Hello & welcome! Great job finding this awesome resource and planning ahead- with just knowing what you want to do and an idea of optimizing for time, you’ll be ahead of the majority of crowds.
That said, when I do put together a touring plan, I’ll make sure to take a few steps to help the plan be as good as I possibly can:
- Run the optimizer a minimum 2-3x after the initial Optimize.
The reason is this: it would take many many many more minutes for the optimizer to look at every single possible combination and come up with the best scenario, but in the very reasonable amount of time that it is capped to run, it can find something that is only a few minutes less ideal, so they cap the optimizer at how many minutes they allow it to run at. Running it 2-3x helps it “settle” on the better of its options. Another couple of notes to consider when buliding the plan, if leave your Walking Speed set at the default of Average (or bump it down to either Relaxed or Very Relaxed) it will most likely not send you to a competitive rope drop option. If you want to manually set any one step first, you can go ahead and drag and drop the step up to the top, and then hit Evaluate (instead of Optimize) to see what the time difference the plan states it would be & decide if you like that better than the Optimize or not.
- Optimize (a copy of your plan) the night before
Hitting optimize the night before allows the plan to factor in the most up to date information. However, often my plans are ones that I’ve spent a very good chunk of time on & I am hoping to follow through on (for example, the flow of it fits very well with where we want to end up for certain times of days for food & breaks), so instead of wreaking havoc on what I want to my most perfect, Disney Day, before I optimize, I will make a copy of the plan and optimize the copy. That way I have both to compare.
- On the ground trust, be flexible and deviate where it makes sense/where the day presents an opportunity.
We rarely use the optimize feature on the ground because it involves more crisscrossing than we like to do, but I do look and compare Touring Plans expected wait times to Disneyland’s app posted times and am always looking for any of those to be lower than what the plan expected and follow those gains rather than sticking perfectly to a plan (and often in order to make up from time lost spending way more time herding everyone from point A to B, usually involving more bathroom/shopping/snack breaks than accounted for). For that reason, I often make sure my day’s have ample breaks. I’ll usually throw at least one 2-3 hour chunk for midday break and then I’ll make sure that any mealtimes we plan to have in the park are planned for at least 40 minutes.
- Consider your priorities/Do not pack the day chalk full
Figure out ahead of time what’s a Must-Do, what’s a Would Like To Do and what’s an If There’s Time to Do. Plan the must’s at earliest feasible time they can be. That way, should anything interrupt the plan, there’s more possible time to make it up later in the day and something that’s a lower priority gets the bump instead of something super important. And then you can use your plan more like a checklist and as you move through the day. By this logic, I tend to also leave the later half of our trips (and most evenings) more open (or just realize that anything new I slot in here will likely not get done) and if I do plan, list a lot of options for alternatives. I will usually attempt to decide which nighttime show(s) we want to see and will prioritize around those, but even those can switch around (when we have options to be flexible with them) so that we aren’t ever committed to any one plan.
That’s my best generic advice on plan building. As for your specific question of if you should trust the optimizer and Rope Drop Buzz over Millennium Falcon, Splash and Haunted Mansion, I would tend to say probably not. However, none of those are super competitive rides that you would absolutely need to rope drop as all of those have very excellent waits times the first & last hour of the park and all of them would probably have a tolerable wait beyond that. My guess is it’s optimizing for something else too, like a good general walking flow…maybe… but I would also want to play around with everything else you have listed to really figure out what might be driving its decision on Buzz for Rope Drop. All that being said, our most recent trip, we absolutely Rope Dropped Buzz but that was only because it was closed on our trip before that (3 months prior) and our 4 year old once he realized it hadn’t been one we’d even walked by on that trip talked everyday for 2.5 months after about when we go back again, we ride Buzz first. And it was a most magical morning making that hope/small wish come true. So I can’t say it’s always a bad idea