Thoughts on the New Walt Disney World Experience

I kept saying I wasn’t going to write a report on Patrick’s crazy last-minute work trip to Walt Disney World a few weeks ago because I spent most of my time in the room working too. But when we did have a free moment to explore together, we noticed some pretty striking changes since our last visit, 18 months ago—enough that Patrick has been encouraging me to write about what we thought. (I’ll be doing a separate post on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.)

The Re-Learning Curve
I am a professional author and editor of guidebooks to the Disney parks, but it took me half a day at the computer trying to figure out how to associate our Premier passes with my account and then select FastPasses. How do normal people figure this stuff out? Disney’s site kept telling me I had a child pass instead of adult, even though there is no child/adult distinction with Premier passes. Then every time I tried to make any reservation, whether for dining or FastPasses, I had to deselect the name of a friend who was inextricably linked to my account because I’d made and canceled a dining reservation that included her… one time… six months ago.

 photo Zebra200.jpg

With MyMagic+ we scheduled this zebra to walk by our window at Animal Kingdom Lodge at 2:17 pm on Friday!

The most frustrating part isn’t a glitch at all, it’s by Disney’s design. They don’t let you select your three FastPass times individually. They just give you a choice of four different combinations of times for the rides you want, so you’ll get maybe one in each combo that is actually convenient to your plans, but rarely all three. Either they’d all be too late in the day or one would be early and the rest would be late, or they’d be spaced at weird, impractical intervals that didn’t give you enough time to grab a table-service meal or wait in a popular standby line but also weren’t close enough together that you could go directly from each ride to the next.

And if you try selecting just one FastPass at a time, Disney automatically populates two other choices that you may not want, tying them up so another guest can’t get them.

 photo MineTrain204.jpg

This isn’t even the end of the 2+ hour line you’ll wait in to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (because all the FastPasses sold out 60 days ago).

More Wasted FastPasses
What this meant in practice is that we used only one of the nine FastPasses I reserved during the course of our trip. The rest got blown off or missed because we were too far from the ride, still at one of our ADRs, in the wrong park, or had abandoned the park due to weather and crowds. In the old days, we wouldn’t have pulled FastPasses for these rides at all. Meanwhile, standby lines were longer than I’d ever seen, wait times were actually accurate or even underestimated, and rides that never used to have lines had them, like Spaceship Earth and It’s a Small World. So, yeah, I guess MyMagic+ doesn’t spell death to spontaneity, as long as you stick to spontaneously giving up on your FastPasses.

My Disney Experience: Failure!
The My Disney Experience iPhone app simply would not work on Disney’s free WiFi in the Magic Kingdom. I was tearing my hair out trying to make and change reservations, see wait times, etc. on our first morning in the MK. It kept giving me error messages or quitting altogether. It wasn’t until I got the idea to try switching off WiFi that I could get the app to work. However, even when it is working, the app has a fatal flaw: When you try to change your FastPasses, it won’t tell you when the new ones will be first! It just cancels your old ones and gives you new ones, and if they turn out to be at times you can’t use, you’re out of luck.

We had FastPasses for Big Thunder Mountain around noon but decided we’d rather go on Splash Mountain at that time if it was available. The app told us Splash was available, and since it didn’t list a time, I thought that meant it was available at the same time as the Big Thunder FastPasses we were swapping out. NOPE! When the transaction completed, we were stuck with a 6:30pm Splash reservation, which we totally would have declined in favor of keeping Big Thunder if we’d known. We told our sob story to a cast member at one of the mobbed MyMagic+ stations and she somehow got us Big Thunder FastPasses at 1:30pm. Unfortunately, when that time rolled around, all the outdoor attractions in the Magic Kingdom were in the middle of an hour-long closure due to lightning. We just left.

 photo SplashMountain202.jpg

Wanna swap that 11:50 am Big Thunder FastPass for Splash Mountain? No problem! You’re now booked for 6:30 pm next Thursday!

Easier Dining Reservations… Sometimes
I think this is more due to the newish $10/person cancellation fee than MyMagic+, but making dining reservations on the fly was relatively easy if we were flexible with times and locations. I was surprised to see same-day reservations available for Le Cellier and next-day reservations for Crystal Palace. But heaven help you if your plans change within 24 hours of your reservation. I called to switch a dinner at Citricos to Yachtsman Steakhouse and was told that even though I still wanted a reservation at a Disney restaurant, changing restaurants constituted canceling. The CM kept repeating, “I can only change it; I can’t cancel it without triggering the penalty.” So in a final burst of exasperation I said, “Great, let’s change Citricos to next Tuesday. That’s done? OK, now let’s cancel it and book me into Yachtsman.” Her long, stony silence made me wonder if nobody had ever thought of this before… and how long before Disney figures out a way to prevent it too!

