I typically outline which park we will visit for each day of our trip. We don't purchase hopper passes because, for us, it's not a good use of funds. So how do I decide which park and when? There are websites out there that analyze data and, sometimes for a fee, will tell you which park, on a daily basis, will have the lowest crowds. After using these sites (the free ones, of course), I've come to the conclusion that the timing of when you are taking your vacation is more important than the expected crowd levels for each specific day. For example, if you are going to Disney over Thanksgiving weekend, all the parks will be busy. Will Animal Kingdom be less busy on Saturday than Magic Kingdom? Well, maybe, but how much of a difference is it? If you want fewer crowds and shorter waits, plan your vacation for a slower time.
Also some of reasons why a park may be rated more crowded may be the very reason why you want to visit that park on that certain day. If there are extra magic hours or nighttime parades, parks are usually thrown into the busier category. But, hey, I want to visit at night during extra magic hours and/or see that parade and fireworks so I don't care that Hollywood Studios is a better bet for crowds because it's mid-September and crowds are lower than mid-July. Got it?
We are doing a split stay for this trip - 3 nights at the Contemporary and 3 nights at the Yacht Club. That mainly dictated our park days and restaurant choices. Here's what we have for reservations thus far:
- Chef Mickey's Fun Time Buffet Breakfast (Contemporary)
- Minnie's Beach Bash Breakfast at Cape May Cafe (Beach Club)
- Fairytale Dining at Cinderella's Royal Table (castle, Magic Kingdom)
- The Hollywood Brown Derby (Hollywood Studios)
- Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian)
- Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria (Epcot)
I actually completely forgot about Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom. Completely forgot. I made all of our reservations and a week went by and then I realized that I hadn't even thought about that restaurant. I did check for open dinner ADRs and there was nothing. So that's not happening. Well, I could keep checking but we're pretty settled with what we have right now.
I originally reserved lunch at Crystal Palace for one of our Magic Kingdom days and then, a week later, found that Cinderella's Royal Table had openings. Like a ton of openings. That restaurant used to be what Be Our Guest is today. Allie was at a friend's house so I asked Anna and Emily and their friend who was visiting which restaurant they preferred for lunch - Crystal Palace or Cinderella's Royal Table. The vote for lunch in the castle was unanimous. I questioned Allie when I picked her up from her friend's and she voted for Cinderella's Royal Table as well.
Our dinner reservation for Via Napoli is the last lunch reservation at 3:50. I was a bit surprised that there was nothing for dinner, but not a big deal. That time will work for us for that day. I have looked for openings at Beaches & Cream but it's been full, which is not a surprise given how small it is.
FastPass reservations will be next but, ugh, I've never been a fan of trying to plan that portion of the trip. I usually claim I've reached planning burnout and leave that for Rich to tackle. Hey, I gladly take on all the other planning, so it's only fair.