In-Depth Veteran Advice Requested

princessleia92

Earning My Ears
Joined
May 29, 2019
My boyfriend and I are going to WDW in the first week of March 2020. Right now, our full park days are M-F of that first week. This trip is a huge deal for us, because we've been dating for almost 6 years and we've wanted to go to Disney since day 1. We couldn't afford it for the longest time and have finally decided to take the plunge! I know March is supposedly crazy but I believe this week is right between two Epcot festivals, and since it is early in March it should be pre-spring break for most places (I'm hoping?).

We are staying on property and getting the dining plan (I know you can eat cheaper without the dining plan, but we are the type of people that if we don't pay for our dining upfront we'll end up eating chicken tenders the whole time we're there because our better judgement will stop us from buying $30 entrees. So we're getting the dining plan to make sure that we enjoy ourselves and eat well!).

I have been to WDW 5 times before, but the last time was only for a couple of days over 6 years ago. The last time I went for longer than a couple of days was over 10 years ago. My boyfriend has NEVER been to Disney! He really loves Universal (his family used to go a lot) and I know that Disney will just blow him away! He is a big Star Wars fan so obviously Galaxy's Edge is a priority for us. Since this is his first time, we really just want to see and enjoy as much as possible! We like slow rides and shows as well as thrill rides. We are kids at heart and really just want to see everything with the exception of a couple of things that seem super kid oriented (such as Rafiki's Planet Watch).

Every day, we plan on doing rope drop, going back to the hotel for a couple of hours in the early afternoon, then doing an early dinner back in the parks at 5 and then staying to the park until close. Like most people we're not used to walking huge distances every day, so if we don't take a little nap/swim in the pool in the middle of each day I don't think we will make it. And we know that early in the morning and later at night are the best times to be in the park every day. Does this strategy sound solid?

1. What are the advantages of going through a travel agent? I am pretty Fast Pass and dining reservation savvy. While the hotel is already booked (and I'm about to book the tickets and dining package when that becomes available next week), I will be on the lookout for discounted packages for months to come. Is there any reason I should go through a travel agent?

2. Which of the following options would give us the best experience? Just looking to maximize our fun, the number of attractions we can see, and also just enjoy the scenery and give my boyfriend a good feel for what Disney is all about! Especially worried about getting to spend quality time in Galaxy's Edge (for obvious reasons).

Option 1: 5 Day Park Hopper Passes

Option 2: 5 Day Non-Park Hopper Passes + Hollywood Studios (Galaxy's Edge) After Hours Ticket if Available

Option 3: 6 Day Non-Park Hopper Passes

3. Any opinions of what the crowds will be like the first week of March? Crowd calendars available online seem to have mixed opinions.

4. Any advice of attractions we shouldn't bother with without kids? I don't care for Rafiki's Planet Watch and don't remember Winnie the Pooh being worth our time, although I love Peter Pan. Also after hearing the DIS Unplugged group's review of River of Lights I'm not really interested in that anymore. Anything else we should avoid? Or any underrated gem attractions that we should definitely go for?

If you've read all of this, thanks in advance!! :) :) :) :)
 

disneyfan150

Earning My Ears
Joined
Apr 25, 2013
Personally, I haven't bought a Park Hopper Pass in years - until this summer. We had them once or twice, but really never took advantage of hopping. Back then, I wasn't the commando that I am today. We have always avoided the EMH parks. But this summer, we wanted to try the EMHs. So, I thought we would go to the park with the EMH and then hop when our mid day break is over. Having said ALL that, just regular one park per day tickets have always worked for us. IDK where you plan on staying. But if you are thinking of booking an Epcot resort, a hopper may come in handy if you want to head to Epcot for dinners.
 

princessleia92

Earning My Ears
Joined
May 29, 2019
Personally, I haven't bought a Park Hopper Pass in years - until this summer. We had them once or twice, but really never took advantage of hopping. Back then, I wasn't the commando that I am today. We have always avoided the EMH parks. But this summer, we wanted to try the EMHs. So, I thought we would go to the park with the EMH and then hop when our mid day break is over. Having said ALL that, just regular one park per day tickets have always worked for us. IDK where you plan on staying. But if you are thinking of booking an Epcot resort, a hopper may come in handy if you want to head to Epcot for dinners.
Thanks for your insight!! :)

I see what you are saying! I am reluctant to get the park hopper since I'm not really sure if we will actually use it, like you said. Since he's never been before it may be confusing, overwhelming, or pointless to hop between parks in a single day? Our resort isn't particularly close to any one park, so it's not like we will be able to pop into Epcot or anything like you mentioned. Maybe we should just get 6 day tickets without park hopper? That would allow us to do two parks once and two parks twice.

