Adventures at Epcot with Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+

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Walt Disney World regulars rejoiced last week, as the rollout of advance reservation FastPass+ features finally reached all WDW annual passholders. That means that all Disney World annual passholders should be able to access the My Disney Experience website or mobile app and make FastPass+ bookings up to 30 days ahead of time. Previously, I shared my experiences using FastPass+ as an annual passholder making same-day reservations using in-park kiosks, as off-site guests still must do (at least for now). Now, I’m going to detail my personal adventures with week #1 of Annual Passholder advance FastPass+ reservations.

Getting Started with Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+

First of all, if you haven’t already, log into MyDisneyExperience.com and set up an account. Be sure to link your account to your valid annual pass using the ID number on the back of your pass, or voucher number if you have not yet redeemed an online purchase.

Next, visit the Magic Band page to customize your RFID wristband. You can select a color and name, verify your shipping address, and receive confirmation that your order has been received.

According to the webpage, Magic Bands should start shipping to annual passholders shortly.

Until your Magic Band arrives, you can continue to use your RFID-enabled credit-card-sized annual pass to enter the parks and activate FastPass+ sensors.

If you carry a smartphone in the parks, be sure to download the Apple or Android app. The iPad app is probably the most efficient platform for scheduling and adjusting FastPass+ reservations, but the website and phone apps work fairly well.

Making Advance FastPass+ Reservations

As we’ve covered before, making annual passholder advance FastPass+ reservations though My Disney Experience works exactly the same as it does for guests staying in onsite hotels. The only difference is that annual passholders who do not have a current hotel reservation may only book 7 days of advance FastPass+ reservations at a time, out of the next 30 days. That is based on a rolling 30 day calendar, so if you wanted you could make a new reservation every day, up to a total of 7 booked days at a time. (If you have a hotel reservation number tied to your account, you can reserve FastPass+ for as many days as you have booked in the hotel within a 60 day window).

Here’s a visual example, showing how I selected my first few days of FastPass+ reservations:

Disney World annual Passholder advance FastPass+

First, tap the calendar to select the date you want to make FastPass+ reservations for.

When the correct date is shown above, select Make or Manage FastPass+

Next, pick your park.

Now, select up to 3 attractions. If you select fewer than 3, the computer will pick the rest for you, so you might as well chose them all.

The system will suggest up to 4 options for FastPass+ return times. Select the one you like best, and it will be added to you My Plans screen.

If you don’t like one of your FastPass+ choices, tap on it to modify it.

You can replace all your choices, or simply adjust the time or attraction for a single reservation.

It’s easy to see all the available time slots for each attraction, a big improvement over the original FastPass take it or leave it method.

You can also see all your FastPass+ bookings in your My Reservations tab.

 

Day 1: Epcot FastPass+

My first first-hand annual passholder advance FastPass+ experience occured on Thursday afternoon at Epcot. I arrived around 1:00 p.m. and was parked in the the next-to-last spot in the next-to-last row, thanks to a healthy crowd for the newly-opened 2014 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

The first sight I encountered after passing under Spaceship Earth was the epic double-sided queue that has been erected for the FastPass+ kiosks located around the central pin-trading station between the two Innovention wings.

The line seemed to be moving well, thanks to an overwhelming number of tablet-wielding cast members. But you still may want to seek out the less-visible kiosk clusters located in each Innovention breezeway. Better yet, the FastPass+ kiosks in World Showcase always seem relatively uncrowded, likely because there are barely any attractions that offer FastPass+ in that half of the park.

My first stop was The Land, where I used my Soarin’ FastPass+ to soar past a 120 minute posted standby wait in only 8 minutes (including the video preshow).

I haven’t experienced this attraction at Epcot in years, because I’m generally unwilling to sprint for a FastPass at rope drop. FastPass+ changes all that, since I can now sleep in and still ride without an interminable wait. Sadly, the film used in Epcot’s Soarin’ attraction is now so badly scractched (even compared to its less-than-pristine cousin in Disney California Adventure) that I can’t see myself returning until the massive vertical streaks marring the image are removed.

After Soarin’, I sat in on a showing of Captain EO (always assuming it will be retired before I return to the park), followed by a short stroll past some of the Flower and Garden displays.

Incidentally, the best part of this year’s festival is easily the expanded eats, with additional “outdoor kitchen” vending stand turning the even into a mini-Food & Wine Festival.

From the Buttercup Cottage near the UK Pavilion, I liked the pastry-wrapped pork and apple sausage roll, but loved the chese biscuit stuffed with smoked salmon tartare! Even better, I had Off Kilter to serenade me while I ate.

