Trip Report: Annual Pass "Bonus" Trip Feb 11-15

Party of 4, Me, DW, DD12, DD8. This was what we called our Bonus trip for purchasing the Annual Pass in 2019. We went March 3-9, 2019 and then again October 26 - November 1, 2019. So this trip would be our 3rd time using our pass and really getting some bang for our buck (especially with this latest round of AP price increases!)

We are all big Star Wars fans so this trip would have a RotR focus. When we went in October of last year, we lucked out with very light crowds, even at Galaxy’s Edge and managed to pack in a ton of stuff during the trip, so this time we felt we could really go with the flow, as much as the crowds towards the end of the week would let us. We probably wouldn’t go to Epcot much and we only had a half day at AK planned. Hollywood Studios has become our favorite park with Toy Story Land, Galaxay’s Edge and the stuff on Sunset Blvd, there seems to be so much for us to do. MK is the same way with tons of stuff to do, but we have done everything there for years now and it’s not quite as entertaining as HS for us at this point. Seems kind of strange to say that about MK, but it’s just the way it is our this stage of our family.

I had done a bunch of research, as per normal, and we were fully prepared for the RotR procedure. One of the things I love about our trips is that we end up making changes to our carefully laid out plans on the fly while at the parks or the night before and it ends up making it even more fun.

Day 1 (Tuesday 2/11)
Since our flight got in at 9:30pm the day before and we didn’t think we were going to plan to get up early the first morning, the original plan was to have an easy morning a nice breakfast and go over to MK by 10am. We would use our FPs, reload and maybe stay for HEA. However, we were all so pumped to try out RotR that we decided to try to get up early and go for a boarding group. Staying at BWV it made for an easy stroll over to HS. Everyone woke up and we made our weay over to HS in plenty of time before the 8am opening. We waited til 8am and with three phones going for it, I managed to get BG23. Woohooo!!! We were all very excited, but tried to keep it to ourselves becuase there are always people around you who are struggling with the app and don’t get a BG so we didn’t want to celebrate when others are frustated.

After that we walked back to the hotel, got some breakfast and finished getting ready while we waited for Group 23 to be called. Once it was getting close we strolled back over to HS, got right in line and rode RotR with no delays. Without any spoilers, we absolutely loved it!! The whole family was blown away and we couldn’t wait to try and do it again the next day!!

After that it was about 10am and we decided to venture over to MK to use our FPs and spend some time there. We got our favorite snack, which is the Nutella Waffle and fruit sandwich from Sleepy Hollow, Rode BTMR, Peter Pan, PotC, Small World, Magic Carpets and Buzz. Then we went back to the hotel for a break, had dinner at Trattoria al Forno, and snagged a FP for Soarin’ while at dinner. We strolled through Epcot and then rode Soarin’ to complete a fantastic first day.

Day 2 (Wednesday 2/12)
Everyone got up with the 6:30 alarm and we got ready. DD12 in the new Rey costume, DD8 in a custom made stormtrooper tank top and tutu skirt outfit. Walked over to HS and we were poised and ready to get another BG. Once again, I was one with the Force and got BG7!! Again, lots of contained excitement and we were ready for another great day. We had early FPs for RnR and TSM, but we ended up getting called for our BG at 8:15, we decided to go right over for to RotR and try to modify our FP’s to later. While in line, we had about a 30 minute delay while the ride was down. No worries at all though and we were up and moving after that delay, did the ride and loved it even more the 2nd time. I checked my phone after we got done with Rise and saw that we had been given an anytime FP for me and my DD8 becuase RnR was down that morning. Bonus!! Then, when my DD12, DD8 and I rode Star Tours (DW does not like this one due to motion sickness), my DW talked to GET and they gave her and DD12 a 11am FP for TSM because Rise had been down that morning. Score!!!

After Star Tours, I scanned our bands at Muppets to burn a FP and get into Tier 1 reloads for me and my DD8 while my DW and DD12 still had TSM at 11am. I scored an overlapping time for TSM for my DD8 and I so after we did some shopping and walked throught GE, got some blue milk, we wend over to Toy Story land and all did TSM together. TSM has always been one of our favorite rides, so when I was able to reload another FP for it while in line, it was a nice surpise for the family. After that 2nd ride, I snagged ToT for my DD8 and I and we did that and used our anytime FP for RnR before heading back to BWV for a mid-day break.

After the break, we headed back to HS, did MFSR, met Via, interacted with some Stormtroopers, TSM, Alien SS, Star Tours, MFSR, and much to our delight, the anytime FP stayed on our account and my DD8 and I enjoyed RnR again. Outstanding day by everyone’s standards and we left the park right at 8pm.

