The Best and Worst Times to Travel to Disney World in 2017!

 

For all of you advanced planners, we’ll talk about 2017 Disney World vacations! It’s never too early to start planning. Whether you wanted to save up for a big vacation or you’re just looking to try your first Disney adventure with your kids, it’s always a good time to research and plan a Disney vacation.  But when to go? Timing is everything.

First, ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • If I have kids, am I willing to take them out of school?
  • Do I have any blackout dates at work?
  • Are there any special events I want to attend? (i.e. Mickey’s Not to Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party)
  • Do I want to be able to swim or go to water parks? (is temperature a factor)
  • Is it ok to miss a few headlining attractions due to routine maintenance?
  • Is cost a major factor in our vacation?
  • Is it ok if it’s H-O-T while we are there? Summers in Orlando can get pretty brutal)

All of these simple questions will help direct you to the best time of year to travel. As we start to talk about overall crowds and dollar values, please be aware that Disney World has become an increasingly popular destination. Yes, it has always been a popular travel destination for families, but whether it’s more international guests taking the opportunity to travel to the states or families just taking more frequent Disney World adventures, overall crowd attendance is up no matter what the time of year. If you’ve traveled more than once in the last 5 years, you’ll feel this increase in wait times and overall people milling around in the parks.

From year to year, the best times to go are fairly similar, but let’s break it down by month:

January – After you get past the New Year’s crowd which is typically gone by the 3rd or 4th of January, it’s a pretty slow time. Crowds increase during the Disney marathon which is typically the first weekend after the holidays pass. Both crowds and costs are low, however you may miss a few major attractions due to maintenance. Crowds do increase during MLK Jr. weekend as many children have at least one day off school. Weather is typically cool and you may need a light jacket. Swimming may be out. Although the pools are open and Disney pools are heated, it’s still too cold for these old bones when the highs are only in the low to mid 70s.

February – This is also a fairly good time of year. Crowds peak for the Princess Half Marathon weekend as well as President’s day weekend. Other than this time, crowds and costs continue to be low. As with January, you may need a light jacket. In 2014, the weather was unseasonably warm so off season travelers got to enjoy some warm Florida sun but in 2015, weather was unseasonably cold and jackets were a must! 2016 saw a middle ground in weather and much of the year was pleasant. The closer you get to March, the more the crowd level begins to increase. I was told by a cast member that every single room in every Disney resort was booked for Valentine’s Day last year, so if it’s a romantic destination for you, make sure you plan ahead!

fg1March – Ahhh, spring break season! While schools across the country all have different weeks for spring break, you’ll typically see spikes in crowds at last 1-2 weeks during the month. With Easter falling in mid-April next year, Spring Break season will likely start during the 3rd week of March this year but schools will never surprise me with how early spring break may fall! Weather begins to warm up at this time and very few attractions are closed during this time.  Epcot begins their annual Flower & Garden festival which runs through the end of May.

April – Spring break season continues.With Easter in mid-April this year, you’ll see peak spring break through the week of April 16th and then a drop in crowds and costs.  After spring break crowds wear down, both prices and costs decrease as the weather heats up! It’s not the lowest cost of the year, but it’s better than the peak prices! There’s a bit of a lull here as kids go back to school after spring break and before school lets out.

May – A few things to note for May travelers: the first two weeks of May are often a great time to travel in terms of crowds but it can start to get hot! Our most recent May adventure saw daytime highs in the 90s which made park touring a bit slower paced than it would be in the cooler months of January and February. Disney has continued to elaborate and extend the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival so it’s still a fun time to explore this free event. Lastly, Memorial Day weekend is a popular long weekend for guests and crowds may mildly increase during this time. Prices and crowds tend to be moderate as we get closer to the end of school year and finals. It’s a nice little window between spring break and end of school to enjoy trip! The weather is easily in the 80s and sometimes warmer, and it’s not typically very rainy. Not many attractions closed during this time.

