My family and I recently returned from a week at Walt Disney World. As Disney Vacation Club members, we have been there 13 times since 2002 and consider ourselves experts on the parks, hotels and restaurants. Being a self-proclaimed expert I love to share advice, reviews and tips to anyone that is planning a trip to WDW. This year, I want to share my review and tips for the newly launched Magic Bands. My Disney Experience with them was truly magical and will forever change the way I plan Disney vacations. If you want to experience the trip of a lifetime, read on.
For the entire length of our stay, our Magic Bands were our room key, park pass, meal reservations, character meet and greet reservation, charge card, Photo Pass and FastPass+.
We are planners. We like to know what we are doing and when. We book our villa at the Disney Beach Club Resort about 10 months in advance. We book our restaurant reservations 6 months out, but as for park passes and fast passes, we always had to wait until we were there. It used to be that you could only get one FastPass at a time then spend the rest of the day waiting on lines, sometimes up to 2 hours long. Not any more! Magic Bands have changed everything for the better.
I strongly recommend purchasing your tickets as far in advance as you can. We purchased a 5-day park hopper ticket online and chose the color of our magic bands two months prior to arrival. Then the real magic happened. The single greatest thing that getting your Magic Band in advance does is enable you to secure FastPass+ reservations. We were able to reserve 3 FastPasses, per park, per day right from my laptop. Either from my computer or from a downloadable smartphone app we could see each day’s itinerary including the park we planned to attend, the times of our FastPasses, and any reservations we made. Having all of this information at our fingertips made it easy to plan additional rides, shows and more. Do your research. If you have never been to the parks buy a reputable Disney Guide Book such as Birnbaum’s or Fodor’s and get passes for all the recommended favorites. If you are a repeat visitor, be sure to schedule the most desirable rides first then add the one’s you’ve never done before.
Every day, we knew exactly what ride we were going on and when. Even during the busiest week of the year (Spring Break) we managed to hit all of our favorite rides with NO LINES! By getting to the park right as it opened and using the Ride Wait Times feature on our mobile app, we were able to get on rides for which we did not have passes and even ride our favorites two or three times. The longest line we stood on was 40 minutes. Not bad. Who can say they went to Disney Easter week and road Soarin’ twice, Everest twice, Splash Mountain twice, Test Track three times, Primeval Whirl 4 times in addition to getting on Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, too many other rides to mention and seeing a bunch of shows? We can! And you can too!
Last week, they expanding the FastPass+ rule to as many as you are able to book. Yippy! You can pre-book the three, then get additional Fast-Passes at the park, one at a time. Ironically though, some of the longest lines at any of the parks were for the FastPass+ kiosks. Your best bet may be to do like I mentioned above and use the Wait Time app to find rides that currently have the shortest lines and go on them to fill in the spaces between passes.
Disney has spent over $1 Billion on their MyMagic+ technology and it the most ingenious marketing technique they have come up with yet. The micro chip inside the band enables you to use it for multiple purposes while Disney collects all of the data for marketing purposes. Everywhere you scan your band is a little snippet of info for them to analyze. Of course they will make a gazillion dollars from this but it really does improve the vacation experience for the user so its a win-win for everyone.
Additional conveniences are going to make this the wave of the future at Disney. For example, at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, you can order your meal and prepay before you even arrive. You simply scan your Magic Band when you arrive at the restaurant, take your seat and your meal is brought to you, already paid for, with almost no waiting.
As for shopping, they can’t be beat. If you don’t feel like carrying cash, you can purchase anything by scanning of your band and typing your PIN. We were able to grab one of the few remaining Frozen Anna and Elsa dolls, the hottest commodity in Disney this year, with yet another quick flash of the Magic Band.
This year we had the very best Disney vacation yet. We got more in; we had more fun and less aggravation. We spent more time in the parks, not because we had to but because we wanted to. We got to go on every ride we wanted and a few we never did before. It was a blast. We owe it to pre-planning and Magic Bands. Follow my advice. When it comes to Disney I know what I’m talking about.
If you had a good (or bad) experience with your Magic Bands, please leave a comment and let us know.
To find other Expert Disney Tips see the links below: