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NEWS: Disney reveals details on Walt Disney World MyMagic+


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As with everything, how good this will be will completely depend on the execution. And I'm sure there will be good and bad aspects to it, as there are with everything.

 

Overall, though, I love the idea of being able to get fastpasses on the phone or tablet. This would save us from having to run all over the park to get fastpasses, and would also allow us to get new ones as soon as they're available, rather than waiting until we're out of a queue or get to that section of the park. On my recent visit to the parks, I was bouncing all over the parks getting and using fastpasses. On the plus side, I lost some weight! On the minus side, I literally wore through a brand new pair of sneakers!

 

I loved the MyDisneyExperience app. I made extensive use of it on the 5 days I was there last week and the week before. Having the app tell both wait times and if and when the fastpasses were available for was a godsend. It was especially great that it told us when rides were down. It saved me lots of time in not having to cross the park to try to ride something only to find a long queue, or to find out that fastpasses were out. Or worse, to find out that a ride was down. And knowing when a down ride came back up made it possible to beat the crowds there.

 

I realize that this is still an early iteration of the app, but I was impressed with it so far.

 

The three main issues I had (note that this was the android version of the ap I was using, so I have no idea if any of this applies to the ios version):

 

1) While the wait times were usually pretty close to the posted ones, occasionally, they were way off. One time, the app showed Pooh with a 40 minute wait, while it had a posted time of 10 minutes and was actually walk-on. When I pointed this out to the person at the queue entrance, she told me that the wait times in the app and on the boards were on totally different systems, which I thought was pretty odd. I'd have thought that they would want the same info getting out there. That said, the vast majority of the time, the times were pretty in-sync, at least within 10 minutes or so. There were only occasionally major glitches like this one.

 

2) The most annoying thing about the app is that it won't actually give you wait times or fastpass times unless it knows for sure that you are actually on property. While, theoretically, that could be done via wi-fi, the app usually took a very long time to find you that way, because the app KEEPS CHECKING to see that you're on property. Realistically, you needed to have your GPS on, which, combined with the wi-fi, really drained my phone's battery a lot. I had to keep shutting off the GPS, and often the phone itself to enable me to use the phone all day. I'm sure that they're doing this to try to keep outside websites from getting the park's wait time information, but it is bad for the user.

 

3) There's no obvious way to refresh wait times in the app, at least that I could find. Sometimes it would refresh on its own, but other times, it would be showing the same times for 30 minutes or more. (In some cases, it showed fastpass return times that were actually before the current time!) The best way I found to do it was to switch the park in the app and then switch back, but when the wi-fi was weak, that could sometimes take a while. And sometimes, that didn't do it either, and I'd have to close and reopen the app. A simple refresh button would help a lot.

 

Still, none of these problems was actually major. And I was really impressed with the app so far. I fully understand that this is still a very early version of an app that will be getting MUCH more robust very soon.

 

I was also impressed by how extensive the free wifi was at all 4 parks. I have a pay-as-you-go plan on my phone, and data is ridiculously expensive on it. So, I stuck with the wi-fi, expecting to not get much use of it in the park. And while the coverage did go in and out as you travelled through the parks (as expected), I was pretty surprised at how much of the park was actually covered, and often in surprising places. Unless you were on a ride or in a deep queue, you were pretty much always within a 2 minute walk of at least ok wi-fi coverage.

 

Also, pretty much everywhere at all of the parks is equipped with rfid chip readers now. So, if you're staying on property, you can already keep your cash at home. There were also dedicated rfid lanes at the admission of the parks (they're also using the chips on all admission tickets sold at the parks now,) but there wasn't really noticeable signage to indicate this. I saw a lot of people with regular tickets trying to use the wrong line.

 

What this early rollout tells me is that Disney has done their research on this. While I'm sure that not all of us will like every single aspect of the new systems, I think that there will be a lot more good than bad. And for the vast majority of guests, it will be a major improvement.

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2) The most annoying thing about the app is that it won't actually give you wait times or fastpass times unless it knows for sure that you are actually on property. While, theoretically, that could be done via wi-fi, the app usually took a very long time to find you that way, because the app KEEPS CHECKING to see that you're on property. Realistically, you needed to have your GPS on, which, combined with the wi-fi, really drained my phone's battery a lot. I had to keep shutting off the GPS, and often the phone itself to enable me to use the phone all day. I'm sure that they're doing this to try to keep outside websites from getting the park's wait time information, but it is bad for the user.

Weird. Because on the iOS version of the app I can get the wait times and FastPass availability right now from my house.

