Oct 15 Arrival (from UK): DME, HDDR, HS, transport...& now trip report!

Hello again Disney friends!

Getting into the final stages of trip planning now and just trying to make best use of our time. Some questions on the fine details please, if you’d be so kind.

Overall plan (all parks are EMH+RDs, TPs, FPPs and ADRs are in place for all possibilities, dining is SS except where noted, third trip I’ve organised, but first since Pandora/TSL/SWGE):

Oct 14: Drive London to Manchester, stay overnight (no flights by the time we will arrive, around 2200, restricted by work hours)

Oct 15: Fly to MCO for 1355, DME to AoA, check in, if time looks good and there is availability then MK bus + ferry to 1815 HDDR, if not then try for Oga’s Cantina or a few shows at HS, or BTMR+CBJ at MK, back at AoA around 2030-2100

Oct 16: HS, 1820 OC drinks + bus/monorail to MK for evening (TTA, HEA, JC, UOAT), AoA

Oct 17: Hire car from DS, KSC, drop car at USF, HHN, HIE Universal

Oct 18: VB + HHN, HIE Universal

Oct 19: IoA, RPR

Oct 20: USF, shuttle to WDW, HS evening, PCR

Oct 21: 0930 BoG breakfast, MK, 1750 Tony’s Dinner, MNSSHP, PCR

Oct 22: EPCOT, 2125 LC dinner, PCR

Oct 23: AK, PCR

Oct 24: Re-rides/mop ups: Bus to HS 0600-0730 (MFSR, TSM, SDD, RNRC), Walk to EPCOT 0800-0930 (FEA, S), Monorail to Poly for Capt. Cook’s 1000-1030, Monorail to MK 1050-1200 (CBJ, BTMR), bus to AK 1245-1320 (FOP FPP), bus to PC for around 1405, DME/taxi 1425 for 1625 flight to ATL and then 2000 flight home

And so the questions!

  1. We are flying from the UK as standby passengers, and the LGW-MCO is rather full, so we may end up coming via ATL/JFK/BOS. Obviously we clear immigration/customs during the layover but how much time should we then allow from landing to resort via DME, and (as it will be a domestic flight) is there a way of getting hold of the yellow bag tags so we can leave the luggage to be picked up for us and get a cab to the HDDR if short on time?

  2. Does getting to the 2030 HDDR from a 1720 international / 1840 domestic flight seem possible in the first place? Planned method is either DME + Minnie Van or cab straight from the airport, happy arriving at 2030. Seems a better bet than trying to hit HS before 2000…

  3. Are there any shows at HS that it would be advisable to arrive particular early for? The plan without HDDR (ending 1905 at OC) is pretty much fine but the one with it (ending 1615) has sub-5min arrivals at IJ/Frozen/BatB and I wanted to check if we will actually get in to these shows on a CL8 day?

  4. Does allowing 2h from HS to HDDR via Skyliner + quick change at PC + bus + ferry boat seem reasonable? Or better to do Skyliner to Epcot + walk + monorail + ferry boat?

  5. Similarly, does 2h HS to MK via the same route seem like it would allow enough time to stop at Captain Cook’s for a quick bite on the way (while at the TTC to swap monorails)?

Thank you for any help at all!

Sorry, I do not have answers to your questions.

Just wanted to say that you have the longest and most comprehensive plans I ever saw. It is impressive how you were able to schedule so much in each day!

Are you sure you will be able to do RD to park closure so many days in a row?


Thank you! Yeah, aware it’s quite packed, last full trip I did was off-site and had the normal (maybe fast) walking speed and no breaks at all, and that just about worked out.

I’ve done Anaheim and Paris since then also so am kind of used to the whole routine, and I’m hopeful with the breaks, relaxed pace and on-site transport we’ll be able to pull this off! No kids, just the two of us, which helps. If not, that’s what the mop up on the last day is for.

I have spent an enormous amount of time planning, searching for ADRs and FPPs though - I only started booking in August and we only confirmed dates last week, so FoP, SDD, 7DMT, BoG and OC have all been a challenge. Somehow the plans from previous trips never seem to work for the latest one!

I see I need to redo MK a little bit as the welcome show has moved…

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Go for it and have fun!

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Magical Express: you don’t need the luggage tags (which is just as well as they won’t ship them to you). You would need to go the actual desk at DME and hand them the luggage receipts. They will do the rest.

