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Disney World’s MagicBands and FastPass+ Testing

on September 26, 2013

magicbands pic

As of yesterday (9-25-13), we are 45 days away from our Disney vacation. The resort we will be staying at is part of the testing for Disney’s new MagicBands and FastPass+. I’ve been impatiently waiting for the last month or so to find out if we would be part of the testing when we arrive.

Once it was officially September 25th (sometime after midnight), I decided to log onto My Disney Experience site to see. To my delight, I finally had the options to customize our MagicBands and make FastPass+ selections for our trip. Yay!!! You honestly have no idea how happy I was to see this. I am not one for putting my excitement on display, but I will admit that I was smiling ear to ear and doing a little happy dance.

Kayla updating our countdown to Disney chart.

Kayla updating our countdown to Disney chart.

Kayla is excited that we're getting closer and closer to our vacation.

Kayla is excited that we’re getting closer and closer to our vacation.

The MagicBands and FastPass+ are part of Disney’s new MyMagic+ experience. MyMagic+ is Disney’s way of allowing guests to have more control over their vacation, personalize their experience, and make things more convenient. I was a little worried about these changes when I first started reading about them, but now I’m mostly just excited to see how this all works. So far, I like it.

MyMagic plus has many elements to it, with the first being the My Disney Experience website and mobile app. Once you register on this website, you are able to personalize your entire vacation. You can purchase a Disney vacation package, buy theme park and water park tickets, make dining reservations, set plans for your day to day itinerary for your trip, complete online check-in for your resort, and link reservations/tickets bought from third parties to your homepage. You can make and share plans with family and friends in your travel group. And you can manage your MagicBands and FastPass+ selections. The website and mobile app will be your go-to vacation tools when planning your next trip to Disney World. I’ve been playing around with the website and mobile app for a few months, and I love them. One nice feature of the mobile app is the ability to look up current wait times at each of the parks for rides and other attractions.

FastPass+ is the updated version of the old FastPass system. In the past, you would have to go to the FastPass machines in the theme parks, insert your admission ticket into the machine, and obtain a printed FastPass ticket that would give you a time range for when you could ride with little to no wait. You would come back during your assigned time range and get in a special line that had a much shorter wait than the regular lines. I never particularly liked this system because it required a lot of running around to obtain FastPasses for the most popular rides. There were only a number of rides that even offered FastPasses at each park. Not every ride had this option. If you didn’t obtain FastPasses early in the day, there was also the chance you wouldn’t get one because they would run out.

Old FastPass ticket

Old FastPass ticket

The new FastPass+ has a much more user friendly approach to the same concept. There will be a lot of people out there who don’t like dealing with new technology and planning in advance that will despise this new system. But I am LOVING it. This new system allows you to go online or on the mobile app and schedule your FastPasses BEFORE your trip. So here I am at 45 days until my trip and I am able to schedule all of my FastPasses for each of my days at the different theme parks. Oh, and I can also change the time ranges for the FastPasses if I don’t like the the original time assigned to me and my traveling group. How cool is that? No more running around the parks trying to obtain the FastPasses I want, and hoping to get a good time range. Now I can simply log into the My Disney Experience site, schedule the FastPasses I want, alter the times to fit into our schedule, and not have to worry about it anymore.

When you have access to fastpass+, this is what the initial screen will look like.  It will show if you've already made fastpass+ selections and if you have dining reservations for that day.

When you have access to fastpass+, this is what the initial screen will look like. It will show if you’ve already made fastpass+ selections and if you have dining reservations for that day.

This screen allows you to choose what you want to do next.  You can make fastpass+ selections, change current selections, copy selections to another party member, and cancel all selections.

This screen allows you to choose what you want to do next. You can make fastpass+ selections, change current selections, copy selections to another party member, and cancel all selections.

Here is an example of fastpass+ selections I was playing around with the other night.  I have the option to make changes to all three selections.

Here is an example of fastpass+ selections I was playing around with the other night. I have the option to make changes to all three selections.

If I chose to change the time for Toy Story Mania, it will give me options for what times are available on this date.

If I chose to change the time for Toy Story Mania, it will give me options for what times are available on this date.

This is the itinerary screen.  This is where you can add plans to each day of your vacation.  If you want, you can roughly plan out your entire vacation with the My Disney Experience website.

This is the itinerary screen. This is where you can add plans to each day of your vacation. If you want, you can roughly plan out your entire vacation with the My Disney Experience website.