Lower Food Quality
Remember when everybody said that the Dining Plan would reduce the quality of the food at Walt Disney World, and it did? As impossible as it seems, it appears the quality has gotten even worse since our last trip. I’m not talking about pizza and burgers, though I gotta say our beloved Plaza Restaurant cheeseburger was pretty subpar on this trip. I don’t even mean places like Le Cellier, where the quality has never matched the prices and we no longer expect it to. We ate at three of our favorite Signature Dining spots, ones that in the past have rivaled even the “real” fine dining we enjoy in big cities, and were shocked by how pedestrian and poorly executed the food was.

At Jiko the fish was Trader Joe’s quality and the white cheddar macaroni and cheese was as runny as something out of a box. At Yachtsman Steakhouse our first ribeye was overcooked and its replacement was so undercooked it was practically still mooing. At California Grill it was the pork tenderloin that was overcooked, while the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli seemed to be floating in ketchup water.

 photo KetchupWater201.jpg

Mmmmm… ketchup water….

And you know how I always joke that I refuse to order their vaunted sushi cuz we can get it in every supermarket? We finally broke down and ordered some, and it tasted EXACTLY like the kind we get at the supermarket! Our waiter couldn’t even tell us where the fish came from but bragged about it being flash-frozen.

This is the first time we’ve gone to Walt Disney World during the summer—could it be the kitchens were overtaxed by crowds?

Band-Aid
The MagicBands themselves still have plenty of glitches, plus design flaws nobody seems to have considered. Patrick’s locked him out of our room three times, including once at 4:30am when he’d just come off an overnight shoot and didn’t want to wake me by knocking on the door. He had to schlep all the way back to Animal Kingdom Lodge’s front desk not once but twice. The second time a cast member accompanied him back to the room with a security fob and she couldn’t open the door either! She finally had to run back to the front desk to retrieve an actual metal key to get him into our room.

We also had trouble making purchases with the bands, but the biggest headscratcher was the terribly designed band readers at the resort security gates. It is physically impossible to reach them with your wrist from the driver’s seat without opening your car door and either leaning way out or getting out of the car completely. The other option is to unfasten the band before endlessly dragging it back and forth across the card reader. But if, like me, you eventually can’t stand having the clammy plastic against your skin all day and resort to one of those decorative fabric sleeves, that thing is NEVER coming off!

 photo CountryBears203.jpg

In the future, your MagicBand will allow Zeb-Zeb Bear to identify and spit chaw on you!

Final Thoughts
Over the course of our trip, we chatted with several other groups of guests about MyMagic+, and all reported similar technical problems and a similar apathy toward the supposed benefits. Many of them talked about feeling stressed out by the need to schedule everything 60 days ahead and frustrated by trying to get FastPasses and reservations once they were there.

Yes, Disney will eventually (hopefully?) get the technological kinks worked out, and half of the problems we experienced will disappear. But even when it’s firing on all cylinders, what does MyMagic+ really do for the average guest? Make things—especially spending money—slightly more convenient? Why wander off to Diagon Alley when you can stay at Disney and enter your room 15 seconds more quickly or make a purchase without moving your hand those pesky extra inches toward your wallet?

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the information they’re gathering from us via our MagicBands showed Disney that what we really want is creative attractions, high-quality restaurants and well-maintained parks and resorts—and the freedom to enjoy all of these at our leisure?

 

 

No tags 77 Comments 0
77 Responses
  • Sarah Thurman
    December 5, 2014

    Thanks, Carrie. Knowing you had a better time in Nov. will put Clint’s mind at ease!

  • Sarah Thurman
    December 2, 2014

    Hey Carrie. I know you had trouble using magic bands as door keys. Did you guys check in online and go straight to your room or stop at the front desk?

    Also, I just booked my FP+s for our planning session in early Jan. I found a workaround to the assigned time problem. I had to choose one of the four combinations and then go to My Itinerary where the FP+s I had just booked were listed. I could click on one and alter the experience (from like Philharmagic to Peter Pan) OR I could modify the time, selecting from all the 1-hr timeframes still available. I could do that as many times as I wanted on any or all of the FP+s, keeping in mind earlier timeframes increase the odds for more FP+s throughout the day. Oh, the map of the park was below the list and would pinpoint the experiences – earliest (1), middle (2), and latest (3) so you could have a better idea of their proximity. Especially good for ppl who don’t know the parks. I used it for AK and adjusted the times accordingly to hit the safari in the morning, Everest BEFORE lunch, and then Dinosaur, working our way clockwise around the park. Maybe they implemented these things after you went. Oh, I did notice that Magic hours did not show up in the timeframe selections. Maybe they think you don’t need FP+s then?

