Park Strategies

WDWFan2018

Active Member
How do you prefer to spend your days at the parks? We would normally get there early and leave after dinner. I would maybe like to change things up a bit this year. Do you stay from morning until night? Do you arrive late in the day and stay until close? Do you arrive in the morning, leave and then come back later? Looking for the best way to do this with a 7 and 5 yr old and no stroller. We had a stroller the last 2 times so I didn't get any complaints about all the walking. Do you have different strategies for different parks?
 

danlb_2000

Well-Known Member
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We tend to arrive early at the parks, not necessarily at rope drop, but close to it. We stay until around 3:00, and then go back to our hotel for a break. We then go back out later for dinner and an evening in the park. Since we always get park hoppers we sometime go to a different park at night, then during the day.
 
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rio

Member
I usually get to the park around rope drop, leave sometime between 11-12, take a break (or nap), then head back. I've escaped most of the crowds and heat this way.
 
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DisDadWoz

Well-Known Member
We changed our strategy as our kids got older so we arrive later and stay later. We can usually get FP's for the afternoon and evenings plus many rides have reduced wait times toward closing. Spaceship Earth for example is a must do for us but we don't get on it until late in the evening. With little ones however, I don't recommend that approach as while they can make it to close one night, the next day tends to be a little "stressed" lets say ;)
 
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winstongator

Well-Known Member
I've done all sorts: rope drop till fireworks (not that often with young kids), rope drop till lunch, then a break, get started late (usually after a late night) and focus on FP+ and wandering the parks. I try to have an idea before we go. If the kids are up late, they aren't going to make rope drop, but if we do an early night before they are good-to-go. I'll gauge them through the day. There have been a couple times where I realize we need to skip the last one or two things I had planned and call it a good day. We will often do a park day, nap/pool, then to Disney Springs for the evening and dinner.
 
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JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
Depends on how your kids and you hold up to the crowds, heat/ humidity, long lines, and the other pressures of doing the park day. When we went with a young DS we would play it by ear depending on how he acted and if we saw he was getting overtired or needed a break, we would go back for pool time or rest or do something different. As he got older he could go early and stay late in the evening and we didnt need a break. AK is always a more tiring park due to the extensive outdoor set up and its always hotter there. The other parks, it all depends on how heavy the crowds are and how the lines are moving.
 
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WDWMPrincess

Active Member
My experience of Disney World goes back into the depths of the past when I was a kid.

I recall my grandparents taking us to a sit down restaurant for the latest possible lunch mostly for the AC when we went as a large extended family. They didn't even have AC at home back then, but they also didn't spend their days with the sun beating down on their heads walking around on concrete and blacktop.

I also recall my grandfather being miffed there was a family of 4 already lined up at the gate when we arrived early the first morning. He made us all load up 20 minutes earlier the next day. We stayed until closing every night.

Later I returned with my own kids and continued the tradition of getting in as early as possible and leaving late. We spent the day pursuing as many experiences as possible so no table dining. Instead we did some of the air conditioned rides and water activities in the afternoons.

I'm returning next as part of a large family group including my children and grand-children. We're planning to be near the front of the line at rope drop hopefully with 3 morning fastpasses booked. And I'm looking to book table service restaurants for late lunches. If those table service reservations don't materialize Grandpa and I will probably go back to the hotel during the hottest part of the day. We may even take some of the grandkids with us to visit the pool.
 
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winstongator

Well-Known Member
My experience of Disney World goes back into the depths of the past when I was a kid.
...
I'm returning next as part of a large family group including my children and grand-children. We're planning to be near the front of the line at rope drop hopefully with 3 morning fastpasses booked. And I'm looking to book table service restaurants for late lunches. If those table service reservations don't materialize Grandpa and I will probably go back to the hotel during the hottest part of the day. We may even take some of the grandkids with us to visit the pool.
That last sentence could be the most important towards your trip plan. Kids break down when they're hungry and tired, adults too. I hope your kids appreciate your taking the grandkids back to the resort for a dip in the pool or a nap.

As a rope-drop strategy, I wouldn't make your FP+, too early. You want to use that hour of two you're first in the park to ride standby. Pick your must-do attractions. With a large group, it's easy if different people want to do different things. I'll usually get mine starting at 10, 11, & 12. You can do the 10am one towards to, then back-to-back the 11 & 12, be done by 12:30 in time for your lunch. This also gives you from 10:10-11:40 to do other attractions, shop, meet characters, utilize Disney photographers. If the kids can handle it, you can shift things a little later. I tend not to do that because I know my kids will need to eat by 12:30-1, if they've gotten up & going early. Crowds peak just after noon, which is the time I choose to shop or head back to the resort.

In the past, was the MK open till 10, 11 & 12 at night?
 
