Disney’s MagicBands: The Hype, the Hysteria, & You

| November 6, 2013 | 161 Replies
  • I am thinking about canceling my trip to Walt Disney World because I am so worried that FastPass+ and MagicBands will ruin it. I don’t even like wearing something on my wrist!
  • Disney MagicBands are too confusing. They make a vacation hard.
  • They are rationing out how many rides you can go on now in Epcot as their answer to not having enough of them in the park. I’m going to skip that park entirely now.
  • A cast member told me to just go and have a good time. How can I do that with this system?
  • I went to Disney recently and all of the lines were backed up because of MagicBands and FastPass+!
  • I don’t want to plan where I am going to be, what I’m going to ride, and where I am going to eat months in advance! I’m on vacation!

 

These are the comments (paraphrased, of course) that have been circulating the Net and popping up in face-to-face conversations about Disney’s newest program to enhance guest experience: FastPass+ (FP+) and its counterpart, the MagicBand. Like many of you out there, I have been keeping my eyes and ears open when the latest dribble of news or rumor pops up regarding the new system. I even schmoozed my way into getting some early information from one of the head cast members distributing the new RFID-enabled annual passes this past spring. While I am sure there are several underlying goals, the main point of FP+ is simple: help guests get on and off attractions with little to no wait in lines. Sounds like a great thing, right? Well, it appears not to be for many guests who are declaring war on the new “bands-o’-fun” before they even begin their official run in the parks. That, my friends, is what has prompted this blog. Before you continue reading, keep in mind that everyone has a right to his or her own opinion about the program and, quite frankly, no single viewpoint is the correct one; this is mine, and I hope it helps to settle some pre-vacation jitters for those concerned about their upcoming trips.

 

Disney's FastPass+ and MagicBands are causing quite a stir among fans. What do you think about the new system?

Disney’s FastPass+ and MagicBands are causing quite a stir among fans. What do you think about the new system?

The FP+ and MagicBand program offers guests the opportunity to reserve an attraction wait time before entering the parks using the new My Disney Experience website or smartphone app. A customizable bracelet is sent to your home before you leave for the World and acts as your room key, park ticket, dining plan voucher, and FastPass to select attractions. You also have the option of syncing a credit card to it for use at the various merchandise locations on property. When activating a pre-selected FastPass+, guests hold up their MagicBands to a Mickey-head-themed sensor at the turnstile and are then allowed to by-pass the regular queue line which results in  limited to no wait for the attraction.

 

A guest taps his MagicBand against the sensor activating new RFID technology.

A guest taps her MagicBand against the sensor and activates new RFID technology.

 

There are a number of concerns surfacing about the FastPass+ and MagicBand system:

 

Uncomfortable

Foremost, many guests feel that it will be uncomfortable wearing the plastic bracelets around in the Florida heat all day. Some even go on to say that they do not normally wear a watch or other item on their wrists which will make MagicBands burdensome in the parks.

 

Confusing

Second, the My Disney Experience website has had ups and downs since its conception. Many users have found that it crashes, freezes, or does not perform as expected to do so. Several posts on message board communities such as DISboards.com show that guests are also having trouble navigating the site’s various menus. As a result, selecting FP+ options is time-consuming and confusing.

 

Limit Spontaneity

Next, those who frequent the parks often do not necessarily plan out their vacations as novice guests. Annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members, for example, spend larger amounts of time at Walt Disney World and, therefore, plan less in terms of what park they will visit, where they will eat, and so on. The FP+ system, according to some, would therefore require this to change.

 

Not Enough Options

Finally, another common complaint about FP+ is that there are simply not enough options for the average visitor. As it stands right now, guests are limited to three FP+ selections in a single park, per day. None of the same attractions may be selected more than once. Likewise, some have reported that popular Epcot attractions like Soarin’ and Test Track are being tiered into two groups so that you could only pick one or the other for a FP+ selection. Such limitations are increasing the frustration with the system.

 

A Walt Disney World cast member greets guests before they enter an attraction using FastPass+.

A Walt Disney World cast member greets guests before they enter an attraction using FastPass+.

 

When really breaking down and taking a closer look at these concerns, I can’t help but feel frustrated by the mass hysteria about FP+ that is saturating the Internet. Yes, I recognize that people are worried about their vacations and how their favorite parks will be affected, but I think we are jumping the gun here. FP+ and MagicBands are, to this very day, still not officially live. Instead, guest populations are being selected for testing – something that has been taking place since the early summer – and larger groups are being tested as time passes. Of course there are going to be problems. The reason why Disney is not fully implementing the system is because it needs to be modified based on the results of these tests. Visit the park last week and notice backed up FP queues? That could very well be the case. Is it FP+’s fault? Not necessarily so. The program is being phased into what is an already complex theme park world and cast members are being trained on how to avoid such bumps in the road. Would one rather these issues happen once the system is fully implemented?

 

As time passes, the calculations will be configured in such a way that the lines will shorten and FP+ will have the same benefits of, if not more than, the old system. Speaking of which, “Legacy FastPass,” as the original program has been dubbed, was not born without its skeptics and criticisms. Once the kinks were worked out, it became a very popular option to shorten wait times for your favorite attractions; other theme parks even created their own systems based on the success of  FastPass. I have no doubt that its successor, FP+, will grow to be another unique touring tool for the parks.

 

The original FastPass system was born to skeptics, but is now a widely-used option in Disney's parks.

The original FastPass system was born to skeptics, but is now a widely-used option in Disney’s parks.

 

With program testing, comes feedback. Those guests who were selected to use FP+ and MagicBands are being contacted to share their park experience. This information is then being used to alter the system so that it works better. Why would Disney bother to contact anyone if they weren’t concerned about how well it really works? This is a multi-billion dollar venture on Disney’s part, and they can’t risk its failure. If that happened it would be detrimental to the company’s holding as one of the top vacation destinations in the world. Disney has to get this right or guests won’t come to the parks. If the system truly is a hassle, competitors like Universal Studios will be quick to jump on it and entice guests to their parks much like CityWalk did when Pleasure Island met its demise.

 

A screenshot of My Disney Experience showing FP+ and dining options for a guest.

A screenshot of My Disney Experience showing FP+ and dining options for guests.

 

If one were to look back at the number of changes made to how guests access and use FP+, it is easy to see that testers’ feedback is already playing a role. My Disney Experience has been altered a few times since its initial debut. Most recently, guests were pleased to see that they could cancel previously-made FP+ selections; this was not something that was originally an option. I can imagine that other options will emerge as Disney collects more data from guests and advances the program.

 

MagicBands come in a variety of colors and can be customized using accessories that are sold separately.

MagicBands come in a variety of colors and can be customized using accessories that are sold separately.

 

In the end, it is up to you, a guest of Walt Disney World Resort, to decide whether or not FastPass+ is for you. You are not being forced to wear a MagicBand (that’s what belt loops and pockets are for) or pre-plan your vacation. If you are offered a chance to try the program, go in with an open mind and remember that it is still in testing. If you are dead set against selecting FastPass times, at least try a MagicBand as a room key and park ticket option (no more waiting in long lines at the turnstiles!); the perks from doing so are worth it alone. There are many people who are not able to afford a trip to Disney. Take joy in the fact that you are one of the lucky individuals who can experience Walt’s dream of creating a place families can enjoy together and adults can escape from reality. Remember that many cast members, like guests, are still learning the in’s and out’s of the system, so we’re all in this together. Take a deep breath and look at things positively. It will result in a much more pleasant vacation for everyone.

 

You can find more discussion about MagicBands and guest feedback on this week’s episode of The DIS Unplugged.

 

Image Credits:

Disney Media

wdwinfo.com

 



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Category: Disney World, Merchandise

  • John Precise

    Nice and timely article Nicole! We were at WDW in July and upon check-in at the YC were given these strange looking bands. The cast members explained that we would be testing them and showed us how to use them. they worked fantastically for us! there was the odd glitch buying merchandise a couple of times but the fastpass reservations worked great the whole time. The bands weren’t cumbersome and you don’t even realize you have them on after a while. My wife is a big touring planner so we already had touring plans organized and these just made them easier. I wold encourage visitors to really learn how to use them and try them out before passing judgement. We though they were great!

  • Trish

    I honestly don’t understand the hysteria. We are frequent visitors (4X per year) and were SO excited to try out the Magic Bands and FP+ this fall. It worked GREAT! I can’t imagine ever going again without them. To know I had my main rides scheduled in advance actually left me MORE time to be spontaneous! I could let out a sigh of relief that I didn’t have to make a mad dash to Toy Story Mania for a paper FP. We had absolutely no trouble using our Magic Bands for room entry, charging, or park entry. It really was a breeze!

    • Sascha Moberg

      My wife and I are AP holders and were there in early October. The magic bands were great.We had no problems what so ever. FP+ was the best. It was only the second time in about ten trips to Disney that I was able to get a FP for TSM.The lines at the gates seemed to move slow but it was because of user error. People would stand in one line trying to use the same scanner to get into the parks. Cast members were having to tell people to step up to the next scanner or to use both scanners.

