Trip Report- VERY early morning rope drops w/smll kids, SWGE, Skyliner Travel, FOP

Travel Report

Profile: Travel with 2 children (2 and 7), utilized rider swap for all applicable rides. Early morning rope drops (extra magic hours), no break for naps, early bedtimes, SWGE, Skyliner travel and other headliners.

Hotel: Art of Animation, Cars Suite (review at bottom)

Day 1: Magic Kingdom (Crowd Level 2)
Wake up 5:30am. In line for shuttle at 6:00am.
Shuttle picked up at 6am, arrived at MK at 6:20am and we were through the gates by 6:40am.
Rope dropped Fantasyland and it was nearly empty. Zero wait for Dumbo, Barnstormer (which we rode 2-3 times without getting off). 5 min wait or less for Peter Pan, Small World, Winnie the Pooh, Ariel’s Grotto, Regal Carousel. Easy to get spots for the parade and short lines in stores and restaurants. Fantastic day! Left park at 3pm. Swim and early bed by 7pm.

Day 2: Animal Kingdom (Crowd Level 4)
Same as Day 1, early morning rope drop. Wake up and shuttle travel the same.
The only negative experience was a near stampede of a few very rude people literally pushing and bowling people over along the edge of the walkway while in line to head back to Pandora. Otherwise, people were pretty cool. We were able to ride FOP twice (with rider swap) in an hour. And the benefit of being there so early is that we saw Pandora in the dark because the sun had not yet come up. It was beautiful. We made our way easily around the park and were done with all rides by 3pm. We were planning on the 3pm show for Lion King but it was canceled for technical issues so we left. Bed by 7pm.

Day 3: Hollywood Studios (Crowd Level 6) SWGE Rope Drop
Woke up at 4:20am and were in line for shuttle by 4:45am.
Shuttle arrived at 5:55am and we were in the park by 5:30am.
We were guided back to GE by 5:45am. Again, another chance to see everything in the dark because the sun was no yet up. No pushing or shoving- everyone was super nice and excited. We were able to ride Smuggler’s Run twice (using rider swap) in about 45 minutes. IT WAS AWESOME! By the time our second ride was over, there was a short line and the wait was well under an hour.
We were able to then to SDD and Toy Story Mania in the next hours by 7:45am.
We then headed off to Jedi Training, which was changed to a meet and greet with Darth Vader due to weather. What a bummer!
After that we explored the park, rode all rides all with minimal wait times.
Then we went back to GE for the Custom Light Saber Build (incredible experience!!) and Droid Depot (also super fun!!). Drank some blue milk, bought some t-shirts, explored the shops. We loved Galaxy’s Edge- the details, the feel…everything was really fantastic! Absolute highlight of the trip. (We’re also big Star Wars fans.) Rode the Skyliner home around 6pm. Fast way to travel, smooth ride, easy transfer, no issues at all. We loved it.

Day 4: REST DAY

Day 5: Epcot (Crowd Level 2)
Extra Magic Hours Rope Drop. Rode Frozen (no wait) then circled back through the park for Test Track, Spaceship Earth then off to Nemo, Turtle Talk, etc. Again, minimal waits. We were off to the countries by noon. We really took our time, explored the shops, tried different foods. It took much longer than anticipated. Although the crowd level was low, it felt really, really crowded. We stayed for about 5 minutes of fireworks (which was unplanned) and then headed home for bed.

Day 6: Magic Kingdom (Crowd Level 1)
Same as Day 1. Nearly empty for extra magic hours. Rode Barnstormer 3 times with zero wait. Minimal waits for the rest of the day. Chef Mickey’s for dinner!

Overall, the wait times Disney posted were way off. The waits were much LESS than what Disney posted, sometimes off by over 20 minutes. (Example- Wait time posted was 30 minutes and we got on the ride in 5 mins.) Touring Plans predicted wait times were much closer to actual time but still overestimated most waits (which is a good problem to have).

Art of Animation, Cars Suites- The suites are a good size and have 2 full bathrooms. The sofa bed is very comfortable. The murphy bed, which my son thought was THE COOLEST was super, super comfortable. Rooms are clean and the hotel grounds are spotless. The Landscape of Flavors “cafeteria” had some selections but the menu wasn’t as nearly as large as I was expecting, given reviews. Each station only had about 2 options, which were limited. The biggest criticism is that the floors in our hotel room were tile, not carpet. I did NOT like how cold the floors felt and how you could feel every crumb under your foot. Not great for a 2 year old who is prone to falling. I want my hotel room to have carpet.

Skyliner- We loved it. Super fast loading and you can go from hotel to park in about 16 minutes. The transfer station is super easy- pop out of your car, walk a few feet, hop on another line. No going up and down steps or going from one side of the station to the other. Very easy.

Overall, the early mornings sounded crazy when we decided on it (and everyone criticized the 4:20am and 5:30am wake ups for my kids) but it worked for us really, really well. The kids napped in the stroller as we walked and we had them in bed early at night. They got at least 8 hours of sleep every night and were ready to go. That being said, we sacrificed the fireworks and night shows. We’ll catch them next time when the kids are older.

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Thank you for your review! My kids are slightly different ages (23 mos and almost 4.5) but we have the same philosophy for our trip next week— go hard in the mornings but skip the nighttime activities and head to bed early! There’s always next trip for that!

