Fastpass +: Your questions answered!

Goodbye my old friend Fastpass…Hello FastPass + and My Disney Experience!

FastPass + at PoohI have to say that I am nostalgic about the old system because most of us frequent WDW visitors had that down to a science. But as of this month, the old fastpass machines at the entrance to the most popular rides are no more! Instead, all guests are now expected to take part in the new My Disney Experience, My Magic+, Magic Bands and FastPass + (FP+) online system.

Things work differently depending if you are staying on property or off site.

This is the same for all guests:

  • You select (and can change) your return time for the ride/experience.
  • You can only choose 3 FP+ per day
  • You can only get your 3 FP+ in one park each day
  • FP+ includes character experiences and seating for fireworks & parades
  • You can change your FP+ selections at any point, even during your return time(if you get to your ride return and see no line, you can adjust your FP+ at the entrance for a different ride) Continue reading
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Oh No! I can only go when it is crowded!!

What do you do if you can only travel during the more crowded times of the year? Don’t fret, help is on the way.

First of all, you need to know the most crowded times of the year. Basically, if kids are on a break then WDW is crowded.

The busiest times are:

  • February over President’s Day Weekend
  • Spring Break season: Mid March through Easter
  • Easter: Date changes but week before and after are second most crowded of the year
  • Summer: Mid June-Early August
  • Columbus Day Weekend: Modest increase in crowds
  • Thanksgiving: Third busiest time of the year for the week
  • Christmas – New Years: Busiest time of the year from Christmas Day-New Year

Here are my tips for traveling during the busiest times of the year:

Lower your expectations: You can not expect to go to Magic Kingdom and ride everything on your list. Pick your top 3 priorities and know there will be time to do other things. By doing this you won’t be walking away disappointed and you will be pleasantly surprised when you get more accomplished.

Stay on Property: The convenience of staying on property outweighs the additional cost in this situation. The resort transportation will be more crowded than normal, but will not be as bad as driving your own car into the crazy parking lots, then taking a tram to the entrance or WDW transportation. This is especially important for Magic Kingdom because you park at the Ticketing and Transportation Center then take a monorail or ferry to the entrance of the park. By staying on resort property you also have the benefit of Extra Magic Hours (EMH).

Extra Magic Hours:  When staying on property you are given access to certain parks for 1 hour in the morning before it opens to the public and 2 hours in the evening after close. Taking advantage of this can greatly increase the amount of attractions you are able to see and do! I personally like to enjoy EMH mornings at one park and then leave when it gets crowded to go to a different park by park hopping. Alternatively, if you are a night owl the evening EMH might be up your alley. The evening EMH are much more crowded than the morning, but if you can stay until the end you will reap the benefits of extra ride time with little wait. If you are not staying on property, avoid the parks with EMH during your vacation.

Park Hop: The additional cost of the park hopper is the most beneficial during these times. You can go to one park until the crowds overwhelm you, then hop over to a less crowded park. Or you can head back to your hotel (especially when staying on property) and then hop to a different park in the evening.

Go to the parks EARLY: I know you are on vacation, but so is everyone else going to Disney. That being said, WAKE UP EARLY and be at the parks for rope drop (official opening) or soon after! Most people will not get themselves together and moving by 8am, but by 10am the parks will be crowded. No one goes to Disney for a relaxing, sleep in vacation. For example: Christmas Day at Magic Kingdom has been at capacity the last few years around 10:30am. You can walk right in at 7am, but you can’t even get past the gates at 10:30. What does this teach us (other than avoid MK on Christmas!)? Get to the parks early, you will thank yourself when you are walking out to take a swim at 11 and the entrance turnstiles are 20 deep!

Take a Mid Day Break: The parks are most crowded from 11am-4pm. Take a break back at the hotel for swimming and a nap. Or have lunch in a hotel near the park and do some hotel hopping to check out the different WDW resort hotels.

