Trip planning update — and questions for you

A few changes to my July 2019 trip — and some questions for you to help me make some decisions.

(1) Greatly to my irritation Virgin changed my flight times.

I had chosen an outbound flight that left at about 12.30pm — so no need to get up early at the airport hotel for breakfast, then check-in and security. An issue for me during this year’s trip was tiredness and my outbound flight required a very early start. They’ve changed it to about 11am :sleeping:

They also changed my return trip. I had chosen a late flight so as to make the most of departure day. They’ve shaved about an hour and a half off the day with an earlier departure. Not a huge disaster, but disappointing.

The “upside”, however, of the earlier outbound flight is an earlier arrival at MCO.

My original plan was to take the DME to Pop and just enjoy exploring the hotel and its surroundings, before getting an early night to prepare me for an early start on my first full day.

But now that I’m arriving earlier, there’s a temptation to sneak in a park visit. I’m arriving at MCO at about 3pm, so I could be in a park by 7pm or so. The nearest is DHS and I thought I’d maybe try to get an FPP for TSMM or SDD and then maybe go see Fantasmic.

But would this be a mistake? Should I stick to the original plan? (But then I’d feel like I was wasting an FPP opportunity.)

(2) I swapped a couple of days round. Someone resurrected a thread pointing to KTP’s crowd calendars. I looked at my days this year in order to make predictions about the equivalent days next year. This suggested I made some mistakes in my park-to-day choices (mostly because of having chosen parks that had EMH that day). So I did some switching.

These changes resulted in lower crowd predictions and in greater likelihoods in getting the FOP and SDD FPPs I want, as they are now both later in my trip.

(3) Reading the forums also resulted in a couple of ADR changes — for example, thanks to a reminder from @bswan26 about Monsieur Paul, I’ve added that to the schedule. But in order to keep FF, I’ve had to abandon my trip to Disney Springs.

Is missing Disney Springs (again!) a mistake? (And is it better during the day, or at night?)

(4) I wondering whether I should give the Tomorrowland Terrace HEA dessert party a try.

I’ve now seen HEA five times. Once from the Plaza (before party), twice from the Plaza (after party), once from CG and once from GF.

People often ask which dessert party is better: the Plaza Gardens, or the Tomorrowland Terrace. I’m tempted to try the TT just to make the comparison.

Yet I’m also attracted to it because of something someone said on the forums. As I understand it, the TT party is covered, so if it rains: no problem. I also sense it’s a less stressful party in terms of gettting a spot. And you get a seat.

Is this an obviously bad idea? I think HEA without the projections (e.g. CG and GF) is a bit pointless. Surely at TT you’re going to get a decent chunk of projection, despite the jaunty angle and greater distance?

I’m too tired to give advice but just wanted to say I really hope Virgin makes my flight earlier - though only the outbound one.

(4)We chose the Tomorrowland Terrace party for the reasons you stated. In just over 2 weeks I can give a review of how the seating is but I won’t be able to compare it to the other viewing options.

(3)We enjoy Disney Springs just to get to see some of the different things we don’t have here.

(1)A quiet, early to bed first day works for us. Do you think you can enjoy hanging at the resort or will you just be wishing you were at a park?

Disney springs. For the most part it is food and shopping.

So do you want to go? Is shopping your thing?? Is there a food experience you want to try??

Did you want to do the star wars virtual reality game?? Do you want to ride in a tethered hot air balloon??

If you said no to everything then you are not missing anything at disney springs.


How about Disney Springs on arrival night? See how you’re feeling after the day of travel. That way you lose nothing if you decide to skip it but you have a loose/gentle plan in place if you feel up to it and want to do more than hang at the resort.


