Posts Tagged ‘Fastpass’

What I Wish I Knew Before My Visit to California Adventure

by on August 27, 2015

Carthay Circle Restaurant

Carthay Circle Restaurant

I recently went to the Disneyland Resort for the very first time. As a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World since childhood, I was beyond excited to experience a Disney Park as a first time guest, particularly Disney’s California Adventure as it is a totally unique park and would be a great sampling of the Golden State for this California Newbie! But even before I even passed through the turnstiles, I did my homework on Disney’s California Adventure so that I could avoid some of the rookie mistakes and maximize my time in the park. Even so, there were definitely some things that I either didn’t expect or wish I would’ve known to help my day run more smoothly. So glean from my first hand experience fellow Disneyland Resort Rookies and discover what I wish I knew before my visit to California Adventure.

Have a Wardrobe Strategy for Grizzly River Run – If you’re looking to experience Grizzly River Run, the park’s incredible raft ride at Grizzly Peak, I would strongly suggest wearing clothes that dry quickly or picking up a poncho at Rushin’ River Outfitters. There are lockers available for free near the huge bear statue, but only if you pick up your stuff within 2 hours.

Disney’s California Adventure Park Could Be a One Day Park – Some may disagree with me on this, but hear me out! While I loved my day at Disney’s California Adventure, and can’t wait to go back, I felt like I was able to accomplish the best of the park in a single day with proper planning while I needed two days at the Disneyland Park. For example, during my visit in July and with the help of FASTPASSES, I was able to ride almost all of the park’s most popular attractions, do a little shopping and dining, and squeezed in a showing of World of Color in one day. If you only have a short time to check out the Disneyland Resort, I would suggest setting aside two for the Disneyland Park and one for California Adventure.

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Disney World Preparation for the Disneyland Veteran

by on August 25, 2015

If you’re a native of the west coast, you may think you know what to expect from a visit to Walt Disney World, based on the many weekends and afternoons you’ve spent at Disneyland. However, even if you are an old hand at Disneyland, you’ll probably find Walt Disney World overwhelming.

WDW Entry Gates

Even the signage when you enter is bigger!

At over 27,000 acres, Walt Disney World is over 170 times as large as Disneyland. Disneyland consists of two theme parks, a shopping district, and three hotels. Walt Disney World consists of four theme parks, two water parks, two mini golf courses, four full golf courses, 27 lodging options, a shopping district, and its own vast transportation network. In Disneyland, park-hopping consists of walking the short span of the Esplanade between gates. In Walt Disney World, park-hopping requires at least one form of transportation, and a minimum of 20-30 minutes of time. In short, Walt Disney World is just an order of magnitude larger, and more complicated, than Disneyland.

Here’s what you need to know to survive the Big One – big theme park, that is.

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Magic Kingdom Attractions That Are Worth Your Time, Without Using FastPass+

by on August 19, 2015

The most attended theme park in the world can be a little intimidating, especially for a Disney “beginner.” With the advent of FastPass+ guests are clambering to ensure they select the right FastPass for the right attractions and the right time. Let’s take a look at the attractions at Magic Kingdom that don’t require FP+ so you can use those precious time slots for other attractions. We’ll also review the attractions that are definitely worth your time even if FastPass+ is not offered.

DSC01552

Tomorrowland

Some Disney fans might say that Tomorrowland is the land that time forgot. The problem with lands and attractions based on the future, is the future comes a lot faster than you realize and suddenly the concept becomes outdated. Space Mountain or Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin are decent FastPass+ options, but there are three attractions that are worthy of your time without needing to use valuable FP+ time slots.

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Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean

by on August 14, 2015

Pirates3

Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean

Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort share a number of the same attractions, such as Space Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, “it’s a small world,” and many others. But if you think that these attractions are the same on both coasts, you would be mistaken. One of the many things I love about Disney is that they never do the same thing twice; and while the attractions that can be found on both coasts may share the same names and themes, they do have differences too. Hey, who doesn’t like variety, right? But you have to wonder, which resort has the best version of a popular attraction? Which Disney Park has the bragging rights? Well, that’s what I’m going to find out beginning with one of the most popular attractions ever in Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: Pirates of the Caribbean!

What is Pirates of the Caribbean?

Pirates of the Caribbean is one of Disney’s most brilliant attractions of all time! It even inspired the popular Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise starring Johnny Depp. The attraction is a boat ride which takes guests back in time to the days where pirates looted and pillaged the Caribbean through incredibly detailed scenes, audio-animatronic pirates, and a terrific balance of both humor and danger. Pirates of the Caribbean’s signature song, “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life For Me” by “X” Atencio and George Bruns is also just as famous as the attraction itself and has had adults and children humming along for decades.

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Your FastPass+ Priorities for the Magic Kingdom

by on August 13, 2015

I recently updated the FastPass+ recommendations for each of our 50 Magic Kingdom Touring Plans, using our latest computer models to save you the most time in line. The biggest change is that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is recommended more frequently, because FastPass+ reservations are more readily available now than when the ride first opened.

As before, each of the touring plans suggests the FastPass+ recommendations you should make in advance of your visit, like this:

Suggested start times for FastPass+ reservations:
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train = 9 AM
Peter Pan’s Flight = 10 AM
Enchanted Tales with Belle = 11 AM

I also added new recommendations for day-of FastPass+ reservations you can get at the Magic Kingdom’s in-park kiosks, after you’ve used your original set. These are based on our statistician Steve Bloom’s excellent analysis of when day-of FastPasses run out for each attraction. Here’s what the new recommendations look like:

You should be able to get day-of FastPass+ reservations starting around lunchtime. Here’s what we suggest:

Buzz Lightyear = 3:30 PM
Pirates of the Caribbean = 7 PM

When I updated the plans, I kept count of many times each attraction was identified as needing FastPass+. If you’re building your own touring plan, or you prefer an unstructured tour, this list shows the hot spots in the Magic Kingdom:

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Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: Space Mountain

by on August 6, 2015

Space Mountain

Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort share a number of the same attractions, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight, “it’s a small world,” and many others. But if you think that these attractions are the same on both coasts, you would be mistaken. One of the many things I love about Disney is that they never do the same thing twice; and while the attractions that can be found on both coasts may share the same names and themes, they do have differences too. Hey, who doesn’t like variety, right? But you have to wonder, which resort has the best version of a popular attraction? Which Disney Park has the bragging rights? Well, that’s what I’m going to find out beginning with a classic attraction from the future in Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: Space Mountain!

What is Space Mountain?

Space Mountain is a big favorite among Disney Park fans and has been for decades. The attraction is set in the future where rocket rides through outer space are a norm, however, Space Mountain is anything but. Unlike most coasters, Space Mountain is completely indoors and set almost entirely in the dark! It’s thrilling, but has no inversions and feels a lot faster than it is. I consider it a great “test” coaster for kids who aren’t quite sure if they’re ready to take on California Adventure’s California Screamin’ or Hollywood Studios’ Rock n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. What’s also cool about Space Mountain is that it’s sparkling white structure and spires are just as iconic to Disney Parks as the ride itself.

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Disney World After Dark: 10 Tips for Night Owls

by on August 3, 2015

Just about every reputable planning guide for Walt Disney World (ahem, Unofficial Guide) strongly advises getting up early in Orlando – really early. During the winter holidays, making rope drop for an morning Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom could have your family strolling up to the tapstiles shortly after 6:00. In the morning.

But if you haven’t seen a sunrise since the last time you stayed out all night, never despair. You don’t need to sacrifice your sleep-in to have a great time at Walt Disney World. In fact, the dark hours are some of my favorite times to be in the parks. Here’s how you can have a fabulous night owl-optimized vacation at Walt Disney World, without bringing an alarm clock into it:

Magic Kingdom at night. Main Street U.S.A.’s best hour.