    • Carrie
      December 4, 2014

      Hi Sarah! We checked in at the front desk and were given Magic Bands then, because someone else had booked our room. The workarounds you mentioned were implemented after the trip this post was based on. When we were there last week, we were able to use them!

  • Katie
    October 12, 2014

    I just booked all my fastpasses for an upcoming November trip and I just find it hilarious that the Figment ride and Livin’ with the Land now have fastpass lines…seriously?!

    • Carrie
      October 13, 2014

      Yeah, TOTAL waste of a FastPass. We took a bunch of shots of the empty queue at Living with the Land last month just cuz we were laughing so much!

  • Joni
    October 9, 2014

    Love the squirrel idea that is funny.
    Fast pass+ and all this new stuff really makes it hard to relax and enjoy your vacation.
    If you were not informed ahead of time and you just packed the family in the car thinking you could just buy your tickets get a room and have fun. Those days are over man. You need a room ressie, dining reservations 180 and then you still may not get the place or time of your choice if others have over lapped into your vacation time. And as far as riding the rides. either wait 60-90 mins per most rides.( so your lucky if you can get 5 rides in a day. Sad). And I HATE that I’m still paying a truck load of money, making advanced reservations 6 mos. ahead of time and getting sub par food. Save that for the QS meals where you expect fast dining. But for 1 or 2 table service credits (which does not mean I got a discount on the price or am using a coupon) I am just paying for the meal ahead of time. I want fine dining. with ALL the trimmings and great service. If Disney feels they can’t do that with the dining plan then stop it. You really do not save that much by using it. It is just nice to know you have it all pre paid for. And I was very upset to see trash and full garbage cans that NEVER happened. Not sure what the solution is but….

    • Carrie
      October 9, 2014

      Yeah, it’s interesting how there are long lines now for WDW rides that NEVER have long lines in Disneyland, and this is due to a program Disney claims is in response to people’s #1 theme park complaint, that they hate to wait in line!

  • Wanda
    October 5, 2014

    Hi Carrie! We’re home safely and now going through withdrawals (which means even though we just landed a few hours ago, we’re headed to Disneyland for World of Color, which always cheers me up). It looks like Bon Voyage threw up in my living room. Where shall I send the Little Green Man?
    Cheers –
    Wanda

    • Carrie
      October 5, 2014

      I emailed you. 😉 THANK YOU!

  • Wanda
    September 12, 2014

    Great blog post, Carrie! This hit on so much of what me and my bf experienced last April in the parks. We had already given up on the dining plan and just saved our $$ for the signature restaurants we wanted (still had good experiences at Le Celliere and California Grill) but the MyMagic+ app never worked on the Disney wifi (we actually only tried once or twice) and my bf hated the way we spent most of our time checking our devices, tapping the screen for times, rather than just enjoying the park and theming! Also, we were told we couldn’t reuse our MyMagic+ bands for the next trip and had to order new ones, which seems silly to me. They already know everything about me (what I ate, what I wore, when I went to the bathroom), why can’t we use the same bands? We are going back in November and I just realized that I am already less than 60 days out for FP! Good luck riding the Mine Train now!

    We are going (back) to Tokyo Disney in 2 weeks and it will be interesting to contrast our experiences. I have to say your blog on Disney Tokyo has been a Godsend. I know I promised you a popcorn bucket a few months ago, so get ready to pick one out. It will be Halloween Time there! Let me know if you want me to email you here or at another address. Thanks for the great info – Wanda

    • Carrie
      September 12, 2014

      Hi Wanda! Oh boy! I forgot all about my popcorn bucket. EEEEeeeeeeee!!! You can email me here—thank you!

      • Wanda
        October 1, 2014

        Carrie,
        We are here in Tokyo and you totally inspired us to stay at the MiraCosta, so we are here for four days. I feel like a princess! Thank you so much for your awesome blog – it really helped. Your choice of popcorn buckets are: 1) Disney Halloween a Time themed bucket (says Happy Monsters on it but not Tokyo Sea). 2) Little Green Man 3) Mr. Potato Head 4) Mickey egg shaped 5) box in the shape of a “bow” that is red and white polka dotted 6)Duffy basket. Sorry no pics yet but I will try to send them. I got little green man but it was a tie between that and Mr Potato Head. Clearly.

        • Carrie
          October 1, 2014

          Oh my gosh, you are too TOO kind! I found pix online and you’re right—tough choice! However, the fact that, when it’s open, the Little Green Man looks like he’s eating the popcorn just pushes him over the top for me. I’m gonna copy your choice. Thank you!!!