I see the paradox of EMH... If you're staying in the park all day, should we avoid EMH parks or go and brave crowds to take advantage of those hours?
 
  • Smrtalec33

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 9, 2019
    If you are planning on taking a mid-day break anyway, personally I would go for the hoppers. It just gives you so much more flexibility to be able to choose any of the four parks when you are done with your break. I think generally speaking, the shorter the trip, the more valuable that hoppers are because of the flexibility they give you. We just did a four-day trip where we would start in one park, take a break at the hotel, and then return to a different park.

    You can rope drop one park and make your fast passes for another park, or do your early fast passes at one park and then see what fast passes are available at the other parks before deciding where you will hop. It just gives you so many more options.

    And the key is that since you are taking a midday break anyway, it really does not add any time to your schedule, because you can just go to a new park instead of returning to the old park after your break.
     

    brad813

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 15, 2017
    1. Just use a good travel agent(which you shouldn't pay directly since Disney pays commission, though an airline booking fee is normal. I still have friends in the industry even though I no longer am.). They can handle anything that comes up during your trip so peace of mind is your biggest benefit. Get non-Disney travel insurance as well. Cheaper and covers more. Again, this goes back to peace of mind.

    2. Go for the six day since it's not much more and add parkhoppers after you get there if you need them.
     
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    Roxas_XIII

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 25, 2018
    1. What are the advantages of going through a travel agent? I am pretty Fast Pass and dining reservation savvy. While the hotel is already booked (and I'm about to book the tickets and dining package when that becomes available next week), I will be on the lookout for discounted packages for months to come. Is there any reason I should go through a travel agent?
    I recommend getting a few quotes from Disney travel agents for hotel and full package rates. Don't mention that you already have a hotel booked. Just give them your travel dates, desired Disney resorts, and ask for quotes. As previously mentioned, these services should all be free of charge, as Disney pays their commission in full.

    Like you, I strongly prefer making my own FP and dining reservations. You can still handle all of that on your own if you opt to use a Disney travel agent. However, you'd be surprised at the room deals that an agent can get. The past two times I've gone through a TA, I've ended up getting rates much lower than any publicly published web deal.
     

    ttintagel

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2011
    If it helps to know, the Dining Plan isn't more expensive than out-of-pocket 100 percent of the time. I've done the math after every trip, and with an all-adult group it has worked out either the same or less than we otherwise would have paid. Add in the convenience and the way it can lead you to try new things, and it can really work for some guests.
     
  • ttintagel

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2011
    As for rides at WDW that aren't fun for adults without kids, my opinion is that there aren't any. Even if it's as simple ss admiring the level of detail and artistry, an adult in the right frame of mind can have fun on *any* Disney ride. I'm a big fan of Goofy's Barnstormer, myself.

    On my first adult trip, I was positive I wouldn't have any desire to get pictures with characters. Turns out I was dead wrong!
     

    disneyfan150

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Apr 25, 2013
    Maybe we should just get 6 day tickets without park hopper? That would allow us to do two parks once and two parks twice.
    This is what I usually do. 2 days at my favorite place-Magic Kingdom; 2 days at Epcot; 1 day at HS; and 1 day at AK. At Epcot, I like double rides on Soarin'/one each day. I enjoy one mainly ride day and one day to mainly walk around World Showcase.

    I see the paradox of EMH... If you're staying in the park all day, should we avoid EMH parks or go and brave crowds to take advantage of those hours?
    I am so glad you understand my indecisive answers!:) I am going in July and trying our EMH/hopping plan. I can report back to you at the end of July to tell you what we thought about this "new to us" way of touring. We have always avoided EMH in the past.
     

    princessleia92

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 29, 2019
    1. Just use a good travel agent(which you shouldn't pay directly since Disney pays commission, though an airline booking fee is normal. I still have friends in the industry even though I no longer am.). They can handle anything that comes up during your trip so peace of mind is your biggest benefit. Get non-Disney travel insurance as well. Cheaper and covers more. Again, this goes back to peace of mind.

    2. Go for the six day since it's not much more and add parkhoppers after you get there if you need them.
    Thank you for the advice!

