web analytics

Magic Bands, FastPass+, ADRs, OH MY!

Remember, back in the day, when you could just show up at Walt Disney World, ride the rides, eat nice meals, have a great time, and go home?  Yeah, me neither.

For as long as I’ve been planning Walt Disney World vacations (approximately 7, 459 years), I’ve had to get up at the crack of dawn at some distant light year from the actual vacation to book a dining reservation at a restaurant for which I personally have no fondness, but I have deemed it an experience my children MUST have to prevent them from ending up in years of therapy for the mental cruelty they suffered at the hands of a negligent mother.

But as if that fun and excitement wasn’t enough to give you hives, there’s more!

Bands-2-500x283

You have, no doubt, heard of the latest technology rolled out at the Disney theme parks.  The aptly named “Magic Bands” have debuted, and boy oh boy are they fun!  They come in pretty colors, you can add little charms to them, a cutie patootie frame around your Mickey head – what’s not to love?  They even have your name on them!  Adorable!

But the responsibility that comes as a Magic Band owner! While planning for a recent vacation, I spent the better part of my days trying to make sure everything for our upcoming vacation is going to be magical for my family.  I spent hours on the phone with Disney IT, when somethings weren’t working out right, and I went back into My Disney Experience dozens upon dozens of times, trying to make sure I wasn’t overlooking things.

And as the vacation date loomed, I didn’t feel ready.  For the first time, I was afraid our ability to navigate the park without stress was going to be impeded.  I worried that the FastPass+ selections I made were not really the ones my kids want.  I feared the kid who could easily ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster a half dozen times would be disappointed when I had to drag her away after one ride, not having the ability to snag FastPasses throughout the day.  It’s like the old fashioned ticket books!

disney-magic-band

Well, I can say that the vacation wasn’t a total disaster, but it was super stressful.  My husband declared it “not fun” to have my head buried in my cell phone as we tried to make adjustments to our FastPass+ selections, made 60 days in advance, to accommodate our schedule.  My kids were disappointed I couldn’t snag extra FastPasses to come back to things like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Toy Story.  And we did race through a meal or two in order to make sure we were able to run to our FastPass+ attractions before our time was up.

I am confident that in time, this will be an awesome system.  I loved, for example, not carrying a bag with me, because I didn’t have to store keys or passes or FastPasses.  I breezed right through the “No Bags” line like I’d done it a hundred times before.

But I did need a vacation from that vacation.  The stress of making sure we were where we needed to be so we could enjoy things killed some of the enjoyment.

Or maybe I’m not so good with the winds of change?

Last Minute Disney World Trip for Valentine’s Day? What’s a Procrastinator to Do?

You’ve just realized you have a long weekend over Valentine’s weekend because of the President’s Day holiday, so you’ve decided to take your Sweetheart to Walt Disney World.

What are you, crazy?

No, I didn’t mean that.  You’d be crazy NOT to jump at that last minute trip to the House of Mouse!  But what the heck are you going to do, with no dining reservations, no FastPasses, and no chance to choose the romantic color red for your Magic Bands?  Well, let’s just see what we can do to make this trip not only happen, but happen with many wonderful, romantic memories to boot!

Fantasyland8

 

Let’s start with dining reservations.  I’m going to break this to you gently.  You are not getting into Cinderella’s Royal Table.  And there are probably a few other options not available to you at this late planning stage, but fear not.  You’ll be glad to know that a quick search today, just 9 days in advance, shows dinner reservations available at many Walt Disney World resort restaurants, both inside and outside of the theme parks.  You may not get prime time for V-Day dining, but if you don’t mind eating before six or after 8, options include my favorite Artist Point, the way under talked about Turf Club at Saratoga Springs, Sanaa, Jiko, Paradiso 37, Bongo’s Cuban Cafe, or numerous options at EPCOT.  That romantic dinner can be something intimate and quiet, like Artist Point; or you can opt for fun and rambunctious, like Raglan Road.

And while this may not be the romantic dinner you had in mind, there is all sorts of magical moments dining for lunch at Be Our Guest.  You don’t need reservations to eat there at lunch time, and you can sit in the West Wing with the enchanted rose, or check out the room with the giant music box.  Great memories to be made if you are willing to wait in line a little bit.

FastPass+ encourages you to book your ride times in advance, but you may not have time to do that.  Thankfully, you’ll find locations at each theme park where you can choose your FastPass+ options after you arrive at the park.  I’ve seen pretty good availability last minute so far on rides and attractions, so if you want to steal a smooch with your Sweetie as you kick his butt on Toy Story Midway Mania, you may still find a FastPass+ available.

00-fastpassplus-screen2

How about those plain grey Magic Bands you’ll be stuck with, since you didn’t customize them in advance?  Gotcha covered.  You’ll find virtually every resort and gift shop now stocks a supply of Magic Band covers and Magic Bandits, which are little pins you can stick in the holes on your Magic Bands to make them more personal.  You can choose from solid colors, patterns, favorite characters – any combination of accessories to make the bands ones you love.

There are rooms available, plenty of park passes to hit up the places where you’ll find the most magic, and if you decide to wait until the moment strikes to pick up the perfect gift for your Valentine, you’ll find everything from delicious smelling bath products, watches, jewelry, clothing, accessories, or the gift that keeps on giving – annual passes!

happy-disney-valentines-day-x-large-msg-123395097705

So pack those bags, book those flights, and get your hiney down there with your honey.  A Valentine’s Day full of love, romance, and magic – what could possibly be better?