Last minute, first trip

We decided at the last minute to go to WDW in 3 weeks. We are regulars to DLR, but this is our first trip to WDW.

While I realized this might be an issue, I have discovered that the popular rides FPs are gone for our trip. Now they may or may not open some up while we are there. I’m not going to worry about it after we make some choices for the FPs, which I don’t have access to yet since it still needs to go through the system.

We have six days in the parks. Our current plan is to visit MK, Hollywood, AK during the day and then have dinner at Epcot in the evening and do some things there. Two days in each park and most evenings in Epcot. (We are staying in the Epcot/Boardwalk area). We might do another park at night for something special.

I have a tween who is not big on getting up early and for DLR, we show up midmorning. I don’t know if that will be the case here or not.

In the end, our goal is to have an adventure and we are not the do-it-all or bust. We go on what we can, skip what we can’t, and have fun.

So knowing all this, what would you recommend for someone who has never been and essentially didn’t plan?


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I haven’t been to DL but have been to WDW 3 times. Do you have an idea of where you want to eat? The table service restaurants in high demand sell out at 180 days in advance but there are often cancellations and those are some of the most interesting experiences you can have at WDW. You might want to check on MDE (my disney experience website) to see what’s available; you can always cancel anything 24 hrs in advance if you decide you don’t want it. The FP in high demand sell out at 60 days when they open to on site guests but, as with the dining, cancellations can happen. If there are rides you really want that tend to have long waits you can check back to see if something opens up. I would recommend checking wait times on the app every once in awhile to get an idea of what ride waits are like; this info is also available on TP app and website. If you are planning to rope drop then you’ll know what rides to go for first thing.

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Something that WDW has that DL doesn’t is a large # of resorts and many of them are spectacular to visit even if you’re not staying in there. I am uncertain if you’re going when Xmas will still be up but if it is the decor is beautiful in all of them. I would recommend going to the lobby of the Grand Floridian and seeing the gingerbread house if that is still up.

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Make sure you all wear comfortable shoes. The biggest difference between DL and WDW is the walking. You’ll really enjoy this difference if you don’t mind walking. The spaces are magical. The gardens at WDW are quite spectacular at Epcot especially. (at least before all the construction walls went up…not sure what it’s like currently)

@Kitty_Ellas_Mom is correct that many restaurants will be booked early. But the good news is that there’s so many more options than DL. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding great places to eat. Using the Disney App to book restaurants at the last minute has never been an issue for us. Although there are some you’ll want to book in advance if you can. My personal all time favourite is Jiko. It’s located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. (Also worth exploring that resort either before or after dinner)

Try and book a little time for Disney Springs. It’s much different than Downtown Disney. I like going there at night. It’s a real party atmosphere. (family party - not frat party…lol) A ton of great restaurants:
Homecoming, the Boat House, and Jaleo are my personal favs at DS.

Many of the rides at WDW that also exist at DL are different and worth going on to see the differences for yourself. Splash Mountain IMO is better at WDW. Pirates, Jungle Cruse, and Space Mountain are all better at DL…but still fun. I think you’ll really enjoy the differences.

There’s so many other things… but I have to go :slight_smile: Enjoy your trip!!


TP’s res finder to find restaurants since you are only 3 weeks out.
Dibb to figure out FPP. Also check the post here about drop times for same-day FPs Current same day FP drops

AK - 11.01, 1.01, 3.01, 5.01
HS - 9.31, 12.01, 2.31
EP - 11.31, 1.31, 3.31
MK - no specific drop times

Other than that it sounds like you have a good attitude about it so I’m sure it will be fun :slight_smile:


Re: Disney Springs, if you have a party of adults, I recommend The Edison at night. It’s steam punk themed and has live music and dancers (during the day it’s more of a family restaurant but we didn’t go in the day). They have interesting food like bacon on a clothesline or a “lollipop tree” of cheesecake shaped like lollipops. They aren’t busy at all at night.

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I went to Disneyland for the first time in October, and I have been to Disney World too many time to count. While I am no expert, I will weigh in.

As you know the fast pass system is different. Personally, I LOVE Maxpass, so much fairer. As mentioned dining is very different, table service often books fast.

