MyMagic+ Review: A Game Changer?

Buzz and I were finally able to reunite for Spring Break; after months of not seeing each other we were able to return to WDW our home away from home. And I’m sure that all of you would love to hear about all the details about our spring break, this article is actually regarding all things MyMagic+. When Buzz and I left after finishing our College Programs Disney was just beginning to test MyMagic+. And now almost a year later Disney has rolled out MagicBands, Fastpass+, and the My Disney Experience app. So Buzz and I decided that we were going to take on Magic Kingdom as full-on tourists.

See! We're Disneybounding tourists!

See! We’re Disneybounding tourists!

We booked a 2 night stay at Pop Century Resort, had a 1 day ticket to the Magic Kingdom, and customized our MagicBands ahead of time! About 2 weeks before our arrival date, Buzz received our MagicBands. However, because of her school and a little bit of miscommunication in the mailroom, the MagicBands were lost. I called Disney regarding the MagicBands, and they immediately sent out new ones and cancelled out our old ones. Funny enough the mail room found the first MagicBands an hour after we called to order our new ones.

Our MagicBands! They finally arrived :)

Our MagicBands! They finally arrived 🙂

A few days before our trip we decided to switch resorts from Caribbean Beach to Pop Century. Once again, Disney made this transition extremely easy and we were able to keep our MagicBands. We had done online check-in before we had arrived, which made check-in super quick and easy. Disney resorts no longer encode Key to the World cards, so everything is now on MagicBands when you are staying at a Disney resort. This includes charging privileges, room key, park tickets, photopass, and FP+. After we checked in we went to our room and dropped off our stuff— good news our MagicBands worked!

Once we left our room we headed over to Art of Animation to grab a quick bite and explore the resort. In terms of decoration, Art is definitely my favorite themed value resort; it’s a great place to walk around and you feel exactly how Disney wants you to, like you are in the movie with your favorite Disney Characters! And if y’all haven’t seen Art of Animation yet, I would definitely recommend heading over and just walking around the resort. After our stroll we decided to head to Downtown Disney. With all the new construction for the parking garage and the upcoming revival of DD into Disney Springs, it was difficult to find parking. However, once we did find a spot we checked out our favorite shopping district. Team Mickey had already been closed and was under refurbishment to become the new Marketplace Co-Op (click here about the new shops coming to Disney Springs). But all of our favorites were still there, yes Basin White, Earl of Sandwich, and Trend-D, I am talking to you!

Once we had sufficiently wiped ourselves out we headed back to the resort and decided to buy some refillable mugs. For those of you who don’t know, all the mugs on property and just regular cups as well, have RFID tags in the bottom. Meaning, the mugs and cups had chips at the bottom that the drink machines can read, allowing you to refill your mug/cup for a certain amount of time. We did have a few issues when we tried to buy the mugs. Apparently, buying a mug is a very technical process now. Once I reached the register I told the Cast Member I wanted to buy a 3-day usage for my mug, just an FYI it was about 10 at night. The Cast Member was a little distressed about this only because she wasn’t sure if by buying this option so late at night if the cup would work on our last day, so she made sure that I knew to keep my receipt in case anything happened.  I used my MagicBand to buy my mug and then went to fill it. Once I reached the drink station the machine kept telling me my mug was expired, which I knew wasn’t right seeing as how I just bought a few days for it. So I went back to the Cast Member where Buzz was waiting and the CM said that she forgot to code the mug. So she placed it on a sensor and coded it. Once I went back the mug was able to be refilled for another 14 days. I don’t know how that happened, and there isn’t an option to have the mug be refillable for 14 days so I just went with it. Funny enough the same thing happened to Buzz, but when she tried to pay for her mug it wouldn’t work. The CM forgot to set up a PIN for Buzz when we added her credit card on the transaction, and since I already had one set up mine worked, but she never had a PIN under her name before. So I bought the mug for her since we didn’t have our wallets with us because our MagicBands were our wallets at that moment.