June – June of 2015 saw a HUGE influx of travelers throughout the month (moreso than previous years with 8-10/10 crowds each day) with a bit of a dip in 2016. This may be related to some new attractions opening in late June that had guests delay their arrival date to explore the new offerings. Early in the month, the unofficial event “gay days” is held in one of Disney’s theme parks. It does increase the crowds of that park specifically, so be aware as you start to plan.  Along with increase in crowds comes increase in prices and heat. The summer months can be sweltering. Although June is not that bad, the remainder of the summer is hot, hot, hot!\

July – It’s one of the most popular times of year to travel to Disney. I can’t say that I’ve been there in July, but it’s a hot! Plan for an afternoon rain shower which is often welcomed in the humid Florida weather. It provides some relief. Fourth of July weekend is even more costly than the standard summer pricing. Crowds continue to peak during this month. Take a break from the parks and enjoy a water park!

August  – As summer ends, the crowds begin to dwindle. By the middle of the month, crowds resume their normal 5-6/10. The weather is still hot and you often have a pop up rain shower. Don’t be scared if you see a 30% chance of rain every day. No special events throughout the summer, and August finishes that trend. Toward the end of August, you’ll see value season pricing as back to school season really ramps up (even before Labor Day weekend). If your kids don’t return until after Labor Day weekend, this may be a unique time of year for you to travel!

September – After Labor Day passes, the some really low crowds and prices settle in. School is officially back in session and it can be somewhat rainy. The weather is still typically very warm (especially earlier in the month). By mid to late September, Epcot is geared up for the International Food & Wine Festival which runs through midNovember. September also brings Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This special ticketed event at Magic Kingdom closes the park early and allows guests to enjoy a special themed party where costumes are not only allowed, but encouraged. Plus, meet special characters appear throughout the park and lines are incredibly short. This even runs through the end of October. Great discounts and special offers are typically available September through mid November. This is often the time of year with the best promotional rates as it continues to have the lowest attendance. Over the last two years, the end of September has trended up in crowds with the addition of many schools adding a fall break to their school schedule. The last of September has become a much busier time of year.

October ­– October has become the “new summer” in terms of crowd levels. Without the heat of summer, days off of school for Columbus day, the draw of Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, and Halloween festivities, it’s a huge draw for crowds. 2015 saw an astronomical spike in crowds over the previous year and 2016 is shaping up to be a busy year again. This can also be attributed to later fall breaks for schools across the country. There still appears to be a pocket of time at the end of the month around Halloween that gives a little reprieve on overall crowd levels. Weather finally begins to cool again after a long, hot summer. Temps will very likely still remain in the 80s, but it’s not as humid.

November ­– The phenomenon known as “Jersey Week” happens in early November. Schools in New Jersey have a week long break in early November inflating crowds. This isn’t a huge jump in crowd levels, but it’s a factor in making your plans. The first week of November often has lower crowd levels as Disney removes all of the Halloween and Fall decor and starts to set up for the Christmas season. You’ll see shorter hours in Magic Kingdom as the transformation happens literally overnight. For families with little ones, it’s a nice way to enjoy comfortable temperatures, and allow them to see fireworks shows without staying way past bed time!  Additionally, Veteran’s Day is often a day off for students (November 11) PLUS the Wine & Dine RunDisney event. Between this time and the week of Thanksgiving is a great time to travel as crowd levels begin to dwindle.  As it gets closer to Thanksgiving, crowd will peak. Discounts stop the days surrounding Thanksgiving as it’s often another peak travel time with multiple days off of work and school. Discounts typically resume the Sunday after Thanksgiving and continue through mid December. Watch for Christmas decorations as Halloween items are removed. Around this time, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party also begins. Similar to its Halloween counterpart, Magic Kingdom closes early for special events and characters culminated with a holiday parade and fireworks.

December ­­- The last month of a year is a mixed bag of crowds and costs. The first Tips and Tricks for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Partytwo and a half weeks finishes up the Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom. Decorations remain throughout the theme parks and resorts through the remainder of the year (and through the first few days of January). After the second full week of December, crowds begin to increase as families take their holiday vacation to Disney World. It’s the highest crowd levels of the year, and the prices match. Wait times during the days surrounding Christmas and New Years can often be measured in hours instead of minutes. While it’s a magical time of year, it’s not the best time to go the most magical place on earth. Around Christmas and New Years, no room discounts are available.