There are a lot more resorts with even more dining options, but take time from getting to resort to resort. WDW is fairly spread out. If you have a rental it is easier to get to other resorts, if you are counting on Disney Transport to get from resort to resort it will take time, as you will have to grab a bus from your resort to a hub like a park or disney springs (I do NOT recommend this as busses seem to take forever at Disney Springs).

And another tip if you have your own transport. Driving to Epcot, Animal Kingdow, and Hollywood Studios is fine, and may be better than buses.

As far as the Magic Kingdom I suggest a bus, as you will have to tram from the parking lot to the TTC (Ticket and Transportation Center) then catch either the ferry or the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. The buses bring you much closer to the park entrance, no ferry or monorail.

As you understand the best strategies for rides is to be there at rope drop. Now this is harder for you as it’s a time adjustment that is not in your favor. But the parks fill up and bottleneck. Another strategy is to get in line for a ride minutes before the park closes.

As far as rides are concerned:
MK - not naming all rides:
Swiss Family Treehouse is different from Tarzans Treehouse, its the original
Pirates is better at Disneyland
Tiki Room is a little better at WORLD
Big Thunder Mt (BTMRR) I did not do, so I cannot say
Splash Mountain is much better at WORLD
Haunted Mansion I cannot say as it has the overlay
Liberty Belle is nice, but Disneyland’s version is much better
Tom Sawyer Island is much better at Disneyland
Jungle Cruise is similar, but slightly better at WORLD
It’s a Small World - Disneyland is better, but it bears a ride
Peter Pan - I did not do at Disneyland
Philharmagic - I did not do at Disneyland, but understand it is better at World, and usually the only wait is for the current show to finish, and you usually do not need a fastpass
Little Mermaid is about the same
Dumbo is the same except there are two rides
Winnie the Pooh I did not do at Disneyland
Space Mountain is smoother at Disneyland and better with the hyperspace overlay
Buzz Lightyear the guns are better at Disneyland
Astro Orbitor is up higher and giver some good views
I did not ride Autotopia so I cannot compare
The Carousel of Progress is a persoanl favorite, but I like the history with Walt
People Mover is not a headliner, but it is for me. I would do this at least once, it gives some good views, takes a load off, and also worth doing at night and at day.

Seven Dwarf Mine train is fun, but over too fast, I would not wait on a huge line for it.

Soaring is the exact same
Test Track is different, but Radiator Springs is much better in my opinion
Living with the Land is an interesting ride and we do not miss it
Turtle talk we did for the first time in California Adventure so I cannot compare
The Seas with Nemo usually has little to no wait, its ok
Journey into Imagination I would not wait more than 10 minutes for
Mission Space is good, I like both versions
Frozen Ever After I have not done

Epcot is under some major construction now. But a lot of people love the food options.

Tower of Terror is ok, Guardians in California Adventure is WAY better, you get so much airtime.
Toy Story Midway Mania I did not do at Disneyland so cannot compare
I have not done any of the new Star Wars rides at either

So very different
I personally recommend Expedition Everest at AK, Kilimanjaro Sarfari at AK, Catch the Lion King at AK, The Nemo show is well done if you are a nemo fan. Flight of Passage is good too.

Wow that was longer than I thought it was going to be. Looking back I mssed things at DLR, but I am content, I did most of what I wanted to.


Thanks for the breakdown @Jedilogray! This is great. I appreciate you writing out the list.

There are some things I look forward to at WDW since they are gone from DLR like the Country Bear Jamboree and the People Mover. I remember them from my childhood and teen years. I am probably too excited about these. On the upside, since they are not headliners, I will have plenty of opportunity to see them.

I am like you have visited DL countless times. We have been to WDW twice in 2011 and last May. Personally, AK and EPCOT are my favs because there is nothing like them at DLR. MK is a bit of a disappointment because you realize that part of DL’s magic is its quaintness and presentation of each attraction from the first moment you see it. For example at DL, you can see It’s a Small World (IASW) from a far and are drawn to its detail. On our first visit to MK, we literally passed right by the IASW because of its flat/boring entry. DL lands out its lands far better. At MK, Frontierland and Adventureland run parallel to each other causing you to never feel fully immersed. However, MK does some rides better like Haunted Mansion (the regular ride not the Holiday overlay that only DL does) and Space Mtn. You are right that MK stills has the PeopleMover, Country Bear, and The Carousel of Progress which are fond reminders of childhood attraction now gone from DL.


