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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Megan McArdle, a business and economics blogger recently made the jump from Newsweek to Bloomberg. During that time off she indulged in one of her passions – roller coasters. I knew there was a reason I liked her. One of her insights from the trip is about how guest services like Quick Queue, Fast Lane, or Fast Pass are impacting the enjoyment of theme park guests, and, perhaps, even symbolize something that’s gone wrong with our nation over all.

McArdle observes something many theme park fans have noticed before. Even though Fastpass is free, and other systems aren’t that outrageous as a percentage of the overall vacation, some families just don’t use them.

I find it hard to believe that the problem is a lack of awareness; all three parks prominently hawked Quick Queue or Fast Lane passes at concession stands.

Perhaps the problem is the price — though with the bucks people were dropping on concessions, I can’t believe that this is the issue. No, I think the answer is in the hard stares we got as we walked through the fast-pass gate. People just don’t like fast passes. It doesn’t feel right.

I had never really thought about it that way. But it makes sense to me.