The way FastPass+ works is definitely different. Big users of the old system may not like the fact that Disney is currently limiting how many FastPasses a guest can get each day. Right now the number is three per day, with some people getting a bonus FastPass for the Magic Kingdom. It doesn’t look like we will be one of the lucky traveling groups getting a bonus FastPass, but I don’t really mind. I hear there are rumors that once FastPass+ is completely up and running (no longer in testing), the number of FastPasses will be determined by whether you are staying at an on-site or off-site resort/hotel, and whether you are at a value, moderate, or deluxe resort on-site. People staying at a Disney deluxe on-site resort may be able to get up to five FastPasses each day. Again, this is just rumors at this point. Who knows what will actually happen once FastPass+ is officially rolled out.

Disney’s MagicBands are the most interesting new development. The MagicBands are rubberized bands that you will wear on your wrists while visiting Disney World. These bands will act as your theme park and water park tickets, your Disney resort room key, and allow you to purchase food and merchandise. You will use the bands to schedule FastPass+ selections at the new FastPass+ machines in the parks, and it will allow you to check-in for your FastPass+ reservations for rides and attractions. In essence, these bands will replace the old “key to the world” cards that guests used to get. It’s my understanding that for people who are against this new technology, you will still have the option to use the old fashion ticket to enter the parks and unlock your resort room, but will not have access to some of the newer features.

New FastPass+ turnstiles at Disney World.

New FastPass+ turnstiles at Disney World.

The MagicBands will also be another way to personalize your Disney experience. People staying at a Disney resort will be able to customize their MagicBand by selecting the color they want and having their name printed on the back. If you customize your MagicBand between 45 and 30 days before your trip, Disney will mail the MagicBands to your home. If you don’t customize them in advance, you will be issued standard gray ones without your name on it when you arrive. When you’re in the parks and you swipe your MagicBand to enter a FastPass+ ride, Disney cast members (employees) will now be able to see your name on a screen and acknowledge you by name. This may seem a little creepy to adults, but will be a cool touch for kids. Imagine how your child’s face will light up when the various people at the Disney theme parks will know their names without asking. Pretty cool to most young kids.

Once you arrive at Disney World, there are accessories that you can purchase to personalize your MagicBand even further. I’m aware of three different kinds of accessories. There are CoverBands, MagicSliders, and MagicBandits. The CoverBands are fabric covers that you can buy to cover up your entire MagicBand. MagicSliders are large square charm pieces that you can slide onto your MagicBand. MagicBandits are small charms that snap into the extra holes on the MagicBands. All three options feature popular Disney characters and designs. I am looking forward to letting my daughter, Kayla, personalize hers once we get there.

MagicBand accessories

MagicBand accessories

The convenience of the new MagicBands is what truly amazes me. I think it’s nice that you will no longer have to worry about fumbling around with a paper ticket or plastic card in order to enter the theme parks, pay for meals, pay for merchandise, and unlock your door at your resort. It’s one less thing to have to worry about. For me, that is exciting since we will be traveling with our daughter who will be turning 3-years-old the day after we return home from our trip. I am all for the added convenience. Whatever makes a trip easier when traveling with children, sounds good to me. Not to mention, my daughter will be thrilled when we receive the MagicBands in the mail. I even customized it in her favorite color, pink.

I am having fun scheduling my FastPass+ selections. I find it is a little hard to decide so far in advance exactly what rides to get FastPasses for, but I like the idea of knowing I have the FastPasses I want and being able to plan my day accordingly. It may take some of the spontaneity out of the trip, but it is an added convenience to me. It probably helps that I am a planner, and I like to have a rough schedule of what we have going on so I can factor in my daughter’s nap time and bedtime, etc. I find myself not even hating making the advanced dining reservations as much as I initially thought I would. It’s a little annoying, but also nice to know that we won’t be limited to only eating at counter service locations because the lines are too long at table service restaurants. That is no fun. The only problem I’ve run into so far is trying to schedule everything around each other…meaning FastPass+ selections, advanced dining reservations, and my daughter’s nap time. Some of the times conflict, so this has been a minor issue while planning, but nothing overly frustrating. All it has really done is make me step back and remember not to over-schedule our days. It is a vacation, so there should be down time here and there to make sure we all get the rest we need.

For all you planners out there, you are going to love the new MyMagic+ experience at Disney World. Just remember, don’t get carried away with planning every second of every day. Disney World has a lot of stuff to do, but it’s important to find time to relax too. Even the princesses and the mouse himself need rest.

P.S. Here is the website for logging onto My Disney Experience. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/

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3 responses to “Disney World’s MagicBands and FastPass+ Testing

  1. Hmmm… Planning on a trip to Disneyland soon. I wonder if they will have these installed here or just in Florida. Thanks for the heads up!

    • kaylakakes says:

      They plan to completely roll this out at Disney World by the end of this year or in early 2014. Then they will be starting the process at Disneyland, and later overseas. Disney World has been testing it for the last several months. My guess is once they start working on it at Disneyland, it will undergo testing for awhile too, but probably not as long. I hope you have a great trip when you go. 🙂

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