Make ALL your dining reservations: When going during a crowded time of year, you will not have a snowball’s chance of getting into the more popular restaurants without reservations far in advance. That being said, you can still get into table service restaurants. Choose less popular restaurants in the park or ones located in the resort hotels.  

Utilize the Fastpass system: This is the time when Fastpasses are your best friend. Decide your most important priority and get a fastpass at park opening for that ride. You can get your next fastpass 2 hours later, so at 9am if your fastpass return for Space Mountain is not until 2-3pm, you can get another fastpass at 11am for a different ride as well. With the new Fastpass+ system, you can prearrage your fastpasses (up to 3) which will be a huge benefit to staying on property during a crowded time.

I hope this advice helps and doesn’t scare you! I have traveled over Christmas with a group of 14 and I am going back at the same time this year. Take this advice and you will still enjoy your trip!

I’m Back…

Sorry, I haven’t blogged in quite a while. We just got back from the most magical place on Earth and then school started 2 days later. Talk about cutting it close! On top of all of that is the fact that this was our longest Disney vacation yet (7 nights/8 days) and we were all exhausted. I had planned on writing while there but let’s face it, spending time with the family was more important.

It was such a magical trip! We did almost everything on our Disney bucket list and still had time for swimming and some great meals. Here are the highlights and I will post more details on everything later: Continue reading

Opening Date Set for New Fantasyland!

The main section of the new Fantasyland expansion will open on December 6. This will include Under the Sea – Voyage of the Little Mermaid Ride, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Ariel’s Grotto, Gaston’s Tavern adn Bonjour Village Gifts. Previews and soft opening are set to begin November 19. Will you be lucky enough to be there to ride? If you are, make sure you make your reservations for Be Our Guest in late August!

Storybook Circus already opened in July and contains the new double Dumbos, Casey Jr. Splash and Soak Station & Barnstormer – Starring the Great Goofini.

 

Having the kids involved with planning

My kids help with our trip planning even though they are only 5 & 7 years old. We discuss when to go, where they would like to eat, which characters are important for us to see, what rides are a must, what parades we have to watch. This helps us plan our time there and what is a priority for each of us. At Christmas, the main goals were Rapunzel and Santa. We planned 2 mornings in Magic Kingdom to be in line for those characters as soon as the park opened. For Star Wars weekend, the goal was to do Jedi Training and see the Hyperspace Hoopla. This upcoming trip, we are excited about Storybook Circus, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom & Agent P!

I think it is important for them to realized that this costs us money and we have to save and plan each time we go. Continue reading

New Dumbo!

The new Dumbo is soon to be up and running! There will be 2 Dumbo rides in Storybook Circus of Fantasyland. Fastpass will be available as well as the standby line. The standby line will have pagers similar to restaurants that will buzz you when it is your turn to get in line. The area where you wait with your pager is an air-conditioned, circus themed tent with a play area for the kids. Parents get a break while the kids can cool off and run around. I have read many complaints about this being against Uncle Walt’s vision of his parks, but I for one am looking forward to it! Here is a video of new Dumbo Queue Continue reading

Hidden Benefit of Rider Swap

The rider swap (also known as baby swap) is a feature offered by Walt Disney World to allow both parents enjoy a ride that is not appropriate for young children. This can be because a child doesn’t meet the height requirements or they are too young for the ride. The parents receive a rider swap pass that will allow the other parent to ride without waiting in line again. Continue reading

Dates Announced for New Fantasyland Expansion

The dates were recently announced for the openings of the new Fantastyland expansion.

July 2012:

  • Second Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Casey Jr. Splash n’ Soak Station
  • Air Conditioned Interactive Queue

Holiday 2012: (this can be any time up til 12/20)

  • Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant (quick service lunch, sit down dinner)
  • Gaston’s Tavern

2013:

  • Princess Meet and Greet (in former Snow White Scary Adventures)

2014:

  • Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train (dark, tame roller coaster)