Questioning everything

My FP day is coming up. I am looking at my plans a second guessing the TP optimization. The crowd level is predicted to be so low, and I think it is throwing off conventional wisdom of rope dropping a headliner and using early fastpasses. please talk me out of redoing everything. Staying at the Poly and my kids don’t know yet and I don’t plan on telling them until we are on ME.

arrival day - my flight is now arriving 2 hours earlier. the original plan was to do Tomorrowland and get a meet and greet of a costumed character and a face character done. its a MNSSHP day, so an early exit and dinner at O’Hana when my wifes parents arrive from Arizona.
day 2 - AK day. it being august, I have an afternoon break built in of 4 hours as I do on most days. everything after dinner is a split party. some adults with the 4 year old and others with the 7 year old for the thrill rides. I realize FOP will be near impossible but they can prioritize as they see fit.
day 3 - MK day this is where it starts getting a little weird. Swiss Family Treehouse at rope drop…I am thinking of moving BTMRR first and reversing 7 through 2 then hitting 8 and 9 before we break. I like the evening schedule, but only 1 fastpass suggestion
day 4 EP day. this was a plan I have struggled with since the beginning. I don’t know how much interest it will be to my 4 year old so I was trying to keep it to one day, but the place is so big. again it does not start me where I think it would and has my only fastpass suggestion later in the day.
day 5 HS day I had to build 2 itineraries for this day as it makes sense that we split my son a daughter. their ages and interests made me do it. no break due to a CRT reservation at MK and an early night which I am trying to change to another day that we are already at MK
day 6 EMM and MK Fantasyland. This is the day I am hoping to move the CRT dinner to since we are already ha BOG
departure day ??? tentative plan is to reride favorites at MK. flight out isn’t until 5, so even with ME picking us up we have a half day.


Take a deep breath, and stop second-guessing the optimization. I have never bought into the “conventional wisdom” of using early fastpasses, as I feel that you are using them in a less than optimal position just on the hopes of being able to get a useful additional FPP once you have used them. Also, sometimes rope-dropping a headliner is not the best strategy, as they can often take a large amount of time even without a wait, so you can be better off knocking off several smaller attractions with no wait in the same amount of time.

Just bear in mind that even if the Optimizer is not coming up with the absolute best plan, it is coming up with one that is really, really close to it. Additionally, you will have a plan that you will be able to re-optimize in the parks if things start to go off-track.

The timing of your trip makes most FPs largely unnecessary. Having been in the World during the week before and after Labor Day several times (it’s my very favorite time to go, actually) I can tell you that with the exception of “the big 3” at each park you won’t have much in the way of lines, to the point where you might even find yourself walking down the FP line through a completely empty queue. This makes trying to move through your first 3 FPs really early for the sake of getting more much less beneficial, because if you spend any time at all backtracking then you’re likely to waste more time traveling between things than you would have if you’d just waited in the 10 minute line! Honestly, I like to go at that time of year mostly because while I like to do the planning anyway, it really isn’t crucial… you can have a major storm blow in and knock your entire plan off course and still fit everything in.

Now, here’s my take on your first day… it looks pretty good, but little quirks with the TP system and timing are giving you a somewhat inaccurate estimate of when you’ll do everything after the train, and how long things will take which could be impacting how much you’re planning to do.

The first thing that sticks out in my mind is the train… for one thing, you don’t want to actually put it in your plan as an attraction unless you’re planning on riding it all the way back around to where you board. If you actually do want to do that then ignore the rest of this paragraph. The TP assumes that you’re getting on in Frontierland, and then riding it all the way back to Frontierland and then walking all the way from there to Space Mountain, so it’s allotted way more time than really necessary if you’re just using it as a way to get from one side to the other. To get a more accurate idea of what you actually have time for (and when you’ll arrive at FP attractions), I’d suggest entering the train in your TP as a 15-20 minute meal at Big Top Treats (which is near the Fantasyland station)… that way you’ve allotted the time for the train ride, and the TP has a better idea of where you’ll actually be when you get off the train for walking time estimates.

The next thing I notice is that you haven’t actually planned for any potential FPs, which means that you will likely have considerably more time once you do, and if you’re interested in moving efficiently then you’ll want to put the preferred times into the TP (I’d do 2:00 for Space Mountain, then 4:45 and 5:45 for the characters) so it can plan for the appropriate waits.

I would also add in a ride (or 2) on Barnstormer and Dumbo on your way to Tomorrowland. You’ll have time, because once you add in FPs you’ll free up a bunch of time. I just tested this (with taking the train to Fantasyland, and set to “very relaxed” walking speed… if you take the train all the way around that adds another 20-30 minutes, so you’d want to push the Space Mountain FP back 30 minutes, and maybe just do things once), and it has you finished just before 6:00. There’s also still some free time, so you could do pretty much any ride scheduled between Space Mountain and Mickey another time, or have a little sit down snack or shopping on Main Street.

Here’s the test TP, in case you’re interested:

thanks! I was intentionally leaving day 1 loose. since we are now have to get up earlier arriving earlier, I wanted to keep it light for the kids. also they aren’t going to know until the ME (hopefully). maybe a ride all the way around since its their first time there. I also don’t have meals, snacks, bathroom breaks, memory maker, and the hey look at that! moments. I have fantasyland well covered on a day by itself with EMM, so the only must do’s were tomorrowland and the 2 meets to gauge their fear. I have also read that leaving the park when people are coming in from the party isn’t easy so I was also padding that time.

That’s a good plan. Like I mentioned, I only plan at that time of year because we like having a plan, not because it’s really necessary. We tend to stray from the plans as often as we stick to them when the parks are really empty… a ride will have unexpected downtime and we have to shuffle, or someone needs frequent potty breaks and we get 45 minutes behind, or there’s no wait for anything at all (last year and the year before on the Thursday before Labor Day… relevant to your interests!) and we find ourselves just wandering. One day two years ago we finished the whole plan a full 2.5 hours early and just went back to the hotel and got in the pool.

For your FPs I’d say maybe 2:30 would be a good FP for Space Mountain and then the 4:45 and 5:45 character FPs so you can hit them back to back at around 5:30ish on the way out. That rules out the possibility of getting extra SDPFs but the combination of low CL, it being a short day, plus an influx of party people all wanting FPs between 4 and 7 means that the normal SDFP availability rules may not apply. Plus it’s really not necessary… outside of those 3 things I wouldn’t guess you’ll have more than 15 minutes wait for anything on that day’s list, if you even have that.

Good luck with the surprise… I managed to keep my niece in the dark the one year I surprised her, but it was a last minute thing so I only had to keep it under wraps for 3 days!