15 Tips for MagicBand and FastPass+ at Disney World

PreschoolearsMagicBandTips

Disney World has turned high tech with MagicBands, FastPass+ and the My Disney Experience app. Their new system is designed to make your visit to the happiest place on earth as easy and simple as possible! While it is quite slick, you have to get to know the system a bit to make it truly easy and seamless. We were newbies on our last trip to the world with the new system, but after two weeks, we consider ourselves pros on it now. We would like to share our 15 top tips and advice for using the MagicBands, FastPass+ and the My Disney Experience app for families.

Keep in mind that MagicBands are free for guests staying on Disney property with purchased park tickets. If you are staying off property, you can still purchase a MagicBand if you have park tickets or use paper tickets for FastPasses.

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  1. On the My Disney Experience website, make sure all family members in your party are linked together. This will make it simple for one person to make all the FastPass choices and reservations for everyone.
  2. Customize your MagicBands on My Disney Experience by color and name. Each person can have their own color and their name is printed on the underside of the band. Also, the bands come in one size BUT you can remove the gray surround to make the overall band smaller for kids. They are meant to be adjustable this way.
  3. Wear them all the time. They can go swimming with you and get wet – no biggy! Get used to having them on so that you are never without them. They are your key to your room as well as your pass to the park as well as your FP for your next ride as well as linking your photos to your Memory Maker. And you can charge things at dining and shopping from your band. So with all that linked to one band, you better keep it on ALL THE TIME!
  4. Schedule your FastPass+ right when your window opens. Don’t wait on this one because times are being taken quickly especially during busier times of year. And the hottest FastPasses go really fast.
  5. To open the door to your room, you have to give it a hard tap. This may seem like an odd tip but all other places in the park, you hold your band on the scan for a few seconds. But on their hotel doors, you have to give it a hard tap on the sensor for the door to open. This little tip will save you some time fighting with your room door late at night. Your welcome.
  6. Pre-purchase Memory Maker and link it to your band. When you are on attractions with ride photos (i.e. Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, Buzz Lightyear…) the ride will automatically load those photos onto your account by reading your band on the ride. Yep, you don’t do anything but wear the band. See tip #3 for a reminder of wearing your band all the time! And PhotoPass photographers just scan your bands when they take pictures. Easy pleasy.
  7. You are given three FastPass+ options each day at one park, but once you are done with those three, you can visit one of the FP+ kiosks to add more one at a time. Only one person from your party needs to go to the kiosk (since you did tip #1 and linked everyone’s bands) and then they can get another FP. Cast Members are standing next to each kiosk to help you through the process although it is really simple.
  8. Use the My Disney Experience app in the parks to check your scheduled dining,  and FastPasses as well as attraction wait times. You can make some changes to FastPasses from this app but the kiosks are a bit easier. Also, keep in mind that the app is dependent on signal and number of users at the park so it has times it doesn’t load. Wait times were fairly accurate on the app within each park. It is a great tool while at the parks.
  9. Want to bling out your band? You can get Disney Band-its to add to your MagicBand. They are similar to the Jibbitz that you could put into your Croc shoes–they simply stick into the empty holes on the band, and there are lots of choices. There are also LOTS of choices of special MagicBands you can buy that are available at select locations in the parks.
  10. Know where the kiosks are in each park. All parks have three locations and Magic Kingdom has four. So there aren’t a huge amount of spots, which means when crowds are high, the lines are long. It is very, very important that you know where these locations are at each park – memorize it! Bring a list with you! Trust me – this little tip will save you lots of wasted time.
  11. When you all use a FP, make sure every child/person swipes their band BOTH times through the line so that the computer logs it at used and you can add additional FP. Once a FP window has passed, you can add more as well.
  12. Remember the grace periods on your FP window. Five minutes early is fine, and fifteen minutes late is fine. Anything outside those times and you won’t be let on the attraction or show. If you miss your FP, its gone.
  13. When you schedule a FP for a show and they give you a window of time to return, for the best seat, arrive at the beginning of that window. If you arrive at the end of that window, you are basically the same as the standby line. If you have a FP for an attraction and you have an hour window to return, anytime in that window is good–it won’t matter when you arrive in that window.
  14. Anyone with a band on your account can use it for photos, park passes and opening your resort door. You have to authorize who can use it for purchases and a pin is required when you scan it. It could be “dangerous” at Disney for kids to have authorization for purchases depending on the age. But using the band for quick snacks and meals was so great and easy.
  15. Finally, to make sure you don’t forget a band each day (see tip #3 again!) make a Park Packing List that you check off every morning to make sure you have it all. Sunglasses, sunblock. autograph books, snacks AND MagicBands! You won’t forget necessary items as well as those marvelous bands.

