The big issue with all the screenshots above was happening before WP 4.3 and ACF 5.3.0. I noticed the editor toggle bug after updating to WP 4.3, but that got fixed with the ACF 5.3.0 update.
I ran the same three tests from earlier after updating everything, and though the code in the ACF editor no longer changes, empty paragraphs still get rendered to the page. Putting the shortcodes and paragraphs on their own lines like in my first example renders empty paragraphs before and after my content. Putting everything inline (2nd test) still renders an empty paragraph after my content. The third test with hard returns and no paragraph tags in the editor at all puts a line break at the beginning, my first block of content without any wrapping tags, an empty paragraph tag, then my second block of content in paragraph tags – http://grab.by/JNuS.
Thanks for the idea @jonathan. I’ll consider that, but there are other shortcodes in this plugin that are very useful like tabbed content and accordions/spoilers.
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