Report on travel-hacked trip

Hey all! Some of you may recall my “how I travel-hacked an entire Disney trip” post from a few weeks ago. For those who didnj’t see it and are interested, here it is: 3 people, 8 days, 0 dollars = My Travel Hack Plan

Cliff notes: racked up some reward travel points & such to cover our flights, tickets, a lot of misc $$ for Memory Maker, food, souvenirs, Uber, and resort fees. I love it when a plan comes together.

Everything went off without a hitch and our first trip to Disney couldn’t have possibly been better, I dare say. Well, sure it could have, but I definitely feel we got our time’s worth out of it all! My 5yo son was a warrior with all the walking, as was my wife who has plantar fasciitis and suffered almost the entire time. Shoutout to me for carrying the boy a lot and being the relentless tour guide as well :wink:

I thought I’d drop back in and share our fun. We killed it w/the FPPs, I think. I noticed tonnnns of people talking about their spread-out FPPs and seemingly not knowing how to play w/the system. I was on my phone a ton, but it was entirely worth it. At least I multi-task very well! The best tips I can offer are a) be aware of same-day FPP drops, b) always look for earlier times on your reserved FPPs, c) when looking for new ones, especially the big rides, try 1 person at a time. This is how I found most everything when a group of 3 showed nothing. Find 1, then the next, then the next, then start editing to get better times. Most times I was able to whittle down a 2-3hr waiting period for the next FPP into something within the same hour. Just refresh, refresh, refresh. Worst case scenario if you can’t find all matching time slots, go in the middle of them and the operators will let you go together.

Anyway, here’s our summary:

Day 1: MAGIC KINGDOM
Got to the park around 1130am, fresh off our flight, and hit the ground running. Space Mountain shut down on us shortly before closing, so we missed out on it. Thankfully we had a 2nd MK day planned, so it was OK.

People Mover, Astro Orbiter, lost my sunglasses in record time (RIP), Laugh Factory, Tomorrowland Speedway, front row for parade, Jungle Cruise (FPP), Swiss Treehouse, Country Bears, Tiki Room, Regal Carousel, Peter Pan (FPP), Philharmagic, Small World, Under the Sea, Dumbo, 7DMT (FPP), Barnstormer, Buzz x2 (son is a huge fan and loved the game), fireworks, Haunted Mansion, Pirates, Big Thunder.

Day 2: ANIMAL KINGDOM
Tusker House character breakfast, Rafiki’s train/animal attraction, Safari (FPP), met Russel & Dug, found Kevin, Everest x2 (1x FPP. family was out after 1x, but I got through the single rider line in about 5 min. for a 2nd trip), Flight of Passage (FPP), met Scrooge & Launchpad, Chip & Dale, Goofy, Pluto, Donald again, Dinosaur!, Triceratop Spin, and while trying to nab a Na’vi River FPP I saw Flight of Passage available again within the hour, so we skipped Na’vi and went on another banshee flight! I think the line was 180 minutes at that point, as it had been all day. No thanks on that. Everyone in the family absolutely loved it, 0 regrets skipping the river ride entirely. Finished the night w/Tree of Life

DAY 3: HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Now that I was hip to getting same-day FPPs and had a chance to really edit them and such, I was ready to rock at HS.

First thing first, we awoke bright & early to get there for a chance at ROTR. Walked from the Swan, missed out turn, got a little lost, almost arrived & noticed our son lost his Magic Band! So I got my exercise in and sprinted as far back as I could, with no luck finding where it had dropped. Thankfully once we got to the park I found an empty ticket booth and had a new ticket/card assigned to my son. Naturally, we did NOT have our hard tickets in hand which would have solved the problem on its own. Very lucky that this didn’t cause issues or hold us up more than a couple minutes.

Got through security, lined up at Toy Story Land for RD as a contingency plan, and with most everyone else we tried for a ROTR BG. I tried one method, wife tried another, I had our BGs confirmed before her app even loaded with the opportunity. We got BG6 and were called within 45 min. The only “bad” thing about that is we tried to jump on Millennium Falcon first and got called after about 45 min in line. Since we were late getting to SWGE, the line grew quickly. MF wasn’t in our original plans for this day, but we thought we could pull it off while waiting for ROTR to call us. So we got the alert to go to ROTR, left the MF queue, and went right on. It was, of course, astonishing and quite the experience. The good news with all of this is the ride shut down for a couple hours or more shortly after we were on it. At one point later in the day, we passed by and saw BGs all lined up with a roughly 2hr wait once it got up and functional again! Talk about ruining your day. Looking at the online data points, this happened to be the WORST day aside from the first opening day. I think BGs in their 50s were still waiting in that giant line around 6pm, to give an idea of how backed up they were.

After we got out of ROTR we went on with our pre-planned day:

(ROTR), Star Tours (FPP), Slinky (FPP), quick jog to burn Little Mermaid FPP in order to open us up for more Tier 1s, TSM (30min. queue), Aliens, TSM (FPP), Tower of Terror (FPP), Rock N Roller Coaster (FPP), Characterpalooza (Baloo, Chip/Dale, Mickey, Donald, Goofy), Darth Vader, BB8, Lightning McQueen Academy/Cars, met Pluto, Slinky Dog (FPP).

DAY 4: non-park day
Spent our day exploring the other resorts and transportation. Rode the boats, Skyliner, monorail, and visited Disney Springs, Pop, Art of Animation, Wilderness Lodge (I’m a huge Humphrey Bear fan and wanted a pic w/the totem pole, plus I was able to find a cool Humphrey souvenir), Chef Mickey dinner

DAY 5: HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS #2
DS5 is a huge Toy Story fan so we planned a 2nd day here to redo some things and hit up what we missed before. Arrived late and “missed” our Tier 2 Fast Passes, but pro-tip for those who don’t know: just hit up a Blue Tent and they’ll clear them for you. I’ve seen lots of confusion on what to do, but this will settle it. They didn’t clear off automatically but we were also not in the park at their scheduled time. Maybe that would have cleared them? No clue, but there ya go.

Met Chewbacca, met all the Incredibles, viewed Walt Disney Presents but forgot to go back to meet Mike & Sully, Slinky Dog (FPP), Characterpalooza (Snow White), Indiana Jones, Slinky (FPP again since we were now cleared for more FPPs!), Frozen singalong, Millennium Falcon for real, Fantasmic! (FPP just to be safe, I was NOT going to miss it), then during EMH we hit up TSM and met Woody, Bo and Jessie. Lame EMH since we had to deal w/Fantasmic taking up half of it, but I didn’t think of doing it on our 1st HS day. Only snafu. I wanted to get on Slinky Dog once more at the end of the night but the family wasn’t having it - LOL. Everyone was mega-tired.

DAY 6: MAGIC KINGDOM #2
Arrived at RD this time so we could watch “Let The Magic Begin” and knock out Peter Pan again before it got ridiculous. We had a 7DMT FPP for 9am but it was down to start the day. So after PP we decided to run over to Space Mountain, and passed by 7DMT. They were still down, but I asked and they said they were JUST planning on opening. We were literally the first in line and got the 1st seats on the 1st run of the day. I think we waited about 5 min. for them to open after they let us scan in. Perfect timing, PLUS they had already issued us Multi-Experience passes which I kept for use later.

Onto Space Mountain, met Stitch, long trek over to Big Thunder Mountain (FPP), Magic Carpets, met all the Country Bears, hit up Tom Sawyer Island, ran an emergency conference call for work while my son ran around, had a good laugh about all the whistle & boat noises in the background, Teacups, met Gaston, met Fairy Godmother while running back to Space Mountain (FPP), 7DMT again immediately after (workin’ that FPP like magic!), Philharmagic because Donald is my son’s fave (and mine, plus wife needed a break), Pooh shut down right in our face so I found quick FPPs for wife & son to do Under the Sea. I stayed at Pooh waiting for it to come up. Once I saw they cleared their passes, I found us Pooh FPPs and as luck would have it the ride came back up just a couple minutes after their return. Finished off the night with another trip to Buzz and then the entire fireworks show.