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2017 Disney World vacation? Can you believe we can already price out and plan your adventure? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

What’s New Wednesday: May 4th edition – Walt Disney World

It’s been awhile since I’ve had an edition of What’s New Wednesday, but some exciting things are happening again around Walt Disney World! If you’re traveling soon, you’ve got more new things to look forward to. As mentioned a few weeks ago, a lot of new things are coming this summer with Disney’s Awaken Summer campaign. A 3rd track to Toy Story Mania to alleviate some of the standby line, a 3rd track and a new place to soar (around the World) with Soarin’, Frozen Ever After, Anna & Elsa’s big move to Epcot, and a whole new experiences (at night) in Animal Kingdom!

So what’s new? Princess Fairy Tale Hall in Magic Kingdom FastPasses opened up through June 11th which very likely means that all things Frozen will open up after that date since Anna & Elsa can’t be in 2 places at once!

Olaf is HERE! He’s ready to BRING BACK SUMMER in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Currently they are listed as “soft openings”. Wait times were not bad today, however it was a long day of almost constant rain. You can find him near the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.

Sorcerer Mickey is finding a new home as of May 8th! Currently he’s in a less than ideal location in an empty building next to Toy Story Mania. He’s getting a new set with a gorgeous looking backdrop and a great new location. Minnie is also joining him with a glam look ready for the red carpet – it is some very unique attire!

The Frozen Games are coming to Blizzard Beach this summer. Beginning, May 27th, join Olaf and Kristoff and participate in a variety of “frozen” themed activities. Only water park admission is required (remember, this is different than your theme park admission).

During Fulton’s Crab House’s current refurbishment, the restaurant will undergo a name change: Paddlefish. With this change a menu change is coming as well! Check back for additional details as Disney continues to update!

Everything you need to know about your Disney World MagicBands!

MagicBands

As part of MyMagic+ and staying on property at a Walt Disney World resort, each member of your party will receive a MagicBand. Regardless of age, each member will be able to customize their very own (even babies and under 3 year olds who don’t require tickets!) This small wristband feels like a rubber/plastic composite and an RFID chip inside. In the last several months, the material the bands are made out of has changed making it a more breathable and lighter! These little guys are adjustable (similar to how a baseball cap is adjustable in the back with little plastic snaps) and have the ability to make a really small version for tiny wrists. Disney truly does thing of everything.

Snaps on the back of the MagicBand to fit to any wrist size!

Snaps on the back of the MagicBand to fit to any wrist size!

So your trip is booked and it’s time to customize your MagicBands, now what? Once logged into you’re My Disney Experience (MDE) account and your reservation linked, you will have access to your MagicBands. Use the drop down on the right and choose MagicBands and Cards.

You will have a list of all of your guests and get to choose a color and a name or nickname for each person. Color choices include: red, yellow, green, blue, gray, orange, purple, or pink. You may also enter a name or nickname which is a maximum of 9 characters including letters, numbers or spacing. Your choice is case sensitive. Feel free to be creative! The nickname on the inside of the band isn’t used for anything – the name that appears on your reservation will be what pops up on the cast member’s screen when scanning your band. BUT, get creative! Family of 4 want to be Minnie, Mickey, Donald and Daisy? You got it! There’s no limit to your levels of creativity here! Names will also be imprinted on the inside of each band. Once you are done with your customization you need to confirm your address and mark them as DONE. This important step will save all of your changes and keep you from getting all gray bands! You are also welcome to choose the same color as another member of your family!

You’ll get a countdown of how many days you have left to customize your bands, but typically goes into customization 30 days prior to your arrival and ships shortly after that via  USPS mail.  Delivery comes in a plain brown box, so if you’re keeping a secret from your kids (and bravo to you!) just follow the package delivery to make sure you get the mail that day. The return address does say it’s from Disney, so it’s not completely anonymous!

Opening your MagicBand package

Plain packaging for delivery of our MagicBands

Plain packaging for delivery of our MagicBands

While I’m an adult, Disney always makes me a kid at heart, so watching and (im)patiently waiting for their arrival even though I’ve received more than 10 separate MagicBand deliveries!

Taking it out of the packaging is incredible (get it?) The inside packaging is also really well done and exciting as well! Each MagicBand is labeled by the name or nickname you chose during customization. While we only have two, it looks like that specific packaging could fit up to 5 in each. if you have a larger party, you’ll receive more than one box full.

Incredible packing of our MagicBands!

Incredible packing of our MagicBands!