Timings: to be honest all your timings seem way too optimistic,

For arrival to any pre-booked event, I would allow 3 hours. Otherwise any delays and you won’t make it. A cab or Uber will only be able to take you to the main entrance of FW; you’ll need to get an internal bus from there.

For DHS to HDDR, going via POP will take too much time. Let’s say 20 minutes to POP, change (40 mins). You now only have an hour to get to HDDR. You don’t want to be arriving at 8:30pm or you’ll miss the start of the show.

  • You could get a Minnie Van and be taken straight to Pioneer Hall, that would be the only chance of making it IMO.

  • A bus to MK and then ferry might be possible but only if there’s no wait for a bus and no wait for a ferry. Pretty sure you’d need to clear security at MK before boarding the ferry because of the layout.

  • Going via Epcot will need hoppers (which I assume you have, coming from the U.K.). But again you’ll need to get through security at Epcot. Monorail to TTC and I reckon that’s 45-60 minutes already. Going to Captain Cook’s is a 5/10 minute walk to the Poly. You’d then need to eat, and catch the monorail or ferry to MK, and ferry to HDDR.

  • To be honest I would go from DHS to FW by bus allowing at least 75 minutes. If the weather’s nice maybe go to MK by bus and then a ferry, allowing 90 minutes to 2 hrs.

  • Remember ferries will not run if there’s lightning in the area. So then you’d need to get a bus to FW and then an internal bus.


Thanks you, that’s exactly the sort of feedback we need on the timings. I’ve done ASM->HDDR by bus and boat in much less than 3 hours before, and have turned up at dining time and got right in, but I accept that this may not always be possible - and good point about the lightning!

We are currently evaluating whether we can get out on the 14th, in which case it’d be a quiet evening (maybe EWP and Captain Cook’s), followed by HS on the 15th, TL/DS+MK on 16th, HDDR on 20th and everything else as planned - removes most of the rushing! Or even a late arrival with an airport hotel and DME in to AoA the following day for HS evening, and go from there.

If we get stuck with the 15th, and trying to make the best of things, I think we need to accept we aren’t making HS by 8pm. That brings us back to the HDDR option.

About the DME bag situation - so if I understand correctly, for a domestic we can give DME the receipts and have they bring the bags while we get ourselves to the HDDR. For an international, after we bring the bags through customs, can we give them to DME ourselves for transport to AoA, without actually getting on the bus?

If you think 1720 landing -> DME -> AoA -> Minnie Van -> HDDR for 2030 on 15th is entirely unworkable (not sure you commented on that specifically amongst the above, sorry if I misread!) that leaves the HS->HDDR option on 16th, for which you’ve already provided lots of good advice, thank you.

I may have not described the HS/MK/HDDR situation very well. We have three distinct journeys we may decide to make:

  1. MCO (to AoA) to HDDR in ~3h10m (from international landing, or ~1h50m domestic) - would be good to understand how close we are cutting this one, accepting that a Minnie Van is essentially the only option from AoA, but wondering if a cab from MCO might be better, FW internal bus notwithstanding.

  2. HS to HDDR in ~2h (if not doing HDDR on arrival) - you’ve given loads of good advice on this one, and it certainly looks possible, thank you! It would be nice to ride the ferry (love the music) but perhaps not practical.

  3. HS (to CC) to MK in ~2h (for fireworks, if not doing HDDR) - this one might be an implied solution from the above. Looks like we can make CC in about 50-70 minutes, so with 20-30m for a quick bite and a monorail back to MK taking no more than maybe 20-30m we should be OK? Or we could always eat in the park when we get there!

Thanks once again, this is really helpful stuff!

So for DME, if you are flying into Orlando on an international flight, once you clear customs you can put your cases back on the conveyor belt that’s at the end of the customs hall nearest to the exit to the train to the main terminal.

You’d then need to give the luggage receipts to the DME desk and somehow get out of the DME line. Maybe a restroom break? Officially you should be on a bus to take advantage of the luggage delivery service.

Specific questions:

  1. MCO to HDDR (if flying direct to MCO)

I would allow at least an hour, possibly 90 minutes to clear immigration and customs at MCO. The only way I would do it is direct from MCO to HDDR, but to be honest I never have anything planned when we arrive.

We get to the resort and maybe have a drink or two in a lounge and then it’s bed. But usually we’ve started from home at about 4am UK time to get a flight to London first.

