LOVE to arrive at RD every single day. If it were me and maybe just DH we could. With the time difference, plus wanting the kids to be able to enjoy the experience, plus the other family we are going with has already said their kid is a late owl sleep in kiddo, I just figure I’ll count myself lucky for what RDs we do.

Thanks for the warning on AK. I was thinking it was a more laid back park with the hours and such. Maybe I will try to mobilize them a little more efficiently the day we have planned to be lazy and let them know we can leave if we accomplish everything to go swim in the pool. I was most concerned about MK for RD since that will have the most that we want to accomplish and I know that RD is just so vital to being able to do more.

Thanks again for the advice :smile:

Another DLR AP holder! I really really love & treasure DLR but am curious to see all that the World has to offer in its grand scale. And since we have nothing like Epcot and AK I’m soo soo soo excited to see them.

16 hours is very loooong! Kudos to you for having an AP to do that! But awesome it was cheaper to upgrade! When we ran the numbers, for the 4 of us, it just didn’t make sense unless we would be making multiple trips and with airfare we just didn’t think it would be possible for the 4 of us again.

I definitely miss the laid back style of the West that feels more spontaneous, but a piece of me does kinda geek out at the planning, but I don’t know if I could plan this as often as we go to DLR. The week of ADRs was a crazy week of furious planning!

Hope you & yours have all the fun in your WDW 1st Time! I would love to hear how it goes!!!

We try to go 3-4 times a year with our AP. It was only cheaper for me to upgrade since I had premium and rest of the family only had deluxe. Plus then we could get discounts. Ya I am a plan freak and all the research and planning has me on a high! I had so much fun doing all this planning. Leave in 2 days and am having rough nights sleep just thinking about how excited I am going to be. I remember as a young kid when Disney channel first came on in our area and seeing commercials of Epcot and dreaming of going. And its finally happening! Already plan on crying when I finally see MK and Epcot for the first time.

Being used to hopping back and forth all day its going to be weird to stay at one park a day but we decided to not pay the extra and just stay 1 park a day. 3 MK 2 AK 2 Epcot 1 DHS and 1 TL. If we going to do it, we going to do it all!

One major question - are you staying at a Disney resort, or offsite? Your travelling WDW AP holder companions, do they usually stay onsite or offsite? Their point makes sense about avoiding EMH days if they usually stay offsite (or live close enough that they don’t have to stay at all), because if you aren’t staying onsite and go somewhere on an AM EMH day that you don’t have access to, by the time you’re allowed in the park, all the EMH’ers will have built the lines up for a solid hour.

On the other hand, if you’re staying onsite and are able to utilize the EMH, definitely do it in the mornings! You’ll manage to get so much more done with limited crowds, allowing you to take a longer afternoon break, since you’ll have gotten most things out of the way before everyone else is in the park

OH yes, totally forgot to mention the lodging arrangements.

The WDW APs actually live 9 hours away so always stay. Her sister is a CM at Vero Beach so she always stays onsite with her sister’s magical CM discount. We opted to be economical and were trying for the POP but for our dates the POP was all sold out of the CM discount so we are doing All Star Movies. So we will totally have access to EMH but her concern is that without PHs we will be stuck in the EMH park all day which tends to build crowds because of the large draw. If we have PHs then I think we would all be down for EMH AM & PM all day long.

The other concern with AM EMH that we have is for us the time difference will be two hours ahead and my kids are used to going one hour back for their Disney adventures at DLR and so that makes RD very very very easy. But I don’t know how it will work the opposite way. Also the WDW APs say they are late risers esp with their son so I don’t know how feasible AM EMH will be with all factors combined.

Aww I am so happy you are finally realizing the dream of seeing Epcot! I wouldn’t be sleeping either! I love that you are doing 3 MK days. We may PH just to do be able to do an extra half day at MK if we need it. I am leaving the option open all way until we get there are and are there a few days!

