I have gotten a lot of questions about the upcoming Disney trip and the new “My Disney Experience” website. I thought I would take some time and try to offer some helpful advice — Mrs. West
Q: How does the FastPass thingie work? What’s a Magic Band? Why so much technology???
A: FastPass+ is part of the My Magic+ program that Disney set up 2 years ago. In Olden Times, you had to either wait in ridiculously long lines (sometimes 2-3 hours!!) or get a paper Fast Pass to skip the line.
You would go to the actual ride and get a little slip of paper from a kiosk that had a return time on it. When that return time came, you went back and gave the FastPass to the cast member at the back of the line. If you didn’t get to some of the more popular rides (the Mountains, Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Test Track, etc) by 9:30 AM you were pretty much out of luck. And if you hopped to another park later in the day, forget about riding any of those really popular rides.
So a few years ago they came up with the My Magic+ program that uses RFID technology built into Magic Bands and linked them to all kinds of systems within the park, including door locks, credit cards, the Magical Express airport shuttle, dining plans, ride photos, the Disability Access System and of course, FastPass+.
FastPass+ replaced the old paper system and is all computer-based. You can use your computer or the My Disney Experience app to make and change your FastPasses up to the moment of your scheduled ride or character visit. So, if I have a 9:30 AM Space Mountain FastPass and decide that I want to cancel it, I can do that until 9:29 that morning. Because you are staying in a Disney resort, you get some nice perks associated with your Magic Band.
A big one is that you can reserve your FastPasses BEFORE people who are not staying on Disney property. Disney breaks their FastPass release times into 3 tiers: the first batch is released at midnight EST 60 days before your visit for resort guests. That’s about 40% of the available ride times. Another 40% get released 30 days before your trip – NOTE: this is happening in the next couple of days so WATCH for popular rides to suddenly become available this weekend! It’s not uncommon for them to get grabbed up really quickly at that 30 day mark, because a lot of people stay off property. The other 20% are released at midnight the day of your visit. So if you STILL can’t get that awesome ride, check the night/morning before we go. Or even the morning of your visit, because like I said – you can change your mind and change your experience any time.
Once you create your My Disney Experience account and link your resort stay and park ticket, you can add friends to “Plan and Share” using the website or app. To do that, click on “Friends and Family” and “Add a Guest”. Choose “By entering his or her name” and select 18+ as their age. Next, select “I will invite this friend to make plans with me through his or her Disney account”.
******PLEASE do NOT “manage all the plans for this friend”, because that will change their resort reservation!!****** If you need help, ask Mrs. West.
When you invite them to “plan and share” with you, then you can make FastPass reservations together. You do NOT need to walk around and ride solely with the people in your room. You can link plans and FastPasses with anybody in the band. You can also add people to your plans later – as long as there are open slots in the system. Again, try this Saturday morning if you can’t get a FastPass slot now.
Q: What rides should I get FastPasses for?
A: That depends on what kind of experience you want. Some people like to ride roller coasters, some people want the best seats for fireworks or parades and some people want to meet all of the characters and get their pictures taken. But pretty much NOBODY likes to stand in line. So I made a list!
April 14 – Magic Kingdom (remember to NOT schedule anything after 1 PM)
“it’s a small world” – little puppet children singing the same song for 10 minutes or so. And you’re in a boat. A must-do, but the regular line usually isn’t terrible.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – think Thunderbolt with train/mountain theming. This was rumored to be closed next month but they pushed back the renovation to August.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant – like the airplanes in Kiddie Land at Idlewild. With elephants.
Enchanted Tales with Belle – Belle tells you stories. Enchanted stories.
Haunted Mansion – You should really make a point to go on this ride. It’s like riding through a haunted house, but without the chainsaws. It was refurbed a few years ago and is pretty cool.
Jungle Cruise – a nice relaxing change of pace boat ride. The tour guides are pretty hilarious.
Mad Tea Party – It’s the spinning tea cups ride from the commercial.
Character meet and greets
-Meet Ariel at Her Grotto
-Meet Cinderella and Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall
-Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater – ok, so this one is kind of cool. This Mickey talks and knows your name from your Magic Band.
-Meet Tinker Bell at Town Square Theater
Mickey’s PhilharMagic – I like this one because it’s about MUSIC. It’s a 4D theater with sights, sounds and smells. It’s very well-done!
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor – another theater. They take jokes from the audience before the show and make it kind of interactive. Cute, and also air conditioned.
Peter Pan’s Flight – You and your friends “fly” through London and Neverland. Also very well-done (and AC again!)
