In this episode, Shannon shares her experience traveling in April of 2023. This was her first experience in a long time navigating long days in the parks, utilizing Genie+ for churning and stacking Lightning Lanes, and making dining reservations 60 days prior to her trip.
She shares the 9 things she learned from this trip.
Things I Learned…
- The My Disney Experience App works better than the browser for making dining reservations. This applies to making reservations 60 days out and in the parks. The app can show more availability and fewer steps to complete the reservation.
- Holiday Crowds (and summer crowds) don’t know how to act. The holiday traveler isn’t necessarily a planner and they don’t know how to act. People cut in line, played loud music, and didn’t have regard for others.
- The holiday traveler doesn’t plan, which is a benefit for us planners! We didn’t wait more than 15 minutes for anything (except waiting for Woody and Jessie)
- Standby Skipper is very handy. This is a tool you can use to have a bot book Genie+ selections for you. It will not buy Genie+ for you or book Individual Lightning Lanes for you. It can work in the background to get lightning lanes for you. This was very helpful at 7 a.m. and it was often able to get my choices early in the day. It was $45 for the whole week and I found it to be incredibly worth it.
- Away We Go Transportation is very helpful, especially in unique circumstances. We used it to pick us up at the airport, drop us off at Magic Kingdom, and drop our bags at the resort. It was very handy in this case. We were in a private Mears van.
- Tours continue to be what Disney does best. I have never done a tour that I didn’t like. Caring for Giants was my least favorite, but all of them are wonderful. The Wild Africa Trek on this trip was great!
- Food and medicine via UberEats or Instacart way more convenient and wider selection than Disney gift shops. Because they are shopping grocery stores and drug stores it is much more convenient to get a wider selection.
- Personalized items at Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe are fun. You can get ornaments, plain ears, buttons and more. It’s so much more than a Christmas shop, it’s a personalization shop. This was great for us because we really wanted an ornament with the date on it.
- Don’t be afraid to cancel things or change plans. This was very hard on this trip because I’d set up this trip to see things with someone that doesn’t get to see Disney as often. I started to not feel great when I needed to pick up my RunDisney bib. I opted to not run in the event, cancel reservations, etc. and while very disappointing, it was necessary. It’s so hard when you put so much time and effort into something and have to pivot.
Day 1 – Magic Kingdom
At 6:30 a.m. Central Time, I booked Genie+ lightning lanes for the evening at Magic Kingdom. I booked a Tron Individual Lightning Lane for 4 p.m.
I am using Standby Skipper for this trip and will have it booking lightning lanes while I’m in the air on my way to Orlando.
We used Away We Go Transportation to pick us up from the airport, drop us off at the Ticket and Transportation Center, and then dropped our bags at our resort. We were through security and ready to go for the Festival of Fantasy parade by 2:30 p.m!
We watched the Easter pre-parade and the Festival of Fantasy parade. Unfortunately Space Mountain was down so we were not able to ride. We went to Carousel of Progress and then used the Individual Lightning Lane for Tron.
After Magic Kingdom, we went back to the resort for dinner. We had a wonderful dinner at Sanaa before going back to our room.
Day 2 – Epcot
We recommend arriving to the bus stop about an hour before Early Theme Park Entry and that’s exactly what we did today. Epcot opened at 9 a.m. which means Early Entry was at 8:30 a.m. We arrived at the bus stop and the bus arrived at 7:32 a.m.
We entered early and went toward Frozen Ever After. We got all the way back there and were told the ride was down and they didn’t have an idea of when it will be back up.
Because of that, we walked all the way over to Soarin’ and went on that without a wait. Then we walked over to Test Track to use a Lightning Lane that was booked earlier by Standby Skipper.
After Test Track, we had a few minutes before our Cosmic Rewind Lightning Lane so we attempted to do the orange side of Mission: SPACE. However, the line was too long.
When it was time for our Individual Lightning Lane for Cosmic Rewind, we tapped in, saw the pre-shows, and then the ride broke down and we were evacuated. We received a lightning name to return later in the day when it was back up.
For lunch, we went to Trowel and Trellis. This booth has plant-based options that are really good even for those who do not eat a plant-based diet.