      • Jason Spencer

        Yes, the readers could use to be a little faster. I think the need to touch Mickey’s means that their reader range might be a little *too* sensitive. I know that I had to try some scanners 3-4 times before I could turn green.

        For park entry, the other issue is that most don’t realize you can do both the MB and your fingerprint simultaneously, which would save a lot of time.

    • Mike Certain

      Amen :)

  • Rob Poth

    We just returned from a long weekend in WDW and had the opportunity to use the bands. We had no issues whatsoever. The only complaint was that we had to hunt down where to buy the accessories. We were able to get the FastPass+ we wanted, had no trouble with the lines and were entering the parks in no time. Also worked well for purchases as well as entering the room. It even unlocked outer doors at the Boardwalk Villas.
    Like anything new, it will take some getting used to. Within a year or 2, no one will even be talking about the bands. I wouldn’t let this ruin a trip to WDW. If anyone out there is that upset about it and considering not going, I would be happy to take over your reservation and bands. :)

    • abismommy

      Agreed! We had them at Pop in August and I was completely sold. Made life sooo much easier!

  • Dave Minella

    Our MagicBands came yesterday for our December visit, and my wife and I are pretty excited about testing them out. Yes, the PastPass+ part of the system leaves a bit to be desired, but there’s no reason we can’t just swing by an attraction and get an old-fashioned fastpass, right? We’ll still have our Key to the World cards (at least for now). For us, the selling point is that the band functions as our admission and room key, and we can link it with a credit card. The fact that we won’t have to fumble in wallets and purses makes it worthwhile (which is why we liked the minicard/wrist lanyard option for the Epcot Food & Wine Festival). And, even if the MagicBand is a total disaster (unlikely), we’ll still be at Walt Disney World, so how bad could it possibly be?!

    • Jazzyjen508

      I agree about being happy to not have to fumble around for a room key at the end of the day or for our park pass when entering the park. I even like the idea about using it for payment. If Disney had just stopped there I think this would be a much more popular system, My parents were in disney in september and they mentioned liking everything about it except they felt the fastpass plus stuff had some serious kinks to work out. That is literally the only thing im nervous about for my trip coming up, I still like to have faith in Disney and know they know what there doing and like to remain positive about it so i have to go in with a open mind. like you so wisely put it, it is unlikely it will be a complete disaster (this system has been around for a while already). I also agree that no matter what its still a disney vacation and will still be fun!

      • Dave

        Keep in mind that nobody is required to use these right now. It is completely optional. This is a beta test of the process…all beta testing has “glitches”…that is what the testing is for.

    • James

      Dave, how were you selected to receive the MagicBands?

  • Dona

    We were there in Aug and found them to be great. We had no problem with them. I would like to see being able to add on FP+ as the day goes on and you are getting ready to switch parks since we like to Park Hop.

    I agree with the one comment below. We got to DHS and walked slowly to Toy Story Mania (one of our favorite rides). We had a FP+ for 9 but they let us into the park at 8:45. We walked over and rode TSM and then had to wait until it was 9 to use our FP+

    We too thought we would hate them but we loved them

    • PoliticalTruth

      I would love them too if I was only one of about 5 or 10% of the guests at Disney who got to use them, and especially if we also could use legacy fast pass at the same time. I really am glad you had a great vacation, but your experience really doesn’t seem to have much relevance to the system when its fully rolled out if you were one of a very small portion of people using the system, which you were if you tested in aug.

  • Mister Incredible

    My biggest concern is that they seem to be testing a “Tier” system in Epcot now where you would not be able to select 3 out of the four rides mentioned above (in your photo). You would need to chose 1 fast pass between Soaring, Illuminations and Test Track. That makes sense as those are the three most popular in Epcot however it would certainly effect how I as an annual pass holder would visit Epcot.

    • Mister Incredible

      Choose one Fastpass from the following:

      Character Spot
      IllumiNations
      Maelstrom
      Soarin
      Test Track

      And then two Fastpasses from the rest:

      Captain EO
      Journey into Imagination
      Living with the Land
      Mission: SPACE
      Seas with Nemo and Friends
      Spaceship Earth
      Turtle Talk with Crush

      If this was to go through what would you think of the FP+ system options?

  • kathleen

    Well said! It is not a perfect system, but it never will be either. We get to test it, and help give suggestions to make it the best it can be. It’s a vacation in Disney! We are going in December, and I’ll be much happier in Florida than in the cold state of MA!

  • Let’s Book

    We were there a couple of weeks ago. We’re local residents with annual passes. When we arrived at EPCOT at opening time, Fastpasses for both Soarin and Test Track were already at 5-7 p.m. (Normally they are at 10:30 – noon when we get there). I have heard that Annual Passholders will get a chance to use these, but no sign of that yet for us, and we generally leave in the early afternoon, so this will severely limit what we can do in the parks. Thumbs down from us.

    • yankeesusa

      i see your point. I am also an annual passholder. But I think things will calm down once the whole system is switched over to magic bands.

      • PoliticalTruth

        If FPs are already booked for headliners until the evening with only a small % of guests are using FP+ …. what’s it going to be like when everyone is using FP+ ??? I imagine Soarin and Test Track will be booked completely weeks in advance.

        • Dave

          No different that trying to book a character meal…you have to plan ahead.

          • PoliticalTruth

            So now we are going to plan all of our RIDES as well ? And what do you do when your ADRs for the precious Character meal conflict with the availability of FP+ in the parks ? Can’t go back to the 180 day mark and change the Character meal.

            I am sorry but saying “plan ahead” is just ridiculous. I get that for meals, like in regular life, reservations are sometimes necessary. But rides ? Attractions ? The PARK experience ? Sorry, this is supposed to be a vacation, not an itinerary that I follow every minute of the day.

          • Dave

            I hear you. However, getting a legacy FastPass is planning your rides as well…procrastinated planning that sometimes causes more chaos than it does good.

            Nobody is saying you MUST use FastPass+. The normal line is always there…and that lines gives you plenty of time to think about things and not plan.

          • PoliticalTruth

            Sorry that’s absolute BS and Disney Apologist at its best “you don’t have to use FP … you can always use the stand by lines”

    • Jen

      A couple of weeks ago in EPCOT would’ve been during the quite popular food and wine festival increasing attendance at that time. If it was a weekend you can increase the crowd numbers again. Aside from TSM in DHS, Soarin is the only other ride I have ever seen out of fast passes early in the day during low/mid season crowds (before FP+ ever existed). I have no idea why, I can’t stand it personally. Test track is recently revamped and people will be more inclined to ride it so it’s not unusal to find this fast pass return time later in the day. I almost always see fast pass times for the most popular rides at early evening return times. Again, seems like same old same old to me…

  • Heather

    On the other side of the coin…we are AP holders and did NOT have Magic Bands/FP+ on our trip last month and it surely worked against us. We got to Toy Story Mania at 9:40 only to find out the traditional FP were completely gone FOR THE DAY!!! A cast member said where they used to last until around mid-day, typically now they are all gone by 9:30 (while they try to work out the “kinks” in the system). Standby was a 2hr wait, which wasn’t going to work for a 3yr old. There’s always next time I suppose!

    • Jen

      I am not an AP, just a once a year or so visitor from PA and I can tell you that I have been to DHS and everytime we go (usually in the off/mid season) by late morning the traditional fast passes have been given out for the entire day every visit. I have never been on TSM that I did not have to wait at least an hour to ride it in the traditional line and usually its closer to 1 1/2-2 hrs. So I am sorry but that’s just same old same old with this ride.

      • Dave

        I agree…I experienced the same thing when I went last year…and nobody was using FastPass+ yet. We were in that initial rush of people when the park opened. When we got off of Toy Story Mania (10 minutes after the park opened), there was an hour long line of people to just get a fastpass.

        • Heather

          I agree that standby has always been bad, especially if you have smaller kids – it’s one of the few “rides” at that park they can go on… What changed is that FP+ and traditional FP are both available (and to the same set of people) so you are seeing fewer available and therefore they are gone even quicker. My point was that if you choose to NOT participate or cannot because of the ticket you hold (we did stay on property but was DVC so were not offered the MBs)…this is what you might be looking at…at least until the kinks are worked out. And have heard the regular FP will be phased out – not sure if that is the case for sure! Good for them working out numbers more efficiently, bad for those who don’t like FP+/Magic bands.

          • Dave

            I can’t confirm or deny the ability to cheat/hack the system via its vulnerabilities.

          • Jeff Scott

            I wouldn’t want to get caught using old “key to the world’ cards to beat the system… Disney loves its guest – but severely prosecutes those who try to cheat the system (Lifetime bans).

