My MyMagic+ Test Experience

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Last week I took part in a MyMagic+ test at Walt Disney World. When I let Touring Plans blog readers know that I was headed down for testing, you all came up with some great questions about using the new electronic systems at the parks and resorts. After having spent four days with my MagicBand and after having spoken to many cast members about the program, I’m here to give you some answers and a full report about my experience.

MagicBand presentation box.

MagicBand presentation box.

Before I get going, let me first say that every MyMagic+ cast member I encountered was incredibly enthusiastic about the testing. They bent over backwards to solicit real, honest feedback about the guest experience. There are kinks in the system, but they are trying very hard to work them out.

MyMagic+ starts with with the My Disney Experience center on the Walt Disney World website. You can find this prominently displayed at the top right of the welcome page at DisneyWorld.com. You must have (or create) an online account with Disney to access any of the MyMagic features. At my home computer, I linked my resort confirmation number and several existing dining reservation numbers to my account. I selected colors and names for MagicBands for myself and my husband, Jeff. We also chose FastPass+ attractions and ride times for our park days.

At check-in at Bay Lake Tower, we were given a sturdy presentation box (decorated with my hero, Mrs. Incredible) which held our MagicBands. We were also given standard Key to the World cards. We were told that these were back-ups for the MagicBands, and indeed they were completely duplicative of the MagicBands functions. Both the bands and the cards could be used to open our room, access our FastPasses, pay for merchandise, and so on.

Also at check-in, we received a letter introducing us to the test and letting us know that there was a room at BLT set aside specifically for resolving problems with the program. I didn’t have any problems, but I did visit the resolution room to see if they had answers to some of YOUR questions. There I met cast member RJ who was extremely knowledgable about the program. I identified myself as a blogger, and – even so – he was quite candid and forthcoming with information.

Our MagicBands.

Our MagicBands.

Now on to respond to some of your questions about the MyMagic+ project:

Teri asked: “Is there a way to block kiddos from making charges on their MagicBand?” Cast member RJ confirmed what I thought. During check-in, you’re able to select which specific members of your party are allowed charging privileges. If you don’t want your kids to charge, it’s easy to make that happen. Also, as I mentioned, any charges you make with your MagicBand will require you to enter a PIN code into the “Touch to Pay” pad at the register. In a follow-up comment, reader Rob mentioned that only purchases over $50 would require a PIN. I did not have that experience during my test. I was required to enter my PIN EVERY time I made a purchase with my MagicBand. This included a $3 soda from the Bay Lake gift shop, a $14 popcorn run at the Magic Kingdom, and other food and merchandise purchases both large and small.

Alan asked if Disney would allow you register for FP+ if you’ve purchased an annual pass online or on the phone, but have not yet activated it. According to cast member RJ, the answer is yes. Every Disney ticket now comes with an ID code, even “Will Call” tickets like an unactivated annual pass. On the My Disney Experience site, in the screen to link tickets to your account, select “Will Call” and take it from there. In the MyMagic help room at Bay Lake, I overheard a guest trying to solve an issue similar to yours. It took a while, but they did resolve the situation. My personal guess is that many guests will have problems with this type of transaction, but once everything is up and running, it will sort itself out.

MagicBand accessories available for purchase. Use these to substantially change the appearance of your MagicBand.

MagicBand accessories available for purchase. Use these to substantially change the appearance of your MagicBand.

Rhiannon asked about a loophole in which guests could basically “double up” on their FastPass acquisition by using their preselected FastPass+ allotment while also using their Annual Pass card to get standard FastPasses. Despite a notice on the WDW website saying that this is not possible, I found that Rhiannon was completely correct. I selected and used FP+ on my MagicBand, but I was also able to use my AP card to get regular Fast Passes from the regular Fast Pass machines. Additionally, my husband was able to get regular Fast Passes with his Key to the World card. Enjoy it while you can, folks! Rhiannon’s question spurred what I found to be the most interesting tidbit from my conversation with RJ. He stated quite unequivocally that the old “legacy” FASTPASS will be going away completely. Once the new systems are fully in place the only type of FastPass will be the FastPass+. No more paper FASTPASS tickets.

Betsy asked about whether MagicBand usage would be mandatory or whether cards could be used instead. RJ said that the plan is to give guests both MagicBands and RFID cards and let them choose which to use. During our trip, I used my MagicBand almost exclusively, but my husband did a lot of switching back and forth between the card and the band depending on where we were and what kind of mood he was in. The card and the band had the same functions, so go ahead and use whichever seems more comfortable to you.

John asked about linking AAA pass vouchers to the MyMagic+ system. No cast member I spoke with had any idea what I was talking about when I mentioned AAA vouchers. My guess is that it will take quite some time for this method of ticket purchase to catch up with the system.

I used my MagicBand as my admission medium to get into the park, but I also had to place a finger on the biometric scanner pad. This prevents the bands from being transferred.

I used my MagicBand as my admission medium to get into the park, but I also had to place a finger on the biometric scanner pad. This prevents the bands from being transferred.

Alfie and Shazzie both asked about using FP+ on some days, but legacy old-school FP on other days. As it stands now, yes you can do this, but once the legacy FP stations are removed, this will no longer be an option.

Alfie also asked if you could use the MagicBands without using FP+. Yes, certainly, there is no requirement that you sign up for FP+ when using the MagicBand. But again, in the future the only way to get any sort of FP would be to select it electronically.

Ginette asked if it was OK to get MagicBand wet. Getting the bands wet is no problem. I showered with mine and had it soaked by one of those classic Florida thunderstorms. The band suffered no ill effects.

Panagiota is an Annual Passholder and asked whether you must be staying at a WDW resort to use the FP+ system. During this small test, all FP+ users were WDW hotel guests; once the system is fully operational, anyone will be able to use FP+, including local Florida-area Annual Passholders.

Donna asked about automatic linking of tickets to the FP+ system when purchasing a package from Walt Disney World. Once the program is fully in place, my understanding it that yes, guests purchasing a WDW package will automatically have their tickets in the MyMagic+ system. There are no firm dates on when that might happen.

Bryan asked about whether guests would have the ability to change their FP+ reservations times on the fly, while in the parks. Yes – and I did this several times. On my Epcot touring day, we ended up at the park much earlier than expected. Our Soarin’ FP+ reservation time was in the late afternoon, but we ending wanting an earlier slot. I hopped on the My Disney Experience app on my iPhone and was able to change our Soarin’ FP+ to a morning reservation within about 15 seconds. The system gave me several options of available return times. I was impressed by the speed of the system. From the time I changed the Soarin FP+ return, to the time we were at the attraction ready to ride was about 7 minutes. The FP+ reader at Soarin’ recognized our bands and the new return time with no problem at all. One caveat – I was part of a very small test. There were so few guests like me vying for FP+ that, for all intents and purposes, I could have any FP+ time I wanted. In the future, when many, many guests are competing for a limited number of FP+, then you might not be able to switch FP+ reservation times because different times might not be available.

Managers interviewing guests for feedback on the MyMagic+ experience.

Managers interviewing guests for feedback on the MyMagic+ experience.

Holly asked about whether reserved seating for parades was a FP+ option. While the list of FP+ attractions will likely have periodic changes. I can tell you what attractions I was offered as part of my test:

  • At the Magic Kingdom: Big Thunder, Buzz Lightyear, Dumbo, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Meet Mickey at Town Square, Meet Princesses at Town Square, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Barnstormer, Winnie the Pooh, Under the Sea.
  • At Epcot: Living with the Land, Maelstrom, Mission Space, Soarin’, Spaceship Earth, Test Track, The Seas with Nemo, Captain EO, Journey Into Imagination, Meet Disney Pals at Character Spot, Turtle Talk with Crush
  • At Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, Disney Junior Live on Stage, Indiana Jones, Lights Motors Action, Muppet*Vision 3D, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, American Idol Experience, Great Movie Ride, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • At Animal Kingdom: DINOSAUR, Expedition Everest, Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo – The Musical, It’s Tough to Be a Bug, Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safari, Primeval Whirl, Meet Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost

As you can see, there are no parades listed as FP+ options. However, when I did some testing in December, there were reserved parade seating areas available for FP+, so this is obviously an area in flux.