I took my band out to try it on for size. Trying to make the snaps work with one hand was somewhat difficult, especially for this mama who does things with one hand all the time (a baby typically in the other). Once I finagled it on my wrist, the fit felt pretty perfect! I’m used to wearing a watch, so it didn’t feel much different. After I wore it around the house for awhile, made dinner, hung out with the baby, who seemed very interested in the band on my wrist as well as the box.

I decided to pick up the inside packaging and there was a little pamphlet discussing all the capabilities while on Disney property and a warning for those with pacemakers. If you booked your Disney vacation as a package (minimum room + tickets), you’ll also receive souvenir luggage tags with a corresponding Disney character on it. These tags are DIFFERENT from your Magical Express luggage tags which are sent via separate delivery.

After your vacation, they are yours to keep. They will remain linked to your My Disney Experience account unless you deactivate them or mark one as lost or stolen. They will remain available for use for the next 2-3 year and are reusable for future vacation! By booking an on site reservation on a Disney resort, you will receive a new band for each reservation so if yo lose track of your bands between trips, you can always receive a new set. If you don’t want to keep them, Disney will recycle them for you. Ask a Cast Member at your resort for more details.

In more recent times, Disney has also allowed those of us that travel more often to decline a MagicBand if they identify that there is an active band associated with your account. I’m a collector, so I’ve yet to decline a band yet! I usually bring 2-3 with me when we travel so I can color coordinate as well.

So what does my MagicBand do and why do I need one?

  • MagicBands are your new Key to the World and they do a whole lot more than the old system. You can:
  • Open your resort hotel room door
  • Enter the parks each day (if you have linked park tickets to your account) – it will also hold special event tickets
  • Access your FastPass+ selections (for guests that have linked park tickets to their account and made FastPass+ selections prior to arrival)
  • Link any photos you take on property to your My Disney PhotoPass/Memory Maker account
  • Using your Disney dining plan credits
  • Make purchases around Disney property. By setting up a 4 digit pin prior to your arrival or at check in, you don’t even need a wallet in Disney! . You’re just a wave away from payment! Parents, don’t worry, you have to enable charging privileges for your children.
Even babies love MagicBands!!!

Even babies love MagicBands (and how they grow so fast!!!)

Arriving at the Orlando Airport & Boarding Disney’s Magical Express

Make sure your MagicBands go in your carry on luggage. You’ll need them to access your Magical Express (Disney bus taking you from the airport to your hotel). Once you arrive at the airport, head straight to the Magical Express and you will be sent to your first line of your Disney World vacation! This is a great opportunity to put on your MagicBands. Once your bus arrives, each band will be scanned before you are allowed onto the bus. Remember, Disney will take all your luggage straight to your room, so this process makes getting to resort even faster! Remember, plan for about 75-90 minutes from arrival time at the airport to arrival at your resort. It could be less and the bus ride seems to go fast while you enjoy the welcome from Disney characters!

Arriving at your resort hotel

Once you arrive at your resort, find the correct line to check in: 1. online check in if you checked you in online prior to your arrival or 2. the check in/check out desk which is available if you did not do online check in. One of the very nice cast members will help walk you through the process of check in, confirming all of your contact and billing information as well as using your MagicBands to pull up your reservation! Once your room is ready, you’ll be asked to tap your MagicBands to your door. If you’re staying club level at one of the deluxe resorts, you’ll be asked to tap each MagicBands to your door to register them as a club level guest. You may also have received a direct to room notification if you completed online check in and you can head right to your room and bypass the front desk!

Heading to the theme parks

Once you are checked in, you are able to use your park tickets and dining plan! Whether your room is ready or not, you can head to the parks (another benefit to arriving early in the day!) If you are driving to the park, the driver will need to present his or her MagicBand at the gate to prove your stay inside one of the Disney resort hotels allowing you free parking! You’ll find one of the many MagicBand scanners in the park, mostly noted by the giant Mickey Heads! Hold your band to Mickey’s head as it reads the RFID chip. Once that’s done, choose one of your fingers to put on the finger scanner. You’ll need to use the same finger every single time afterwards. This will turn Mickey’s head green and you’re off to enjoy your first attraction! If there are any issues, you’ll get a blue flashing light and to be asked to try again.