  1. DHS to HDDR
    If you went via MK by bus and then ferry, 2 hours will probably be enough.

  2. DHS to MK via Captain Cooks
    I would take the bus to the Poly and then monorail or ferry to MK. Not sure what time you want to get to MK though.
    Allowing 20-30 minutes to get from the Poly lobby to CC’s, get food, pay, eat and back to monorail to ferry seems very rushed, it could take 10 minutes to walk to ferry dock, 5 if you speed walk. And if you go via monorail you would have security at the ramp to the station at Poly. How long would a restroom break take?

Maybe I’m just overly cautious! But if I wanted to eat, I would add an hour to the travel time.

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That’s brilliant, thank you, that’s given me a much better picture of things.

Nice as it might be to save some time, we’re probably going to avoid putting our cases on the DME without boarding if it’s not something they allow - would probably work out but don’t want to take the risk of it getting lost! We won’t have the yellow tags so can’t go the “behind the scenes” luggage route either.

Clear enough on all options involving the HDDR now, thank you.

As for the HS->MK option (with no HDDR), we were looking at leaving HS around 7.20pm and getting to MK for HEA at 9pm (or shortly before), and were stopping at CC as it seemed a nice change from the many in-park meals we’re going to be having - but if it doesn’t look like it will fit we can soon skip it. I really wanted the Tonga Toast and we can’t get that in the evening anyway!

Still looking at that 14th option…have the MK plan back working now, parade arrival is slightly late but intended viewing is from LS which gives me a few minutes for it to get there and shouldn’t be be too busy.

One thing to remember when flying in from the UK weather at MCO can be tricky. In 2015 we were due in MCO at around 17.30 but Orlando was experiencing a massive thunderstorm so the 777 we were on could not land and was eventually diverted to Miami - got to airline paid hotel at 23.30 no food available as so late. Got to WDW the following day! Since then I have never booked anything for day of arrival and we have just winged it with all bookings starting from day 2. Al least this gives the opportunity to cancel ADRs etc without penalty.


Thanks Peter, that’s a good consideration! I’ve seen some interesting storms going into Miami myself, never had to divert yet but there’s always a first time.

Loads on all the direct MCO routes from LGW were pretty bad, but from MAN much better, and conversely coming back it looks much better going through ATL. With this and the advice here in mind the updated plan is now:

Oct 14: Drive to MAN, stay overnight (no flights at the time we will arrive, around 2200)

Oct 15: Fly to MCO for 1355, DME to AoA, check in, if time looks good and there is availability then MK bus + ferry to 1815 HDDR, if not then try for Oga’s Cantina or a few shows at HS, or BTMR+CBJ at MK, back at AoA around 2030-2100

Oct 16: HS 0600 until 1915 or so, then bus direct to MK or GF+monorail to MK for around 2045, for TTA, HEA, JC, UOAT

Oct 17/18/19: As above

Oct 20: On returning to PC from USF around 1800, change and then out to HS via bus for 1915 for food, F!, ToT, SDD, SWAGS

Oct 21-23: As above

Oct 24: Re-rides/mop ups: Bus to HS 0600-0730 (MFSR, TSM, SDD, RNRC), Walk to EPCOT 0800-0930 (FEA, S), Monorail to Poly for Capt. Cook’s 1000-1030, Monorail to MK 1050-1200 (CBJ, BTMR), bus to AK 1245-1320 (FOP FPP), bus to PC for around 1405, DME/taxi 1425 for 1625 flight to ATL and then 2000 flight home

So, a new set of questions has emerged, if you would once again be so kind please?

  1. Is 2h arrival to AoA reasonable for a domestic arrival using a DME?

  2. Is 1h15m enough time to allow for a TL-FW bus and shuttle to HDDR, or should we push that out to 1h30m?

  3. Are there likely to be resort buses after the middle HDDR show, or does that tend only to be the final show? I.e. might we have to return via DS?

  4. HS to MK. I believe there is a direct bus - is this correct, is it likely to be quicker than a GF (or Poly) bus + monorail and is 1h30m adequate time for the trip?

  5. Is 45m a reasonable estimate for a bus from MK back to AoA at closing?

  6. Is it not possible to get to the TTC (for the Poly) from PC without going via a park? Ironically it’s very easy to get there when off-site but I can’t seem to do it this trip.

  7. In-park plans aside (I have TPs for those), do the timings on the final day above seem alright? They are within the official app travel times, it then again it thinks there’s a monorail direct from EPCOT to the Poly, doesn’t know about the Skyliner yet and has an awful search function, so I take it with a pinch of salt…

Thank you again! I will re-read the above responses as I suspect some may help with the new questions too.

