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Please note: Updates with answers to my questions from a Walt Disney World spokesperson are below. I’ve added a few strategy ideas too.

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There’s some magic happening behind the scenes at Walt Disney World’s new MyMagic+ and Fastpass+ service. A few weeks ago Disney Park’s chair Tom Staggs promised us changes were coming, and now they’ve delivered.

Starting Monday, after you have used your initial three FastPass+, you will be permitted to select an additional Fastpass+ via the kiosks located in the parks. Then, after you’ve used that one, you’ll be able to choose another, and so on until you run out of time or the park runs out of Fastpasses (most likely the latter at EPCOT, btw. It only has 8 FP attractions).

Disney has also turned on the ability to select and use additional Fastpass+ when you park hop as well.

I have a few questions about these options and I’ve reached out to Disney for the answers. Here they are…

1a. Do you have to use your first three Fastpass+ entitlements before you can park hop?

Answer: Currently, Yes.

1b. If not, do you lose your Fastpass+ in the originating park if you do park hop. For instance, if you have two morning FP reserved and one late night FP, can you park hop in the middle and use FP at the second gate?

Answer: You must redeem or pass the arrival window of all three Fastpass+ entitlements before you are eligible for the next Fastpass+ selection.

2. How does this work in parks with tiered offerings. Assuming, a FP+ for Test Track is available can I reserve it after I’ve already used one FP for Test Track in my original three entitlements? (it would have to be a real slow day at EPCOT for this scenario to be true, but it’s good to know).

Answer: After you have redeemed or passed the arrival window of all three Fastpass+ entitlements, you can select a Fastpass+ for an attraction or show you have previously selected the same day, if they are available, of course. This means that at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you will be able to make additional selections from any available experience in either experience group.

For now this change is only available via the in park kiosks. But a Disney World spokeswoman says that they still in test mode and are working to make it available via the My Disney Experience app.

A few strategy ideas below the jump:

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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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We talked last week about how Universal Orlando Resort plans to hold Disney’s feet to the fire by continuing its investment in the parks. Today I want to discuss a way you can tell if Universal is making progress in its quest to steal market share from Walt Disney World.

I have one simple indicator that tells me which park is pulling ahead at the moment — it’s a statistic I believe Disney really cares about, or should at least — how many tourists visit Universal before they visit Disney. It’s pretty simple to observe. Sit at any Disney park where you have a clear view of crowds as they walk by and count how many guests are wearing recently produced Universal merchandise. Every hat, t-shirt, or Harry Potter robe that passes by represents a large sum of money that Disney missed out on. In addition to that t-shirt, that guest also dined at Universal, bought admission media, and maybe even stayed at the resort (soon much more likely as Universal looks to add thousands of hotel rooms).

Although they seldom admit it, Disney doesn’t really care that much if you spend a day at SeaWorld or Universal at the end of your trip. By then you’ve already spent the vast majority of your vacation budget (including importantly your souvenir, lodging, and food budget), with them. Having Orlando internationally known as a family vacation destination benefits Disney (those marketing dollars go a lot farther when its true) so it doesn’t make sense for them to set the phasers on kill when it comes to their competition.

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There’s one thing Universal Orlando wants you to know. It is not content playing second fiddle to Disney’s Orlando theme parks. They want to challenge for the lead, well, they at least want to close the gap between them and Disney’s least attended park.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom attracted 9.9 million last year and Islands of Adventure just 8.0 million. Universal Studios Florida did not experience the same boost as IOA did with the addition of Harry Potter, but they’re making up for it in 2013 with a better parade, Transformers 3D, and soon more Harry Potter with Hogwarts Express and Diagon Alley.

But even if you add in all that additional ride capacity it won’t be enough to match the people eaters that are Disney’s parks. So Universal has committed to spending $500 million more on its domestic theme parks. We know that Universal Studios Hollywood will get a Harry Potter attraction or two (construction walls are going up now). But what does that mean for Orlando? How about two new rides for Islands of Adventure.

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Construction on the Disney Springs transformation of Downtown Disney is now underway in earnest. Get ready for a maze of walls, some extra time to get to your destination from the parking lot, and the occasional interruption from construction crews. Fans of Pleasure Island may want to take one last trip to pose in front of the remaining signs and buildings. I’m sure some elements will eventually end up on ebay too.

So without any further ado, here are the photos from my walkabout yesterday: