Feedback on end-of-August (no-longer-pre-Star Wars) plans?

This will be the first time in Florida for me, DH, DS11 and DS7. DH and I have been to Disneyland a few times each (the last time together), the kids have never been. They are anti-princess, probably because they feel they’re not the target audience, though DS11 went through a major Cinderella phase around age 3. They will probably want to do Star Wars-related Character meet & greets. I’m also planning to do the Marvel character dinner at Universal. I’m not sure any of us is truly prepared for the heat/humidity but I’m just hoping we can have fun and that there’s no hurricanes that cancel our plans.

We’ll be on the Dining Plan in late August, staying at CBR August 22-27, moving to RPR Universal August 27th for 3 nights so away from WDW before Galaxy’s Edge opens. I’d originally booked All Star Music with Free Dining plus upgrade to regular DP. I switched to CBR for the pool and in hopes that the Skyliner will be running by then. We’re driving down, visiting friends in Washington DC and checking out Savannah en route, so if my Skyliner optimism is misplaced we can drive to Epcot and HS.

Except for our Epcot and AK days I’m planning a few hours at the hotel pool every afternoon. My general plan/ADRs are:
Thursday Aug 22
arrive early afternoon, drop bags and see our room at CBR if it’s available yet
afternoon: pool at CBR or hang out at Animal Kingdom Lodge (pin trading with King Pin?)
ADR: 5:05 pm at Boma
after dinner: check out the animal viewing areas, possibly go to Trader Joe’s to stock the mini fridge, early to bed

Friday Aug 23 – Magic Kingdom morning, Hollywood Studios evening
breakfast: snacks from room
take the bus to MK for EMH, RD Space Mountain then spend the morning in Fantasyland, pick up SOTMK cards in Liberty Square, pick up mobile ordered QS lunch (Pecos Bill?) and take it to Tom Sawyer’s Island for a picnic-y lunch. If we still have stamina maybe try Pirate’s Adventure but aim to be back at the hotel by 2pm.

It’s a MNSSHP evening at MK that day and I decided we wouldn’t be staying up late enough for it to be worth it. Plus you gotta save some fun stuff for potential future trips, right?

Evening: after hanging out at the pool for an hour (or more if we tap out earlier at MK), head to HS via (fingers crossed) Skyliner, check out Characterpalooza if possible
ADR: 4pm at Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine with the Fantasmic! package
After dinner: a Star Wars-centric evening, aiming for Star Tours, meeting Chewbacca, Kylo-Ren & BB8 at Launch Bay and Tower of Terror and maybe Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy if we have time and energy before Fantasmic!

FP+ goals: 7DMT just after 9 , PPF about an hour later (modify sooner if possible), Splash Mountain around 1pm, try for a 4th to Big Thunder Mountain if everyone still has energy, and try for a Tower of Terror fast pass for the evening.

Saturday August 24 – Epcot all day
Skyliner (or drive) to Epcot,
ADR 8:30am Garden Grill but planning to get there as though it’s for 8am and hope to be seated early
ADR 1:35pm Coral Seas (probably paying, as we have one more ADR than DP TS credits, so maybe replace this with QS/snacks but the food and tank view sound great – also, I may move this an hour or so earlier. How filling is the Garden Grill breakfast?)
Rope drop Soarin’, spend the morning in Future World, after lunch the afternoon/evening will be whatever combination of World Showcase and hotel/pool makes sense. I doubt we’ll stay for Illuminations but we’ll play it by ear. If Epcot is not our thing, maybe monorail to/from MK and try out Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. DH gets antsy if everything is scheduled so this is our day to improvise.

I have a backup ADR for Minnie Seasonal’s Dine this night just in case we’re wiped on the Friday and done after lunch, in which case we’d take the boat over from Epcot to HS and do our Star Wars-and-Fantasmic evening Saturday instead. Though I’m realizing I’ll need to make the call on that on Thursday to not to be charged the cancellation fee Friday.

FP+ goals: Test Track around 9:30 (I’d rather we all rode together), Spaceship Earth around 10:30, Mission:Space around 11:30 (not sure Green or Orange yet) and then try for 4th FP at Character Spot.

Sunday August 25th – Hollywood Studios morning, Magic Kingdom evening
breakfast: snacks from room
take Skyliner or drive to HS for EMH, sign up for Jedi Training as soon as possible then head for TSL. Hoping we’ll have a SDD FP+ so can do the other TSL rides then SDD around 9am. I also want to meet Edna Mode, see MuppetVision 3D, the March of the First Order and the Indiana Jones show.

back to the hotel around 12 or 12:30pm, probably having a light lunch at the pool

ADR 4:05pm 'Ohana – parking at TTC and walking over. Hopefully since it’s early we won’t have to wait long to be seated. I’m budgeting about 2 hours to eat and then either boat or monorail to MK and exploring the rides that are supposedly more fun at night (HM, Jungle Cruise, TTAPM, TMCA, DFE, MTP) and maybe doing some Sorcerors of the Magic Kingdom. I doubt we’ll stay for the fireworks.

FP+ goals: SDD around 9am, maybe ToT around 11 or just keep 2 free to book for MK in the evening

Monday August 26th – Animal Kingdom all day, last full Disney day
Drive to AK aiming to arrive 30 minutes before EMH starts
RD Na’vi followed by Kilimanjaro Safaris, then work our way through Africa, Asia, Discovery Island, Dinosaur Land and back to Pandora before Rivers of Light; late light lunch at Flame Tree BBQ, dinner at Satuli

ADR 10:30AM Tusker House (hoping to experience both breakfast & lunch options) with Rivers of Light package

FP+ Goals: FoP around 9am (after KS/before brunch), Kali River Rapids around 1, EE around 2, then try for another FoP at the same day drop around 3pm assuming we loved it

Tuesday August 27 – Magic in the morning at MK, in the evening at Universal
Out of our hotel room/bags in the car before 7am, drive to MK
ADR 8:15am Be Our Guest but planning to get there as though it’s for 8am and hope to be seated early
Rope drop either 7DMT or Peter Pan, revisit our faves and be done (and use up any snack credits or QS credits) by early/mid afternoon

FP+ Goals: meeting Mickey & Minnie, another post rope-drop trip on 7DMT, and BTMRR as a placeholder – I may modify these after our earlier days at MK to anything we missed or wanted to revisit

Then driving to RPR probably with a stop at Disney Prings for the Photopass Studio
Evening: exploring Hogsmeade, dinner at Three Broomsticks, some Harry Potter rides

Wednesday and Thursday August 28-29
Universal with park hopper and express pass, Harry Potter-heavy first day, whim-driven second day, afternoon breaks for pool time. Will make reservations for lunch at Mythos one of the days, Marvel dinner one of the days.

I have draft touring plans for all these days but will probably edit them a bunch once we visit Canada’s Wonderland in early June and see how much DS11 and DS7 like thrill rides now (i.e. is the Aerosmith coaster a must do or an avoid). Happily DS7 is tall enough for all rides at WDW and most of them at Universal.

I’m an optimizer by nature and by training, so I’m reminding myself that the metric to optimize on is family happiness, not seeing/experiencing as many things as we can cram into the day (which is what I would do were I traveling solo). I’m a bit conflicted that we probably won’t see Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular or Happily Ever After or Illuminations but naps seem unlikely, which makes the nightime shows also unlikely on the nights we don’t have the dining packages. But I know DH and the kids are likely to be happier with lighter crowds at rope drop than staying up late and it’s not like we won’t see any fireworks at all.

Anyway, I welcome feedback! Any obvious rookie mistakes? How many acronyms did I garble? I know booking fast passes early in the day is generally not advised, but since I’m trying to keep most afternoons free/unscheduled it seemed better, and with any 9am Fast Pass I’m probably aiming to ride closer to 10am.

