Mistakes I’ve made in Disney World (and how you can avoid them)

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far far away…I was a first time Disney World visitor (as an adult). I traveled to Disney World a few times as a child with my family but when you’re young, you just go with the flow. As an adult and in charge of my first ever trip to Disney World in which I was paying out of my own pocket, I made some mistakes. Some big ones! Here were my biggest faux pas and how you can avoid them…

Not Making a Plan ahead of timeThis is much harder to do now that FastPass+ is in effect and more guests than ever are choosing to add a dining plan to their package. It was my sister and me. She had just graduated college and we were celebrating in Disney World. We found a great promo, made 2 dining reservations and just planned to eat as inexpensive as possible as 2 girls just starting with our careers. Neither of our dining reservations were in the parks, so I truly went in with ZERO plan for the day. A marker of Disney World success is knowing park hours, extra magic hours, and having a plan of action prior to your arrival. We truly wandered around the parks (which was fine for two 20somethings, but I felt like we missed a lot – AND WE DID!!)

Not researching resorts enough. My initial research involved finding the absolute rock bottom lowest price. Disney, just like the rest of the world, you get what you pay for! Poly signBooking the cheapest room in the cheapest resort gave us the cheapest experience. Shared bus system, an almost 10 minute walk to from our room the the main building to refill mugs and not our kind of “people” in the resort! If I would have taken 10-15 minutes to research the resorts, look at reviews, or look at other options, I would have spent $75 more (for the entire week – not just one day) on a different resort!

Not realizing how Extra Magic Hours affect crowds. This was one of our biggest mistakes! We saw early morning magic hours for each park and thought that would be a great park to go to with our base tickets (OOPS!) Early Magic Hours increase park crowds and unless you can arrive at the parks before that early hour opens (which can be as early as 7 am during peak travel time), you’re doing yourself a disservice and will end up seeing MORE crowds than you would have on a different day.

Arriving lateWe were on vacation. We took time to sleep in. No college classes, no work, why should we get up early? 9 am – 12 pm are the most important hours of the day (or if park open is 8 am during peak travel time). Being part of the late arriving crowd will have you miss the lowest crowds of each day where many attractions are “walk on”. Set an alarm, wake up early and plan on a nap or a break if the early mornings are getting to you! Consider an off day to let everyone sleep in instead of arriving at the park at 11 am or 12 pm each day and then just staying until park close.

Our amazing view from the FastPass viewing area of MSEP!

Our amazing view from the FastPass viewing area of MSEP!

Not understanding FastPass. Again, we’re going back in time when FastPass was still the paper version. We didn’t figure out how things worked until the end of our trip but the theory still holds true with FastPass+. In Disney’s new system, each guest receives 3 FastPasses for every day they have theme park admission. These can be scheduled up to 60 days in advance of your arrival if you are staying on site and on site guests receive the bonus adding more FastPasses throughout the day by using the My Disney Experience app. FastPass is a key to success no matter what time of year you travel!

Not having the option of park hopping.  Two adults, no kids in tow, lots of rain, cancelled fireworks and shows. We should have park hopped! Our first night, Magic Kingdom fireworks were cancelled because of lightning in the area and we missed Epcot’s because we were so water logged later in the week. With base tickets, we didn’t have the opportunity go back to Epcot based on how our days ended up falling into place. It would have been a nice addition to our trip just to give us some flexibility in our days.

Being afraid to explore other resorts. We hopped the boat from Hollywood Studios down toward the Boardwalk and walked around, had some lunch and then started to peek around Boardwalk Inn. Since it wasn’t our resort, I was uncomfortable walking inside because I didn’t feel like I belonged there. The good news for you? You are welcome in ANY Disney World resort if you’d like to explore the common areas! You don’t need a reservation for a dining location. Hop a bus, boat, or monorail and explore!

Not using Magical Express luggage service. We were flying an airline that offered resort airline check in but we didn’t understand what that meant! For those on qualifying airlines, you may check your luggage with Magical Express at your Disney World resort and only your carry ons will come with you on the bus back to the airport. Luggage is secured and sent to the airport and then next time you’ll see it is at your home airport. Amazing little time saver to not deal with anything at the airport and there are rarely guests in line (at least in my 10+ experiences with it!)

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)

I hope you learned a few things from my mistakes! I’d love to help plan for your magical adventure! If  you’re 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!

 

Advertisements

Making the most of your Disney World FastPass+ selections

 

UPDATED for SUMMER 2016 and beyond!

