January 26, 2014

Four Weeks to Disney: Scheduled

I’ll admit, with the cost of a Disney vacation, I’ve spent a lot of time planning our trip. I was pretty sure we were going to follow a touring plan, but as I tried to plan one out, I realized that I was getting far to obsessed with the tiny minutia of our trip. Did it matter what time we rode Dumbo? Probably not, as long as the line was a length we were willing to stand in.

When I planned our last trip, you had to reserve very few things in advance. Nine years ago, you needed to reserve your room and the more popular character meals (with Cinderella’s Royal Table taking precedence and requiring an early morning phone call 180 days in advance).

But, as is no surprise, Disney has changed a lot in nine years and as I started to plan our upcoming trip I noticed that it was recommended to have a reservation at ANY sit down restaurant and to get popular choices, making those reservations 180 days in advance was an absolute must.  If you are a Disney resort guest, you have the  privilege of making your reservations for just about your length of stay (180+10 days out).  At my 180 day mark, I woke up early and booked  a week’s worth of sit down dinners, hoping that I’d picked the right park on the right days and the right meals at the right times.

Since oringally booking our trip, Disney has now rolled at FastPass+.  FastPass+ replaces Disney’s old FastPass system.  At 60 days before your trip (60+10, actually) you can pre-sechedule all your rides.  What is FastPass anyhow?  If you’ve spent any time planning a Disney vacation, you know. FastPass is Disney’s ride reservation system, basically.  Previously, you would approach a ride that offered FastPass and pull a paper slip giving you a return time.  When you return time arrived, you could show up to the ride and bypass the people standing in the traditional line, decreasing your wait and allowing you to ride other attractions during your wait.  Disney’s new FastPass+ still offers that same benefit and it still allows you to bypass the traditional stand-by line.  Traditional FastPass is disappearing from the parks, leaving only pre-scheduled FastPass+ as your option to bypassing traditional lines.

FastPass+ reservations can be made by resort guests 60 days (+10) by using the Walt Disney World website OR the My Disney Experience app for smart devices.  Day guests can use My Disney Experience to book their FastPass+ once they’ve purchased their tickets and there are also kiosks in park for people who don’t have smart devices to make their reservations as well.  Additionally, two parks at the Walt Disney Resort feature “tiering” allowing you to only select ONE headliner ride for one of your three available FastPass+ spots.  Planning gets even more difficult when you must weigh if you think your family would rather have a confirmed ride on Test Track or Soarin’ at Disney’s EPCOT.

I admit to being a little apprehensive about the amount of pre-scheduling we’ve had to do.  I know that we’re not obligated to pencil in ANYTHING and can take our chances with stand-by lines.  But, like every other visitor to Disney parks, I want to experience the most possible and I don’t really like taking chances.    There are things I know we all will really WANT to do and that means trying to decide if we’ll want to ride Peter Pan on Monday or Thursday or both.

I realized that both of my Disney posts, thus far, sound a little bit like downers.  They’re really not.  A Disney vacation is a large expense and I think it’s impotant to have as much information as possible.  There’s no way, yet, to really tell how the changes to FastPass and FastPass+ will affect how people ride and how long ride time waits will be.  I’ll be sure to report back after our trip.

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Jamie

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2 thoughts on “Four Weeks to Disney: Scheduled

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    Jamie,

    We were just there.. The FastPass+ was invaluable! Use it. Ride TestTrack over Soarin’ (they were both great, but our family of 5 thought TestTrack was better!) and if you are staying at the resorts, take full advantage of the Magic Hours. We got to ride quite a few rides that we wouldn’t have had a chance to get on if we would’ve gotten there later.

    If you have questions, call me or message me.. .would love to help! Disney was awesome, but exhausting!

      Author’s gravatar

      My initial thought was that we’d go right from our 8 am breakfast in Norway to Test Track an ride it standby. I was figuring the line would be short enough that we wouldn’t mind the wait. Soarin’ seems more difficult to do that with. However, the girls desire to meet Elsa and Anna are overriding my ride plans and it sounds like we’re going to get in line to meet them right after breakfast so we only have to wait two (!) hours to do that.

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