          • Jen

            I can’t envision armed guards at fast pass kiosk locations just waiting to be alerted to someone using an old paper ticket with no personal identifying information on it. I still have ours from last November from an off property trip. They were purchased in cash after a time share sales pitch, used and not signed (I never sign them, and they never ask at the park entrance). The finger scanner is a biometric scanner not an actual finger print. And even if there were cast members monitoring the kiosk locations I highly doubt they would physically attempt to take someone into custody in a theme park. Could you imagine what that would look like to guests who didn’t hear what happened and just turned around to see some cast member assaulting a guest?? And for starters, someone who would do this isn’t just going to go along with a cast member willingly. So what’s the cast member going to say? “Come with me”…what shady person would just go with them because they asked?? lol More likely they would run…into a sea of people…in a crowded theme park. And as far as key to the world cards go there are plenty of people who throw them away because they checked out and are on the way to the airport and don’t need them anymore. What is Disney going to do? Send them a letter stating they didn’t enter a park but used their card in a kiosk on x day for a fast pass and now are banned for life!??! lol Most likely, Disney will just work on fixing the hack again in their systems and that will be that.

          • Jen

            And again I see this as six of one, half dozen of another. There is also a difference beween not liking and not being able to use the magic band system. And I would assume that they are testing this slowly to work out the kinks before making every type of ticket, even APs, magic band possible media. So for now, it’s not so fair to the AP holders. But again, I still can’t agree with this specific rides fp being all used up by fp+. The TSM ride just IS that popular, there are hacks available to the traditional system and who waits in line for an hour to get a fp??? Apparently a lot of people. What I do know is, before these sweet new magic bands were invented, I had NEVER been able to get a fp to TSM period. So, I for one am thrilled that I was able to get online and schedule when I wanted my fast pass times for the top 3 rides I wanted. From my perspective I’m not a “line up at the gate and run into the empty park first” kind of girl. Therefore, all the early risers had taken all the fast pass tickets there were FOR THE ENTIRE DAY by the time I got there late morning. How was that fair to me? How is that fair to people who paid alot of money to park hop mid day to a park that is going to make you wait 2 hours to ride one ride and is only open for 5 more hours? Everything is give and take and if some choose to be “laid back” and stroll through the park with no agenda, not wanting to make dining reservations or schedule fast pass times, then they take what they get and have no reason to complain.

          • Heather

            Just repeating what the cast member who works there said, with the implementation of FP+, the FP that are available are totally gone by 9:30 daily. I too have seen those lines in the past for just a FP and cannot do it. Glad to hear the new system worked for you in practice! :) And I concur – It totalled sukked and my kids were disappointed. Thankfully we have plans to go back and am hopeful that AP holders will have them by the time we go. Guest relations claimed that rollout was Dec/Jan (and we’re going mid Jan)

          • Jason Spencer

            The standby line is bad in both Hollywood Studios and California Adventure parks. It almost makes me wonder if it would be easier to setup a second side and dual-track where they have room (I think they could in HS, not so easy in California).

        • Jen

          Also, I just read another post on some website that there are ways to hack the traditional fast pass system to get extra tickets. Supposedly disney had fixed this bug but as the article went on they stated that in implementing the ticketing changes at the turnstiles they inadvertently “unfixed” their fix and the hack could be used again. The hack involves taking old key to the world cards, used tickets from other vacations or people, basically any type of disney ticket media that could be inserted into a fast pass kisok and printing out fp tickets on the expired media. I have lots of different keys to the world cards from over the years and expired tickets I didn’t throw away myself so I can imagine for those that knew this they were really abusing the system.

          • Heather

            makes even more sense with that in mind! will be interesting to see how the full rollout affects everything!

  • Linda Tompkins

    So we put these bracelets on and then we are scanned and scheduled for our whole vacation. Scanned off the plane onto a bus, scanned into your hotel, scanned into a park, scanned into a resturant. Soon there is going to be an electronic path we are put on and moved around the park to 3 rides and out. Plus the time online trying to schedule these things as the site continually crashes. Then the flood of these bracelets every where.

    • Jazzyjen508

      it’s not like you can only ride three rides total for the day, its just you can only get three fast passes per day

      • Linda Tompkins

        I understand that, as long as you are not trying to do Soaring or Test track as a fast pass on the same day.

        • Lizette Esfeller

          We went last mo, are season pass holders and were selected for Magic Bands. We loved it and we did ride Soarin and Test Track the same day. We didn’t have any problems changing our fast passes the day of when we changed our minds about what rides to go on.

          • Linda Tompkins

            There was news that it was changed so you can only have 1 of the top 3 as a fast past on the same day and that they have to all be in the same park. I know it was Test track and Soaring but can,t remember the third one

  • Mel O

    We are excited to try out out magic bands soon! We had no trouble customizing them. We are a little disappointed that we can’t put our tickets on them because we get the military special tickets. We did have one glitch so far. I got an email from Disney saying that our magic bands would be waiting for us at our resort. I had already received them 2 weeks prior yo this email. I hope there won’t be much confusion when we get there as to what set we are to use since we already customized the ones I have now.

    • Mike Certain

      Did you try the special Magic Band / FP+ number?
      407-939-7849

      They were very helpful for us with a similar problem – 13 year old park hopper passes.

  • Jessica Sines Lee

    Unfortunately I’ve already paid the price once being a tester without wanting to be! Not only did my magicband not work, neither did my room key. You know the thing they gave me to make sure there were NO issues!! It was the worst vacation ever and when I had $10,000 over to Disney I do not expect to spend all day in lines at several different guest services in 4 different areas of Disney requiring travel to each.

    I am willing to go round 2 only because I’ve dreamt my whole life of camping at Fort Wilderness at Christmas and already had the reservations but let me tell you I already see it going downhill fast. So bad that I am not comfortable at this point saying I’ll follow through my reservations!!

    YES! They were THAT bad! And it might be a great system in the end but at what cost? My $ and vacation. I’m not into that!

    • Dave

      Why were you a tester without wanting to be?

  • Kim Cullen Willey

    I think they should get rid of all fast passes all together. Spontaneity is being eliminated and everything has lines that are too long. They were a good theory but with the crowds I think old fashioned lines are the way to go. You’ll be able to see how long the line actually is without fast passers going ahead, and everyone will have an equal chance at getting on anything. I’m curious if they just tried without them for a day or two how things would flow.

    • Dave

      I hear what you are saying. The estimated line times are supposed to include the “cutting” of fastpass holders. I, for one, love the fastpass system. I have gone during the same time period two years in a row and I was able to do much more with the kiddos when I fully took advantage of the FastPass system. Using fastpass to its fullest extent is the most efficient way to get through the park.

      Additionally, FastPasses are a huge revenue boost for Disney. Rather than people spending two hours in line, they are able to get the fastpass and shop, eat, spend, spend, and spend.

  • brynaR

    We just returned and I loved the magic bands. My husband doesn’t wear a watch or any jewelry and he had no issue wearing the band. My son has sensory issues and I wondered if he would tolerate it. He refused to wear the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween band but LOVED wearing his Magic Band. He was waking up each morning and handing them out to everyone in the family. He never once complained. We did buy accessories but by the end of the week only one of us still had an accessory attached to the band. The rest fell off and were lost in the parks.

    I do wish that you could add more than 3 fast passes or that you could add more if you missed on of your times. But in the meantime it worked out fine for us to use our park tickets to get extra fast passes.

    Overall, I like the bands and foresee it only getting better. It is also another way to encourage people to stay on property. It is a wonderful advantage to know that you already have your FP for Toy Story Spin when everyone else is running to get a FP when they arrive at the park and still may not get one.

  • Richard Bunt

    We were there a ew weeks ago and had a great time using. We had pre seleuted the rides and times and then once had to change on the fly with no issue. I know there are bugs and issues with new programs such as the magic bands, but we must remember that this is new and in the testing phase, I am sure when the bugs are worked out and the testing complete it will be even better.

  • Mister Incredible

    Another question I have would be how many people book fastpasses through the FP+ system and then don’t end up using them? I think this could be an issue as this takes time away from other guests not using the bands.

  • Dana Choromanski Brogneri

    My husband and I just used MB and FP+ (with a BOG lunch reservation) for the first time for our October trip, and they were GREAT! Only once did we have a problem when attempting to use our FP for TSM (the first FP pole it scanned…the second pole was not working for ANY FP+), but they just told us to go ahead. I only made some FP+ choices before we left home, and made the majority of them on the fly while on vacation (depending upon which park we were going to that day), and got great times, and was even able to easily change some! And, after making the first BOG lunch reservation, our plans changed, and I was able to easily change it to two days later (thanks iPad and in room Wi-Fi), again for a great time, and pre-selected our lunch choices! I think change is always hard for people, but after only a day using the MB and FP+, we found it to be super easy!

  • http://ptsnob.com/ Dan Heaton

    I think the complaints about ruining spontaneous touring are overblown, and while I won’t get a Magic Band until it’s necessary, that is fine too. That said, i can’t get on board with FP+ and think it’s a step backward that penalizes visitors that are interested in doing a lot of rides. It’s being set up for “personalized experiences” and interactivity, and that’s not why I go to Disney World. I’d be fine if they got rid of FastPass all together, so my frustration is not because they’re changing “Legacy FastPass”. Instead, I just think the new system is overly complicated and will make for more difficult touring. Also, it’s being sold as helping the guests, which is just not true in most cases. It may be great for 25% of the guests, but it pales in comparison to the idea behind the park that buying a ticket largely puts everyone on a level playing field. It changes how the parks work, and I don’t like those changes.

