Yay for surprise anniversary trip! Well done to your DH!!
We just returned from a trip to DLR and our experience was that for DL (6/15 & 6/16) rope drop was the official park opening time (9am) and we were held at the hub/Main St until then, but for DCA (6/17, 6/18 & 6/20) Avengers Campus and a few headliners were ready to go before 8:30 and they were not holding guests anywhere but letting them back into all parts of the park.
For the boarding groups: if you have park hoppers and the group you get from the 7am drop is an early one (i.e. you are able to scan in before 12pm) then you can try for the other ride’s BG at the 12pm drop. We were able to do this two of our DCA days by getting very low Webslingers boarding groups (18 & 16 respectively) at the 7am drop so that at 12pm we were able to get RotR (we would’ve been able to do a third time too, but I messed up on which park we were starting at our last day so we tried for the wrong ride and didn’t get a BG at the 7am drop at all). But definitely practice to get the feel, I didn’t have DH practice beforehand and so only I knew how to do it exactly but once he got the hang of it, it was a LOT easier to get better BGs with both of us trying.
Rider switch is alive and well at DLR, just make sure you have the tickets of the non-riders ready to scan. The only issue we ran into with RS was with RotR - I don’t know if the RotR CMs were just tired or addled by the heat or overwhelmed with crowds or all of the above, but they seemed to be the most put-out by giving a rider switch and kind of expected us to know where to go for it, even on our first day, first time ever riding RotR. When we got to the CMs that were specifically there to assist with RS they specifically asked only for the non-rider’s ticket to scan & when I asked if I got to bring 2 back through (like with regular rider switch) the answer I got was “I’ve already got just you booked. So you’re all set.” And then the CM turned away to help the next person. No other directions on what to do, where to return, or why it would be different than any other RS.
It didn’t feel right so when we returned, we brought the 2 older kids anyway and I made sure to tell them that I asked when we scanned for the RS and that we were all there, but were told I couldn’t bring anyone and I just wanted to clarify if it really was just me and they somewhat reluctantly let them in because they said yes technically you should be able to bring two others and they should’ve just scanned it for you to begin with. So just make sure you clarify and ask again if it doesn’t seem like it’s working like RS should. I get that it’s a high demand ride and that the less RS’s that they offer the more efficiently they can get through BGs but I hate it when they, in the name of efficiency, try to weasel out of giving you what their policies clearly state are allowed. But for something like RotR, it’s totally worth pushing back on them to give you the chance to ride with at least part of your family.
And then snacks, oh boy oh boy, two days isn’t nearly enough!! My favorite is most definitely the Mint juleps and beignets, but churros, corn dogs, any Bengal BBQ skewers and the Cozy Cone (either Mac n cheese or Chili Cone Queso) are also way up there. The food at Avengers Campus that we tried was all so good, the pretzel and candy bar being our favorites but we could’ve easily eaten anything that we tried there again (the giant chicken sandwich and the PB3 sandwich concoction). We also really loved the two treats at the Terran Treats cart and never got a chance to try the Shawarma but it smelled so good every time we passed it. Usually we also hit up the bread bowls with clam chowder and bread pudding at the Pacific Wharf Cafe but it wasn’t up and running yet this trip (but might be by yours).
A few other that are awesome that I can’t not mention are the Plaza Inn fried chicken, Matterhorn macaroons (if you love coconut), Ghiradelli’s ice cream and turkey legs.
And then the one must-eat snack that is relatively easy to transport back to the hotel in a ziploc bag is churro toffee (to save space for the rest of the snacks that aren’t as transportable). You can also get churro toffee at Marceline’s in Downton Disney so it’s an easy one to save for arrival or leaving day and we always bring at least some of that home because it’s a fave snack. The Matterhorn Macaroons are also relatively easy to transport in a ziploc too but we always eat ours on the spot because we love them.
When we went, breakfast was a little tricky because the places we are used to seeing open for breakfast as alternative options weren’t all open but again, that might change by the time you go. For us we really like Galactic Grill, Jolly Holiday, Red Rose Tavern as options for breakfast but none of those were doing breakfast. Also, Flo’s which is really popular for bfast (but we always seem to gravitate towards a Cozy Cone even for bfast in DCA) wasn’t open for bfast when we went. So either be prepared to wait in a long line for the select bfast options that are available or do an on-the-go bfast on the way in to the parks and wait to eat until 10:30-11 when more things start opening up.
Oh, also! I totally forgot Tropical Hideaway with it’s different flavors of Dole Whip is all amazing, but a really, really, really long line every time we passed so we opted to skip it this trip.
Any other questions, keep them coming, we love to help answer!