Day 3 (Thursday 2/13)
I asked the girls after we got back to the room on Wednesday night what they wanted to do the next day. The answer was, More Rise!!! So, we had our routine down and executed it again to perfection. Everyone up on time, breakfast to go, nice walk, through bag check and tapped in by 7:40a. BG 13 this time and with the first group of the day being #10, we were super pumped to be on the early side of things again. We all had FPs for TSM so we used those and figured we’d be getting called to ride shortly. However I got a notification that boarding was delayed around 8:45, so we went over to Launch Bay did a few things there before finding a bench, grabbing a snack and waiting for either our FP for Star Tours or boarding groups to start being called. BG was called around 10am and we went right over to ride. We got on, but were evacuated and given FPs to come back whenever we wanted that day. We did Star Tours, scanned at Muppets and the ride was back up. We went over and entered through the FP queue and did the ride again without a hitch. It was actually cool to get evacuated and see some of the backstage. The CM were very specific that noone takes any photos back there. Also the FP queue is super quick. After that we had some lunch and scored another FP for TSM before going back to the room for a break.

We hopped over to MK for the afternoon/evening. Used a FP for Buzz, rode Carosel of Progress then did Haunted Mansion on a FP. My DD8 wore her her new Elena of Avalor dress and she got some pictures taken over a Sir Mickey’s and the photopass photographer did a great job. We then went over and rode Dumbo, did some shopping and grabbed snacks at Big Top and found our spot for HEA. HEA is always amazing and still might be the best thing that Disney does IMO. After it was over, we waited for the hub and Main St crowds to loosen up a bit before heading back to BWV. On the bus ride back to the resort we discussed options for the next day and once again, we all wanted to go for a boarding group again at HS!

Day 4 (Friday 2/14)
We all got up just a bit slower than the day before but the timing still worked out well. Once inside HS we went over towards Toy Story Land. There was a long line, as you would expect, but we were in a good spot as we were trying to rope drop TSM and then use a FP for Slinky Dog. Once again the Force was with us and I scored BG9. We then slowly meandered into Toy Story Land and entered the standby queue for TSM. The queue moved quickly and we were off the ride by 8:30. We then walked over to SD and used our FP. Right after exiting the ride, our BG was called. It ended up being the 2nd BG of the day, with groups starting at #8 that day. Our 4th ride was awesome as we went on a different path this time and there were a couple elements that I hadn’t noticed before. The main thing that kept drawing us back to RotR was the way cast members interact with you. It makes it really fun and exciting every time. Bravo to Disney, the Cast Members and all the Imagineers!!

After Rise, we talked about options for the rest of the day and the girls wanted to stay at Hollywood for the whole day, no break. I was in and we had another outstanding day. Even though it was a CL9 day we were able to reload TSM, Slinky Dog, Alien SS, RnR and we did MFSR twice with wait times about an hour or less (late in the day). We took a bunch of Photopass pictures in Galxay’s Edge and throughout the rest of the park. I left the park that day thinking that we could handle things tomorrow even if the crowds were a bit larger.

Day 5 (Saturday 2/15)
This day was a surprise to our girls as we kept it a secret that we’d be going to the parks on Saturday. Normally on our last day, we get a flight home in the late morning, but this time I was able to get a nice direct flight home which left MCO at 7:30pm. So we could have a pretty full park day and still make it to the airport in plenty of time. We went over to the Yacht Club and had breakfast at the Ale & Compass Market. YC is our favorite resort it and it was fun to go back there and have Mickey Waffles for breakfast and talk about this trip and previous ones.

We had FPs at AK and caught a bus from YC right at 9:30am. The bus was pretty much empty and I was hopeful that crowds would be managable. We got in the park and went right over to Pandora to use our FP for FoP. Such a great ride!!! Then we use our FP for the Safari, then Everest/Meet Mickey and Minnie. While in the FP line at Everest I started searching for FP reloads at AK or HS. Pickings were very, very slim at 11:30am.

We opted to hop to Hollywood and the whole time I was searching for a decent FP. I was able to somehow get a 3:30 for 2 on Slinky Dog so we ran with that and once we got to HS we stopped and had lunch at Backlot to figure some things out. Crowds were crazy and we didn’t have the opportunity to do much. The shortest standby line for anything other than a show was Star Tours at 70 mins. The line for food at Backlot was nuts, even for mobile ordering. It was a mob scene in there! We ended up just walking around Galaxy’s Edge for a while and then we discovered the TSM was down. When we walked by, there were some people milling about and some cast members answering questions. We grabbed a couple snacks and found out that it might be opening soon. So sure enough, we lucked out and the lines opened up after we were standing there for a couple minutes. The wait was only about 20 minutes, but you could see the queue filling up. Once we got off, we checked the standby time and it still said only 30 minutes. We thought we could to that and then still have time to do the SD FP before departing for the hotel. Tactical error! We were wrong and ended up having to bail from the line before even riding. Oh well!! We went through some shops to get a couple more souviniers and then walked back to the Boardwalk, grabbed some food and then called an uber to the airport.

