Is a Mid-October 2022 Trip with No Genie+ survivable? Family of 3 with small child

First, thanks in advance. We are what Bob Chapek would call a family from Denver that only comes once every 5 years… only, we’re not from Denver, and it’s been more like 8 1/2 years. I’m sure I’ll get skewed advice here, as my perception is that this forum is full of folks that stay in Moderate and Deluxe resorts, buy multiple MagicBand+s for all family members, pay for Genie+ every day, plus ILLs, and have money left over to eat multiple table service meals a day. I know I’ve just offended some of you. Sorry (eek).

That’s just not us. (And I know there are others out there like us).

We’re headed to WDW the week after our trip to Georgia. We were given an amazing opportunity to stay on an island in a condo for a week in Georgia. We’ll be driving from northern Ohio, and figured, if we’re this far, we’re only 4 hours away from WDW… what better opportunity to take our son, 3 1/2, to WDW. I’ve been saving hotel points (while also using them along the way) for two decades. Our stay at Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista for 7 nights is entirely free. We get two bottles of water, two starbucks coffees complimentary, and we get $30 each day to cover food at the Hilton, which we figure will cover most of breakfast. Our biggest expense by far are the park tickets (we bought 6-day, non-park hopper tickets). We’re planning one ADR every day, including arrival day (at Disney Springs) with the exception of one of our MK days and the HS day.

**Here’s my real question: ** I’ve been watching as October crowds on TP have been going up and up. I’m not surprised to see this; I’m surprised to see the extent to which they’ve risen. Are we foolish to be thinking we can get away without buying Genie+?

Here’s our basic plan:

Oct 15, afternoon - Disney Springs for dinner and walking around. ADR at the under-loved Wolfgang Puck’s. We’re eastern european and the menu is right up our alley. Prices seem reasonable, and the loud atmosphere will be a plus for our boisterous son (he won’t be the loudest person around). Early to bed.

Day 1 - HS - Crowd Level 7
Sunday, Oct 16 - Hollywood Studios Early Entry. Driving and Parking. Will try for RotR if it’s up. It’s not a great loss to us if it isn’t and we’ll adjust.

My significant other is not a coaster or big drop enthusiast (although SDD, 7DMT, BTMRR, etc will all be fine). There’s no Rockin’ Rollercoaster or, my favorite, ToT in this plan.

The attractions we want to see and that were optimized for us by TP are:
MMRR, TSM!, ASS, MF: SR, Red Carpet Dreams, Disney Jr Play and Dance, Walt Disney Presents, Olaf, HOTEL NAP 3.5 hours, Mickey and Friends Motorcade, Frozen Sing Along, Lightning McQueen, Slinky Dog Dash, RotR if we didn’t rope drop it. Staying for Disney Movie Magic or Fantasmic! if open.

No ADRs this day.

Day 2 - MK - Crowd Level 7
Monday, Oct 17. Magic Kingdom early entry, driving and parking. Considering walking to Poly instead of TTC to catch resort monorail to MK. (feedback?)
This is our zig when everyone else zags plan. We’ll be back to MK on a MNSSHP day, so this feels like a good way to continue to ease our 3 1/2 year old son into the parks.
EE right to Peter Pan’s Flight
It’s a Small World (I can’t believe I’m putting this 2nd, given its length, but it’s my wife’s favorite, and my son loves music)
Prince Charming Carousel
Casey Jr Splash
QS at Friar’s Nook
Swiss Family Treehouse
Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire
HOTEL NAP 3.5 hours
Tiki Room
Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Pecos Bill for Dinner
Pirates of the Caribbean
Jungle Cruise
Optional: Splash Mountain to close out the park

No ADRs this day.

Day 3 - EP - Crowd Level 6
Tues, Oct 18, Early Entry, driving and parking.
Unplanned Day as of yet. Likely a no-nap, but leave the park early day.
ADRs - early lunch (actually late breakfast) Ale & Compass Yacht Club and Early dinner San Angel Inn (really looking forward to this one)

Day 4 - AK - Crowd Level 3
Weds, Oct 19th, Early Entry, driving and parking.
ADRs - Early Dinner, Rainforest Cafe. We wouldn’t do this if it were the two of us, but with our 3 1/2 year old son, we think it’ll be perfect. This will probably be a no-nap day, but a full day at the AK, resulting in an earlier-than-average bedtime.
EE Rope Drop Na’vi River Journey
Wildlife Express Train: Africa
Affection Section (dad with son)
Animation Experience (mom) Mom is allergic to many animals and an avid drawer, so this split seems a perfect opportunity.
Wildlife Express Train: Planet Watch Station
QS Lunch in Africa or Disco Island
Meet Mickey and Minnie
LUNCH ADR Rainforest Cafe
Finding Nemo: The BBB
Maharajah Jungle Trek
Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
Optional: Avatar FOP with Rider Swap (we won’t be too disappointed if we can’t fit this)

Day 5 - EP - Crowd Level 5
Thurs, Oct 20, Early Entry, driving and parking.
Unplanned Day as of yet. Likely has a mid-day nap, but returning for Harmonious
ADR early lunch at La Creperie de Paris (this will be a big hit. dad makes crepes almost every week, including maple syrup, nutella, fruit and honey, savory crepes…)