Another delicious discovery was the ghost pepper-dusted tilapia from the Urban Farm Eats stand. The shockingly large slice of fish wasn’t quite as scorching as its name would suggest, but it still packed a mouth-tingling kick.

Next, I considered hopping in Test Track‘s single rider queue, but 40 minutes was longer than I’d like to wait for it — especially considering the similar but superior Radiator Springs Racers usualy moves singles through in 20 to 30 minutes.

The FastPass+ return line looks long but it was moving much more quickly than the standby one.

At this point, it was time to use my second FastPass+ at Mission: SPACE. It was a less efficient experience than Soarin’, because a “brief technical delay” (read: upset stomach) temporarily halted the Orange Team queue and extended my total wait to about 25 minutes, nearly the orginal posted standby.

After my expedition to the red planet, I was ready to ride the big silver one. Spaceship Earth had a 20 minute posted standby, but I was seated in my time machine in about a tenth that time.

Unfortunately, another unexpected delay halted my Judi Dench-guided journey, stranding me with the alphabet-inventing Phonecians for a quarter hour or so. It’s probably my fault for forgetting to thank them…

By the time I emerged, a substantial line had backed up in both the standby and FastPass+ Return queues. This can happen whenever there is a breakdown, but remember that you can adjust your return window at any time up until you active the FastPass+ sensor. If the return queue is congested, check your My Disney Experience app for an alternate time slot, if still available.

Even with my unexpectedly extended stay in the ancient era, I still departed Epcot by 4:30 p.m. In under 3 1/2 hours inside the park, I experienced four attractions, saw some live entertainment and festival decor, and ate lunch. While I have done the same in the past under the old FastPass, I would never have been able to ride Soarin’ at all under this scenario before having annual passholder advance FastPass+ reservation abilities.

Tune in soon for more thrilling tales of my annual passholder advance FastPass+ adventures at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

 

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Posted on March 21, 2014

22 Responses to “Adventures at Epcot with Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+”

  • Not being able to pick up Magicbands in resort is a huge pain for guests.
    Will Disney ever change that policy?

    • Not as far as I know, since they need time to be customized with your name/color and shipped to your home. The bands are entirely optional, as all the important features of the system work fine with RFID tickets. Why do you feel it is a “huge pain”?

      • They don’t NEED to be customized. When a band has a technical problem and needs to be switched out (we’ve had this happen), they give you a generic grey band. They did it on-site at the DAK FP+ Service Center. Works just the same, just not customized.

      • I’d replied but it hadn’t appeared, so basically, the concern is annual passholders who are regular visitors from outside the USA are unable to obtain Magicbands.

    • Surely they will have to offer it if they continue with their policy of only shipping bands in the USA. We are visiting from the UK (not with annual passes) staying on site so get bands but although we can customise them we pick them up at checkin.

    • It’s a real pain for example if you are from out of the USA and own a home in Orlando.
      Currently Disney will not ship a Magicband outside the USA.
      This might not seem too big a problem to Disney, but for many of Orlando’s vacation home owners (often annual passholders), this is the huge pain.

      Overall, Fastpass+ is a big step in the right direction, but Disney do appear to be quite happy to leave a few casualties along the way. Very odd and not in line with their normally excellent customer care.

      • Thanks for replying Kev. If you own a house in Orlando, can you have your MagicBand shipped there? I guess Disney doesn’t anticipate many guests without USA mailing addresses to have annual passes…

        • Hi Seth, apologies for the delay.

          A few issues arise when ordering anything from Disney from the UK.
          Firstly, unless you try and find an obscure link into the Annual Pass page, UK guests are directed to the UK sales page, which of course does not have a resident’s pass option.
          Secondly, once that has all been mastered and passes are delivered to the home address or collection box, they languish there until the owner’s next visit. Which of course means that pass numbers can’t be assigned to a new Magicband order until that time.
          This will then lead to another 10 day wait before Magicbands arrive.

          As I wrote this, I became very conscious that I appear to be a moaning old exception, but it does occur to me that UK nationals rank as one of the larger groups of homeowners in the Central Florida area.
          I guess we all simply fell in love with the place ;-)

          It would be good if Disney offered a rapid solution, even if it costs a few extra bucks to ship passes and bands!

  • See, this is exactly why APs/locals will benefit more from FP+. You can come to the park in late morning, get in your 4 attractions in 3.5 hours and have lunch, then go home and be happy. But for someone who has to book an airplane flight to get to WDW, who pays to stay in an onsite hotel, and who is expecting to have full days inside the park, those 3 FP+ are not nearly enough. If we went to the park mid-morning and left after a few hours, having done 4 attractions, we would feel cheated, and like we had not ‘gotten our money’s worth’. Unfortunately this seems to be the road down which Disney is traveling: get guests into the parks and limit the attractions they can experience, because then they’ll have to go somewhere and spend money.

