Because I have a lot to share about our Disney trip I decided I’m going to break it up into several posts. That way I won’t overwhelm anyone with too much information at once but I can still hit all the topics I feel are important. So, over the next few weeks I’ll be posting Disney tips about every other week. As always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Everything is still very fresh in my mind and I do love talking Disney! On the docket for today… MagicBands!
MagicBands (and the My Disney Experience website and app) are the hot new Disney topic right now and I was beyond thrilled when I got the email ‘inviting’ us to be part of the testing because we were staying at Pop Century, which was the first resort to switch 100% to the MagicBands. If you’re still not sure what MagicBands are let me help you out. They are bracelets that you wear and are replacing the ‘key to the world cards’. They act as your room key, park tickets, meal credits (if you have a dining plan), and wallet (if you choose to link a credit card to your reservation). We were not able, because of the kids, but you truly could walk into a park wearing this band and carrying NOTHING because everything you need is on that band. You’ll soon realize this review is going to be a glowing one. We had an absolutely flawless experience using this new system. Seriously, not one hiccup the entire time! I understand others have not been so fortunate but we had an amazing experience so this review is going to reflect that. I truly hope everyone is treated to the same experience we had.
We got the notice to ‘customize’ our bands (pick our colors and name to be printed inside the band) about 60 days before our check-in date. We had until 30 days prior to customize, they were mailed to us shortly after and we had them in hand within a week.
Because I had done some research, I knew that the outer part of the band can be completely removed making them noticeably smaller and more comfortable to wear for someone with a small wrist. I knew my daughters would be wearing them small so I was able to try theirs on after removing the outer part. After trying, I knew I would be wearing mine small as well so I went ahead and removed the outer part on mine.
If you aren’t sure, and don’t have a child along, try it with the outer part in tact. If BOTH PEGS are going to be attached to the colored band it’s safe to remove the outer part. Don’t separate the bands unless you’re sure because once it’s done it can’t go back!
An added feature that I absolutely loved is the new Fastpass+ system. I’m a Type-A nutjob and (using the Touring Plans website, another post on the way) had each of our days planned out to the minute. My cousin, a teacher who spends his summers working with the animals in Animal Kingdom, has informed me he could never visit Disney with me. I get it, most people prefer to fly by the seat of their pants on vacation. But, that’s just not me, especially at Disney! As my husband says, “If you don’t have a plan, Disney will eat you alive!” More on that in my next Disney post. 🙂 Back to the Fastpass+! Using the My Disney Experience website and app, I was able to plan all of our Fastpass selections weeks in advance. I simply went to the website and it walked me through selecting rides/experiences for each day. Then, when it was time to ride we just walked up, they scanned our bands, and we were off. The whole process is totally slick!
I was also able to edit our selections while in the park! Now, this depends on availability, but we had initially selected that my husband would ride Big Thunder Mountain with our girls and I would take the little man on Buzz Lightyear. Well the older, less daring, daughter decided she wasn’t up to Big Thunder and wanted to go with mom and brother instead I thought I’d give it a try and was thrilled when I was able to change her Fastpass selection to go with me! The next day at Epcot we were running late after dinner and I was able to get on my phone (using the FREE Wi-Fi offered everywhere throughout Disney) and make our Fastpasses for Nemo later so we could greet Donald in Mexico before heading to The Seas for a second ride with Nemo. Now, this is obviously subject to availability (something tells me it won’t work very well trying to get a late Fastpass for Toy Story Midway Mania in Hollywood Studios) but it’s nice to know its a possibility.
Another addition to Fastpass+ is the ability to select preferred seating at parades and shows (Wishes (fireworks in Magic Kingdom), Fantasmic (Hollywood Studios), Illuminations (Epcot), etc). They’re doing it on a very limited basis but I saw some of the viewing areas and they’re top notch! So, if you’re like us and, due to vertically challenged members of your party, Soarin’ and Test Track are out, snag the Fastpass ‘preferred seating’ for Illuminations instead and you won’t have to hold your spot for an hour like we did! 🙂
Another feature of the My Disney Expereince system is the ability to make dining reservations, from your phone. This was HUGE for me because, due to an oversight on our part, we were later than desired making our reservations. That, coupled with the fact that we were going during a free dining promotion and there were no reservations to be had. I spent many hours, over several weeks, checking my app hoping to score our most wanted reservations. I was able to get three of the four and ended up having a great experience at the new one we tried. (I have a post on that coming too!) Once you’re there and using your dining plan, all you do is scan one of the bands and you’re good to go. All the bands on the reservation are linked so no need for everyone to scan. If you’re doing table service you can link your credit card and then all you need to do is add your tip and sign and back to the park you go! Again, totally smooth.
Now, if you have a smartphone all of this information (that will be stored in your My Disney Experience account) will be accessible to you 24 hours a day during your trip. If you do not have a smartphone you’ll want to print or write out all of your dining reservations and Fastpass selections to have with you so you don’t forget anything. One more thing that is included in your account, something we’ve not taken advantage of due to cost, is access to all of your Memory Maker photos (used to be called Photopass). Those are all of the photos the cast members throughout the parks will take for you. Now when they take a picture, instead of handing you a card, they just scan you band and ‘magically’ they all appear in your account. 🙂
That’s about it, MagicBands and My Disney Experience in a nutshell! Like I said, we had a completely flawless experience. I’ve heard people have had issues with the app crashing or the bands not all being linked but we didn’t experience anything like that, everything worked exactly as expected and I absolutely can’t wait to go back!