Optimize...or...make a TP?

Kind of a more open-ended discussion. But I have seen various practices in using TP to plan days in the parks…which got me to wondering what people ACTUALLY do.

I would make it a poll, but I feel like there may be more options than what I am imagining.

So you…

…use Touring Plans to craft a plan so that you can get a feel for what to expect…but then just run the day without actually adhering to the plan?

…craft a loose plan with all the attractions you want, and let TP Optimize your day for you as you go…basically allowing the TP app to rework your day on the fly?

…spend hours/days/weeks crafting and recrafting the perfect plan, and rely on the plan…perhaps just evaluating to update times, but ultimately sticking with the plan as mich as possible?

…not think about any of it until you arrive, and let the wind carry you, as it were?

…craft the perfect plan…and then ignore it entirely?

…do something else?

I am more an evaluator…but I have often wondered how effective the constant optimize throughout the day method works.

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This probably is closest to what I do.

I definitely do not go step by step thru a touring plan day. The group I’ve usually traveled with have varied ride situations. Some don’t do drops. Some don’t do spinning. There are plenty of rides at WDW that won’t ever get ridden.

We’re not show centric either. Or commandos. It’s more important to be leaving a park by 11:30 am - or be eating lunch by then. The few times we forget this serve to reinforce that we are ready to leave. We usually park hop. After we rest/cool down at our resort. We’ll then spend about 4 hours at another park. Often closing it - depending on weather.

When planning, I think in blocks of park time. Monday morning. Tuesday evening. So I’ll have a touring plan for that block of time. I’ll have a ride/attraction line up in mind, stick 'em in the order I’ve come to prefer and then evaluate. Sometimes we’re in agreement as to how much can be accomplished in that block, and other times I’ve been too ambitious. I might make a copy to optimize just in case switching ride order makes a difference in line waits. I usually only evaluate tho.

I don’t think I’ve ever printed a plan.
I wouldn’t want to go to WDW without having at least a first iteration plan.

It’s like I know how to get from my house to a doctor’s office or a restaurant. I might notice if the local news says this route is being paved this week. I don’t need a map.

I know how MK or Epcot work, generally speaking. The touring plan’s plan points put possible changes or things to be aware of.

Interesting post, hopefully.

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Of your options, this is closest to what I do, but I would describe it more as “Craft a detailed TP beforehand, but adjust on the fly as things change.”

You can’t account in advance for all the ride downtimes, LLs going faster/slower than expected, attractions with shorter or longer waits than expected, and other factors which end up slowing your group down.

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This is how I used to do Disney with DH in 2016. But I broke him (foot woes). I was trying too hard in that trip to make up for lost years, and tried to do everything. I still did this in 2019 when we were fully retired with new APs, and did 3 trips before Covid hit. But I had started to lighten up on how much I crammed into the days, and learned to adjust as needed. This was a much better situation.

I think this is the approach for the trip next month. Just the two of us. It’s not the main reason for coming to Florida this time, it’s a few extra days of mouse before a cruise. Plus it’s all the holiday stuff! And Liner meets! So definitely a lot looser, a lot more “take it as it goes.”

I think the answer to your question will vary for everyone, as they each have a different situation.

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I’ll play around with more detailed plans pre-trip, mostly to start getting an idea of what I might want to do and if I split activities between park days.

As trips get closer, then when in the park, I use my Touring Plan just as a times guide for the shows and parades that I want to do. I don’t keep rides loaded unless I have a LL return time (even then, I don’t add that every time). Just shows / parades / dining reservation.

I’ve tried following a plan exactly before, even if I don’t have Genie (that really throws things off). It’s too strict.

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This is basically what I try to do.

With not visiting during high crowds, I never optimize. Unless it’s just to kickstart the plan. I favor to try and group attractions/lands the best I can to make for a more enjoyable day. That is, if I can get everything in.

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I ask myself the same thing all the time!

