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Thread: 2019 Easter Extravaganza 4/18-4/23

  1. #1
    Senior Member Anne's Avatar
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    2019 Easter Extravaganza 4/18-4/23

    Crowds weren’t too bad considering it was one of the busiest weeks of the year! I’m happy to report we saw no “keep right” signs or super-extended fast pass queues.

    I don’t have time for a full trip report (I still need to finish my trip report from November, yikes) but I thought I’d pass on what we observed as far as crowds, wait times, and fast pass availability in hopes it will be helpful for anyone planning for a similarly busy time of year.

    This was a short extended-weekend trip with my husband and 2 sons (ages 6 and 8). We stayed Club Level at Beach Club and used the Club Level three extra fast pass program on three of our days. Even on a very busy week I wouldn’t say the extra fast passes were essential. There was only one day where I felt like they made a major difference to our touring because we had fast passes we couldn’t have gotten by refreshing (evening at Hollywood Studios). After using this program twice, I would say it is most helpful on days where you park hop and days where you want multiple tier 1 options.

    Here is the link to my overly detailed explanation of the program from the first time I used it with some updates from this year.

    https://www.easywdw.com/forums/showt...ub+level+extra

    I will summarize the rules:

    1. 3 extra fast passes per person per day.
    2. Minimum of 3 days on the program that do not have to be consecutive. You must be staying club level on the days the program is booked.
    3. $50 per person per day.
    4. All 6 FP booked at 90 days or less from your departure date by Signature Services.
    5. All 6 FP must be different.
    6. All 6 FP cannot have overlapping 1 hr. windows.
    7. The standard 3 FP must follow normal booking rules (all at 1 park, only 1 tier 1).
    8. The 3 extra FP do not have to follow normal booking rules and can be at multiple parks and multiple tier 1 attractions.
    9. You can modify the standard 3 FP yourself.
    10. The extra 3 FP can only be modified by Signature Services CMs.
    11. The Signature Services CMs are only available by phone 9 am to 5 pm. Modifications outside those hours can only be done by Guest Services CMs in the parks. The club lounge staff cannot help with the extra FPs.
    12. Once you have used your standard 3 FP you can book 4th FP and beyond normally. But additional FP cannot overlap the return window of any of the remaining club extra FP you may have later in the day.


    One quick note on walking speed. We are faster now that we have no stroller. And definitely faster than when we travel with grandparents. But we are slower than most families with kids this age. I’ve mentioned before my 6-year-old has some delays. At his most recent IEP meeting they told me he was at the 0.1 percentile for gross motor skills which just breaks my heart for him. He may be slower, but he has a good attitude and is determined to do all the walking himself! My point being your family may be able to get from attraction to attraction a little faster than the times I have listed for us.

    Thursday 4/18/19
    4:00 am EST (3:00 am our time) woke the kids for the drive to airport. Sadly, they were so excited no one fell back asleep during the drive or flight as I had hoped.
    9:50 am Land MCO, bathroom break. The traditional first photo with Mickey.

    Airport.jpg

    10:12 am DME check in
    10:25 am on bus
    10:35 am bus departs
    11:06 am Caribbean Beach. Fun to see the Riviera Resort and Skyliner construction.
    11:15 am Boardwalk
    11:21 am Beach Club. Yacht Club was the last stop
    We were met at the bus by a CM with an iPad that recognized us by our magic bands (kind of creepy) and taken up to the 5th floor Stone Harbor Lounge to check in. We were greeted by a CM with a lovely welcome “Captain’s Sparkler” (sparkling wine with a splash of strawberry syrup-refreshing and not too sweet). Our room was not ready yet so we changed into park clothing in the lounge restroom and had a few snacks from the mid-day “light snacks 11:30 am to 4:00 pm” club offerings. Right as we were ready to head downstairs and leave our carry-ons with Bell Services, we got our room ready text.

    We stopped by the room to drop the bags and found it didn’t have a daybed which was our #1 priority listed on the Touringplans room request fax. This was not unexpected. When we booked the room (pretty last minute for us, about 64 days in advance) there was not a club level room available for 5, but there was a room available for 4. Likely all the daybed-containing rooms had already been allocated. I headed back to the lounge just to see if there was anything that could be done and that took some more time. No rooms with daybeds until 4/20 at which time we were welcome to change rooms. They did offer us a roll-away bed and that worked just fine (other than creating a very cramped room) and was preferable to switching rooms mid-trip. My son said the roll-away was comfortable for sleeping and it had a thicker mattress than most of the daybeds and pull-down Murphy beds he’s slept in at WDW.