You are arriving the day after we’re leaving! We’ll be at Pop from the 13th through the 21st.

Your plans look really good, plenty of breaks and room to improvise.

8/24: Garden Grill is family style, so its all you can eat. You could probably just fill up and do a snack for lunch, as I’d doubt you would be very hungry for another TS meal.
Make sure you leave time to explore World Showcase. There are so many nooks and crannies in every country, plus they all have shows, like live music, acrobats, drums…it’s a lot of fun to just wander.
8/25: Make sure you add in BTTM and SM to your night rides if you can. They are both a lot of fun to ride at night!
8/26: Flame Tree gives you A LOT of food…I’m not sure that would be a good choice for a light lunch. You could always try eight spoons cafe, if I’m not mistaken they have some choices there like mac n cheese that qualify for snack credits.
8/28-8/29: I am SUPER jealous that you get to do WWOHP. I’ve been to the Hogsmeade side about 8 years ago, but haven’t been since Diagon Alley or the train. I think I may cry when I finally do get there!

Have fun!

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We have almost the same trip plans! We will be at Universal 8/20-8/22 the disney 8/22-8/27. I have 2 daughters and 1 son, so we have a few more princess centric plans, but pretty similar. See you at rope drop :wink:

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Thanks! I’m definitely planning to allow time to wander World Showcase, which is another argument in favour of cancelling the TS lunch that day. I need to look at the show times as we get closer – I think it would be nicer to take a break and come back to wander in the evening as things cool off (it does cool off a bit in the evenings, I hope?) but I don’t want to miss the acrobats and drummers, etc.

With the light lunch at Flame Tree I was thinking we’d share one or two entrees (or an entree and snack) between the four of us. And we can skip it if we’re not hungry, or have dinner there instead of Satuli. I’ll also check out Eight Spoons as an alternative, thank you!

I hope you have an amazing time just before us!

And see you at rope drop, @jonese1977 :wink:

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Hey @Steenaca, we’ll also be there 8/24-8/28! Maybe we’ll see you there. We have an Ohana ADR at 3:40 on Sunday, same day as you!! Liner meet? :rofl:

Sounds like you’ve worked out some solid plans. I think you’ll definitely be able to fill a whole day (or more) at EP, especially if it’s your first time. It’s a shame… you’ll just be missing the Food & Wine festival by a few days.

It looks like you’re skipping out on HEA at MK!? That is the one evening show I would not miss! I’d even consider doing the dessert party if it fits into the budget. That was a highlight for me.

A 4:05 ADR at Ohana will probably have little wait. I love early dinner ADRs for that reason.

edit to add: we also have a Tusker House ADR on Monday :rofl::rofl: but we won’t overlap in time

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Wow, that’s a lot. Here are some comments/observations.

Not sure where you are coming from, but the heat/humidity will be unlike any that you have experienced unless you have taken a boat across the River Styx - or at least have spent time on an equatorial island.

Trader Joe’s is a bar, not a liquor store. It’s a great place for a drink, but not somewhere you go to stock your fridge (Note: 21 and over after 8:00 PM; one of the very few places in WDW to have an age limit). Also, there is no easy transportation between resorts other than the ones on the monorail loop. You say you have a car - I would definitely plan on using it for any resort-to-resort travel.

Just a personal opinion, this would be my last choice TS at DHS because (a) I don’t especially like buffets unless they are really good, IMHO, this one isn’t and (b) it’s a CM which I pretty much try to avoid. For the price (less, actually), you could get much better food and theming at MM, 50s, Sci-Fi, and probably even HBD. I believe they all have F! dining packages.

Even if you are done with dinner by 5:30, that may be a lot to accomplish in the three hours before F! - unless they are running a second show and you plan on attending that.

