15 Tips for MagicBand and FastPass+ at Disney World

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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.**

Travel Products We Love: Part 4

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We would like to share with you our next travel product that we love! It is the PiggyBack Rider! Do you have a preschooler who has outgrown a baby carrier backpack? But they get tired walking for long distances? And they don’t want to ride in a stroller or you don’t want a bulky stroller where you are going? We came across this dilemma recently with our preschooler. Our family likes to hike but our preschooler gets tired hiking for very long, and he is way too heavy and big for a carrier backpack. We discovered the PiggyBack Rider and it truly solved our problem!

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The PiggyBack Rider is a strap device that a parent wears and it safely hooks the child into the straps while they ride piggyback. There are straps that go around the child’s arms and then they latch into the straps on the parent. Then the child stands on the bar that hangs in the back. It is quite an ingenious device.

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We have used it on several long hikes and it has been great for our preschooler. He can get down quite easily and walk when he wants to. I did have to help my husband get him on the back but once they got in the swing, my three year old could climb in on his own.

We do have one note on the PiggyBack Rider. It does wear on your back for long periods of time, as would anything where you were carrying your child on your back. With that note, if you were going to use it at a Disney Park for an entire day, we would recommend NOT carrying your child for long periods of walking. It would be good at a Disney Park if you took breaks and the child rode on and off throughout the day. But if your back couldn’t handle carrying your child all day, then don’t plan on using this for hours and hours.

The PiggyBack Rider has also been popular with celebrity parents. Here is a photo of Liev Schrieber carrying his kids around town using it.

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If you are interested in learning more about the PiggyBack Rider, you can visit their website to view videos and see photos of how it works. You can also purchase a PiggyBack Rider on Amazon, which is where we bought ours.

Happy Travels!

For more travel products we love:

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

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.

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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

A First-Timer’s Take on Disney World

Recently, the K family decided to take their very first trip to Disney World! They did a lot of planning and prep work including talking to us at Preschoolears. Since we believe that it is great to learn from other’s insight and experience when traveling to Disney, we interviewed them after their trip to see if they could offer some advice and tips for those families who will be taking their own first-time adventure to Disney World!

Interview:

PS Ears: What are the ages of your kids when you visited Disney World?

8 (almost 9), 6 and 2 (almost 3)

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PSEars: When did you visit Disney World?

October 13-19, 2013

PS Ears: Where did your family stay? 

We used our friend’s time share discount and since we booked so late, we ended up splitting our time between two hotels – fun to explore different environs on our first trip, but in general not advisable. 😉 The staff made the transition as easy as possible, but we still wasted a morning. We stayed the first two nights at Animal Kingdom and the rest at Saratoga Springs – it was a noticeable difference.

PS Ears: Did you like the resorts as a first-time Disney experience?

We all preferred Animal Kingdom, not surprising given the price. It was pretty incredible and the rooms and facilities were brand new. The pool was amazing and they had great activities (animal viewings, movie nights) planned for the kids. The buffet was really tasty, plenty for kids and adults and got us all to try different foods from around the world – yum! And they had a quick-serve restaurant right next to the pool where you could stock up on breakfast items for the morning. We had a nice unit at Saratoga Springs but the grounds are HUGE! Required a golf cart to get to the front desk, such a contrast from Animal Kingdom where everything is at your finger tips inside the main hotel. The rooms were nicely updated but still had an older feel. Our unit in Saratoga Springs turned out to be right around the corner from Downtown Disney which was pretty fun – we didn’t realize it was a 5 minute walk until we’d already waited 20 minutes for the shuttle to drive us around the corner – ha! Know the lay of the land before you go. 😉

PS Ears: When you were planning your trip, what were some of the most important things your family wanted to see or do?

Magic Kingdom was a priority, having never been with the kids before. But we knew they would also enjoy the wildlife at Animal Kingdom and Sea World so we planned in a day at each. Rides were an important consideration, and minimizing wait times. Tasty food too – knowing we only had a week there I knew we couldn’t begin to do it all and didn’t want to waste time on anything that wasn’t truly magical! 🙂 Our kids had never been to a big amusement park, so we had no idea what they’d be comfortable riding, which made it more difficult to plan. But going in informed on what was available at each park and the intensity level of the rides was a huge help and allowed us to make quick decisions based on initial experiences. As a side note – my 8 year old girl loved it all, even the Haunted Mansion which I thought would freak her out! The 6 year old girl loved Thunder Mountain but nothing much more intense, and the two-year old did great on the Barnstormer, Dumbo and Tea Cup type rides.

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PS Ears: Were you able to do those things or not, and were they what you would expect?

Believe it or not, I think we accomplished most if not all of our bucket list! Not to say there aren’t things I would change next time we go, but we did pretty much everything we’d planned to do. Knowing we wouldn’t come close to doing it all, we tried to sample a little of everything and I’d say we were able to do that, plus some! I didn’t expect to do the bigger rides more than once, but with the MagicBand fast passes and Rider Switch passes, plus closing down the Magic Kingdom at midnight at the “Not So Scary Halloween Party,” we were able to do Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, and a few other favorite rides 5 or 6 times! I was actually surprised my 8 year-old was up for the bigger rides, definitely made the experience more fun, especially for my husband. Everything else was pretty much as predicted.

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PS Ears: What was the hardest part of planning a first-time trip to Disney World?