I say skip Disney Springs. It’s good for a meal or a little shopping, but it really is nothing compared to going to a park.
We always go to a park on arrival day, despite the fact that it might not be until 7pm, and despite the fact that we travel from the West Coast on a super early flight (like 6am, arriving at the airport about 4:30am), and despite the fact that we maybe sleep 4-5 hours the night before the early flight. After sitting on an airplane a good chunk of the day, the last thing I want to do when we get there is sit in my hotel room relaxing. This past April we landed at 3:45pm, drove to AKL, got into our room and dropped luggage, jumped on the bus to AK and were through the gates by 7:13pm according to my photos. We rode FOP, had dinner at Satuli, had a liner meet with @MouseGirl42, rode Dinosaur, and rode EE. We probably did some other stuff, but the last picture on my phone is back by KRR at 10pm, pretty sure we headed back after that. It was a perfect way to get a little taste of AK and a great use of our evening. We still made it to AK again the next morning by 8:30am. Now of course you are traveling the opposite direction than we do, so maybe you will be tired really early. But to me, it is the perfect opportunity to use 3 FPP.
We did the TT dessert party several times when it was Wishes. I like the garden party better for the view, but the TT party does offer a nice seat in a covered area which I would be more likely to choose in the summer months. We go in early April and always do the garden party, but the threat of rain is significantly less than in summer. I say go for it. It’s all for research, right? :wink:


I vote either DS or a park. DS is most logical for reasons @OBNurseNH stated. But not much about spending vast amounts of money to go to WDW is logical anyway, so maybe just go to a park! If that is the case then I think you should always try to start with MK. HS is a good second choice though, as TSL is supposedly especially cool at night!

I would never give up a park day/night specifically to go to DS, but it can be entertaining way to spend time that you weren’t planning at a park. When I go it’s either on arrival or departure day (I never use a day’s admission for a partial day) or an evening activity for a day when the parks close early. I prefer evening to day time; everything is prettier at night, and there are frequently a number of street musicians and small live shows playing at various locations.

I’ve only done a dessert party from TT (back when it was Wishes and the only option) and I was a bit disappointed because it’s off at an angle, so the FW do not line up nicely over the castle; the larger ones, that are fired at a considerable distance behind the castle all appear to be to the right of the castle. I’ve not seen FEA yet, but if I do a dessert party for it, I will select the Plaza view…


I have made 4 solo trips in total. Coming from the far northwest corner of the US, I usually get about 2 hours of sleep the night before catching a pre-dawn flight out, so the decision of how to spend my arrival night is always a tricky one for me. I’ve done it a few different ways now, and definitely know which is my favorite.

Trip #1: I only had a 5-day ticket, so I didn’t want to burn a whole day for only a couple hours in a park. Instead, I checked into my (offsite) hotel, ran to Walmart for bottled water and snacks, and ate at Chick-fil-a for the first time (yum). As much as I enjoyed CFA, this not feel like a very special way to kick off my first-ever solo trip and I’ve never done it like that again.

Trips #2 and #3: I had an AP for both of these trips, but still wasn’t sure I’d have the energy to hit a park after being up since 2am. So for both of these trips, I chose to go with dinner at Disney Springs (yay for Raglan Road!), a brief stroll around DS, and dessert from a magical ATM machine that spits out cupcakes instead of cash. DS is pretty at night, but I have never felt the need to spend more than an hour or so wandering around. It really didn’t feel very “Disney” to me, but it did feel “vacation-y” because there is nothing like it in my neck of the woods. (I also spotted fireworks from the parking structure on my way out on Trip #3, so that was a nice little “teaser” for the start of my real trip!). I really loved spending arrival night this way. Not too tiring, can be as short or long of a stay as I like, yummy sit-down dinner, and it feels like a vacation without spoiling the Day-One-MK-RD magic.