If you’ve been to Disney World or Disneyland you’re probably familiar with FastPass service which allows you to skip the line for some of your favorite Disney World attractions. As technology continues to move forward, so does FastPass+. This change allows guests to make their reservations prior to their arrival. It’s great for families that want a day to sleep in (which I don’t recommend), park hop, or start their day with a dining reservation. Rules and available passes are different for on and off site guests. We’ll start for guests staying at any Disney World resort:

  • Each guest with valid theme park admission is able to make 3 FastPass+ reservations for each day they have park tickets. These first 3 reservations must be in the same theme park. These initial reservations can be made up to 60 days prior to guest arrival date for the length of their stay.
  • Guests will be able to make one additional selection at a time, based on availability. Guests have the ability to make additional selections via the My Disney Experience app or via FastPass kiosks located inside each theme park. You may schedule your 4th, 5th, 6th, etc. FastPasses from the app for any theme park. If using a kiosk, you can only schedule additional FastPasses for the park you are in.
  • Guests will be able to make their additional selection(s) for an experience at which they already redeemed a FastPass+ selection earlier that day (for parks like Epcot and Hollywood Studios, no “tier” requirements)
  • Guests with valid park-hopping privileges will be able to make their additional selection(s) at another park.

It’s a little different for day guests (a.k.a. non-Disney resort staying guests);

  • Each guest with valid theme park admission is able ot make 3 FastPass+ reservations for each day they have park tickets. These reservations must be made in the same theme park. Initial reservations can be made up to 30 days prior to arriving in the park and do not qualify to make reservations for their length of stay as Disney has no way of knowing what their length of stay really is!
  • No additional FastPass+ reservations will be given to non-resort guests.
  • Not much of any advantage – sorry off site guests!

FastPass+ Reservations, Strategy & Planning for Disney resort guests:

  • Make your three FastPass+ reservations online 60 days prior to your arrival (the window opens up at 7 am EST on the 60th day). You can make the reservations for your entire vacation.
    Choose FastPass options for the most popular attractions and for lines that get the longest (see below for list at each park)
  • Make your choices earlier in the day. I start passes for my guests sometime around 9:45 or 10 am with a headlining attraction and then continue back to back until all 3 passes are used (pending any dining reservations during that time).
  • Arrive at the park before opening and ride one popular attraction standby (ideally one you don’t have a FastPass for); Based on the time you exit the attraction, continue until you hit the middle of your first FastPass time.
  • Continue riding standby as attractions allow. Do your next FastPass as close to the end of the window as possible to use your last 2 FastPasses back to back (it feels so much more successful!)
  • After you use your 3rd FastPass, check the app and grab something for later in the day ASAP!
    Grab lunch and then continue your afternoon (or take a break after lunch and schedule a FastPass for your return).
  • Be flexible! If you see the line for Splash Mountain is short at 10:30 am and your FastPass is for 11, hop in the standby line and change your FastPass attraction (or ride again!)

I know it’s A LOT of planning, but you have the ability to get through 5-6 different attractions before lunch which is HUGE! This works best in Magic Kingdom as there are the most attractions in the least amount of space, however the strategy can be used in any of the 4 theme parks. It becomes more important than ever to know the parks before you arrive.

Choosing FastPass+ Attractions

This is where the process gets a little bit easier. Below is a breakdown of all the available FastPass choices. I have put them in order from longest to shortest wait time (on average). Once you get past the first couple, they are fairly interchangeable. I would highly recommend, you choose FastPasses from the top of the list for your initial reservations as these will be the first to go (and likely will be unavailable by the time you get to a kiosk later in the day). As a reminder, the bold selections in Epcot and Hollywood Studios are the tier one choices. You may choose one RED attraction, and two non-red attractions for your three reservations.

MAGIC KINGDOM

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Enchanted Tales With Belle
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Meet Rapunzel and a visiting princess in Fairy Tale Hall
  • Meet Cinderella and a visiting princess in Fairy Tale Hall
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Meet Ariel at her Grotto
  • Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater (Mickey Mouse talks here!)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • The Barnstormer
  • Meet Tinkerbell in Town Square Theater
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • it’s a small world
  • Mad Tea Party (Spinning teacups)
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade (preferred seating)
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

EPCOT

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Soarin’
  • Test Track
  • Mission: Space

    Just a little fun in Epcot character spot!

    Just a little fun in Epcot character spot!

  • Meet Disney Pals at the Epcot Character Spot
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Turtle Talk With Crush
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Living with the Land
  • Journey Into Imagination With Figment
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • First Time in Forever: Frozen Sing-along
  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage
  • Fantasmic
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

ANIMAL KINGDOM

Expedition Everest. Are you brave enough to take on the dreaded Yeti?

Expedition Everest. Are you brave enough to take on the dreaded Yeti?

