Help a newbie with a DL/DCA plan for over Grad Nite weekend?

Discussion in 'Disneyland (California)' started by Artygal90, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Artygal90

    Artygal90 Mouseketeer

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    Hi everyone,

    Now that we've booked our flights, hotel, and tickets, it's time to actually make a game plan for our Disneyland trip in May! I'm used to WDW planning and have never been to DLR so I would love a little feedback on my rough gameplan. My DH and I will be there Fri-Sun May 10th-12th with 3 day Park Hoppers and will purchase MaxPass once we are in the parks. Here's what I've got so far:

    Friday:
    1) Rope-drop Disneyland
    2) All day at Disneyland
    3) Fantasmic! with Blue Bayou dining package

    Saturday:
    1) Rope-drop Disneyland EMM
    2) Hop to DCA before they open (this is the one morning where DCA is not opening early)
    3) RSR with FPs or standby depending on the wait
    4) DCA for rest of the day
    5) Sh-Boom moment in DCA
    6) Hopefully, see WoC if it's running? If not, play it by ear in evening. Perhaps go to Trader Sam's?

    Sunday:
    1) Rope-drop DCA
    2) Wrap up must-sees in DCA
    3) Hop to Disneyland for more rides, ambiance, fireworks, parade, etc.


    Specific questions:
    - I know our first two nights are Grad Nites, and that the structure of those events has changed recently. Does that substantially affect which days/evenings we should spend at which parks?

    - Is it advisable to start pulling FPs for rides as soon as you can? At WDW I try to do FPs later in the morning so I can focus on riding standby rides while the waits are very short, but I don't think MaxPass works the same way.

    - Is it worth it to RD DCA on a morning with early entry for hotel guests?

    - What is your best strategy for getting to ride RSR without a long wait?

    - What attractions should we focus on first in Disneyland during the early mornings? I am thinking Fantasyland (but not PP - Alice and Snow White have special places in my heart) the first day and Tomorrowland the second day.

    - What is your favorite drink at Trader Sam's? Bonus points if it's not super-fruity and sweet :D

    Thank you to anyone who read all this and can offer some advice!
     
  2. Pamela M

    Pamela M Mouseketeer

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    I would do DCA in the evening when there are NOT grad nights.
    I was there last year the first week of May and I stayed in Disneyland for most of the grad nights and didn’t really see to many grads running around.

    With the new grad night ticket structure I believe they close DCA early and it’s open for Grads only. And the DCA only tickets are cheaper for the grads so DCA can get busy.
     
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  4. theluckyrabbit

    theluckyrabbit Moderator Moderator

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    Here are some threads that can help with your planning:
    A DLR Guide for WDW Vets
    The Scoop on Grad Nites: www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2298400
    WOC Superthread (if this show is back by your dates): www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=37986447 -- the first post here is an important read!
    MP/FP Overview and Strategy: www.disboards.com/threads/maxpass-fastpass-an-overview-and-some-strategy.3726246/

    Assuming the show is back, you won't be able to see WOC on Saturday. GN's have an exclusive grad party in DCA at night, so that park is closed to anyone without a wristband. If the dining packages for WOC are open for your dates, try to do the WOC Dessert Party for Sunday. Otherwise, plan a viewing strategy based on the thread I gave you above.
    Start using MP as soon as you activate your tickets at the gates. If your tickets are already scanned into the app and you already have a credit card on file, purchasing MP should only take a minute. Then book your first FP! Ready, set, go! MP works during MM/EE/EMH, but the return times won't be until after park opening. But there is no reason why you should wait until later in the day to start using MP -- e.g. RSR FPs have been gone by noon consistently in recent days. Waiting to book FPs might mean missing out on any FPs for this ride. You can easily ride standby while using MP at the same time, "stacking" FPs for later. At DLR, you can hold more than one FP at a time for more than one ride. (You just can't hold two FPs for the same ride at the same time.) Read the MP thread I linked for you above for more details. And don't forget about Single Rider lines -- very useful for repeat rides without using FP.
    It is totally worth it to RD DCA even when you don't have EE. You can start using MP as soon as CMs allow you through the gates and since EE is only for on site guests, you won't have as many people ahead of you as you do at MM in DL (which is open to on site guests and off site guests with 3+ day tickets).
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
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  5. Artygal90

    Artygal90 Mouseketeer

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    Awesome! This is exactly the type of information I'm looking for. I wouldn't have known that WoC wouldn't run on a Grad Nite, for example. So we will plan on fireworks and Fantasmic in DL our first two nights and hang out in DCA our last night. Thank you! I'll read through all of those threads and MaxPass strategy tips.
     