    We are driving (which we prefer), so I don't have to worry about that! Thanks for the tip about travel insurance-- definitely didn't know that!

    I am going to get quotes come Tuesday when the 2020 ticket and dining prices are released, but we are leaning toward what you suggest and adding the 6th day if it doesn't cost too much more! :)
     
  • princessleia92

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 29, 2019
    I recommend getting a few quotes from Disney travel agents for hotel and full package rates. Don't mention that you already have a hotel booked. Just give them your travel dates, desired Disney resorts, and ask for quotes. As previously mentioned, these services should all be free of charge, as Disney pays their commission in full.

    Like you, I strongly prefer making my own FP and dining reservations. You can still handle all of that on your own if you opt to use a Disney travel agent. However, you'd be surprised at the room deals that an agent can get. The past two times I've gone through a TA, I've ended up getting rates much lower than any publicly published web deal.
    Thanks for the advice about not mentioning that I already have a hotel booked! I'm the worst at always showing others "the cards in my hand," so this was much needed advice! I will call the Disney travel agents here in a few days when the 2020 ticket and dining prices come out! :)
     

    princessleia92

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 29, 2019
    As for rides at WDW that aren't fun for adults without kids, my opinion is that there aren't any. Even if it's as simple ss admiring the level of detail and artistry, an adult in the right frame of mind can have fun on *any* Disney ride. I'm a big fan of Goofy's Barnstormer, myself.

    On my first adult trip, I was positive I wouldn't have any desire to get pictures with characters. Turns out I was dead wrong!
    That's great news about the dining plan! At first we thought that we wouldn't get it to save money, but then we decided that we wanted to enjoy the trip to the max and pay for it all in advance! :)

    I totally agree about every ride being wonderful! Since this is his first time (and we likely won't come back for at least a couple of years), I'm just trying to prioritize to make sure that we ride all the rides and see all the things I think he will like the most. We aren't the best at running ALL day long, and as you know Disney has so much to do! For example, after seeing a Youtube video of Rafkiki's Planet Watch (one of the few older rides I've yet to do), I saw that for the time it takes I think we should spend our time at Animal Kingdom focusing on other things!

    I totally agree about characters! I haven't done any character meets since I was a kid, except for 2 years ago when I went to Disneyland! I met Mickey and the Star Wars character and had an obscene amount of fun!!! :D
     

    princessleia92

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 29, 2019
    That sounds like a great plan!! We would definitely do two days at MK, and probably 2 at HS since we're huge Star Wars fans, and I hear Galaxy's Edge is going to be a beast of a land!! (As long as we manage to get in there both days before it reaches capacity, that is!)

    Yes, let me know about the July trip!! Everyone says to avoid the EMH parks for the day, so I can't decide if they're worth going to or not if you're not park hopping! :O
     

    princessleia92

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 29, 2019
    If you are planning on taking a mid-day break anyway, personally I would go for the hoppers. It just gives you so much more flexibility to be able to choose any of the four parks when you are done with your break. I think generally speaking, the shorter the trip, the more valuable that hoppers are because of the flexibility they give you. We just did a four-day trip where we would start in one park, take a break at the hotel, and then return to a different park.

    You can rope drop one park and make your fast passes for another park, or do your early fast passes at one park and then see what fast passes are available at the other parks before deciding where you will hop. It just gives you so many more options.

    And the key is that since you are taking a midday break anyway, it really does not add any time to your schedule, because you can just go to a new park instead of returning to the old park after your break.
    That is a great point! Thank you!!

    I'm having so much trouble deciding.. The prices I get from the Disney travel agent on Tuesday will illuminate the path a little, I believe! :)
     

    kbwright

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 18, 2014
    I can only speak from our experience but you have to figure out as a couple what your value for time is going to be. For us, we like to have the flexibility of being able to park hop so when my now husband starting going to Disney with me, he was strong armed ( cough cough ) into getting the park hopper - which we have upgraded to getting annual passes now so it doesn't matter. I think the 'fee' for hopping was a lump fee but that might have changed since the last time I bought one since I have purchased Annual Passes for the past 3 years. That being said, he is not a thrill ride person and we don't do a whole lot of shows unless it is to get out of the sun. So there have been days where we have literally gone into AK and been out within 1-2 hours. HS if crowds are not bad can be less and half a day for us - that will probably change now as I will have to drag husband out of GE kicking and screaming. We also like to randomly go into EPCOT to eat or drink and where you stay plays into the park that is your home base at each trip - I have found or when your husband looks at MDE and sees the wait for Splash Mountain is 10 minutes and you are at BLT and makes you walk over after a long day to go on it 5 times in a row....but I know nothing about that lol

