• 26Mar
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on FastPass+ and MagicBands to be available to off-site guests starting March 31st

    The endgame of the MyMagic+ rollout is here…according to WDW Magic (and checked with a few of our own spies), off-site guests will get full access to MyMagic+ including advanced FastPass+ reservations starting March 31st, 2014.

    Guests who have created their My Disney Experience account and registered their tickets in the profile will be able to make up to seven days of advanced FastPass+ reservations within a 30 day period from the current date. They will no longer have to wait until they enter the park and use the kiosks, which have had long lines since off-site guests were given same-day access. The 7/30 day limit matches what Annual Passholders are able to do since they were all activated a couple weeks ago. Guests booked at a Walt Disney World resort will still have a 60 day window.

    A ticket MUST be registered in the guest’s profile to be able to book FastPass+ experiences. This means that tickets must be purchased in advance.

    Also, off-site guests will have the option to purchase a MagicBand to use in place of the regular ticket media. The price is not yet confirmed but we are hearing $12.95. It is also not certain what color choices will be available, as currently the resorts only stock “Iconic Gray” for guests who have not pre-customized their bands before arrival. To start with, guests with off-site bands will be able to use the bands for park entry and FastPass+ redemption, which can be done with their regular RFID-enabled tickets. But the bands will also allow some behind-the-scenes magic some of which is still being developed, but one current feature is being able to associate some ride photos automatically to your account by detecting the band when the photo is taken. More such magical features will be forthcoming.

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  • 30Aug
    Walt Disney World Comments Off on Observations of the MagicBand testing

    A lonely little Fastpass+ touchpoint waiting to be used

    A lonely little Fastpass+ touchpoint waiting to be used

    I was not one of the few who got to use the new MagicBands during August testing, but I did see them – not many though. I estimate there was less than 5% of guests actually wearing the bands during the 10 days I was on the lookout…possibly quite a bit less than 5%. I also didn’t see any more “Iconic Gray” bands than I did other colors, which makes me wonder if they didn’t give too many of them to people who didn’t fully register for the testing – or they simply didn’t use them.

    In addition, I only saw the MagicBands actually USED twice, at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Haunted Mansion. They seemed to work reasonably fast.

    I spoke with a CM managing the Fastpass+ line at Spaceship Earth, and asked how many people had been using it. “None today,” was his response…and this was mid-afternoon.

    I didn’t see it used for purchases, but expect that it works about the same as the cards…fast, but the PIN entry pads can be a bit quirky.

    Testing expands in a few days. The four existing resorts – Animal Kingdom Lodge, Contemporary, Yacht Club and Pop Century will be joined by the Beach Club, Art of Animation, Polynesian and Port Orleans Riverside. In addition, the Beach Club Villas and the DVC rooms in the Jambo House at AKL, but not Kidani Village, will be included, for September and October.

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  • 28Jul
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Updates on MagicBand/Fastpass+ testing

    I’ve been asked why I haven’t given an update on the recent MagicBand and Fastpass+ testing that’s been going on. Honestly, there has been a lot to keep track of – and not much to report that’s concrete.

    Recently, guests staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Contemporary Resort checkin in on certain days were able to receive MagicBands and take part in the first full guest MagicBand field test. They were allowed to schedule up to three Fastpass+ experiences per day during the test via My Disney Experience (DMX) web site/app. This included all the existing Fastpass attractions, plus a number of other attractions and some more unique items like reserved fireworks and parade areas.

    In general, the testing has worked well and been well received, but one thing to note…guests participating in the tests have also been given a “normal” KTTW card as a backup device and to use at table service locations for room charges as they are not yet fully equipped to handle MagicBands. But these cards also work in the current Fastpass kiosks, so the guests were able to use regular Fastpass in addition to Fastpass+, without any interference from each other. It is uncertain that this will be the case when it is fully rolled out, as I’m still hearing information that “regular Fastpass” will go away, and information is still uncertain about whether you will be able to use Fastpass+ similar to Fastpass on the same day.