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What I Wish I Knew Before My Visit to Disneyland

by on August 2, 2015

castle

Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle

I recently went to the Disneyland Park for the very first time. As a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World since childhood, I was beyond excited to experience a Disney Park, particularly Walt’s park, as a first time guest. In fact, the very first thing I did when I arrived was to pick up a first visit button at Disneyland’s City Hall. But before I even passed through the turnstiles, I did my Disneyland homework so that I could avoid some of the rookie mistakes and maximize my time in the park. Even so, there were definitely some things that I either didn’t expect or which would’ve helped my day run more smoothly. So glean from my first hand experience fellow Disneyland Rookies and discover what I wish I knew before my visit to Disneyland.

The Queues Are Narrow – One of the surprising differences for me between Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Park was how much narrower the queues are on the West Coast. When waiting in line for Peter Pan’s Flight, the Storybook Land Canal Boats, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and others, I felt squeezed in and very close to the guests on either side of me. This is something that I haven’t experienced as much in the queues at Disney World. Part of this could be due to the fact that Disneyland has less space to work with; but I think it’s something to note if your a first time guest, especially if you have fidgety little ones in tow.

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MyMagic+ and Last-Minute Trips: Planned Spontaneity Advanced Course

by on July 24, 2015

Spaceship Earth MyMagic+

Sometimes you just need a last-minute trip to Disney World.

If you caught my previous article on planned spontaneity and MyMagic+, there is one flaw you might have noticed – it requires that you know far in advance that you are taking a trip to Walt Disney World. So the question is, “How do you plan for spontaneity when you decide to take a trip in the next 30 days?”

Before I launch into my method for planned spontaneity for last-minute trips, I first want to make one tiny thing clear: you don’t have to plan for spontaneity to be spontaneous on a trip to Disney World. (Don’t be alarmed, you read that right.) If you want to go sans FastPass+ and wing it with restaurants, you will still be able to have an awesome time. I prefer to use MyMagic+ to its fullest, and for me that means planning in such a way that I can go off-book about 50% of the time and have a plan the other 50%.  If you’re a planner like I am, then this should be right up your alley.

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Planned Spontaneity: MyMagic+ for the Spur-of-the-Moment Vacationer

by on July 17, 2015

Fastpasses

Ahhh, the good old days!

MyMagic+. Love it or hate it, it’s the reality of Walt Disney World vacations. Whether you are making dining reservations at 180 days or FastPass+ selections at 60 days, MyMagic+ is enough to make your average spontaneous vacation-goer break out in hives. Like me, I’m sure you’ve heard — an possibly participate it — talk of the good old days, where paper FASTPASSES were king and you could always find a walk-up reservation. Alas, we live in the now, and right now planning ahead is the name of the game. So, what is an impulsive tourist to do?

I’m going to preface my answer by first calling myself out as the type-A, uber planner that I am. I’m absolutely thrilled to have joined the Touring Plans team, in part because Touring Plans has fed my Walt Disney World planning obsession for years. It’s true, I think MyMagic+ is about as awesome as your average Disney cupcake, but I understand that I might be the minority on this one. (Don’t judge me!) But just because I am a planner, that doesn’t mean my traveling party is, so I’ve managed to develop a formula for leveraging MyMagic+ to its fullest advantage while leaving in room for those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types.

Festival of Fantasy Circus Swing

Looking to fly by the seat of your pants?

At this point I’m sure you’re asking, “What is this magical Disney secret?! Open those gates so I may unlock your secrets and exploit your riches!” (Humor me, people.) Are you ready for the big reveal? My huge secret to Disney happiness? This is it: I PLAN FOR SPONTANEITY. Before you start calling me crazy, follow my train of thought on this one. I know that if I want to eat at the restaurants I want, I have to make the reservations far in advance. I know that if I want to ride the rides I want, I have to book my FastPass+ selections as soon as the window opens. No matter what, these two things hold true. So if I want to have an unscheduled block of time to do whatever I decide in the moment, I have to plan for it.

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. I’ve spent the last couple of years improving my approach, and while it may not be perfect, it is pretty serviceable, if I do say so myself. I’ll walk you through my method step-by-step, and perhaps you’ll find some aspects that will work for your traveling party!

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