  • Melissa Whittaker

    I have to say, I don’t really care for the tone of this article. It
    doesn’t answer any questions for those that DO have concerns. I’m not
    freaking out about it, but I do wonder how this system will work for
    people that don’t want to plan every single thing about their trip
    months in advance. I would prefer the option of selecting your fastpass
    attractions on, say, the day you check in to your hotel.

    I
    take issue with your last paragraph, especially. I think it’s wrong to
    make people feel bad for worrying about this new system because other
    people can’t afford to go. It reads as a “shut up and stop whining, at
    least YOU get to visit the parks.” Condescending.

    • Ghost Man

      I agree. I usually plan our first three days. After that, we like to be spontaneous on which parks to go to. With this new system, we’re more or less force to plan each day of our vacation. If we don’t, then we stand a good chance in not getting a fastpass or dining reservation.

      • stacy mogle

        I just got back last Thursday night. My daughter and I originally planned to hit the MK on Thursday morning with EMH but were way too tired so the FP+ we booked were useless to us. We didn’t get to the park until 11:30 and on my phone with the app, I rebooked Big Thunder (which at that moment had the 2nd longest wait in the park; longer than Space) for 2:45 and a meet and greet w/ Ariel (45 min wait in standby) for 1:15. So for us, we were able to still get our FP+ attractions in and enjoy the day. I noted many other ressies for the remainder of the available as well. I know they are working out the bugs and it was during off-peak season but don’t despair. I think the OP was hoping to calm nerves and remind everyone what we love so much about going to the World.

        • Ghost Man

          Not too many of us accept change very well. Going to DW as often as we do, we know the ins and outs. These changes make me worry that our upcoming vacation won’t go as smooth. Our last day at DW will be on Dec. 7 at MK when they’re suppose to be filming the Christmas parade. I’m concerned about the crowd level, but I went ahead and reserved our fastpasses for that day. However, we might end up changing our mind and go to Epcot. I have the app so I might be playing around a bit as our vacation goes along.

          You’re right. We all love DW a lot. Anything that does goes wrong with our vacation is still better than sitting at home.

    • Kate Getty

      We were there for Wine and Dine 1/2 marathon weekend so it was fairly crowded and I reserved our fastpass+ the day of most of the time or the night before and was able to choose which 3 I wanted to see or do including Toy Story. I could cancel them, choose different times, and choose for me, my husband or both of us. It was fabulous and I can’t wait to use them with all 14 of us this spring. If you take a couple of minutes to listen to the cast member on how to use them it works great. I did log into the app before leaving home and synced all my tickets and brought our “real” tickets just in case of issues but it was easy and wonderful. We have 4 to 75 going next time and will give everyone a lesson before we leave. Also to charge you have to set up a PIN so if you would lose your band there is a level of protection just like a debit card.

  • Rick

    I love the place, go many times a year, and have AP’s. This is anything but in “testing.” For anyone to believe that you are drinking the Disney KoolAid. Look at the investment in infrastructure, equipment, staff and training. During our visit a few weeks ago FP+ gear was popping up all over the place on a daily basis. For us, the biggest downfall is the sheer lack of Fastpasses available. Big rides are gone for the day right after opening. And scheduling our day takes away the spontaneous nature of vacation. Further, we all stress about times and schedules and are glued to our devices in life. I don’t want to walk around the park with my head in my phone and miss all of the great disney touches you miss doing so. Soon they wont have to theme anything, no one will notice as they will all be looking down.

    • Nicole L. Mancini

      Rick, I understand your point. The system IS coming, but again, it is not fully implemented as it is meant to be. Timing and features are being tweeked based on how things run. That is why it has not been announced as live yet. The program is coming, but it is not 100% here just yet.

    • Dave

      This is a implementation test. Before you can scale it out to everyone, you need to have smaller test groups. I read somewhere 5%-10% of people are using them at this point. It is much easier to deal with 5% of the guests if something goes wrong that had not been identified yet. It is my understanding that everyone who agrees to use these right now (nobody is being forced) signs something (whether they know it or not) that states these are in testing phase and they are accepting the risk of something not working properly…and it might affect their vacation experience. They know that one day, everyone is going to be using these…it is not that type of test.

      You can rest assured that they will make sure these things work properly, because if they don’t, it won’t be as easy for people to spend money.

      • srlink

        5%? We were there last month and it looked like at least 50% of the people we saw were wearing MBs. Ours worked perfectly, I might add!

      • Another Small Business Owner

        All resorts guest are basically using them, that is more than 5 to 10 %. When all resort guest have them, it is a roll out, not a test anymore. You can call a rose by any other name but it is still a rose…

  • Fran Gioia

    one thing that wasn’t mentioned in your blog that a cast member was talking about when we were there in August was that they are able to “track” a stolen/lost child by their band, I realize this could mean scared parents find that little prince or princess much faster saving much heartache. I have no kids, but I would think that would outweigh any inconvenience I would suffer. just my opinion of course. we used them in Aug and had no issues but we were staying on premises. when we went as APH for Epcot F&W we didn’t stay onsite and couldn’t use the bands we had for FP+ I hope this changes as they tweak the system. Adding wifi and then the my disney app certain was a big 1st step to this new program. LOVE the WIFI in the parks!

  • anamax

    > I don’t want to plan … where I am going to eat months in advance!

    Then you’re never going to eat in V&A and similar places.

  • Sara Pappas Thomason

    Hi!! We just returned from a 5 day trip to Disney. We go about 2-3x per year. My husband and I and our twin boys absolutely LOVED the Mickey Bands! There is no hassle at all. As a matter of fact, we didn’t have to get 2 or 3 cards remade because they had been ‘lost’ as we have in the past. We used them for everything…restaurants, quick serve, entry to the parks, fast pass. And a word about the fast pass+…it was great to not have to run all over the place to get the paper fast pass tickets. We actually went on more rides because we could do it from our phones. I wanted to also mention that you can modify your fastpass+ selections either by the time or the ride itself. So, if plans change, you can change it. It really is a breeze. Also, you don’t have to plan weeks ahead. We would get up, have breakfast and figure out the day and the attractions we wanted. It is also great to be able to make dining reservations on the fly like that. If anyone has ever been at the parks and tried to call the dining line, you know how much of a hassle that can be. I don’t see what the problem is ?

    • Sara Pappas Thomason

      Oh and PS, don’t forget that when you make your fastpass+ selections, they give you various options for times (options A,B,C & D). For example, at 10:00 a.m. the system gave us times for 5 or 6 p.m. for soaring. I selected the other options and boom – there was 11:30 a.m.! You have to play with it a little to get the times that you want.

      • Mike Certain

        You can also change the times and/or attractions individually after selecting an option. Very flexible.

  • Em

    I have an ap and I got to use the magic bands a couple of weeks ago, and I liked them. I didn’t find them uncomfortable at all. I even slept in mine. To me, it made things more convenient. You can use this band for everything. It was nice just holding the band up to the door to get in the room after 16 hours in the park. No more digging around for the room key. It was also nice that they can scan your bands for the extra magic hours. Even the photopass card was linked with the band. The fastpass with the bands was quicker in my opinion, and if you needed to change the scheduled time for the fastpass, it was easy. I found that even if it was time for your fastpass and you weren’t going to make it in time, you could easily change it on the app as long as there were other times available. I tried it for fantasmic, and was surprised to see that half of the theater was reserved for people with fastpass. We were able to find a good seat even after it was announced that it was standing room only. I was so nervous when I found out that we were testing the magic bands because all I heard before was horror stories, but I loved it. The only negative I have to say about it is the recent change of fastpass in epcot. I don’t like that they changed it to one big ride. The only things that really need a fastpass are the 2 big rides, test track and soarin. Most of the time the rest of the rides are a really low wait. I just hope that doesn’t happen at the rest of the parks.

    • Mister Incredible

      That is the biggest question. What happens in Animal Kingdom if you have to choose 1 FP+ between Kilimanjaro Safari, Kali River Rapids or Everest? Will regular fastpasses be available and if not how long will the lines be? How about in the Kingdom if you only get to choose 1 out of the 3 mountains? Hollywood studios RR, TSM or TT? This is going to get interesting.

      • Mike Certain

        Who would you only choose 1 FP+ when you have 3? Also, normal FP’s are available, even during the same time and same attraction for which you have a FP+. You use your KTTW card for these.

        • Mister Incredible

          Because they are testing in Epcot only 1 big ride right now as a tiered system. Sure you can have 3 FP+ but possibly not all big rides. (See below) So the experience most have had to date of being able to choose all the big rides may change quickly which would probably change the view of most of the testers who have posted already.