    One thing that did come out of testing – although you can only pick a given attraction once per day, after you’ve used the Fastpass+ for an attraction, if you have any remaining you can change a previous selection to the same attraction.

    Another test is currently going on with some guests staying at Bay Lake Tower (the first one including DVC members), and then for most of August it appears that most guests staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Contemporary Resort, Pop Century and Yacht Club will be optionally participating. However there is a lot of conflicting information as to whether they will be able to use regular Fastpass on the same day as Fastpass+. Some guests calling for info and support have been told adamantly no, others certainly yes, and still others are told they can use it as long as they don’t book any Fastpass+ that day.

    So it is safe to say we can’t really say much for certain yet. 🙂

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  • 18May
    Walt Disney World Comments Off on Some details on MagicBands

    Shaun Thompson at The DIS managed to check out an actual MagicBand and talk to the cast members about them, and found out lot more details on the MagicBands themselves, including color choices, etc.

    Some of the more interesting points:

    • Colors: Red, Blue, Green, Pink, Yellow, Orange, Iconic Gray
    • From 10 days prior to check-in, any time after you book your reservation, you will be able to choose your colors and either receive them at the resort or have them sent to you (no word if there is an additional charge, but it seems likely).
    • From 9-5 days, you can still choose a color but you can only pick them up at the resort.
    • Within 5 days, you cannot choose the color and will only receive “Iconic Gray”
    • They can be personalized with a name on the inside of the band (9-10 characters) to help distinguish whose is whose (in case people want the same color, no word on if that will cost extra, or if it can be done within the 5 days)
    • The battery for the active transmitter is good for 2-3 years. After that it won’t function for features that require it and the whole band needs to be replaced.

    What isn’t known yet is whether there will be decorations to place on the bands, or “designer” bands available for an upcharge. And I like how Disney refers to gray as “Iconic Gray” to make it sound spiffy…but it’s just gray.

    Don’t go looking for these online yet though…they are not yet available to guests.

     

     

     

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  • 13Apr
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on MagicBand/MyMagic+ testing potentially under way with select guests at Animal Kingdom

    WDW Magic is reporting that MagicBand testing – including full features of MyMagic+ such as Fastpass+ and touch-to-pay, is taking place, although it seems limited to pre-selected guests staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge and going to the Animal Kingdom park.

    I have not seen any reports from any participants yet, nor any from a rumored test with Boardwalk Inn guests that was supposed to have happened already. It remains to be seen how this all works out.

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  • 16Jan
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on WDW may get rid of the No Expiration option on Magic Your Way tickets

    A few weeks ago when Walt Disney World rolled out their new web site (at least to North American U.S. visitors), people noticed that when purchasing Magic Your Way tickets online, there was no longer a No Expiration option. It was first thought to be an oversight or bug in the new site – but when guests called, they were told that the no Expiration option would only be available on the phone or in person, not on the web site.

    I’ve now recently heard that signage at WDW is being changed and the No Expiration option is not listed at all. You need to explicitly ask for it.

    This is leading to speculation that they may in fact be removing the option altogether in the near future. I have no confirmation of this currently.

    Note that No Expiration tickets already purchased will still be honored no matter what changes may occur.

    There could be a variety of reasons for at least bringing No Expiration under cover at least. I can think of a couple (I have no info that these reasons are in fact the cause, only my speculation):

    First, the option confused a LOT of guests, and they may want to cut down on the confusion by preventing people from getting it without thinking it through. It is rather expensive, and even if you used some days on the ticket and then wanted to add the No Expiration option to save the leftover days, you had to pay for the entire length of the ticket, not just the unused days. Also, you couldn’t then add days down the road – the ticket could not be modified after 14 days of first use – so adding No Expiration to save one day on a 7-day ticket and then hoping to add 3 more days on a later trip didn’t work either.