You are welcome. If I can help you with anything else I will try. Or I may know who to about out to.

The chat for world is much more active than the DLR chat just so you know.

Can I just say I envy you? Your attitude about doing what you can, skipping what you can’t, arriving mid-morning and going with the flow will make for a very pleasant touring experience! So unlike the obsessive plan-and-execute mentality a lot of us on this forum have!

With little planning and no opportunity for the best FPS, you may have no choice but to go with the flow and skip a lot. But there is so much to see and do at WDW that you can definitely have a great time and have lots more to see on a follow-up visit!

The advice given by others above will be helpful as far as specifics.

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So. many. questions. I have been on this forum for a few years and there is so much WDW traffic! Everyone once in a while there is a DLR question. :slight_smile:

LOL! I am thinking that last minute planning is the only way I can do WDW. I do so little planning for DLR trips that the WDW seems very overwhelming.

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A lot of things will make much more sense once you’ve been to WDW once, so if you want to go again later and plan more you’ll have a base of first hand knowledge.

We visited DLR for the first time as a family in 2018 and enjoyed it so much better. I hope your attitude is enough to hold you together. The ease with which to enjoy DLR is so wonderful. WDW requires a degree!

I heartily endorse using the generic touring plans, of nothing else, to help sort out steps. WDW is so much bigger and park hopping so much of an effort. Even just having the help with the flow of ride planning.

I also can’t encourage you enough to at least attempt rope dropping a few days. So much can be accomplished in the first few hours.

Enjoy FL! Not sure if you’ve been there before but it is a unique place and it’s more than just WDW.

Safe travels!

Knowing that you’re not maximizing strategy is definitely a step in the right direction from an attitude POV. If just shopping and sight seeing is fun and standby lines are acceptable it is a great mental health helper!!!

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I did the same type of thing with my two (DD 19 DS 15) in December 2017. I made the decision to surprise them with a Christmas Disney World Trip. Last minute booking observations:

  1. You simply cannot score the same number of FPP+'s. The crowds are too large and they just aren’t available. Take advantage of rope drop and end of park day jumping in line - this is how we rode FOP for the first time.
  2. Table service reservations are super hard to get. Go with what you can get. You might need to dine at a resort more than you normally would. We ate at the Turf Club @ SSR and Disney Springs a couple of time.


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Thank you everyone for the suggestions! It gave us lots to talk about.

Once our FPs opened up, we were able to take a look at the options. This gave us a better idea of what was actually open.

We also talked with the tween and asked about the most important things they wanted to do at the parks. First, they made a list of the things want to do and then the top 3 choices of what they don’t want to miss.

The best news is we were able to get FPs for every must do attraction, as well as others, except for one. 7DMT was the only one on their list that we could not get a FP for, which I knew from the beginning was probably not going to happen. Everything else on our collective lists do not have FPs. So I plan to make a TP for each day, just to have a general guideline of timing.

We made some signification changes in our plan. We are going to spend a day in each of the four parks, a second in MK, and our last day to be determined.

Another key decision is not to adjust to EST. We selected the parks based on which were open the latest and plan close out the parks, so we might have shot at some of the hard to get on rides, such as 7DMT. And a couple of them have EMH in the evening. This way we don’t have to deal with jet lag as much coming from the west coast. So all of our FPs start in the afternoon. Also, we will have a chance to see the evening shows in each park.

If I am sad about anything, it is trying to go on rides at Galaxy’s Edge. But, we will have to see how it goes. (And we go to DLR frequently enough that we can just wait until that trip to go on the rides.) We might have to settle for just hanging out and drinking blue milk or some other weird concoction.

“This [will have to be] the way.”


If you can get a res to Oga’s do. It was one of the best experiences of our trip—and we’re not SW people. I just made the res b/c my friend who was coming with us wanted to go.