I did this when I first started returning to Disney as a parent with kids, literally printing out the map and step-by-step instructions (much to the horror of my mom who took us to Disney as kids but whose approach was very much one of sleeping in, rolling up whenever we want from offsite, buying tickets on the spot and then most of the day standing in long lines but still having fun). On my first family trip in 2019 I religiously followed my TP plan, with build-in prebooked fast passes and all. I optimized occasionally but don’t recall it ever resulting in a change of plan.

In 2021 (no fastpasses or G+ available yet), I still stuck mainly to the precious plans, occasionally deviated in the afternoons, but not by much.

I’ve only planned one trip since using G+ (December 2022), but my use of the TP plans function has changed completely since then. I still spent hours crafting plans for that trip, but I knew I had to stay totally flexible since my plans depended so highly on my success with the VQ and booking of 7am LL (thankfully with BG1 we got everything we wanted at earliest possible return times). At MK we got an MEP an park opening, which meant I abandoned all plans and just went with the flow. At DHS, attraction downtime at rope drop meant we abandoned our plans and just started opportunistically following LL availability (CL10 day). At AK and Epcot we roughly stuck to the plan, or at least the beginning of it. I still find it useful to make a plan, even just to remind myself of distances/walking times, but I know I can improvise without one.

Curious to read others responses to see what their experience is of using touring plans especially with ILL and G+. Should I be optimizing more and spend less time chasing LLs?

I’m planning a solo morning at AK this Saturday (unexpected opportunity linked to a business trip) and was not impressed with the optimized suggestion of the plan I crafted (which had me rope dropping EE and then ITTBAB during EE), I think I’ve developed a good enough feel for how the park works at rope drop to come up with my own itinerary and just wing it (my only must-do is FoP for which I will buy ILL, and the fact that I’m solo means I’m also just looking forward to taking it slow with no pressure to closely follow a plan). I did appreciate seeing the plan layed out on the park map on the website, as someone who doesn’t visit that regularly it helped remind me of distances.

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One of the best TP features.

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On our first two family trips, I was definitely Option #3 Crafting and recrafting the perfect plan, and relying on the plan. This was pre Genie+.

But on our most recent trip, I was much more Option #1 Use Touring Plans to get a feel of what to expect.

Part of this was being more familiar with the parks and part was letting my now older kids call some shots. But really, the main reason I didn’t use Touring Plans for our days in the parks this go round was because of Genie+ and the inability to know what attractions and times I had until 7am, and even then only my first one. Too many unknowns. It was much easier to craft the perfect plan when I knew my three FastPasses for each day in advance.

Funny too, because at times on this last trip, my kids looked at me like they didn’t know who I was when I was saying to them, “Ok, what do you want to do next?”

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This has been us as well! I’ve never used the app in park for a touring plan, but I would plan them out on the computer at home and print my final, perfected plan which we would follow as closely as possible in the parks.

On our last trip we just made a rough outline of rides we wanted to hit and the order we planned to go in, but we made lots of adjustments based on LL availability. I think at this point we know the park layouts pretty well and have a solid idea of which rides get the longest lines so we will probably mostly wing it on our trip this December. We know what are our must-dos and what we’ll fit in if there’s time.

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I like to make a touring plan using optimize first. But then I move things around to reduce criss-crossing the park. Then I’ll use evaluate and see where we’re at. This is when I’m not using Genie+. Mostly I want to see if it’s realistic to do everything we have on the plan. Day of, we often go off plan due to rides being down, shiny objects distracting us, etc.

If I am using Genie+, I will analyze the ThrillData return times and craft a touring plan by manually putting in return times as if they are DAS times and only using evaluate. This has worked really well, but takes a lot of time and energy. I find it fun, though, or I probably wouldn’t do it. We had a Genie+ touring plan for HS in July that we followed almost to a T!

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This is mostly us as well.

I’m trying to avoid using Genie+. I find the level of needing to work the system to use it overwhelming, and frankly, maddening. But I can’t say that I will never use it. We used it twice our last trip. One day it worked…the other day, not. I prefer ILLS to G+.