          Choose one Fastpass from the following:

          Character Spot
          IllumiNations
          Maelstrom
          Soarin
          Test Track

          And then two Fastpasses from the rest:

          Captain EO
          Journey into Imagination
          Living with the Land
          Mission: SPACE
          Seas with Nemo and Friends
          Spaceship Earth
          Turtle Talk with Crush

          • Mike Certain

            Not true. We had FP+s for Test Track, Soarin, Mission Space just last week. We had them for Tower of Terror, Rock N Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, and because we made changes on the fly, Star Tours just last Saturday. Many more examples from last week.

          • Mister Incredible

            If you booked those in advance they kept it. Those who are getting them now are seeing the above option.

          • Mike Certain

            My Sister In Law and Brother In Law are there now, and have not experienced what you are talking about. They are getting what they want, headliners included.

          • Mister Incredible

            When did they get the bands? Right now it is only being tested in Epcot. Which BTW is confirmed by the original poster.

          • Mike Certain

            A couple of weeks ago. I made changes between headliners multiple times per day, changing times and attractions due to line conditions as we found them. I did not run into any issues at any time changing to headliner attractions. My guess is that someone is inexperienced using the system, which is understandable given how new it is.

          • Mister Incredible

            The link I just posted is awaiting moderation, but do a simple search on Tier FP+ in Epcot and you will see the blogs about the new change.

          • Dave

            I have heard they are allowing people to reserve those rides in FastPass+, but only the day of your visit and after you have entered the park.

  • Jennifer Dixon

    We were chosen to test the system for our trip on in December. I can’t wait to try it out. I’ve had no issues creating my plans online and choosing the attractions I want to see. Now we always go off-season and rarely use FP, so 3 is really fine for us for the day. I could see people disliking this during peak times.

  • George McNeil

    I am 67 years old. Just came back from an 11 day vaca at Wilderness Lodge. I never took my wrist band of for the entire stay. It worked GREAT. Absolutely loved it. So convenient.

  • PoliticalTruth

    First
    off, as I understand it you will have the option of booking your FP+ attractions 60 days out, will have 3 FP per day, but only in one park, and you will be able to change them leading up to, and even day of, until you use one, then you are locked into a park, but can still make changes with remaining FPs in that park.

    I wonder, how optional will this really be ? If you want to ride the headliners, Seven Dwarf Mine Train, Space Mountain, Star Tours, etc. And if guests can reserve spots 60 days out, I imagine that you will basically HAVE to book these, as soon as possible, otherwise all the FP spots will be taken. It will not be an option to get a same day FP for a ride that is in high demand. Indeed we are seeing this is
    already proving true still with only a smaller portion of guests using FP+, rides are fully booked in the early AM hours for Fastpass.

    On being spontaneous: How can you expect people to know, 60 days out, what parks they are going to do on what days ? We plan as it is, and sure we pick which parks which days, BUT, that always changes. Weather changes, kids/people feel sick, sometimes the weather is too hot, crowds are larger then expected, people just are
    ‘feeling’ like doing a given park or ride that day. How are we supposed to know how we are going to feel and what the weather is going to be like, and what crowds will be like, on day 5 of our trip, 60 days out ?

    IF the headliner ride FP are already booked, via pre-booking, and my kids aren’t feeling well on the day we were planning on doing Animal Kingdom, and then we try to change it and get in the next day, how am I supposed to get FP for Everest, or
    Safari ? What are we supposed to do with the Fast Passes we had booked for the day that we were GOING to do another park, but decide
    to do AK instead ?

    I have seen nothing that makes me feel like there will be any REAL flexibility, I have seen CMs say there will be same day FP available, BUT, they have not said there will be same day FP available for the headliner rides, they have not said whether the entire pool of FP will be bookable online at the 60 day mark.

    • Mike Certain

      Yes, you can change your park, as long as you haven’t used any FP+ yet. Yes, you can get same day, even same hour in some cases, for headliners. This isn’t like dining ressies filling up. :)

      You can read the example in my post above. It is just one of many from our 8 days. This is much more flexible than the current FP system, and you can still get normal FP’s, even for the same time and same attraction for which you are holding a FP+. The normal FPs were also very plentiful on our trip. I was skeptical as well, with the same concerns, but now I am sold on the system now.

      • diane

        Are you saying that I can get to the park, get paper FPs in addition to the FP+ selections I already have? Our trip in in a few weeks and that news would ease my mind.

        • Enufalready

          Yes, ma’am you will have both. It’s awesome! I just returned and it’s my understanding you’ll have legacy Fastpass still available, at least until Jan 2014. Have a magical trip – winky face!

        • Mike Certain

          Enufalready is right. Not only can you get paper, they can be for the same attraction and the same time window as a FP+ you are holding. We used this to great advantage to ride Soarin’ 3 times with no wait last Thursday. :)

          • Enufalready

            I did that very same thing! Love Soarin!

          • Mike Certain

            Love it! :)

        • Mike Certain

          Oh, just to help ease your mind a bit. I was very nervous too, but now I’m a big fan of FP+ It worked extremely well for us, and I wouldn’t want to go back.

          • Enufalready

            Ditto! Now if they would just address the park hopping aspect. Are you a hopper?

          • Mike Certain

            Yes we are :) I agree. Adding Park Hopping would be great. I actually tested that during the trip, but they have it locked down tight. :(

      • PoliticalTruth

        Sorry Mike, but your example has no validity to reality, the reality when everyone is using FP+. We are already seeing cases where people can’t get headliners the same day, in fact where headliners are booked completely before noon. It is exactly like dining ressies filling up. As soon as every single person going to Disney can book these 60 days out …. good luck getting a FP for a headliner on the same day.

        You wont be able to use paper fast passes once FP+ goes fully live. I don’t think you really understand how the system is actually going to work. Its not going to be like you experienced …

        • Mike Certain

          It was certainly valid last week. I am not commenting about what the system will be in the future, just my experience and what it is today. Nobody outside of WDW really knows what the system will be, and even if they do, whatever is in place will change as WDW learns more about what works and what doesn’t. How things work today is far different, and better, than just last year.

          The question really is whether or not FP+, the Magic Bands and My Experience were net positives or negatives. In my view, based on my experience, they are very much net positives. I thoroughly enjoyed using the Magic Bands, FP+ and My Experience, and I believe it made my trip more efficient, flexible, and overall, more enjoyable and I highly recommend anyone who is asked to participate in the testing to do so.

          • PoliticalTruth

            So based on your view, while admitting that you don’t know what the system is going to look like, the system is awesome ?

            This is even more troubling given that some of the things that made the system awesome according to you, like double dipping paper fast passes, we know ARE going away. Yet you cling to “the system is awesome” while it has little connection to the system once its fully rolled out. That isn’t very strong logic.

          • Mike Certain

            I did not say I pre-approve of any future changes. I said, and I will reiterate here, that my experience was excellent, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is asked to participate in the testing.

            I also believe that whatever the final system looks like it will be a net positive over the old system, and will continue to improve as WDW learns more about what works and what doesn’t. I believe this because WDW is committed to providing excellent experiences for their guests. This is one of their core values. Most of the time their changes work, sometimes they don’t, but they are always striving to be better.

  • Tori Davies

    While I love the idea of being able to select and schedule a few experiences each day, I hope that they leave traditional fast pass in place or eventually allow you to have several fast passes for multiple parks on your magic band. The way Magic Bands work now my family would actually see and do much less than we normally do. We park hop, we have been know to alternate betewen fastpasses for Soarin and Test Track or Dinosaur and Kilimanjaro Safari all day, we ride Big Thunder Mountain three or four times in one day, My husband and in-laws don’t ride a Rockin’ Roller Coaster or Expedition Everest so my two daughters and I will use their fastpasses to ride them twice in a row then we move on to the rest of the attractions that we can all enjoy together, and fastpass allows us to never spend our time in lines. We can ride everything in the park 2-3 times in a day. Unfortunately, if they implement the Magic Band system the way it is now we will lose all these experiences and probably diminsh much of our enjoyment.

    • Enufalready

      I’m sorry, but you’re going to be disappointed. Legacy Fastpass will be completely phased out PDQ – I’ve heard as early as Jan 2014.

      • Dave

        I have heard the same time frame. It would be suicide for Disney to go fully live during the holiday’s…but there is that 2.5 month period afterwards where the crowds are smaller…perfect time to do it.

        • Enufalready

          I recently tested on my three day visit for Food and Wine, with no glitches whatsoever. I tried to test every aspect so I could answer my surveys with knowledge and candor. Since I’ll be returning in May, I’m not going to lie, I am a little leery of not having legacy Fastpass to fall back on, especially if they further restrict the options for your 3/day selections.

    • Allan Tam

      This only partially solves your issues but… there’s nothing stopping you from grabbing your husband/in-laws MB with a RnR FP+ on it and riding it a second time. We did it a couple times back in Oct. Kids and I did Everest with our own MB/FP+ and then grabbed my parents/wife’s MBs and went on a second time right away.

      Agree with your concerns about Park Hopping, we don’t normally PH but there should be some (balanced) way for someone to get FP+ at more than one park in the same day.