Although I’ve not had a bad meal there, I would choose many of the WS restaurants instead. If you get a table right by the glass it’s pretty cool, but if you’re in the back it just a very large aquarium 30 or 40 feet away. The menu is fairly limited, so make sure there are items that everyone will like. If you’re paying OOP, VN for pizza is a pretty good deal - especially if any of your party are not big eaters - and it happens to be excellent pizza.

This is a classic Disney show and will close forever not long after you are there. If I were in your shoes, I’d take a mid-day break and come back around 5 or 6 and plan to stay the evening.

I doubt that you’ll be able to get all of this done by noon. The Indy show only runs a few times a day; is relatively long, and typically requires you to be in line 15-20 min prior to show time, so you’ll have to schedule around that. Also, you can sign up early for Jedi Academy, but your time may be later in the afternoon, and if it is in the AM, you’ll have to juggle that time and Indy. Add to that working in the March of the First Order, and any FPPs that you get, it’s going to be a serious game of Tetris to make everything fit in. This whole concept may have to change when you see what FPPs that you can actually get…

I’m trying to figure out these abbreviations, but I’m coming up empty. Although I haven’t seen the show yet, HEA is supposed to be quite spectacular (it is on video). I’ve given up on MK fireworks long ago, but seeing this show is a priority for me on my next trip. I virtually never do 'add-ons" at WDW, but the desert party for this show is one I will strongly consider.

Even for me, that’s a lot of food. TH is the only buffet/CM that I enjoy - and being a buffet you can really pack it in (especially if you’re looking at breakfast and lunch). Flame Tree portions are not small; about the only way to have a “light” lunch there is to share. If you are looking for lighter fare, you might want to look at the Hamarabe marketplace. Again, when you see what FPPs that you actually get, you might have to completely rethink this plan.

I only go in the winter so I can’t speak from first hand knowledge, but many people say the AK this the most oppressive park in hot weather; you may want to consider FotLK and/or Nemo to cool off (FoLK I consider to be the best live show in WDW; it’s a must-do for me every trip). Doing KRR mid-day could be refreshing, but keep in mind that you could get soaked to the skin and will have to deal with slogging around in wet clothes for a couple of hours.

Keep in mind that you don’t “drive to the MK” you drive to the TTC and take the mono or ferry to the MK. Resort buses go directly to the MK. Although I sometimes drive to the other parks, I never drive to the MK; I take the bus. I think they have buses to accommodate early ADRs (buses always start running an hour before opening). If a bus will work for you, I highly recommend taking it. When you’re done for the day, take the bus back to your resort, get in the car and depart for UOR.

It’s been so long since I’ve been to UOR, I can offer no practical advice there. All I know is that Hagrid’s coaster will be the new “hot ticket” in IOA, and may not be on ExPass - so you’ll probably want to RD it.

If you skip both Illuminations and HEA, and go to F! instead of the Star Wars projection/fireworks show you pretty much won’t see any fireworks. ROL has none, and F! has a few token ones at the end, but it’s certainly no a FW show.

There are two schools of thought on this. One is to book early so you have a better chance of picking up up 4th, 5th, whatever for later (especially if you are hopping to a second park). The other school of thought is to use the first 3 or 4 hours to take advantage of the lower RD (and especially EMH) crowds, and use your FPPs in the early afternoon when all of the lines will be long. There are strong proponents of both approaches. I tend to be of the latter school, but I may change things up on my next trip.

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I think the OP actually meant driving to a Trader Joe’s the chain store to stock up on food. Not Trader Sam’s the bar at the Polynesian. But, I could be wrong.

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Oops - I misread Trader Sam’s for Trader Joe’s; I was so involved with WDW, I wasn’t thinking off-site.

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:rofl: Yes, as @SnowWhiteDoc figured out, I meant Trader Joe’s the grocery store. We live in Toronto, so American grocery stores are a novelty.