Using your FastPass+ reservations Your FastPass+ reservations will be available via your MagicBands. Each attraction that has FastPass+ capability will have the same Mickey Heads at their FastPass entry. Hold your band to Mickey to wait for the green light. You are unable to arrive prior to your FastPass+ time, but you are given several minutes of grace period after your reservation time ends (I tried 20 minutes late which was too long). For suggestions on making your FastPass+ reservations or what attractions are available, review the most up to date FastPass+ strategy for Disney World Resort Guests.

Extra Magic Hours

What if I’m taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours? It’s different for morning and evening hours. For morning magic hours, only Disney hotel guests are able to enter the park early. You’ll need to show your MagicBand at entry only. For evening hours, one member of your party will need to show your MagicBand for scanning at the entrance to each attraction available during extra magic hours. A cast member will ask how many is joining in your party as you enter to save on scanning each and every time!

Charging to your MagicBands

When you do online check in OR check into your resort, you will be asked to set up a 4 digit pin to allow charges via your MagicBand. The pin can be different for each adult or the same for each member of your party. Additionally, based on age, some children will not be allowed charging privileges at all. Some older children may be allowed to charge with parental permission (they’d need access to the pin as well). If you don’t want your children to purchase anything, that’s ok too.

Dining Plan Credits

If you elected to add Disney’s Dining Plan to your package, your dining plan credits will also be on your MagicBands. Your MagicBand will be scanned to use your credits. As always, your remaining credits will be listed at the bottom of your receipt.

Taking Photos/Memory Maker

Each photographer is now armed with a scanning device. So take as many photos as you’d like, enjoy the benefits of Disney’s Memory Maker package! After you are done with your photos, the photographer will scan one MagicBand and the photos will be instantly added to your account! Again, easier than trying to keep track of another card along the way of your entire vacation!

What if I’m staying at 2 separate Disney hotels/resorts or have 2 reservations because of 2 discounts?

We actually stayed at 2 different resorts so had 2 MagicBands each. Our first resort reservation had our hotel and park tickets and the second was a room only reservation. We were told to formally check out of our first resort (instead of leaving the reservation open through the end of the day). When we arrived at the second resort, we were told that both sets of bands would work for both the resort entry as well as the park tickets. We brought both sets of bands with to the park that day and the cast member was correct! We were able to use our new bands to continue our park tickets.

My review of MagicBands

I really enjoyed using our MagicBands! We used them for everything. I never had to worry about digging in my bag for my Key to the World card to get into the park or grab my credit card to pay for anything (especially as we toured World Showcase in Epcot). We never had a problem throughout our entire trip getting into our hotel room, accessing the parks and our FastPass+ reservations, charging at quick service or table service restaurants, etc. It was a great overall experience with no snafus! I’m excited for others to try this upgrade to Disney technology!

Related posts:

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 or 2017 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Is Staying on the Monorail Worth it?

You do not have to ask me twice – the answer will always be YES.  We just got back from staying at the Polynesian Resort and we LOVED it!  I have such a great childhood memories from there when I was 7 years old and now my own children have them.  It makes me smile (and maybe a tear or two)!

Here are just a few points of why I believe that these resorts are worth every penny:

  • Each resort is an experience not just a”hotel”.  When I walk onto the Polynesian property I feel like I am transported to Hawaii with the lush tropical plants and running waterfalls, decor and then hearing “Aloha!” from everyone that passes you.  Plus these resorts (Polynesian, Contemporary, and Grand Floridian) have a much more quiet and laid back feel for relaxation.  I love watching Magic Kingdom’s firework’s from the beach (or hotel if you request a lagoon view).
  • Rest and Relaxation:  if you are ever able, take a Disney vacation with down days.  I always try to fit one in for my clients because it can be very exhausting and it is supposed to be a vacation.  We took two night this last week and just ate at the resort and played in the pools/hot tub.  If you know my family, we close down the parks every night (it’s our favorite time) so this was a change for us but it was wonderful!
  • Dining: all Disney resorts have great quick service but the Deluxe resorts will have a couple of great sit down dining meals available as well.  Ohana’s, 1900 Park Fare and Chef Mickey’s are the top three for the Monorail resorts.
  • Transportation: I guess this should really be first point since it is the biggest draw due to all the back and forth to parks to room for nap time (if you have little ones), these resorts offer the smooth transportation between park and resort which is important!  I always recommend them to families with small children or with not-so mobile grandparents as well.  The buses and boats are also there for easy transportation.  I know we closed the park down one night past 1:30am and the Monorail was not working so we had to take the boat but it was a nice change of scenery and it got us there just as fast.
  • Resort Hopping:  this is one of my favorite things to do especially during Christmas time with all the incredible decorations around each resort!  This past week we ate dinner at the Grand Floridian one night and then sat in the lobby for a bit to enjoy the ambiance and live band.  And if I am not at the Polynesian (usually I am not) then I will make a Monorail stop there for some Dole Whip and to enjoy the breeze on the beach.