In general, we loved the MagicBands. Our kids thought they were so much fun! I must confess I loved how slick it all was and we didn’t have to think about too many things. And we didn’t have to carry as much. The system itself still has some glitches but I believe it is getting better and I think it is a revolutionary idea. If you are heading to the parks this year, have fun with the MagicBands and the My Disney Experience system! And take our tips and advice to make it even better!

**Last little tip: If you also wear a FitBit or electronic exercise band, wear your MagicBand on the opposite hand as the signals can compete with the scan. Always wear your MagicBand on the same hand you use for the finger scan at the gates each time.**

A Family’s Trip on Disney Cruise Line

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One of our Parent Panel members, the N family, recently went on a Disney Cruise and I was able to interview them about their wonderful trip. If you are considering a Disney cruise, their tips and advice will help you plan your vacation! We asked LOTS of questions so keep reading!

PSEars: What cruise ship did you sail on and how long was the cruise?

We sailed on the Fantasy for a 7 night cruise. We went to the Western Caribbean – Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay.

I also want to add that we went in the middle of October. It is hurricane season, but the week we went was absolutely beautiful! I don’t think that we even really saw any clouds.

PSEars: What age are your children?

We went when my oldest was 11, my daughter was 9 and my youngest was 7. We also traveled with my 70 year old parents.  🙂  Everyone from 7 to 70 had a fabulous time!

PS Ears: What ports and destinations did you visit?

We left from Port Canaveral.  We went to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay.

PS Ears: For your family, what size room did you choose? Was it too small? Just right? How do you feel the space was for families?

We had such a wonderful room! It slept 5 with a fabulous deck. I was so impressed at the size compared to other rooms on other cruise ships. It never felt too cramped for our family of 5. The queen bed was raised up off of the floor enough for all of our 7 suitcases. There was a nice curtain that separated the 3 kid beds with the queen. The couch is one bed. Another bed comes out of the ceiling, while the last bed comes out of the wall. The room service is fabulous because they turn down the beds and then put them away in the morning.

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Room

Bathroom

PS Ears: What would you recommend families do when they first embark?

My growing family would definitely say, “Eat!”  We went to Cabanas, a buffet, to make sure we had food in our bellies. After our bellies were full, we headed to the pool and the Aqua Duck. We were so excited about the cruise, that we boarded the ship as soon as we could. The food is open, but will close around 2:00. Then the kids would need to be content until dinner. You can’t get into your rooms until about 1:00 or 2:00, so make sure that you have what you need.  (You check all of your luggage before you are even on the ship, and they “magically” appear in your room.)

PS Ears: Did your kids use any of the Kids Clubs? If yes, which ones? What did they think of their experience?

Yes, my kids did use the kids club.  They could all use the Oceaneer Club.  My oldest son could also use the Vibe club.  They liked them.  There are so many activities for them to do.  Along with all of the things to do, there are also scheduled activities, crafts and games that are explained in the Navigator, which is the daily ship’s activities.

Mike

KidsClub

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PS Ears: What table-serve dining did you enjoy most?

As a family, we loved eating at Animator’s Palette.  The videos and decorations were very clever.

As a treat, my husband and I splurged and ate at Palo.  It is a flat rate added onto the cruise.  I think that it was around $25 per person.  I will be honest that I didn’t want to eat there.  I thought that it would be paying extra for some of the same food that the rest of the ship was eating.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  It was so AMAZING!!!  The service was terrific!  –And the food, was out of this world!  I couldn’t decide between a couple of the appetizers, so our server just brought us everything that we wanted to try.  I don’t think that I have ever eaten so much, but it was seriously all so delicious!  I would highly suggest dropping off the sweet children at the kids’ club and enjoy an adult evening!

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Dining

PS Ears: What quick-serve dining did you enjoy most?

My kids loved having the independence to to go Flo’s Cafe.  It is right next to the pool, so they could just go grab a slice of pizza, a hamburger, an apple, with our needing an adult.  They also loved being able to get their own ice cream any time of the day.

PS Ears: What family activities on the ship did your family enjoy together?