No River Styx travel so far, but we’ve been in the Philippines and Thailand on the edge of rainy season. It still sounds like Florida will be a whole new level of heat/humidity.

Thank you for all the feedback! Yes, definitely planning to use FotLK to cool off at AK. And maybe we’ll skip KRR or bring a change of clothes. Bussing to/from MK for our last day sounds like a much better idea. And I will take a close look at all your other suggestions and adjust expectations.

Sorry for the random abbreviations I think I took too many letters and had to look at my touring plan to figure them out.
TTAPM = people mover
TMCA = Aladdin
DFE = Dumbo
MTP= Mad Tea Party

When the Food & Wine dates came out I thought about juggling a day or extending our stay (off-site probably) to check it out and then decided for a first trip we’re doing enough. Maybe we’ll see you at 'Ohana!

I feel like I should watch youtube videos of Illuminations/Fantasmic/RoL and reevaluate our evening show plans. The Fantasmic/RoL packages being part of the dining plan made those ones make sense, but with Illuminations ending in September I’m feeling we should really catch that one. I’ve watched HEA on youtube and it looks amazing. But since we’re rope dropping every morning (including at least one at Universal for Hagrid’s) staying late seems like a recipe for unhappy kids and unhappy parents. Ah, Disney dilemmas/first world problems.

DH’s brother’s family booked a week in September before the SW:GE dates were announced and they’re having more Disney dilemmas/first world problems coming up with a plan for unknown crowds and the EEMH (they’ll also be at a Disney hotel). Which puts my rope drop vs. fireworks “problem” in perspective.

If I could add in a full resort day that would be better, but it means either arriving a day earlier and probably cranky from two long car days in a row, or leaving a day later and not arriving home until the day before school starts, neither of which seem like a good plan.

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For those hot summer months, the midday breaks are critical. It’s tempting to schedule right through to maximize park time, but it’s exhausting. Then, you miss out on the best hours at the park, which IMO are the early hours of the morning and the evening hours after about 6 or 7. Our DS4 handled RD in the mornings pretty well, and he also managed to stay up for HEA and DAH (which went to midnight) without too much problem. Granted he got the afternoon pool hours and nap.

I’d play it by ear, but I think HEA is not to be missed. I was skeptical when people told me this, but I’ve now seen it 3 times this year alone. And I’m planning on going 2 more times in the fall :rofl:

F! is my favorite show, personally. The dining package or the dessert party are worth it, I think. The stress-free access to priority seating is key. I really love F! for the music and water displays.

ROL and Illuminations are one-and-dones for me. But, Illuminations is going away forever after the summer, so that’s something to think about.

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That’s impressive! If I could count on naps it would make everything easier, but both kids are non-nappers. They’re ok with one night of less sleep than usual, but not two or three in a row.

Your HEA endorsement is quite convincing.

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Check it out on youtube. They project laser images on the castle, which completely transforms the way it looks. They’re even able to make it looks like parts of the castle are moving around quite convincingly. And the music score is great. I would even consider skipping RDing one morning to sleep in either in preparation for, or recovery from, HEA. Just sayin’ :wink:

The best place to fit it in is our evening in MK, the night before EMH at AK. Which might make sense for that day anyway since 1) that would be the 4th early morning in a row and 2) we’re staying until RoL that night. It means not rope dropping Na’vi River Journey and hoping for a same day FP on it, and maybe replacing KRR with a KS FP+ just before or after our Tusker House brunch. Hmm. I’ll play around with an alternate touring plan.

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:rofl: sorry to throw that wrench into your plans. You could always just play it by ear. If you’re too tired, skip it…

No it’s good. The slightly-later-starting AK day looks like it makes sense anyway, has a bunch of free time built into it for extra animal stuff and/or the smaller outdoor shows, and gives us flexibility the night before to stay a bit later if everyone’s up for it. And if they’re not, that’s ok too.

