Freaking out about Oct crowds!

Disneyland veterans! I’m freaking out about the continued rise in crowd levels I see for our trip 10/14-10/19. We only go to WDW in Feb/early March so see 5/6 levels on “bad” days. This trip is our first at DLP and is showing 6/7/8 for all our days at DLP/CA. Is it reasonable for us to still take our afternoon resort break? We normally depart parks by 1:30pm and return around 4:30pm. I’m beginning to be concerned we won’t get it all in if we do so. The one day it shows a 4 we won’t be in the park because we have HP tickets for 10/16! #disneystress Should I rework all my TP? We “theme” our TP (doing lands when we dine there, trying to pair characters with like rides) which I’m thinking may not be advisable this trip. Kids are 8 & 13 but we still really want the resort break for pool/sanity/late nights. I don’t think hopping all over and letting MP dictate “chaos” (how it would feel to this mom) could possibly let us savor the details and stories that Disney is so good at. What to do to manage all the humanity?

I looked at the crowd levels both predicted for this year & what happened last year that same week & I think those are fair predictions & are not too far off from what you’ll see. Last year they predicted 5/6/7 and most days were either the same or less. They didn’t have any 8’s over that week last year. I am surprised they ever had predictions lower than they do now though (& very surprised that last year was as low as it was) as the Thur/Fri of that week is Fall Break for the majority of Utah public schools & in the past it’s been 7/8/9 if not 10 crowds. The fall break is scheduled at that time for teachers to attend the Utah Education Association Convention (UEA Convention). The convention was cancelled this year, but Fall Break was scheduled well in advance of that so schools will still be out (my kids included). And the love of Disney & Halloween is very big here in Utah so it’s a very popular place to be during UEA. We know many people who go regularly at that time.

That being said, as a Liner you know all about Rope Drop & I would encourage you to Rope Drop every single day that you can stand it (I know it gets harder as the trip gets longer, but even showing up close to rope drop will give you such an advantage). With a lot of local following it’s even easier to beat the crowds by showing up early as most come starting at 10-11am (with no place to midday break but restaurants or the park benches they rarely do a full day & so midday gets quite crowded. You on the other hand, will be able to knock out the majority of headliners you want to & when 1:30 hits (and it’s the most crowded/hottest part of the day) you can leave the parks having done a lot of what you set out to accomplish & come back refreshed for an evening of touring.

I would recommend keeping yours TPs flexible & with plenty of buffer space as TP is not as reliable in DL as it is in WDW (not enough user data is input to make it as reliable) so often times predicted waits in the TP are low after about the first hour or so. Also, Disneyland can make last minute changes/announcements that draw a large local crowd out for something special that can’t be accounted for in a CL (and rarely is the special offering something that even actually affects line wait times that crowd levels are measured off of, usually it’s food or a festival or rare character or some special guest at the start of the parade- we got to be there for Dick Van Dyke’s 90th & that was a lot of fun to see him ride past on a decked out Main Street Vehicle in front of the parade).

What I generally do is plan half the trip & then leave the rest of it to pick up what didn’t get done from earlier/repeat favorites & my favorite that is a huge part of Disneyland- to leave us flexible to do whatever impromptu moments that come up that just couldn’t be planned especially with characters. Disneyland has so many unannounced characters/offerings & my family just loves to stop for those things & I am happy to do it because they are so magical (and ever since I started planning I make sure to leave room in the plans for them).

I would also recommend that you double check the times on shows, especially if you made your TPs well in advance as a lot of times the show schedules can be different than the prior year (what TP uses to predict) & if you haven’t refreshed your plans you may have outdated info there.

And then if the humanity is just all too much even after that, here are some places that you can go to & at least have a break from things: ride the train in a loop, Winnie the Pooh & Little Mermaid dark rides hardly ever have longer than 10 min. waits & are a good 5-8 min. break in air conditioning, it’s a small world or Buzz Lightyear almost always have immediate FPs to pull & it’s a small world is a blessed 15 min of air conditioning, Disneyland Gallery (containing a short movie made for the 50th & hosted by Steve Martin which is just cute & fun) & Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln right next to it are always a good time, similarly if they still have it Blue Sky Cellar Preview center showing the plans for the newest/next additions to DCA along with a short film all about the making of Pixar Pier as told by the Imagineers who designed it, both the Sunset Showcase Theater in DCA and the Tomorrowland Theater in Disneyland should be showing some sort of preview/set of short films & are always a good way to get off your feet & still enjoy yourself. Along this same line of thinking Mickey & the Magical Map show in Disneyland (only done on weekends during off-season though) is a great show that you don’t need to plan in advance to get a seat for as the theater is huge. And my personal favorites to escape to, ride the Mark Twain in Disneyland, enjoy the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail in DCA or also in DCA the Animation Building (all of it is great including the lobby that plays clips/songs/shows digital images of concept art in 360 surround view of Disney animated movies; the Animation Academy where you can learn from a Disney animator how to draw a character; Turtle Talk with Crush; and Anna & Elsa character meet with the wait in the lobby enjoying the clips of Disney movies).

Hopefully I’ve helped put off some of the freak out & I hope that no matter what you & your family enjoy the charm & magic of the original park Walt built (there’s nothing that beats it for me) along with the fun & adventure at the DCA expansion.