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We did four days, one park per day in July and only used Genie+ for HS. I bought ILL for Cosmic Rewind and Tron. I think not using Genie+ is very do-able in the other three parks. It’s not necessary for HS (especially if RD’ing - we weren’t) but definitely very helpful there.

I know Len recommends buying the ILL for Rise and having a good TP for HS, rather than buying Genie+. I prefer the opposite because the one time I paid for Rise (with my kids) it was a horrible experience (all preshows down - walked through the back door into the main room with all the stormtroopers, then ride broke down for 40 ish minutes). I was angry I had paid for that, but didn’t want to deal with GS to get my money back. I should have emailed them after but didn’t. In July we waited in standby and it wasn’t so bad since it was the only real line we had all day.

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I bolded the change.

  • I usually make a plan according to what I know we want to do that day.
  • I evaluate the plan and see what happens and how long it says my plan will take
  • I then re-evaluate the plan as I change the order around, add things in, add in breaks to simply wander and explore etc.

By the time I’ve done all that, I know the plan inside out. So on the day I don’t even take it with me. I use the plan in my head as the guide, but if we want to divert from it, that’s fine too.

Now the disclaimer. That’s what I did with FP+ .

For our last trip I was so unsure about how G+ was going to work in practice that I simply created a plan with what we wanted to do, and made a list of which ride to go for at 7am, any ILLs needed and the best time to try for and then pretty much winged it. We’d look to see which of our top priority rides had G+ available and made it work.

Each time we revisited a park I made another plan with whatever we hadn’t done previously.

And a few days before we left home I started panicking at how vague my plans were.

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This.

When I create the plan, I pick out all the things I hope to do including breaks, meals, etc.
Then I optimize a few times, then I copy that and begin mucking with it and “evaluating” my mucks until I’ve got a work of art.

Then I pretty much go with that work of art, though I keep flexibility. I’ve never re-optimized while in the park. I’ve heard it can work well, as it adapts to changing park conditions (closed rides, unexpected wait times, weather), but the couple of times I did it, it completely changed the plan I’d practically memorized to something completely different, which I found disorienting, so I ignored it.

Anyway, TP plans are pretty awesome to begin with and are an outstanding starting point.
There have been a number of days where it’s almost to the minute.
This worked especially well in the days of FP, when one could plan 3 of them.
Speaking of which…

“…use Touring Plans to craft a plan so that you can get a feel for what to expect…but then just run the day without actually adhering to the plan?”

I did this on my most recent trip on a day when I was using the Genie+ for the first time.
The plan was more of a “guide” as to what to expect, but I found myself by halfway through the day (HS) that I was doing everything out of order, but getting it done, because of what the Genie was yielding.

Still, TP started the day really well, got me off on the right foot.

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We used to spend hours crafting, evaluating and optimizing plans when we first used TPs. Long ago, we would PDF a TP and carry it around the park. (Back when we did not have a good phone/data plan).

Back in the days of FP, we would create a touring plan based on the FP we had and focused in on maximizing the No. of FPs in a day. We typically would follow the plan for the first 2 hours, then go where the next FP we got led us.

Now a days we create custom TPs based on the things we must see/do. They are no longer packed with the maximum number of attractions. These plans are initially optimized and evaluated before we get to WDW, and then modified for the first attraction (due to the plans inability to get the first attraction right for us during RD). That first attraction varies depending on if a ride goes down during EE or not. After each attraction, we optimize and go where we are told (most of the time). There are instances where we see what is recommended, scratch our heads at the suggestion, and then call an audible. These plans usually get us to lunch. We then know we are ahead of the crowds and start going where they are not (off plan) based on the wait times/“ride now” recommendation in TPs.

We are not Genie+ users. We do not think it is right for Disney to charge us for the ride via a park ticket and then make us pay for it again. We use all the tips and techniques talked about on the forums and previous experience to get on the popular/crowded attractions.

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