Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thorough reply!! I’ve used those crowd calendars for my previous trips to WDW and they were helpful, but I totally see what you’re saying. Things are very different nowadays and I’ve been reading in many forums that sometimes the weekday are busier than the weekends.Crowd calendars are at best suspect at DLR and have been for as long as I've been going (almost 10 years now). Weirdly, weekends can sometimes be less busy, so do not assume that there will be hard and fast rules about crowding. Don't trust any resource that insists they can accurately predict roughly how busy the parks will be.
There's really not very much for an almost three year old to do at DCA, so I would recommend either just doing one day or else just getting hoppers and going back over if you feel you need to.
Keep in mind that if you're rope dropping it takes time to get to the parking lot from your hotel (with inevitable traffic), wait to pay to park, park, get on whatever transportation is provided or walk to the parks, wait for security, and then wait to get into the parks. If you're used to WDW, everything outside of the parks takes longer in California, and regrettably they have not yet invested in the very smooth new metal detectors Florida is using. So build in a fair amount of buffer time-more than you think you'll need-to get in, situated, and ready for the moment the parks open. You can get a LOT done in the early morning, but it's VERY easy to underestimate how long it will take to get into the parks to fully take advantage of those short waits.
Thanks for mentioning the many extra steps to get to the park on rope drop, I’ll be keeping them in mind. Since this is our first time taking our little one I’m positive things won’t flow as smoothly, but we’ll do what we can on our end to get there as early as possible.
I hear you on DCA having less things for toddlers but my kiddo LOVES climbing and I think she would spend a long time at the Redwood Creek challenge
We’ll see how things go when we visit both parks and make any changes (if there’s availability to switch parks)
Thanks again for the thoughtful response!!