The Aqua Duck closes earlier than the pool, but my kids loved to ride it at night.  After we would go to dinner, then a show, the kids would go to the room and get their swimsuits on to close down the Aqua Duck.  There was ever hardly anyone on the slide at night.  The huge screen at the pool is call Funnel Vision.  At night, it had on movies or popular sporting events.  My boys loved watching the Sunday, Monday and Thursday night football games!  I remember also watching Pirates of the Caribbean.

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One other random thing that we liked to do was a very quiet, little thing, but I will forever remember it.  Each day on the cruise we had a blast and played hard.  At night, sometimes we just needed to wind down.  We would order room service (because it is free, you just pay the tip).  We would get the “Admiral’s Plate” which was a plate with cheese, crackers and grapes.  We would also usually order a dessert or two.  We loved eating our munchies in our pajamas while talking about our day.  We would also be able to talk about the next day ahead of us.

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PS Ears: What shows did your family enjoy?

The shows that were offered were:  Disney’s Wishes, Buckets and Boards (comedy duo from Branson), Taylor Mason (comedy and ventriloquism), Disney’s Believe, A Magician who I can’t find his name, Disney’s Aladdin and Disney’s An Unforgettable Journey.

Everyone in my family LOVED Buckets and Boards from Branson.  They were hilarious!  We all went to the Disney productions, but my boys didn’t enjoy them as much as the magician and the comedians.

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PS Ears: Did your family add any excursions? If yes, which ones and what was your experience?

The only excursion that we did through Disney was at Grand Cayman.  We took an excursion to swim with the sting rays at Sting Ray City.  It was very organized.  We didn’t have to worry about a taxi or anything else.

I will say that we were going to do a Disney excursion in Cozumel.  We wanted to go to a beach, but to go through Disney was going to be around $300 for my family of 5.  Instead, I went online and did some digging.  I found many other beaches that we could get to on our own.

When we got off of the ship, we went where all of the taxis were.  It was an easy ride to the beach club.  We chose to go to a place called, Paradise Beach.  It has a great, large pool, and a large beach.  In the ocean, there were many large slides, trampolines, and other fun things to do.  My kids had a blast!

PS Ears: When you visited Castaway Cay, what activities did you experience? What was your overall experience on the island?

My husband and I love to do Disney races.  We found out that there was a 5K to start the day, and we couldn’t resist!  The kids went with Grandma and Grandpa while we ran.

After we finished, we rented a tube and a raft for the day.  It was a great way to get the kids in the water, and Grandma. 🙂  We actually brought our own snorkeling things, so we didn’t rent any of that.  We did snorkel, and it was fun to see all of the things that were put in the water.  We really just had a great time playing in the water and in the sand.  I wish we could have been there for two days.  It was so relaxing, clean, friendly, and the food was free!

Beach2 Beach

PS Ears: If you spent time at any of the pools, did you find them crowded? Were there better times to visit the pools? Which pool experiences did you kids like the best?

I mentioned earlier that we rode the Aqua Duck at night.  The pool is actually fairly small, so don’t expect to do a whole lot of swimming.  My 9 year old daughter did love watching the movie, Teen Beach Movie while swimming in the pool.  🙂  My two younger kids really liked playing in the Aqua Lab area. It is a splash zone with squirters everywhere.  They liked that almost more than the pool.  There was also a smaller yellow slide that my 7 year old loved.  He could do it independently, so he loved that.

PS Ears: If you have been on a non-Disney cruise, how did the Disney cruise compare with a non-Disney cruise?

I have been on two other cruises, and I really can’t even compare them to a Disney cruise because there is no comparison. Everything was amazing on our Disney cruise!

PS Ears: What things made your trip easier? (either things you brought or things that were on the cruise)

There is a daily paper called the Navigator.  The best thing is that there is an app for that!  🙂  There is no internet on the ship, but the Navigator app tells you EVERYTHING that is happening that day.  I had my phone for the camera, so the app was super helpful!

I also brought our own bottled water on board.  You can bring your own water on the ship as long as you carry it on.  You can’t check it in your suitcase.  The water came in handy for our on shore excursions.

Another silly tip is about the movie theater.  If you want a drink during a movie, you have to pay for it.  I would suggest getting your FREE drink by the pool and then taking it into the movie.  You aren’t breaking any rules, you are just thinking smarter.

For each room, you are also given 2 cell phones.  This was nice to have to keep in touch with kids on the other side of the ship.

PS Ears: What age of children would you recommend for this type of cruise?