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The 2 year old did great! She napped around 10am for about 45 mins and then napped again around 1 or 2. It was so hot, I think she just couldn’t handle it so she just conked out. We planned the rides she couldn’t do for those times, which worked well. We rented a double stroller and even the 7 year old could sit and relax.

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Thank you for the report! It is encouraging to me also because we too have a very similar plan in a few weeks with almost-3 and 6 year old. Although, I am not planning to rope drop on our first morning at Epcot so glad to see confirmation that lines are short all day as predicted by TP!
Our plan is:
Day 1- Epcot whenever we get there til 6, (my kids are always too excited to get to sleep first night in a hotel)
Day 2- EEMH MK til 3 or 4, resort activities, early to bed
Day 3 - EEMH HS til noon, nap, then MNSSHP til MN
Day 4 - AK whenever we get there, FP start at 11:30.
Day 5- MK, no EMH, til time to fly out.
I figure with the limited rides that LO’s can do in Epcot and AK a non-rope drop, shorter day is ok, we have FP for our must do’s with waits. Luckily DD2 can catnap in stroller. I’ve been wondering about the AOA suites, did you think the sofa bed is comfortable for adults as well as kids? And would 2 people really fit comfortably? I’m always leery of pullouts. Thanks again and glad you had a great trip!

Very interesting about the Cars Suite not having carpet. The Nemo Suite is carpeted but costs more.

We only did 9am openings with a 2 and 4 yo but like you we came back early and kids were so beat the stroller napped great. We didn’t do any night shows - not worth it.

Job well done!

Did you rent the double stroller in park or outside service? If outside, which stroller? How did you like it? Did it fit on the Skyliner without collapsing?

Also, did you use RS in tangent with FP+ on any rides? Did you both have the FP+ or just the 1st rider, and did you have any difficulty?

Great report. I’m happy to hear about the AoA suite having 2 bathrooms. I was wondering about this. Do all of these suites have 2 bathrooms?

Nice. Planning on hitting parks 2/10-14 as early as possible with a DS2 & DS4 and to power through till late afternoon/dinner each day. Our DS4 usually doesn’t nap everyday, but we rented a double stroller just in case as well.

Yes all suites have 2 bathrooms. That is invaluable to getting out early in the morning.

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Or you could just make do with Skyliner “waste bags” …

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So gross.

Thanks for this report. Sounds like you had a great time. We will be at AoA with our DGS2 and DGS4 in about 2 weeks and our plans are quite similar to yours. RD everyday but 1 and only late night is our last night when we do the HEA party. My DH and I will be there with parents of the kids (my son and DiL) and our other adult son. Tight fit in AoA for two nights, then we move to a 2 bedroom suite at GFV. We plan to take turns with some of us staying to watch kids, and others going out to the parks at night, but those decisions are not on my excel spreadsheet :slight_smile: .

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Just another thank you for your report from another parent of small kids (DS1 and DS4)! It’s great to hear that the early mornings are doable and so productive! I think this is the time of life because it’s only going to be harder to get them up as they get older.

We are going to attempt a single late night to see HEA followed by a rest day so fingers crossed that we get some REALLY good naps that day.

A Cars suite is in our future someday! Did you go in the Cozy Cone pool???

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I would avoid renting the Disney strollers at all costs unless your kids are way older. I would (even with the new rules) rent a City Mini GT double from Kingdom Strollers. It should fit on the Skyliner since it is skinnier than a wheelchair.

I’m not the OP, but I’m going in two weeks and only have FP+ for the first party.

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Visited the Cozy Cone pool but didn’t swim in it. We only had one day for the hotel/swim/rest and we went to the Big Blue pool because of the splash area.

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Rented a Bob Double from Kingdom Strollers, which did adhere to the new guidelines. Super smooth to push (felt like pushing nothing), held all our crap and could easily go through all doorways. It was perfect. I think it was $99 for the week, which is really reasonable.

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Rented a Bob Dualie from Kingdom Strollers. Easy to push, held all our stuff, came with lots of cup holders and easily folded up. It adhere’s to all of the new stroller size guidelines and fit through all doors. $99 for the whole week. Perfect! And it was clean and ready to go when we arrived at our hotel.

All of the FPs that have a height requirement and we had, yes, we used rider swap. So for 7 Dwarfs, for example, we went right up, signed up for rider swap, fast passed through for our first ride. Came our, switched riders and then went through fast pass again. We did that for every FP ride. I will say sometimes we got a little hung up waiting for the rider swap cast member (especially when the families in line in front of us were complaining about not being able to have all 3 kids ride again or if the family just was confused about how it works) but otherwise it was super smooth and we got through quickly.

Skyliner- We DID collapse it just to get it on. But it was no issue and folded up quickly. The main issue is getting all of the bags and stuff you have stored under or hanging on it. We had to pack things up every time we wanted to collapse it. But that was really only twice a day.

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We had an adult sleeping on the pull-out sofa and he said it was fine. The “murphy” bed is super cute because when it’s folded out of the wall, Mater (from Cars) is overhead and a little light from his headlights. Which the kids LOVED. And it was a nice size and comfy. I

Your trip sounds so good! I really liked evenings in the parks for less heat/cool lighting, but it sounds like you got that with the EEMH. Well done!