After lunch, we walked over to Rose and Crown Pub for some Goldens. We wandered around the World Showcase and then went over to try Cosmic Rewind again. However, we got through the pre-shows again and it went down again! We evacuated again and were told we could come back.
We went over to Spaceship Earth. It slowed a few times and we were fearful that it would go down, but it didn’t. The weather has been unseasonably cool and cloudy. We headed out after Spaceship Earth and went back to the resort.
We made a dinner reservation at Boma while on the bus on the way back to the resort. We ate dinner and decided to go back to the room. We’d planned to go back to Epcot but were tired and the weather wasn’t great, so we opted to stay in.
Day 3 – Hollywood Studios
We arrived at the bus stop this morning extra early at 6:40 a.m. for an 8 a.m. Early Entry at Hollywood Studios. The bus arrived at 6:42 a.m. and we were some of the first people through security.
When we entered the park, we went toward Tower of Terror. Right at 8 a.m. we were the first people on this ride and the lights were on, which was strange.
Our next stop was Toy Story Land. We had lightning lane for Slinky Dog Dash that was booked by Standby Skipper. Toy Story Mania was down so we went to Alien Swirling Saucers first.
We went to Ronto Roasters to get the plant-based Ronto Wrap before going to our lightning lane for Slinky Dog Dash. The posted wait time was 70 minutes but we only waited a few minutes.
After Toy Story Land we did a few other things including Muppet*Vision 3D, Star Tours, and wandered around enjoying the beautiful weather.
When Baseline Tap House opened at 11 a.m. we got a table before it was too busy. We ordered a flight of beers and some favorites in full-sized versions.
We had a reservation for Sci-Fi Dine-In. Unfortunately we couldn’t check-in on the app so we had to walk over to check in. This was a huge hit!
We’d booked lunch there for the ambiance and the Fantasmic Dining Package, but the food was great. There were some really good plant-based options including the Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Cashew Cheese.
After lunch, we went to Rise of the Resistance. Thankfully, it didn’t go down. We had a lightning lane
While we waited for our lightning lane (booked by Standby Skipper) for Smuggler’s Run, we got blue and green milk. We had a great time with a few first-timers!
We had stacked lightning lanes so after Smuggler’s Run, we did Mickey Shorts and then Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
We ended our day at Fantasmic. We had dining package seating. It was chilly this evening, which is unusual for April!
Standby Skipper manages the lightning lanes by being added as a friend. It’s a bot booking the lightning lanes for you. You can adjust the control you allow. It is very helpful.
Day 4 – Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom opened at 8 a.m. which means we got the bus at 6:30 a.m. We were allowed to enter the park at 7:15 a.m. for Early Theme Park Entry and went to Na’vi River Journey.
Our next stop was to check in for our Wild Africa Trek. Check in was at 8:15 a.m. and began at 8:45 a.m. I think the tours are some of the best parks of Disney and this was wonderful.
We got to see the hippos backstage, we walked across a rope bridge, and got a personalized safari tour. For lunch we got a picnic lunch from Tusker House.
We stacked lightning lanes for the afternoon for Expedition Everest, Flight of Passage, and Festival of the Lion King. After that, we stopped at Nomad Lounge. It was surprisingly not busy but the park was very busy.
Day 5 – Magic Kingdom
We observed some rude behavior this week where one person from a party will reserve a spot in a line and the rest of their group will cut through the line to meet them. This has happened with even very large groups and not only have we said something, but cast members have made announcements about it.
During Early Entry we were able to do Peter Pan’s Flight and Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Once the park opened we did Haunted Mansion with a 10 minute (35 minute posted wait time) wait before using a lightning lane for Jungle Cruise.
We did it’s a small world with a 15 minute wait and then used another lightning lane for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
We took a break at Crystal Palace for lunch before doing a few more rides. We were able to do so many things and didn’t take an afternoon break.
Genie+ and the Individual Lightning Lanes made the crowds much more manageable.
We had a Garden Viewing Area Dessert Party reservation for Happily Ever After this evening. We loved this and are thrilled that Happily Ever After is back.
After the fireworks, we opted to stay in the viewing area to allow the crowds to leave before attempting to exit the park.
- 7 Step Disney World Planning Process
- All About Disney World Tours
- 20 unique Disney World souvenir ideas
- Standby Skipper
- Away We Go Transportation
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