Poly monorail

MinnieBox

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

These are just a few reasons why I feel that the Monorail resorts are worth the money.  And if I had to choose one of the three then I would have to say my family’s favorite Monorail resort is the Contemporary.  We love the fact that Magic Kingdom is right across the street from the resort and only a short 5 minute walk!  Last, the Water Pageant that comes around to each of these three resorts nightly is a joy for me.  The music alone brings such great childhood memories (sniff sniff).  If you are ready to plan your magical memories at one of these fantastic resorts or at any of the incredible Disney resorts then contact me so we can start planning!!   Please feel free to contact me anytime for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE!  Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)

 

An update to Disney World FastPass service – April 10, 2016

It’s been rumored that Disney was changing FastPass service on April 10th allowing guests to choose their FastPass times at the time of booking as well as the ability to add FastPasses via the mobile app. Some major and helpful updates:

  • The ability to choose the time of your FastPass from the start (you want Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but don’t see a time earlier in the day like you were hoping. You don’t have to go through the entire process to see available times which makes this component a bit faster)
  • The ability to choose as little as one or as many as 3 FastPasses. For people that don’t like some of the attractions available in the 2 theme parks (Epcot and Hollywood Studios) that have tiered FastPasses, you can skip making selections you don’t want.
  • Scheduling FastPasses when park hopping – while this functionality is still not available prior to your arrival. Once all of your pre-scheduled FastPasses are used or time has passed, you can use the app to schedule FastPass in ANY of the 4 theme parks. That means you can be on the monorail from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and scheduling a FastPass before you even walk into the park. SUPER helpful!

What I don’t love about the changes:

  • It makes scheduling FastPass a little bit slower as you can only choose one at a time (Something that normally takes me 10-12 minutes took me 17 today). Some of that was because I was trying to take some screen captured of the experience and trying to navigate the new system. It’s not a huge deal in time, but it’s one thing I miss about the old system.
  • The system is not “smart” enough to not provide you times that don’t overlap an existing FastPass so you have to remember the time you previously grabbed or it will take more time.
  • It will take more morning times away from the savvy people with strategy to pull FastPasses in the AM to add more later. It also provides morning times as a first option so they will now be going a little bit faster making the higher value options like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Toy Story Mania a little less available in the morning.

Overall it’s a nice improvement of the system. Hopefully some of the bugs will get worked out over the next few updates of the workflow to get a better overall user experience. The experience on the My Disney Experience app now looks nearly identical to the web site which makes for a familiar user experience from start to finish (and a lot less clicks to make changes on the app which is a welcomed change). If you’d like to see the changes to the app, you will need to update your current version of My Disney Experience.

So what does the new system look like? A few photos:

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 11.03.17 PM

One of your first screens in the new FastPass selection system. – choosing the date you want to select your FastPasses for!

 

Once you select your day, hours for each of the 4 theme parks will pop up to show you park hours, extra magic hours, or any special events for the day in question.

Once you select your day, hours for each of the 4 theme parks will pop up to show you park hours, extra magic hours, or any special events for the day in question.

 

Once your park is selected, available times for each attraction pops up. It looks very similar to the dining options. There are some buttons at the top to allow you to select morning, afternoon, evening, or drop down to find a specific time.

Once your park is selected, available times for each attraction pops up. It looks very similar to the dining options. There are some buttons at the top to allow you to select morning, afternoon, evening, or drop down to find a specific time.

 

Once you choose a time for your first experience, you will get a confirmation screen. You then have the option to choose another experience (if you've only chosen 1 or 2) or to make a selection for a different day.

Once you choose a time for your first experience, you will get a confirmation screen. You then have the option to choose another experience (if you’ve only chosen 1 or 2) or to make a selection for a different day.

