It feels like the very first time

I can’t believe it. I’m planning my next Disney trip with only 76 days to go. I joined in 2018 and took our first ever WDW trip as a family in June 2019. I learned so much from this site and forum that my trip was flawless (minus the summer heat) and I felt like I truly earned my status as a Liner.

This trip will be just my husband and me. Being at Disney during the holidays is on our bucket list and we are intrigued by the “new” way of Disney (no fast passes, etc) and we are pulling the trigger this week. I am so excited I could cry.

HOWEVER… I feel like a first timer again. With shortened park hours and restaurant closings and such, I am frantically researching and can’t seem to find everything that I need which leads me into a tailspin. In an effort to ENJOY the more relaxed planning of Disney right now and calm my OCD, can you, my helpful, sweet, sometimes sassy, but always full of advice Liner Friends just answer these questions for me so I can stop wondering what is accurate, current information:

  1. Is the monorail running? I think it is, but on a modified schedule. Or is it simply 1 hour after park closing? Where can I find that info? @TarHeelTiff I feel like you can answer this.

  2. If purchasing tickets from a third party vendor (undercover tourist or Boardwalk for example), do I get some type of code that allows me to link those tickets to my MDE app? I assume it’s pretty easy? First time not purchasing a package.

  3. I’m also going to book my hotel (Dolphin) through the actual Marriott site. I assume same situation here- some type of link that connects the reservation to MDE. If any tips needed, let me know.

  4. I’d like to purchase new Magic Bands. Any tips for connecting my ticket and resort reservations from above to the new magic bands? Is there any advantage to ordering the Magic Bands AFTER my reservations are connected to MDE?

  5. I love reading all of your Trip Reports. It’s really helping me with ideas for how things are right now at Disney. For those who have been recently who are usually Rope Droppers: Would you recommend getting to parks earlier than park opening? Maybe for specific parks but not others? It seems like Hollywood Studios would be a good one to get there early. How early to be toward the front of the line for MMRR, for example?

Thanks for brightening my day, Liner Fam.

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YES Crowds and wait times are up so if you want to do the headliners without crazy waits you need to RD. I got to each of the 4 parks 45-60 minutes early. Not all rides opened before opening, but the headliners generally did, if sometimes just 15 minutes or so

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The Express MK monorail is running. The Epcot monorail is not. The Resort monorail is running, but not necessarily stopping at Poly (not sure how long this temporary closure will be of the Poly monorail stop). Of course, the Ferry is still running, and they have buses making the loop after the monorail stops.

Yep. Actually, we’ve never bought tickets from Disney directly (other than my AP). Always used Undercover Tourist. It couldn’t be easier. Just link the ticket information in MDE directly. That’s it.

All you have to do is enter the code on the back of the MagicBand in MDE and it will be linked. Extremely easy. You assign the band to whoever you want to in MDE itself. (Once assigned, it cannot be re-assigned, however.)

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I was in line to get in by 8:45am – let in around 9:10, at the front of the line for MMRR. The second time I was there at 8:30am, let in at 9:10, except my MB was not working – raced to Guest relations, got it fixed, was delayed maybe 10 minutes. I then moved fast to MMRR, and waited about 20-25 minutes. By the time I got off the ride at 9:55 the queue was already 75 minutes If you are not in the front, you will be waiting

2, 3, 4: You can link both 3rd party tickets and your Marriott reservation in My Disney Experience under “My Plans.” (Just hover over Resort Hotel and the link button will appear too.) Which Magic Bands do you want? You can do the pre-order upgrades right here too, otherwise you can also “link” the Magic Bands!

Got it, thank you. We will get there early for MMRR for sure. I’ve haven’t been to Galaxy’s Edge yet, so I am guessing I’ll head over there after MMRR.

Any other ride you suggest getting to a park early for? I’ve ridden 7DMT, all of TSL and FOP and want to do them all again. If getting to them first is important I will do that. Honestly, Splash & Pirates are my 2 favorite rides, so I may head there instead of 7DMT… EDIT: I just looked at FOP right now and the expected queue is 20 minutes. SWEET!

Great question! No Clue. :laughing: If it’s easy to link them no matter how I get them, I guess that opens my possibilities!

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@TarHeelTiff is right: based on current patterns if you at at thr front of RD and can walk with purpose do FOP first. But then the line gets long — and goes down later. so if you cannot be at the front-ish and go there first, maybe start with something else

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SDD had long lines early. After MMRR i did ToT one day and MFSR the other

We were later rope-droppers in August (and things are busier). We got dropped off at HS around 9:30. The line for MMRR was already really long on two of the days, so we went to SDD where it was not short, but better than later in the day. Maybe 20 minutes? The third day, MMRR’s line looked decent so we did that one and were just about to get on the ride at 10:00 AM open. Mornings are tough when you’re from the west coast, so we weren’t pushing the early arrival too much.

