I just want to say thank you to this discussion forum and all the liners that were very generous in sharing their knowledge in how to navigate the parks, what to do, where to go, and how to successfully use Genie +. We just got back from our trip (6 park days April 10-15) with a partial family reunion with SIL and DB for a few days (1 park day with them) and then myself, DH, DD10 and DS5. My brother and I had last gone to Disney ~1990 I think and my husband probably in 1983 or 1984 when he was 10.
I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if we would exit this trip alive and getting used to the crowds, navigating the parks, long days on our feet and all the stimulation would make or break us. We had some shaky moments, but soon found a rhythm and by the end of the trip were rocking it. The weather was beautiful the whole time we were there which added to the enjoyment and the two times it rained we were inside on a ride. My DB went from being highly Disney skeptical to wanting to go back and do another park. My SIL got her wish which was to ride the teacups with the kids and meet a princess, and would like to go back after her knee surgery. And my husband, who was also not sure about what would happen lost his mind when he went through ROTR and had a GREAT time photographing all the sights around the park with his new iphone (he is a photographer so everything was eye candy for him). We are even talking about another trip in our future, now that we kind of know the lay of the land and what to expect.
The Genie + info was really invaluable. I utilized it a lot considering that I was an offsite guest and really did well the last day of our trip at MK getting the rest of the rides we wanted (we had two MK days). ILL was not as successful as I had hoped as an offsite guest so only did FOP as an ILL, didn’t do Remy or 7DMT at all–the lines were simply too long for us when we were in the parks and I simply could not score a time even while checking frequently. BUT we experienced ROTR without paying extra money by hopping in line 20 minutes before park close and we were in and out within 45 minutes. This won’t be a full blown trip report, but I might post some highlights later and some thoughts that I had as an “outsider” who was not already in the Disney bubble. Many of these will be familiar to the more experienced Disney goers. But maybe there will be a insight or two in there that will be helpful.
We just drove back yesterday 15.5 hours to MD so we are all a little tired but happy to be home for Easter. Now we are unpacking, going through our pictures, and thinking about what we might want to do in the future at Disney.
Glad everyone enjoyed the trip.
Now you need a vacation to recover!
So glad to hear you all had such a MAGICAL time!!!
Now listening to DH give a blow by blow report to his mom
He is a very neat person so he is recounting in detail about how CLEAN everything was, including the buildings and castle. He notices very small things.
Glad you had a great time! Looking forward to tips etc. you never know what you don’t know.
Sounds like you had a wonderful trip!
Some initial thoughts on logistics which may or may not be repeated elsewhere:
shorts/bottoms/tops with zippered pockets are extremely helpful. The shorts/skorts I wore had zippered pockets and I’m so glad. Mine were $$ from Athleta but they were worth it as they were also lightweight and wicking.
Sunscreen stick for face versus goop/spray is easy to carry and doesn’t run into eyes, and good to refresh faces on the fly (don’t forget the ears! My kiddo had sunburned ears).
If you are going to wear a backpack (I did) get one that has a cross strap across chest to take weight off of shoulders. Mine did not have one and my upper back/shoulders were very tense by end of day.
Big fan of good quality running/walking shoes. I wore my runners every day in the park and didn’t suffer blisters etc. I made sure my kids were outfitted in the same.
Genie + especially for those staying offsite, and strategies to get on rides:
Besides time.gov, you can use a smart watch (which is probably about as accurate) to countdown the seconds to refresh screen right before 7 am. I was able to nab early reservations on all days I wanted early reservations (like by or before 11:30 am) using this trick.
$ILL are very difficult to get as an offsite guest, and because onsite guests have EE, it is harder to RD those specific rides. I was able to get FOP, but not any of the others. The ILL do “flicker” in and out during the morning hours however, much more than what is listed on thrill data. For Remy I didn’t refresh as much, but when trying to get ROTR and FOP, I would see times pop up during the morning every 5 minutes or so when I was refreshing my screen to try to buy it. But you have to be fast. By the time I hit the button to accept, it was gone. I made it as far as the third screen even before it would go away. BUT for FOP, I was able to nab one about 9:32 for a mid afternoon return. 7Dwarves was just too far off into the evening for me to want to get one anyway and I wasn’t fast enough. This is where being an onsite guest has an advantage if you are willing to pay to skip the line or RD the big rides.
IMHO, I don’t think you need G+ for AK if you have a good strategy, even as an offsite guest. We paid for FOP which was totally worth it for us to skip that line, but did not pay for G+. I would suggest actually doing the animal based activities in the morning while the animals are active and maybe some shows and then do your rides later in the afternoon as people are starting to leave the park. By 6-7 pm you could basically ride Kali River Rapids over and over again, and nothing had crazy lines except for FOP and maybe KS had a moderate line. Kite tails is cute and maybe worth sitting down for if you are walking by (we did) but is mostly in the hot sun and I don’t think worth seeking out on its own. It was greatly improved by imbibing a margarita at the same time. Bone yard was a favorite too.
HS immensely improves at night. During the day I found it to be hot and crowded for my family. BUT we were able to wait only 45 minutes for ROTR by utilizing this strategy: We went to HS the DAY AFTER deluxe magic hours so I think all those guests may have already gone to ROTR. ROTR also was running well that day, so did not have a ILL backup. We did HS in the morning for SDD (We had already been there once during afternoon/evening where I stacked LL reservations for MFSR, TSM, etc.) and did a few things and went back to our condo for lunch/pool. We had an ADR at Boma, and while at Boma I started to pay attention to ROTR return times. It went downwards to 60 min. We left Boma at ~8:15, and was in the park and near ROTR by 8:45 or so while the evening entertainment at HS began (park close at 9) ROTR was at 45 minutes by then. We were able to get out of ROTR by 9:30 and spent a leisurely time walking back enjoying the empty HS streets. Bonus, it poured rained when we were in ROTR, but was finished by the time we emerged. So a good rule of thumb could be as an offsite or non deluxe guest, to make a park reservation at a park the day after deluxe hours because the guests that are in the deluxe resorts may be somewhere else.