 

As a reminder, you can still choose up to 3 experiences each day but you are now not required to choose 3. This makes the experience a little easier for me (a chronic FastPass “waster” in parks like Hollywood Studios because I’m not a thrill rider). I can just choose Toy Story Mania and MAYBE one of the shows for my 3 year old and then we can hop over to Epcot or back to Magic Kingdom to ride it’s a small world over and over!

I’d expect to see less availability inside the parks for FastPasses as the day goes on or you may find yourself waiting a longer time to grab an additional FastPass. As a reminder, with anything new, please be patient! It looks like the initial roll out is working well from my experience today, but there’s always hiccups in the system. This system is also new to cast members, so please be patient with them as well as they learn the new experience!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

If you would like help planning your next Disney World vacation, I’d love to be a part of the process. Please feel free to contact me anytime for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Let’s talk about Disney World weather!

 

It’s coming up to the summer season again, which means weather is a hot topic both literally and figuratively. Around this time of year I start fielding questions about what to do if it rains during the trip, or why there is rain in the forecast every day. Rain is very seasonal in Florida, and Disney World is no exception. Most importantly, don’t let the rain dampen (pun intended) your trip!

During the summer months into fall, expect rain almost on a daily basis. Most of the time this rain isn’t in all day, soaking rain. Afternoon showers are often welcomed as the heat and humidity of the day come to a head. Often times this is welcomed, as cooler temperatures often and prevail. This is a great time of day to take an afternoon break (especially if you’re in Magic Kingdom). If you’re staying in a park during this time, find an indoor attraction or continue on with your plans. It’s always good to have a poncho packed and ready to go when there’s a threat of rain. Don’t forget about something to cover the little one strollers. We found a great stroller cover from Amazon that’s completely see-through but Shields our daughter from rain. Very kind stranger also gave her a poncho on a previous trip which she thought was awesome the first time around and a torture device the next trip!

Poncho2009

Don’t let the rain and wearing a poncho get you down!

So what happens if it does rain during your trip? Make the most of it! Many people had for the buses and their cars, so
lines often get shorter. Many of the attractions have covered queues while you wait or if you really don’t want to get wet,  find an indoor attraction to wait out the rain. Rain is also a good time to go shopping, or have a meal. While you won’t be the only one with these ideas, it’s better to stay as dry as possible.

If rain is in the forecast, we always bring a pair of sandals with us. While tennis shoes are a must for our family while touring the theme parks, nobody likes wet socks or blistered feet the following day. If you want to keep your tennis shoes on, make sure you have an extra pair of socks available. Something I didn’t think about last time was a bag to put wet socks and clothes into. A small plastic bag (or the bag that comes in your ice bucket in your resort room) will do just fine. When you return to your resort, air everything out. We always pack a second pair of tennis shoes as a back up because let me tell you, shoes do not dry in one day. If you only have one pair of shoes, a hair dryer often works, but be prepared for some stinky shoes (and feet) the rest of the trip.

I also ALWAYS bring a hat when there is a strong threat of rain. It gets the rain out of my eyes as I walk and for whatever reason the darn hoods on the ponchos don’t stay on my head without me holding them. Well I can’t push a stroller AND hold my poncho, so a hat solves all of those problems for me! It doesn’t make for great family photos but it’s a great way to save that horrible feeling of rain drops right in the face!

NemoPonchoIf it looks like an all day kind of rain, stick with your plans! We got absolutely poured on during our last trip. Rain started around 2:30 and soaked us through almost 8 pm. Almost everything was “walk on” and none of the attractions were closed because it was just rain and not lightning in the area. We had a little swim into Ariel’s Grotto and were the ONLY people in line around 6 pm and grabbed a very last minute FastPass for Cinderella & Rapunzel (Anna & Elsa was also available as I’m guessing someone got tired of being wet). We’ve done Disney in the rain, but this was the most soaking rain I’ve ever encountered. To stay dry we watched Carousel of Progress, rode PeopleMover, checked out a few shops, had dinner, met some characters, and ended the day with fireworks RIGHT as the rain was stopping. Ahhh the magic of Disney!

On the other end of the spectrum, summer brings HEAT. This is nothing to be messed with. Please listen to your body, keep yourselves and your kids appropriately hydrated with water, Gatorade/Powerade, and other liquids that replenish your fluids. Stay away from caffeine when possible (you won’t get me up early to hit a Disney park without coffee) and stay away from carbonated beverages. Find a place to cool off during the heat of the day and plan your indoor experiences for the afternoons. The best part about those “indoor” activities is they don’t typically have long waits or they are continuously running shows so it’s a nice air-conditioned place to rest your feet, cool you and your family, and enjoy some more Disney fun!

Do you have any Disney secrets for beating the the weather?

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

If you would like help planning your next Disney World vacation, I’d love to be a part of the process. Please feel free to contact me anytime for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Navigating Disney parks during holidays and peak season!

Epcot ball

Happy Easter Disney fans! It’s another peak travel date in Walt Disney World and Disneyland. So for the families that don’t have the luxury of traveling during off peak travel dates outside of holidays whether you’re a teacher, your child’s school doesn’t allow you to take them out, or it’s just too difficult to take kids out of school because it would be too difficult to catch up. This means you’ll be traveling during summer, school breaks, or holidays. And that’s OK! I’m sure in 5-6 years we’ll be facing that struggle with a child in school full time and learning things every day that it would be much more difficult to miss!

So how do you navigate Disney parks during peak travel? Here are a few great tips to help save yourself time and frustration whether traveling with kids or just adults!

  • Plan ahead when possible. Book early to get the best rooms available which often gets you the best rates. If you FullSizeRender 2want to stay at Polynesian over Christmas, you should be thinking about that NOW! Disney raises rates during peak travel, so if you want to save some money, choosing one of those lower cost rooms – a standard view or a lagoon view, those will go more quickly than the more expensive club level rooms!
  • Prep everyone in your travel party for the crowd levels. Know that there will not be as much “room to roam” and less opportunity to “walk on rides”. Think about some games to play while you are in line (Heads Up!) is a popular app and easy for anyone who can read to play! Also bring some snacks and something to drink with you.
  • Think park hoppers to maximize your time. During peak travel times, park hoppers are incredibly helpful! They allow you to start your day in a park with early magic hours and then “hop” elsewhere when the crowds increase beyond a level you find manageable. Outside of peak travel time, I’m not a huge fan of extra magic hours because it increases crowds more quickly than other days so it’s not always a great use of your park time during off peak travel days.
  • Plan for mid-afternoon breaks (with an asterisk). Disney ALWAYS has the late arriving crowds and that’s what really makes the crowds increase. As those always late arriving people arrive, that’s your key to take a mid-afternoon break as noon until about 4 pm is the peak of crowds during the day! If you’d like to see Magic Kingdom’s afternoon parade, pick a day to stay but know you’ll have to find your “front row seat” early! The big asterisk here is if you want to be in Magic Kingdom on the most popular days of the year that often see closures due to park capacity – Christmas Eve, Christmas day, New Years Eve, and New Years Day. Those are the days that you need to arrive early and plan on being there ALL DAY! To break up your day, schedule dining reservations inside the park when possible!
  • IMG_6600Speaking of parades, avoiding Main Street will help lower crowds a little bit and you won’t have to arrive as early. There’s also very little shade along the parade routes, so plan “shifts” to hold spots so one person isn’t stuck in the sun the whole time! The rumor is that Disney is doing away with FastPasses for parades but I just pulled one for June 1st so they’re not a think of the past quite yet! If parades are important (especially during peak time), consider a FastPass!
  • Know the places to “rest your feet” or relax your eyes for a bit (sorry Disney)! I love most of these attractions so don’t get your pitchforks out! Magic Kingdom has plenty of options – things like Carousel of Progress, TTA PeopleMover, PhilharMagic, Hall of Presidents, Country Bear Jamboree, or find a tree at Tom Sawyer’s Island! Epcot World Showcase is full of shows but not all of them have seats so be careful as you choose your options! American Adventure and Impressions de France are both good options! Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom both have some great shows available throughout the day so check your times guide!
  • LIVE IN THE MAGIC! Whether this is your first time and you’re soaking it all in or your first time during peak travel time, enjoy it! This is my advice to every single guest no matter when your travel. Disney destinations are about magic. You just have to decide if you want to be a part of it with a positive attitude or worry about crowds and shut the magic out. ENJOY!
A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!