DAY 7: EPCOT
Arrived for RD, knocked out Soarin’ in 10 min, noticed our 9am Frozen FPP was SHUT DOWN but hey we got a Multi-Experience FPP again. I retained that to use for Frozen later, and used the now-open Tier 1 pass for Soarin’ again later.
So it went; Soarin, Figment, met Ralph & Vanellope, met Joy, Mission Space, Spaceship Earth, Characterpalooza (Smee, Mr. Penguin, Pluto, Donald, Mickey), Soarin again, Server Amusant (son was an assistant :slight_smile: ), Nemo, Turtle Talk, Gran Fiesta…

FROZEN HAD BEEN DOWN ALL DAY! It opened for about half an hour while we were down at Soarin the 2nd time, but shut down again when we made our way up to it. So we kicked around a lot kinda waiting it out. We spent a lot of time in the World Showcase finding pennies from every country. Son loved it. Unfortunately France’s machine was broken so we ended up with an incomplete set, then somehow we lost 3 others by the time we got home. What a bummer. Although I think my son cared more about the hunt than having them, and we got about 50+ pennies from all the parks to appease his scavenger hunt, so it’s just as well.

As we were finishing up the left half of the World Showcase on our way out, I FINALLY saw that Frozen had just opened back up! We were 1 country over so we got in line w/the quickness and had a 15min. or so wait. Good thing I saved that Multi Experience FPP. By the time we got off the ride, the FPP queue was so long it reached the next country over. I would have to estimate the FPP queue was almost an hour if not over. Standby queue had to be 3hrs+. While this was am EMH day, it was about 830pm and we were done since we rope dropped. We originally planned a few-hour break in the afternoon for my wife to rest her feet, but she powered through and didn’t want to bother. So with that, no need for EMH. We did everything we wanted anyway, so it’s all good!

I think that’s everyone we met. We met the big ones 3-4x over, and a lot of secondaries. The Characterpaloozas were awesome, I suspect my wife didn’t believe me when the first “expected” one didn’t go off as expected. But the 2nd and 3rd I had down to the minute, and it was pretty awesome to be of the first couple groups to meet everybody before people caught on and joined the crowd.

We’ve only been back a week and I can’t wait to go back. My poor son was ready to go home after Day 3, but with that said he definitely had a blast every other day. When he got tired he’d just ask to go home - haha. Our vaca next winter is going to be to Hawaii and we just decided to cut that trip short and split it somewhat with a few days in CA so we can visit DisneyLand! Looking at it, I don’t think it will compare at all to DisneyWorld, but I’m excited about the different rides. We haven’t told the boy yet, but I know he will be as well. I would have never wanted to deal with a Christmas crowd but the way this all shaped up, we have no choice. I don’t drink but I bet I’ll be wishing DisneyLand served alcohol in no time :grin:

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Thanks for sharing! Did you feel like the 1 non-park day was enough of a break for your son? I want to take my nephews in the future and I am wondering how many non-park days to plan with them, they will be 7, 7 and 9 when we go.

I know about the characterpalooza for HS, but not epcot. Where is that one?

After using your first 3 FP+, did you throw your Touring Plan out the window to obtain additional FP+? Just wondering if it makes sense to schedule mornings with FP+ and then “wing it” in afternoons based on FP availability.

I think it was enough. Our feet (especially my wife’s due to her plantar fasciitis) were incredibly sore and the day off helped more than expected. We still walked a bunch, but about half the amount of steps. That was really the only benefit from the day off that we found: a little recovery for our feet. Son didn’t seem to mind either way, but he was saying he was tired of walking/needing to be carried a little more on park days 4-6 than 1-3.

Can’t remember exactly where, but I noticed a similar gate on the left side of the World Showcase as you walk in for rope drop. We went back later that day and sure enough, characters were just starting to walk out.

Pretty much. For the most part I found the TP times were off and therefore didn’t help. We lost a good half-hour on Space Mountain when we went w/o a FPP, because TP said it should be a 10-15min. wait. It was not even close and we were stuck at that point. So from there we just found it easier to use FPPs and walk more…OR to compare to the actual wait times posted and go by that.

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Sounds like you had an awesome, jam packed week! Thank you so much for sharing your pre-trip tips and your trip itself. :slight_smile:

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