Day 6 - MK - Crowd Level 5
Fri, Oct 21, Early Entry, driving and parking. Party day, but we’re not partying. This is they day we hit most of our headliners. By now, we should be able to judge our 3 1/2 year old’s appetite for rides (all signs so far point to him being a ride lover).
EE Rope Drop 7DMT
Under the Sea
Mad Tea Party
Tomorrowland Speedway
LUNCH ADR Skipper’s Canteen
TTA Peoplemover
Astro Orbiter
Character meet Pooh and Tigger
FoF Parade
Splash Mountain if not done on MK Day 1 | otherwise | Haunted Mansion
Re-ride favorites (Dumbo? Barnstormer?)
DINNER ADR Enzo’s Hideaway Disney Springs

Pool time, pack for departure tomorrow morning

Any feedback about this itinerary? Have we cut out enough headliners that we’ll survive without Genie+? What about that first day at HS?

Crowd Levels sum 33 for our 6 days. I could optimize this at 28, but I’d lose our ADRs, and frankly, we’re liking the way our week is laid out right now.

If you made it this far, wow, and thank you again!


There’s actually quite a lot of people here “like you” Judgey McJudgerson. There have been quite a few recentish trip reports where people absolutely killed it without G+ and they were even after any headliners I don’t see on your list. I think it’s totally manageable for you to hit most of your goals, but you’ll likely have several 30-60 minute waits for some attractions. Most people end up getting G+ bc they see the value in not wasting all that extra time in line when there is an alternative (even if it’s crappy and you have to pay to use it).

Regarding walking to Poly for the resort monorail, definitely don’t bc it will only waste time and footsteps. If there ferry is there or about to arrive, take it. Otherwise you can take either the resort or express monorail to the entrance. Also Rainforest Cafe is totally decent food. It’s not fine dining, but it’s not garbage food either. You’ll enjoy it. San Angel Inn is one of my faves. Try The Wild One margarita. It’s so yum!


It’s actually Judgerton T. McJudgerson.


Is it just the steps you’re worried about? Or are there other logistical issues? I’ve heard it said in many places that the resort monorails run well before the express monorail does. Or has this changed with widespread Early Entry?

There are all types of WDW guests on these boards. Hopefully you get an array of opinions and then can make a decision.

I would not say foolish, but be prepared to take on some long lines with a 3.5 year old. You will also accomplish less in a day without G+. It is really a question of whether the shorter lines and doing more is worth the extra cost and that is a personal decision. If you only pick one day to buy G+, I would do it for your HS day. I think AK is the park you least need G+, and you have two days with Early Entry at each of Epcot and MK.

I like to hit Adventureland in the morning shortly after the land opens (especially Pirates). Doing Small World and the Carousel early in the morning seems like a waste of lower crowd mornings, but enter into TP Optimizer and see what it says. Note - If you don’t have G+, I would suggest switching Jungle Cruise to your Day 6 MK day due to likely lower crowds.

I wouldn’t change park days based on those small differences. The actual CLs each day may differ from the predictions anyway.

You didn’t ask but …

  1. Will you have a stroller? I highly recommend with a 3.5 y/o.
  2. Make sure to keep your expectations in check. Everything takes longer with a 3.5 y/o … stroller parking, bathroom breaks, snack breaks, unexpected meltdowns, ect. You will likely get to do less than you expect going in … I know this from experience of being at WDW with a 3.5 y/o :slight_smile:
  3. When you are at WDW, relax and enjoy the smiles on your son’s face. Years later, you likely won’t remember whether you missed an attraction or not, but you likely will remember his experiences and reactions.

First, thank you very much for your insight! Yes, because we are driving, we’ll have our own umbrella stroller with us. Not large enough to tote lots of things around, but just fine for letting us move at speed with a sure-to-be-tired kiddo.

The meltdowns are the big wildcard here. Terrible twos are nothing. It’s the threes, I tell you. Point well taken. We’re both working parents, and we have two older daughters who spend part of their time with us (split household) so the shuttling back and forth means business. We’re working on slowing down and listening to our son more, taking the time to hear him, and answer and explain. He needs to work on listening as well, what 3 year old doesn’t? But we’re realizing we have just as much work to do as he does. Maybe we can work to avoid some of these meltdowns, but others will no doubt happen.

Point 3 seems like sage advice.


I have no idea, but I have never heard walking to Poly to take the resort monorail to MK as a strategy. Now taking the express monorail or ferry from MK to TTC and walking to Poly is a very wide spread strategy. That will likely be faster than waiting on the resort boat or monorail.


I think if you have a good EE strategy every morning, you can definitely get buy without G+ at least for most of your trip. Especially since you’re skipping a lot of the coasters, which get some of the longest waits.

You might run into trouble with things like Jungle Cruise or Splash Mountain which you have listed late in the day, depending on your 3 year old’s capability for waiting in lines.