    Epcot
    Park Hours:
    9 am to 9 pm
    EMH 8 am to 9 am
    9 pm IllumiNations
    12:40-1:00 pm Activated our APs and purchased Tables in Wonderland card at Guest Services at the International Gateway entrance.

    At the tapstyles my older son’s finger scan turned blue. WAIT. How can that be possible, it’s a new ticket? The CM with the iPad came over and of course the prioritization of tickets did not work AGAIN and they had used a day off both my husband and younger son’s non-expiring tickets and not the APs. GRRRR. I had told my older son to wait while we were checking but just as the CM confirmed the incorrect ticket had been used, my older son gave me a big smile and said “look mom, I got it to work” as he gazed proudly at the green Mickey scanner. Oh well, 3 messed up tickets isn’t much different than 2 messed up tickets. “don’t worry” said the CM at the gate “it’s an easy fix”. Hahaha. Here is the link to what happened in November when our tickets were incorrectly prioritized. Short version, it’s not an easy fix for a ticket type that has been discontinued.

    https://www.easywdw.com/forums/showt...prioritization

    ADR:
    1:40 pm Via Napoli
    FP booked in advance:
    FEA (3:05-4:05)
    Mission Space (4:05-5:05)
    Spaceship Earth (5:05-6:05)

    Overall this felt like a below average crowd day as far as park congestion. The walkways in World Showcase were wide open. I was surprised because the park had morning EMH that day and I was worried it would be packed.

    1:14 pm stopped by the American Experience on the way to Via Napoli but the next show did not start until 1:30 and the Voices of Liberty were not performing. We did a quick look at the exhibit and headed to our ADR.
    1:28 pm check in Via Napoli

    Epcot1 Via Napoli.jpg

    1:47 pm seated for our 1:40 ADR. We shared calamari and a large pizza which was plenty for the 4 of us and was a reasonably-priced TS meal by Disney standards.
    The club room with a 40% off AP discount was actually less expensive than the standard deluxe resort rooms available when we booked. Because we booked so late there were not any standard rooms available at a discount at the resorts where we wanted to stay. Our goal was to minimize TS meals (at least compared to our usual 1-2 character meals per day) and maximize eating in the club lounge so we kept our ADRs to lunch time when the offerings in the Lounge were minimal.

    I didn’t write down when we finished the meal. We stopped for photopass pictures in Italy and Japan and explored the small topiary trail in China.

    Epcot1 Japan.jpg

    Epcot1 China.jpg

    Not sure when we entered the FEA FP queue. Posted wait was 60 minutes and this was probably the fastest we have gotten through the FP line here. There was no wait or back up before the FP merge point.

    Epcot1 FEA.jpg

    3:21 pm done with FEA.
    3:22-3:40 pm dessert at the Bakery in Norway. They no longer have the Viking Chocolate Mousse or the Berry Cream puff. The Sweet Pretzels didn’t taste the same, it was a more generic bread dough that was dry. They expanded the restaurant and then scaled back the menu eliminating several of our favorites. They have fewer of the unique Norwegian items and more generic Disney bakery items. They still have the school bread, lefse, troll horn, and rice cream but those are the only uniquely Norwegian things left.
    3:45 pm Gran Fiesta Tour
    4:00 pm Done Gran Fiesta
    4:15 pm Mission Space FP. 10 minute posted wait Green, 40 minute posted wait Orange
    4:50 pm Spaceship Earth (20 minute posted wait) but we were 15 minutes early for our FP and were turned away with a “we can make no exceptions with these busy Easter crowds”.

    I took that time to head to Guest Services to fix our ticket issue. Thankfully there was no line this time around. The CM used the same solution as the first time, which was to add a comp one day ticket for each person to our profile that needs to be activated at guest services on the day of use. The down side to this is:

    1. No fast passes can be made in advance (although they have assured me guest services will provide the FP to match the rest of the group day of).
    2. Time spent at guest services in the morning which can be 5 minutes or 30 minutes depending on crowds and staffing. It never seems to be predictable.

    The CM interaction was not the best. She saw this had happened to us in November and started off by giving us a lecture on how we are supposed to double check our prioritization before going through the gates. Because stopping at guest services 3 minutes before going through the gates wasn’t sufficient???? Does she think I WANT to have an inconvenient solution to a problem created by poor Disney IT? Having been up since 2:30 am I wasn’t feeling so thrilled with this less than sympathetic response. I didn’t even get the usual insincere apologies. But noticing the guy down the counter berating the CM and waving his hands I kept my mouth shut not wanting to be “that guy”. I am sure it is one of the harder jobs at Disney, listening to angry, tired, and frustrated people all day long for not much over minimum wage. I certainly wouldn’t want to do it! I’m sure my body language conveyed I wasn’t pleased (my husband can confirm I have absolutely no skill in subterfuge) and she softened her message some by the end of the interaction.