Trip #4: I knew this would almost certainly be my last trip before my AP expires, so I decided to make the most of every minute. I drove straight to MK from MCO (luggage still in the trunk of my rental car) with plans to grab corn dog nuggets at Casey’s Corner, watch HEA while eating said corn dog nuggets, hop on a few rides, and stay in the park as close to the 12am closing as I could possibly manage. In reality, this was not nearly as much fun as I thought it was going to be . . . I was very hungry by the time I got there but I could hardly get through Main Street because everyone was already packed in like sardines for HEA. I couldn’t get inside Casey’s pre-HEA, so I went after . . . and it took forever to get food because the crowd flooded the line as soon as HEA ended. I managed to stick it out until my 7DMT FP at 10pm, but it was rough and I was exhausted. It kinda rubbed some of the magic off of the start of the trip and I was way more tired on Day One than I had been on previous trips.

All that to say . . . I vote for Disney Springs on arrival night. I’ve never been to Pop, but I bet DS is more visually interesting (and has many more dining options). And it saves the real pixie dust for the next morning when you are rested and excited to get a move on!

And really, nothing can beat catching that first glimpse of Cinderella’s castle against the backdrop of blue skies and clear morning light. Best way to kick off your first park day, in my opinion!


Thanks, everyone, for your comments and suggestions so far.

I’m annoyed about the outbound flight change because I was really happy with the original plan.

There are two competing forces with my arrival day plan.

First, a “mistake” I made this year was overdoing it — burning the candle at both ends. On arrival day, I got to MK at about 6pm, which was 11pm according to my body clock. I did BTMR and Splash, followed by HEA and the after party, followed by 7DMT. I was staying off-property and I think I got to bed at about midnight, or 5am body clock time.

This was an almost carbon copy of what I had done the year before. But the crucial difference is that I had flown to Boston from the UK, done nothing on arrival day other than eat chicken wings and go to bed, and then flown down to MCO the following day. This seemed to avoid jetlag altogether.

It feels like the “sensible” plan is to just explore the resort on arrival day. I’m staying at Pop and, as I understand it, there’s a path all round Hourglass Lake and a bridge to AOA, so if the weather’s nice it could be a relatively quiet, pleasant evening of exploration, followed by a reasonably early bedtime, ready for a relatively early start at MK the following morning.

I like @OBNurseNH’s suggeston of doing Disney Springs. I’m not particularly into shopping (well, I’m a sucker for souvenirs, but I want to avoid buying any) and I don’t know how hungry I’ll be. The best part of this plan is that it requires no planning. I can go, or not, depending how I feel. Wander around for a while, tick it off my list. Presumably there are places to eat that don’t require ADRs? Or I can just eat at the Pop food court if I’m hungry.

I’ll be tempted to book some FPPs somewhere “just in case” I’m in the mood for park action. This won’t be necessary. I have eight full days and one part-day in the parks and my schedule covers most things that I want to do at least twice. But it’s that damned feeling of “missing out” — I’ll have a three FPP entitlement and it feels like a “waste” not to use it.

I guess I’ll play it by ear. If I feel tired I’ll stick with the resort. If I don’t I think I would prefer to do a quick trip to Disney Springs so that I can tick that off as an experience. Going to a park would just be repetition and I don’t want to end up being overtired.

(It was DAH that did me in last year. It was on my second-to-last night and I didn’t get to bed till about half past one in the morning. The following evening I was too tired to do Fantasmic, and on the flight home the next day I was completely zonked to the point that the stewardess was almost worried about me!)


I’ll be especially interested to hear @NoCapes review of the TT dessert party. And to see the photos — hint, hint! — of the view.

I definitely think I want to try it, even if just for research purposes. I hear Tinkerbell flies straight towards you and gets close enough that you can tell if she’s a boy or a girl!

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  • We only go to Disney Springs if we are going to do dinner there. I have been there walked around and I just don’t find much to do there except if you are into shopping, which I’m not.

  • If you are not happy with your flight times I have had success in explaining to the airlines a few times that I already have arrangements that will not let the new time work and see usually I am a accommodated.