      • Tori Davies

        Don’t aske me why, but it never occured to me that we would be able to switch bands. For some reason I thought that they would only work for the assigned user. That is useful to know. Now if we they could just figure out the PHing and let us have as many fast passes as we can fit into a day and this system would be pretty close to perfect!

  • Guest

    We just got back from 8 days at WDW and were included in the test. I was originally skeptical, but now I can’t imagine planning a trip without FP+ and My Experience, particularly the app.

    The criticism that it eliminates the ability to change plans, lacks the ability to be spontaneous and flexible is inaccurate. In fact, the opposite is true. I was able to make changes on the fly, both attractions and times, while walking from one
    attraction to another using the app.

    A good example was last Saturday at Hollywood Studios. I had a FP+ scheduled for 9:05 for Rock n Roller Coaster, an hour after EMH. The plan was to ride Toy Story Midway Mania, then ride Rock n Roller Coaster, ride Tower of Terror twice, then ride Rock n Roller Coaster again using the FP+.

    Well, much to our surprise the lines for Rock n Roller Coaster were short, so instead of using the FP+ I switched it to Star Tours and the time to when we would be arriving – while walking to Star Tours. Again, the lines at Star Tours were short so
    I moved it back to Rock n Roller Coaster for later in the day. This is about as flexible as it gets.

    This is just one of many examples from last week where FP+ in combination with the app was an invaluable tool and added flexibility and spontaneity to the trip.

    Also of note, at least at the moment you can hold normal FP’s as well as FP+’s at the same time, same time window and even the same attraction. Whether this will continue is an open question, but at least for now it can be done. I know because I did this multiple times.

    Yes, some of the FP lines at the entrance were a little longer. This was due to people learning how to use their Magic Bands for the most part.
    Also, it takes longer to use the Magic Band than hand someone a paper ticket. However, this was a minor inconvenience, and I am sure it can be worked out.

    The Magic Bands themselves are no big deal to wear. I forgot I had it on after a while. I would much rather use the Magic Band than continually take my KTTW card out of my wallet. Also, use of the bands enhanced entry into the park. Overall processing people through seemed to be much faster using the new readers, especially with 2 readers in each line.

    Is it perfect? No. However, I for one believe at the end of the day Magic Bands, FP+ and My Experience enhanced rather than detracted from our trip.

  • Mike Certain

    We just got back from 8 days at WDW and were included in the test. I was originally skeptical, but now I can’t imagine planning a trip without FP+ and My Experience, particularly the app.

    The criticism that it eliminates the ability to change plans, lacks the ability to be spontaneous and is inflexible is completely inaccurate, at least from my experience. In fact, the opposite is true. I was able to make changes on the fly, both attractions and times, while walking from one attraction to another using the app.

    A good example was last Saturday at Hollywood Studios. I had a FP+ scheduled for 9:05 for Rock n Roller Coaster, an hour after EMH. The plan was to ride Toy Story Midway Mania, then ride Rock n Roller Coaster, ride Tower of Terror twice, then ride Rock n Roller Coaster again using the FP+.

    Well, much to our surprise the lines for Rock n Roller Coaster were short, so instead of using the FP+ I switched it to Star Tours and the time to when we would be arriving – while walking to Star Tours. Again, the lines at Star Tours were short so I moved it back to Rock n Roller Coaster for later in the day. This is about as flexible as it gets.

    This is just one of many examples from last week where FP+ in combination with the app was an invaluable tool and added flexibility and spontaneity to the trip.

    Also of note, at least at the moment you can hold normal FP’s as well as FP+’s at the same time, same time window and even the same attraction. Whether this will continue is an open question, but at least for now it can be done. I know because I did this multiple times.

    Yes, some of the FP lines at the entrance were a little longer. This was due to people learning how to use their Magic Bands for the most part. Also, it takes longer to use the Magic Band than hand someone a paper ticket. However, this was a minor inconvenience, and I am sure it can be worked out.

    The Magic Bands themselves are no big deal to wear. I forgot I had it on after a while. I would much rather use the Magic Band than continually take my KTTW card out of my wallet. Also, use of the bands enhanced entry into the park. Overall processing people through seemed to be much faster using the new readers, especially with 2 readers in each line.

    Is it perfect? No. However, I for one believe atthe end of the day Magic Bands, FP+ and My Experience enhanced rather than detracted from our trip.

  • Kikiisme

    Hey Nicole, I feel the same way as you about FP+. I am excited to check it out this Sat!!! We have not been able to obtain FPs for parades, fireworks or Be Our Guest lunch. Any suggestions? Or are these also not live as of yet? Thanks for your insight.

  • Bugdozer

    Not looking forward to having to use these on my Christmas trip. It is so busy that week that we usually try to enter the parks bagless and carry as little as possible to save time. I will now be forced to carry around my band as it is the only way to get into my room. I have an annual pass and have been told I can still use it to enter the parks which fits nicely in my thin card holder in my pocket but no more nice small card key. I won’t be able to wear the band due to skin issues. I also think they need to look at how many passes are given. 3 may be fine for AK, DHS and EPCOT as they have fewer attractions. Magic Kingdom on the other hand has like 4-5 times the offerings and only being able to choose 3 is crazy.

    • Dave

      You can opt out of using the bands. Just tell them and they will have no problem with that.

      • Mister Incredible

        Then you risk all the fastpasses being gone for the big rides prior to 10:30am

        • Dave

          that is correct…have you asked if they are able to tie your fastpass+ choices to your annual membership card?

        • Mike Certain

          This was not our experience last week. There were plenty of FPs, even for Soarin and the like. I didn’t see much if any difference than pre-FP+ days.

          • Mister Incredible

            Sure that is an off time when the park is not crowded. Was there 4 weeks ago and Toy Story mania was gone for the day at 10:00am. Cast member said it is because of the new FP+

          • Dave

            Yeah, it is not an apples to apples comparison when you compare the second half of October to say, the summer, spring break, or Christmas time. During those times, it is common that the parks are at capacity and you risk not being let back into the park if you leave.

            With that said, those people who do not like to plan, would crash and burn during those periods…FastPass+ gives you a fighting chance if you embrace what it is and take advantage of its features.

  • Traci Criado Vinson

    I actually got to beta test the MagicBands and LOVE them. We are Disney fans and love coming to the parks. We have spent vacations here AND quick spur of the moment day trips…so I understand people’s concerns.

    First of of all, I wore mine 24 hours and it was very comfortable (went swimming, showered, heat of the day). It stayed soft and “breathed” with the Florida heat. The only problem I had was actually getting into the hotel room (I am left handed and the Mickey head was too close to the door jam). I was pleasantly surprised at how unnoticeable it was.

    Second, when we give advice to friends coming to Disney for the first time, we tell them to pick their top three MUST dos…get those done and the rest is gravy. Well, that is exactly what you do with the bands. Pick your top three attractions, get your “fast passes in advance” and enjoy your day. It really doesn’t change the ability to be spontaneous. You can space the passes apart if you want or go, go, go!! We have been able to wait in the stand-by ride for Soarin’(at that time about a 40 minute wait) then turn around and use our FastPass+ . You use the predetermined times just like FastPasses! You just don’t have to run through the parks and get that first pass!

    Thirdly, they are fun and convenient. They are right there on your wrist (no digging it out of someone’s wallet or pocket)…they can be more personalized (if you like)…but they come with your name on them, AND a lot of the attractions will call you by name, which makes the Disney experience that more special (you have to see the little one’s faces light up when the cast member welcomes them by their name)!

    I was not looking forward to them in the beginning. I had the same fears many fans have listed here in this post. I gave them a true testing and I am hooked! Give it a whirl and see what you think!

  • Paul Saint

    Well said, Nicole! I’m an annual passholder and was worried about truly being left out of the Magic Band/FastPass+ initiation (sp). I now feel a bit more at ease. Having been to WDW many times, both as a guest staying on property and as an annual passholder, I know that Disney would rather test something nearly into the ground than let it open up and have a complete fiasco. That’s one of the reasons I have such high esteem for those creations of Disney.

  • Doc dwarf

    In our case we are park hoppers. There is only one “have-to” ride for us at HS and one at Epcot. Once we have ridden Toy Story and Soarin we áre content to stand in lines if we want to ride something else. Why should we pay extra money to buy park hopper tickets if they are only hood for one park per day. Seems to me like Disney is going to lose a couple hundred bucks on each of our vacations. We stay in Hollywood instead of spending a half day there and a half day at another park.

    • Mister Incredible

      Great point!

      • Enufalready

        That’s my biggest peeve: I’m a park hopper

  • Dave Kannberg

    We received our MagicBands about a months ago or so and are looking forward to trying them. We are AP/DVC and have a reservation at the Treehouses. Unfortunately, FP+ isn’t working for us right now as we don’t have everyone’s pass numbers yet. That is our problem, not Disney’s. We are spontaneous and rarely ever plan a day out in a park. We have planned the days we will be there but only as far as which park on which day.

    • Heather

      Hey Dave, quick question for you – are you FL resident AP? I’m sort of confused as we got our new APs on 10/12 and were told we couldn’t get bands yet (rollout Dec/Jan). We also were staying to SS on a DVC reservation w/ my extended family and no that way either. Thanks! :)

      • Dave Kannberg

        Yes, we are FL resident AP/DVC. It may be because our stay starts on this coming Sunday which is in their testing period.

  • Tom Adams

    Just returned from a trip. Biggest issues for me were 1) Not enough Kiosks and 2) No watch accessory for the band. I have this wrist band on I want to have a little pop in quartz watch so I know what time it is. Also I don’t want to bring my phone on a family vacation so keeping track of my fast pass plus times is tough. Making it even harder the kiosks are almost impossible to find without actively hunting them out. They need to have one at every single fastpass+ location.

  • Toni

    We are also Annual Passholders and DVC Members and on our trip in October faced the same problem as Heather. We arrived at the Studios at opening and from the time we entered the park and literally ran to Toy Story Mania all of the Fast Passes were gone for the day. You would think that Annual Passholders and DVC Members for over 20 years would have an advantage but unfortunately we do not.

    • Nicole L. Mancini

      Do you live in FL? I am also an AP holder and DVC member. My MagicBand arrived this morning for a trip next month.

      • Heather

        Hey Nicole! I am trying to figure this one out too. We were told 10/12 that we couldn’t get until rollout in Dec or Jan. We are AP and live in FL…have a trip coming in January. Crickets on that front, trying to figure logic/rationale on those since someAPs posting here have gotten and some not!

        • Nicole L. Mancini

          Heather, it sounds like the above poster lives in Florida from what I can tell. AP holders who have rooms booked at the resort are gaining access to the system; this happened to me as well as others I know. Those who don’t have not been offered testing.

          • Heather

            I JUST got my notice this morning! I did some digging and it sounds like we just missed the rollout at the resort for last month’s stay (saratoga). :) Will see how things look with the system in Jan!

      • Toni

        Yes we do. Did you have to do anything special to receive your Magic Band? We also have a trip scheduled for next month.

    • Scott

      Really? The fastpasses were gone by what had to be around 9:10 even if you just walked fast? As someone who has a trip planned and has been following those distribution times online I just want to say you need to fess up and it has nothing to do with Davy.

  • lacy pattern

    to all of you complaining about the Spontaneity being gone, you DO NOT have to plan your rides, it is an option if you want to. so that complaint is mute. don’t want to plan, don’t. simple as that

    • Gary Hollis

      You mean “moot.” But it’s not moot. If you don’t want to spend your day waiting in line, the new FP will be the only game in town.

      • lacy pattern

        thank you so much for being the grammar and spelling police because those errors are so important to the point of the comments

        • Gary Hollis

          Ewer welcome.

  • lacy pattern

    I like the way they work with the exception of the room mickeys being to close to door jams, but I think the bands are uncomfortable and make you sweat. I realize they sell covers for them at $6.95 each but I wont buy one of those. I think they were designed to be sweaty so you would need to buy covers. Disney is not stupid

  • Ghost Man

    I see the flaws in this new fastpass system. Newcomers will book their fastpass, but not show up. This will make fastpass unavailable to others in the park because of the lack of time slots. After all, few families will keep to the plans they made months in advance (we don’t). Similar problems have occurred using the dining plan. Tourists will book their dining reservations months in advance and then not show up at the designated time. Meanwhile, people who really wanted to eat at a particular restaurant cannot do so because of all the booked reservations (ultimately no shows). At least starting next year, Disney will charged for no shows at the restaurants. Even so, it prevents my family from enjoying a spontaneous meal.

  • Linda Fox

    My family was at Disney for our vacation in September and received the Magic Bands. At first we were very skeptical about using this instead of the Key Card. We had the same reservations of wearing something on our wrist, etc., etc. As each day went by, we ended up loving the bands more and more. The convenience of getting into the parks or into your rooms were great. It was always there and ready to use, no digging in your purse or pocket or wallet to find the card. We used the Fast Pass option as well, and absolutely loved that!! But we could have not used the Fast Pass just as easily. We traveled in a group of 15, ages ranging from 76 to 21, and all of us by the end of trip said how much we preferred the Magic Bands to the old Key Card.

  • Bill Abrams

    Nicole, I have to disagree. The transition is too rough and taking too long. Now that all resort guests receive bands and legacy FP has been reduced, it is not valid to call it testing. So during my visit this December I had to pre-plan each park and choose 3 fastpass+ with the whole list was not populated, and choose attractions I would never have used FP for before. I am not fooled – there will be no flexibility to change FP+ times for popular rides. Use them or lose them. For frequent visitors who park hop, and enjoy spontaneous schedules, this is terrible. Should we stop visiting for 2 years while Disney IT figures it out? These are expensive vacations. Frequent visitors do not wait in standby lines for more than 30 or 40 minutes. If that’s what’s left, Disney is going to lose a lot of frequent guests.

    • Jen

      Hi Bill, just as an fyi, I leave in 8 days for disney and I have changed all of my FP+ times from their original times to other times that suited my changing park schedule/dinner reservation times. Just log back into your disney account go to My Disney Experience tab and click it then manage your fast pass choices. Furthermore, if you like 2 of your originally chosen times but not the other one you can choose to modify just that one. From your smart phone, using disneys free wifi in the parks, you can make/change dinner reservations and fast pass times, check ride wait times on all the rides in the park, check fireworks, parade times etc. And as far as losing guests, even during the height of the recession the parks were packed so I don’t think the fast pass system is going to be the straw that breaks the camels back. Especially not when the majority of the vacationers that have small kids come from the tech friendly era and are super comfortable with it.

      • Bill Abrams

        Yes, I know and I did change all my fast pass times. But it took over 200 mouse clicks to make reservations for just 3 days! ridiculous. And now with tiered attractions, I cannot get both Soarin and Test Track? Awful. The top attractions will not be very available same day. So plan ahead or get locked out. One top tier attraction per person per day. Pretty sure this is the “new system”. It is too complicated and it’s a takeaway for seasoned visitors. The guests they will lose are their long time frequent visitors.

        • Jen

          Wow…you actually count mouse clicks and judge a program based on how many times you had to push a button…lol. I guess you’ll be front and center in the handicapped placard line for special consideration because of the extensive damage done to your pointer finger. Ridiculous. But, let’s be real for a second. Even during the off season you would be lucky to get one fast pass to one of the top attractions in a day let alone two if you were using the legacy system. Unrealisitc. You do know that you have to wait 2 hours between fast pass printing times to be able to get another fast pass ticket right? And you have to be at the kiosk at the attraction to get the ticket. And there is no guarantee that the fast pass return times would be the times you needed. And it’s possible that your return time for the initial ride is now 30 minutes away and now you’re on the other side of the park. Now the attraction you are at for your second fast pass is either sold out or printing tickets that conflict with your Teppan Edo reservations. Or by the return time you have done everything in future world and you are in the world showcase during those return time hours. So now you have to hoof it from France to make it to the other side of the world for a fast pass? No thanks. This new fast pass booking system is so simple my 7 year old could navigate it. I consider myself a seasoned visitor and quite honestly I have yet to see a valid point from you. The new system makes me want to keep going back because they keep improving with the pace of modern technology. Just because it’s something you aren’t comfortable with doesn’t make it bad. This program gives people the ability to virtually walk onto three different attractions. Not everyone is there to monopolize just the two busiest rides. For most people, this will save them alot of time during the course of their day leaving them the ability wait in the stand by line. I know, everyone thinks they’re so special they shouldn’t have to wait. Sad commentary on the state of the people in the world when they feel so entitled. Pathetic.

  • Lisa

    My family is going in December and we have been selected for the bands. We are truly excited about it. Because my daughter and son in law works with technical programs we understand there may be some bugs to work out. But we are truly excited about this new adventure and are glad we were selected to give feedback.

  • Kate Miller

    I would be interested to know how this might impact on Disney’s visitors who do not live in the States. All UK internet providers charge exorbitant amounts of money for internet use when abroad, so having to book meals or fast passes via an app or via a website would be very difficult, unless it could be done from home before travel, which would indeed take away any spontaneity from any trip. Unless Disney offer free internet access or access to computer terminals in resorts for free, it would put a very big hole in the vacation spending budget. Booking months in advance would not allow for the vagaries of the Florida weather either – booking, say, a fast pass for Expedition Everest only to discover that it is pouring with rain would put something of a damper on the whole thing!

    • Nicole L. Mancini

      Kate, there are going to be kiosks set up in a few locations for this very reason.

    • Allan Tam

      @Kate: There is free Wi-Fi in all the parks and resorts (in-room and public spaces). It’s slower than what I get in my house and there are some (remote-ish) areas where you can’t/difficult to get a signal but typically those were in areas where I could understand that connectivity may be limited (i.e. On a ride, remote edges of the park.

      I only have an iPod Touch and was able to connect to MyDisneyExperience fairly easily using only Wi-Fi.

      As for FP+ and weather… we had TestTrack FP+ and it rained… later that day, I got an email saying I was allowed to reselect my FP+.

      • Kate Miller

        Thanks, Allan, that is really useful to know. Just need to wait to the hoped for free dining package to be released again, and. I can book our next trip!!

  • Michelle B.

    It is still in testing mode. Granted a fairly widespread test, but test nonetheless. We used the MagicBand last week for the first time. Here is what worked and didn’t work for us. Also, while integrated, the MagicBand and My Disney Experience are 2 separate things. I found the MagicBand was in much better shape than MDE.
    Worked Easily: Getting into the room. Making purchases both food and retail. I learned that having the Mickey head on the inside of my wrist versus the outside made it easier to match Mickey-to-Mickey. Tapping to get into the FP line. Linking APs.
    Worked, but not so easily: Making FP+ reservations, very cumbersome. Technically this is not a MagicBand issue, so much as a My Disney Experience issue. I made a handful of reservations before we left (Toy Story, Star Wars, Tower of Terror; Test Track, Soarin’, Illuminations; Buzz Lightyear, Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales). On a few occasions I adjusted them the day before we went to that park (Star Wars, Tower of Terror). On a few occasions I adjusted or even made them the day of (Star Wars (yes, changed it twice), something else.
    Worked, but very poorly: I could make dining reservations on MDE mobile app, but they never displayed back on MDE. I kept having to ask CMs what time I had booked it for. I canceled and scheduled dining reservations the day of and the day before. Mostly less popular restaurants (The Wave, Kouzzina for Breakfast).

    Did not work: some of my F&W confirmations did not show on MDE and I spent much time with Disney IT on this. In the process, 1 got lost and we got charged as a no-show. Linking 10 day non-expiring passes did not work.

  • Cea

    In your blog, you missed one whole group of people, everyone else who does not get access to magic bands and who are get the leftovers with fp-. Yes it worked okay when only a small portion of the guests had access to MB, but now that all Disney Resort guests get it the fp- are going out more quickly than they ever have before. And before you say it is still in testing phase, well many of us are going during this so called testing phase….I think if I am getting a lesser product than what I would have gotten if I was not going during the testing phase than at least we should get a discount. I hate paying full price and getting lesser product and yes, I will make the most out of my vacation but the roll out of this whole system sucks…

  • Thomas Wickett

    Everyone needs to take a deep collective breath. It will be fine in the end.

  • George McNeil

    we were at Wilderness Lodge from 10/22/13 to 11/01/13 and they were able to link our annual pass to the wrist bands. It worked great. Everything worked great. Fast pass, room key, dining plan and purchases. We are big fans of the new wrist bands.
    Regards,
    george

  • Lisa

    My biggest complaint is the limitations. You can’t even ride the same ride more than once. When we went to HS last year one of my girls loved TSM so much that she had to go on it again. Of course there was a 90 minute wait so I checked to see if there were any more FP available and there were. If we had the FP+ we wouldn’t have been able to do it. We don’t use FP all that often, but it really helps when you have younger kids who can only ride certain rides and can’t stand still long enough for the huge lines. If we have to use it next year I guess I will check my touring plans to see how we can get everything in with limited wait times. My girls will be almost 6 by then and my son will be 9. They will be able and willing to go on more of the bigger rides and I hope this won’t make our trip include more waiting in line and less riding the rides.

    • Jen

      My daughter was like 3, now 4 years later known to be ADHD so entertaining her for 2 hours in line was not a cake walk, when we waited in the stand by line for 2 hours without any melt downs or world ending behaviors. We just interacted with her and the things to see while in line…it actually can be done. Just saying.

  • Apollo

    Have you used the MM+ yet? From your story it sounds like you are just repeating other info. Also, guests will be forced to move to MM+ in the very near future – there will not be a choice and FP will be gone as well. You should do a bit better in researching your stories.

  • Gary Hollis

    This year, I visited WDW during the second week in October. As a veteran park goer, I had the old FP system down to an art. I felt empowered, yet I was able to alter my plans rather easily and really didn’t have to wait in line at all. I did not have the MagicBand this past trip and felt like a second-class citizen. This limited my ability to do what I wanted and not wait in line. I enjoyed this trip less. You claim that “You are not being forced to wear a MagicBand (that’s what belt loops and pockets are for) or pre-plan your vacation.” While true, not opting in to this program will send you back to the days where visiting the parks in busy times was mostly about standing around. Many of my friends despise the World for just this reason; they had a horrible, heat stroke-inducing, stand-around experience that soured them on WDW. I’ll be going again in early 2014, this time with the band. I’ll TRY to reserve judgment until I return, but I must admit to seeing early signs of this program negatively impacting my trips to WDW, maybe to the point where I’ll choose to vacation somewhere else.

    • lacy pattern

      your post doesnt make any sense..sorry

      • Gary Hollis

        Thanks for the specific feedback, Lacy.

  • Pamela Troester

    Having just returned from a 4 day trip there for Halloween I have to say I loved using the bands and having rides already picked for FastPass+…most of the time that is. Two of our bands had problems, but these were quickly resolved by cast members with tablets in hand. Our family was able to quickly get food, buy souveneirs, enter our hotel rooms and get on FastPass rides. And yes, I would agree they are a little uncomfortable to wear, but you don’t have to keep it on your wrist. Put it in your bag, pocket, or belt loop if it’s that uncomfortable. Frankly, when we got back home I was sad I had nowhere to scan my Magic Band! :’(

  • Guest

    Magic Band’s, hmmmm

  • sean chartier

    absolutely loved my magic band . It made my vacation so enjoyable. The FP was great worked great left more time to enjoy the parks. Wished it worked in the real world too.

  • Jason Spencer

    “FP+ and MagicBands are, to this very day, still not officially live.” — Not true. I just came back from a trip 10/30 – 11/5 and there were MANY park guests using the bands. While it was nice to not have to run across the park and claim a bunch of FP tickets, I have to agree that setting them up online is limiting and a pain in the rump. Even when times are still available to the public, the FP+ system denies the ability to change times or attractions.

    Also to clarify from your story, FastPass+ is limited to three rides in a SINGLE park, per day. The way you have written, I could get three in one park and three more in another park. Considering I go between parks with a Hopper, this would be a great option, but you can’t and it’s (perhaps) the least seductive part of the program in my opinion.

    I don’t usually wear anything on my wrist, and the curve where the RFID is located felt a bit awkward on my wrist at first, but by day two I felt naked whenever I didn’t have the band on. We were in 80-90 degree heat during the day, and while sweating did feel weird, it never seemed bad.

    I actually liked using the MagicBand for my dining plan, room key, and even not having to carry FP tickets around.

    • Nicole L. Mancini

      Jason, thank you for your thoughts.

      The FP+ system is still in beta testing, albeit, the largest group of testers known to date. Disney has not announced an official date, though I would imagine that it will be fully implemented soon.

  • Pickers

    I get FP+ is great so you can pre book the likes of TSM but surely, given its popularity which has always amazed me each visit, and given the finite number of riders possible, that when FP+ opens to the masses rather than have to rush to the gate to get a FP you’ll have to rush to your computer weeksin advance to get a time to ride?? That will remove even more spontanaity.
    Personally i like toy story and i hope my son gets to ride it as he adores buzz lightyear but seriously its not that good!!!! if the hype disappeared everyone would be happy!

  • DISPrincessMom

    Question: We are going in February and staying offsite for the first time ever (great timing…). So, I am completely lost as to what FP option will be available for us. Will legacy still be around? Will I have access to FP+ and, if so, can I book anything in advance or only the day of? I have been going to WDW every year for a very long time and I am feeling very uneasy this time. Especially because my SIL and her family are coming for the first time and are relying on me to guide them through the World!
    Help!

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  • PB

    I am a DVC member and AP holder who had the opportunity to try out the magic bands and FP+ back in November. Overall, I think they are fantastic and have a lot of potential. It was great to be able to use the band as our room key, park ticket, FP ticket, and payment method. Not having to lug around all different keys/cards, etc…was definitely a win in my book. Out of a group of 7, only 1 member of our party had any issues and that was with syncing everything up….this was sorted out the night we arrived and the CM was helpful.
    I was glad that we were able to try out the FP+ while it was still in the “test” phase, although I am a bit concerned that it will not work nearly as well for us once it is completely rolled out. We were able to make changes to our selections on the fly…sometimes just altering times and in some cases we changed attractions/parks all together. As you would suspect, the only ride we came across where there was no ability to do this was TSM (which thanks to FP+ we actually got to ride this trip without a 2 hour stand-by wait). Once we get to a point where everyone in the park is on this system, I think changing plans on the go may be nearly impossible (about as likely as get a table as a walk in for dinner at Be Our Guest or any other popular table service restaurant) . I also hope that as Disney reviews the data and continues to get feedback, they allow this to work for those of us that love to Park Hop….and I also hope that we get to the point where they allow more than 3 FP’s per day…..now that would be MAGICAL!!!