Chris asked about whether it would be possible to avoid unsightly tan lines when wearing a MagicBand. You know, this is actually a thing. I wore my MagicBand in the Florida sun for 3+ days, and I did have a semi-noticeable tan line on my wrist. I also found that I briefly took my MagicBand off a few times for photographs, since the bright orange band clashed with my ensemble. If these are issues for you, then you may want to go with the card option rather than the band option.

Using my MagicBand to enter the FastPass line at Soarin'. Note the screen in the center. This tells the cast member my name and other information. This may lead to less sharing of FastPasses among family members.

Using my MagicBand to enter the FastPass line at Soarin’. Note the screen in the center. This tells the cast member my name and other information. This may lead to less sharing of FastPasses among family members.

Daniel lamented the lack of a purple colored MagicBand. There is no purple band, but there are plenty of solutions to this pressing dilemma. Disney has started to sell an array of MagicBand accessories to alter the appearance of your band. Some accessories are “jewels” that you clip to your band like a charm bracelet. Some accessories slide onto the band and can be made to disguise your band to look like a watch. And some accessories are fabric sleeves you slide completely over the band to fully change its color. Several of the fabric sleeves available had a purple base, including purple with a field of Mickey balloons and a purple Haunted Mansion-esque design.

Now that I’ve hit the highlights of your questions, here are some of my personal observations about the MyMagic+ test experience.

    • MagicBand delivery. Due to the short turnaround time of the test, we received our MagicBands upon check-in. However, the eventual plan is for Disney to send the MagicBands to guests at their homes in advance of their trip. To me, that just seems silly. Aside from the cost of mailing all those bands, there’s not much use for them until you get on property. I can see many situations where people have their colorful, personalized bands sent to their homes and then accidentally leave them on their kitchen counter. Sure, they’ll be replaced at WDW, but the replacement bands are all gray and won’t be personalized, undoubtedly leading to on-site family confusion. The only possible reason I can see to have the bands ahead of time is if it somehow helps with Magical Express or resort check-in. The transportation folks on property are clearly not equipped to deal with MagicBands just yet. My husband and I drove to Fort Wilderness for a tour. We were stopped at the security gate and asked for our resort ID (normal procedure). I showed the guard my MagicBand and she quite unprofessionally laughed in my face. When I dug the Key to the World card out of my bag, we were allowed to proceed, but this is clearly an area that needs work.
Cast members at the MyMagic help center at Town Hall in the Magic Kingdom. They were ready to solve any MyMagic+ or FP+ problems.

Cast members at the MyMagic help center at Town Hall in the Magic Kingdom. They were ready to solve any MyMagic+ or FP+ problems.

    • Have they met a toddler? MagicBands will be supplied to all guests age three or older. That means that everyone in the family will have these fun, colorful, decoratable bracelets except the smallest children. I don’t know about your family, but if my daughters had been two years old and saw that going on, they’d immediately recognize the injustice and DEMAND to have a bracelet like everyone else. I mentioned this situation to several MagicBand cast members and they were all glassy-eyed, like it had never occurred to them that little kids would want their own MagicBand. I got a lot of “Well, since two year olds don’t need tickets, then they don’t need a band” answers. Nope. Not gonna work. At a bare minimum, they need to start selling toddler-sized bands ASAP.
    • There will be a “frequent flier” bonus. Cast members on site at the Bay Lake Tower testing center were quite clear that eventually there would be MyMagic rewards for certain categories of guests. While no specifics were given (and I really don’t think they have specifics in mind yet), it was mentioned that eventually “better” or more loyal customers (DVC members, Annual Passholders, Grand Floridian guests, etc.) would get perks like more FP+ reservations or earlier FP+ reservation windows. This is somewhat akin to the Castaway Club program on the Disney Cruise Line where frequent cruisers can make meal and excursion reservations earlier than other guests.
FP+ entrance to It's A Small World, previously a non-FP attraction.

FP+ entrance to It’s A Small World, previously a non-FP attraction.

    • All guests will get access to the FastPass+ system. I learned that when the “legacy” FASTPASS kiosks are removed, all guests will have access to the FP+ system in some way via their RFID-enabled ticket admission media. I asked about day guests with no access to a smartphone or tablet. I was told that these folks could make their FP+ reservation in the parks at special FP+ stations. And, indeed, I found that these stations are well on their way to being ready. The lobby of Town Hall in the Magic Kingdom is already filled with iPad FP+ reservation stations and several helpful cast members to assist in their use. Additional MK stations will be at Stitch’s Great Escape in Tomorrowland and at Splash Mountain in Adventureland. The other parks will have similar distribution. I also asked about guests with old no-expiration paper tickets and was told that these tickets will still be honored, but that they must be exchanged for RFID-capable admission media ON SITE AT WALT DISNEY WORLD. Only with a RFID-style ticket with a bar code number would these guests be able to make FP+ reservations. So, if you have an older pre-RFID ticket with remaining days, you will be able to exchange it for an RFID ticket to get into the park, but you won’t be able to have those remaining days get you access to the FP+ reservation system at home. I imagine that this will make a small subset of guests more than a little miffed.
    • The bands were more comfortable and sturdier than I thought they’d be. It took me a few tries to get the fit just the way I wanted it, but once I worked that out, I really forgot I was wearing the band, which is exactly what should happen. I was concerned that the bands would be flimsy and fall off easily, but they remained secure throughout 3+ days of normal park wear. In the parks, I found it MUCH easier to hold my wrist up to the FP+ pads for attraction access than it had been in the past to dig through my bag for the paper FP tickets. One caveat, I didn’t have children with me on this trip. Younger kids might have a different impression of band comfort.
A MyMagic+ "Thank You" gift left in our room during our testing. Yummy!

A MyMagic+ “Thank You” gift left in our room during our testing. Yummy!

  • Account access is an issue. There were several points during our trip where we tinkered with things on the fly (changing FP+ reservation times, for example). It’s GREAT that we could do this; however, in order to make any changes to reservations (or even just to look at reservation times as a reminder), you need to have access to the main MyMagic+ account name and password associated with that FP+ reservation. Imagine a scenario where you’re on a family vacation with teens, they separate from you for a while and want to modify their FP+ reservation time for Space Mountain. Or they know they have a FP+ reservation time for Space Mountain, but they forget what it was and need to double check on their phone (remember, with the old FASTPASS tickets, the return time was printed out on the ticket). These are perfectly reasonable/common events, which now require access to the FAMILY’s My Disney Experience account password. I can think of a thousand reasons why this might be problematic. I feel like they need to build several levels of access into the program.
  • They have kinks to work out, but, again, they’re really trying to make MyMagic+ a positive experience for as many people as possible. In addition to the Bay Lake MyMagic+ help room, there were also research teams stationed in several spots in the hotel. They gathered information both in electronic survey form and via personal interviews. During our stay, the Top of the World Lounge was transformed into a daytime research center. Management-level cast members spent upwards of an hour with each family who wanted to participate, interviewing them in great detail about their MyMagic+, MagicBand, and FP+ experiences. I observed guests giving honest feedback and managers taking notes and understanding their real concerns. They seemed grateful that guests were helping them make they system better. We also received a follow-up feedback survey about the test once we were home.
  • I’m looking forward to more! There are some real issues to work out of the MyMagic+ experience, but overall I was favorably impressed with all the new technology. I’m going to give it a year or two of full implementation before I pass final judgment, but my guess it that I’m going to like what I see.

So what do you think? Are you excited to try this yourself? Do you have lingering reservations? Did my observations raise more questions than they answered? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted on July 31, 2013

222 Responses to “My MyMagic+ Test Experience”

  • Thanks for the post! Great information. We are coming to The Contemporary in September. Do you know were they doing any testing at The Contemporary? Were all the guests at Bay Lake Tower in the test or only a few? Can you get/order a wrist band if you are not in the test (if so how)?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:28 am EST

      My understanding is that the test I took part is was only for DVC members staying at BLT. There will be additional testing taking place in the coming months, but we have no word about when or where this will be happening.

      Unfortunately, there’s currently no way to get a MagicBand unless you’re part of a test.

