Posts Tagged ‘Fastpass’

Observations from Epcot: July 30, 2014

by on August 2, 2014

observations from Epcot

Take a stroll around Epcot with us without having to leave your air-conditioning! (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Following my Frozen-filled visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios last week, I found myself back at Walt Disney World a few days later for some observations from Epcot. As a child, EPCOT (as it will always be capitalized in my heart) was my favorite WDW park, and the massive Beard/Abrams coffee table book on the park’s creation remains among my most prized possessions. As everyone knows, Epcot’s attractions (especially in Future World) have been radically overhauled over the past 2 decades, and now I rarely visit the park except during the fantastic Food & Wine or Flower & Garden festivals.

My first mid-summer Epcot experience in several seasons started on a sweet note, as I snagged a parking spot along the center aisle; there is nothing worse than having to walk a football field’s length just to get to the tram.

Spending a lot of time at Universal Orlando lately, I’ve been frustrated by how slow their entry procedures are, even after new ticket scanners were recently installed. In contrast, the turnstile-free entry at Disney’s parks has become my favorite element of MyMagic+. Scanning a MagicBand usually seems swifter than swiping a barcode, and the finger scanners at Disney are still far faster and more reliable than Universal’s new biometric readers.

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Best Evening Extra Magic Hours Attractions at Disney World

by on July 15, 2014

The Kiss Goodnight is a light show projected on the castle when the park closes.

Staying on property during your next Walt Disney World vacation? Then you should absolutely be taking advantage of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours, which offer resort guests the opportunity to get to a park early or stay late. Simply show that you’re staying in a Walt Disney World resort and you can have fun in the parks beyond the normal operating hours. And if you’re using our Personalized Touring Plans, you can also extend your plan hours for both morning and evening Extra Magic Hours. As stated, Extra Magic Hours are offered both in the morning and the evening but for now we’re going to concentrate on some of my favorite Evening Extra Magic Hours attractions. While not every attraction is operating for Extra Magic Hours, some of the best and most popular attractions across Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are open to resort guests. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Disney’s Animal Kingdom does not offer evening extra magic hours. Perhaps that could change with the eventual opening of the park’s new Avatar Land but for now, park guests will have to get their Extra Magic Hours fill at the first three Walt Disney World theme parks. So without further ado, here are my top Evening Extra Magic Hours attractions for each park.

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Should You Visit Disneyland?

by on July 11, 2014

The great debate of Disney World vs. Disneyland rages on across the Internet every day. While I could never pick a favorite, some reader comments last week gave me the idea to share my opinions on what makes the two coasts so different. With that in mind, here are the top ten differences between Disney World and Disneyland to help you decide if you should visit Disneyland.

Size: Starting with the itty bitty castle, some could view Disneyland as a scaled down version of Walt Disney World. However, I look at it like the greatest hits! In a smaller space they manage to pack in all the best attractions. Sure, it takes a little while to get used to seeing Star Tours across the street from Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, but you can ride them both without setting foot on a bus! Even better you can hop between the two California parks with just a quick walk. It’s enough to spoil a Disney World fan rotten!

IMG_1118People: Imagine a summer in the parks without tour groups everywhere. That actually happens at Disneyland! Not only that, but the main customer base consists of Annual Passholders. This means that the lines generally don’t get as crazy as at Walt Disney World. In general, the guests are more laid back as their trips are not “once in a lifetime” experiences. The locals also mean that rides can be taken down to offer seasonal events like Haunted Mansion Holiday.

Seasonality: The downside of the smaller tourist draw is seasonality in entertainment. During slower months there may only be fireworks or Fantasmic on the weekends. Other offerings are also adjusted based on occupancy. Tools like Touring Plans become very important, as Disneyland only posts its park hours and schedules 45 days in advance. Historical trends are what you have to depend on when picking dates if you aren’t booking a last minute trip.

Planning: The upside of this “last minute” attitude at Disneyland is that you can relax when planning. Putting together a Walt Disney World vacation can feel like wedding planning! There are so many little details, and if you don’t call exactly 180 days in advance you may not get to try a restaurant you’d dreamed about. At Disneyland you can normally call just a day or two before or even (gasp!) just walk up to the podium for a table. We love the relaxed attitude at Disneyland and not having to plan months in advance.

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FastPass+ Is Lowering Your Wait at Popular Disney World Rides

by on June 23, 2014

In April we took at look at How FastPass+ Is Affecting Your Wait In Line At Disney World. We saw a small increase in standby wait times for secondary attractions like Spaceship Earth and Pirates of the Caribbean, and a small drop in standby wait times for super-headliners like Space Mountain and Expedition Everest.

Here’s an update, using 278,000 wait times from Walt Disney World between February 1 and June 19, 2014:

How Fastpass+ Affects Your Waits in Line

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Disney Changes FastPass+ Tiers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot

by on June 10, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Disney is still constantly tweaking FastPass+ selections that are available for guests, and a brand new tweak is currently on the horizon. Beginning Monday, June 16, Disney will change up the tiers of attractions available for guests at both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here is a look at what will be affected.

At Epcot, originally, Living With the Land was a Tier 2 attraction, while the Epcot Character Spot and Maelstrom were Tier 1 options.