Any age is going to have fun on this amazing cruise.  Personally, I would suggest taking your children when they might be able to do some things on their own.  I felt completely safe having my kids walk around the ship on their own.  My 7 year old was a little young, but he did great with his older siblings.

I always felt that they were very safe.  Each child wears a bracelet to make sure that they can’t do anything without a parent’s consent.  The kids didn’t like wearing them, but I felt comforted with them wearing them.

PS Ears: Are there any things you would do or plan different for your next cruise?

I honestly don’t think so.  The only thing that we toyed with was our dinner time.  We had the early seating, which was difficult to get 5 of us back on the ship, showered, and to dinner on time.  The other side of that is:  we didn’t miss any shows because we had already had dinner, and we were ready for the show.  If we had had the later seating, we would have missed the shows because we would still be getting ready for dinner.

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PS Ears: Any additional tips for families considering a Disney cruise or planning one now?

Here are some of my other suggestions:

My husband and I didn’t really want to spend money or time in the spa; however, there is a great alternative to the spa.  We bought a day pass to the spa.  This will get you access to super fun showers.  They are scented and lighted with different sized drops.  You also have access to 3 different saunas.  We could also use the hot tubs in the spa that were located by windows to see outside.  My favorite thing that was included was the use of the heated stone beds.  They were so relaxing!  The pass was about $15 a person for the day.  We did it the last day at sea.  We were actually able to escape to the spa 3 times during the day.

I love my wonderful children, but don’t forget to enjoy your spouse.  My husband and I were also able to get to the adult area for just a little bit, but it was very relaxing.  There is a lovely singer and guitarist.  The lounge chairs are so comfy!  It is so quiet!  You would never know that around the corner was crazy-loud with kids.  We couldn’t spend much time there, but the little time that we did was a breath of fresh air.

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Disney Facebook Scams – Beware!

Have you seen this on your Facebook feed? Walt Disney World is giving away a free trip to Disney World for a family of four, all expenses paid! You just have to share the post and like their Facebook page, and you are entered to win! Sounds easy, right?

It’s a scam.

Disney never asks you to simply like their page to enter a contest. They have millions of people who like their Facebook pages without them trying. Also, you usually have to enter your contact information to enter one of their contests. So right there, you know its a scam. The post may say something like this:

“Good news were giving you and 50 other people a chance to win an all paid for Florida, Disney World vacation with passes to every park. Each winner will receive 4 tickets each for a date of your choice with $2,000 spending money. To enter just share & like this photo. (Comment to double your chances). Good luck, competition ends in 48 hours. Winners will be posted.”

Disney never, ever, ever talks money. So just know that if the contest mentions an amount of money or value for the prize, it isn’t Disney. That is not their style.

Always check the Facebook page before you click like on anything like this. Here is an example of the real Walt Disney World Facebook page:

RealWDW

Notice the name at the top: Walt Disney World – that is the correct page. Also notice the millions of likes on this page as well as the millions of page visits. 14 million people can’t be wrong.

Here is the fake Walt Disney World page:

FakeWDW

Hard to tell the difference, right? Except the name. Walt Disney World. Notice the period at the end? Also, notice the category is Transport/Freight. When was the last time Walt Disney World dealt in freight? Also, look at the number of Page Likes. Really? Over 2000 people? Not likely a Disney page.

Here is an example of the real Disney Cruise Line page:

RealDisneyCruise

Notice again that Disney Cruise Line does NOT have a period at the end. Notice that there are millions of Page Likes to this page.

Now check out the fake Disney Cruise Line page:

FakeDisneyCruise

Spot the differences yet? See the period at the end of the page name? And see the small amount of Page Likes? Another thing to notice is the website they have listed for their video in the contest post. That is not an official Disney url. Most websites for Disney follow their original url ending: disney.go.com. Adventures by Disney and their international parks do not follow this url ending.

So why are these sites out there? What is their purpose? They are using the Disney appeal to drive a large amount of “likes” to their fake pages and then they will sell their page on the underground market to the highest bidder – whatever the business or product may be. There is a huge market for established Facebook pages with a large amount of “likes” so companies can come in and start promoting themselves or their product. So the fun Disney contest you entered could start posting strange ads and information to your feed with the fake Disney page they purchase.

Also, no one wins anything. There is no prize.

Always be leery of an offer that seems too good to be true. Go to the official Disney websites and search for the contest. If it is real, it will be there. Below are links to the REAL Disney Facebook pages and I encourage you to follow them! PLEASE pass this post along so we can stop this scam from continuing!