Ahhh I’m in the same time zone as you (Mountain Time), and the mornings were definitely challenging even at regular RD. Not once did we attempt a morning EMH. Good call then, avoiding it. Even when you’re exhausted, trying to fall asleep at what feels like 2 hours earlier than normal bedtime is really difficult, and makes it even harder to get enough sleep. That can lead to many meltdowns.

We are using this holiday week to try and get the kids better adjusted to 3 hour difference. Got them up at 5 today but that still is only like 8 est…

We were originally doing 2 days at each park but with DHS closing so much we removed one day from that (and it was later announced that Launch Bay opens that day) and added a 3rd MK day. Also left it open for half day at MK after TL since its a EMH that night and MK is open till 12am but think thats really pushing it and will probably just go to bed early…

Already doubting my plans because of the time zone difference. Been using this holiday week to prep them for Saturday (our first day) and I can’t even wake them up at 6am pst, which would be 9 at WDW… Didn’t think it was going to be this difficult.

1 Like

Great to know that now so it will not stress you out during your vacation!

Nice to see some DLR folks here. I’m also a DLR AP planning a WDW trip around the Princess Marathon Weekend in 2017!! I’ve been to WDW twice, the last time was in 2011. I love planning, but it does seem strange to have to think about where to eat or what attractions to choose, so far in advance.

Please update us after your trip. I’m curious about how the time change affects you. I’m in San Francisco, and planning to arrive on Thursday night with the 10k race happening Saturday morning at 5:00!

My report from our trip i’ll post here since there were a couple of DLR ap posting. Our trip was almost perfect and is ranked as our best vacation ever. The only thing that kept it from being perfect was that it rained on our MVMCP night while in line for 7 dwarves and they had to go inside away from the rain and we stayed in line in the rain. The thing I loved most is the stuff that DLR no longer has. Like Country Bear Jamboree. I haven’t seen it since I was a little kid and seeing my kids enjoy it just as much as I did brought so much joy. We saw it at least 10 times. And the Carousel of Progress! And the People Mover… DLR doesn’t have the space to keep these classics and it was our favorite thing.

The time zone difference wasn’t as bad as I expected. I had everyone up starting about 3 days before we left at 4am and the day we left at 3am. Kids all slept on the flight (Left at 10pm and arrived at 6am) and we felt pretty adjusted that first day. We had AK for the first day since it closes early. We left even earlier and let the kids play in hotel pool and we all went to bed around 9. By day 2 we were 100% adjusted to the time. Day 2 we went to DHS and got there so early we got to open the park (brought into park before opening and yell/announce that DHS is now open!). Loved the difference in ToT and my DS13 who is scared to death of DCA ToT loved the DHS version. Ate at the Prime Time cafe and since we are used to being on Plaid watch in DLR we spotted Gary Sinise eating by us. Day 3 was Epcot and I didn’t expect to like Test Track so much since I thought it was going to be like RSR but it was so much fun! DD16 was the only one that liked the World Showcase. DS13 and DS5 couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel. Day 4 was breakfast at 1900 fare, MK till 4, then adult time at Epcot for a few hours. By then we were totally exhausted. Day 5 a semi break by going to Typhoon Lagoon. It was totally empty and we really enjoyed ourselves. I’d have to say it was one of the best days of my life playing with my kids there. Day 6 MK and the MVMCP. Party was amazing except for the rain. I over did it on the cookies and hot chocolate and got real sick by the time the second parade came. It was a full open to close day, which I hadn’t done in many years (8am-12m) Day 7 was AK and we did more of the shows this time. We really liked it there and wish we had more time to explore (and our feet not hurting so bad). Day 8 was a full day of MK but by 8pm we were hitting a wall hard and the lines were insane! It was a saturday non party open till midnight so it was a crazy place. The line from casey’s corner went way into the new expansion of the hub! Just for a hot dog! We were a weeping mess leaving MK for the last time. Day 9 and our last day was Epcot but the boys were done with it all after our morning FP’s were done. So we sent them to the hotel and rest of us did World Showcase and then decided to hit DHS to check out the newly opened Launch Bay (was closed our only day there) It was sunday and just as crazy as the day before. Only rode 2 rides and did Launch bay and left. DME was coming at 2:30am so we got like 3 hours of sleep. Took me days to recover…