  • I have a hard time believing Disney can take this system fully live by Year End. However, I keep hearing them say that. Seems like asking for major trouble to go live right ahead of the very busy Christmas Season.

    What do you think?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:30 am EST

      I too worry about problems with a Christmas-time introduction. Personally, I’m hoping they wait until early January for full implementation so that they can work out problems in the relatively low-stress time between Christmas and spring break.

  • by Derek Burgan on July 31, 2013, at 8:48 am EST

    Fantastic article. Erin, did you or any of your family members purchase any of the MagicBand accessories to use on your MagicBands?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:27 am EST

      In the name of research, I did purchase some MagicBand covers and sliders. They’re lots of fun, but I think in general they’re more geared to children.

  • I’m really suprised they said they were getting rid of the “legacy” FP machines. In the beginning WDW said that this MyMagic+ and the bands would be completely optional and you could use your existing KTTW card and nothing would be different. But now, if you don’t use their magic band, you don’t get FP? I see that as a bad planning move on Disney’s part. It’s going to anger a lot of guests.

    • Jennifer, while I don’t completely disagree with your disappointment over the legacy FP going away I don’t recall Disney saying nothing would change. I only recall hearing/reading that you could choose to opt out (or not opt in to) of MyMagic+. If you choose not to use it you will get a KTTW card and go about your business as normal except you won’t get legacy FP. Even if you do opt in you can choose to use the KTTW card instead of the bands and nothing will change except how you get your FP (which in this case will be called FP+).

      • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:33 am EST

        You’re correct. During our test, use of the band was completely optional. My husband used his KTTWC at the FP+ stations several times.

    • by Cheryl Knecht on July 31, 2013, at 2:03 pm EST

      I was sadly, not surprised to learn they will do away with the old tried and true “legacy” fastpasses. It makes me sad. I wonder how long before they begin implementing this in Disneyland (my home park!)

  • Erin, this was a great post. Thank you for sharing. Regarding the annual pass question by Alan and your answer, I made a call to Disney this morning. I currently have two Annual Pass Certificates that we are going to redeem for annual passes during our next trip in October. I was excited to read that I might be able to link those to MyMagic+ now. When I called I was told that the number on those certificates would not work and I would have to wait until I arrive at the resort and obtain the actual passes.

    Not a big deal but a little disappointing for now.

    Thanks again!

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:35 am EST

      Interesting. I asked several versions of this question to a few different people on site and they all said that you should be able to link an AP voucher to MyMagic+. Maybe this is something that they’re almost ready to go live with, but don’t quite have operational yet.

      • I have Annual Pass certificates that we will be exchanging for APs in December. I used the confirmation number in my email and all four of our passes were successfully recognized and linked to my MDX account. This absolutely can be done. Perhaps Roger got an uninformed cast member?

        • Gina, I’m wondering where you entered the confirmation number from your email when linking your annual pass vouchers to your MDX account? There is a number on the back of each voucher but when I entered that into the Will Call option I had no luck.

          Also, my AP vouchers are via the DVC member discount so I’m not sure if the confirmation number is different for that reason and won’t work. I did just enter it under Will Call and it came back invalid.

  • Great article. Gave me lots of info. We are going to WDW in late Sept. I’m interested to see if we get the bands.

  • The voucher I received from AAA is not a AAA brand. It is a plastic card identified as a Florida Resident Weekday Select Pass voucher. The card is clearly made by Disney. But it is not the pass itself. I have to turn the plastic card voucher in at Guest Relations upon arrival to receive the pass.

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:57 am EST

      I understand. The MyMagic cast I spoke with didn’t have any specifics about this product. I’m sure eventually you’ll be able to enter this into the system, but they’re clearly not ready yet.

  • Great information here, but I really don’t understand how getting rid of legacy fast pass is a good idea. Surely it will leave a lot of people disadvantaged in the parks. Especially people that are travelling from different countries. I also read that your allocation of fastpasses will be based on which hotel you stay at, again leaving people at a disadvantage if they simply can not afford to stay at one of the top of the range hotels.

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:43 am EST

      Folks traveling from different countries won’t be disadvantages. They will have the same ability to utilize FP+ as any other guest. They’ll be able to make online reservations in advance or choose to make/modify them at the FP+ kiosks while they’re at WDW. There’s no requirement that you have a US enabled phone or other device.

      As for the tiered levels of FP+ access – the cast members I spoke with were very clear to say that none of the specifics of this have been worked out yet. It MIGHT be that deluxe guests get more FP+ or earlier access to FP+ reservations, or it MIGHT be that some other categories of guests would receive benefits (DVC members, AP holders, Cast Members, etc.) Disney does give benefits to loyal customers of the cruise line, so this could be an extension of that.

    • That’s something like saying people who stay off property are disadvantaged because they can’t do EMH. Park access was never “fair” in that way. I think the overall feeling is that FastPass+ will pay for itself by letting Disney end EMH and give on-site guests an extra FP+ reservation. Most people don’t get up early enough for the morning EMH anyway, so to the casual user this is an upgrade. The “Power Users” who read sites like this will probably be negatively affected.

  • “In a follow-up comment, reader Rob mentioned that only purchases over $50 would require a PIN. I did NOT have that experience during my test. I was required to enter my PIN EVERY time I made a purchase with my MagicBand.”

    Good info, Erin. Disney specifically mentioned the $50 threshold previously, so it sounds like either they haven’t turned it on yet, or it’s possible they can adjust what that threshold is. I think it would be great if it were user-selectable, but at the same time, requiring a PIN all the time is better for security.

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:45 am EST

      When I toured WDW in February, I did experience the $50 PIN threshold when making “Touch to Pay” purchases with my KTTWC, but this trip was entirely different. I was actually surprised when they asked for my PIN when I was just buying a soda. It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

      • My theory only — A KTTW has your name, if you are room only or package, your resort stay dates, whether you are an adult. So a CM could look at the card and look at you and make a determination if you belong to the card and let you charge for $50 or less without a PIN.

        Magic Bands don’t have any visible identifying information other than a first name or nickname that can be printed inside, so requiring a PIN for any purchase seems like a good idea just in case someone steals, swaps, or misplaces their Magic Band (For example, friends traveling together but using different payments for room charges who choose the same color band, but the bands get switched in the morning when they are getting dressed). Again, my theory only.

    • Originally, Disney was not going to require a PIN for $50 or less. Then it rolled out and they received guest complaints. They lowered it to $20. Still recevied complaints. They now require it for all purchases. Complaints stopped. They may revist letting single items or quick cart purchases not enter a PIN, but I doubt they will revisit it any time soon.

  • Great article. How many fast pass plus attractions were you able to choose per day? If they are getting rid of the old “legacy” fast pass are you limited solely to tour fast pass plus allotted options? What happens if you park hop? Thanks :-)

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:49 am EST

      During this test, I was allowed to select three FP+ attractions per day. As noted in my previous article (see link at the top of this page), there was no ability to select FP+ attractions in different parks, as you might want to do when park hopping.

      RJ, the cast member that I spoke with the most about this topic, did say that they are envisioning that at some point in the future you would be able to select FP+ attractions at different parks on the same day, but that the system was not ready to handle this yet. My guess (and truly this is only a guess) is that something like FP+ park hopping is at least a year away.

  • The thing that bothers me is that, since you will now have access to making the FP+ reservations ahead of time, this may become like the ADR system. At least for the headliner rides, they could become so busy at peak periods that all of the FP slots could be gone before the park even opens. I would not like to be the cast member who has to explain that to someone who just purchased a full price day ticket!

    Also, I have heard that you will be limited in how many FPs you can get. With the current system, I can easily use FPs for most, if not all, of the major attractions during the day. If this is limited, it is going to significantly increase the amount of time I have to spend standing in line.

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:53 am EST

      These are fair points.

      The cast members I spoke with mentioned that a sizable number of current guests make no use of the FastPass system at all and that an even larger number of guests use just one or two FP per day. They said that it is only the very rare DVC member or AP holder that will use three or more FP in a single day. Potentially, these heavy users will be the ones who may be allowed more FP+ access.

      • I am a heavy user of FPs, but am not an AP or DVC member. Just a smart mom who researched how to make the most of our vacation time. On an average day at MK, we use 5-8. Our record was 12 during Spring Break 2011. The 3 FP limit isn’t going to bother me at other parks, but 3 is going to drive me NUTS at MK! I think this is going to make rope drop a necessity every day, and plan my FPs for evening time after a break.

        • I do not think their incentives/perks/loyalty program is going to be as simple as AP holders and DVC members get X. If they were interested in that, they could do that now.

          You need to remember, FP+ and RFID give Disney ALOT more data about how “you” tour the parks. They are going to use that data to segment the population and offer rewards and incentives. Not just, I purchased this type of media, or that type of accomodations.

          You might not get 12 FP+ in a day, but they are probably going to come up with something that makes you happy.

      • That’s an interesting comment, Erin. How I look at this is that the average number of FPs used by guests in any given day will likely go up. If they say that most people in the past only used 1 or 2 FPs, now those that use them will always be getting 3 b/c that’s what they’re told.

        As for non-users, i wonder if this will increase their likelihood to use FP if phone CMs, the website, and travel agents keep telling them about MyMagic+

        • Isn’t that somewhat the point? Move the FP from heavy users to the less-savvy general public, to get those people out of attraction lines and instead have them use the time eating and shopping….

          • In disney’s ideal world, yes this Would lead to more shopping and eating. However, with traditional fast pass this resulted in people just waiting in other lines. So this may artificially inflate the wait times of the second and third tier attractions

      • I am concerned about this as well. We regularly use 7-8 FP per day by being smart about return times and when the window opens for the next FP. This is true even with the newly enforced return times. If they are going to limit us to 3 FP per day then that is a significant deterioration of our park experience. I don’t mind only being able to book 3 in advance, but once the day arrives that we are at the park, I want to get more. If the ‘legacy’ FP system disappears, then is that even an option?

        What is the estimated date for the disappearance of the ‘legacy’ system? Presuming that FP+ is ‘fully implemented’ by Q1 2014, does that mean that ‘legacy’ FP will be gone then, or will they wait until all of the issues/bugs are worked out (such as park-hopping)?

      • I am also concern with this. I come from Hong Kong and will go to WDW this December. This is my first visit and I would like to enjoy the most. Limiting the number of FP+ will definitely increase my waiting time, and decrease my enjoyment, especially during the peak Christmas time.

        When will it be fully implemented?

        • by Erin Foster on August 1, 2013, at 5:56 am EST

          There is no official word on when full implementation will happen. I’ve heard everything from September 2013 to late first quarter 2014.

  • So, I’ve had this nagging thought since I heard about these Magic Bands and FP+. How will this change our use of Touring Plans? It just seems so much easier to send one person with KTTW cards to get FPs, especially if there are kids involved. With this, there seems to be so much more advanced planning (and we do enough of that already, LOL!). When do you squeeze in the planning for getting these Fps? Before you leave home? Before you go to the park in the morning? In the park? Kiosk or smart phone? And, how do you teach everyone in your party how to use this, especially if you separate in the park? (I guess they will make a video at some point.) And what about seniors or others who may not be so tech savvy? I just think this system is taking away the level playing field from FastPass. And what does Disney gain from using this new system? I’m going in 4 weeks – I hope we get to test this system too. I’m glad I have a Mophie case for my iPhone. With this system, we’re all going to need extra battery life, LOL!

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 10:02 am EST

      LOL about the battery life! I too have an iPhone with a Mophie and I needed every bit of juice I could get. They’re in the process of installing charging stations in the parks now to help guests cope with this issue.

      You bring up a lot great issues. There is a different level of planning involved with this. Just like getting meal ADRs, I’m sure different families will develop different strategies and philosophies about the process.

  • I’m concerned about Disney resort guests being able to prebook fast passes. Disney offers great Military promotion tickets. These have to be activated in person. Before FP+ everyone got FPs the same way but now with some people being able to book early…. what does that do to the rest of us?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 9:55 am EST

      Right now, it does look like military voucher people will be disadvantaged. However my guess (really just a guess) is that if enough people complain they’ll figure out a way get military folks or Shades of Green guests earlier access to the system.

      • I see this as a real problem. There are already enough hoops you have to jump through to get the Military discount tickets. Even if you pre-order from Shades of Green or purchase you tickets on base, you have to activate them at the park before you can use them. That creates logistics issues if you want to do rope drop on an EMH morning. Now with the new FP+ system, military ticket holders will ALWAYS be at the bottom of the ladder for whatever FP+ may be left by the time they arrive at WDW. Not really a good way to “reward the troops”.

        So who do we have to “complain” to in order to bring this to Disney’s attention so that something can be done to address this issue?

  • Are the invitations to participate sent via mail or email? When prior to your arrival do they typically arrive? This is our 5th trip and we are 50 days away….just keeping my fingers crossed. I would LOVE to test it out.

  • My family has visited Disney since 1985, and we always stay off property. We purchase our Disney tickets months in advance. With the new FP+ system, will we be able to link our park tickets to our My Disney Experience account and make our FP+ reservations at the time that our Disney tickets arrive at our home, or will we have to wait until we are actually in the park to make the reservations?

  • I completely agree that they need to provide bands for guests under 3. We are planning a trip next year specifically just before my youngest’s 3rd birthday. I know she would be upset to not get a magic band too. I really hope they work something out.

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 10:29 am EST

      Little kids have a very firm grasp on the concept of fairness. Two year olds are definitely going to want their own bands.

      • Seems pretty easy for Disney to whip up a “fake band” for toddlers and sell them for $10 in the gift shop. Then parents would have to buy the accessories for young’ns too. $$$$

  • Great article. My friend emailed me it this morning and I just re-scanned it on Twitter since I follow TP. Going to WDW for 16 days with my best friend starting tomorrow, and while we wish we could experience a test run of this, we have inactivated AP vouchers,…and are staying at Pop….so I don’t think they’d test us anyway. But…a couple thoughts (since I am going for the marathon in Jan….)
    -if there are two AP holders and one standard park hopper ticket in your party, will this affect how you book FP+ ahead of time? I can see it being an issue if AP holders get more….but my husband will not be an AP holder in Jan, just my mom and I . I hope if the system is rolled out this doesn’t affect his experience

  • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 10:33 am EST

    I am an Annual Pass holder and during this trip my husband just had a two-day base ticket. We were both allowed to make the same number of FP+ reservations. However, as “frequent flier” perks start to roll out, I can absolutely see problems arising like the one you mention.

    With the Disney Cruise Line Castaway Club perks, the perks of the highest Castway Club status guest in the room apply to all members of the party staying in the room, regardless of their individual Castaway Club status. I have no idea whether a similar concept will happen with MyMagic+ (really – no idea at all), but something like that would be nice.

  • There are at lot less ADRs available than FPs. Maybe 400 ADR/restaurant vs 4000/FP+ per ride. So while I expect some people will make FP+ reservations in advance, I would be surprised if they sell out like ADRs. I’m sure the FP+ will sell out for popular rides on the actual days though.

    • I totally agree with this comment. FP+ rides have much higher guests/per hour rates than restaurants. For example, Be Our Guest has 550 seat and a turn over time of 90 minutes for a guest per hour rate of about 370 and it only operates for about 5 hours a day. Toy Story Mania (the biggest bottle neck in WDW) has a guest per hour rate of a rumored 700 to 800 per hour, but it is also open all day. Therefore, there is alot more capacity/FP+ available.

      I am not saying that Soarin and Toy Story Mania won’t run out of FP+s, I am saying that it won’t happen on 60 days out. I doubt you will be able to get these two attractions day of, but they will be available as your vacation date approaches. Other attractions, even e-tickets will have FP+s available up until day of. They might run out slightly earlier in the day because you do not have to be at rope drop to reserve, but they will be available.

      Other FP+ attractions have rates as high as 2,500/guests per hour.

      And I think it is important to notice how Disney has promoted this new service to the general public. They say things like, “lock in your must-do attractions.” The current marketing and I imagine the future marketing are focusing the guests on ensuring their favorite rides don’t get missed. So for us (people who follow touring plans) we know to get our Soarin and Toy Story Mania FP+s, the average park guest is going to reserve Voyage of the Little Mermaid because their daughter loves Ariel. Yeah, your daughter might like her to, but it isn’t your top pick for a Hollywood Day FP+.