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Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
We like to tour in two blocks: rope drop to lunchtime, and 4pm-ish to 9pm-ish. In the morning, we're focused on hitting headliners. The evening, which usually includes a TS dinner, is more relaxed and unscheduled. In between, we take a nap/swim break back at our resort. We started when the kids were 4 and 6: they're now 9 and almost-11, and this still works the best for all of us, and keeps everyone rested and refreshed throughout the day.
 
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DfromATX

Well-Known Member
We're rope droppers and we head back to the hotel in mid afternoon, returning after dinner until the parks close. We like to rest (yes, even my teen and 20-something kids). No one naps, but it's nice to just relax, refresh, and recharge for the evening.
 
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Susan Savia

Well-Known Member
We rope drop and leave the park(s) around 6 or 7 and eat dinner offsite. Once in a while we stay on for fireworks and in that case we will have a QS meal earlier.
 
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We come in at lunch time (either eat at home first or when we get into the parks) with fast passes booked for the 1-3pm slots, where possible, as this is a busy period-otherwise we stick to whatever queues are smallest. That way we are either in a fastpass/shorter queue or having lunch when we start the day off. We always stay till closing as we love the parks at night and always want to see the night shows, but if you have already seen them then it's a great time for rides as everyone else is watching shows and then they tend to leave. We avoid the leaving rush by going for a walk or exploring the shops (or getting last minute rides if they will let us) and then can exit the park without a huge crowd or queue for transport. This has always worked for us but we have not been with young kids so I don't know how they would handle staying till the end every night (although our method means no early mornings either so it might even out.)
 
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winstongator

Well-Known Member
I would add one huge caveat: with all these plans, you need to be flexible if circumstances change. Spring break 2017 my wife got quite sick, so we had to juggle dining reservations, and reschedule some things to accommodate some of the things she really wanted to see - Rivers of Light. She also missed out on the time we had planned at Epcot for Flower and Garden which is her favorite. She ended up having a pretty bad respiratory infection which I got in full force on the drive home from WDW.

On the other side, I've had at least one day where I thought my girls would have been done at dinner time and ready to go back to the hotel, but when I asked them, they wanted to stay. We were with friends and they were having a great time, so we stayed. The next morning, we didn't make rope drop, but the extra time they got with friends was worth it.
 
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Tk0021

Active Member
We also have a 5 and 7 year but we get a stroller. This way we stay in the park all day. They usually take a little nap in the stroller at some point.
 
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brifraz

Well-Known Member
The vast majority of our days at Disney are arrival before rope drop (ideally rope drop with Extra Magic Hour), ride everything we can in the first hour to two hours in the park, then have our FP+ booked for the next three hours (with lunch or snacks in there). Out of the park around 1pm, book additional FP+ on the way out - lunch or snack at resort and chill out. Either back to the park for dinner or after dinner outside. Stay in park until fireworks. We've certainly done our fair share of full days in the parks, but they tend to be exceptions, not the rule.
 
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BoarderPhreak

Well-Known Member
Pre-DD it was rope drop to park close; parks chosen according to EMH to maximize time available. DW may come late or go early.

Post-DD it's not too different, but no more rope drops and we get her down around 8pm (varies); afterwards I go back to the park(s) solo until closing.
 
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SteamboatJoe

Well-Known Member
My first MK day is usually intense if it's been a while. Note it is just the wife and I. We currently do not have kids.

Rope drop and enjoy Main Street until the lands open. Work counterclockwise by rope dropping Adventureland and do all the big attractions first...JC, PotC, Splash, BT, HM. Lunch at Columbia Harbor House around 11 and catch the Muppets while in Liberty Square.

Spend the afternoon in Fantasyland. Use FP for Peter Pan and SDMT and endure the lines for Small World, the Carousel, Pooh, Ariel, and Tea Cups if they are under 40 min. waits.

Grab a snack and watch FoF near the Hub. Head to Dumbo and then into TL to use my 3rd FP on SM and do anything with a reasonable wait time. Dinner at place of your choosing around 5:15.

Prior to finding a good spot for HEA, look to see if there are short lines, enough time, or FPs available to do some of the attractions you had to pass by that you want to see. Get some ice cream and enjoy Main Street for a bit before camping out for HEA. Watch the show and then hit up more attractions if hours permit or shop a little. Watch everyone leave from the train station balcony and watch the kiss goodnight.

My 2nd and 3rd days at MK are much more relaxed. The second day is used to try to get to major things I missed on day 1 and then do whatever I feel like. I'll repeat my favorites if they have short waits or FPs available. I will also try to find time to enjoy more passive and thus less crowded attractions...the train, TSI, riverboat, PeopleMover.

The third MK day, if possible, is the least planned. Walk thru the gates and just take it all in the way you were truly meant to. Move slow and just appreciate all the details. If day 3 isn't possible this becomes the day 2 agenda.
 
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