The DIS Unplugged team discusses their recent testing of Disney’s new MyMagic+ system, including FastPass+ and MagicBands.
A few of us from The DIS team had the opportunity to test out Walt Disney World’s new MyMagic+ system, including MagicBands and FastPass+ this week during the first rollout of guest testing. Starting on August 2nd, certain resorts including Pop Century, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Yacht Club, and The Contemporary were chosen to offer the MyMagic+ experience to guests. With our reservation at Pop Century for the first day of the test, we were selected to take part.
To learn more about the MyMagic+ program, be sure to check out our previous posts about MagicBands, the accessories available for them, and FastPass+. We will have full coverage and review of our experience here on The DIS Blog and The DIS Unplugged podcast. We’ll also have continuous updates as the program moves beyond testing and will be available to all guests.
We learned that to fully take advantage of the MyMagic+ system, some pre-trip planning is definitely encouraged. First of all, it’s very important to have your Disney online account up-to-date and accessible on My Disney Experience, either through their website www.mydisneyexperience.com or one of their apps on mobile devices. My Disney Experience is really the central hub for guests to keep track of all of their vacation plans – resort reservations, park admission, dining reservations, FastPass+ reservations, payment options, and even PhotoPass information.
Before our stay, we tried to make sure that our accounts were up-to-date by by linking our resort stay to our accounts, adding our park admission to our accounts, and ensuring that everyone on the reservation were listed as a Friend or Family on our accounts. This allowed us to make plans together, which is critical in utilizing the FastPass+ system. In order to use FastPass+, your My Disney Experience account must have both a resort reservation and valid park admission linked to it. Because a couple of us had done the work beforehand, it really helped the set-up process and allowed for us to get going more quickly. On the other hand, a couple guests on our reservation weren’t able to do this ahead of time so we also were able to see the process of getting it set up on the spot at check-in.
The check-in process at Pop Century went smoothly, however since we did have a few changes to make to the reservation we ended up spending a while at the desk to get squared away. Pete, who was the original guest on the reservation, had a MagicBand waiting for him at the desk that had his name printed on it. Then there were two of us that were added to the reservation the day before check-in and then one of us that was added to the reservation on the spot. The Cast Member checking us in encoded MagicBands for the three of us at the desk and connected them to our My Disney Experience accounts. If all four of us were on the reservation in the beginning, we would have each had a MagicBand waiting for us at check-in with our names on them.
Like I said earlier, two of us were able to have the reservation and park admission connected to our My Disney Experience accounts before check-in. We had to spend a pretty long time at the resort’s MyMagic+ help desk getting the others’ accounts all synced up so we could participate in FastPass+. If the park admission was accepted on the account, it seemed like the reservation was not, and the other way around. However, the Cast Members were able to fix the issues and finally got both the tickets and room reservation on the accounts. After this we were all set! Everything was linked on our MagicBands and we could use it in place of our room keys to open the door to our room, as well as our admission, payment in the park.
While this was our first time actually using the MagicBands in the parks and at the resort, we’ve reported on them before and described them in detail in a previous post.
The biggest misconception with the MagicBands is that guests are required to wear and use them. It’s extremely important for people to understand that this is only an optional perk for guests to use while on vacation. You will not miss out on any of the perks if you choose to use your Key To The World card instead of the band. The MagicBands are just a very simple way to access your account with less hassle than pulling out your room key each time.
We were able to purchase some of the accessories for the bands at the gift shop at Pop Century and then actually pay for them using our MagicBand since we had it linked to our credit card on our room reservation. We went with a few of the MagicBandits and the MagicCovers. You can read more about the accessories available in our previous post.
After check-in, we headed straight to Epcot and used our MagicBands to enter the park at the turnstiles just like you would with a current RFID-enabled ticket or Annual Pass.
I think that the new FastPass+ system is arguably the biggest advantage of the MyMagic+ program. Like I mentioned, currently a guest must have a resort reservation and valid park admission linked to their My Disney Experience account to participate in the FastPass+. Once a guest has that information linked, the website or app allows you to schedule three FastPass+ selections for one park per day. This might change in the future, but at least for the testing phase and early stages of MyMagic+, this is how it will work.
Since we chose to go to Epcot, I scheduled FastPass+ reservations for Soarin’, Test Track, and then Illuminations. The app allowed me to choose those three attractions/shows, then list them in the priority I wanted. After continuing, My Disney Experience gives you four time options titled A,B,C, and D, which are typically morning, afternoon, evening, and night, although they can vary. I chose afternoon/evening and then was given the option to adjust times if I needed to. I decided to adjust the time of our Test Track reservation by moving it up an hour to make room for a dinner reservation.
When it came time to use our FastPass+ reservations, the process could not have been smoother. We proceeded to the designated FastPass/FastPass+ line for Soarin and held up each of our MagicBands to the scanners at the entrance. The Mickey icon on the scanner glowed a bright green just like the park turnstile and the Cast Member looked at a monitor close by and thanked us by our first names. I have a feeling that that small customized detail is just a taste of what’s to come as far as the MyMagic+ technology.
We then proceeded through the FastPass queue and when we reached the Cast Member that collects the paper FastPasses, we simply showed him our MagicBands and he let us continue. There are a second set of scanners that can be used for confirmation, but for some reason these were not being used at Soarin’. We did have to scan our bands a second time for our reservation at Test Track.
Our experience at Test Track was a little different in the fact that we were able to use our MagicBands for more than just redeeming our FastPass+ reservation. With the new car design interactivity, we were able to build our car and store it with our MagicBands rather than use the plain white cards typically given out. This made the experience just a little more simpler and was a pretty cool way to use the technology.
When it came time to use our FastPass+ reservation for Illuminations, we had to ask a Cast Member where exactly to go because the app did not specifically say. We found the area near the Port of Entry shop at the beginning of World Showcase. There were two Cast Members that had an iPod equipped with a scanner on the back of it to read the MagicBands. This was one of just a couple places that there was an issue reading our bands. The Cast Member asked if we had reservations for this location or the one over in Germany. The app did not specify so we just showed him our app and he added us to his iPod and let us through to the viewing area. He explained that in the future there will be two different viewing locations and guests can specify where they want to go when making the FastPass+ reservation.
During our day we had experience with both quick service and table service dining and paying with the MagicBands. The quick service location at Pop Century had no problem at all accepting the band – most quick service locations though have been equipped with the touch-to-pay scanners for several months. The meal was charged right to the room. This would work similarly if a guest had the Dining Plan. You could scan your MagicBand to redeem any of your existing plan credits.
While in Epcot we had a really interesting experience at Tutto Italia, one of the table service restaurants in the Italy Pavilion. When we asked to pay with our MagicBand, the server brought over the same type of iPod that the Cast Member at the Illuminations viewing location had. Unfortunately the scanner on the back of her device did not pick up the band so we were not able to use it. However, the iPod also had a credit card/room card slider on it so we were able to pay with our Key To The World Card and get the same result as paying with the band. I really liked this change for paying at table service restaurants and I hope it’s something they adopt property-wide, especially if they accept credit cards.
Overall, our experience testing out MyMagic+, MagicBands, and FastPass+ went amazingly well, especially as this was the first day of guest testing. I can only imagine that as testing continues and the full program rolls out for everyone, MyMagic+ will continue to improve and run even smoother. As more information is released and more people experience the system, we will be sure to bring you the latest. Make sure to follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheDIS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/the.dis! We will also be giving our full review and thoughts on The DIS Unplugged so make sure to check that out at www.disunplugged.com and subscribe to our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/wdwinfo!