    Back to Spaceship Earth, now entering within our FP window. We wanted to get in a couple rides this trip. It’s one of our favorites and it sounds like it will be closed for an extended refurb later this year/early next year. Does anyone know if a date has been announced?

    We wandered slowly through Canada and the UK before heading back to the Beach Club for an evening meal at the club lounge. “Hors d’oeuvres and select beverages” are offered from 5 to 7 pm. It is more than enough food for a meal! If I have time, I may do a post specifically on the club offerings our week. The options were very similar to when Josh stayed 2 years ago except they are offering even more now and it feels like a mini-buffet. I actually liked Stone Harbor a little more than Kilimanjaro club at Animal Kingdom Lodge (which is supposed to be the best of the club lounges). Here is Josh’s review

    https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/re...h-club-resort/

    Early to bed after a LONG travel and first park day!
    Last edited by Anne; 05-02-2019 at 08:39 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ChristineOH's Avatar
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    That IS a long first day! Glad you were able to resolve your ticket issues relatively easily, even though it has to be frustrating to do everything right and still have things go wrong.

    Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip!
    June 2011 Poly, May 2013 POR, June 2015 CBR, June 2017 POR, March 2018 CSR, June 2018 POR

  3. #3
    Senior Member Anne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristineOH View Post
    That IS a long first day! Glad you were able to resolve your ticket issues relatively easily, even though it has to be frustrating to do everything right and still have things go wrong.

    Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip!

    It was a really long day and I was just amazed at how much energy the boys had remaining to resist bedtime

  4. #4
    Senior Member Anne's Avatar
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    Friday 4/19/19

    A little about park hours. They were pretty consistent for the whole week:

    Magic Kingdom 8 am to 12 am with one pm EMH to 2 am and one am EMH starting at 7 am. Only one morning with a 9 am open because of Early Morning Magic.
    Epcot 9 am to 9 pm with the usual days for EMH
    Animal Kingdom 9 am to 9:30 pm with the usual EMH
    Hollywood Studios 9 am to 8:30 pm but with SWAGS at 9 pm. I didn’t write down if there were any EMH because we didn’t go on those days but I *think* it was the normal EMH schedule for HS as well. Certainly nothing extra like when Toy Story Land first opened.

    I was a little surprised there were no 8 am opens at any park other than MK.

    Our morning plans on Friday were flexible. Because of the early morning and long day on Thursday, we decided to play things by ear depending on when everyone woke up. Best case we would make MK 7 am EMH and head to Tomorrowland. If not, we would RD Frontierland at 8 am. Or if the kids really slept in, we would just head to Epcot for 9 am open for Test Track.

    Magic Kingdom
    Park Hours
    8 am to 12 am
    7 am to 8 am EMH
    3 pm FoF
    9:15 pm HEA
    No ADRs or FPs booked for the morning

    I’m really enjoying the resort bus times in the app. We were able to wait in the club lounge and have breakfast until a bus to the park was expected. It’s too bad there aren’t any bus times posted for the parks.

    Time to stop for a castle picture with no line

    MK1 Castle2.jpg

    We did not make the 7 am EMH which I wasn’t too worried about (we would have done Space and Buzz and we had fast passes for those later in the week). That was until we got to the park and experienced the post-EMH 8 am RD. As I mentioned on another thread, the RD to Frontierland was a bit of a mess. It hadn’t occurred to me until we were in the mass of people that everyone else had already RD’d Fantasyland and Tomorrowland at 7 am so there would be a much higher percentage of park guests heading to Frontierland than on a usual day. I’ve done the 2nd RD to BTMRR on EMH mornings before but it was always at a much lower crowd time. The experience was very different during Spring Break. It was a big mass of people merging from 3 different directions. This mass of people was a lot less controlled than the Mine Train RD where everyone gets in line along the fence and funnels into the queue from one direction. Here it was a big blob of people squashing in from right, left, and center and everyone thinking they should have the right of way. It was kind of disheartening being in the second row at the rope and then once in the queue being behind hundreds (although there were still more people behind us than in front of us). It was especially tough seeing the folks coming from Adventureland who made it to Frontierland minutes after us being able to cut in from the left because there were so few people approaching from that direction. Even after experiencing it, I’m not sure about the “correct” way to do this RD. It may be luck of the draw depending on how fast the CMs are walking your particular rope. But maybe someone with more experience can chime in with what has worked or not worked well for them in this situation.