  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • DINOSAUR
  • Jungle Book Alive (more important when it transitions to Rivers of Light)
  • Finding Nemo: The Musical
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Primeval Whirl
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
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 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!

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!

How to Make the Most of Your FastPass+ Selections!

 

If you’ve been to Disney World or Disneyland you’re probably familiar with FastPass service which allows you to skip the line for some of your favorite Disney World attractions. As technology continues to move forward, so does FastPass+. This change allows guests to make their reservations prior to their arrival. It’s great for families that want a day to sleep in (which I don’t recommend), park hop, or start their day with a dining reservation. Rules and available passes are different for on and off site guests. We’ll start for guests staying at any Disney World resort:

  • Each guest with valid theme park admission is able to make 3 FastPass+ reservations for each day they have park tickets. These first 3 reservations must be in the same theme park. These initial reservations can be made up to 60 days prior to guest arrival date for the length of their stay.
  • Guests will be able to make one additional selection at a time, based on availability. After they redeem that additional selection, they can go to a FastPass+ kiosk to make another selection, and so on. (The additional FastPass+ selections must be made at a kiosk only.)
  • Guests will be able to make their additional selection(s) for an experience at which they already redeemed a FastPass+ selection earlier that day.
  • Guests with valid park-hopping privileges will be able to make their additional selection(s) at another park. Those selections must be made at a kiosk in the park where the desired experience is located.

It’s a little different for day guests (a.k.a. non-Disney resort staying guests);

  • Each guest with valid theme park admission is able ot make 3 FastPass+ reservations for each day they have park tickets. These reservations must be made in the same theme park. Initial reservations can be made up to 30 days prior to arriving in the park and do not qualify to make reservations for their length of stay as Disney has no way of knowing what their length of stay really is!
  • No additional FastPass+ reservations will be given to non-resort guests.
  • Not much of any advantage – sorry off site guests!

FastPass+ Reservations, Strategy & Planning for Disney resort guests:

  • Make your three FastPass+ reservations online 60 days prior to your arrival (the window opens up at 12 am EST on the 60th day). You can make the reservations for your entire vacation.
    Choose FastPass options for the most popular attractions and for lines that get the longest (see below for list at each park)
  • Make your choices earlier in the day. I start passes for my guests sometime around 9:45 or 10 am with a headlining attraction and then continue back to back until all 3 passes are used (pending any dining reservations during that time).
  • Arrive at the park before opening and ride one popular attraction standby (ideally one you don’t have a FastPass for); Based on the time you exit the attraction, continue until you hit the middle of your first FastPass time.
  • Continue riding standby as attractions allow. Do your next FastPass as close to the end of the window as possible to use your last 2 FastPasses back to back (it feels so much more successful!)
  • After you use your 3rd FastPass, find the closest kiosk and make a reservation for after lunch
    Grab lunch and then continue your afternoon (or take a break after lunch and schedule a FastPass for your return).
  • Be flexible! If you see the line for Splash Mountain is short at 10:30 am and your FastPass is for 11, hop in the standby line and change your FastPass attraction (or ride again!)

I know it’s A LOT of planning, but you have the ability to get through 5-6 different attractions before lunch which is HUGE! This works best in Magic Kingdom as there are the most attractions in the least amount of space, however the strategy can be used in any of the 4 theme parks. It becomes more important than ever to know the parks before you arrive.

Choosing FastPass+ Attractions

This is where the process gets a little bit easier. Below is a breakdown of all the available FastPass choices. I have put them in order from longest to shortest wait time (on average). Once you get past the first couple, they are fairly interchangeable. I would highly recommend, you choose FastPasses from the top of the list for your initial reservations as these will be the first to go (and likely will be unavailable by the time you get to a kiosk later in the day). As a reminder, the bold selections in Epcot and Hollywood Studios are the tier one choices. You may choose one RED attraction, and two non-red attractions for your three reservations.

MAGIC KINGDOM

  • Meet Anna & Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall

    Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

    Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Enchanted Tales With Belle
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Meet Rapunzel & Cinderella at Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Meet Ariel at her Grotto
  • Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater (Mickey Mouse talks here!)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • The Barnstormer
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh
  • Meet Tinkerbell in Town Square Hall
  • Main Street Electrical Parade (Reserved Area)
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • it’s a small world
  • Mad Tea Party (Spinning teacups)
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Wishes (Reserved Area – new Gardens near Casey’s corner – it’s a more desirable location the the previous rose garden option!)

EPCOT

  • Soarin’
  • Test Track
  • Mission: Space
  • Turtle Talk With Crush

    Just a little fun in Epcot character spot!

    Just a little fun in Epcot character spot!