Once we filled our mugs we went back to the front desk and set-up a PIN for Buzz. The Cast Member was extremely helpful and ensured us that there wouldn’t be any issues with our MagicBands and their PINs. I don’t blame the Cast Member’s at all because this is still an extremely new program and there are a lot of steps to take to ensure that every part of the MyMagic+ experience is seamless for guests.

The next day was our one and only day in the parks, and that day would be spent at the Magic Kingdom! We woke up mighty early and grabbed breakfast at the Pop Food Court, and went to the bus stop an hour before park open. When we arrived at the Magic Kingdom our bus stopped at the new MK bus stop. I just have to say it doesn’t look new at all, which I love it is themes exactly like the other stop, and there aren’t buses everywhere trying to get around each other which is fantastic. Anyways, I made sure we had our plastic tickets with us in case our MagicBands did not work. Luckily, we didn’t have any issues with entering the park with our bands and were able to get into the park far more easily than we would have with the old paper and plastic ticket machines.

We arrived so early to watch the Opening show, which in my opinion is totally worth getting to the park before opening.

park open 1 park open 2

Mary Poppins and Stitch? What an odd combination...

Mary Poppins and Stitch? What an odd combination…

We were figuring out our game plan for the day because we had three FP+ set up for the day: Space Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. So we decided to hit Adventureland and ride Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise, after that we just wandered the park and rode all the rides we wanted! It was busy so we did have to wait in line for most of them, but the lines were not too bad. Then the moment of truth came and it was time for our first FP at Space Mountain. We headed over and there was a small line of people getting ready to scan their MagicBands for their FP’s as well. The system actually worked far better than I expected, and almost all of the guests knew exactly what to do, which surprised me. After touching our bands to the Mickey poles we got the green light to go and started walking down the queue. We definitely noticed the difference between the old FP line and the new one. There were hardly any people in the FP queue when just a year ago you would have to wait in line for a couple of minutes for Space Mountain, even if you had a paper fastpass. Once you reach the end of the queue you touch your band to another pole, and it reads that you used your fast pass. I will admit that it was weird not holding anything in my hand, I kept thinking I was forgetting something, but fear not everything you need is on your wrist.

Following our first FP+ adventure we headed to other rides and then utilized our other two fast passes throughout the day. Overall, they were efficient and easy. You don’t have to go searching for your fast pass in your wallet or pocket because it’s on your wrist at all times. And if you ever do want to change your times or rides for your FP’s, you can do so on the My Disney Experience app (which is advertised everywhere) or by waiting in line at a select location so a Fastpass+ Cast Member can help you make selections.

We finished our day at the Magic Kingdom when the park closed and checked out the day after. Your MagicBand expires when you checkout, and since we did express checkout I believe our bands expired at 11 a.m. So make sure you have everything out of your room and bought everything you want with your band or else it will no longer work for you.

My overall impression as a full-on guest staying on-site for vacation and utilizing the MagicBands is that Disney definitely has something going for them. We used our bands for everything you could use them for, except for Photopass. There are definitely some kinks, that I believe they will need to work out; ie. PINs, multiple bands per person (I already have 4 bands altogether), and FP+. They worked wonderfully for us, and I did notice a difference in line wait times. The fast pass lines are no longer extremely long and the stand-by queues short, giving a false impression of a short wait time to guests. It will be more difficult for guests to abuse the system, which if I’m completely honest is likely a major reason why fastpass+ works how it does (this is my opinion). I do believe that more options need to be available to guests in terms of the amount of FP’s you receive and what rides you can choose. At Magic Kingdom you can choose 2 high level attractions, and 1 lower level (think Mad Tea Party or Mickey’s Philharmagic). Yet, at Epcot and, I believe, DHS and DAK you can only choose 1 high level and 2 low level attractions. I personally find it frustrating that you are limited to only 3 FP in one day and CANNOT park hop. However, I am hoping that once MyMagic+ has gotten more stable and the technology for it has been tested and tested until the folks at Disney start pulling out their hair, then maybe they will add FP’s per day and allow park hopping with them. But until that day comes, Disney has created a game changer once again, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

-Woody

Have you tested or used any of MyMagic+? Did you have a great or lousy experience with it? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter, or in an email!