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Edited by robbalvey
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That's weird. I'd say it was an android thing, but if it's showing up on the galaxy nexus, then that wouldn't apply. Unless they've updated the app or something since then.

 

When I was in the parks, at first, at least, if the GPS wasn't on, it would wait until it located me via wi-fi to let me have the wait times. Until it did, it would give me a message that said something like "function disabled" saying that it was only available if you were at the parks.

 

The only thing I can think if is that maybe it was because at first I was going though the "here and now" function, which is what an employee told me to do. They said that was how you got wait times, because when I would click on the parks themselves, it would just give me generic details about the rides, without the wait times. Maybe that was because I didn't have a great wi-fi connection at those points and it hadn't downloaded the times yet?

 

Maybe later at other times when the wi-fi was better connected, it was giving me the wait times without needing the "here and now" function, but with here and now, you needed the GPS? At other times, I would just click on the park, and I'd get the wait times, but I always had the GPS fuction on at that point, because it hadn't worked a bunch of times without it. But I definitely kept getting the icon saying it was checking the GPS location.

 

I'm guessing that the main problem was that I was doing what the employee told me was necessary to get the wait times and mostly used the here and now function, which wasn't actually necessary and needed the GPS. I probably should have done what I usually do with software and just figured it out myself. But I wanted to get going into the park, so I asked for help!

 

Weird. But if it doesn't need the GPS, that's a good thing. I don't need the "here and now" function anyways. I know where most things are and what's nearby!

 

Still, that takes care of what was probably my biggest complaint about the app. As I said, all in all, it was a really good expereince, especially for an early version of the app, with much bigger things to come.

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I wonder if Disney are tracking the number of 'absences' for Fastpass return? While I doubt they'd want to penalise guests who missed their Fastpass time, perhaps this could lead to more Fastpasses being made available overall, similar to the way airlines deliberately overbook flights to cover cancellations/no-shows.

 

Can't wait to get a chance to try this out - as much as I enjoy being impulsive in parks, knowing that I don't need to run around collecting Fastpass tickets in order to get on the major rides will definitely make for a better experience.

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I wonder if Disney are tracking the number of 'absences' for Fastpass return? While I doubt they'd want to penalise guests who missed their Fastpass time, perhaps this could lead to more Fastpasses being made available overall, similar to the way airlines deliberately overbook flights to cover cancellations/no-shows.

 

Can't wait to get a chance to try this out - as much as I enjoy being impulsive in parks, knowing that I don't need to run around collecting Fastpass tickets in order to get on the major rides will definitely make for a better experience.

 

As of now, with the paper tickets, they give out as many as they think is a good number accounting for people who will possibly not return. But its more of a guessing game as it stands now. But with the new Fastpass system, they will be able to get accurate numbers and tweak the system even more to get the most out of it. Also, with the ability to change your Fastpass on the fly, there also could be less people who miss their reservation time.

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^^ That is correct. They can also input the number of trains that are on say a roller coaster at a certain time so it is taking into account the capacity that the ride is running. Also, they enter downtime information so again the distrubation can be adjusted to handle the larger crowds once the ride reopens.

 

As for the app... make sure you are using the newer "My Disney Experience" app. It looks nearly identical to the older "Disney Parks/Mobile Magic." I had the same issue - I can see WDW from my house but couldn't get wait times until someone pointed out I was using an older app. And I should note on the My Disney Experience app I don't have the location turned on either and it still works. Hope that helps!

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I am glad to hear the news for APs as I will be getting a WDW AP soon for my summer trip. I am more and more liking the idea of being able to reserve FP ahead of time!

 

At first I thought the bands were lame but when I think about it, I don't like to always a bring a purse with me and my DL AP falls out of my pocket or bra all the time.

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It looks like I may be going to WDW in a few months with some friends, and we'll be staying onsite. Given that none of us have a smartphone, if we're selected to try the MagicBands, would we be able to obtain Fastpasses? I'm pretty sure that the distribution machines aren't compatible with the MagicBands, and I don't want to miss out on getting something that could help us enjoy the parks more.

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So I've been at WDW parks for the last two days, and I can say that I am definitely looking forward to being able to try MyMagic+. The way Disney is using RFID for everything from fast pass, admissions, payments, Test Track car design, and even Be Our Guest orders really means the possibilities are endless as to how convenient this can be for anyone using it!

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I have a question. If you stay off property and have a My Disney Experience account and the app, can i get fastpasses and make reservations?

 

That is one of the details that is to be determined. I would imagine they initial rollout will be to resort guests, followed by annual pass holders, and then finally trickling down to multi-day ticket holders.

