Rope Drop

On your Mark! Get Set!! ROPE DROP!!!

When you get up and start moving around your resort room hoping to “casually” wake up everyone else in your party. One by one, they start waking up and motivated. And, before you know it, it’s time to head for the bus, your car, a boat, or whatever you are using for transport to the park of choice for today. And, you are at least an hour ahead of park opening, or Rope Drop, as it is known at Walt Disney World.

You may not think this is important, but I think with the introduction of Fastpass Plus, there may be even more reason to arrive in time for Rope Drop. By arriving this early, you can beat the majority of guests who think it’s no big deal and get onto some of the headliners with very little wait.

Here’s my suggestion, whether you want to just do one park, or hop to another one, set your Fastpasses for later in the day! That way you can either get to a couple of headliners at Rope Drop wherever you choose to begin your day. And, at least at The Magic Kingdom, has a morning welcome show that starts about 10 minutes before opening and it is FUN!!

So, make a commitment to make Rope Drop at least a few times during your vacation!

Thanks for visiting and have a Blessed and Magical Day!!

From Attractions: The Show on Fastpass Plus!

At about 19 minutes into this video is the best explanation I have seen about how Fastpass Plus works! And, I thought it was important to share with all of the recent changes!

▶ Attractions – The Show – Jan. 23, 2014 – Otronicon, FastPass+ Q&A, plus latest news – YouTube.

Paper Fastpass, you will be missed!

Beginning next week, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT will join the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom by eliminating the Legacy FastPass in favor of FastPass Plus! This means that all FastPasses will be made online, through the My Disney Experience app on your smart phone, or at one of several kiosks set up throughout the parks. And, with the addition of offsite guest access, these choices become even more critical in how touring any of the parks fits into anyone’s plan.

Paper FastPass

It remains to be seen how this will affect the overall crowd and wait times, but it is assumed by some that we may see a more level field of stand-by queues. Wait times may shorten a bit, except during peak times. I’m not so sure what to think, myself. But, I believe there is a season of confusion ahead for all of us as we get more familiar how this all will fit together. And, I am sure that it will all work out in time! After all, Disney has invested a number that includes 9 zeros into this system!

Personally, the Legacy system worked better for our style of touring the parks. My family didn’t mind the sprint to certain attractions. In many cases, we could get our FastPass AND ride! We could fit things into our schedule with greater ease, and on a good day, get 6 to 8 FastPasses! Those days appear to be gone, for now.

So, will the new system eventually allow more than three choices for one park on one day? Will Park-Hopping be possible? What other features might be a part of FastPass+? Only time will tell, but I’m betting that the folks at Disney will get it all figured out, and we will all find new ways to enjoy our favorite place!

One final thought…can this be heading to Disneyland and other parks around the world? Again, we shall see!

Have a Blessed and Magical Weekend, my friends!

MagicBand Revue

After spending a week at Walt Disney World, I have a better understanding of how the MagicBands work. And, there are a few lessons I learned about along the way, as well.

Let me begin by stating that I was really looking forward to this experience, regardless of how it turned out. I feel it is my responsibility to be real in what I see with my own eyes. The lesson I learned at check-in was to verify which MagicBands have charging privileges, what the limits are, and what card you are backing those charges up with. I had set all of this up before arriving, but found out over the next few days that it didn’t get recorded in the system. So, save yourself some extra steps and double-check before you leave the front desk. It only takes a few moments to fix the problem.

From the moment we walked into The Art Of Animation Resort, our MagicBands were put to use. We used one for checking in right at the start. This did seem to hasten the process considerably. The bands also worked well with our room door. I would suggest that everyone in your party take a turn just to verify all MagicBands are working. Also, the doors at the end of the corridors will open with the use of the MagicBands if you want to bypass the elevator.

Entry to all of the parks was smooth with the use of the MagicBands. It is important to remember which finger you used when you first arrived, that can slow you down if you forget. I didn’t find my MagicBand to be in the way, but did have a couple of incidents with it popping off if I accidentally hit a rail or armrest the wrong way. Other than that, I have no real concerns.

FastPass+ worked fairly well, also. One thing I did discover is that it is more difficult to change times or experiences once you arrive in your park for the day. We were there during what was supposed to be a less busy time, but the parks all seemed to be more crowded than expected. And, this made changes much less available. And, with the introduction of tiered attractions, it will be very helpful to make sure you have your choices before you arrive. For some, this may be an issue. For the uberplanners, not so much.