Pirates of the Caribbean – if you go to Disney World and DON’T ride this ride, people at home will get angry with you. Seriously, this is a staple of Disney. We will warm up for our parade behind Pirates, and you don’t realize how big the ride is until you see it from backstage. They have a pirate ship!
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – this is their newest roller coaster, so it is hugely popular and extremely well done – but SHORT. If you have any interest in riding it, get a FastPass. (I just checked the wait times, and this one is STILL 45 minutes, and it’s 10 PM!)
Space Mountain – another Disney staple. A dark roller coaster with crazy lights. A Fast Pass MUST DO if you like roller coasters.
Splash Mountain – the inside part of the ride has some scenes from a movie nobody has ever seen, and then you get WET! I love Splash Mountain. It’s like the Log Jammer, but with really awesome scenery and animatronic rabbits. If you can’t get a FastPass and have to stand in line, this is at least an entertaining line to stand in. You will also sing “Zip a Dee Doo Dah” for hours after this ride. And you get WET!
The Barnstormer – have you ridden the Little Phantom at Kennywood? This is kind of like that, but with planes. It’s only a minute long too.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – Like the elephants, but with magic carpets
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – A dark ride with scenes from Winnie the Pooh
Tomorrowland Speedway – like go carts! Do this between Space Mountain and the Mine Train; it’s fun!
Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid – a dark ride with scenes from the Little Mermaid
April 15 – Epcot
Choices – pick one
Test Track – you’re in a car you “designed” yourself, and you get to go fast! If you get stuck in line, it’s really not that bad. It’s indoors (AC!) and there are interactive things you can do while you wait.
Mission: Space – you’re in a SPACESHIP going up and down and around. No, actually, you’re in a centrifuge that spins you really fast so that it feels like you’re going up and down and around. This ride is awesome. There are two versions of it, by the way – one for people who can handle spinning and one for the rest of us.
Choices – pick two
Disney/Pixar Short Film Festival – short films, short wait.
Journey Into Imagination With Figment – cute moving ride that goes through different parts of the imagination. Also never a wait.
Spaceship Earth – You ride up into the big white ball. They redid this a few years back and it’s much better. I generally don’t skip this one.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends – you ride in a big shell through some cool saltwater scenes inside their ginormous building-sized tank. A FastPass is seriously not needed here – the shells are on a constant loop.
Turtle Talk with Crush – this is at the end of the Nemo ride, and I’ve never gotten in, but it looks cute. It’s like that annoying cat app that you can talk to, but not annoying, and a turtle.
Epcot Character Spot – a meet and greet with Disney characters at random. Usually some of the big ones – Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and the like.
April 17 – Animal Kingdom
DINOSAUR – this is a dark ride, but a really exciting one. It starts off as a trip back in time, but then a dinosaur ends up chasing you.
Kali River Rapids – like Raging Rapids, with better theming.
Kilimanjaro Safaris – if you like animals at all, go on this. Try to get an early AM FastPass if you can. It’s a drive through their African savanna in a big truck with lots of animals everywhere. Think a zoo, but you’re driving through. I never miss the Safari.
*** We WILL be going to Hollywood Studios, but I don’t know which night yet. It depends on our performance. Once that opens up, the big attractions to use your FastPasses on are the Tower of Terror, Rockin’ Roller Coaster and Fantasmic.
Q: Do you have any tips for avoiding long lines for my non-FastPass rides?
A: I sure do!
Time of day: Get your butt out of bed, eat, and get to the park early. If you’re there at Rope Drop (they do a musical number, which is quite adorable) you can shoot straight for the popular rides.
Short lines in the early morning
- Space/Thunder/Splash Mountains
- Haunted Mansion
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Expedition Everest
- Test Track
- Mission SPACE (if you do the “Green” ride there is NEVER a wait)
- Kali River Rapids
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
You can also find shorter lines during meal times, parades, fireworks and Fantasmic. They list the wait times on the My Disney Experience app, and they are pretty accurate.
Single Rider lines: Some popular rides have “single rider lines” if you don’t mind being split up from your group. I use this to ride something a second time. You are still waiting in line with your group, but they grab one person at a time to fill up a car or ride with a random person. Seriously, you can ride things like the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Expedition Everest over and over again this way.
Rides with single rider lines
- Expedition Everest
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Test Track
Q: This is so confusing. Will you help me???
A: Absolutely!!! I will be having “Mrs. West’s Super Fun My Disney Experience Time” after practice on Tuesday. I am also at the HS EVERY MORNING during 1st block. Come and visit!