I think the hardest part of planning for us was the quantity of information – there are endless opportunities in Orlando! And learning the Disney systems and lingo, e.g. fast passes, Rider Swap passes, MagicPlus bands, etc. Also, I’m a very visual person and not having been there in almost 30 years, a lot has changed! Even having all of the information on paper beforehand it was hard for me to visualize our visit and get things completely nailed down. I made a lot of night-before changes to our plans. The Disney Experience app was perfect for that and allowed us to avoid most of the waiting.

PS Ears: What were some good things that you didn’t expect or plan for?

One unexpected highlight was Enchanted Tales with Belle – by nature of the experience, it’s always a LONG wait and we never could seem to hit it right, even first thing in the morning. We were able to sneak in at the very end of the night (11:30 p.m., when everyone else had given up and gone to bed I’m sure!) at the Halloween Party and had little to no wait. It was our very last ride of the trip and it truly was enchanting. The girls loved participating in the story and getting to meet Belle up close and personal!

The kids ages were perfect – no one was too old to really experience the magic (not even the adults) and the 3 year old was just old enough to experience a fair amount of the rides. And he took a daily snooze in the stroller with Nana – invaluable to have grandparents tag along!!

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I sent my hubby on a few missions to book straight to the back of the parks to be first in line – backfired at the Safari ride because he got so far ahead we couldn’t weave through to find him! But we still waited a fraction of the time in the end. 🙂

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PSEars: What were some bad things that you didn’t expect or plan for?

We didn’t enjoy Hollywood Studios quite as much as we thought we would – well, save our 9 year-old. She still talks about the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n Roller Coaster! Our 6 year old talks about the coaster in a very different light – she begged to go on and the poor thing was terrified. I had become a little too lax by that point I guess – knew in the first “zero-to-60” second that she was going to hate it. She’ll never forget! 🙂 The Little Mermaid experience and Nemo were both fun but I couldn’t get the kids excited about the Disney Junior stuff – they didn’t love the character element anywhere we went. That was actually helpful at times in that we didn’t waste fast passes waiting to get autographs. 🙂

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I am bummed we missed the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique because my girls were at the perfect age to enjoy it. Also wish we’d have booked early for the Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table character dinners. We were able to still dine in Belle’s castle by getting in line at 10 a.m. for the 10:30 opening – we were about the fifth family in line – and eating an early lunch / snack. I was glad we used one Fast Pass to meet Snow White and Rapunzel – the girls (and my Mom and Dad!) ended up loving that part and we barely had to wait. They also didn’t care much about the parades – we saw a few shows and parades in passing, usually on our way to the rides!

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I didn’t like that you could only schedule 3 fast passes per day on the Disney app, but the most frustrating part was that if you cancelled a FP the day of – even if it was well before the scheduled time – you couldn’t schedule another ride in its place. As wonderful as the MagicBands were, they’re obviously still working out the kinks – there were a few rides we weren’t able to FP using the app and should have been able to.

PS Ears: What would you do different for your next trip?

If we went during Fall Break again, I would buy tickets to “Mickey’s Not So Scary” party, spend the day at the pool, then get there right at 4:00 as everyone was leaving to get the most out of the experience. As it was, we spent most of the day at the park, went back home around 2, didn’t get back out again until 6:30 and stayed until midnight.

Also wouldn’t book early flights (i.e. 7 a.m.!!), especially the day after staying until midnight at the park! Rookie mistake, and quite honestly we changed our mind so many times about the Halloween party that in the end Friday night was the only option left, but it was still worth it!! The girls did back-to-back rides on Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain – truly a highlight.

I might skip Hollywood Studios or plan a half day there, preferably morning – it was noticeably hotter there since they modeled it to look like LA with tall palms instead of the thick Florida vegetation. Animal Kingdom was actually the best for a hot day – lots of big shade trees and tucked away paths where you could cool down.

I would plan in more time at Epcot for the adults at least – the kids probably saw enough, maybe could have spent a few more hours there, but we were in such a rush and spent all of our time walking to and from the restaurant on the far side of the park – again, know the lay of the land. 🙂 My parents stayed an extra two days at Epcot and loved it. Can’t believe how big it is – a city! It was brand new when I was there 30 years ago and a fraction of the size.

I would make more of an effort to get out the door early and enjoy the opening show and short lines at the beginning of the day.

Would have taken more pictures with Disney Photopass photographers.

Might stay closer to the Magic Kingdom if possible, across the lake looked ideal!

PS Ears: What would you do the same for your next trip?

I’m glad we waited until October – it was still blazing hot! Supposedly it’s less crowded during that time – if so, I can’t imagine going during peak season. I loved the FP system – we were able to avoid almost all long waits! Also loved the grocery service – would definitely do that again. We also loved spending a day at Sea World – the kids loved it and surprisingly they had some of the best rides! I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

PS Ears: What tips would you give other families who are planning their first Disney World trip?

Check out Preschoolears! They have a wealth of information and honestly made the trip as wonderful as it was for us. I would have been lost without the volumes of information and tips they gave us going into the trip. With any type of travel, it helps to have someone “on the inside” – a local of sorts – to tell you what to skip and what not to miss. I certainly made some of my own rookie mistakes and gained knowledge from the experience that will allow me to plan better next time around, but I would have been totally blind-sided were it not for their help!

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