I would consider prioritizing 1 day of G+ at MK and 1 for HS. We’re scaling back on our park food budget to get G+ instead. I’m hoping G+ will allow us to ride a few things like TSM and AS2 twice, which we really enjoyed doing on our last trip when DS6 was 2. Epcot on the other hand with two days and EE, you definitely don’t need G+. If you’re towards the front of the pack, you can probably even start at Remy and get on Frozen before the taps open to everyone. That’s what we’re hoping to do.


I think you can buy genie + for some days but not others. You could choose your most busy day and only buy it for that and see what you think. If it’s a day early on you could then decide if it’s worth it to have it for later days. I have never used genie + but I could see how you might think it’s worth it once you get there. In the advance planning time it’s very different than actually being there. Maybe think of something else that you could jettison if you need to work genie + into your budget on the fly.

You may want bigger than an umbrella stroller. Mostly b/c on a full size stroller you can easily put stuff you buy, drinks in drink holders etc. I say from experience. The last time we went to WDW all our 3 kids had graduated from strollers and we thought that would be preferable but it totally wasn’t. We had kids with hurting feet and tired and longing for the stroller days (we had 3 WDW visits, 2 with stroller and 1 without). I definitely missed being able to store stuff instead of carry it.

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We did a trip in August with no Genie+ and were very successful for the most part. If you want to read the details, here is the link to my trip report:

If you don’t have the time or desire to read through that, let me know, and I would be happy to share tips/highlights tomorrow! It wouldn’t be worth it for me to try right now, I’m too tired and my brain is done for the night :joy:


You can absolutely survive without G+. Especially if you are willing to get up and get the parks 45 minutes before park opening. That being said, your days will be MUCH better if you choose to purchase G+ for your MK and DHS days.

Without G+ you will have long waits for several lines. G+ in MK is especially good because so many rides are on G+. You can easily go without for AK and EP. And, frankly any of the parks, but you will have a few long waits.

Stroller is good. With a 3 year old less is ALWAYS more. Better to leave the park 60 minutes too soon than 15 minutes too late. Have realistic expectations.

Get up early, go to bed early if needed. You will get more done using early entry and the first 90 minutes of the day than almost any other time. Getting up early sucks. Waiting in long lines in the heat sucks more.

There is my stream of consciousness. And remember what Len says, “If you arrive without knowing a thing about the place and make every possible mistake, chances are about 90% that you’ll have a wonderful vacation anyway.”*

*Sehlinger, Bob; Sehlinger, Bob; Testa, Len; Testa, Len. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2021 (The Unofficial Guides) (Kindle Locations 250-251). Unofficial Guides. Kindle Edition.


I will 2nd the big stroller. We haven’t used our stroller for anything in months but I’ve been saving it for this trip. We’ll have a cooler of drinks, snacks, and lunch to save money but also time waiting in line to buy sometime every time someone is thirsty. Also feeding kids snacks in long lines is a great way to distract them.

We did no G+ for 5/6 park days (we just tried it one day at MK) and did everything we wanted to and got on some headliners several times (including ones at HS). One of our longest waits was with G+ at Jungle Cruise. The line was all backed up.

We didn’t mind the little bit longer waits in lines without G+, which didn’t seem that bad. Our longest wait was 45 minutes for MFSR. Everything else was 30 minutes or less. We did not feel at all like we spent all our time in lines.

We stayed in a value resort and used old magic bands. We did do TS, but had Disney rewards from our Disney visa, as well as 10% off discount for some of the restaurants.

You can have a good time without G+ with some planning.


Can you survive? Yes. But man the time in line you save with G+ is insane.

I wouldn’t spend money on ILL. Rope drop the ILL attractions.

I would buy G +, IF you intend on unlocking its maximum potential.

No joke we saved about 4-5 hours of wait time per day with G+ at MK, DHS and Epcot…a bit less at AK.

I have a friend going soon on a tight budget and I suggested he substitute two sit down meals with quick service to off set cost. But to each their own. Everyone wants to allocate budget differently.


I’m not one of those. We span the whole range of vacation budgets here. In 2019, we spent 10 nights at the Hilton at Bonnet Creek completely on points. For a family of 4 adults, we spent about $1,800 on food over 10 days. I had budgeted $3,000. We had a number of pricey TS including CA Grill, Garden Grill, Boathouse, and Storybook Dining. Every one got to eat whatever they wanted to eat. All this to say that we don’t all have generous WDW budgets! So, please feel comfortable to ask questions!

We haven’t been to WDW under Genie+ yet. But we will be going in February, with 5-day non park hoppers. We do not plan on buying Genie+ everything. We feel that we can get everything we want done using strategies showed on this Forum.


I KNEW there were more of you out there. So nice to see this perspective coming out of the woodworks.


I want to add my opinion that FoP is the best ride at WDW and should not be missed. So I would rope drop FoP and set up rider swap as soon as you get to that point in the line and then the non-riding parent can take the 3.5 yo on NRJ while the line is still short while the other parent rides FoP. The non-riding rider switch parent can return anytime later in the day to ride FoP so it shouldn’t put much of a kink in the rest of your plan. One parent would end up missing NRJ but, meh.