We just got back from our Disneyland trip. 4 days in both parks with crowd levels that were 2 and 3/10. Absolutely suffocating and stressful. Nothing like the real 2/10 used to be. I can’t even imagine more people than that. All I can say is that low season is no more, gone are the days when you could actually walk around and enjoy the architecture and the magic and the characters, and not feel like the whole day is a big fat race. I think you just have to breathe and roll with it. Or go somewhere else on vacation. I don’t mean to be negative, and I really love Disneyland, but I have been so so disappointed that I’m having a hard time accepting that the magical Disneyland I always used to visit will probably never exist again.

Ever so helpful, thank you for your upbeat and positive encouragement. I have updated the TP for times, and am not doing TP for Thursday & Friday. We will RD daily, which is party why the afternoon break is so important for us. I’ve spread out the must do things (Sunday “regular” fireworks and try to hit PP afterwards during late F! show, Monday F! with BB ressie, Tuesday MHP tickets, Wednesday is parade day with PP and and LtN). I do have TP for Sun, Mon, Wed. Tuesday for the MHP I’ve followed a compilation of Disneyland Daily suggestions and stuff I’ve read on here. I’m just sort of disappointed that it’s going to be so busy but it is different from how we “do Disney”. Do you think 3 hours is enough of a break midday to keep us happy? That’s what we do at WDW but I’m learning things are much closer together at DLP. We are staying at DH.

If anything you can lessen it to account for the less transit time to/from parks (considering that the 3 hrs accounts for transit time at WDW). At DL we often do 3-4 hrs but our midday breaks are motivated by the need to get the kids to nap and we like to give them anywhere from 1-2 hrs of solidly being asleep & we also often get either lunch at the start or dinner at the end to save on in park food prices. The 1 time we have been to WDW I had planned for midday breaks for all but 1 or 2 out of 8 park days. What we ended up doing was skipping them except for the first day where we had traveled overnight the night before & our first MK day on Day 3 (but it was more like an early evening break since we didn’t leave the parks until 5pm & arrived back at the end of the first MSEP). Every other day instead of midday breaks we either slept in just a little or had early nights. I found the transit time between parks/hotels added just way too much time & we had a lot of ADRs scheduled at resorts too which was almost like a built-in break.

Assuming PP is Peter Pan, the ride will be closed during fireworks (along with all the other rides adjacent to the castle so Pinocchio’s, Snow White’s, Mr Toad’s, Alice in Wonderland as well as the carousel). They light a lot of the smaller fliers from atop these ride buildings so once they get the queues cleared of people, they setup the FWs atop the castle. And once that happens, they cannot open the area again until the fire marshal clears them. After FWs go off that can take a good 20-30 min.

Additionally, before fireworks go off but after they have closed off the front part of Fantasyland, people start to gather at the rope (setup behind the carousel & stretching out on either side to the Pinochio & Mr. Toad buildings) to do a 2nd dash to Peter Pan. Sometimes there will be a specific place to queue for PP that CMs will orderly move you into the official PP queue once it’s cleared for re-open. I’ve seen them use the overflow part of Mr. Toad’s queue before. Most of the time though, if there is a specific place it’s just that they’ve just marked off a taped switchback queue on the ground somewhere near the rope. In either of those cases, waiting at the rope in Fantasyland without being queued up where they setup a specific PP queue will be a disadvantage & I’ve seen people come as early as 15-20 min before fireworks to queue up for Peter Pan’s 2nd dash. With the time it takes to run fireworks & then get the all clear from the fire marshall the people that show up early before the fireworks will have waited 45-60 min so longer than an average wait for Peter Pan. Once they re-open the queue, it goes right back up to its normal 35-50 minutes & doesn’t really ever die down.

What I would recommend is still watch the fireworks but go do some other rides in Fantasyland and/or Tomorrowland right after. Depending on the direction of the wind they may also pause the teacups, & Storybook Land Canal boats in Fantasyland and also depending on the wind, close down/pause it’s a small world & the Railroad (both of those are closer to the site where they launch the large bursts behind ToonTown & so if the winds are blowing that way, then they need to keep the IASW queue and railroad track that goes through it, completely clear).

That leaves you with Casey Jr. & Dumbo as the only surefire won’t be closed attractions which is why I bring up Tomorrowland as an alternative to head after FWs (just note that the FP line for Space is ALWAYS crazy after fireworks so I would avoid that at all costs) Star Tours & Buzz lines can also get busy, but never as crazy as I have seen Space after fireworks get done. If Dumbo & Casey Jr. are attractions that will interest you then I would go for Fantasyland first (if the boats/teacups aren’t paused you can jump in those too). This way you’re not wasting time waiting for the all clear from the fire marshal to ride your next ride. When the all clear is given, you can ride any of the other Fantasyland dark rides you’re interested in (I love Peter Pan the most, but Alice is truly top-notch & not to be missed & a lot less competition to dash to than Peter Pan. Mr Toad’s gets a lot of following too but I love Pinocchio & Snow White just as much as Mr. Toad). I would then end the night with Peter Pan getting that extra dose of pixie dust to send you out the gates. We usually like to do Fantasyland very last at night because a lot of the other lines will be walk-on & then we can get into Peter Pan’s line just before park closing & while it still show a 30-40 min. which is an average wait, for some reason the CMs become super motivated following park closing to get through to the end of the line. And my favorite part of this strategy is that Fantasyland will be super quiet having been all closed up for nearly 30 min & the castle walkways will also be super enjoyable if not also super quiet & empty.

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