As the original FastPass (now known as Legacy FastPass) was introduced in time for the Millennium celebrations, I took on a new role in our family – ‘FastPass Scout’ & it certainly kept me fit. As soon as that gate opened or a rope line was dropped, it was my job to rush to our favourite attraction to get a FastPass ticket & then meet back with the rest of my family. Whilst I enjoyed it to some extent, I wanted a more relaxed experience – after all it is a vacation.
On our last visit to Disney World in 2013, we saw the initial testing of FastPass+, so we decided to leave our next vacation until 2015 when any possible teething problems of the new system were likely to have been resolved.
Below is my experience of using MyDisneyExperience & MyMagic+: my likes, dislikes, what I found useful when booking and tips I would like to pass on to help you plan your next Walt Disney World vacation.
What are MyMagic+, Fastpass+, MagicBands & MyDisneyExperience?
Confused? For those who are yet to experience these new words & how they will change your next Disney World Vacation, here goes:
• MyMagic+ is basically the name for all these different experiences (FastPass+, MyDisneyExperience, MagicBands). They all come under the name MyMagic+.
• Fastpass+ – The most popular Disney World rides have 2 queues, a standby queue (with an advertised wait time) or a FastPass queue (which is a quicker queue). To join a FastPass queue you must have a reservation, which you can book for a specific time of the day which best suits you, to return & ride the attraction. At the moment, you can book 3 of these per day in advance (and after using the initial 3, book additional ones during your visit – one at a time).
• MagicBand is a wrist strap which incorporates an embedded data chip, which acts as a resort room key, charge card for purchases/meals, dining plan credits (if you purchased a plan), park admission, as well as storing table service reservations & FastPasses you’ve booked.
• MyDisneyExperience is the app you can use to book all of your reservations (FastPass & dining) & can be accessed through your cell phone, mobile device, computer or from a kiosk located at specific areas in the park.
First things, first – Creating a Disney account
Whether you are using a cell phone, tablet or computer – you’ll need to create a Disney account to be able to use MyDisneyExperience.
After booking our vacation for 2 weeks in May 2015 (on-property accommodation), I linked my Disney account with our resort booking & then added my family members to my account (as I would be booking attractions as a group). With the new MyMagic+, every member of our group receives a MagicBand which you have the option to personalize with your choice of color, assign a character for each member (limited selection) & your name will be on the back of your band (I’ve heard that Cast Members can scan your bands and address you by name).
Just a quick note – for guests staying at a Disney Resort who reside outside the U.S. – your MagicBand will be waiting at your resort when you check-in (U.S. visitors will be sent your MagicBands to your home address before your vacation).
Let the Planning Begin – booking your Fastpass+
Whether you are staying within Disney World or outside, you can book FastPass+ reservations in advance to your vacation as long as you have purchased park tickets (on-property guests can book 60 days in advance/off-property guests can book 30 days in advance), on-property guests can now also do online check-in 60 days before they arrive – which includes choosing a pin number for your MagicBand use (either an individual pin or group pin).
All guests, no matter where you’re staying, can book Disney World table service restaurants 180 days in advance.
My experience at booking FastPasses differed a lot depending on the device I was using. I started using my cell phone to book attractions, but had quite a few reservations disappear. I also had a weird anomaly when I had booked Spaceship Earth in Epcot for 7pm-8pm on a Tuesday evening which disappeared and then reappeared on Wednesday morning with the 3 Hollywood Studios rides I had booked. I found using a desktop computer a much smoother, quicker & trouble free experience.
One thing I didn’t like from this system is not initially being able to choose the specified times for each attraction. When booking your 3 FastPasses for the day, you get the choice of 4 options of return times which were, I found, very random. After booking all of the attractions, I had to individually rebook each ride with our preferred return time – I also found this a whole lot easier on the computer (than the cell phone).
The Good, the bad & the ugly
FastPass+ is in its infancy & still has a long way to go until it becomes a smooth, flawless experience. For me, the jewel in the crown of MyMagic+ is ‘MyDisneyExperience’ & adding wifi throughout the parks. You now have the ability to see the queueing times of any attraction without walking to the attraction itself or to a tip board which makes it a valuable time saver on our vacation.
The lack of spontaneity I know is a lot of people’s problem with the new system, as gone are the days of jumping on your first resort bus to whichever park it may lead you – true – but there is a upside to this. With the old system we had trouble sometimes getting on our favorite attractions at all during our vacation. On our last vacation back in 2013, we arrived just as Hollywood Studios opened & I waited 40 minutes for a FastPass for Toy Story Mania, with the returning time of 4:50pm – 5:50pm. At least with the new system, you can choose a time which better suits you to return & guarantees 3 choices a day (as long as the ride doesn’t break down).
One of my top grumbles about the new system, was perhaps started with the old ‘Legacy’ system – when attractions such as Living with the Land (which never had a queue) became a FastPass, to me this was a mistake – as there is now always a long queue. This seems to have increased with the new FastPass+, with the addition of many attractions which either had short or no queues now having extremely long waits.
My other dislike is perhaps the worst – the dreaded ‘tiering’. To take a park such as Hollywood Studios which has been closing rides recently on an epic scale & reducing your choices to 1 from this list & 2 from this list – for me doesn’t work. Although I understand the basic logic that Disney has employed here to prevent guests from only choosing E-ticket rides as their 3 choices, it seems to me that it would be simpler to reduce the amount of choices down to 1 or 2 a day without any restrictions (this would also be fairer to local residents too), until they have increased the amount of attractions in the park.
• Whether you enjoy meeting characters, are an adrenaline junkie or love a nighttime show from an exclusive viewing area – choose what experiences are most important to you.
• If you’re going with small children, check the height restrictions on rides to make sure that you aren’t booking FastPasses for rides they can’t go on – enter your child’s height to see what they can go on.
• I made a rough plan of my vacation before my FastPass+ booking day, so that I could make quicker reservations when booking became available. As we hadn’t visited Disney World since 2013, I used MyDisneyExperience to see which attractions continually had the longest waiting time (no matter what time of day or day of the week).
• If you want a more spontaneous vacation – try booking your FastPasses with a time cushion around them, just in case the queueing times are longer than expected or if they aren’t, it gives you a little more time to squeeze something extra in (like a lovely Dole Whip on a hot day).
• Now that the attraction ticket kiosks have been removed, know where the new FastPass+ kiosks are – Kiosk Locations.
• Disney World is always changing & whilst many guidebooks are out of date as soon as you purchase them, the DIS is an up-to-date free resource to help you plan for your vacation. It definitely helped me plan mine.