  6. theluckyrabbit

    theluckyrabbit Moderator Moderator

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    If WOC is back up by then, the grads get a private WOC show with their party, so I don't think WOC runs for everyone else. Double check the schedule, though, as your dates get closer! With WOC having been down for sooooo long now, I'm not sure how that will affect the schedule once it comes back.
    And if you do the BB F! Dining Package for the first show, you'll be invited to stay in your section for fireworks after the F! is over. Just stay in your section -- everyone stands up and moves forward to the water -- then watch the projections on the water screens and the fireworks in the sky!
    If you watch MMM from Main Street or IASW the next night, you'll get a different taste of the show because the show is made to be a little different from each of the viewing areas.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
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  7. vleeth

    vleeth I heart Disney

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    I'll be there May 20-23. Will the Magic Morning Schedule be different because of Grad Night? I feel like I read that somewhere. If so, what will it be?
     
  8. VandVsmama

    VandVsmama DIS Veteran

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    I agree w/everyone else's advice. Here's my additional 2 cents...
    1. Grad Nites at DCA - We were at DL 2 summers ago in early June when Grad Nites were still going on. DL was fine. We noticed a few more teenagers in the late afternoon & evening compared to earlier in the day, but it wasn't the nightmares of hordes & packs of kids that you sometimes hear about. ONE of those evenings, however, we decided to go on GRR with a FP about 30 min before DCA closed for the night to regular park guests. Oh boy, that was a mistake. DCA was mobbed with grads...traveling in big packs, really loud, shouting obscenities, some of them even plowed straight into my kids on purpose and didn't apologize. I'd recommend avoiding DCA starting 1 hour before DCA closes to regular park guests. There were a lot of grads camped out sitting in the middle of the esplanade to watch the DL fireworks before they then entered DCA for the rest of the night. On a Grad Nite day, I'd recommend trying to do Tomorrowland rides before 3-4 pm. On every Grad Nite day, Tomorrowland seemed to be VERY popular w/grads in the late afternoon/early evening.
    2. When to start getting FPs - it's different than at WDW. Max Pass is great. Get your FP right after you purchase Max Pass after you've entered a park that morning. If you're starting the day at DCA, I'd probably pick RSR first, but that's my personal preference. At DL, I'd probably pick Space Mtn, Star Tours, or Indiana Jones first. Ride other rides in standby lines while you wait for the return time to open up. Then after you've scanned your ticket for that ride, use Max Pass to select the next FP.
    3. Is it worth it to RD DCA on a morning w/EMH for hotel guests? - Yes. Why? Because there's only 3 on site hotels at DL. It's a much smaller population of people at DL who have EMH privileges every morning compared to something like 20 hotels at WDW. BUT....you'll probably find that you'll use your entire EMH at DL going on rides and won't be at DCA before regular park opening.
    4. Best strategy to ride RSR w/o long wait - if you coordinate it well, you could go on it 3 times in 1 day. Here's what you do...regardless of which park you're in, when you enter the park and then purchase Max Pass on the Disneyland app on your smart phone, then get FP for RSR. When the return window opens, go on RSR. After you've ridden it, then you can get a 2nd RSR FP. You can also ride it a 3rd time in the Single Rider line, but you are NOT guaranteed to be able to sit next to each other or even in the same ride vehicle. Single rider line on RSR goes pretty fast most of the time...like 15-20 min.
    5. What attractions to focus on @ DL during your EMH on Sat a.m. - I prefer using EMH @ DL for Fantasyland because almost all of those are 'slow loaders.' I like to go on them in about this order (I usually skip Peter Pan): Matterhorn (but this has Single Rider AND FP available, so you CAN leave it for later in the day), Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Mr Toad, Snow White, Pinocchio. We usually can get on 6 rides during EMH assuming we're at the DL main gate 20-30 min before EMH begins. Then if you want to ride Storybook Land Canal Boats with almost no wait, go on it right after EMH ends...because Storybook Land Canal Boats doesn't start operating until reg. park opening. I think the same applies to Casey Jr Circus Train.
    6. Favorite drink at Trader Sam's - I prefer the drinks that come with a souvenir tiki mug so I can take a little bit of Trader Sam's home with me!
     
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  9. Artygal90

    Artygal90 Mouseketeer

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    Thank you for such a detailed reply! I have been thinking how easily we could fill that EMH hour on the second day and think we might stick around in Disneyland rather than scurry over to DCA right away. We'll probably decide day-of. Follow up question to #5 - since we'll definitely be focusing on FL for EMH, which will be our second morning at the park, what classic ride(s) would you recommend we start with very first thing on our very first day? Is PP a must-see if you've done the one in Florida recently?
     
  10. theluckyrabbit

    theluckyrabbit Moderator Moderator

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    For your MM (comes with regular 3+ day tickets purchased in advance, not at a ticket booth)/EMH (for on site hotel guests only): unless it is an absolute must and you will be leaving DL early, don't waste your MM/EMH on PP. Yes, it is worth doing at DL because it is one of the few original 1955 rides left -- there on opening day! But unless you are able to be one of the first few people in line (and that takes some skill) or unless the line is less than 15 minutes for some reason (rare, but can happen), don't waste your precious early hour. Go for other rides like Alice, Toad, Dumbo, and the other dark rides that don't have FP. Some people say that PP's line has a window between the MM/EMH people and the regular opening people. If you can catch that gap, the line should be a little shorter. Otherwise, just keep watching the app for a time when the line is 30 minutes or less. Then grab a snack or a cold drink, and use the time in line to decompress and catch up on your day. We like to make PP the last ride of the night. It's a great way to end a day at DL. The TL rides have FP, so with MP, you can start booking FPs for those rides as soon as you go through the turnstiles.
     
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  11. Artygal90

    Artygal90 Mouseketeer

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    I like the idea of riding PP last thing! Sorry I wasn't clear - I'm definitely planning to follow @VandVsmama's suggestions of doing Alice, Mr. Toad, etc., but NOT PP during our Magic Morning on our second day. My follow up question was more to ask what classic Disney "thing" we should do at rope drop at DL on our first morning (a Friday) if we are not doing PP first thing and saving most of the FL dark rides until the next morning. It's a small world? Big Thunder? Space Mountain (is it super jerky like in WDW?)? Tiki Room? So many options! What does everyone like to do first thing besides FL?





    *I would say maybe Dumbo, except for DH - he has what I think are charmingly large ears but the playground bullies would call him "Dumbo" because of them in elementary school. So he really doesn't like that movie and I think the one spin on it in WDW is all I can talk him into doing for a while. :dumbo::charac2:
     
  12. VandVsmama

    VandVsmama DIS Veteran

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    If you're not headed to Fantasyland first thing after the park opens, our family usually goes to Star Tours first. The rest of my family doesn't like Space Mtn, so I usually go on that by myself. Space Mtn is MUCH better at DL! Not as jerky as at WDW...you won't feel like you're falling out of the ride vehicle. Then when you're done w/Space Mtn or Star Tours, you can get on the other one. Then go on Autopia and then Buzz Lightyear after that.

    Otherwise, I'd alternately go on IJ first. But there are 4 rides in Tomorrowland that you can knock off all in a row without much walking. The longer you wait in the day for that, the longer the Autopia line is and Autopia doesn't always have FP available. Plus, you can get a FP for IJ while you're waiting for Space Mtn or Star Tours (assuming you have Max Pass...otherwise send a runner).
     
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  13. Artygal90

    Artygal90 Mouseketeer

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    We will have MaxPass! Sounds like a great plan!
     
  14. mentos

    mentos Minty fresh happy haunts

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    Don't forget to reserve Blue Bayou right at the 60 day mark (which I believe is the earliest you can do it), and do it for the earlier show. Depending on crowds, they will often collapse the three paid disney dining patrons (River Belle, Blue Bayou, Hungry Bear) into one single section for the later show. Blue Bayou will still get priority (ie right at the front).
     
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  15. theluckyrabbit

    theluckyrabbit Moderator Moderator

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    You're going to love SM at DL -- much smoother ride! SR works very well for SM -- you can get repeat rides pretty easily using MP/FP and SR back to back.
     
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