Advertisements

Custodial Cast Member Creates a Magical Moment

The following story was sent in by Katie from California.  This is her most memorable magical moment at Walt Disney World.

I was roommates with Buzz and Woody during their Disney College Program and spent many glorious days in the parks with friends, as well as on my own.  One of the “magical moments” that happened to me occurred while I was killing a few hours before my shift in Tomorrowland at “Stitch’s Great Escape.”

I was over in Fantasyland, hoping to ride the Carousel and “it’s a small world.” I absolutely love these attractions.  When I looked around, I saw a custodial cast member doing something a bit out of the ordinary.  Instead of sweeping up garbage with his broom and dust pan, he was painting with them on the pavement.

There was no one else around, watching him, at the time.  There was just me and I knew something was up.  I saw him draw a big circle and then a smaller one.  Then, he turned to me and asked if I wanted to help him draw Mickey!  I was surprised that I was being chosen to help with this “water art” (I learned later on that this was the proper term for what was happening).  It was a simple act that completely made my day.  This Mickey we painted was not perfect, but it was beautiful to me.  It also made me appreciate other Cast Members for the jobs that they do.  This particular custodian made my day just by letting me help create a temporary masterpiece on the pavement of Fantasyland.

I think magic is made in all sorts of ways.  It can be as small as helping make water art or as large as spending the night in the Cinderella Castle Suite.  Regardless, when at Disney, I think it’s important to realize just how much magic is surrounding you.  Especially in the smallest gestures.

-Katie

 

Do you have a story like Katie’s that you want to share?  We would love to hear all about it!  Email us (disneytoinfinityandbeyond13@gmail.com) your stories today. °o°

The Experience of a Disney College Program Alumni

The following story was sent to us by Evan from Alabama.  He is a Disney College Program Alumni and I had the privilege of working with Evan as a lifeguard and became good friends him very quickly.  Take a look at his experiences and adventures he encountered along the way.  Enjoy!  -Buzz
“My Life in the Disney College Program”
There is only one big reason on why I think 2013 was the best year of my life.  This was the year I got to work for the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida by participation in the Disney College Program.  During my program, I made so many friends, found out who my favorite character is, and had the time of my life.  My original program dates were January 21st through August 9th and during that time I was a lifeguard at the Caribbean Beach Resort.  While working at the Caribbean Beach, I met and made my first group of friends.  Because of the program, I was able to make friends from around the country.  Two of my roommates were from England and another was from Thailand.
In my attempts to get used to the Disney life I went to Magic Kingdom and found out who my favorite character is.  Watching the “Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Street Party” parade,  the one  character that stood out to me was the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.   He reminded me of myself.  After seeing him pretty much every off day in the Magic Kingdom, I ended up with the Johnny Depp version of the Mad Hatter’s hat.
I, then, had the privilege of extending my college program from August 9th to December 6th.  I ended up working at Walt Disney World for almost a year.  This made me extremely happy because that meant I got to see the Mad Hatter more often.  When I did extend my college program I got relocated to Typhoon Lagoon working as a slide operator.  But,  unfortunately I worked there for about two months before they closed to refurbish the park.  After Typhoon Lagoon closed for refurbishments, I got deployed to “Toy Story Midway Mania” at Hollywood Studios and became one of Andy’s toys.
Working for The Walt Disney Company has its advantages and disadvantages.  One of the advantages was that I got to celebrate every holiday at Walt Disney World, except christmas, because I finished my program on December 6th.  Another advantage was that I got to celebrate my 21st birthday at Walt Disney World.  On my birthday my parents, grandparents, and I ate at Cinderella’s Royal Table.  My mom surprised me when the waiter brought out my birthday cake, which was a chocolate Mickey Mouse head.  One of the disadvantages is that one would be celebrating holidays without other family members, but it makes up for itself for letting you celebrate with your new Disney family.
One of my favorite holidays at Walt Disney World was Halloween.  Fortunately for  me,  Friday the 13th was in October and Hollywood Studios got taken over by Hades from Hercules and 13 other Disney villains.  And my parents, my brother, his girlfriend, and I went to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  Like everyone else, we dressed up and, of course, I dressed up as my favorite  Disney character, the Mad Hatter.
While I was working at “Toy Story Mania,” I got to work three shifts at the “Osborne Dancing of Spectacle Lights” during Christmas.  I got to go to the cast member preview and the dancing lights are the best christmas lights I have ever seen.
I  intend on moving back down to Orlando to work for the Walt Disney Company full-time.  It is the best place to work  and has so many benefits from working there.  There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thinking of something Disney related, whether it’s my friends and roommates, going to the parks, or seeing  the Mad Hatter.  I miss my entire Disney family dearly and it’s like Mickey Mouse says “see ya real soon”.
Evan
Do you have a Disney memory, story, or experience you want to share?  Send them to us at disneytoinfinityandbeyond13@gmail.com and we will share them.    

