April 3, 2012 - Note for visitors after June 15 - there are credible rumors that starting June 15, 2012 DCA will begin opening at 8AM during the summer which will invalidate all the information in this thread. See the following link for some of the current rumors. Pay attention to Disney announcements before your trip for more info New Al Lutz: Tons of Cars Land and BVS Updates - Soft Openings & Magic Mornings This discussion applies to days you want to visit DCA when DCA opens. How should you use the time before DCA opens? For most weekends (Fri-Sun) and for many weekdays throughout the year, DL opens earlier than DCA. During peak times DL opens two hours earlier (8AM vs. 10AM), and three hours earlier if you count EE. On moderately busy days DL opens and hour earlier (9AM vs. 10AM), and on the least busy days both parks open at the same time (10AM). Since DL and DCA are so close to each other and thus parkhopping is fast and easy, how can you use this to your advantage? For days where they both open at the same time there is no advantage. The discussion here focuses on days when DL opens earlier. Days When You Want To Visit DL First If you can get to DL early, you can of course experience the rides there before going over to DCA. If DL opens two hours before DCA, you can easily get three DL FP sets before DCA. If DL opens an hour early, you can get two FP sets before DCA. This is old news to many people, but if it is not clear how to do this, then read this link: Getting the Most Out of FastPass During High Season www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=885132 Days When You Want to Skip DL Before DCA If you want to start the day at DCA, but plan to visit DL later in the day or in the evening, you should consider getting a DL FP before entering DCA. There are two ways you can approach this. Each strategy works best if your group has a FP runner (if you do not know what a runner is, see the FP link above). Days When Runner Wants To Experience All Morning DCA Rides If the FP runner wants to go on all morning rides with their group, then the runner needs to get the DL FPs before the group enters DCA. Here is how: 1. Arrive at the DL gates 20 minutes before the group wants to enter DCA. Note that DCA usually opens its gates 30 minutes early and opens one ride, Soarin Over California. So you may want to enter DCA at its official opening time, or 30 minutes before if you want to ride Soarin first. 2. Have everyone in the group enter DL. This will initialize the entrance media for FP collection at DL. 3. Runner takes all entrance media with him/her into DL and gets a FP set for the group. The runner should walk with purpose during this time. In a time crunch the best FPs to get are Space Mtn or Indy because they are closest to the DL entrance gates. BLAB is the absolute closest, but is not as popular as the other two and can be safely saved until later in the day. 4. As soon as the group enters DL and the runner leaves to get the FPs, the group should immediately exit DL, get their hands stamped, and then go over to DCA and get in line. They cannot enter DCA yet because they do not have their entrance tickets the runner does over at DL. 5. The runner with the FPs and all entrance media exits DL, gets his/her hand stamped, and joins the group in line at DCA. 6. The group enters DCA with a FP set for a DL ride. Days When Runner Plans To Skip One or Two Morning DCA Rides If the FP runner is not interested in the first one or two rides the group plans at DCA, a different approach can be used. 1. Arrive at the DCA gates and enter DCA. This will initialize the entrance media for FP collection at DCA and DL (an idiosyncrasy at DLR). 2. Runner takes all entrance media with him/her and immediately exits DCA and gets his/her hand stamped. 3. Group proceeds into DCA and goes on rides of interest without the runner. Communication is important here so that the group meets up again with no wasted time. Either cell phones or walkie-talkie radios are essential. 4. Runner enters DL with everyones entrance media but only needs to give one entrance ticket at the gate to admit himself. 5. Runner gets a FP set for the group. The runner should walk with purpose during this time. In a time crunch the best FPs to get are Space Mtn or Indy because they are closest to the DL entrance gates. BLAB is the absolute closest, but is not as popular as the other two and can be safely saved until later in the day. 6. The runner with the FPs and all entrance media exits DL. 7. The runner enters DCA for the second time. 8. On the way to rejoining the group the runner should pick up FPs at DCA. This will likely be Soarin Over California or ToT because they are closest to the DCA gate and thus easiest to get. 9. The runner rejoins the group. Summary Using the above approaches, you will have an extra FP set you would not otherwise have when you go to DL at some time later that day.