  • Jennifer Smith
    September 8, 2014

    I am so sorry to hear you had these problems! We have been three times in the past 18 months and so have experienced My Magic + through different phases. I think making Fastpass reservations is the hardest part, but I called for help my first time out and a very patient castmember walked me through the whole thing. I do not like only being able to choose 3 Fastpasses and have them restricted as to which rides I can choose, but I read that they are making some changes to that part of the system. As far as dining goes, I am a vegetarian, and I can say with certainty that the vegetarian options just get better and better. Jiko is our favorite restaurant anywhere. I don’t know about steaks or seafood or any of that, but even at Le Cellier they made a vegetarian dish that was truly wonderful. Eating out is our number one hobby, and we try to attend Food and Wine every year, and those Magic Bands work great for that. No fumbling for your cards and carrying a bunch of stuff while you try to walk around with a glass of wine and a tiny plate. Most of our trips in the last few years have been with large groups and kids, so maybe our planning needs are different. We have had great experiences and we love the Magic Bands. We were last there on Memorial Day weekend with a big group for Star Wars Weekend, a 10th birthday celebration, special order cake, character meals, the whole thing. Everything went perfectly. I will be paying more attention to the experience that others are having with bands now, though. Thanks for keeping up your website, I really enjoy it.

    • Carrie
      September 10, 2014

      Hi Jennifer! I’m so glad to hear you’ve had such great experiences with MyMagic+. It gives me hope that experiences like ours will diminish over time as they get the kinks worked out. And somehow I’m not surprised to hear the vegetarian options at WDW are so much better than the, uh, meat-atarian ones are. It’s almost like they have to try harder on those than on dishes where they can just slap a big ol’ hunk of beef on your plate!

  • Laura
    September 4, 2014

    I think the whole wrist band/Fastpass+ system has pros and cons. When I was there in July, the Fastpass+ worked out really well for us – we’ve been to WDW many times, and already knew what we wanted to ride, so it was easy for us to schedule ours 60 days in advance. It let us get a fastpass for Toy Story Mania, which we wouldn’t have had a prayer of doing with the old system (we’re not the type to get up for the rope-drop). We also were able to edit the times of individual Fastpasses.

    That being said, it did bug me that you have to book 3 per day, even if you don’t want all 3. I wonder how much Fastpass wastage there is because of that. It was also annoying that you could only book Fastpasses in one park per day (at least prior to your arrival) – it would be nice if they let you schedule them in more than one park per day.

    The fingerprint readers at the theme park gates were terrible – my parents got stopped multiple times because the reader didn’t recognize their fingerprints. I also completely agree about the gates at the resort! We nearly knocked the sideview mirror off the rental car trying to get close enough to the reader to open the gate. The security guard had to come out and put the wristband up to the reader for us.

    Hopefully the kinks can be worked out of the MyMagic system. It’s also clear that the main goal of MyMagic is to make Disney more money, not to improve the guest “experience.”

    • Carrie
      September 4, 2014

      Interesting… I agree! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Jenny
    September 4, 2014

    Carrie,
    One more thing that is frustrating. I am an authorized Disney Travel Planner and I love helping others plan their Disney trip. When I plan a trip for a guest I do all of it – dining, itinerary, ect. because it can be a bit overwheming the first visit. I used to be able to give them a day mapped out by having ride things that all close together. Now with the magic bands I have to tell them to run across the park to get to their next fp. It’s so frustrated and inconvenient trying to explain all of it to them. I will stop complaining now 🙂

    • Carrie
      September 4, 2014

      LOL! I agree, though.

  • Patrick B
    September 4, 2014

    We are leaving Saturday for Florida. We are DVC members and we are staying one night at AKL and traveling on to the DVC resort at Vero Beach. The fact is WDW is no longer a primary vacation destination for us. Last September was our last trip for a long time to come. I am disabled and the way Disney management handled changing the GAC was nothing but insulting to disabled families. Yes, people took advantage of the program. However, Disney did not manage their own system and laid the blame for the problems on their guests. When I had a challenge and asked to speak to a manager in the new fantasyland area I was told I had to walk back to the front of the park to see a Guest Services Agent. Really, your going to ask a disabled guest to walk back to the front who is walking with a cane? You call Disney Customer Service and you get a voicemail giving you an email address. You spend the time writing your issue and they respond three days later with a note that says if you are on property you should call the exact same number you had already called! When you finally get a real person all they say is sorry 10-15 times and offer no solution.