Things I found different between the parks
PotC was way shorter and the drop was lame. We got soaked from the splash though. Did like the differences and the queue was awesome
Space Mountain I loved the car’s way better. As a tall big guy the DLR one my knees are pressed into the top of the car so every bump hurts. But WDW SM its more about sudden drops and not the tight turns so I felt that the ride itself wasn’t nearly as good.
Splash Mountain I really liked the 2 seat car. Got way less wet than at DLR and for the first time had my wife next to me on it. And the differences was better. And all animatronics were fully functional.
Kali river rapids vs GRR… Kali sucked. You either get no water or you get totally drenched. I was the latter. I have ridden GRR like 40 times and I don’t think if you added up all the water I have been hit by adds up to how much Kali got me. I was soaked all day unlike anything ever. And only one drop and nothing really to see.
Tiki room I liked the queue show but like DLR better. And the show was shortened and overall just didn’t like it (and we go watch it like twice a day at DLR)
Big Thunder was ok. I liked the outside area but nothing beats DLR version.
HM was really neat. I loved the q and the extra room was awesome.
Really really loved the Hall of Presidents. Cant compare really to Great Moments but it was awesome.
Small World was great to see original but it just felt weird having the q inside.
Mad Tea Party I gotta say was way better at WDW. I always feel there is something holding back the spinning at DLR. Not at WDW! I spun that thing so fast my boys were going crazy and we went right back into line to go again.
Peter Pan obviously has a better q in WDW but the ride itself I enjoy the refurb at DLR

My DS13 spotted a gator that was sleeping by Tom Sawyer Island. That was exciting. Cast Member called it in because they are not allowed to sleep on prop. I guess swimming is ok though…

Can’t think of anything else. We really enjoyed staying on property. We can’t afford to at DLR and staying on prop and all the magic there was amazing.

Thank you for your invaluable report @maaddmax! It was heartening to hear that the prep for the time zone paid off! We are doing an overnight flight too so I have taken note and hope to have similar success adjusting for our trip in April!

Which resort did you stay at? We are also looking forward to staying onsite since it’s so affordable at WDW. So glad your family had a magical time and got to see WDW at the holidays! Disney does a great job with that extra holiday touch!

Thank you for your report! I really liked your comparison of the attractions!

We stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort. I did the fax but didn’t get the room requested but ended up with an even better room. Probably the best possible. Right by the bridge to get to food/pool and a couple min walk to bus stop which was the first pick up and first drop off.

Best part of the whole trip was being at a Disney park for the first time since being a kid at DLR. Taking the time to enjoy all the pre attraction stuff. Like on Dinosaur, we weren’t the ones standing at the door waiting for the pre show stuff to get over so you can run onto the ride. We were in the front of the screen soaking in all the attraction had to offer. Same with Rock n roller coaster. We watched and looked at every detail. Not rushing through just to get on the ride.

First couple days it seemed like the bus system was always working in our favor. But the last 6 days it seemed like it was always working against us. I feel we lost a many hours of park time waiting for buses and vowed next time we will rent a car. 40 mins one morning trying to get a bus to AK for EMH. Saw buses for the other 3 parks 3-4 times come and go while waiting for the 1 AK.

But overall this trip defiantly changed me. It was so amazing. I did notice that the CM’s were a little less magical as I am used to at DLR. But other than that we had the best time ever. We always talked about retiring to SoCal to be closer to DLR but felt we could never afford to comfortably live there. Now we talking about moving to Central Florida and doing a semi retirement and try and get jobs at or around the park. We loved everything about the area and parks. We want to explore everything!

1 Like