The two things I would point out:

  • I’m sure you noticed this too, but if you put rests in your plan, the default walk time to the next step is 1 min. regardless of where in the park the steps before and after are located in relation to one another. On your HS day I noticed that it puts the walk time to Pixar Place from Animation Courtyard at 1 min with just 10 mins spent at the next step, just to flag that it might mean really only half that time when you account for actual walk time. Same with some other situations. Maybe make your breaks 5 mins longer to account for actual walk time to see if that moves things. Probably not a big issue for most, but since your plans are pretty action packed I thought I would mention just in case it has a chain reaction to attractions that are really important to you.

  • If you are using the Pirates game to get your 4th FPP to use for PotC on your MK day, I believe you will have to do at least 2 of the missions, so that step will be twice as long (you currently only account for 15 mins doing the game which is only 1 mission).

Have fun and report back how everything went!

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Thank you, those are some good observations.

The rest periods are mostly for wandering around experiencing the atmosphere of the different parks, maybe grabbing a quick snack, bathroom break etc, while intending to move generally in the direction of the next item, basically at the same relaxed walking pace as the rest of the plan. Not planning on teleporting! I think the most extreme example of this is going from IaSW to MILF on the MK plan.

Great point on ToTSS - if it’s two rounds, and in fact even at one with the new reduced crowd levels (which somehow bumped the wait for Pooh right up!), it’s not worth it. Removed that step as the PotC standby wait is only 9 mins if I put it in at the end of the day. It’s double that during the party though!

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Out of interest, why are your flights so complicated?

We’re travel industry employees flying standby - more affordable but we only get on if loads are good - they aren’t! So we are selecting flights that may take us a bit longer to get there, but stand less chance of being stuck in an airport rather than being at Disney.

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Travel concessions can be great but as you say it is vey easy to get offloaded. I have travelled all over the world on airline concession tickets, Europe, Fat East, New Zealand, South Africa and USA and have only been offloaded once - I was lucky, I chose when and where with a bit of care. I even managed to grab a positional flight on Concorde from Heathrow to Washington DC back in the '90s - 3 1/2 hours in the air which beats the 9 hours LGW to MCO :grinning:.

Are you limited to any particular group of airlines for your standby tickets?

Wow, sounds like you’ve made full use of the benefit Peter!

We can use most airlines, but preferably VS/DL - with the exception of a possible BA LHR-MAN all of our possible routes are VS/DL at the moment.

Good luck with the standbys - not long to go now. My most exciting flight was up front on the jump seat between the pilots on a DC9 going into Luton with 40 knot cross winds. Unfortunately I now have to use standard fares as family does not qualify for travel concessions but at lease that means I can be reasonably sure I will be on a flight. I do find cheaper fares by waiting to book when airlines have sales. That can knock quite a bit off the usual price.

Enjoy your trip to WDW :grinning:

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Thanks @Peter_Hallam! Sounds like you have seen some interesting things on your trips. I am sorry you don’t have as many opportunities now but glad you are still finding ways to take advantage of cheaper fares.

As you said, the key is to be flexible. With that in mind, and with 2-3 days to go, the latest plan has now changed to driving to MAN, flying from there, and later returning via ATL. All about maximising chances of a decent seat (or one at all!)

Sounds like you are good at maximising your chances. Only 325 days to our trip :unamused: but am now looking for flights - maybe the BA Christmas/January sale will have what we are after :grinning:

Have a great time :grin:

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Made it! We have just landed (13.58), taxied to gate (14.06), got through immigration, collected bags and onto the intra-airport train-shuttle-thing (14.36), and finally checked in for and boarded DME (14.47). Just leaving as I write this at 15.00. Could not have asked for better timing off an international flight I dont think! Update: in the check-in line at 15.27, checked in and on our way to the room 15.50 (we were superbcomplicated: two separate one-night stays, one under an incorrect name, had asked for a king room, had to pick up our magicbands, opted out of mousekeeping so got a $10 gift card, and had a few questions :sweat_smile:).

Having checked out the (glorious) weather forecast last night and noticed that the HDDR today was fully booked, we decided to take the risk and keep the booking we have for 18.15 today. That seems to have paid off so far! May do the EWP after, may not. Had a sleep on the plane so we are feeling fairly fresh :blush:

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