Posts Tagged ‘Fastpass’

Ultimate Evening at the Magic Kingdom

by on August 30, 2016

If I learned anything during my six months as a Professional Intern at Walt Disney World, it was how to spend a night at the parks. It became a near-nightly ritual to run home from work at 5:00 PM, grab a quick sandwich, and be in Magic Kingdom’s bag check line by 5:45 PM. From then, the night was mine–from my favorite nighttime attractions to post-Wishes Mickey Bars and everything in between. So whether you’re a local passholder looking for a magical hiatus from your weekday routine or a park hopper trying to catch Wishes, here’s the guide to your ultimate evening at Magic Kingdom!

 

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Grab those FastPass+ Selections

Fire up your My Disney Experience app and grab those FastPass+ Selections at the beginning of the day, if not earlier! Try to make your selections for time slots before Wishes; That’s when the park is most crowded. My favorite nighttime trifecta: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain and Haunted Mansion.

Pack Light

Magic Kingdom’s bag check can get pretty sticky during peak season, especially around 5:00-6:00 PM when many people are trying to get back into the parks after an afternoon break. If you can, ditch the bag and just bring the necessities (credit card, phone, wallet, MagicBand, etc.) so you can stick to the middle lane and cruise by bag check. You’ll only be in the parks for a few hours, so no need to go all out with a full park bag.

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What Disneyland Rookies Should Know Before They Go

by on July 25, 2016

Fireworks Over Sleeping Beauty Castle

A few years ago, I was a Disneyland Rookie. I grew up going to Walt Disney World and knew all the tricks and shortcuts from an early age; but when I finally made the pilgrimage to the Disneyland Resort, all of my Walt Disney World prowess went out the window. I was a total Disneyland Rookie as I explored the Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, and loved every minute, but it’s taken a trip or two since that initial visit to avoid those beginner mistakes and experience the park like a pro. To give all of you fellow Disneyland Rookies a step up, here’s are What Disneyland Rookies Should Know Before They Go.

Photo - Brian McNichols

Disneyland Hotel by Brian McNichols

There Is No Wi-Fi

The struggle is real. Yes, there is currently no Wi-Fi at the Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure. Fortunately, free WiFi is offered at the Disneyland Hotel, even if you’re not a resort guest! So head over to the hotel when in need of a break, kick back in a teacup chair, and upload those pics to social media, check your email, or just check-in with the outside world for a bit. I also discovered that there are empty outlets in the lounge areas of the themed Disneyland Hotel towers if you need to charge up.

Different Layout Than Magic Kingdom

If you’re as familiar with Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom as I was during my first to the Disneyland Park, don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t need a park map or that Pirates of the Caribbean is in Adventureland. Contrary to what many may believe, the Disneyland Park and the Magic Kingdom have very different layouts. Attractions you’re familiar with at one park may not be the same place, or the same experience, at another. Also, the Disneyland Park offers its own unique lands! In addition to Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland, and Tomorrowland, the Disneyland Park also offers Mickey’s Toontown, Critter Country, and New Orleans Square. What Disneyland Rookies should know before they go is the Disneyland Resort offers its own unique offerings to experience!

Disneyland Resort offers a host of new experiences for the Disney World veteran, such as World of Color at Disney California Adventure.

Disneyland Resort offers a host of new experiences for the Disney World veteran, such as World of Color at Disney California Adventure.

Attractions Close for Weather and Nightly Entertainment

Southern California is known for its gorgeous weather, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to rainy days. As many Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure attractions are outdoors, not all can continue to operate when sunny California fails to live up to its name. The Disneyland Park attractions which may close for inclement weather are Fantasyland’s Alice in Wonderland, Mad Tea Party, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant, as well as Frontierland’s Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island (currently closed) and Toontown’s Gadget’s Go Coaster. Weather can also delay or even cancel the Disneyland Park’s parades and fireworks. High winds are also a cause for cancelled fireworks; but if the fireworks continue as scheduled, a number of attractions close down for the display, including the Disneyland Monorail.

Over at Disney California Adventure, attractions that close for weather include some Cars Land attractions and the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Also, just like at the Disneyland Park, a number of attractions close for the park’s nightly World of Color performance, particularly those on Paradise Pier like California Screamin’, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, the Golden Zephyr and Silly Symphony Swings, and even games on the Boardwalk, Jumpin’ Jellyfish, and the King Triton’s Carousel.