      I am just saying alot of the use of the FP+ system will be more emotional than logical. And that is fine. These people will still walk away happier.

      Finally, Disney is getting smart to stand-by lines with extras. Take the rumored Rockin Rollercoaster VIP scene one concept. With it you will be able to spend money while in line. If they can make that work, why not get more people in stand-by? And the scary thing? Guests will probably love the convenience.

      • by Erin Foster on August 2, 2013, at 8:56 am EST

        I love your “more emotional than logical” statement. When my daughters were smaller, I would have died of joy if I had a FP to character greetings, Small World, and the Playhouse Disney show. For us, that’s what really mattered at the time.

  • My husband and I have annual passes and we received our RFID cards last trip and I have to say I love the fast entry and the use of the RFID cards on attractions like Test track. I am excited and anxious to get our Magic Bands. I have a wish that someday that the bands will be upgraded to a Nike+ style band that has a digital display to show information like current time, park hours, attraction closings, as well as return times for Fast Pass, Dinner reservation times and parade and show times. Just think of the possibilities. On a separate note, I am completely underwhelmed by the magic band “accessories” recycled crocs accessories, fabric sleeves, and whats with those things that look like a watch face with no time piece?!?!?!? Seriously? Way too generic and too DIY to bother dropping cash for any of those. No thanks, I’ll wait for the option to purchase the real customized bands Disney’s been promising, specifically Jiminy Cricket for Husband and TNBC for me. Thank you so much TP for sharing your experience.

    • I think I would pay (a reasonable amount) to upgrade to a digital display on my magic band. Especially if I could also replace the battery and use it on future trips. Then it would be worth it. I actually hope this is something Disney considers.

      As to the accessories… The current ones available don’t appeal to me, but the concept does. I would love to scrapbook my children’s and see how their choices through the years change. But this only works if the price stays reasonable.

  • We are arriving at Pop on August 4. Our travel agent called us about July 20 to say that Disney had asked her to ask us if we were willing to do the “Beta” test of Fastpass+. We all decided we would love to try it. The magic bands were mailed to us after we chose the colors and gave the names.
    We were able to reserve a spot for the electric parade for Saturday evening. It seems that only weekend parades are on the system right now.
    Now that I read your post, we will have to try “legacy” Fastpass, too. We will let you know if it works for us.

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 11:31 am EST

      I’m interested that they did mail you the bands. I’d love to know whether you thought having them in advance of your trip made any sort of difference in your experience.

      Good info on weekend availability of FP+ for parades!

      • I am also taking part in the test this coming weekend. I believe the magic bands are mailed to testers so that the bands can be used as identification for guests taking the Magical Express at the airport.

        • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 1:30 pm EST

          That was my thought as well.

          I wonder if in the future they’ll only mail the bands to guests who indicate that they’ll be using ME?

      • I heard a rumor, but only a rumor, that we may be able to use our magic bands to check into Pop from the curb! That would be a good reason to have them mailed.
        I will let you know when we get home.
        calcprof
        PS I think I also saw Fantasmic as a choice for the weekend. That could be enough of a reason to like the “new” Fasfpass more than the “old” one

  • GREAT information. Can you give some more info regarding the AAA pass vouchers you discussed? Specifically, I always book my WDW trips thru AAA, and have no idea what is meant by “AAA pass vouchers.” I always get the Diamond Parking as part of AAA, as well as a number of vouchers for free cups or arcade tokens, or some cost savings for activities. But, I don’t know what is meant by Pass Vouchers. Thanks in advance!

    • All I know is that when I purchased a Florida Resident Weekday Select Pass at the AAA desk in my hometown, I was handed a plastic card which, when turned in at a Guest Relations location at WDW, is exchanged for the actual pass. I’m told this is a voucher to get the actual pass.

  • I see that there are a limited number of fastpasses you can get each day – can you use them on a ride more than once. For example – at DHS the only ride we use fastpasses on usually is TSM – so I could I use the 3 allotments for the day on that ride only?

    • Right now, they’re limiting you to one FP+ per ride. It’s possible they could change it in the future, though. I suspect they’re trying to prevent exactly what you’re trying to do, though, which is use them entirely on the busiest E-Ticket attraction.

      • You are probably right. Knowing the system we were able to get 3 rides on TSM in one day. I think the new technology is great and love the idea of not having to go to the attraction to get fast passes, but I wish they would leave it as only reserving the same day.

        • I agree. They should leave it to the current day and maybe the day before. Not this…let’s plan our ride times 6 months in advance…yay!

          • Current speculation is reservations will open 60 days out not 6 months. Could change, but that is the current concept.

            Further, Disney is benefited by you planning your rides in advance. It lets them staff and make ride adjustments (adding/subtracting cars/ managing vehicle down time for maintenance). So while all guests may not LOVE planning rides in advance, there is benefit on the corporate side and Disney is a business. The guests who dislike this aspect are not likely to number high enough to outweight the benefits. But then again, that is something they will learn as they test and adjust.

  • I just now went back and read your previous article and see you answered my above question there. So, you couldn’t pick the same attraction more than once ahead of time – did you try and ride an attraction with FP+ once you were there?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 11:26 am EST

      I did not try to use FP+ for the same attraction twice on the same day. That would have been a good experiment. Sorry.

  • Thanks for the great article. My question is what you get if you do a Fastpass+ reservation for a show, such as Indiana Jones Stunt Show. Is there a reserved area, guaranteed seating, etc.? How about the parades or fireworks? Do you think it’s worth it to do a reservation for these things, or focus on rides?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 11:30 am EST

      For parades and fireworks, there is a reserved FP+ area. I’m not sure about shows, but I think the FP+ just gets you into the attraction, not necessarily a reserved area (again, I’m not 100% sure on this).

      The “worth it” question is so subjective. If your child’s absolute favorite thing in the world is Indiana Jones, then it might be worth it to you. However, in most cases, those types of attractions have lots of availability and you’re somewhat unlikely to be totally shut out of them. On the other hand, if you arrive at DHS in the evening and want to ride Toy Story without a FP, then you very well might get shut out.

  • I think it will be fine as long as the test group is small and legacy FP is still available. Once it’s rolled out for everybody and legacy FP goes away, I see a big rush for limited resources–i.e., FP+s for the popular attractions like TSM and Soarin. We better be ready to book those FP+s at 7 am ET on the 60th day before our trips–otherwise, your TSM FP+ will be for 8 pm that night, or maybe not available at all. I think that’s why they’re creating FP+ for attractions that don’t need FP currently. Then WDW can say, “Sure, you didn’t get FP+ for TSM–but that’s OK, you still got them for Lights Motor Action, Indiana Jones and Muppetvision!”

    • I agree. It sounds a lot like the dining reservation system.

    • I am not concerned about FP+ availablity. The attractions = guest satisfaction. Dining = money. So they distribute those on a first come first serve basis. If FPs sell out on day 60, they are going to do things to discourage that (like have it take 2 FP+ credits). The new system is much more flexible than legacy FP and the ADR systems. They can and most likely will make many adjustments.

      That being said I am hugely concerned about roll-out! At some point their tests have got to exclude users from the legacy FPs. And I just hope they do it during testing and don’t wait until roll out. Also, as long as we are talking about resort guests and AP holders getting FP+ the test is tiny. The real scary part will be rolling it out to day guests! Yikes! I can just imagine a multitude of logistical issues they will have to deal with when that happens.

  • Thanks for all the info. I’m so grateful for some info finally since Disney has been so cloak and dagger as to the specifics of it so far. I’d been hesitant to link my AP for fear of less FP options but I realized that I knew about the loophole so I was dumb not to. Plus that is the future so might as well get aboard now and get used to it so I can be ahead of the game when its the standard lol

  • by Michelle B. on July 31, 2013, at 11:52 am EST

    By the looks of it the bands are plastic. I really dislike plastic next to my skin since it’s not breathable. How much are the fabric band overlays?