    In a lot of cases as well, it doesn’t make much sense and could cost you more if you didn’t do the math. Saving three days off a 10-day ticket, and then needing to buy another ticket because your next trip needs 4 days ends up costing you more than if you just got a 7-day ticket. You had to fit two or more complete trips within the 10-day maximum for the ticket, or it didn’t make sense. Although some people would do what I call “chaining” the tickets – keep getting 10-day No Expiration tickets over and over, which is fine. Although if you could get more than 12 days or so within a calendar year, an Annual Pass was often the better deal.

    Another possibility is that with the way the new MyMagic+ system appears to be headed, having these No Expiration tickets presents complications in to how the tickets themselves might be managed, when guests can reserve FastPass+ experiences, etc. So they might want to get rid of the option to solve the issues. How they’ll handle current tickets I don’t know. But a lot of changes are happening very rapidly to bring out MyMagic+, so the timing is interesting.

    More info when we have it.

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  • 07Jan
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Some details of the forthcoming FastPass+ and MyMagic+ programs at WDW

    It’s been rumored for several years – being able to book Fastpasses ahead of time like dining reservations – and it’s almost here.

    Disney officially announced the new program today, which has been under some test trials since last May. There are still many, many questions to be answered, but at least we have some official details.

    [FYI, this is part of the program that for a long time has been called “NextGen”]

    Overall, the new program is called MyMagic+, and it advertised as a way to make the guest experience better overall. And there are three components.

    It starts with a brand new web site (which went live last week for everyone) and a mobile app (already available for free for iOS and Android devices). My Disney Experience is where guests will be able to explore and set up itineraries for the visit. Specifically, through the web site, guests can:

    • Get more information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer, from resort hotels and attractions to dining and merchandise.
    • Design the overall experience they want, planning as much or as little as they wish.
    • Make dining and other reservations and FastPass+ selections.
    • Connect with family and friends to coordinate plans and share photos.

    The big and most anticipated (or, in some cases, dreaded) part is FastPass+. This is, in essence, a way of getting a Fastpass for an attraction ahead of time, even before you arrive at WDW, for a particular time (with the usual 1 hour window). But not only for existing Fastpass attractions, but a number of additional attractions as well as other “experiences”, such as reserved parade and fireworks locations. From the press release:

    Guests will be able to select FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences through My Disney Experience before they leave home and make changes on the go.

    • For the first time, guests will be able to reserve firework and parade viewing areas, shows, Disney Character Greetings and more, in addition to their favorite attractions.
    • For guests who don’t know where to start, Disney will recommend FastPicks – a set of three FastPass+ selections that serve as a starting point – and give guests the option to customize their selections.
    • Disney FastPass+ service is included with Theme Park admission.

    Lastly, there is MagicBand. These are the long-rumored RFID bracelets which will combine everything that the Key To The World card that resort guests receive (room key, room charge, Magic Your Way admission ticket and Dining Plan credits), but also adding the redemption of FastPass+ access (no more paper Fastpass tickets), and PhotoPass, all in one that you just swipe on the reader.

    In addition, the MagicBand will enable personalized experiences such as being greeted by name by the various characters, or having their name appear in special areas. MagicBand will only be available to guests at selected Walt Disney World resorts to start, along with guests who purchase certain other products (we believe this will apply to Annual Passholders). Other guests will be able to use their standard tickets to access most of the MyMagic+ features.

    MagicBands will be available in a variety of colors, and there may even be personalized designer versions available for a fee (based on earlier rumors).

    Many other questions are still to be answered. Here are some of the things we believe might come to pass…just to give an idea of our certainty, I’ve tossed in percentages based on our confidence at the current time, based on facts, rumors, conjecture and analysis. But I wouldn’t place any bets based on them. And EVERYTHING is subject to change. 🙂

    We do not know when this will go live, but we think it will be within three months. (70%)

    Based on testing and other documents such as the Terms & Conditions page on the My Disney Experience website, the number of FastPass+ a guest may reserve in advance each day will be limited, and the number we are hearing most is 3, although WDW could vary that number on a variety of factors, such as crowd levels, and even have different limits at different parks to entice people to less-busy parks (90%). It could even be extended to a tiered system based on resort level, but we believe that is less likely. (<10%) [Update: this article had a video with the Vice President in charge of Next Generation technology, Nick Franklin, and he stats that they are currently planning three FastPass+ advance selections, potentially more at the parks, and NO difference between resort guests and non-resort guests – all will be treated equally in the end once it is fully in place.]

