A few weeks ago I wrote an article about optimizing your FastPass+ experience using a Touring Plan. Well, I made it there and back again, and I have a mixture of advice, information, and opinions that I’m going to soak you with as if you were in a raft on the Kali River.
In general I was happy about my experience with MyMagic+. The MagicBands themselves were comfortable and easy to wear, although it took me about 4 days to stop looking at my wrist for the time. I haven’t worn a watch regularly in a few years, but you apparently don’t lose that reflex. One thing that surprised me was that both of my kids wore their Bands all week without complaint, even the two year old. Of course, my two year old didn’t actually need a MagicBand since he didn’t have a park ticket, but when I ordered my Bands prior to my trip I called, and Disney agreed to send him his very own accessory to avoid the inevitable screaming.
The actual use of the bands was easy for what we used it for. I loved using it as a room key, especially when going swimming, where I didn’t need to bring another key. We also had no issues using the Band as a park ticket or for using our FastPass+ reservations. I only used the Band to pay for items once or twice, just to see if it worked (it did). As a person who carries a wallet almost all the time, I found the process of swiping my credit card to be easier than scanning the band and typing in my PIN.
We only had one small issue with the Bands, and that was because we stayed at three different resorts. The Magic Bands were pre-linked to our room at Animal Kingdom Lodge because that was the resort that was part of the test. The other two resorts had to be linked by Guest Services, which took about 5-10 minutes each time. As I said, a minor issue, but one that seems like it shouldn’t be a problem at all. Of course, once all resorts participate this will not be an issue at all.
General FastPass+ Notes
As many of you know, the current paper FASTPASS has a one hour return window. There is a little leeway, however, as you are generally allowed to enter the FASTPASS queue up to 5 minutes prior to the start of your window or up to 15 minutes after the expiration of your window. This leeway has remained in place for FastPass+, which is good news.
A major reason that this is good is because you are not allowed to overlap FastPass+ times. For instance, you may schedule a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FastPass+ for 3pm-4pm and a Splash Mountain FastPass+ for 4pm-5pm, but they cannot run concurrently. The added 15 minutes helps allow you to ride Big Thunder later in the window and ride Splash right after rather than do extra walking.
One thing that happened constantly with FastPass+ was making changes. Adjusting my FastpPass+ times became so common that I kept forgetting what FastPass+ reservations I had. Since I found myself a bit forgetful about times, I often checked the My Disney Experience app to remind myself. Of course, once I realized that the My Disney Experience app moved about as fast as the family of 12 in the middle of Main Street checking their map, I began using a notes program on my phone to log the times. But I’m not here to rag on Disney’s technology (because I don’t have enough words to do that properly), so let’s talk a little about some of the individual attractions.
Attractions, FastPass+, and You
I used FastPass+ for quite a few attractions, but one of the great things about this test phase is that I could use both FastPass+ and the paper, legacy FASTPASS system. Therefore, I focused my FastPass+ reservations mostly on attractions for which there were no paper FASTPASSes available. Such attractions are the ones that I’m going to give my notes on…right now!
– Main Street Electrical Parade: I’m starting with this one because this was the FastPass+ I found most valuable. The viewing area was in the Hub directly across from the castle, and we waltzed into it about 8 minutes before the parade arrived. I can envision problems with this, however, depending on the types of people in the crowd. What I mean is that there were too many people in the FastPass+ area for everyone to be front row. Luckily, most people in the area were seated, and remained seated throughout the parade, which allowed us to see the parade unobstructed. If people had decided to stand in the front, we would have been three deep and holding up our children, just like we would have if we had walked over to Frontierland.
– Wishes: Directly after our viewing of the Main Street Electrical Parade we headed over to the viewing area for the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show: Wishes. I was not particularly happy with this FastPass+ use, mostly because of the viewing area. While it seemed like there were fewer people in this area, it was in the Rose Garden, which is between the Hub and Tomorrowland. The problem with that is that it is not only an off-center view, but Cinderella Castle is partially obstructed by trees. As you can see in the photo, this was not a great view. I think we would have been better off in the crowd on Main Street, and I won’t be using this FastPass+ again.
– Fantasmic: This was the last nighttime spectacular that we used FastPass+ for (I couldn’t get one for Illuminations). I was excited about this one because I don’t see Fantasmic often, mostly because I refuse to show up hours early. We walked into the amphitheater about 15 minutes before showtime and were led to the FastPass+ seating section. They use the Pocahontas area for Fastpass+, which is just left of center, so good seats. Now, there wasn’t a ton of seating left at that time, but we did manage to find seats for four.
– Meet and Greets: We used the FastPass+ for several meet and greets, including mermaid Ariel in New Fantasyland, the Character Spot in Epcot, and the new Princess Fairytale Hall. I find these to be quite valuable if meeting these characters is important to you. We had to wait no more than 5 minutes for any of these meets.
– Enchanted Tales with Belle: Despite the Cast Member in front of this attraction telling me that there was no FastPass+ for Enchanted Tales (they’re still training as well), we used one anyway. Basically, this allows you to be let straight into the mirror room ahead of those in the general queue. Definitely a valuable FastPass+ for an attraction that often has a long wait.
– Disney Junior – Live on Stage: I ended up not using a FastPass+ reservation for this show, but I did make sure to find out how it works. A secondary queue pen is set up right near the door for those with FastPass+ so they can enter the theater first. Additionally they now fill the theater one section at a time: center first, then right, then left. Any FastPass+ users that arrive after the theater begins to fill are directed to the front of one of the unfilled sections. That way the FastPassers are always towards the front. The problem with this is that the front is not the best spot for Disney Junior. Because of the need to hide the “mechanics” of the puppets, being in front means that it is hard to see the whole stage.
One last thing to mention before I open it up to questions is the Be Our Guest Restaurant lunch FastPass+. This is a special FastPass+ that is not tied to the rest of your FastPass+ reservations (meaning it doesn’t count against your 3). You are allowed two options for a quick Be Our Guest lunch. Option 1 is to simply bypass the line and go straight to the ordering stations. Option 2 is to pre-order your food and go directly to your table.
We were meeting some other fabulous Touring Plans team members there for lunch, so we went with Option 1. Said team members were also not on our FastPass+ reservation, so we decided to test if we were allowed to enter with more people than we had reserved (known lovingly as Testa-bombing after my liege, Len Testa). There was no problem entering, ordering, or receiving our food, and being able to eat lunch at Be Our Guest with practically no wait was extremely valuable. If you can deal with the stares of promised pain that those waiting in that long line give you as you trot on past them, I strongly suggest taking advantage of this one.
Those are all of the notes, recommendations, and experiences I can think of for now. Please ask any questions you have and I will do my best to answer them. Thanks for reading!