WDW March 2022

Sunday, March 20, 2022 1:26 PM

I'm in the midst of an extended visit to Orlando, and a few bullet-point items.

  • Wow, is it busy. This is spring break for wide swaths of FL, TX, Ontario, and a few other places. Lots of marching bands. All parks not named Epcot were sold out to day guests well in advance. Many days were fully sold out in advance.
  • Studios is rough at this attendance level. By 10 or so on an 8:30 open, pretty much every line in the park is 1hr+.
  • G+ (the pay-in-bulk VQ) works fairly well, and if you remember the paper FP system, it is very similar. There are a few attractions that you have to be very quick on the draw to get, but it was very helpful in every park at one point or another. It is probably less important at quieter times in some parks.
  • If you remember the old "tiered" model that studios and Epcot used in the FP+ era, that's more or less replicated here. You won't get more than one (or maybe two) of the top-tier attractions via G+ unless you get very lucky.
  • Slinky is maybe the hardest to get for G+. We were reminded that we think the coaster is boring, and not worth the effort.
  • The "at most once" rule for G+ only bit us once, and really isn't an issue IMO.
  • The individual-paid system is not ready for prime time. Yes, it allows you to pick a return window. But, that might or might not be the one you get. The one you are assigned might be then, or might be an hour or two later. In one case, it was 90 minutes earlier. You don't know what time you are going to get until you have committed to paying for it, and you cannot cancel it nor will the "standard" guest services people change it (at least, probably not). If you are willing to plan your day around whatever you end up with, that's fine. But if you are not planning a full day in the park, it can throw your plans in the air. I am one of those people who just buys stuff on vacation without thinking too much about it, and I gave up on this halfway through the week.
  • We spent stupid money at Space 220 for dinner, and it was great. Very good (but not quite excellent) food, and a cool experience. Will do again, but maybe not in the next few trips.
  • We also booked the Savor the Savanna tour. This was outstanding. Would do again, for sure, and sooner than Space 220. Everyone loved this.
  • Finally, we also did one of the dessert parties at MK. I probably would not do that again for my family, but we were with people who won't usually see the fireworks and we wanted to do it with them, so this was a nice compromise. I suspect the value in this is based on how many times you make your way back to the bar, and I don't drink, so...

I'm sure there is more that I will think of. Overall, the trip was better than I expected---I was very anxious about the crowds plus the new system, but we had a good time and didn't wait in 30+ minute lines more than a handful of times.


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Sunday, March 20, 2022 2:20 PM
Jeff's avatar

This is a good report in part because it shows how much extra you spent on add-ons. I wonder how typical that is. I've heard same about the savannah eating tour, and yes, the dessert parties are more worth it if you intend to drink a lot. We were in Epcot on Monday night (day before passholder reservation, by the way), and I wasn't crazy about the crowd. Fortunately no food stand we were interested in had a long line. We dropped a hundred bucks, yikes.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Sunday, March 20, 2022 4:03 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Thanks for this report. We're going at the end of Sept. so all reconnaissance is appreciated.

I've heard that President's week this year was busier than the week between Xmas and New Year's. Probably because of Omicron deferring lots of the December travelers to that week.

I'm pretty annoyed that I'm going to have to wake up at 7:00 to grab the good G+'s, but I was also annoyed when I had to run around gathering paper FastPasses. I wonder how this system is working at DL where you have to be in the park to book a G+.

I've been told that if you get your first booking at DHS or MK before "park open + 2 hours", the availability for that second booking is much, much more open than if you're exactly at the 2 hour mark or later , because a huge number of people are also trying to book right at +2 hours. Specifically, it would allow for a second "top tier" booking.

I still don't get why SDD commands such G+ attention other than "nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd." I guess it's a decent mid-sized coaster in a park with a lot of pretty big thrill rides that most families can't ride together, but I think it's in the bottom half of rides in that park.

In general, I think I'm planning on rope dropping the individually available attractions, especially if they keep Frozen, Everest, Space, and MMRR on G+ when we go. I still have some weird negative reaction to buying a specific single ride. (Although come to think of it, that's basically what most coupon book parks are doing). I've heard that if you screenshot the confirm screen with the time you're trying to buy, and then get some other time, the guest services people are more likely to help you out. Also, a new batch of ILL's gets dropped at 7:17:30 everyday with much better availability.

Also, thinking of doing Space 220 for the experience and don't want to pay the prix fixe. I've been told that being seated in the lounge lets you order off an actual menu?


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Sunday, March 20, 2022 5:46 PM

I actually think I would be willing to spend more if I could just buy individual rides as I wanted. The idea that I spend the money on Genie+ at 8am only to discover on the next screen that the rides I want are already gone would be frustrating. A system like buying event tickets seems better. Just have everything available and allow me to customize it. I would be willing to drop $10-$15 per ride (as opposed to $15 for the day of G+) if I clicked a ride, saw every available time, chose the time I wanted, and then was directed to payment (and you could have one of those little countdown clocks that would hold my time for a few minutes).