Beginning June 16, Epcot’s tier system will be as follows:

Tier 1 (Choose One)

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Opening Day Observations

by on June 2, 2014

Seven Dwarfs mine train observations

All aboard the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at WDW’s Magic Kingdom (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Unless you’ve been living underneath a magical gem mine for the past month, you’ve probably heard about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction that opened on May 28, 2014, at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Len Testa’s review of the ride does a thorough job of explaining why we feel this family-friendly roller-coaster is worthy of 3½ stars. I accompanied Len on a soft-opening preview of Fantasyland’s newest ride during the 24 hour “Rock Your Disney Side” party, and returned on opening day to experience the ride during official operations. Here are some Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opening day observations that may make your visit more “heigh-ho” and less “poison apple.”

 

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Standby Queue

The queue area around the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is lovingly sculpted and landscaped, but unfortunately there isn’t quite enough of it. The standby line runs out of the entrance (across from Storybook Treats snack stand) and stretches along the sidewalk towards Storybook Circus. When I stepped into the queue near the Mad Tea Party, the wait time was 75 minutes, according the portable wait sign held by a cast member marking the end of the line. However, by the time I reached the actual queue entrance, the wait was posted at 110 minutes, which proved much closer to my actual 100 minute wait.

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Review; Educating teh Childrens; MagicBands Update

by on May 28, 2014

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Review

On Friday I was in the Magic Kingdom for its annual 24-hour event, and got to ride the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the last part of the New Fantasyland construction project that began in 2010.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train as seen from the Be Our Guest queue in Fantasyland.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train as seen from the Be Our Guest queue in Fantasyland.

There are a lot of things to like about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. For one, it’s faster than I expected, but not so fast that it would frighten small children. Also, the ride track is much smoother than any comparable ride in the Magic Kingdom. This should be good news for both families and for seniors who want to avoid the rough ride of attractions like Big Thunder Mountain.

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May 7, 2014: Magic Kingdom and the Fourth Fastpass+

by on May 13, 2014

Hi Everyone! Hope you’re ready for a report full of pixie dust! I’d originally planned on doing a post about May the 4th at Disney’s Hollywood Studios but it seems like everyone has been talking about that this week. Instead I decided to take you on a fun filled night at the Magic Kingdom. Let’s get started! Of course, Mickey was there to greet me before I even arrived to the park…

IMG_2447

I decided to take some video as we rolled into the Magic Kingdom Monorail station. Unfortunately, it’s complete with authentic kid finger prints on the glass. No matter where I moved around the window was just covered.

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Update on FastPass+ Only Meet and Greets at Walt Disney World

by on May 12, 2014

Minnie Mouse Meet at DHSIt appears that Disney has changed its mind. I’m not sure if it’s a temporary measure or if Disney has decided to go a different route.

Previously I reported that starting on May 11, Disney was going to begin including in the line up of FastPass+ choices the option of three FastPass+ ONLY meet and greets. At these meet and greets, guests would only be able to meet select characters by making a FastPass+ reservation for them, and standby would not be an option. I even personally saw one of the signs signifying this option at Epcot when I visited the park last week.

The three meet and greets that were supposed to become FastPass+ ONLY were at Epcot’s United Kingdom Pavilion in a meet and greet opportunity with Winnie the Pooh, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at The Magic of Disney Animation with a Minnie Mouse meet and greet, and at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a new meet and greet opportunity at the Character Landing with Daisy and Donald.

However, when pulling up the My Disney Experience site today, it appears that what was once listed as a FastPass+ ONLY option for these meet and greets has now disappeared. These meet and greets are no longer listed in a spot where they once so prominently were.

So, let’s get everything out there in a clear and concise form…

  • Disney seems to have done away with the FastPass+ ONLY option. (I’m not sure if this is a permanent move or a temporary one. Only time will tell. I do know the outcry against this idea was large.)
  • These three meet and greet opportunities are all available as standby only at this point and time.
  • Donald and Daisy are now meeting at the Character Landing in Discovery Island at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, replacing Tigger and Winnie the Pooh.

I will make sure to keep you updated if anything else changes.

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Frozen Princess Meet and Greet in the Magic Kingdom: An Update

by on May 12, 2014

It’s been a few weeks now since the Frozen Princess meet and greet with Anna and Elsa began at Princess Fairytale Hall and there are lots of questions about how FastPass+ works for the attraction. First, a little about the venue itself. Princess Fairytale Hall opened in late 2013 to house the Magic Kingdom’s princess meet and greets.

Exterior of Princess Fairytale Hall

Guests queue to meet the Princesses in Fantasyland

 

Princess Fairytale Hall (PFH) sits behind the castle just across from the carousel. Until late April of this year, guests could visit Cinderella and a surprise princess guest on one side of the hall and Rapunzel and a surprise princess guest on the other. Rapunzel generally commanded higher wait times than Cinderella, but both princess meet and greets were eligible for FastPass+. On April 20, Anna and Elsa from Disney’s wildly popular movie, Frozen, began meeting and greeting with a surprise princess guest on one side of the hall and Rapunzel and Cinderella joined to meet on the other side.

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