  • Awesome article! We are going 12/26 – 1/1 this year and are staying at the Swan this time. We normally buy our tickets thru AAA each year. I have registered on My Disney Experience but can’t add my hotel reservations just dining reservations. Do you think we will have access to the MagicBands or Fastpass+? Should I go ahead and buy my tickets or wait closer to time?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 12:34 pm EST

      I wish I could give you an answer, but I simply don’t have enough info about roll out timetable. Sorry.

    • We’re going the same time (sort of). We had the fastpass system down and are a little nervous about fastpass plus. It sounds a lot like the dining reservation system, where the best stuff fills up fast.

      • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 12:53 pm EST

        The FP+ reservations are very much like dining reservations. During the testing phase there is lots of FP+ availability, but my guess is that the most popular attractions will fill up in advance.

  • Thanks for the report! My question is this (and you may not know the answer): I purchased a package with 2 day tix and free dining for my party of 4. Our resort stay is 10 days but I only got 2 day tix because I a have an AP and plan to add days to the other 3 tix upon arrival. If we were doing FP+, would we only be allowed to pre-reserve times for 2 days (tix) or 10 days (resort stay)? If you dont know, perhaps I can find out when we go in 15 days :) We are not part of the August test but lots are. Thanks for the thourough report! Very helpful!

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 12:43 pm EST

      I’m not sure whether the MDX system will allow you to input two types of tickets (regular and AP) into one person’s account.

      I do know that my husband had a two-day ticket and could only get FP+ reservations for two days, whereas I could get FP+ reservations for many days with my annual pass.

      Please come back and let us know what your experience was like.

  • We were part of a Fastpass+ test last December. We only got to choose 2-3 experiences per park. How many Fastpasses were you allowed to reserve per park per day?

  • by Julie Isbell on July 31, 2013, at 12:19 pm EST

    this might be a question you have already answered, but i’ll ask it again! with the new band, is there a limit on how many fast passes you can get in a day or is there just a limit on how many you can pre-order? i.e. – you pre-order your allotted number, can you still use your band and get more fast passes as the day goes on? also, what if you schedule your passes for certain days, but change your plans and decide to hit a different park? are the passes still good, or do you need to re-schedule your passes to match the park you are attending that day? we aren’t visiting until next December, so by then all the kinks will be worked out! thanks for the answers and the article was super informative!

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 12:41 pm EST

      My experience was that I could get 3 FP+ per day. It didn’t matter if I made early reservations or if I tried to use them on site. Three was the limit. There’s a loophole now that allows you to use FP+ on a MagicBand, but also get legacy FP via a KTTWC, but that will be eliminated at some point.

      If you change your plans, you have to reschedule all your FP+ – and depending on which attractions you’re interested in and what time of year you’re traveling, you may or may not be able to find availability at your new park. For example, if you had FP+ at Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Buzz, but then decided to got to Epcot instead, you’d have to log into your account, cancel those FP+, and then try to get FP+ at Soarin, Test Track, and Spaceship Earth (assuming that’s what you wanted). If you were making changes on the fly, those attractions might be available, or they might not.

  • “We also chose FastPass+ attractions and ride times for our park days.” Could you give some detail about how you chose your rides and times? Did your whole party want to go on the same rides? What is the interface like that displays rides? Do you go one ride at a time, or one person at a time?

    Great article. Thank you!

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 12:49 pm EST

      During this trip, it was just my husband and I, and we wanted to ride the same attractions together. However, when I’m traveling with the whole family we often split up and ride different attractions at different times. The FP+ selection process allows for both.

      The interface is arranged by days. You select July 30 (for example), then you select a park, then an attraction, at this point it ask you if you want to make a reservation for just you, everyone in the party, or some subset thereof. I could choose to go on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain, while my teen daughter could choose to go on Buzz, Peter Pan, and Pirates. The only constraint is that each person can not go over their allotted number of FP+ reservations. Different family members could also choose to make their allotted reservations at different parks from each other, but again, they’d have to stick to their limit.

      • Awesome. Thanks!

        This seems like a logical way to have it set up. I guess it would help when starting to reserve fastpasses to have a good idea of what each person would like to do and when.

  • Great report.

    I am curious about this part: “Only with a RFID-style ticket with a bar code number would these guests be able to make FP+ reservations. So, if you have an older pre-RFID ticket with remaining days, you will be able to exchange it for an RFID ticket to get into the park, but you won’t be able to have those remaining days get you access to the FP+ reservation system at home. I imagine that this will make a small subset of guests more than a little miffed.”

    I have old NE non-RFID tickets. I thought that I could link my tickets to my account in MDE and use them to make FP+ reservations. Are you saying that this won’t work? The MDE site and app allow you to link paper tickets, though I haven’t tried it myself.

    • I have signed up to test the magic bands for my stay at AKL this weekend. My family was able to link our pre-RFID no expiration tickets to our MyMagic+ account thereby enabling us to select FP+ from home. It was a very difficult process, because on the MyMagic+ app one has the ability to link old tickets by entering information about the old ticket (ID, security code, etc) or scanning the bar code. The app did not recognize our tickets so I spent several hours on the phone with Disney’s technical support trying to link my tickets. After several days they were able to resolve the problem. They mentioned that it took them so long to resolve the issue because they had received many similar concerns regarding old tickets from other testers.

      • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 1:29 pm EST

        Thanks for the report. I was told by cast members on site that guests with old (pre 2005) no-expire tickets would not be able to make FP+ reservations until they exchange them at the parks for new RFID-capable tickets. I’m thrilled if this was was wrong info. Perhaps they’ve figured out a work-around due to guests complaints.

        • OK. My NE tickets are old but not that old. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to use them if FP+ is available to me on my January trip.

          • This part of the article has me super stressed about our upcoming Jan. trip. I am an AP holder but have 8 tickets from UT for my other family members linked to MDE. I am already really unhappy with FP+ (large family vacations require massive planning and major FP usage, usually 6-8 per day!) but the thought of having NOTHING is upsetting, to say the least. I called Guest Relations to ask about it and was told that people holding anything but RFID cards could not book FP+ 60 days out. She even told me to return my UT tickets and purchase new ones from Disney! I then called the Helpdesk to see if I could unlink our UT tickets from MDE (answer: you can’t, you’re stuck with them) and that person said she thinks we will still be able to book at 60 days out as long as we have a resort reservation and some sort of ticket linked in MDE. But she said she wasn’t sure and it might not even be rolled out in January.
            Bottom line: no one knows anything, but I’m going to be one unhappy customer (among many, I’m sure!) with $3000 in tickets and no FP+ except whatever scraps are left when we get there.

          • This reply is for Christina (I didn’t see the button to put a response on her post). Does that mean if we get tickets from Undercover Tourist or Maple Leaf Tickets and link them to our accounts we don’t get FP+ privileges?!

          • by Erin Foster on August 1, 2013, at 5:59 am EST

            You should be able to get FP+ access using tickets purchased from Undercover Tourist or Maple Leaf Tickets, as long as you link them to your MDX account. This should absolutely be possible.

          • by Erin Foster on August 1, 2013, at 6:11 am EST

            Let me further clarify that this should happen eventually, but many guests have had issues with making it work now. Currently some guests with UT tickets are having problems with linking their tickets to the FP+ system.

      • by Heather Christine on August 1, 2013, at 2:44 pm EST

        Out of curiosity, what’s the number you called to talk to MyMagic+ tech support? I’d like to give them a ring myself, as I have non-RFID tickets from Undercover Tourist. I was able to link them to my MyMagic+ account, no problem, but I’d like to speak with someone to see if I can get an answer about booking Fastpass+ 60 days out. We’ve got 100 days until our arrival date.

        • by Erin Foster on August 1, 2013, at 3:39 pm EST

          My MyMagic test welcome letter asked us to call 407-939-7849 if we had any questions/problems with the MyMagic systems. Try starting there and if they can’t help perhaps they can refer you. Good luck!

        • Keep in mind that the FP+ system isn’t live yet, so no one can schedule their FP+ 60 days out yet. I will be surprised if they can actually go live for the holidays – and if they do, I think that’s a bad choice – they should go live during a slow time of year.

          • Just my opinion, but I don’t see them “going Live” anytime soon. I imagine we will just keep seeing testing expand and expand and expand until they are happy with test and adjust and then they will launch a huge ad campaign. But I don’t know that it will be like an attraction with a specific opening date. That doesn’t make sense to me. But that is just my opinion.