    My magic band plus is not for the benefit of the guest. It is purely for the benefit of Disney. They did not sink 1.5 billion dollars to make guest experiences better. The data they are collecting on the band everyone wearing is the treasure trove they want.

    I asked a guest services manager a simple question. If she and her husband went to a Bed and Breakfast on the beach. At the end of a day at the beach you return to your room an you find the owner of the B&B rifling through your receipts and documenting your purchases. The excuse the owner gives is to make your next visit a better experience. Would you return to this B&B ?? The guest service agent could not answer.

    There are rumors that they are going to convert existing Wilderness Lodge rooms to DVC. One of the reasons given was the occupancy rate was low during off seasons. WL is a great resort and anyone would be happy to stay there. Disney doesn’t get that that their off seasons guests are not willing to pay $400 per night for a hotel room.

    Sorry for the long vent. Your blog hit on some nerves! I feel for your poor husband walking back and forth at AKL because the key did not work. The same thing happened to me and we were in the very last room on the long hallway.

    • Carrie
      September 4, 2014

      Oh no! I’m sorry to hear about your customer service runaround. That is SO frustrating, and it seems to happen at Disney a lot. I like your analogy of the innkeeper rifling through guests’ receipts! There really is something sinister about how much of our information they’re tracking. Makes me wanna follow the lead of one of my Twitter pals, who said he was gonna give his MagicBand to a squirrel and see what kind of info THAT gave Disney (“This guest has spent the entire day in the bushes behind Big Thunder!”).

  • Tiffiny
    September 3, 2014

    Well, reading this has terrified me! We’re flying out to Disney on Saturday. It’s our first time in the parks since they started the Magic Bands…and we were TRYING to be optimistic (despite my thoughts that the whole thing was dumb). Reading this…I’m really upset that maybe our experience will be ruined!

    Hearing that the food has gone down is a terrible thing too. Maybe it’s time we all start visiting customer service and letting them know? If we’re going to pay a Disney price, then we expect Disney quality.

    • Carrie
      September 4, 2014

      Oh shoot! I didn’t mean to terrify you—this is just what happened to us. I’ve had comments here and on Facebook that others have not had as many problems as we did, and some say they thought the food was fine. Maybe you can avoid some of the problems we learned the hard way, like not rescheduling FastPasses via the mobile app and turning off WiFi if the app crashes for you.

      • Tiffiny
        September 4, 2014

        We’ll do our best. If it turns out to be awful, we’ll simply (politely) complain to every necessary outlet.

  • ATG
    September 3, 2014

    Oh, this is not good. Hopefully, by the time I drag my nieces to WDW in a few years, they will have fixed (or abandoned) this.

    I am NOT a DL or WDW planner. We make dinner reservations (usually lunch, too) and then wander around the park to hit a few rides before the meals. That way we can wing it based on our mood, the weather, the group. I can’t imagine having to plot every. single. ride in advance!

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      Agreed! One of the great things about going to the parks often is not feeling like you need to plan the Perfect Day and just seeing where the day takes you instead. Doesn’t seem as possible now…

  • Beka
    September 3, 2014

    Call me a cynic, but I’m certain the point of FP+ is to get us off the rides and in the stores.

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      I believe it!

  • Hope at Disneyland
    September 3, 2014

    “what we really want is creative attractions, high-quality restaurants and well-maintained parks and resorts—and the freedom to enjoy all of these at our leisure?” — YES!!! Carrie for president of Disney!!!!

    I really hope they don’t bring that stuff out here. It seems overly complicated for nothing especially when we found the “old system” much more convenient. All this is doing is making me want to go to WDW less and less and save for the international parks instead.

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      LOL! And yes! I think a trip to Tokyo would give us way more bang for our buck…

  • Lisa
    September 3, 2014

    I actually really like the Magic Bands and the ease of them. Surprisingly each trip since they have rolled out just about year ago (there have been 6 trips) has gotten better and more efficient. It is a learning curve for sure.

    The number for My Disney Experience IT is 407-939-4357 They are Magic Workers and have been able to fix the messiest of accounts for my clients! 🙂

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      Thanks for the phone number!

  • Kim
    September 3, 2014

    I agree about the fast passes! We also just got back from our trip to WDW and we passed one of the fastpass plus kiosk areas and my daughter asked ‘what is that?’ and I looked and there was a huge line of people..I told her that was a huge line for fast passes, you know…so you don’t have to wait in line, for uh, the ride…Ridiculous. I found the food to be okay though. We ate at all table service places and found the food to be pretty good all things considered, and we too live very close to a city (Manhatten) so are used to ‘good’ food. I think ordering typical food that you would have to try pretty hard to mess up has worked for us.