  • Due to having shorter wait times for rides immediately following the fireworks I don’t think I’ve ever seen the show with projection. To me it’s not really a big deal, but every year I think this is the year that we’re just gonna watch the show and then leave. Then every year when we are in the middle of the park and I think heck with it! 2 times we have been riding 7d as the grand finale of the fireworks happened and I feel that was just the most amazing experience!

  • If you already are going to have time in the parks I don’t think it is necessary to have a quick trip to Disney Hollywood studios the day you arrive. We usually arrive around 3 and enjoy a nice swim and setting up our Room and walking the resort and getting our mugs and just relaxing before dinner around 7. But if you have a ticket that is not going to cost any extra then it’s definitely worth stopping in for! But I wouldn’t pay for just a few hours at the park in my opinion. The only exception to this would be if your not visiting any parks at all, it would be a good time to have an afternoon experience.

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I might add the following to the list, for good measure:

Do you feel you have missed out on the Irish pub takeover of every 4th pub in the U.K.?

  • if so, Raglan Road may be a solution

Do you like browsing in a large Lego store? Or want a photo of yourself sitting on a Harley Davidson motorbike?

-if so, Disney Springs has the ideal place for either or both.

And Jock’s Hangar Bar is a nice addition, with a “back story” connected to the Indy theme, and some nice paraphernalia on the walls.

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1 - I wouldn’t go to a park on arrival day. Don’t think of it as arriving at 7pm, think of it as arriving at midnight. I might go to Disney Springs if I really wanted to do something, but we’re always happy just to relax and explore.

3 - Disney Springs is essentially a shopping centre. It’s a lot nicer than the Manchester Arndale and has some great food choices, but it’s not essential. It’s very pretty at night.

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We love Disney Springs, but I don’t want to oversell it. Yes. It is shopping and eating with some entertainment, but with a definite Disney vibe. We like the atmosphere, particularly in the evening with the live music, etc.

World of Disney is basically all the gift shop items from the parks in one huge store. If you just want a quick meal without ADR, then you can stop into Earl of Sandwich. Some inexpensive treats there…or if your prefer, head go Goofy’s or Gheridelli’s.

You don’t need a lot of time there, but there are interesting shopping places like the Art of Disney place, the Christmas shop, etc.

Still, if you expect some amazing experience you might be disappointed. Just a great way to have a non Disney park day add a little Disney flare.

For me, DS seems like such a foreign concept! I have trouble wrapping my head around “going to DS” because here on the west coast I walk THROUGH DTD to get to the parks. It is not a destination, but rather the road to my destination. I have to go sit down… my head is spinning.

So it is more like Citywalk at Universal. Disney Springs is considerably more massive.

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My advice
1 don’t make any ADR’s for your first night, you don’t want to start your holiday tired, I would just explore your resort. However I don’t think you’ll be able to resist doing something, so make an ADR and a few FPP in one of the parks, HS or EP as they are closest.

3 I don’t know, it didn’t make my cut last time but it has just made the list for next year, we have an ADR at Raglan Road as I love Irish music. This is your third trip so I think you should find time for DS

4 No don’t do any dessert parties, you already have the deluxe dining plan, and you are supposed to be keeping the cost down.

Although I will typically make an ADR for one of the excellent DS TSs, there are many decent QS options there as well - certainly better than you would find at the POP food court… And you can get walk-ups at many of the TSs, but it will likely require a wait (although I have avoided 90 minute waits by fining a seat at the bar - frequently my preference when dining alone, regardless of where I am).

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Even Citywalk (at least here in CA) it is attached to USH. So the idea to take transportation/driving TO Citywalk/DS is a foreign concept for me. I also get that the magnitude of it is larger. I guess in my mind it is like going to a well themed mall, which is not that interesting for me. The only time we stop in DTD is to get a bite to eat on our way in or out of the parks. We are not huge shoppers and when we do shop it is usually in the parks. A few restaurants have definitely peaked my interest (I am looking at you Raglan and Homecomin’), but I am not sure I would be willing to make a special trip for them.