    I have not found a huge difference is ticket pricing in terms of discounts ( direct from Disney, AAA, UT - I would usually see what each had to offer and go with the best ) but I am a DVC member so I usually have to book in pieces anyway. I have a friend who is a Disney Specialized Travel Agent and I know there are time they are able to have special add ons so hopefully the agent that you are working with is able to get some good leads for you. If you are not the type of person who finds vacation planning soothing, going through a travel agent who is well versed in the Mouse and all the latest and greatest is the way to go.

    Breaking up the day is a solid plan, especially if it is hot and/or crowded. Some people can commando it - I have never been one of them no matter how in shape I think I am. Your feet will fight you, no matter the shoes, especially after EPCOT!

    Having done the dining plan and not done the dining plan and just used various discounts (AP, VISA, DVC), where the DP can be great is it allows you to budget ahead of time, pay for it ahead of time and when you get on your trip only have to pay for your gratuity. It is a lot of food...I mean A LOT of food...but if you are a budgeter it feels really great to go on vacation and have it all pretty much paid off :)

    Also throughout the year, if I have extra money here and there I grab Disney gift cards and/or Starbucks gift cards that I keep aside for vacation at the market. They add up and I can spend with reckless abandon with money I don't even miss :) Happy Planning!!!!!
     

    MusicalAstronaut

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 6, 2017
    I personally have never used a TA, so I can't offer any advice on that. I always get park hoppers, though. Don't forget that if you don't have a hopper pass, you can't use two days in one. So if you're there for 5 days, you can't buy a 6 day hopper and use "two days" to enter two parks in the same day. There are certain parks that I LOVE doing first thing in the morning and would not do during the day, and vice versa. In my opinion they give you much more flexibility and if something happens you don't feel like "No we MUST do everything in AK today because this is our once chance, I don't care if you're hungover/sick/it's lightning like crazy/being attacked by bees". Park hoppers let you do a "go with the flow" trip a little easier and if you miss something you can come back to it another day. I like to commando Disney but I also love the mid-day break, especially if it's going to be very hot or I'm at a nice resort. If I'm paying extra for the hotel I want to spend some time there. :P

    Things you can skip if you don't have kids....I don't have kids (but am also a kid at heart which is why I'm an AP) so let me think about what I always skip, lol. I pretty much never go into the Circus/formerly Toon Town area of MK. Barnstormer is a fun ride but you're not missing out if you don't do it. I skip the Beauty & the Beast, Little Mermaid, and Frozen shows in DHS. I've done the first two multiple times and don't really care to do them again unless someone makes me. I love the 3 o'clock parade in MK, Lion King show (AK), and Indiana Jones Stunt show in DHS (just to prove that I don't skip EVERY show haha). I pretty much always skip the Nemo ride/The Seas in Epcot and the three caballeros ride in the Mexico pavilion but I have done them if it's a slow day and I've done everything else on my list.
     

    Truxi

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 25, 2018
    2. Go for the six day since it's not much more and add parkhoppers after you get there if you need them.
    That's a thing you can do? Like, just turn one or two days into Park Hopper days?

    More specifically, how much does it cost to do that per day? I can't seem to find a resource for it.
     
    Last edited:

    kiford

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2012
    What are the advantages of going through a travel agent? I am pretty Fast Pass and dining reservation savvy. While the hotel is already booked (and I'm about to book the tickets and dining package when that becomes available next week), I will be on the lookout for discounted packages for months to come. Is there any reason I should go through a travel agent?
    We have APs, I book all of my own FPs and ADRs but I still use a TA. I even booked my own hotel for December while my TA was away and then transferred the booking to her. Mainly, I like to have someone who has greater leverage than I when dealing with vendors (Disney or anyone else), who knows more tips and tricks than I do, and is one phone call or e-mail away if I have any issues. It doesn't matter to me whether or not I get any discounts through her - she has given me advice and information over the years that has been valuable to me that I would never have known and I like having someone who has my back and can do more than I can if there are issues. That's my main reason for going through a TA in addition to anything that requires booking where you have to spend ages on the phone. I'd rather she did that than me.
     

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