The MagicBands do make charging easier, but I did not find it more tempting to tap and go with more souvenirs. I suggest that if you know what your limits are, you will have no problem remaining within those limits. But, if you have the tendency to spend freely, you may not want to have your band armed for charging. Just a thought!

MagicBand turnstiles
MagicBand turnstiles

Overall, I like the MagicBands, but I think I prefer the old FastPass system a bit more. We were able to make use of a few of those during our stay. We weren’t trying to cheat the system, but it helped to put things in a better time frame for our visit. But, we have just learned that the Legacy FastPass system is slowly being phased out. There are a few resorts that are no longer issuing Key To The World cards, unless requested. And, it was just announced that Disney’s Animal Kingdom will begin testing the new RFID technology by allowing anyone from any resort to make FastPass+ choices. Offsite visitors will be limited to making those choices once they arrive at the park. So, I would guess that the paper FastPass machines will be turned off during this testing.

I hope you find this helpful information. And, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a message at the bottom of this post. I’ll be sure to respond promptly.

Tomorrow, Restaurant Reviews…there may be a surprise on this one!!

Have a Blessed and Magical Day!!

Magical Day One 2013

This day couldn’t have been any better! I am blessed, and privileged, to share my birthday with two special people. My father, who passed this past February. And, Walter Elias Disney, who also happens to be one of my largest idols! I have loved everything Mr. Disney put his hands to ever since I was aware of the Disney name! And, today lent itself to remembering what a special man can do in the middle of swamp land.

Handmade by my daughter!
Handmade by my daughter!

My oldest Daughter and I ventured ahead of the rest of the family, as I had planned to drive to the Magic Kingdom and park as close as possible at the Transportation and Ticket Center. It was Extra Magic Hours, and we wanted to get a jump on the day, so off we went! The rest took the bus from the resort and arrived nearly an hour later. I got a great spot and requested help from my online Disney family to “remember where we parked”. It was a great beginning to what I knew would be a great day! Add to that the shirt, this same daughter, made for me by hand and I was feeling pretty good!

Everyone remember where we parked!
Everyone remember where we parked!

As we walked into The Magic Kingdom, I was blown away by the Christmas decorations that lined Main Street USA! The crews were busy setting up at the Town Square to begin taping the Very Merry Christmas Special. Note: I’m glad I didn’t plan on being at MK on December 6 and 7! The first attraction of this visit was Stitch’s Great Escape. Why? You may ask? Because I had never done it, that’s why! And, if the main attraction had some of the flair and comedic content as the preshow, it would be a pretty good attraction. As it is, I have no need to see that one again!

At that point, the rest of the family had caught up, so the Wife and Kids headed to Space Mountain, while me and my mother-in-law hit Tomorrowland Transit Authority (PeopleMover). I don’t do many thrill rides, but I am planning to do Space Mountain on our next MK day. The rest of the morning saw: Peter Pan’s Flight, Haunted Mansion, Under the Sea with Ariel, and Mickey’s Philharmagic. All very fun and classic Disney entertainment attractions.

It was time for lunch and my wife surprised me by suggestion Columbia Harbour House. The prices aren’t bad, for Disney food, and the quality of what they offer was really impressive! And, while most of the chicken and fish offerings are batter fried, I found them not to be too greasy. The atmosphere of the sit-down area is also impressive. Take some time to look around at the decor!

The rest of the day was a bit leisurely, a ride on the Mark Twain Riverboat was very nice, indeed. It was a good follow-up to that filling meal. I really like the gentle movement around Tom Sawyer’s Island. At that point, we all kind of split up into three groups. The wife and girls headed to Big Thunder and road at least three times in he afternoon. Once on Fastpass+, and twice in stand-by. I’m told the longest wait was about 30 minutes. My mother-in-law and son went to the Hall of Presidents. And, I took another trip up Main Street USA to the Harmony Barber Shop. I got my haircut, which was enjoyable and a nice birthday present to myself!