I'm not sure what the logistics would be as far as limiting how many I could have at once. But I find much more value spending $100 to do what I want as I want on a day of Fastlane+ at a Cedar Fair park than $15 to basically be told "you get this but then you don't get that".

I still think this needs to be priced significantly higher. But to do that, they absolutely need much more flexibility in booking and guarantees that you are going to get to do what you purchased.

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Sunday, March 20, 2022 10:15 PM

A few years ago, my GF and I did a "Fireworks" ferryboat dessert party where you sat in the middle of the MK lake and watched the fireworks; I believe it was Wishes at the time. Not sure if anything similar is still being offered.

I remember it not being cheap, but some really good dessert was being offered, it was unlimited beer and wine and it was a very cool experience; plus you were on one of the ferryboats with maybe 50 other people. There were even strolling magicians who would do a card or sleight of hand trick for you.

I'm certain that we didn't eat and drink our "money's worth" for what it cost (can't remember), but it was one of the cooler WDW experiences that I have done.

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Monday, March 21, 2022 11:16 AM

how much extra you spent on add-ons. I wonder how typical that is.

Beyond G+/ILL, it can't be that common, because all of those things are very limited in capacity. Usually, we'll do one or maybe two splurges in the course of a week. On the other hand, they all sold out well in advance, so there is plenty of appetite. The group part of the trip was a little longer than a week, so the two we'd planned on were Space 220 and the Savanna tour. The dessert party was a bit of an afterthought.

Anecdotally, we did see a lot of Plaids roaming the parks doing private VIP tours---more in Studios than other places. That's another level beyond what we were doing, because we were not ready to drop several thousand on a single day just to avoid all the lines. But, if you have the means and the will, it's available, and it effectively solves the Studios Problem.

We were in Epcot on Monday night

Have you been to Sea World's Food & Wine clone? I went last night; the food was really good. Unlike some Epcot offerings, they did not shy away from the spices, and with the sampler package it can be very affordable.

I also went to House of Blues last night for the 311 show; I was staying at Saratoga Springs just across the water, so it was an easy walk, and a really good time. It was maybe the second time I was in a packed indoor venue of screaming people since waves-at-all-of-this started, so check with me again in 5-7 days if I still think it was a good idea. I was wearing a mask, but I was one of the few.

I've been told that if you get your first booking at DHS or MK before "park open + 2 hours", the availability for that second booking is much, much more open than if you're exactly at the 2 hour mark or later

We tried it both ways, with the first tap-in both before and after the 2 hour mark. Being before helps, but if you are right on the nose for each pull, and you are fast with your fingers, you are ever-so-slightly ahead of the rest of the crowd even if you are at the 2 hour mark. If you know how to pin the attraction you want to the top of your list, use the same tricks you used for the Rise VQ to get the timing right, and don't try to read anything along the way, you will be fine. That's the strategy we used to get Slinky, and ended up with a 10:35 time---just outside the 2 hour window, but pretty good. That was even with a bit of a delay getting the screen refreshed.

Also, thinking of doing Space 220 for the experience and don't want to pay the prix fixe. I've been told that being seated in the lounge lets you order off an actual menu?

I've heard the same thing, and they do have an a la carte menu. We were up for the full monty, so we didn't bother trying. You are not the first person with this idea, and the ADR pools for the main dining room and the lounge are separate, so the lounge might be an even harder one to get. You could also go the lunch route, which is $20 less, does not include dessert, but also does not include some of the more interesting menu options at dinner.

One other thing to note: the full meal at Space was leisurely paced, but didn't feel "slow". We were almost two hours from check in to walking out.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Monday, March 21, 2022 11:17 AM
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Monday, March 21, 2022 11:24 AM

We're going at the end of Sept

One more thought: it is very unlikely that the end of September will look like what is reportedly the peak Spring Break week. You will be fine without having to get every corner right, though I know you will anyway.

I find much more value spending $100 to do what I want as I want on a day of Fastlane+ at a Cedar Fair park than $15 to basically be told "you get this but then you don't get that".

Well, you can do the "do whatever I want" plan, but as mentioned above, it's a VIP tour with a minimum price of about $3K. It goes up from there depending on how busy they are; I suspect last week it was probably closer to $5K. (I don't know if they can accept tips; the Savor guide could not, but if they can, add 20% to whatever the sticker price is).


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Monday, March 21, 2022 12:06 PM
Jeff's avatar

Brian Noble said:

Anecdotally, we did see a lot of Plaids roaming the parks doing private VIP tours...

I did one a few weeks ago with another family that was making this their big event intended to be good enough for years. It was like seeing Magic Kingdom for the first time. We did 17 attractions in 7 hours, and relaxed in the VIP area for the fireworks with our "free" ice cream snacks. I doubt I'll ever do it again, because with our group size and hours it amounted to $525 for each of us (and did not include admission), but in the context of spending time with friends I haven't seen in six years, it was worth it.

Have you been to Sea World's Food & Wine clone? I went last night; the food was really good. Unlike some Epcot offerings, they did not shy away from the spices, and with the sampler package it can be very affordable.

Yes, the SeaWorld food festivals are really good. The portions are right and the desserts in particular are always ridiculous in a good way.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Monday, March 21, 2022 8:00 PM

ApolloAndy said:

I've been told that if you get your first booking at DHS or MK before "park open + 2 hours", the availability for that second booking is much, much more open than if you're exactly at the 2 hour mark or later

Brian Noble said:

We tried it both ways, with the first tap-in both before and after the 2 hour mark. Being before helps, but if you are right on the nose for each pull, and you are fast with your fingers, you are ever-so-slightly ahead of the rest of the crowd even if you are at the 2 hour mark. If you know how to pin the attraction you want to the top of your list, use the same tricks you used for the Rise VQ to get the timing right, and don't try to read anything along the way, you will be fine. That's the strategy we used to get Slinky, and ended up with a 10:35 time---just outside the 2 hour window, but pretty good. That was even with a bit of a delay getting the screen refreshed.

I get that I'm a jaded local, but none of the above sounds the least bit appealing to me while on vacation.

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Monday, March 21, 2022 8:37 PM

"You play to win the game."
--Tony Dungy

More seriously, we did have The Discussion about whether or not we'd be in a hurry to go back, particularly during a peak spring break week. Not all of that was due to crowds in the theme park sense, as we personally still have a bit of a COVID hangover.


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Monday, March 21, 2022 9:13 PM
sirloindude's avatar

Brian Noble said:

We tried it both ways, with the first tap-in both before and after the 2 hour mark. Being before helps, but if you are right on the nose for each pull, and you are fast with your fingers, you are ever-so-slightly ahead of the rest of the crowd even if you are at the 2 hour mark. If you know how to pin the attraction you want to the top of your list, use the same tricks you used for the Rise VQ to get the timing right, and don't try to read anything along the way, you will be fine. That's the strategy we used to get Slinky, and ended up with a 10:35 time---just outside the 2 hour window, but pretty good. That was even with a bit of a delay getting the screen refreshed.

This is the kind of thing that makes me feel for the, “Walt is rolling over in his grave,” crowd, even if they are nuts. If it takes a strategy this elaborate to get a ride time, it’s not a good system.

Disney is obviously doing a lot of things right, or else they wouldn’t be packing crowds in the way they are. However, it shouldn’t be nearly this complicated to get something so simple as a skip-the-line pass. It’s making the whole park-going experience way more complicated than it needs to be.

Last edited by sirloindude, Monday, March 21, 2022 9:13 PM

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Monday, March 21, 2022 10:03 PM

And it shouldn't be so crucial to score the skip the line passes or be banished to a 2-3 hour standby line for what amounts to nothing more than a kiddie coaster (Slinky Dog Dash), an old boat ride with a new overlay (Frozen Ever After), or a carnival style coaster from the 70s in an old dusty building (Space Mountain).

I think what I still think is the biggest drawback with the system is that you don't know what the attraction availability is until after you make the purchase. As I stated above, I would be much more willing to spend in the $75-$150 per person per day range to get guaranteed rides on everything I want rather than $15-$20 to be told "sorry, all the reservations are gone for the good rides, your $15 will get you into a 7pm showing of Muppetvision you would have gotten into anyway and an 8:50pm reservation time on Star Tours when the regular line will be a walk on anyway."

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Monday, March 21, 2022 11:03 PM

Brian,

On average how many rides were you able to snag with G+? I'm still debating whether it is worth it for Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios for our June trip. We plan to rope drop every morning since we are early risers anyway.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022 12:03 AM
Jeff's avatar

BrettV said:

I think what I still think is the biggest drawback with the system is that you don't know what the attraction availability is until after you make the purchase.

You know, for the longest time I saw people saying this and I just figured that they were doing it wrong. Now I know better, especially with our college professors exercising the system. I totally get why people are raging if that's the outcome.

I'm getting surveys about 1 in 5 visits, sometimes asking about these systems. I can't imagine that the overall impression is favorable, but I could be wrong. I'm mostly just tired of a visit revolving around the phone. Cruise Line is going the same way, and I don't care for it.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022 5:53 AM

^ Nice TR. That's why when we visited back in November it wasn't worth paying for the Genie + at any park except the Magic Kingdom.

We'll pay again because we do like getting through the parks faster. At Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom That's what it enables because you can only use one time on each attraction. Our longest wait was the Flight Of Passage at right at 2.5 hours(No lightning lane.)

The longest Expedition Everest posted wait time while we were there was 35 minutes. When we waited in line it showed 35 minutes and we waited about 20 minutes, and we paid for a lightning lane to skip it. Not sure that was worth it.

It's hard not to complain when a paid system (that's supposed to help plan your day,) isn't as good as the free system it replaced. I miss the re rides we used to get on the old system. The only people that wouldn't complain are the ones that never used the old system.

We'll be there in May and will try it again.

Last edited by Coasterfantom2, Tuesday, March 22, 2022 5:53 AM
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Tuesday, March 22, 2022 9:16 AM
Vater's avatar

BrettV said:
I get that I'm a jaded local, but none of the above sounds the least bit appealing to me while on vacation.

And as a non-local two-time visitor who hasn't set foot in the park in 35 years, I'm right there with you. I really would like to take my family to Disney someday, but the priority continues to drop each year for two reasons: my kids get a year older and a Disney visit seemingly gets more complex and less vacactiony.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022 10:41 AM

On average how many rides were you able to snag with G+? I'm still debating whether it is worth it for Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios for our June trip. We plan to rope drop every morning since we are early risers anyway.

I couldn't tell you for sure. I think that, overall, it was at least as useful as FP+ was. There are things about G+ I like better, and things about FP+ that were better. I think if I had to pick between them, I like G+ a little better, because it tends to reward knowledge a little more than FP+ did, and I'm willing to learn the corners of the system. YMMV.

I would absolutely recommend it for an MK day. That's the easiest, least frustrating park for this because there is plenty of G+ capacity, and the demand is spread around enough attractions that nothing is super difficult.

I'd also recommend it for Studios---not because you are going to get a bunch of high-demand rides. You are going to get maybe two of them, just like in the old tiered system of FP+. But, the lines in that park are stupid-long quickly, and stay that way for most of the day, so those two will save you a couple of hours of standing around. For me, that's worth $15.

In AK and EP, you can probably plan your way around waits most of the time, but G+ makes the day more flexible and less hectic.

You know, for the longest time I saw people saying this and I just figured that they were doing it wrong. Now I know better, especially with our college professors exercising the system.

For ILL, I think that's exactly right. The system is just broken, and I won't be using it most of the time in its current form.

For G+, I'm not sure that's the take I have on this. I had a very good idea what the attraction availability would be and what would be possible, just like I did in the paper FP days. The problem isn't the not knowing; most of the bloggers will tell you roughly what things look like on a low/medium/high crowd day and how fast things run out, and they more or less all agree. It takes maybe an hour or two to figure it out from there---and that's about the same as it took to plan FP+. Instead, the problem that most people are really talking about is: It costs money when it didn't before, and it's not demonstrably better in terms of how many attractions you can get than it was before. They aren't using those words, but that seems to be what is going on.

But "we don't get all the attractions we want" is inevitable. The fact is that in each park there are a handful of attractions that everyone wants to ride, but given the hourly capacity, the length of an operating day, and the daily attendance some people just won't ride it. It's just math, and there is no arguing with math. If, say, 20,000 people can ride Rise in a 12 hour day, but 40,000 people enter the park, half of those people aren't riding and that's just the way it goes.

No matter what they do with virtual queuing or how they do it, some people are going to be disappointed. And, for everyone who does get on it, they are going to have to either spend time or spend money to do so---again, no matter what---unless Disney suddenly decides they shouldn't monetize the crown jewels of their parks. And I don't think most CBuzzers think that's either likely or even smart. I suspect most of us wonder what took them so long. I know I do.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2022 10:49 AM

And on the Things That Aren't Disney note: I spent the last hour of Sea World operations yesterday power-riding Mako. I guess I'm not too old after all. Two trains right up to close, and a crew that was doing a good job.

I also rode Ice Breaker, and I suspect that's one-and-done for me. The restraints were a little awkward, and while it's a nice ride (I would not describe it as a "family" coaster) it's not all that and a bag of chips.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2022 10:52 AM

I went back and did a few more Ice Breaker rides about a week and a half ago. The ride itself grew on me more and more, but I grew less fond of the restraints each time. It's not even the comfort collars that bother me, but the lapbar and ankle restraints create Skyrush style comfort on a ride that absolutely doesn't warrant it.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022 10:54 AM

Vater said:

Disney visit seemingly gets more complex and less vacactiony.

As a park/coaster enthusiast it shouldn't take me as long as it does to figure it all out. Same with those that have a significantly better grasp on tech than I do. I can't even imagine the average Joe Disney guest figuring it all out successfully on the first try.

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