Disneyland on Facebook
Disney World of Facebook
Disney Cruise Line on Facebook
Disney Aulani on Facebook
Adventures by Disney on Facebook

Real Disney Websites to check for promotions and contests:

Walt Disney World
Disneyland
Disney Cruise Line
Adventures by Disney
Disney’s Aulani

Preschoolears will continue to post any exciting promotions and contests that are from Disney when they are announced, so know that we are mindful of what we pass along and watchful for any scams. We only pass along legitimate giveaways and contests.

Travel Products We Love Part 3

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We have arrived to Part 3 of our series, Travel Products We Love, and we have a fabulous travel product today to share with you! The product we are sharing today is called The Shrunks. The name doesn’t really give any clue as to what it does, but The Shrunks are inflatable bed rails that you can take anywhere. They are ingenious!

If you are traveling with your preschooler, and they are really too big for a portable crib (aka pack-n-play) and you want them to sleep in a bed in the hotel or wherever you are staying, The Shrunks is perfect! It neatly folds into a travel bag that fits in your suitcase or bags, and it includes its own manual pump. It is very simple to inflate – my older kids can do it and they also help us get it put together.

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Once it is inflated, it slips in the bed next to the child and creates a rail so they can’t roll out at night. It will fit under fitted sheets. Some hotels don’t use fitted sheets and just use flat sheets on the bottom, so we bring a fitted sheet for it to slide under. It can also just lie in bed next to the child although I think it works best if it is snug. The bottom of The Shrunks bed rail has grip on it so it doesn’t slip around. We have never had it move at all once we got it into the bed. It is quite long and provides a good barrier. It doesn’t run the length of the bed but it will fit any size bed and should be long enough for most young kids.

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Promotional pictures by The Shrunks

Promotional picture by The Shrunks

Since we have used this product for a few years now and had great success, we recommend it highly! It has come with us on many Disney trips and other great vacations. It would also be a great bed rail for a child’s room as well. But it travels very easily and solves the problem of where the little preschooler will sleep safely.

Amazon carries both a single set as well as double bed rail set. We purchased a single set since a sibling always sleeps on the other side of our little one. Our Shrunks will be heading to Disney World on our next trip for sure!

If you are interested in purchasing The Shrunks, you can find it on Amazon.

For more travel products we love:

Travel Product: EasyLunchboxes
Travel Product: Mommy Hook & Walk-Along Stroller Handle
Travel Product: The PiggyBack Rider

Travel Products We Love Part 2

TravelProductsLogo

We are continuing our series, Travel Products We Love, with our next two products. We have grouped these products together as they are stroller related products and they work great with all stroller types. Since most families with young kids take a stroller to Disney Parks, these two products help make those long days a little easier.

The first Travel Product We Love is The Mommy Hook. This large carabiner style hook attaches to the handle of any stroller. It has a cushion wrapped around it so that it doesn’t slide or scratch the stroller. You can then hook anything you want onto the hook to hang off the back of the stroller. While we don’t hang bags from these hooks, we do hang water bottles. With a large family, we have six water bottles we carry throughout the park, and the best way to have them accessible to everyone and easy to carry, is to hook them to the side of the stroller. The kids can grab their water bottle when they need it and they don’t get lost. The Mommy Hook is quite perfect for this and it travels very light.

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If you are interested in buying The Mommy Hook, they are available in many stores such as Babies R Us and Target. You can also purchase them at Amazon in a multitude of colors.

The second Travel Product We Love is The Walk-Along Stroller Handle. Previously called the Tag-A-Long, it was purchased by the Skip Hop company and is now the Walk-Along. This is an ingenious plastic handle you loop on the side of any stroller and it creates a handle for older children. As you push the younger child in the stroller, the older child can walk along the side, holding the Walk-Along, and stay safely next to you. It is perfect for the parks because there are crowds, and older kids may want to walk more than ride in a stroller. It really is a clever invention and it has been a big help for us on our Disney vacations.

TagALong

WalkAlong

If you are interested in purchasing a Walk-Along Stroller Handle, we have seen them at Babies R Us but you can also purchase them at Amazon.

Both of these travel products are low cost with great benefits for being on the go with little ones. We have found both to be very helpful at Disney Parks and we hope they can help you as well!

For more travel products we love:

Travel Product: EasyLunchboxes
Travel Product: The Shrunks
Travel Product: The PiggyBack Rider

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