Many WDW visits, but never been to DLR ... now DD4 asks to go to "Disney World California"

Ok. I have convinced DW … we are going to plan for DLR fall 2020 for 5 nights.

I was looking at last years park hours and it looks like in October the parks generally opened around 8 an while in November it was more like 10 am. Does that sound right?

I have read crowds are lower in November than October but given the 2 hours time change for us, I suspect my kids will be waling up around 5 am California time. That makes me think we would be better off going in October with earlier park hours. Then we could keep the kids on a Central time schedule for sleep and meals. Am I thinking about this right?

We will be staying at Grand Californian so we will have access to the early hour too.


My take on crowds at DLR is that you don’t want CL10s, but you don’t want 1s or 2s either, When crowds are lower, they tend to lower staffing and as a result, the park does not run as efficiently. As you are already seeing, the hours are reduced, most entertainment will not be happening. I personally like going when it is a CL of 6,7, or even 8. Keep it mind also that in the first part of November, they will be closing some of the attractions to take off/put on holiday overlays. Rides like IASW and SM are the ones that come to mind. I think that October would also be best for your kids as you described with the time change. My kids were early risers when they were little and no way could they have waited until 10 am to hit the parks! Another reason to go in October is the early entry at 7 am. The early entry at 7 am is much less crowded vs. the early entry at 9am. EE at 7 am alone will get you nearly double the rides that it would at 9 am. Not everyone can get moving that early, but most can make it by 9.


I will always take the extra 2 hours in the morning over a lower CL with a 10am start!!! We aren’t super early risers at home, but at DL we love that morning time & get so much done before we head back for a nap. With a 10am opening we don’t feel we’ve had enough done by 1-2pm to take a midday break & then by 4pm are spent but don’t have the time to really go back for any kind of productive nap in order to come back before an 8 or 9pm close. So yes, you’re thinking right on getting in October instead of November.


Thanks. I feel like I know all the ins and out to a WDW trip, but feel lost in planning for DL. I’m thankful to you and the other posters who are greatly helping me think though the planning for DL!

This is the beauty of DLR. we went last year. First I couldn’t even wrap my mind around the fact that I didn’t have to plan so much. I didn’t even use a touring plan. It’s just that much easier.

I will usually make a touring plan for about half our days or if I plan the full thing, the 2nd half puts repeats of the first half so I know we have room to pick up things if we don’t get along as planned.

This trip I found myself much less prepared than that having only made 1 touring plan for 5.5 days & honestly what I ended up doing was making a note on my phone of what we wanted to accomplish on the trip put into groups by land and used the DL app to make decisions on where to go next based on what was left to accomplish, checking it off as we went along.

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So DW and I have discussed the DLR trip more. We decided that if we are making the “far” trip to DLR, we also want to spend a few days in San Diego. And that led to, let’s do our usual 5 night fall WDW trip again in 2020 and then plan a longer California trip for spring or early summer 2021.

If we are looking in the March 1 through May 31 date range, what would you recommend for when to plan our visit DLR (and San Diego)?

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How awesome! 5 nights at the GC would be a blast with two little ones. I personally love the DLH but its a bit of a walk. That extra hour in the morning is very helpful. I think adding San Diego would be amazing. Plus ever extra month you wait, the better chance your littles will remember it more.

We do the same thing. We live in Oregon, so we take regular trips to DLR but our WDW trips are extra long because its such a pita to get there.

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For any planning tips on a combo trip, you check out an existing recent-ish thread: DLR and San Diego - first time

As for when to go in March-May- early, early March will be slightly less crowded until Spring Break crowds start which will go until Easter. I don’t mind spring break crowds as they tend to be dispersed over time and April-May has my favorite weather and the parks in the spring are just beautiful. Food & Wine will also usually be going on for some or all of this & that bring a lot of crowds too, especially locals at night but they also do a lot of great live band entertainment and if your’e at all a foodie, the booths (especially with a Sip & Savor pass) are a great way to try lots of new & interesting things (but definitely at a higher price point so it’s always easier to enjoy when you try to forgot that the 3 bites you’re eating were $9).

We’ve also gone several times for Memorial Day weekend and it’s never been too crazy and they usually kick-off the start of the summer with increased nightly entertainment (which is our favorite!) and so a great time for us to go.