Yes, Adriadne has it correct about being there for RD. I, like you Tate, can’t stand crowded places.
I don’t think you can avoid the big group of people waiting for the park to open, but that doesn’t feel terrible because everyone is calmly just standing around. It’s not like one must be pushing through people and moving along. I recommend getting to the gates a half hour before the open. We were on property and took the first morning bus which meant we left our resort 1 hour before park opening.
For AK, we did not make it to opening because opening was 7am and we’d been up the night before on a long MK day. BUT, that was totally fine and the park wasn’t even crowded in the least at 7:30am when we arrived. We headed for Primeval Whirl and road it twice (without getting off) and then went to Expedition Everest (no line to speak of, maybe 5 minutes?) I would do your FFP for the safari ride at 9 or 9:30am if you are someone who also wants to do the roller coasters at AK. We FFP safari and dinosaur in the morning. Then we did another FFP for EE for the afternoon (to ensure another ride…but we hardly needed it.
AK turned out to be a 9 day for us and it was totally fine. The only time it felt super crowded was waiting in the lunch line at Flame Tree. So, I’d say if you can get to AK at 7:45am, you will be totally fine there on an 8 day as our day was empty in the morning (maybe everybody rushes the safari ride and since we didn’t go that way we were fine?) I guess I should say that my kids weren’t interested in the wildlife treks and therefore I can’t say whether those would be super crowded. I can just say that the rides weren’t that crowded and I was glad to have a FFP for the safari ride.
I see that you’re doing AK for two days? Am I reading your note correctly? If so, you will be totally fine in that park over a two day period. Arrive early, do some fun things and then go with the flow (or leave in the afternoon) and return toward the end of the day (if ROL has started). Or, do RD first day and then sleep in the next day for AK and do things you haven’t yet done.
As far as HS, that day was our low crowd day (but unexpected). We arrive a half hour before opening and got in a line toward the far right. We were like second in the line. Again, it’s calm in the line. But, when the park opens, it will be a sea of people walking down that main street corridor. As soon as you get off of that street, you will be fine. We headed first to ToT and there was no line at all. Again, if you’re into the thrill rides, do this one first and then go over to the Rockin Rollercoaster next as it’s right by it and there won’t be much of a line first thing in the morning.
Then, for your MK day with a 7 am opening. Whoa. If you can get there then, I feel strongly that the park will definitely be quiet and you’ll get a ton done before 10am. The fact is most people just can’t get up early. How old are your kids? If there not toddlers/little, then go for more of the coasters at RD since people with small children will hit fantasy land. We did SM then Buzz, then Dumbo (no line), then Haunted Mansion, Thunder Mtn…if I’m remembering correctly. This was on an EMH 8am opening. It was terrific. We FFP 7DMT and PP that day. Yes, save your FFP for late morning/afternoon/evening since you don’t need them for the early morning.
The mornings make ALL the difference. So, just hustle in the morning and then relax after lunch, checking your application to see where there are low level lines. Also, the theatre/sit down shows are great for the afternoons because you don’t have to wait in line long and then you get to sit down (after you’ve been running around). We did Philharmonic/Lion King/Nemo/Hall of Pres, etc in the afternoons. It worked very well.
Please share how old your kids are. I might have better advice then.
Oh-and one last thing. Even though RD are key, if you are going several days, give yourself a break. I planned all RD, but after a couple of days, we ditched an early morning breakfast and slept in and no one regretted it. The point it to have fun and if you’re too tired, you won’t have fun. So, plan plan plan and then let it go.