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Congrats on your upcoming trip!

For #5 - I went to MK this past Sun and as a little test I made an “optimized” touring plan just to see how the wait times would match up. I didn’t know how accurate it would be right now but it was spot on for the entire day. So playing with the optimization feature might give you some insight as you think about strategy and timing. For MK, TP had me going on the big wait attractions at the end of the day and the Fantasyland attractions at opening which was the opposite of what I wanted to do but TP was correct and I really did have the lowest waits throughout the day. So I think it still pays to get to the parks a little before opening but depending on the attractions you want it may not be entirely necessary.

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I was wondering if anyone had tried this. Great to know!

Is there a way to share your plan? I would love to see it!

As other mentioned, MK resort monorail is running. Sign at the Poly said it starts at 7:25am for breakfast reservations at other resorts (don’t know if they check) and the MK boarding from there starts at 8:25am. It runs til 1 hour after park close, but there is bus service between the monorail resorts from then until 11pm.

I’m not positive how late the express monorail goes from MK to the TTC. When we went by on the last resort loop of the night there were still people waiting to board that one.

There is no monorail from MK/TTC to Epcot.

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One thing to note, it took about 24 hours after booking for the Swan confirmation number to be able to be added to the Disney site. I would also make sure any names you want associated with the reservation are added to the room before you link it to Disney. I couldn’t find a way to do this during booking through Marriott, so had to call. So if you are looking at dates where park availability is low, you want to account for that extra time.

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I think you can see it here: https://touringplans.com/plans/print?id=4169475

I did end up with extra time in the AM, sqeezed in barnstormer and SM, then left for lunch at Poly because it poured rain for over an hour. The only wait time that ended up longer was Mine Train which was actually closer to 45 mins. But some wait times rose up to 60+ min during the day so I was glad I came prepared!

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If riding the headliners is important to you, I can’t emphasize how important RD is enough.

MK: less critical to be one of the very first people walking through the gates, but in that first hour you can do more than in three later in the day. Then you can take a little break when others start filling up the lines. We were able to walk on most of the headliners by being lined up at the CR walkway around 7:50 for a 9am open.

AK: if you can be there early, and on the first bus or there when parking gates open, and head directly to FOP you can have a short wait. If you miss the initial wave, definitely do something else and come back later. We arrived at parking gates at 8am for 9am open.

HS: this is the one where it was very helpful to be there in the first group of people. We walked on to MMRR and could have also have had a short wait on MFSR or ToT and still be ready for a BG. The morning will then be the busiest time of the day until waits drop in the last two hours. So I recommend being there early, but doing some of the “ride anytime” stuff in that 10:30-1pm time, or take a break for an early lunch. We walked over from the Swan and got to where they held us around 8:20 for a 10am open.

EP: we arrived around 10:15 but then had ticket issues and so didn’t get into the park til just after 11. Still had just a 15 minute wait for Soarin. We didn’t ride anything else that day, so can’t offer much beyond that. It’s probably the least critical one to be there early for…but since park opening isn’t til 11 also the easiest one to get there for haha

You are the BEST! I’m sure I’ll be hittin you up soon with more questions :star_struck:

Thanks! I am taking a friend (who hasn’t done Disney in 30 years!) to MK and AK in October. We have a similar plan for MK although I’m hoping to RD 7DMT. She wants to minimize walking and the plan has us in Frontierland at the end of the day. It seems like we either need to RD BTMR and Splash or be prepared to wait. I don’t want to do Splash first thing! I’m so glad to hear that your plan was successful. We definitely have more on our agenda, but have narrowed down what are our must-do’s.

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@TarHeelTiff or anyone who has been to the Boardwalk recently: Another Swolphin/Boardwalk question(s) If we grab a bagle at Boardwalk Bakery in the AM, can we eat it while we walk to Hollywood Studios? Or are masks required along this path? I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

Any other suggestions for a quick breakfast on the go? It looks like not much is open at the Dolphin and I dont plan to have groceries.

I found this path to be kind of a mix when it came to masks. It is often used as a running path, and most of the runners we passed while using it did not wear masks, or only wore them as they passed us. But we were almost always the only people around for large stretches of the walk, so to be honest, we often pulled ours down to drink our coffees and kept them down. We would put them back up as soon as we could see anyone else. So I think you could eat as you walk and put a mask up if someone approaches, or once you get close to the bus area of HS. You do need to have one while you’re in the Boardwalk area as well.

I did breakfast from the Boardwalk Bakery one morning, and it was pretty easy. I did Mobile Order, but they also allowed folks to go in. I wish I had gone in to order because they didnt have most of their bakery case treats listed on the app.

We also got breakfast a couple of times from the quick service coffee place in the Swan (Java), so you could do that from the Dolphin as well. It seemed to vary widely if there was a line there or not, but in general it moved quickly. They had bagels, parfaits, breakfast sandwiches, etc.

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