    We’re going to WDW in June, and every time I read something new about FP+, it makes me more and more scared. We’re committed to this trip (which we booked months ago, before we knew FP+ would be a factor) but if it doesn’t meet expectations, we’ll be sticking with Disneyland in the future. Ah, the sweet joys of legacy FP…. ;-)

    • Thanks for sharing, Hellen. You are correct, I wrote this from the perspective of a local AP-holder, and the new system works for me, but the 3-pass limit is a definite sticking point for many visitors. On the plus side, you can now hit several E-tickets at rope drop when you would otherwise have been running to FP machines, and schedule your FP+ at early afternoon when they are most valuable. Or if you have parkhoppers, hit one park in the AM and use your FP+ at another after a lunch break. Either way it will definitely take some adjustment…
      And yes, legacy FP is still at Disneyland — for now!…

      • To be fair, I suspect this is EXACTLY what Disney intends. Think of it like this: All of the Disney parks have a fixed capacity, which is why they have to close during busy holidays. I recall reading somewhere that Disney guests spend a certain amount at the parks irrespective of how long they are in the park that day. However, they can’t spend that money if they’re waiting in a queue. So to increase attendance (and revenue!), what would you do?

        Incentivize people to come to the parks for less time each day! Make it easy to get on the handful of rides they really care about, let them eat and buy souvenirs, but make it relatively painful to spend an entire day there.

        FastPass+ seems to be doing a great job at getting people in, on the rides and back out again to make room for other guests (and their wallets). Not to mention the convenience of paying using the MagicBands when you have them, so you may spend more than usual.

        This is why I ultimately believe that FastPass will be removed from the rides that don’t need it and the tiering system removed as well. If my hypothesis is correct, both of those run contrary to keeping guests satisfied (unhappy guests spend less). If I can get to Hollywood Studios, ride the five rides I really enjoy, have a nice meal, and then leave, I’ve had a pretty good day.

        Now the nighttime shows make this trickier … and I have to admit, I haven’t factored that in yet … ;)

  • Hi Seth
    Question for you…My family’s Annual Pass vouchers just arrived in the mail and I registered them in My Disney Experience account. However, I am not given the option to customize MagicBands for them or to reserve Fastpass+ reservations. I have Friends & Family that have active Annual Passes (not vouchers) and I am able to make Fastpass+ reservations for them, but still not able to customize any MagicBands. Should this be working for all Annual Passholders by now, or is it in some sort of rolling out process? Thanks for your help!

  • I’m considering getting an annual pass to cover 2 trips (with the second trip ending on the 366th day). If I don’t activate my annual pass until the first day of my first trip, do I have any way of making FastPass+ reservations in advance?

    • For Matt, KL, and everyone else asking this question, I talked with some folks in guest service today and got the following answer:
      At the current time, an Annual Pass purchase voucher can NOT be used to book Fastpass+ reservations. You must activate the annual pass by using it at a park before you can link it in MyDisneyExperience and have FastPass+ privileges.
      If you have an upcoming reservation for an on-site resort and don’t yet have an active annual pass, you can purchase a multi-day ticket for your length of stay and tie it to your hotel booking in MDE to gain FastPass+ access; then upgrade the ticket to an annual pass after you arrive.
      Remember that MyMagic+ is still a work in progress, and this policy could change if enough people request it…

      • Thank you for the reply, Seth. I was wondering about the possibility of doing exactly what you suggested, so thanks for that as well.

      • Hi Seth
        Thanks so much for the heads up about my Annual Pass voucher! I just spent 30 minutes on the phone with Disney World Internet Support (407) 939-7765 and they were able to link my vouchers to MyDisneyExperience account allowing me to make Fastpass+ reservations even though I have not activated them at a park yet. I double checked and it appears that I can make Fastpass+ reservations for up to 30 days out now. Keeping my fingers crossed that all goes well when making my Fastpass+ reservations in a couple weeks for my trip in June that includes a resort reservation! Thanks again!

        • Wow, so you got it to work? That’s the opposite of what guest relations told me, which is not at all surprising… ;-) Thanks so much for sharing this info!

          • When I spoke to Internet Support they did say that this was new with their most recent upgrade to the system a couple weeks ago. I double checked again today and I was able to book Fastpass+ times for tomorrow (then I cancelled them) with only my Annual Pass voucher linked. They did tell me that I won’t be able to customize my Annual Passholder Magicband until I actually convert my voucher to a real pass, though. :)