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May 20, 2016

Changes to Disney's FastPass+ you need to know for busy summer season

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Just when you think you have selecting FastPasses for Walt Disney World attractions down to a science, the Big Cheese decides to tinker with the process. I’m not talking about anything as drastic as going from the paper passes to electronic ride reservations – we’ll save that for Disneyland! – but there are some recent changes that visitors trying to snag FastPasses for extremely popular attractions will want to be aware of this summer.

First, beginning this week, guests can begin booking FastPass+ selections at 7 a.m. ET (Orlando time) rather than the previous time of 12:01 a.m. ET. Visitors staying at Walt Disney World hotels can book FastPasses up to 60 days in advance, and others not staying on property but who have purchased park tickets in advance can schedule FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days before their arrival.

Those seven hours may not seem like a big deal to the inexperienced, but trust me when I say that you will want to be online at precisely 7 a.m. ET if you want to secure FastPasses for popular rides, such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, at Magic Kingdom, or the re-imagined Soarin’ Around the World at Epcot (that opens June 17) on certain days of your vacation or at specific times. Of course, not being able to obtain a FastPass+ reservation for an attraction doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to experience it. But it does enable you to more efficiently use your time in the parks because you won’t spend hours waiting for one popular experience. So, it’s to your advantage to do a little planning in advance to make the most of your vacation.

FastPass+ users are allowed to schedule up to three reservations per day in advance of their arrival. Initially, the guest had to book all three of FastPass+ reservations for the system to work. After choosing attractions, the guest was given three different choices of times for the group of rides. The guest had to select one and then change individual times if something didn’t fit his or her schedule.

As of last month, guests can book their FastPasses one at a time, choosing the specific times they want, rather than accepting the system’s suggestions. Plus, guests can select fewer than three FastPasses per day, if they prefer. All of the initial selections (up to three choices) still must be for attractions at the same Disney theme park, however.

After all the initial choices are used or expire, the guest can make another selection – from a mobile device rather than having to go to a kiosk AND it can be at another Disney theme park. Once that FastPass has been used, another can be booked, and so on. Keep in mind that availability of the most popular rides can fill up before you even arrive at the park, so booking ahead of time generally is your best bet. Still, the new flexibility in scheduling with My Disney Experience certainly is an improvement.



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March 10, 2014

How passholders can sign up for MagicBands at Walt Disney World

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It's finally our turn! This month, Walt Disney World annual passholders are receiving invitations to customize and order their MagicBands. The resort has been testing its billion-dollar technology investment, called MyMagic+, for more than a year, but the test was limited to guests staying at Disney resorts.

So, annual passholders, if you've been waiting -- patiently or otherwise -- here is what you need to know about getting your MagicBands.

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First, for those who aren't familiar with the new vocabulary, a MagicBand is a waterproof bracelet with an RFID chip embedded in it that stores information about each guest electronically. Each MagicBand is designed to allow you to enter the theme parks with just a touch-and-go process; charge meals and merchandise to your account; open your hotel room door; make FastPass+ and dining reservations in advance and use them; and allow cast members to call you by name. (For a detailed explanation of FastPass+, please see my previous blog post here.)

Walt Disney World is issuing MagicBand invitations to passholders on a rolling basis in March, and the first bands will be shipped mid-month. To be considered, you first must create an online account at My Disney Experience and enter your current passholder card number. If you have more than one person in your family, link the members together. Then, check this Tickets and Passes page regularly. I did not receive an email notification, but rather discovered that my order was pending on the website.

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When you are eligible to order your MagicBands -- which are free, by the way -- the top of the page will have a spot that states "MagicBand Order" and a button that says "Add Shipping Address." To begin the process, click on "Add Shipping Address" and fill out that page.

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Next, you will be allowed to customize each MagicBand that is being shipped to the same address. That means you have a choice of colors: red, yellow, green, blue, gray, orange and pink. Don't worry if two family members want the same hue -- a scenario that certainly could cause siblings to do battle -- because each band is further personalized with a name imprinted on the inside.

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Once you are happy with the colors and names you have selected for your family's MagicBands, it's commitment time. Hit the "Ship Now" button to get in the queue for deliveries. Once you have clicked "Ship Now," no additional changes can be made.

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Within a few days of completing this process, passholders gain access to booking their FastPass+ reservations online -- even before they receive their MagicBands. Passholders are permitted to book seven days of FastPasses in a 30-day period. The days do not have to be consecutive, and the three attractions in one park per day rule still applies. Once an existing day is used, another can be booked.

Along with their MagicBands, Walt Disney World passholders will receive a special passholder slider for the band and a card to be used for discounts and parking, if applicable. Although these sliders are an exclusive for passholders, guests will find many accessories for their MagicBands, including sliders, covers and charms in gift shops throughout the property.