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Disneyland vs. Disney World: The Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park Part I

by on July 18, 2016

castles

As I’ve said before in this Disneyland vs. Disney World series, Disney never does the same thing twice! It’s a common misconception that Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and the Disneyland Park are basically the same experience but on different coasts. That is absolutely not true! Even though Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was inspired after the original Disneyland Park, it was never intended to be a carbon copy. Both parks offer their own exclusive attractions, restaurants, character interactions, style, and overall experience. Of course, that gives rise to the question of which park is truly the best? That’s the question I intend to answer in perhaps the most ambitious installment of Disneyland vs. Disney World: The Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park Part I.

Due to the scope of this topic, the first part of this article will compare the two parks on categories such as characters, attractions, and dining. The second installment will compare the different themed lands represented at both parks and determine which one is the best!

castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Castles:

So you know I have to talk about the castles. As we all have our loyalties, comparing the two is always controversial. Still, the castles are not just the parks’ icons, but also their centerpieces, and each offers something unique to park guests. Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle has the distinction of being Disney’s original castle standing at 77 feet tall. It features the charming Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, a personal favorite of mine, with scenes and effects that tell the Sleeping Beauty story.

castle

Cinderella Castle

The design of the Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle is very different than Disneyland’s and is a whopping 189 feet tall! While it doesn’t offer an attraction, Cinderella Castle does house Cinderella’s Royal Table and the exclusive Cinderella Castle Suite. Now I love Sleeping Beauty Castle for its history, its intimacy, and sense of accessibility. However, the grandeur of Cinderella Castle, the ability to dine with princesses inside its halls overlooking Fantasyland, and that view down Main Street, U.S.A. makes it the winner of this category.

Winner: Magic Kingdom

Amenities:

Let’s start with WiFi, shall we? The Magic Kingdom offers free WiFi. In fact, there’s free WiFi throughout most of the Walt Disney World Parks. But at Disneyland… Yeah. No such luck. Walt Disney World also offers MagicBands. It’s a soft plastic band that contains a guest’s ticket, credit card, dining reservations, PhotoPass info, and their FastPass+ reservations which can be made in advance online or on the MyDisneyExperience App. This new amenity was met with criticism at the start, but I love the luxury of having all I need on my wrist and getting into the park is so much faster!

magic.bands

MagicBands

The Magic Kingdom offers three free modes of transportation in the form of bus, monorail, and boat. But then again, this is necessary as the park sits on the Seven Seas Lagoon and can’t be reached by personal car. Now the Disneyland Park does not sit on the shore of a lake but across a spacious esplanade from Disney California Adventure, which is so convenient for Annual Passholders and those with Park Hoppers. Still, Disneyland guests have to park at a parking garage and either walk or take a tram to reach the esplanade.

Finally, both parks offer early entry into the parks. Disneyland offers Magic Mornings on select days for Disneyland Resort Guests with a valid 3+ day ticket while Walt Disney World offers Extra Magic Hours on certain days which could be early entry or extended nighttime park hours. Another difference is Extra Magic Hours are only for guests staying at Disney World Resorts. Tip: Magic Kingdom usually offers Extra Magic Hours Wednesdays and Fridays.

Winner: Magic Kingdom

FestivalofFantasy2_glover

Festival of Fantasy Parade

Parades:

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom offers two main parades each day. The three o’clock afternoon parade, Festival of Fantasy, debuted in 2014 with fantastically detailed floats celebrating characters represented in Fantasyland. The star of the parade is a steampunk Maleficent dragon that actually breathes fire!

The Main Street Electrical Parade is the Magic Kingdom’s nighttime parade and is a classic in that it originally debuted at Disneyland in 1972! The Magic Kingdom obtained its own version in 1977, which ran off and on in the park through the years. But in 2010, it was reintroduced again and has been offered ever since. Disneyland’s current nighttime parade, Paint the Night, debuted only last year for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary to rave reviews and offers incredible new lighting effects! It also pays tribute to the Main Street Electrical Parade through its soundtrack, which includes the classic parade’s famous theme song, “Baroque Hoedown.”

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Paint the Night Parade

The Disneyland Park also offers Mickey’s Soundsational Parade in the afternoon. Each float is themed after a particular musical instrument or style with the lead float featuring Mickey Mouse playing the drums. I mean, he really plays the drums. It’s fantastic! Like Festival of Fantasy, this parade also showcases some amazingly themed floats so detailed and imaginative that one viewing is never enough.