All in all it was a tremendous trip, just a little bit of a let down on the last day that it was so crowded. I knew it was going to be crazy with President’s Day weekend, but I was more hopeful when Friday was pretty managable. RotR is an amazing experience and it was worth the prep work to get it right. I realize that we were very lucky to get to ride it four times with our worst boarding group being 23, but we still maintained perspective that there were no guarantees with that ride. We were also very happy with our Annual Pass year, but we know that it’s not right for us going forward. It’s getting tougher to take our girls out of school and believe it or not, we may want to have the girls experience some other places for vacation! I’m not sure when we will be going back, but if I had to guess it would be some time in 2021.

I’m happy to share any tips or thoughts on RotR if anyone wants to hear. Thanks for reading!


Awesome report, gives me some ideas. Do tell on your BG tactics! Wifi, AT&T, location? That’s some great results.

1 Like

Great report! Sounds like an awesome trip! Would also love to hear about your BG strategies. Have a trip coming up in a few weeks and am worried about getting one.

Here’s what we did for our BG strategy. We used 3 iPhones(2 11pro, 1 6SE). All Verizon and we turned off WiFi to use data. The first and 3rd days that we tried, we were near the entrance to Galaxy’s Edge. The 2nd day we were on Hollywood Blvd near Sunset. And the last day we were in line to get in Toy Story Land near One Man’s Dream. Every time we had 3 or 4 bars.

I had practiced enough at home to know that with the app closed, it takes 3 or 4 seconds to get to the home screen of the app where you can click “Find Out More”. Around 7:50, I close every other app on my phone and go in to MDE to make sure all of my party is present. I do this by trying to book a FastPass or something like that. Then I get out of MDE completely.

At 7:59: The clock app on my iPhone is right next to the MDE app so then I watch the second hand as it moves to 7:59:57 then I click on the MDE app. 3 of the 4 times after clicking “Find Out More” the “Join Boarding Group” button was red so I was good to go from there. Just click it, select all for my family and then join. Good to go! The only time the button wasn’t red right away was our first try. At that point I closed the app right away and clicked right back in and it was red at that time. The big thing is that my app was very reliable for this whole process. And I had the newest update, which I had heard some people say was very unstable for them.

My wife and DD12 were also logged in to our account. My wife would tap the app about 5 seconds after me as a backup option and my DD12 had the app open and was waiting for the button to turn red. It never turned red for her and she would take a couple screenshots of this in case we all encountered a problem, we might have been able to show it to the GET and plead our case.

I think the biggest thing is to practice at home ahead of time so you know how your phone performs and know what to do in case it doesn’t all go as planned. Having multiple devices helps a lot too, although we were lucky and mine got through each time. Your phones may perform differently or you might find a better method through practice, so if you can plan to do that ahead of time, I think that will save your valuable seconds and stay calm when the time comes.

Also, a big key for us was that we purposely made our plans as flexible as possible because of the ride’s inconsistency. We also really enjoy much of Hollywood Studios so it wasn’t as if we had nothing to do if we were waiting all day for our group to be called.

Finally, I made sure I was overly clear before our trip with my family that no matter what, there were no guarantees that we’d get to ride any day. Keep your expectations low so you don’t get disappointed.

Hope this helps and you all have the success with getting a boarding group on your next trip!


Thanks, that is extremely helpful. We will be there in a week, so yeah, hoping the practice pays off. The first few practice days were terrible for me, the latest several have gone well enough all but once. We’re on the app version (5.8.1) right before the latest… probably going to keep it that way because it has been fairly stable. Maybe just update one of the kids’ phones with the latest as backup. Biggest question for me is whether AT&T is good near RD Galaxy’s Edge or not. We’re trying to decide if we want to RD the Falcon or just catch it later in the day.

We opted for MFSR late in the day for lower wait times. We did it three times on this trip and the wait times were 45, 30 and 65, all later in the day. We only walked into GE once at park opening and the line for MFSR was snaked pretty much all the way throughout the land. If you end up having FP’s starting an hour or 2 after park opening and you get a later boarding group for RotR, then you can afford to wait for MFSR at park open. And who knows… if you get near the front of the crowd for GE, than you might be able to have a smaller wait time for MFSR, but we didn’t get there early enough to try it that way.

We will be going to WDW in April, so your BG details are extremely helpful. I’m curious as to how early they actually let you into the park? If HS opens at 8:00am, how early can you get in? It sounds like you were actually inside the park and able to walk around well before opening…

For the 8am openings it seems they start letting guests through the tapstiles at about 7-7:15. Castmembers have areas roped off where you cannot go, but you can get to the entrances of each main land (GE, Toy Story and RnR/ToT) if you get there early enough. We tapped in each morning somewhere between 7:30-7:45. If you get there at that point you can still rope drop TSM, ToT and RnR with wait times of 30 mintues or less but if you try for Slinky Dog or MFSR, you’ll need to be there around an hour before scheduled park opening to get towards the front of those lines.