The title of the ongoing trips-with-kids memoir I write in my head is “Hikes Not Taken” and the subtitle could be “Fireworks and Other Shows Not Seen.” Whenever we travel with the kids we see about a third to half of the things I’ve researched, and it’s still excellent. I like having options.

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I’m now thinking of totally mixing up my plans and maybe not being so pre-Star Wars-y after all. I took DS7 and DS11 for our first visit to Canada’s Wonderland, and as I predicted DS11 is a total thrill-seeker and DS7’s adventurous but, like me, isn’t interested in going upside down on roller coasters. We got season’s passes (for the cost of 2 admissions, and we’re going back tomorrow with DH) and I discovered we really liked knowing we can go back again all summer so there was no pressure to get in every ride possible.

That got me thinking that we’re not really using all the days of our Universal tickets (and it might be nice to have an extra WDW day too). For Universal I have an annual pass for the hotel and other discounts. The other 3 have 5-days-for-the-price-of-2 tix and in the current plans we only use 3 days of their 5, and it would be nice if we could go there before our WDW days. But their tickets have to be used within 7 consecutive days, so that doesn’t work unless we shift the WDW days earlier or later (or on either side of the Universal days, but that would totally mess up my ADRs).

I figured out a way we could change our road trip to get to Orlando 2 or 3 days earlier, and then I started thinking about maybe shifting our WDW days so that we could be at the opening day of SW:GE. It sounds like it was fairly calm at Disneyland, so maybe this isn’t totally insane.

One option would be to check in a day later at CBR (Aug 23 instead of 22) and have one less day of Free Dining, and then have a second reservation to cover August 27-30. I can find a room at CBR for those dates and it even looks like I can change our Boma ADR from Aug 22 to 27. Now I just need to do some spreadsheet work to price out the changes and discuss with DH to see if it makes sense.

We’d need to drop at least one ADR or pay out of pocket for one of our table service meals. I’ll look at that in the spreadsheet too, but if you were going to drop one of the following, which would it be?

  1. dinner at Boma
  2. breakfast at Garden Grill
  3. dinner at Hollywood & Vine with Fantasmic! package
  4. dinner (early) at 'Ohana
  5. breakfast (late) at Tusker House with Rivers of Light package
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When we were narrowing down our WDW dining choices all but one of these (Hollywood & Vine) made our short list of options to narrow down to our actual dining choices and 3 of these were ones that made the actual list (Ohana, Tusker both of which were some of our favorites on the trip & are both requests to repeat in future & Garden Grill which we liked, was really novel but we’d rather try another new one instead of repeat this one).

That being said, I would probably cut Boma from the perspective that it’s out of the way being at a resort and while I loved all the resort dining that we did, it was a huge time suck away from the parks so that’s one thing I want to better plan for our next trip & make more ADRs close to or inside the parks unless we have resort days/departure days that won’t sacrifice park time for the ADR. (A similar argument could be made for Ohana but it was such an awesome experience for us that I don’t know I would recommend cutting it, lol but we did have a later dinner time, were sat in a large circle table at the corner with a perfect view of the castle at MK and at the end of the dinner the fireworks started up with us having the most perfect view so that had a LOT to do with it, so maybe consider Ohana too, whichever of the 2 between Ohana and Boma that would take more time away from parks would make the sense to cut out).

If you have dedicated time for AKL/Poly though, then perhaps I would cut H&V since you could find another way to see F! and I haven’t ever heard rave reviews of H&V.

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That would be my choice of restaurants to cut. The food is mediocre, at best. I’d do it if your kids are into the characters, but otherwise, the other restaurants on your list have much better food, IMO.

If you really want to see F! with prime seating, do the F! dessert package, which has the same seating as the dining package.


I didn’t research H&V too much but if I recall correctly from what I did read, there is pretty similar overlap in characters if you are also doing Garden Grill & Tusker House both so another reason to speed H&V up to the chopping block!