So this category was a difficult one for me. I LOVE Festival of Fantasy at the Magic Kingdom, but Mickey’s Soundsational Parade coupled with Paint the Night gives Disneyland the edge in this comparison.

Winner: Disneyland Park

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Disney Makes Change to FastPass+ Reservations

by on May 18, 2016

MagicBandDisney has decided to adjust the time in which Guests can begin to make their FastPass+ reservations for their vacations. Prior to today, Guests were able to book their reservations beginning at 12:00 a.m. EST in advance of their trip, however, as of today, the FastPass+ selection window will now be open for Guests at 7:00 a.m. EST within their applicable window.

The manner in which FastPass+ selections are made will still remain the same. Guests who are staying onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel will still have the ability to make their FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance and Guests who are staying off-site, but have their ticket medium purchased will continue to be able to book reservations up to 30 days prior.

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What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to Animal Kingdom

by on May 13, 2016

Head under this majestic sign to enter the wild Magic Kingdom.

Head under this majestic sign to enter the wild Magic Kingdom.

If you are planning your very first visit to the Walt Disney World Resort, I’m sure you’ve made lists of what attractions you want to see, what characters you want to meet, and I bet you even made those dining reservations the day you booked your trip, right? But despite all your planning and newly accumulated park knowledge, it’s still easy to make those Disney World Rookie mistakes. My goal today is to let you in on some tips and info that I wish I had known before my park visits to help your first time trip to Walt Disney World run smoothly. I’ve already covered What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot; and so for today, I’m tackling What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to Animal Kingdom!

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Asia’s Maharajah Jungle Trek

It Is Meant To Be Explored & Discovered

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is all about the magic of nature and living things, and in staying true to that theme this park features a more organic design and encourages guests to explore. The Oasis–the entryway into the park–is quite a departure from the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A. or Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Boulevard in that there’s no one way to reach the main part of the park and no visible icon pulling you down the pavement. Instead, The Oasis is thick, lush, and has a number of exhibits to enjoy at your own leisurely pace.

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A resident of the Discovery Island Trails

Animal Kingdom also offers a number of wildlife trails throughout the park, such as the Discovery Island Trails and the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Unlike centerpiece attractions or eye-catching shops, these trails somewhat blend in with the environment and may be missed if you’re not looking for them. Unlike shuffling through a line or seeing a choreographed show or effect, the trails are self-guided and can be enjoyed at a guest’s own pace. I also appreciate the little paths and hidden seating areas that lay off the beaten path throughout the Animal Kingdom Park and some of which offer spectacular views! So when you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, remember that this is a different kind of park that it’s meant to be explored and discovered.

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Walt Disney World FastPass+ Strategy Update

by on May 4, 2016

Kiosks? We don't need no stinkin' kiosks!

Kiosks? We don’t need no stinkin’ kiosks!

Remember a couple of months ago when we released a three part series on Disney’s FastPass+ service at Walt Disney Worldhow to use it, the best strategy for getting the most out of it, and then hacks and tips to make it even better? Well, Disney had to go and enhance the service, rendering some of our advice outdated. Well, consider it outdated no more. Read on to find out how these changes impact the process of making your picks, and the strategy to using the FastPass+ system!

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New Disney’s Hollywood Studios Late Arrivals Touring Plan: A Field Test

by on April 28, 2016

Sunset Blvd (1)For decades, a truism of Walt Disney World touring was that you had to arrive before rope drop to efficiently experience everything in the park in one day. But what if a combination of attraction closures and FastPass+ reservations made it possible to sleep in and still experience everything of note at Disney’s Hollywood Studios — including most of the new Star Wars entertainment — before closing time? That was the theory behind Len’s new Disney’s Hollywood Studios One Day Touring Plan for Late Arrivals, and I put it to the test last Friday, April 22, a day that was predicted to be a 7 out of 10 on our Crowd Calendar.

For the TL;DR crowd, I’ll cut to the chase: with our new Late Arrival touring plan, and the proper FastPass+ reservations, it is now possible (even on a busy day) to arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at noon and see every worthwhile attraction before the evening ends. This is great news for families who want to hit the snooze button after a late night in the Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom, once nighttime hours there begin.