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      Good point! I’m always telling Disney brides to stick with reception foods that are pretty hard to mess up. I should take my own advice! 😀

  • Tom Bricker
    September 3, 2014

    It took my wife and I *four* separate trips using all of the My Disney Experience, MagicBands, etc., stuff before finally having a visit during which we didn’t spend a significant amount of time at City Hall/Guest Relations/the resort’s front desk. IS THAT NOT REASONABLE?!

    I truly wonder if NextGen has led to any increased spending. If ‘power users’ like us can’t get the system to work, how much success are the uninitiated having with it? Once they are sufficiently frustrated, or have spent X hours at Guest Relations, are they really inclined to spend even more money? I understand it’s supposed to remove a psychological barrier with regard to spending, but the impediments that it adds to enjoying the parks likely create a new barrier all their own.

    Great post.

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      I’ve wondered the same thing. I mean, many people never understood the original, infinitely simpler FastPass system! Who is this new one aimed at, and do they bring in enough money that Disney can ignore the complaints of those whose experiences have gotten worse?

  • Becky
    September 3, 2014

    I agree with a lot of what you said. I did discover though that after you book your fastpasses for the random times it gives you, you can go back in and adjust the times for the attractions to something else. I’ve only been able to do this on my computer though, not the app.

    We had an issue in February with our fastpasses. We shared a room with friends the first half of the trip and then were on our own for the second half. Well, MyMagic+ decided to create two different versions of Jason, one for each room. One Jason had the ticket linked to him and one Jason had the fastpasses. So once we got into the park all of his fastpasses were gone. It took over an hour to resolve this in the middle of our Magic Kingdom day.

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      That’s awful! You gotta wonder if they just didn’t think through all the implications of shared trips.

  • Heather Kleinhardt
    September 3, 2014

    Sorry to hear that you had so many problems! We’ve used them for two different visits now without any complaints. Actually much prefer them to Universal’s endless number of cards you have to keep track of because EVERYTHING is separate, even the Express Passes you receive for staying at specific Universal resorts! My biggest complaint is that they automatically send you the bands if you stay on property and there’s no way to decline them that I know of. We’re going to have amassed a complete color set in the near future, which is wasteful.

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      Agreed! I think Patrick and I will have about 7 bands apiece now, due to some upcoming hotel-hopping. And when they sent our AP-associated bands, they sent each one in its own huge, wasteful package! Thanks for the tip on Universal. It will be interesting to contrast the two systems when we stay at Portofino.

  • Jenn
    September 3, 2014

    As someone planning a wedding dealing with guests who haven’t been in 3-4 years, it’s definitely frustrating to see it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t stalk blogs/Twitter feeds/Facebook pages to keep up with things. We had guests at the 50 day mark tell us their first ADR would be Be Our Guest, and they planned on FP+ing the Mine Train….and they were annoyed to say the least when we told them neither of those options are available as of right now. It’s certainly not convenient for the average once-every-few-years park goer, IMO.

    I also sit and look at the FP+ selections I’ve made and wonder how the heck we’re going to coordinate on the days we visit the parks with 10 or so of our friends and family. I wish we could just grab everyone’s tickets and run off to Test Track like the days of old! I feel like it’s going to be nigh impossible to get FPs at the same time now, so we’ll just have to hang out in standby.

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      Excellent points! And the first makes me wonder… if MyMagic+ doesn’t work for Annual Passholders, and it doesn’t work for the average once-every-few-years park goer, who is it supposed to work for?

  • Jonni
    September 3, 2014

    Great trip report…ok, doesn’t sound like the trip was always great but I love your honesty. All of this makes me even more inclined to just hang out at my pool whenever I’m in Orlando and skip the madness.

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      What’s the wait time like for that pool? We may want to join you… 😉

      • Jonni
        September 3, 2014

        LOL – no fastepass needed! If you’re really lucky you may be able to get an ADR, T is an excellent chef.

        • Carrie
          September 3, 2014

          😀

  • Jensey
    September 3, 2014

    One of the best posts you’ve ever written, Carrie.

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      Wow! Thanks, Jensey! I’ll be eager to hear what you guys think after a few months of going as locals again. 🙂

      • Jensey
        September 3, 2014

        Such a mess, for sure. Our biggest problem yesterday was that Lisa had dinner with a friend last month, and her friend is in the park with her family this week. I tried booking Lisa and my Fastpasses but couldn’t, because the friend had accidentally booked her Fastpasses all week. I had to go through and cancel them and *then* link our Fastpasses, but I’d be so pissed if someone was taking up some of my 7 allowed Fastpass days a month without me even knowing! Anyway. You blew my mind about rescheduling a dinner a few days out, then canceling!