    • You mention in your article that if you bring old NE tickets with unused days to the parks, they can be exchanged for RFID bands. Are the RFID NE too? For example, I have old NE 10 day parkhoppers with 3 unused days on them. We plan to go to WDW next June, using Premier annual passes (therefore NOT using our old NE tickets). Can be bring our NE tickets with us next June and exchange them for 3 NE days on an RFID band, allowing us to pre-book FP+ on the future trip when we do use those days?

      As an aside, I can now see the truth behind the rumor that Disney is doing away with NE tickets altogether.

      • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 3:55 pm EST

        If you have a NE ticket and convert it to RFID media, you should be able to retain the NE ticket status, the conversion wouldn’t change that.

  • by Eric Stratton on July 31, 2013, at 1:32 pm EST

    As I read this, it looks like to me that to be able to get FP+ in the future, you will have to opt into the RFID technology.

    So the bottom line is to get FP+ in the future, you will have to consent to Disney being able to track your every move in the parks. And every move of your kids and traveling party.

    Seems like a huge price to pay. Hope there is a way to get FP+ without giving up all your privacy.

    • My guess is that eventually that’s the only type of ticket they will have because I bet they will use the RFID to enter the park as well.

    • If if you are really concerned about Disney “tracking your every move” use the card not the wristband and slip it (the card) into an RFI blocker sleeve…only take them out when you need to use them just like you would the MTTK cards. Military IDs are issued with these sleeves and we have them on any RFI credit cards to prevent anyone from scanning them in passing. The card with sleeve still fits into the little windows in my wallet. They have wallets that block RFIs too.

      • That would still allow Disney to track you: they would know what FP you used, when you entered and exited the park, what you bought (charged to your room) and when and where you ate, etc. That’s a lot of valuable information.

        • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 4:01 pm EST

          There’s no requirement that you use FP+. Even with the old tickets or KTTWC, they still knew when you were getting FP from the machines.

          And you can always pay for food/merchandise with cash.

        • They already do. Unless you use cash for everything. They already know when your ticket enters the park. But you can leave unannounced.

    • I’m not really sure what the problem is. Disney World is not a ‘private’ setting where you could reasonably expect any type of privacy. I can hear every conversation of the people in line ahead and behind me. I have hundreds of people I don’t know in the background of my photos, and every park has security footage throughout the parks. Using a credit/debit card in the parks gives them access to our first and last name, what we bought, when and where, it wouldn’t be too hard for them to compile where and what I did throughout the days through this info. When using your key to the world to enter and exit the parks, and to get FP paper tickets, you are also giving them access to this information. I understand what the huge difference is nor the fear. Are people afraid that Disney is going to stalk individuals and become fixated on them? Harm them? Judge them? Laugh at them? What harm comes from Disney ‘tracking us’ at the parks, and how is it different than using Debit/Credit, and KTTW Cards for entry/exit/FP?

      • too true

      • I agree with this post completely. You have no reasonable expectation of privacy on Disney property. And Disney is private property. They own the parks and the attractions and have the right to track people.

        I mean in a world where you can sue someone for getting hurt on your property, we practically say that Disney not only has the right to track people, but the responsibilty to track them and keep them safe.

        Think of Disney as a big house that belongs to your friend. Your friend has a reasonable expectation that if they invite you over to know where you are in their house. And if you sneak off and snoop that would be very rude of you.

        I believe very strongly in my civil rights and my right to privacy. I believe my home is sacrid. But we live in a world where our interstates are video tapped. Those are public roads people are being tracked on. And Disney is what people are concerned about? This is just Disney keeping up with who is on their property.

        People use google everyday, and they sell your information to other parties for profit. That is not what Disney is doing. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but if Disney wants to know where I am on their property, it is their right to do so. I can choose to go or not go. A Disney vacation is not required. Whereas, getting on an airplane is necessary for overseas travel and they require extensive invasion of personal privacy in order to board the plane.

        I sincerely believe there are a multitude of privacy concerns in this day and age and that everyone should be vigalent. I do not beleive Disney knowing what I rode, where I ate, where I rested, when I moved where, where I stood for the parade, etc. is dangerous to me our my human rights. Using a cellphone is a far greater threat to my privacy and I haven’t given mine up yet.

  • Did you learn anything about the Rider Switch Pass (aka “Child Swap”), and what will happen once FP+ is completely rolled out? Since these are also paper, what will happen once the old system goes away completely?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 1:44 pm EST

      Sorry. I didn’t learn anything about this, but I can’t imagine that they would eliminate the Rider Swap. Perhaps the CMs will just pass out paper tickets for this or something similar.

      • Thanks. Great article by the way.

        I agree I can’t imagine it either… but it never seems to be discussed within the context of FP+ so it leaves me wondering.

  • Great report, Erin! I think the MyMagic+ and FP+ system sounds great. I love the idea of scheduling my family’s rides ahead of time. So much easier than racing from FP kiosk, to ride, to FP kiosk, etc. in the park.

    However, the “only 3 attractions per day” FP+ limit seems very low… My family probably averages using more like 6-8 “legacy FastPasses” (per person) in a day at WDW. Honestly, given the choice of only 3 FP+ per day with the new system v. the old legacy FP system, we’d much rather keep the old system! Here’s hoping the 3 per day limit is only for testing!

  • Florida State law is having a direct influence on the FP+ testing. State law say the admission ticket has to be an actual physical ticket that says it is a ticket along with other details. The RFID band does not conform to State Law as an admission media. Likely because of this, all the testers are getting both physical KTTW cards and magic bands in order to conform to State law. Disney, other theme park companies, third party ticket brokers, sports arenas. etc. are working with State legislators to rewrite applicable laws. I think when new laws are enacted, the choice to have both magic bands and KTTW act as tickets will be removed.

    • If you buy a ticket, how do you get the bracelet? Let’s say, I buy my tickets in advance online, how do I get them? Are you supposed to get into the will call window line, or is it done differently? I have gone to Disney World many times, and have used the fastpass system, and have had pleasant results. I am not too excited, very worried even, about reserving fastpass rides months in advance. I don’t think it will be a fun experience if the ride fastpasses are sold out months ahead. Am I alone in being worried about this?

      • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 2:37 pm EST

        The exact procedures for day guests to get bands has not yet been described to the public. I imagine that it will be a stop at something like Will Call, but that’s really just a guess.

        You are not alone in your concerns. A decent faction of guests is very concerned about lack of FP+ availability on popular attractions for folks who don’t like to plan in advance. We’ll have to see how it all shakes out.

  • Great article – thanks. In the past we have travelled with my wife, kids and my parents. Frequently my parents do not care about the rides and we will get FPs for the entire group, and me and my kids would use my parents unused FPs to go on the ride again. Sounds like that would be difficult with the bands. Could you swap bands, or just swap the cards and use those under that approach?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 2:34 pm EST

      My family does what you mention all the time. Once my daughters doesn’t do thrill rides, so her sister uses the extra FP to go twice.

      Now you would have to swap bands or cards. There are problems associated with this:

      - The FP+ readers identify the FP+ user by name. So if your daughter Susie were to use your father Fred’s band/card, it might cause a CM to notice. I’m not sure that they’d really care, but I can envision a scenario in the future where the “this ticket is not transferrable” language would be brought into play.
      - The bands/cards have many other capabilities than just FP+. If you give a kid your band, you’re also giving that kid your charging privileges, etc. This didn’t happen if you just gave the kid a paper FP ticket.

      • Would Disney really care if people were swapping around bands to share FP entries? I mean, one entry is one entry, if Susie uses it Fred can’t, so it’s not like anyone is gaming the system.

  • I guess I am confused on what the advantages of this system are for guests. I get why Disney would benefit, but not guests. I guess people who want to arrive late to the parks, would be able to secure FastPasses to rides like TSM and Soarin’, but for anyone arriving the morning I don’t see what we get from the system as a whole, except for not having to carry paper FastPasses.

    It seems to provide fewer FastPasses and less flexibility and would really hinder people who go for long periods and don’t know really early on what parks they want to go to on what days. I can’t imagine waiting until the crowd calendar is out, picking my parks and then seeing that there is no way to obtain a Fast Pass to an attraction I care about.

