fastpass

FastPass+ and MagicBands Takeover Walt Disney World – Part 2: Challenges and Solutions Ahead

One tap of the MagicBand and Guests access their Disney FastPass+ attractions which can be secured before they even leave home. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

One tap of the MagicBand and Guests access their Disney FastPass+ attractions which can be secured before they even leave home.

The switch from Legacy Fastpass (where select attractions were able to be reserved on a day-of basis as many times as you could according to the rules) to the Next-Gen technology driven Fastpass+ (where most major attractions and many minor ones now offer FP+ entry, but you’re limited to just three FP+ a day) is nearly as drastic a change as the transition from the famous A-B-C-D-E-Ticket ride coupons to a passport system where one ticket gets you in the park and on every attractions.

My memory is a little hazy, but I don’t recall guests getting so worked up about that switch. That’s because it was largely a switch in the method of accounting in the guest’s vacation ledger. With ride coupons park admission was merely a token charge, the real money was in the coupons. So grandma could take the kids and she would only have to pay a small amount for herself. Single admission changed that model forever. The new model meant Disney got more at the gate, but a savvy guest could work the system by staying from open to close (we called them marathon days) and ride many times more attractions than they could with a coupon book. Plus they wouldn’t be stuck with a bunch of unused A-tickets at the end of the day. So in the end, the ledger balanced for the guest.

A certain camp of Disney Imagineers believe this switch was the worst thing to happen to the parks. That the move away from ride coupons and to a single passport, meant that new attractions couldn’t be cost justified based on coupon purchases, that guest behavior was unleashed and less predictable, that minor attractions suffered in attendance, and that it made more difficult for a family to come and enjoy the park if they had to pay a large chunk up front just to get in. The counter arguments were: that most families on vacation had a set amount to spend and they’d spend it on passports or ride coupons just the same, that allowing guests to experience the park without worrying about buying another E-ticket for Space Mountain provided a better guest experience, and that the real money for Disney was in hotels, food, and souvenirs. Read More »FastPass+ and MagicBands Takeover Walt Disney World – Part 2: Challenges and Solutions Ahead

FastPass+ and MagicBands Takeover Walt Disney World – Part I: My Magic Kingdom Experience

Update: Welcome to NY Times readers. Please find the latest news on MyMagic+ and Fastpass+ here. See all of our coverage here.

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I went to the Magic Kingdom on Sunday to test how the FastPass+ (FP+) experience would work for someone who has time for a mid-day 4 hour visit. I’m still building back up to theme park conditioning, so anything more than that exhausts me. I’m a local and haven’t yet booked a night at at Disney resort, so I don’t own a MagicBand. Even though FP+ has been running in place of the paper (aka legacy) Fastpass system at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since before Christmas, this was my first experience with FP+.

Given that the FP+ system had been live for a few days already, I made sure to read various discussion boards about other people’s experiences and tried to determine an optimal strategy for myself and my son. Unfortunately, almost nothing turned out the way I thought it would.

My first attempt at accessing FP+ was a strikeout. I had read a few accounts of how guests were able to make FP+ reservations at the TTC via Guest Relations cast members armed with tablets. When we arrived at the TTC via the parking lot tram around 10:45AM there were no Guest Relations cast members to be found. Disney might have just been experimenting with that service earlier in the week. In theory, almost everyone arriving at the TTC is on the way to the Magic Kingdom, but you don’t really know until they’ve actually swiped their cards at the front gate. So I can see why they pulled that option.

After a quick ride on the monorail to the main gate, we immediately headed to the Main Street Opera House to score our FP+ reservations. I entered and went right to the MyMagic+ terminals, which would let me make a FP+ reservation if I was a Disney resort guest, but apparently not if I was a day-guest. There was a separate queue for that. A queue with a long-line as it turns out.Read More »FastPass+ and MagicBands Takeover Walt Disney World – Part I: My Magic Kingdom Experience

Fastpass+ and the Tiered Fastpass System.

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Disney is currently trying out a “tiered” Fastpass+ system at Epcot. The idea behind it is simple, in that you’re limited as to how many major attractions you can choose a Fastpass for.  It works like this:

Choose one Fastpass from the following:

  • Character Spot
  • IllumiNations
  • Maelstrom
  • Soarin
  • Test Track

And then two Fastpasses from the rest:

  • Captain EO
  • Journey into Imagination
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission:  SPACE
  • Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

This is clearly a response to guests choosing all “e-ticket” rides for their three Fastpass selections and none being available for off-site guests.  It’s rumored (key word) that it will be implemented resort-wide during Christmas week, at the very least.  The good news is that if you already have Fastpasses chosen, you won’t be effected by this new change, at least during this initial period of testing.

Read More »Fastpass+ and the Tiered Fastpass System.

Double Dipping with Disney’s MagicBands.

We received this comment from Scott on the post “Part of Disney’s MagicBands Testing? Here’s Everything you Need to Know” and it seemed like a great idea to expound on this topic a little more: I am assuming that for now the Magic Band is not being… Read More »Double Dipping with Disney’s MagicBands.

Part of Disney’s MagicBands Testing? Here’s Everything you Need to Know.

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Disney is continuing to roll out MagicBands, the handy dandy alternative to your Key to the World Card, across property. While Disney originally planned to roll out the bands property-wide by the middle of this month, it now appears that testing will continue at least through November. What does this mean for you? Well, if you’re going to Disney World between now and Christmas you’ll most likely use the bands, although you should monitor the situation. Using the bands isn’t complicated, but it requires you to take several steps before you travel. First things first, you’ll want to get set up online with Disney.

1.  Go to MyDisneyExperience.com and log into your account. If you don’t have one, you’ll want to create an account, which takes only a few minutes.

2. Once there, add your resort reservation.  This is your confirmation number and the lead guest’s last name.  You can customize each guest with a cute Disney-themed avatar at this time.  If you have a Disney package, your tickets will be automatically added. If you don’t have tickets on your package, you’ll have to have to add them manually. This can be a problem if you’re buying them at check-in, because you can’t choose fastpasses until you have a valid ticket.Read More »Part of Disney’s MagicBands Testing? Here’s Everything you Need to Know.

Using Disney’s Magic Bands

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I’m down here in Disney World right now for Disney’s Earmark Conference, which is a conference for Disney travel agents, and I’m writing this from the balcony of my room at the Contemporary Resort–not a bad place to write, although the castle is a bit distracting! This trip was my first opportunity to try the Magic Bands, as they’re still in the testing phase. They’ve been rolled out to most resorts at this point and should be resort-wide sometime in October (this can change), but I wanted to share some thoughts on using them with all of you.

First, let me just explain the bands for the uninitiated. The bands are literally that–wrist bands (similar to plastic wrist watch bands, but without the watch face) that will hold all your pertinent information, from where you’re staying to how many dining credits you have left on the Disney dining plan. They’ll have your room key, credit card information, and tickets on them as well.  You’ll be given a pin as well, which makes it more secure for credit card transactions. All your information is stored on the system, meaning that Disney can tell if you like Mickey bars at 11:00 p.m. and send one to your room. Or, more likely, they can use that information to customize marketing towards your likes.  In the future, there will even be sensors in the parks that track movements for crowd control purposes.Read More »Using Disney’s Magic Bands