        • Carrie
          September 3, 2014

          Oh my goodness! I’d better check with my friend and make sure *I’m* not showing up in HER account—thanks for the tip!

          • Jenny
            September 4, 2014

            Rescheduling dinner is genius!!!!

  • Jenny
    September 3, 2014

    It is really a horrible experience if you are a pass holder and just want to pop over to the parks. It has made going to the parks a little bit frustrating!

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      Ugh. That’s what I was afraid of. Let’s hope our huge Disneyland AP base can prevent them from implementing MyMagic+ on the West Coast!

      • Jenny
        September 3, 2014

        Or I hope if they do they will have all the bugs fixed and learn from the mistakes here.

    • Heidi
      September 3, 2014

      That is a great point, Jenny.

      We have annual passes (not yet activated), and we are only a 5 hour drive from the parks. I highly doubt we will plan our weekend trips 60 days in advance to do FastPasses.

      Heidi

      • Jenny
        September 4, 2014

        Heidi,
        At the moment our passes have expired. We live about an hour away and are debating on getting passes again – which is really sad… We have had CM friends get us into the parks and that was a mess trying to get fp for the day.

        • Carrie
          September 4, 2014

          I’ll bet! I’d be interested to hear what your experience is like as passholders if you decide to renew. It seems like you’d never be able to get FastPasses for the popular stuff if you’re restricted to waiting 30 days out.

          • Jenny
            September 4, 2014

            I will keep you posted!

  • Heidi
    September 3, 2014

    Oh I had one more question….after you use your three…minding you actually use them…can you add a 4th via the phone or do you have to go to a kiosk?

    Heidi

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      You have to go to the kiosk, and it has to be in the same park as the ride. No grabbing a Maelstrom FP on your way out of the MK. Additionally, according to some online research, the lines for the kiosks can get really long in the afternoon as everyone is trying to select their 4th or 5th FP, and the headliner attractions will already be sold out for the day. One article recommended “If the wait for the kiosk is more than 45 minutes, go on to something else and come back to the kiosk later.” 45 MINUTES just to get a FASTPASS? And it’s not even for an E-ticket ride? Why not just stand in the standby line at that point?

      • Heidi
        September 3, 2014

        Wow, just wow.

        That seems completely illogical. Why stand in line to get a pass…as you mention, just go to the ride and stand in line.

        Pure craziness! Disney is huge in promoting this App and my Disney Experience. Since we booked our wedding, I only get about a million messages a month about it. My Fiance and I now talk about how Disney owns are souls because it feels like we are getting something in the mail every week these days. So if Disney is so into promoting these systems, why wouldn’t you allow people to put in for their 4th fast pass from the App? The technology cannot be that complex.

        Heidi

  • Heidi
    September 3, 2014

    Hi Carrie,

    Wonderful read, as always! I have not been, but I have been dreading the 60 day advance FastPass. Doing 180 day out ADR is as much scheduling as we want to do on our vacation. I am more ok with scheduling, but my fiance really likes to enjoy things and not be rushed. We did very limited ADRs with a few must-go-to restaurants that book up no matter the time of year. I have been contemplating not doing FastPass at all for this trip. We are going the first week of February. I was going to grab a fast pass for Seven Dwarfs for sure, but was not going to use it otherwise. How do you think we will be with the crowd level at that time of year?

    What was so wrong with paper fast passes? Given my only experience was at Disneyland and California adventure, but it did not seem that much of hassle to go to the fast pass machine and carry around that little paper until it was time. For the new (then) Cars ride, my friend (whose husband is a Disney Imagineer) gave us the tip of when to show up and where to go to ensure we got a fast pass for the day we went into that park. It rewarded us for being up early, at the park gate when it first opened, and picking that ride over all others. The new fast pass system sounds like more of a punishment to everyone than a reward to anyone, even the early computer rising technician.

    Thanks for all your help as always! Your work is always a joy to read.

    Heidi

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      That’s a really good point! Opponents of the original FASTPASS system said that it punished people who didn’t know about or understand the system (definitely not something they’ve remedied with the new system) and that it left too many people free to clog the walkways and crowd stores. Supposedly now that so many of us can’t get FASTPASSes for things or times we want, we will be leaving all the walkways clear as we stand in the long lines of the “good old days.” But our experience was that we spent even more time clogging walkways because we couldn’t get onto what we wanted or didn’t have time to do any other rides or eat anything before our next scheduled time.

      The first week of February is still low season (until they figure out how to cram another race or special event into it), so I think you should be OK, crowd-wise. We chose that week for our wedding based on its being so unpopular, and so far it’s always been a really nice time to visit on our anniversary.

      • Heidi
        September 3, 2014

        Carrie,

        I actually picked the first week of February based on your writings…ok I am not a creepy stalker, just a researcher by trade and I know a reliable source when I find one!

        I have read lots of complaints about the old fast pass system with people making the argument it actually makes the waits over all longer—I did not really get the logic of it; it seemed more like people who were stuck in the old way and unwilling to alter on strict principles, but that was just my impression. I have personally (up to this point) found fast pass to be brilliant.

        My mom and grandma are actually handicap so they appreciate the handicap “fast pass” type system they have. Neither can actually stand in a line (and are actually state disabled–not just trying to get around the system), so they are happy to go and sit at a shop and wait the time of the line not in the line.

        Heidi

        • Carrie
          September 3, 2014

          Oh, OK, so you know how much I love early February! 🙂 I’m glad to hear the special access arrangement works for your mom and grandma. I know some people were really upset when Disneyland changed it.

          • Heidi
            September 3, 2014

            What did they change it from?

            We didn’t have to use it before our last trip.

            • Carrie
              September 3, 2014

              It used to be you could get a GAC card from City Hall that was good for an unlimited time and number of guests, which people abused to get large groups on rides as walk-ons. You can read the full rundown HERE.

  • Lori
    September 3, 2014

    Hey there! I just wanted to say, after you pick your best “option” with the FP+s, you can then edit time right away. I usually end up getting exactly pretty much what I want at the time I want.
    We loved using FP+ in Dec of last year, maybe it’s because it was fairly quiet and not a lot of people even were using FP+ yet (still end of testing phase) or also that we could still use regular FP then, but we were able to switch stuff like rides and times which was great.
    This past May was another story however. First of all, it was over Memorial Day weekend so it was much more crowded and there were a number of times we wanted to switch a time or experience for whatever reason and couldn’t find anything that we felt like going on and was available for us to switch to etc.
    It will be interesting to see how Nov. goes. We haven’t had any issues with it as our room key and we don’t put a cc on it for purchases. We did however use it for Memory Maker and it worked fine, all our pics where there when I signed on to look.
    Improvements definitely need to be made for sure and 3 per day upfront is not enough. The lines at the kiosks are crazy long, the whole point of FP+ is to try to avoid waiting on lines! LOL Can’t wait to read your 7DMT entry! 🙂

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      Thanks for the tip, Lori! I’ll have to look for the editing option next time. And I completely agree about the lines at the kiosks totally defeating the purpose of these supposed improvements.

  • Kimberly H.
    September 3, 2014

    Amen! We’re going on a last minute trip next month, but I haven’t been able to schedule any Fastpasses. It wouldn’t let me link my new pass to my Disney account because my name is different on my pass. So I opened a new account in my new name, but when I try to add my husband and his pass it says his pass is already linked to an account. My old account! I have to log into both separately and hope that our Fastpass times match. And what a terrible design flaw to not be able to pick times with Fastpasses. We have lunch at Sci Fi at 11:30 and dinner at Garden Grill at 6 p.m. I can get Toy Story Mania at 5:55 p.m. or Soarin’ at 9 a.m. And I hate taking Fastpasses for rides I know I’m not going to ride (like Star Tours) that someone else might actually want. I agree with everything you said!

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      Oh my gosh, how frustrating! I wonder if you could call and ask for their technical department and see if they can merge your old and new accounts. They were once able to help me with that when I realized I some of my reservations had become associated with an ancient account I’d forgotten I had.

      • Becky
        September 3, 2014

        This happened to me, as I had my own account but my friend who added me to her room reservation listed me as “Becky” (and on my account I’m Rebecca). I called and they were able to switch everything over pretty easily.

        • Carrie
          September 3, 2014

          What number did you call? Might be a good idea to add it to my contacts.

          • Becky
            September 3, 2014

            I think I just called whatever number they have right on the website, and then there was a “press this number” thing for questions about My Magic +.

  • Jenn Paul
    September 3, 2014

    AMEN! Yes! This, all of it! So much so, that we are NOT doing any dining plan next time! That , coming from a DxDP lover! I’m nervous for our next trip!

    • Carrie
      September 3, 2014

      Wow, really? I know how much you’ve loved it in the past. I’ll be eager to hear what you think!

      • Jenn Paul
        September 3, 2014

        Well, we had good food at Cali Grille , so our experience differed than yours there. Server however, was meh…. I always find that to be the case there though. But honestly, quality of service, and food has drastically declined. I’ll miss the convenience of dxdp but, the price is too steep to pay for mediocrity, all while missing park time. I still have many adrs, but now we will order with what we want in mind, not what is included.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.