    What do you see as advantages for guests of this system? Are they going to role out extra benefits that will make it better (i.e. does this link up with new interactive queues they are currently installing?)?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 2:43 pm EST

      As you suggest, there are certainly some negatives for some guests.

      As a parent of teens who despise getting up early in the morning, the ability to ride Soarin without having to be at rope drop is a huge bonus. And as a VERY good Disney customer (DVC, AP, deluxe resort user), I’m personally psyched to get some loyalty bonus. (Of course, I know that many feel the exact opposite.)

      I also have to say that while I was a bit stressed at home planning my FP+ selections, I was actually much more relaxed while in the parks than I usually am. Typically, my husband would be on a mission to run all over the place to get FastPasses and it would be difficult to coordinate meal times with FP times. Since we had it all worked out in advance, our park time was much more mellow. The vacation felt more vacationy.

      • That is a good point in your last paragraph. I honestly think this system would be pretty close to perfect if they kept the reservations for the FP+ the same day or just a few days before the trip. You could still schedule the FP around meal ADR’s and have a relaxing day.

        • But day of or a few days before is not how the system works now. Currently it release reservations in order on a first come first serve basis. If they opened all reservations at day of midnight, then you would have the same problem people are worried about with 60 days out. Only now it is midnight in the middle of your trip.

          I really think if they are going to allow you to pick your times, they can’t open it during trip time. Whenever FP+ reservations open there will be a mad grab for popular attractions no matter what system they use. That is true now, people run to the FP machines at rope drop (when reservations open currently). I think doing it at home from the comfort of my computer will be far more enjoyable than when I am sweaty in the parks in Flordia.

  • I have two young children who I worry about getting lost in the parks. As of the past few years I make them wear our phone numbers around their necks incase they get separated from us. Do you know if the magicbands will have our personal cell phone numbers linked to them? It would be great if lost children could go up to a cast member, with their magicband and ask them to call their parents all by scanning the magicband.

    • I have heard rumors that even thought the band only holds the ID number, you will have the choice of what information is linked to that ID in the Disney system. So you can give as little or as much info as you are comfortable with.

      The lost child scenario would be the perfect reason to give at least each child’s first name and your cell number…maybe our name as well. I have asked more than one lost child what their mother’s name is to have her paged, only to be told “Mommy”. Think of how comforting it would be to a lost two year old to have a friendly cast member call them by name and assure them they are calling Mommy.

  • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 2:46 pm EST

    Good question. I don’t know this for sure, but my gut tells me that this would be possible. The inside of the band is printed with your name and an ID number. I’m sure that this ID number is linked to your MDX account with all your personal information on it. You could also just choose to write your number on the inside of the band with a Sharpie.

  • Thanks for all the great info. You post supplies much need first hand information.

    Once the system is actually up and running and the Legacy FP is gone, will you be adjusting your touring plans?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 3:53 pm EST

      Yes, touring plans adjustments related to FP+ are already being made and will continue to evolve as the system becomes more fully implemented.

  • I have a couple of questions that I am hoping someone can help me with! If I have an annual pass and I am staying on property, will I be able to select my FastPass+ attractions in advance just like everyone else who purchases a room & ticket package? What if I am staying off property and have my annual pass — will I only be able to select my FastPass+ attractions on the day I am in the parks?

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 3:58 pm EST

      When the new system is fully implemented, annual pass holders will be able to make FP+ reservations in advance whether they’re staying on site or off.

  • Erin,

    This is fantastic information. I had heard previously that the “menu” of attraction selections would be set up in a way that you would not be able to use all three in one day on E-ticket attractions (like all three mountains in MK). You would be forced to pick some lower-level ones as part of your three. Was that your experience or did you hear anything about that? Thanks!

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 5:05 pm EST

      That was my experience when I was part of a test in December (there’s a link in the article). But during this trip I was allowed to make my selection of three FP+ from any of the available attractions. There was no restriction to specific types of attractions. I could get FP+ for all three mountains.

      They’re still tinkering, so it could roll either way in the long run.

  • What impact do you think FP+ will have on waiting times at the headliner attractions? The way I see it, if more guests utilise FP then Disney can spread the daily load more evenly, which might mean shorter standby waits during peak times of day.

    Personally I’m looking forward to trying this out – while I am a heavy FP user in the parks I don’t mind having a limited number of FPs if it means I can plan attractions around shows/dining and reduce the amount of back-and-forthing that is required to ‘optimise’ waiting times. And don’t get me started on the counter-intuitive 30 minute wait for an RSR FP at DCA!

    I suspect Disney will only make a certain percentage of FP+ reservations available online in advance, with the rest becoming available at park opening for day guests and those making a spontaneous trip. This would help to avoid some of the issues mentioned above with certain types of ticket having to be activated at the park.

    One potential issue I can see is that AP holders can presumably book FP+ slots for any day of the year, even if they aren’t planning on being in the park, “just in case”. Have Disney announced any incentive to prevent this happening?

    • Aaron – I agree with this statement:

      “I suspect Disney will only make a certain percentage of FP+ reservations available online in advance, with the rest becoming available at park opening for day guests and those making a spontaneous trip. This would help to avoid some of the issues mentioned above with certain types of ticket having to be activated at the park.”

      I really would think they would have to, so many people go to Disney w/o doing research, if there are no fastpasses at all on the same day, too many people are going to leave with a bad taste in their mouth and Disney must realize this.

  • Thank you so much for this review. I cannot WAIT for this to be in full swing!

  • I am very skeptical of the “bonus” for the loyal customers. That’s not the way Disney has traditionally operated.

    I am also concerned that there seems to be no real assurance that if you don’t book 60 days in advance you won’t wind up with fast passes for attractions that don’t even need a fast pass (When was the last time you stood in line for Indiana Jones, for example?)

    • by Erin Foster on July 31, 2013, at 10:34 pm EST

      As another reader pointed out, there already are bonuses for some guests. People staying on site get access to park Extra Magic Hours while off-site guests do not. On site guests can also make dining reservations earlier than off site guests. And as I mentioned, loyal DCL cruisers get earlier access to reservations than new cruisers do. What’s new is giving varying levels of privileges in the parks.

    • This is a very typical concept across several industries, but specifically hotels. If Disney doesn’t engange in loyalty programs it can hurt them in the long run. I don’t have a problem with it. I love Disney, but I can’t spend as much with them as other people can. I am not worried about getting excluded.

      The flip side of that, is I keep considering a trip to Universal, but deciding against it since I can’t stay on property and on-property guests there actually get to cut in line. It isn’t a ride reservation or more ride reservations than day guests get, it is ulimited access to cutting in line. That is a loyalty program that is unfairly wieghted. FP+ is no where near that.

  • “Alfie also asked if you could use the MagicBands without using FP+. Yes, certainly, there is no requirement that you sign up for FP+ when using the MagicBand. But again, in the future the only way to get any sort of FP would be to select it electronically.”

    You mentioned that you could use the MagicBands without using the FP+. How would that be possible? Would they still issue Keys to the World Card until the FP+ is in full effect? Thank you! :)

    • by Erin Foster on August 1, 2013, at 6:03 am EST

      Magic Bands and KTTWC are currently being issued simultaneously. During our trip, my husband used his interchangeably, as his FP+ and all other standard KTTWC functions.

      However, what I meant was that no one is forcing you to get FastPasses. You can get a MagicBand (or KTTWC) and use it to open your room, get into the park, and pay for merchandise, but not sign up to get FP+. But if you want to take advantage of FastPasses, eventually you will have to opt into the FP+ system.

  • If we stay at two WDW properties on one trip they will only send us one set of Magic Bands, correct? (presuming we are asked to test the system in October). I’d hate to carry around two sets of magic bands and KTTW cards, lol…talk about juggling act!

    • by Erin Foster on August 1, 2013, at 6:06 am EST

      You pose a great question. Unfortunately I don’t have an answer for you.

      In the past, guests who switched resorts mid-trip were give two completely separate sets of reservations/keys/etc. One would hope they could work this out to be more seamless (and less bulky) in the future, but I haven’t heard anyone mention this.