Splash Mountain was down for nearly an hour when I got back to Frontierland, via the Walt Disney World Railroad. I love the train ride!! I walked over the Adventureland and took my first ride on Pirates of the Caribbean for this trip. To my surprise, all of the special effects were working (they were not on our last visit in 2012). I really enjoyed this ride! My family caught up with me after, and we all did it together. The wait times were only 10 minutes. Save your Fastpass+ selections unless you are travelling during a busy season. A ride on The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, a stop at Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room finished this part of Adventure for this family.

Shortly after this, Splash Mountain was back up and running, so we got up and ran for it! We had a Fastpass, and were able to extend the time. Again, all of the effects were operating as they should be, and the ride was more enjoyable than I remember. This is a Must Do, in my opinion!

It was now time for our Fastpass+ on The Jingle Cruise. This is Disney World’s Christmas overlay for the Jungle Cruise. We had Skipper Xander, and he was very good! You could tell he loves what he is doing and is an a career path that is in forward motion! The decorations around the boat dock are fitting to the theme of the ride, and the jokes are actually pretty funny. I’ve seen many people talk about how “little” was done, but I think it’s worth a visit!

The best part of our night was dinner at ‘Ohana in the Polynesian Resort! The service, and food arrival, was a little slow at first, but then once things started showing up at the table, it was like a feasting marathon. If you don’t like to eat, don’t like meat, and don’t like feeling part of the family, this may not be the place for you! But, trust me, you HAVE to try ‘Ohana just once to have it become an instant favorite. We were able to see the high flying fireworks from Holiday Wishes! but, that was all since there was a big forty year old tree in the way. It’s being moved to make room for the DVC expansion soon.

Name that Dessert!
Name that Dessert!

That ended our night, and that ends this report. I will be breaking things down more, once I go back to that place I call home, but really isn’t!

For now, have a blessed and magical day!

Next stop: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Headlines from around WDW

Club Cool, at EPCOT has replaced most of the flavors from around the world for park guests to sample. However, The Beverly is still available. Drink up!

Club Cool

EPCOT will be testing the tiered Fastpass+ system. Beginning November 4, you will only be able to choose ONE headlining attraction. You will choose two more from the other attractions offered. Headliners are: Illuminations!, Test Track, Soarin’, Character Spot, and Maelstrom. The other attractions are: Captain EO, Journey into Imagination with Figment, Living with the Land, Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and Turtle Talk with Crush. This test isn’t for EVERYDAY, but will include most weekends and several days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. We’ll let you know how these tests are received.

Swan and Dolphin will begin ‘testing’ MagicBands this month as it appears the full roll-out is continuing.

Limited-Time Magic for this week is a behind the scenes tour of the Animal Care areas at Animal Kingdom. Sign up is done through the website. This looks like it could be very interesting!

Magic Kingdom will be making the change from Halloween to Christmas this week. The first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is November 8 beginning at 7pm.

Attractions closed for refurbishment are:

Peter Pan until November 13
It’s a small world will close December 2 – 12

Enjoy your week! I hope it is a blessed and magical one for you!

Fastpass+ Flexibility

As some may recall, a week back I had not been able to choose MagicBands (MBs), nor had I been able to access Fastpass+ (FP+) attractions. Well, an hour after I published that entry, I saw someone was wondering if you could pick FP+ without the MBs. Well, I was pretty sure that the answer was ‘no’, but I wanted to experiment to see for myself.

I got on (MDE) and clicked on the “Make FP+ Selections”. I was then surprised to find that it was allowing me to choose attractions for our upcoming visit to Walt Disney World! So, in the interest of gaining more knowledge, I decided to see if I was indeed able to select MBs. When the selection screen opened up, I had to wake my wife and kids to get our color choices made!

MB Turnstiles

Since that moment, I have been making FP+ selections, moving things around, changing time and then it hit me! One of the benefits of being able to use this new system is the ability to make things fit in a time order that makes sense.

If you are in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and you want to see Beauty and the Beast and Lights, Motors, Action! you can make sure that you don’t overlap the times. Do you have a meal time that conflicts with what FP+? Just take click on the attraction you have on your MDE mobile app, choose Change Time, and choose a time that fits better. This appears to be easier than trying to change those precious dining plans, especially if you have an ADR.

In the last week, I have changed a few times, and few attractions, to just see how it all works. So far, so good!

Overall, this is an impressive system. Sure, there may still be a few bugs to work out, but if it works as well during our next stay, I think it will be a lot of fun and a new level of magic!

Have a blessed and magical day, my friends!!