There has been a lot of talk lately on all the Disney sites and message boards about Magic Bands and Fast Pass Plus (FP+). With information floating around the web it’s only natural that military members would start to question how this new technology will effect them.
I started getting questions on this a few months ago and your interest has grown since then to the point where I get asked about this several times a day. So in the interest of getting the (limited) word out I decided to do this post.
What The Heck Is This Stuff?
Magic Bands and FP+ are part of Disney’s next generation experience.
Disney’s “next generation experience,” or “NextGen,” project is a technology project meant to “radically transform the theme-park experience.”
Fast Pass Plus – Is a new Fast Pass system meant to augment the current system. THe FP+ system will allow users to request ahead of time, wile still planning their vacations, Fast Pass return times
Magic Bands - Are wrist watch looking devices which contain a RFID chip. These will potentially allow a myriad of uses including, acting as your room key, park tickets, room charge device, FastPass and FastPass+ token to name a few.
RFID Tickets – Old style tickets which have all the same potential as the Magic Bands due to their RFID Transmitter.
Key to the World – (KTTW) A benefit that all non-military discount guests have always had, where their room key acts as their park tickets as well so they dont have to carry around two sets. Military tickets have never been able to be linked to the KTTW.
My Disney Experience – Disney World’s new Website/App for managing your Next Gen experience. You can make resort reservations (not military discounted), dining reservations, do planning, and make your FP+ reservations using the site or app.
Over the last year there has been a lot of hype about the RFID Tickets and the Magic Bands. WDW is in a slow process of testing and converting over to the RFID Ticket so that all tickets now issued (including Disney Armed Forces Salute tickets) are of this type. Military, Shades of Green, Swan and Dolphin, and day guests will continue to to use these tickets even after Magic Band implementation.
Next is the testing and conversion to the Magic Bands for Disney Resort Guests and passholders. A couple of months ago WDW did a 3-daytest at a few resorts. Those who checked in on those 3 days were given Magic Bands vs. a room key.
They have now moved on to the next phase which is running this month and next for guests at several resorts.
Because of this testing the Bands have been on all the Disney sites recently and people are starting to assume they are good to go.
But one Disney World Castmembe in the know said:
“The whole implementation of the next gen project is like trying to start up a railroad while still building the locomotive…”
I have to emphasize to you all that Disney is still in the earlier stages of their testing and it will be a while yet before we see full implementation.
While Disney is trying to get the very basics of this technology they haven’t put any time into solving the very real and inconvieniencing issues that this will cause for the military traveler.
Key to the World/Magic Bands – this is an old issue, Those using the Disney Armed Forces Salute room rates and tickets have never been allowed to combine their tickets into their KTTW. Disney classifies the Salute room rate as a “Room Only” rate. Normally general public guests buy full price Magic Your Way tickets with their room and both are placed on the KTTW. But a Room Only rate means only the Room on the Key, whether a plastic room key or a Magic Band.
Fast Pass Plus – In order to qualify to select FP+ reservations in My Disney Experience you need to have a ticket “Linked” for each person you want to make FP+ reservations for. This presents a problem for those military travelers who want to use the Disney Armed Forces Salute tickets.
Using these tickets you have two options dependent on your location:
1). You could buy them ahead of time on base if you are near one, or buy them once you arrive from either Disney or Shades of Green.
The problem is linking the tickets. Tickets purchased on base are not the the physical tickets that you will use once you are at WDW, you’ll exchange the ones you get on base for real tickets during the activation process. So the problem is you could link these in MDE, but any FP+ reservations you make will be tied to that ticket number and not that of the ticket you’ll use in the parks, so NO FP+ for you…
2). You could buy them once on property. With no tickets in hand to link you can’r make FP+ reservations.
Once you have your actual tickets in hand at WDW you can link them, but all the FP+ return times will most likely be gone by then.
Disney is aware of the issue and has told me that when the system comes on line, that we will not be excluded from getting FP+ reservations ahead of time.
In the mean time, remember, they are just testing and trying to get the kinks worked out of the basic system before, hopefully fixing the smaller issues.
I know it may not seem like a small issue to you that everyone else in staying your resort had the opportunity to get their FP+s months before you arrived, believe me I know I’m in the same boat.
I’ll soon be heading to WDW with my family and the resort we will be staying at is one that is testing the Magic Bands.
I was contacted by my Travel Agent, Amy from Ears of Experience, who notified me that we’d be participating in the test. She said to go to MDE and customize our Magic Bands. If you make your reservation early enough they will be mailed to you, if not you’ll pick them up at check in. Ahead of time you can select your own color, if you get them at check in they will be grey. The available colors are red, blue, green, yellow, purple, pink, and grey. Your first name is also printed on the band.
I customized ours online by the deadline Disney set, after which they were mailed to my house.
I have a Florida Resident Seasonal Pass because of the number of days during the year I have to go to WDW. This ticket was already linked to my MDE account. BUt the rest of my party will be using the Salute tickets and we are buying them once we get there.
So in MDE, I could make FP+ reservations for myself for each day of our trip. You simply select 3 attractions in 1 park per day and the system assigns you return times. But with no tickets my guests couldn’t so I’d be riding by myself…
I’m going to report back on the full experience using the Magic Bands, so be sure to look for that mid October!
Your Thoughts and Experiences
Please share your thoughts and experiences with Magic Bands, Fast Pass Plus, and My Disney Experience in the comments below!
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