    All that said it was fine. It was about 10 minutes of discomfort for an uncounted-on ride on BTMRR. No one was elbowed or run over.

    7:57ish am Rope walked back to Frontierland
    8:05 am Entering the BTMRR queue
    8:25 am Done with BTMRR, 40 minute posted wait when we finished
    Planned for Splash but it was down and we decided BTMRR was too long a wait for a second ride. Quick stop in the bathroom.
    8:35 am Haunted Mansion (20 minute posted wait but didn’t look that long)
    8:52 am Done Haunted Mansion

    New HM on ride photo

    MK1 HM2.jpg

    Checked the app and Splash had just come online with a 5 minute posted wait. You could see people all around start walking briskly in that direction
    8:57 am Splash (5 minute posted wait but SB line already looked longer. It moved quickly)

    MK1 Splash.jpg

    9:25 am Done Splash, another bathroom break
    9:35 am Pirates (5 minute posted wait)
    9:51 am Done Pirates.

    MK1 Pirates.jpg

    We had an 11 am ADR back at the hotel so we headed out. Because we didn’t have to wait for a bus coming or going to MK the transportation time felt worth it for 2 hrs in the park with relatively short waits.
    Brief browsing in the Emporium but we didn’t stop to buy anything.
    10:11 am at the bus stop. They had a small passenger van instead of a bus that was loading as we walked up. I have never seen this before but I’ve never left so soon after park open. The bus driver said they have so few people leaving the park this early they sometimes opt for vans instead of full buses.
    10:30 am at Beach Club. Freshened up in the room
    10:55 am Beaches and Cream.
    The kids' meals come with a cute Mickey sundae

    Beaches Sundae.jpg

  5. #5
    Senior Member Anne's Avatar
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    12:00-3:00 pm Good Friday Observance

    Next on the agenda was pool time. But unfortunately, this was the one big storm of the trip. Lightning, high winds, and the pool was closed. It was kind of fun to watch the storm from the club lounge while relaxing together, playing the lounge board games, and chatting with the lounge CMs. They were all personable and it was fun to hear everyone’s story about how they came to work at Disney and where they are originally from. It’s funny how these unplanned down times end up being some of my favorite trip memories.

    We tried to schedule a DVC tour to see the new Riviera rooms but we weren’t the only ones with that idea on a rainy afternoon and they were booked up for the remainder of the day.

    Chocolate egg display in the Lobby at Beach Club

    Beach Club Easter Eggs.jpg

    5:00-5:20 pm we rushed through an evening meal in the club lounge because we had pm FPs at Epcot. I was surprised that most of the food in the lounge was fish or vegetarian for Good Friday. Every other night there were multiple meat options. This night there was a seafood roll, baked salmon, mac and cheese (with ham on the side that could be mixed in by those who wanted it), and clam chowder. I appreciated it, but it probably was a bummer for people who don’t like/eat/have an allergy to seafood and/or don’t observe Good Friday.

    At this point things were down to a drizzle and no more lightning expected so we put on our ponchos and headed to Epcot.

    Epcot
    Park Hours
    9 am to 9 pm
    9 pm IllumiNations

    FP booked in advance:
    Pixar Shorts (5 pm)
    Living with the Land (6 pm)
    Soarin’ (7 pm)

    The park was totally empty because of the rain

    5:40 pm Pixar Shorts with FP (not needed but we figured we’d use one in case we wanted to try for a tier one 4th FP)
    ? time Living with the Land with FP (5 minute posted wait). They had us scan the FP and then walk through the SB line because it was shorter.

    EP2 LWTL.jpg

    6:40 pm Soarin’ standby (posted wait 25 minutes). We were too early for our FP and it was so dead we figured we might as well try standby. It was a walk-on all the way to the FP merge point.

    Why do they always have to hang on, and be reminded not to climb on, this queue

    EP2 Soarin'.jpg

    7:11 pm Soarin’ with FP (posted wait still 25 minutes but there was now actually a line in standby at the merge point).
    7:38 pm Done Soarin’

    We debated in line about trying for a 4th for Test Track or just do it standby since the wait while posted at 30 minutes was likely shorter. Test Track is the boys’ favorite at Epcot and I thought they would want to go for it. But they opted to go back to the hotel in hopes the pool might be open now that the rain had stopped and there was no more lightning expected. So much for booking the unneeded Pixar shorts and LWTL FP in hopes of a tier one 4th FP

    I really liked this day. We got several of our favorites done in 2 parks and still had 7 hours of free time in the middle of the day!

  6. #6
    Senior Member BSS's Avatar
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    I love days like that - very productive, lots of down time. Sounds like a great time!
    Jen

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