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^ Of course, in order for it to work, you'll most likely have to buy your tickets directly from Disney in advance. Theoretically, they should be able to allow you to book your fastpasses and the like in advance, and then link your profile with future tickets that you buy, but I don't think that will happen, at least not for quite a while.

 

So, no more cheaper tickets from other companies! Not if you want to use all of the advance features, at least. And right now, tickets bought from other retailers (even official ones) still do not have the chips embedded in them.

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^ During the testing period that we were part of, if you didn't get a ticket with an RFID chip built in, they applied a sticker to your existing ticket, so you'd be able to use the RFID features. You can see the stickers in this update we did from fall of 2011 (Just goes to show you how long this system has been in development and testing for!)

 

Link: http://www.themeparkreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1110741#p1110741

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Yeah, they can add the sticker to your ticket. But if you don't already have a ticket purchased when you want to start reserving your fastpasses, will you be able to do so, and then have that info transferred to the new sticker on the ticket?

 

I'm sure it's possible to do. But will Disney go to the effort to give access to this feature to guests who aren't ideal?

 

We'll see, I guess. If not, then I'll just have to make sure to get my tickets form them online in advance in the future.

 

Still, it was nice saving a few bucks AND getting an extra day on my recent visit by buying from an authorized ticket reseller. It still worked in their favor, because I paid for parking and food on that extra day.

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I'm sure it's possible to do. But will Disney go to the effort to give access to this feature to guests who aren't ideal?

I don't understand why people keep second guessing Disney like this. Do you honestly believe that Disney would create a system that would make the guest experience crappy for ANYONE? That's not their goal.

 

Disney looks at EVERY guest as a potential "resort guest" - whether it's someone staying on property NOW or someone who may stay on property during their next visit in ten years. They want to satisfy EVERYONE.

 

To answer your question, no, I don't know how it's going to work under the conditions you mentioned. All I know is that Disney isn't going to create a system that will piss people off so much that they don't want to come back. If anything, however it's going to work should produce the opposite.

 

--Robb

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I would imagine that the system will allow anyone to reserve fastpasses, but also make you verify at some point you are actually a ticket holder so you don't clog up the system. It's not exactly difficult to say "purchase your ticket by this time...enter your barcode to verify."

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I would imagine that the system will allow anyone to reserve fastpasses, but also make you verify at some point you are actually a ticket holder so you don't clog up the system. It's not exactly difficult to say "purchase your ticket by this time...enter your barcode to verify."

I also assume there will be some calculation that will allow a certain amount of FastPasses to be available each day only on that day. It could be as simple as 50% of the Fastpasses are available ahead of time, and then the other 50% become unlocked each day so that those people who are only visiting the parks one day, or even people who want to change their reservation have times open that they can do so.

 

It annoys me greatly that people keep making assumptions that, in the 5+ years Disney has been developing this system, Disney hasn't thought about all these different things.

 

I'm looking forward to this system because I think it will bring an amazing balance to guest services, and the possibilities of it are wide open. But really, if this system makes it so I don't have to "grab everyone's tickets, and go get a FastPass, and meet you guys at the exit of another attraction, I'm ALL FOR IT!" And you know what I'm talking about, because we've all done this!

 

Just imagine instead of having to "run for FastPasses", we're all on our iPhones at a restaurant looking at the app, and you say "Ok, Space Mountain is available for 7:30pm. Everyone go reserve a FastPass!" To me that, sounds MUCH better than the running around the park with 20 tickets and then running back to meet up with your group.

 

--Robb

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But really, if this system makes it so I don't have to "grab everyone's tickets, and go get a FastPass, and meet you guys at the exit of another attraction, I'm ALL FOR IT!" And you know what I'm talking about, because we've all done this!

 

I know exactly what you are talking about. I was the guy in the group who knew where everything was so I ran to get the fastpasses.

 

Just the other day I had to explain the FastPass system to some friends who were going to WDW for the first time. They did not understand it was free. Now I will have to try to explain the new system. Maybe Disney will have a FastPass+ 101 class. I really think Disney will make the new system work and I'm not sure why people are worried about it.

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Just imagine instead of having to "run for FastPasses", we're all on our iPhones at a restaurant looking at the app, and you say "Ok, Space Mountain is available for 7:30pm. Everyone go reserve a FastPass!" To me that, sounds MUCH better than the running around the park with 20 tickets and then running back to meet up with your group.

 

--Robb

 

But how will we be in a restaurant? ADR's made it impossible to ever eat on property!

 

Disney is not stupid. What Robb described above is exactly why I'm all for this program. The thing with Disney is that if something ends up not working, they change it. They are constantly evaluating and improving the guest experience. They've been doing this for a long, long, time.

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