Filed under: Walt Disney World (FL)
This past weekend I was finally given the opportunity to test MagicBands! Back when these were still just a rumor, I was excited about the idea. How cool would it be to have everything I need for my trip around my wrist? I would stare longingly when other guests started showing up in the parks with these a couple months ago. Just imagine my delight when a friend asked me to test with him this last weekend!
To get started the bands arrived in the mail about 3 weeks in advance. The great thing is that now Disney is able to tie these to an annual pass! For testing purposes my friend was only able to make one day of FastPass+ reservations, but I was able to book for multiple days with my annual pass. The online site is a much better experience for setting up your FastPass+ reservations – the app is very slow and cumbersome.
Our hotel check-in took about 20 minutes as it was a training exercise for the cast member. Since we had separate payment methods and ticket types, we were not able to use online check-in. Regardless, everything went very smoothly, and we were shortly off to our room. Our MagicBands never gave us any trouble opening our door, and in case anyone stops reading now – our MagicBands worked perfectly all weekend. We snuck out that night for some Food & Wine fu, but you’ll have to stay tuned for a future blog to hear about that! 🙂
The next day we got up bright and early for Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom. Since FastPass+ only allows three attraction reservations a day, we reserved them for the evening at Magic Kingdom. However, we were able to get “old fashioned” FASTPASS tickets from machines that morning at Animal Kingdom! While the parks are still transitioning it seems you will be able to double up on use of FASTPASS! It was so nice to walk up and scan my band for admittance to Extra Magic Hours rather than digging through my purse for a room key after just getting through security. As a side note: I was not impressed with the animals during Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom. During my first early morning safari I saw more game wardens hanging leaves in trees to draw the animals than I saw actual animals! From this experience I would think your time would be better served experiencing other rides during these very valuable extra minutes in the park – but I’m curious what others have experienced, if you’d leave your comments! By 9:00 am the animals were much more active! (As you can tell by my friend pictured on the right that caught me taking pictures of him!) During our morning we made purchases in gift shops and restaurants on our MagicBands with no trouble.
Of course, it was very hot so we decided to rest during the middle of the day in preparation for our grand evening packed full of FastPass+! At about 5:00 pm we headed over to Magic Kingdom, but we had forgotten about a little runDisney event this weekend that had the park packed! We were glad we had FastPass+ reservations since we parked in the second to last row of the entire TTC parking lot! While on the tram we were notified that The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was out of service and that our FastPass reservation had been cancelled and returned to us for use on another attraction. This is a nice service, but the ride was operating that evening, so it made me wonder how this works. In any case, we cashed them in for The Haunted Mansion and continued on. The experience was flawless at The Haunted Mansion, even with the last minute switch. From here we had a leisurely snack (another perfect MagicBand charge) and then headed toward our reserved parade spot.
It is worth mentioning at this point that Main Street was a mess. It was just 15 minutes until the parade, and with the crowds it was difficult to navigate back to the hub. Despite the best efforts of cast members, people had crowded into walkways, and I honestly wondered if we’d even make our parade viewing. I think we must have said “excuse me” a hundred times before we finally made it to the sign pictured on the left – at which point we were promptly told the entrance was through another bunch of people. The situation was looking grim for parade viewing!! I guess we must have looked flustered because the cast member helped us walk over to where we needed to be and scanned our MagicBands. It was like walking into a completely different world. I’m sure that as testing expands these reserved areas will become more crowded, but at this time it was amazingly empty. We didn’t get there early enough to be in the front row, but we were able to sit on the railing with a good six feet of open space in front of us. That never happens on Main Street!! And the view speaks for itself:
I was concerned that the moment the parade started they would let other people flood into this reserved space but that wasn’t the case. As a matter of fact, they chased people out who tried to sneak in! I completely recommend using FastPass+ for this experience if you’d like to see the parade from Main Street! When the parade was over we had a short window to get over to the Rose Garden for our Wishes FastPass+ reservation. I do recommend getting there as early as possible because quite a line built up behind us. We were one of the first few guests in the Rose Garden, so we were able to also see Celebrate the Magic from this location. Was it the most perfect view in the park? Absolutely not. But it was an excellent view considering that I didn’t have to wait in a crowd and that I was able to sit down through the entire show! The view for Wishes was slightly obstructed but overall very good! It was also open enough that I could have used a tripod. Too bad I didn’t, so I don’t have any quality fireworks shots to share. But here is how Celebrate The Magic looked from this spot:
Then as quickly as it began, our MagicBand testing was over. We’d used up our “three wishes” and now had to wait in line with everyone else! Luckily, the park emptied out a great deal after the fireworks, and we were able to navigate to short lines for a couple hours before wishing that FastPass+ could be used for the parking tram!
Overall I would say from our experience that all the bugs are worked out in the MagicBand system! We had nothing but positive experiences and nothing that I would categorize as challenge. It seems like using a Touring Plan in the morning coupled with FastPass+ in the evening will be the perfect combination. Of course, it is still unknown how crowded the different viewing locations will become. I asked a cast member how many people could book the Rose Garden for Wishe, and the answer was 400! We had fewer than 150 on our evening. I can’t imagine more than twice that number fitting in the space! Our parade experience would have also been degraded had we been packed in like sardines! Only time will tell what will happen. Personally, I choose to believe that with a little faith, trust, and pixie dust this is going to turn out great! I’m excited to see what Disney has in store for us!
What do you think? Have you been lucky enough to test MagicBands? How was your experience? Do you have any questions about my testing? Please let us know in the comments below, and we’ll be sure to answer. And as always thanks so much for reading!