Taking my 2 preschoolers and partner for a shorter trip in November. Crowd Calendar indicates HS-8, MK -2 (party day), AK - 4 for our days. Early entry for all of our parks is currently listed as 8:30.
We normally get up at 7 and ready to leave by 8. But, we could be faster. I say that to say, we could rope drop. But, it sounds terrible! We plan to Minnie Van to the parks in the mornings.
Is it important to be involved in the actual rope drop? Could we get there at 8 and just wander about? I hate the idea of standing around in a giant crowd with my littles and rushing off to something. That is not the kind of trip we want. But, I also don’t want to stand in 45 min - 90 min lines all day because we didn’t do it.
We are not planning to do many thrill rides. I’m sure hubby will want to do Everest and Star Wars rides, maybe Slinky Dog with my oldest kid. But, for the most part, think slow moving rides and shows. We’re planning to leave at 3 each afternoon for nap and possibly not come back in the evening since bedtime is 8. So, a slower trip. We learned our lesson with my oldest after trying to cram everything in every day and basically being able to do nothing on the last day because he was so done.
I’ve got some plans worked up. None of them say we can fit everything. We didn’t really want to fiddle all day with Genie +. But, maybe that’s the only way?
What do you think?
ETA: Can we wait in a less crowded area and slide in behind the serious rope droppers?
@DWJoe HS is def going to be the challenge. I used to not see that as an all day park. But, we haven’t seen any of the Star Wars yet. So, we may need more time there and better strategy. We don’t mind getting there early. Just hoping to avoid the stressful part of arrival.
Since you all will be up early, you should definitely take advantage of the lower crowds but avoid the crowds.
For me, this means going through the turnstyles about 10-15 minutes before the rope actually drops. You can procede leisurely and when the rope actually drops, head to any ride that is not a “top ride”
You could ride every ride in Fantasyland (except PP and 7DMT) in the first hour of the park. Let your kids admire the ducks or whatever catches their eye, but still have short waits.
I had the same thoughts as you regarding rope drop. Waiting for the park to open for 90 mins is still waiting in a line - just not an attraction line.
I went with a 4 year old and 8 year old - my 8 year old can tolerate lines really well. My 4 year old cannot. I’m not sure we would’ve had a pleasant trip without Genie plus. We started calling it “skip the whine”. DS4 went on everything in MK except Space (Tron was closed) - and loved all rides in TSL. You know best what your children will like and what they can tolerate. DS4 wanted to meet some characters and not all of those have G+ options.
My rope drop strategy was to get to the park about 20-30 mins before early entry - we could get through the taps, grab a coffee or take a photo and then line up for a ride. In MK, that meant Space for my oldest and Tomorrowland Speedway for my youngest. We were at the rope at 8:15 for an 8:30 early entry opening. In HS, we decided on TSM because we had G+ for Slinky. We were in line at TSM at 7:50 for a 8:00 early entry opening.
As an entire family (DH, DW-me & 4 kids) we are not a fast group so rope drop, especially at WDW which is 2 hours ahead of our timezone is extremely difficult. We are huge proponents of showing up to the turnstile at or just 5-15 minutes before the actual rope drop and meandering in behind the throng.
For your AK, you should be just fine to forego G+ & get a good balance of relaxing & doing stuff.
For MK with that low of a CL you may be just fine, but that is a good park to fiddle with G+ especially if you do want to get a lot of the available offerings on it accomplished. If your day only has 1-2 priorities out of the longest lines (Jungle Cruise, 7DMT, Peter Pan, BTM, Space) then you could be just fine without it.
For HS I absolutely recommend G+. It’s easily hands-down the most beneficial park for it, especially if you want to do it all (and I always have such a hard time in DHS figuring out what I could cut out to fit in all the plans). I definitely feel like it’s at least a 1.5 day park now with Toy Story and Star Wars areas. Before that, I was like “I guess I can do 1 day at DHS to say we did all the parks.” With just EE to 3pm, G+ will help you get through quite a bit plus enjoy some of the really fun shows & characters & side attractions there, which DHS has some great stuff in that category as well.
We just visited HS for the first time this summer since before Galaxy’s Edge opened - We were traveling with our older teens, so preschoolers definitely changes the speed etc compared to you.
Since just about everything was essentially new to us (we never even rode ToT before!) I was worried about having enough time to get to everything and warned my family we should have tempered expectations.
But, with a solid Genie+ LL plan and even a break in the middle of the day, we got to everything we were shooting for with very little wait. and it was amazingly hot, so we were moving slowly and had to take a break when DD16 wasn’t feeling great.
When it comes to RD - I sure know it feels stressful at the taps and the first few minutes, but really, after the gates are open we have to remember that we’ll essentially be in the park at the emptiest it will be all day.
You can really knock out multiple popular rides at that time, which can then make the rest of the day a piece of cake if you are hitting 2nd tier things little ones would want to do.
There a lot of rope drop devotees here, and for good reason, but wanted to provide you hope that you can have a wonderful day without cramming or feeling like you will lose out if you’re not there 90 mins before park open.
We don’t rope drop. We get to the parks early enough, around opening, but haven’t ever truly rope dropped or used the early entry advantage even though we stay on site deluxe. We have never had a real wait at security because people have already been let in etc. I get the logic of choosing to wait at rope drop instead of in lines later, but realistically we can only handle so many hours “out”, so waiting before park open would just make us cut our time short.
My kids are 6 and 9 now, 4/7 and 5/8 on our last two trips. We are lame and have only started to do bigger rides on our last 2 trips (think TT or Soarin, still no true coasters lol) and we ride as a family so only do stuff everyone is brave enough to do. This also means there really aren’t crazy waits for the rides we want because they are not headliners, especially if you research on TP best times to ride. MMRR, Remy, Frozen, and PPF may be outliers, so game those out using custom TP if those are important. We still haven’t done Frozen or Remy but more because we are more ready to call it a day and head back for pool time instead of death marching on.
We have done G+ but really only maxed out its potential at MK and HS (we had a golden ticket). We would have had different days for sure without it, but would have had fun on kiddie rides all the same. AK there is enough wandering and shows and fewer rides that you can do a lot without G+. Epcot too, there is a lot to do while wandering, and you can do a lot in the front pavilions without a wait if you aim for the 2nd tier rides.
I think that some people put pressure on themselves because it is expensive especially if upgrading to G+, and there is a feeling to be “worth it” that you need to check as many boxes for big ticket items and spend as many hours in park as possible for your money. Money is not a concern to my family in general so we don’t usually think about it that way. (I don’t do that kind of analysis for beach vacations (how many $$ per hour in the sun lol) so why Disney?) But the pressure is real for some people and it’s hard not to think about when tickets are as much as the hotel room (or more, depending on where you stay) and makes it more important to find a balance that works for you.
Wow that was longer than I anticipated writing…
TL;DR: Every family is different and you know yours
Like others, I’m a fan of arriving shortly before RD and then heading at a leisurely pace to something that is not a headliner. For us, this has worked well for PPF, FEA, TSMM or MMRR, and NRJ. We do combine that approach with ILLs or G+ though when CL are high.
We did one trip where we RDed all parks at the front of the pack (at the bus stop 90 min before park open), in 2021 when G+ and ILLs did not exist and we wanted to do FoP, SDD, Remy and 7DMT with short waits, but I found it a more stressful than necessary way to start the day.
We usually arrive 10-15 minutes before rope drop or right when the park opens. As long as we’re not going to the headline attraction, there’s no waits at the others. Even SDD we got there like 15 minutes prior to opening and waited about 15 minutes to ride. Have a good plan to get as much done as possible in the time before the masses are let in!
My thought - is counter to everyone else’s. Especially concerning HS.
If y’all are up anyway head to the park as early as you can. Like if HS is opening at 8 am I’ll be at the bus stop at 6:15.
The die hards will head to Star Wars Land for Rise or Pixar for Slinky. They’ll be in a hurry. Y’all can wander along behind.
The longest lines are going to be for the rides considered most thrilling. If your family likes spinning rides head to Alien Swirling Saucers. It’s slow loading and not as popular as Slinky or Toy Story Mania.
After Aliens check the Slinky line - there will likely be a shorter wait as the influx of rope droppers exits Slinky. Unless they all go for a repeat. Ride Slinky. Do Toy Story and wander over to the Star Tours area.
Here look for some where to perch. Some one get and bring some snacks to share and try out while y’all watch the activity in the “space port”. There are Characters everywhere wandering around.
Maybe do Star Tours and watch a Jedi training thing. Take photos. Check out the time for Frozen Sing Along (or whatever is called) and do that. I’m still waiting to see it - I’ve heard it’s funny.
In our family, preschoolers would rather watch crowds &/or meet characters then ride most rides. Moseying along, snacking on all the things, just hanging out.
Either y’all will be back to the World and you can catch missed stuff or you won’t be back and it won’t matter.
We had quit using fast pass well before it went away and I’m not sold on Genie.
@heathernoel Thank you. I have been looking into Standby Skipper. Honestly, I need to just watch a whole lot of videos to see if Genie+ will fit our style. I am someone who needs to put the phone away or I will constantly be trying to work something out. But, I think Standby Skipper could really help as long as it’s not putting everything in the evening. I think there is setting for that.
@NervousRex My kids can probably tolerate about 30 minutes in line. But, that tolerance will decrease close to meals and nap. Both are pretty sensitive to what they see. So, were planning to keep it pretty toned down. Not even sure we’re going to make it through the ‘Kill the Beast’ song during Beauty and the Beast. Currently considering sending my partner back for the more intense stuff after the kids are asleep. I get motion sickness, so happy to keep it slow. Arriving early, but not too early, seems like a reasonable plan.