Finally, if you prefer not to use a MagicBand, which uses technology that can be read by short- and long-range readers at Walt Disney World, you can choose not to customize your MagicBands. Instead, ask at your hotel for an RF card, which cannot be detected by long-range readers.



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January 30, 2014

How to use new FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World

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UPDATE on March 13, 2014:
Passholders are being invited this month to customize and order their MagicBands. Within a few days of completing this process, passholders gain access to booking their FastPass+ reservations online -- even before they receive their MagicBands. Passholders are permitted to book seven days of FastPasses in a 30-day period. The days do not have to be consecutive, and the three attractions in one park per day rule still applies. Once an existing day is used, another can be booked.

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As of last week, all four Walt Disney World theme parks have converted to the FastPass+ system. Gone are paper FastPass tickets, and some other key changes are now in place. Here's what you need to know to cut your time spent waiting in line for attractions during your next visit to the parks.

AllEars.Net has a great new FastPass+ resource page that will answer most of your questions, and here are my tips based on my first experience using FastPass+ this week. Although FastPass+ was being tested for a large part of 2013, my family and I were disappointed to learn that both of our Disney stays in 2013 were at hotels that were not participating in the testing.

(If you did receive a MagicBand during a stay last year, you can book your FastPasses up to 60 days in advance on the My Disney Experience website. Read more about that on our resource page.)

As for the rest of us -- annual passholders and those not staying on Disney property, collectively known as "day guests" -- we can only book our FastPasses in the park on the day of our visit. That is, until we receive MagicBands. Annual passholders have been told they will receive the RFID bands this year, but no promises have been made to other guests not staying at Disney hotels.

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Arriving in the park, the first thing day guests should do is head to one of the FastPass+ kiosks to book all their FastPasses for the day. You are allowed three per day, and they are free -- unlike at SeaWorld and Universal Orlando where you pay extra for front-of-the-line access. As you would expect, the kiosks closest to the front of the park are the most crowded, so you might have a shorter wait if you walk a bit farther toward the back of the park. Expect to wait an average of 30 minutes in the FastPass+ queue during morning hours, a cast member told me. The tradeoff is that you won't be crisscrossing the park collecting FastPasses all day long, as you might have in the past. You do it once and you're done for the day, unless you choose to make changes.

My family and I arrived at the Magic Kingdom about 1 p.m. on Sunday and proceeded straight to the FastPass+ queue in Tomorrowland, and it only had about a 15-minute wait. We were off to a good start! While we waited in line, we decided on which three attractions were our first choices for FastPasses. Under the new system, the three FastPass+ reservations must be for three different attractions in the same park. That's definitely something to keep in mind if you like to park hop. Also, if you want to experience a favorite attraction more than once, know that you will have to wait in the standby queue for subsequent rides. Plus, at Epcot and Hollywood Studios, guests are limited to one "E-ticket" ride, and the other two choices must be for less-popular attractions.

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When we reached the front of the FastPass+ line, a cast member was stationed at each kiosk to help day guests. He asked for the ride we wanted to do most, so he could enter that first. He explained that Enchanted Tales with Belle usually is the first attraction to run out of FastPass+ reservations each day. Other popular attractions are Peter Pan's Flight, Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain and The Voyage of the Little Mermaid. He also said FastPasses to meet the Disney Princesses book more quickly than meet-and-greets with Mickey Mouse on many days, and Rapunzel is more popular than Cinderella at Princess Fairytale Hall.

Once the cast member inputs your selections, the system will generate the earliest available times for each of the three attractions. Each FastPass+ reservation is good for one hour, meaning you can arrive at the attraction any time during that time frame. Plus, there is a grace period of five minutes before the window starts and 15 minutes afterward. Because of the time constraints, the system will not allow you to book FastPass reservations that overlap.


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After the system generates the first set of times, you can follow the instructions on the screen to see if other times are available. You might have a conflict with a dining reservation or want to see the afternoon parade at the initial time your FastPass+ is scheduled. This process is fairly easy. Once you have achieved your desired FastPass+ schedule, you can email a confirmation to yourself, take a photo of the screen, or write the times on a sheet that cast members will provide. (Guests with MagicBands will be able to see their FastPass+ reservations on their account on the My Disney Experience app.)

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Then, head out into the park for your day. When it's time to use a FastPass+ reservation, go to the FastPass return line at the attraction and have your plastic RFID admission ticket handy. You will have to scan it twice in line. And that's it!

We found the new FastPass+ fairly easy to use, even without MagicBands. Granted we were visiting the park on a day that wasn't too busy and our schedule was flexible, but we were able to have a minimal wait for three attractions, which we rode consecutively. Using FastPass+ certainly helped us maximize our time, which is what FastPass+ is all about, from a guest's point of view.



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About FastPass+

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the FastPass+ category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Epcot is the previous category.

Glow With The Show is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.