As you might have seen (or not), I was visiting Disney World last Wednesday and Thursday. My mom turned 60 (happy birthday, Mom!) and I surprised her at the Magic Kingdom. It was awesome.
Actually, there were lots of things that were awesome, and I wanted to take a minute to share them with you.
Let’s get a few things straight first:
1 – I’m not a “Disney expert” but I know lots of stuff and care deeply about the World
2 – this visit was my first encounter with MyMagic+, FastPass+, MagicBand+, Paperless+, etc.
3 – This is all my opinion. Your opinion may differ, and you probably know and understand more than I do – please share!
Alright, where to begin…
I flew from Indianapolis to Atlanta to Orlando, got off the plane, got a rental car, and drove right to Epcot. From plane to rental car to the Epcot parking lot took less than an hour. How you ask? It was just me and my backpack.
My family has never gotten a rental car before, but I’m almost positive I’ll never go down there again and not have one. It was simple to pick up and drop off, and being able to come and go wherever and whenever I wanted was amazing. I love the Magical Express and the transportation Disney provides, but this was a glorious thing.
As I mentioned earlier this was my first encounter using a MagicBand and FastPass+. I got to the Epcot main gates and placed my MagicBand against it, pressed my pointer finger on the fingerprint scanner, and away I went.
Let me just say, as an IT/dev guy who loves technology, the simplest thing like the ring around the Mickey head glowing white, spinning faster, and then glowing green when it read my band was magical. A very nice touch if I do say so myself.
I had FastPasses for Soarin’, Spaceship Earth, and the Seas with Nemo. I met some friends when I got there and we ate at Sunshine Seasons. My FastPass time for Soarin’ came, so I rode that (again, magical green spinning circles) and then I went over to Spaceship Earth. There was no wait so I rode that. I decided to skip the Seas with Nemo and went to Test Track for the single-rider line. I did a few more things before Illuminations and then headed out for the day.
Overall, I loved not having paper to worry about. Nothing for the hotel, old school FastPass tickets, receipts, whatever.
I did however have two qualms:
1 – Since I didn’t use all of my FastPasses, I could’ve gone to a kiosk and re-booked or canceled them. I tried using the My Disney Experience app and website to no avail, and ended up just giving up. This lead to me thinking “Perhaps having 2 FastPasses would’ve been better?” More on that later…
2 – Using the WDWNT Now! site (which I made) proved to be great about 10% of the time. I was bummed. Trying to find menus, wait times, meet and greets – all of it took too long. The reason I wanted to make the Now! site was to help people, not frustrate them. More on that later too…
Quick side note – go visit the Polynesian Village Resort. You won’t be disappointed. I had breakfast there on Thursday morning (Tonga Toast FTW!) and the new lobby is beautiful.
The Magic Kingdom
Much like Epcot the day before, I was in love with using my MagicBand. We had a FastPass for meeting Mickey at 9:20am, then Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 11:20am, and then Peter Pan at 2pm. The Magic Kingdom closed at 1am that day so I was prepared to use my 3 FastPasses and book more.
(By the way, I’m now joined by my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and their 2 kids who are both 3).
We had a magical day. It was sunny, hot, and beautiful. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday for my mom.
It was around the 2 or 3 o’clock mark that my family started feeling the effects of the heat. All being from Indianapolis and just coming off of winter it seems that we didn’t adjust well to the climate and temperature changes. We ended up splitting our group and I took my sister to First Aid to cool off while everyone else went and rode some rides. (I tell you all of this because I didn’t use my Peter Pan FastPass)
We had dinner at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, and my sister’s family went back to their room. My mom and I hung out at the Magic Kingdom until about 10:30pm, and then we left.
Alright, to sum up and add my thoughts:
1 – Just like at Epcot, I would’ve loved to have canceled my Peter Pan FastPass and booked Space Mountain (which I did get to ride later) or something else easily (ie – no kiosk visit).
2 – My niece really wanted to meet Jasmine. As a dad myself I wanted to help and take care of her, so I pulled out my phone and went to the Now! site – the “character appearances” page was difficult to navigate to and usually wouldn’t load. My own site! My own creation! How dare you!?
3 – The new Hub is beautiful. Take some time to wander.
4 – The Magic Kingdom is beautiful. Take some time to wander.
5 – Having “planned” our vacation months in advance and “locking” ourselves into what we’re doing when (as people claim you’re doing) proved to be the complete opposite. We were able to see, watch, and do so much in one day.
Here’s what I did in 48 hours at Walt Disney World Rode
Spaceship Earth (twice)
Gran Fiesta Tour
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
“it’s a small world”
Tomorrowland Transit Authority
Carousel of Progress
Under the Sea (Little Mermaid)
Festival of Fantasy parade
Main Street Electrical Parade
New Fantasyland (new to me)
Refreshment Port (croissant donut!)
Columbia Harbor House
Gaston’s Tavern (to try Lefou’s Brew)
Still with me? Thanks!
I would like to conclude with this:
1 – Booking FastPasses in advance proved both awesome and not so awesome. I loved knowing I would get to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine train. Never once did I feel like my whole day was “ruined” because I had “everything” planned out. See that list above? We got to do FastPass+ attractions during spring break. Think about that…
2 – However, as I mentioned, canceling FastPasses to be able to book more proved to be a tad more difficult than I thought it would be. Again – is 3 too much?
3 – Having a car is magical.
4 – My own creation, the Now! site, left me more frustrated than I’d hoped. Sure, it was cool seeing the “What’s Near Me?” actually work (instead of mocking me with “Far, far away”…who wrote that code?!). I’ve made some changes since I’ve been back that would’ve been nice to have during my trip (like sending a text message that says “#meet jasmine” and getting a reply with her meet and greet times and locations or simply navigating here).
So, dear reader, what do you think? Do you think 3 FastPasses is too much? Do you think I’m crazy? Do you love Tonga Toast as much as I did?