Light Up the Night with Glow with the Show- Fantasmic Style

Recently, a few months ago, I ventured back to Walt Disney World on vacation (because you can never have enough Disney in your life). Anyway, day two of this trip was spent at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and, while by far I have ventured into this park more than the other three combined during my time as a cast member, (this may come as a shock to many of you) I had never seen Fantasmic before. Now, most of my friends and my fellow bloggers call me insane, lifeless, and said I was missing out on the best show of the three nighttime shows at the parks (Wishes/Illuminations). So, in October, I finally had the chance to see what I was missing…

And wow were they right!

fantasmic

However, no matter what, Wishes will always hold the most special place in my heart, no doubt about it (makes me cry all the time and means the most emotionally to me). Fantasmic is visually stunning and definitely the most “epic” [actual] show of the three… Plus it incorporates the villains, which I absolutely LOVE.

fantasmic 2

What made this even more special, though, was that the showing I saw was the first of a brand new running of shows with the all-new “glow with the show” ears. While I was watching Fantasmic, I noticed the ears lighting up and matching what was going on throughout the show and I thought “wow what a great touch. That’s why Disney is the best. They always go the extra mile.” The next day I woke up after over sleeping (too much pixie dust) to a text from Woody telling me I was at the first “Glow with the Show” installment of Fantasmic and after having it explained to me, I thought that was pretty cool and I was a part of history. But, don’t let my words speak for the magic be sure to watch it yourself!

Fantasmic occurs twice a night, every night, at Hollywood Studios. My word of advice, wait for the second show. When you go to the second show, come and wait in the area outside the stadium around 45 mins earlier maybe if you can crack through the crowd or sprint your way through you can start waiting a little later… My Reason for this advice is A) The obvious you have more time to walk around the park and have fun with all the other attractions and B) When I attempted the 7 o’clock show, I walked into the stadium about 20-25 mins beforehand and there was absolutely no seating at all and only standing room available, but when I went to the 9 o’clock show, I only waited a little bit and this is what I got…

fantasmic 3

dead center (not too bad, huh?). In addition to more elbow room, my guess is that being later at night helps it a lot visually, although I havent seen it at 7 (sunset), so its your guess and choice. 🙂

Enjoy the show and hope I helped!

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality” -Walt Disney

– Mike

My Christmas in the Mouse’s House

20131125-183128.jpg
Well all of the gorgeous Christmas decorations are adorning the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort at the moment! Christmastime is definitely my favorite time to visit WDW. It’s completely magical; there are gorgeous lights, fake snow, characters wearing their Christmas best, and of course Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! Last year I was lucky enough to enjoy my first MVMCP–that I actually remember– and it was wonderful!
The parade was completely wonderful and so much fun! The fireworks were mesmerizing and the music perfect. However, my favorite part was seeing the castle completely decorated with the most beautiful lights. It was such a magical moment for me walking toward the castle that has been so iconic throughout my life, and having it be decorated for the holiday. It made me feel as if I was in a dream or a fantasy of some sort.
I realized how lucky I would be when I would call WDW my home for the next several months during my CP, and made me love Disney even more!
Unfortunately, I am unable to visit WDW during this holiday season. But I will definitely be thinking about my home away from home, and that magical moment of seeing Cinderella Castle lit up for the first time in my life!
– Woody

20131125-183018.jpg