If a ride goes down for a bit and you are nearby, lurk! at MK were were able to race onto BTMR when it opened back up (this happened twice for us) and while we were in line KS went down at AK, but we ate a snack and stuck around instead of doing something else since we didn’t have any G+ reservations. I noted that TP has an approximate time when they thought it would go back up and they were off by about 6-7 minutes. When it came back online, we were first on the trucks. So check the timing on TP app to see how long it might be down!
G+ was very “helpful” as an offsite guest in that at least we were able to avoid some lines that would have been terribly long for my kids. Last MK day I rocked G+ and was able to even score a Space Mountain at 11:30 while in LL for Dumbo directly after Dumbo ride, and we rode PP each time we were at MK thanks to G+. That park by far is the easiest to get G+. I did utilize G+ at Epcot on a high CL day and glad I did, as even SE was 40+ minute lines in the sun. When at MK and Epcot after the 1st LL at 7ish am for a must do ride, I utilized the whatever was soonest LL strategy and that worked well for us.
Other random thoughts:
- Photopass/Magic Maker absolutely worth it if you have several park days. We tried to utilize it all over the parks and got some really good shots of our family. Buy it through the online MDE, not on the app–you can get it for 169 on the web if paying in advance but it only lists a 199 option in the app.
*Some of the most charming attractions are the shows. We loved them all and it was just nice to sit down in a theater for awhile. We didn’t do sing alongs (my kids didn’t want to) but I think what makes Disney special is all the attention to details and being immersed in the moment. Bonus, shows don’t often have a long line, although we could not score the Indiana Jones stunt show as we were either there too late for it or needed to leave and didn’t want to wait around. If on a crowded park day, get to that show 30 minutes in advance to sit down. At 15 minutes advance, it was standing room only.
- Ideally I would have done the RD and get out of parks by 2 pm and then go back to parks in evening most days, but if my kids are in a pool they don’t want to leave. So we often ended up staying through the afternoons and then leaving a little before the fireworks/nightly entertainment. HS first day we ended up doing pool first and then mid afternoon/evening in the park which worked well. My kids complained for the first half of the time b/c of heat, but perked up as the sun went down.
Highlights of our trip:
- Spending time with my bro, SIL at the parks. We had a fun time remembering where we went the last time we were in the parks (so many years ago!) and made some new great memories. My favorite picture of all time was from the first ride we went on, Splash Mountain, which was the first real ride my kids have gone on apart from dinky and sketchy fair rides. Every time I look at it I laugh because the expressions are so varied. We may have scarred my DS for life as after that he wouldn’t go on roller coasters and asked if the rides had “big drops” after that, but somehow withstood FOP! I and my DD are in the front screaming our heads off, DH and DS are next with expressions of disbelief and my DS seeing his short life flash before his eyes, next is my DB and SIL looking like this is all very pleasant, and the last is some random couple having a great joyous time in the back.
*Watching DH face as he went through ROTR. I had kind of known what would happen from watching the ride on youtube to see if my kids could handle it, but he had no spoilers so everything was completely new. DH really also enjoyed Tomorrowland and we all fell in love with Epcot.
DS was the “rebel spy” on ST. His picture popped up on the screen and he sat up abruptly and said “WHAT???!” It was so funny.
DD and I were roller coaster buddies. Tomorrowland Speedway was more my son’s and DH’s speed, but DD and I had a good time riding the roller coasters. It was a nice way to bond.
Doing the more low key things–Liberty Bell was a great way to take a break with my family and the kids could move around, and Boneyard was a nice place to also take a break!
Getting a bunch of photopass pictures and finding out what “extras” were added to them!
Loved FOP, Soarin’ for their emotional impact besides the thrill aspect. I thought I would get motion sick, but not at all. Looking at the screen edge can help ground in reality if feeling disoriented.
Really enjoying the courteous staff/CM of Disney. They were so helpful and pleasant and accommodating.
If I was doing things differently, I think I would add a true rest day to our itinerary. We managed by doing a partial day or a less long park day, but we were getting up pretty early otherwise. I think the kids would have been refreshed by a full rest day.
It sounds like the Magic was definitely there for you. So glad you have such lovely memories of your shared trip.
Omg his little face is the best!
Thanks for the report! I just love that look on DS’s face, hope he wasn’t too traumatized!
Well…poor dude was a little bit freaked out every dark ride that incorporated a boat/water, but seems to have survived without lasting damage and mostly had fun once he was on a ride and out of the line (where he would start worrying about the ride having a drop). ROTR almost got him though–a little too real but luckily the CM didn’t mess with us too much in the interrogation room–I think they could sense that it would be too much for him as his eyes were HUGE. He refused to do Navi River Rapids as well due to the water element, but was delighted to find the button to shower people with water at the end of the ride and spent a good amount of time squirting unsuspecting riders with water and cackling.
My DS4 was the rebel spy on ST as well and he turned to me all concerned and said “Am I really a spy?” He didn’t quite understand that was a good thing and we were all on his team trying to protect him