    It appears pretty certain that you will only be able to get FastPass+ selections in advance at a single park per day. Sorry, park hopping planners. (95%)

    You can only get one FP+ per attraction/experience that day. If you want to ride again, get in the standby line. (98%)

    It also appears that attractions and experiences within the park will be tiered at two levels, similar to what was done for the Birthday/Give A Disney Day Fastpass reward cards, and you will be limited to a certain number from each tier – which means you might only be able to choose one of three or four headliner (“E-ticket” or “D-ticket”) attractions, and then the balance comes from other attractions you probably wouldn’t have used a regular Fastpass on. (85%)

    What we don’t know is if you can get more FastPass+ selections while you are in the park. We do know that at least for a short time, the existing Fastpass system will still exist, but if you convert your admission media to utilize FastPass+, you CANNOT use Fastpass. And we expect Fastpass to go away once all resorts are active with MagicBand and they are prepared to convert all standard tickets to RFID-compatible media. Right now, it looks like it is three FastPass+ selections, and that’s it. (80%) We unfortunately believe this, plus other uncertainties may slow voluntary adoption. This would also further limit the desirability of park hopping.

    We know that Magic Your Way ticket holders, at least with resort reservations that the tickets can be associated with, will be able to make FastPass+ selections 60 days from the day of use. There will be some way to associate tickets to reservations if obtained separately (we assume the same for Annual Passholders). (98%)

    We don’t know how off-site guests with Magic Your Way and Annual Passes would make FastPass+ reservations, since they don’t have a resort reservation to determine when they would be at WDW. Complete unknown.

    Any time before your first scheduled FastPass+ experience, you can change all of your experiences, even to another park. Once the first scheduled time arrives and expires, you are locked in to that park, but can reschedule future experiences at least. (95%) However, if you completely miss a scheduled experience (it “expires”), it is uncertain if you still can reschedule it. The wording in this regard is unclear. We believe from our interpretation it is lost, but others say you can still reschedule. (50%)

    You will be able to use a smartphone (iOS/Apple or Android) to access your FastPass+ reservations via My Disney Experience. Wi-Fi will be enabled throughout the parks, although the reliability of it remains to be seen. If you do not have/do not wish to use a smartphone, kiosks will be available throughout the parks and at the resorts. (99%) Disney could potentially make devices available as well, possibly for a fee based on past tests for other purposes, but we don’t believe so (5%) We do know that if you won’t be using a smartphone, you better have a list of your experience times on hand so you don’t have to keep track of where all the kiosks are to keep checking…

    There are a number of security and privacy concerns regarding the MagicBands. Given that they can be used for purchases, and RFID based, the first concern is for someone to use an “RFID skimmer” and then go on a spending spree. You would not be responsible for those purposes – IF you notice them. However, it might be difficult for someone to tell the difference between their own purchases and others when they are all in Disney. Disney does require a PIN code to be selected and used for any purchase over $50 (similar to most credit cards now) – but it does mean you need to be vigilant – or opt out completely and not use the room charge feature. It would be nice if Disney allowed an “always require PIN code” opt-in option. [Update 1/8: I’m hearing that today they started requiring a PIN on ALL purchases…]

    There is also some concern about some personal information encoded on the MagicBand. Reportedly, your name – at least your first name – is encoded on the MagicBand to be readily available for personalized experiences. It is uncertain if you can opt-out of that feature.

    Another concern is reports back in October that the MagicBands are also Wi-Fi transmitters, according to documents filed with the FCC, powered by a non-replaceable battery. Since most if not all of the advertised features involve RFID scanning at a very short range, we don’t see the need for something that outdoors can be received up to 100 yards, except for tracking purposes. Whether this is part of the end design or not we are not sure.

    That’s about it for now. More when we have it. We are monitoring closely. 🙂

    (Source: Disney press release)

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