 

Preparing to use the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Late Arrivals Touring Plan

There is a catch: you’ll need to do some preparation in My Disney Experience ahead of time. The key to this plan is to secure consecutive FastPasses for Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, and Tower of Terror beginning as soon as possible after your noon arrival time. In my case, I booked Toy Story for 12:15 p.m.-1:15 p.m.; Star Tours for 1:15 p.m.-2:15pm; and Tower of Terror for 2:15 p.m.-3:15 p.m.

Late arrivals

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Big Changes for FastPass+ at Walt Disney World

by on April 9, 2016

MagicBand / FastPass+ / My Disney ExperienceMyMagic+ and FastPass+ have been ever evolving for the Walt Disney World Resort. Tweaks and changes to both programs have occurred due to demands of how Guests wished to utilize the technology, including allowing Guests to make a fourth rolling FastPass, changes in the tiering system, being able to make reservations at a park you park-hopped to, and more. Throughout the years, news and tips about FastPass+ have been plentiful and the questions have been many and varied.

Well, today I bring more news that I think will be greatly appreciated. Going forward, Disney is going to be making it easier to make and customize FastPass+ choices.

Beginning this Sunday, Guests will now no longer need to visit a kiosk to make their fourth rolling FastPass+ choice. Instead, Guests will now be able to use the My Disney Experience app to make additional selections after your first three FastPass+ reservations have been used. (Hooray!) Guests may still choose to visit a FastPass+ kiosk, which will still be located in strategic locations around the four theme parks, if they so choose. Let me tell you though, it will be great to finally be able to make the additional choices on my phone going forward.

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What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to Epcot

by on April 5, 2016

Spaceship Earth!

Spaceship Earth!

If you are planning your very first visit to Walt Disney World, and you’re like me, you’ve probably done your Disney homework on the parks and resorts. I’m sure you have lists of what attractions you want to see, what characters you want to meet, and I bet you even made those dining reservations the day you booked your trip, right? Still, despite all your planning and newly accumulated park knowledge, it’s still easy to make those Disney World Rookie mistakes. My goal today is to let you in on some tips and info that I wish I had known before my park visits to help your first time trip to Walt Disney World run a little more smoothly. I’ve already covered What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to the Magic Kingdom; and so for today, I’m tackling What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to Epcot!

Epcot Map

The length of World Showcase is what I wish I knew before my trip to Epcot!

Two Parks in One

Epcot is one park, but it has two very different sections: Future World and the World Showcase. Future World was originally intended to educate visitors about the world and to be a showplace for new technology. However, Future World has suffered some criticism in recent years as many of its buildings sit empty and seems to be more representative of the past than the future. Still, Future World is home to some of the park’s most popular attractions such as Soarin’, Test Track, and the iconic Spaceship Earth. Epcot’s other section, World Showcase, sits towards the rear of the park and encircles the World Showcase Lagoon. This part of Epcot features eleven pavilions themed after different countries from around the world, as well as one for the United States.

What’s really awesome about World Showcase is that Imagineers went to great lengths to make each pavilion and its design both historically and culturally accurate, so you feel as if you’re in another country and also getting a sense of its history at the same time. Also, I absolutely love eating at the different World Showcase restaurants and shopping for souvenirs from around the world.

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The Magic Kingdom with ride breakdowns and limited FastPass+ options

by on March 18, 2016

MBig Thunder (4)y visit to the Magic Kingdom last Sunday could have been a disaster. I waited too long to make FastPass+ reservations, for one thing. When I did – three days before my trip – none were available for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and only late afternoon reservations remained for most Fantasyland attractions. Even worse, there were 3 long ride breakdowns during the day I visited – at Pirates, Big Thunder, and the Peoplemover – that would have been hard to handle without a computer to adjust my plan. But it gave us some great ideas for improving the Optimizer, our touring plan software. Here’s how my day unfolded.

Before I left, I made a copy of our standard Magic Kingdom One-Day Touring Plan for Adults. The Magic Kingdom was open from 9 AM to 10 PM, and we’d predicted a crowd level of 6 on our 1-to-10 crowd calendar. I was able to get these FastPasses:

Space Mountain at 9:15 AM

Big Thunder Mountain at 10:15 AM

Peter Pan’s Flight at 5:05 PM

I also set the touring plan walking speed to its fastest setting, and told it to minimize waiting in line. Here’s the touring plan the Optimizer came up with:

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