  • Captain EO
  • Meet Disney Pals at the Epcot Character Spot
  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth
  • Journey Into Imagination With Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • First Time in Forever: Frozen Sing-along
  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage
  • Fantasmic
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

ANIMAL KINGDOM

Expedition Everest. Are you brave enough to take on the dreaded Yeti?

Expedition Everest. Are you brave enough to take on the dreaded Yeti?

  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • DINOSAUR
  • Finding Nemo: The Musical
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Primeval Whirl
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost

 

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 2015  or 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 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!

A mom’s guide to Disney World Rider Switch

IMG_4982 (2)

Another Disney adventure in the books and I finally have a much better handle on rider switch (WITH photos)! We tried it all. The true rider switch, rider switch coupled with a FastPass selection, 2 FastPasses with no rider switch, and just using the single rider line. Everything worked better than I had planned (except the time the posted time at Splash Mountain was a LIE).

My first important mom note is that both adults DO NOT need a FastPass as long as you have a young one who is too small to enjoy the thrill ride of your choice. In our experience that was the key to every rider switch ticket we received. Our daughter was only measured once in all of the times we used rider switch. My guide focuses mostly on 2 adults with 1 child that’s too small, but it’s equally as useful if you have an older child who wants to enjoy thrill rides. The math says that one adult can start out with the equivalent of 6 FastPasses (the other adult will have 3 FastPasses and find 3 fun things to do without a FastPass).

The second important mom note is that you need to find something for the little one to do. Feel free to get creative or even just change a diaper or find a quiet spot to rest and have a snack.

IMG_4944 (1)

Traditional Rider switch ticket given at rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Soarin’.

Rider Switch with a FastPass

If you’ve got a FastPass for a thrill ride, you only need it for one adult (assuming you have 2 adults in your travel party). If you have more than 2 adults, keep it on the DL. Only TWO adults should present to make the request. Once you are inside your FastPass window, present a Cast Member at the attraction and ask for a Rider Switch ticket. There are two different styles of return tickets but the both work in the same way.

At rides like Soarin’ and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, you receive what looks like the legacy/paper FastPasses. This is good for up to 3 people (1 adult and up to 2 children). At attractions like Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, they give the first rider a lanyard which gets brought up to the cast member right before they ride to bring back down to adult #2. This means you don’t have to be in your FastPass window when you request your rider switch pass.

IMG_4979 (1)

Rider switch lanyard given at the time of request for Splash Mountain (and Big Thunder Mountain, too). The first adult brings it to the cast member right before you board and then you are given the traditional legacy FasstPass

Rider Switch without a FastPass

If you don’t have a FastPass for an attraction that has a rider switch option, you can still use the benefits. The first adult will have to use the standby line and wait it out with the rest of the population. The other adult (and any additional kids – up to 2 kids plus one adult is allowed per rider switch ticket) will be able to use the FastPass line with the rider switch ticket.

Other options besides rider switch

Many attractions have a single rider line: Expedition Everest, Test Track, Rock n Roller Coaster to name a few. If you don’t have a FastPass, you can also use the single rider line + rider switch or 2 adults using the single rider line. If you have one thrill seeking adults and the other who is like me who doesn’t like the top thrill seeking rides, the single rider ride might be your best bet instead of splitting FastPasses. Test Track is much faster using the single rider line because you skip the car customization process.

What the “other” adult can do during rider switch

These are just some suggestions for the adult staying with the little one. A bathroom or snack break is also always an option (it uses up time for rides that are faster like Seven Dwarfs or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad). There are more beyond what is available. There are two columns: the first is if you are not using an additional FastPass and the second is if you are. If you have better suggestions, I’d love to hear them. We’re still a bit “green” in rider switch with only a 2 year old with us, so I welcome all sorts of user feedback!

Park Rider Switch Attraction Non-FastPass Options FastPass-able Attraction
Magic Kingdom Space Mountain Meet Buzz Lightyear (after 10 am)Pete’s Silly Sideshow: character meet and greet (check opening time)

People Mover

Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger SpinTomorrowland Speedway (32 inch requirement to ride)
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Pete’s Silly Sideshow: character meet and greet (check opening time)Meet Gaston at his tavern

Casey Jr. Splash ‘n Soak

Meet Cinderella & RapunzelMeet Anna & Elsa

Dumbo

Prince Charming’s Carousel

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Laughin’ Place playground under Frontierland station railroadMeet Woody & Jessie near Splash Mountain entrance

Tom Sawyers Island

Not much very nearby – you can hike over to Jungle Cruise or Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Splash Mountain Laughin’ Place playground under Frontierland station railroadMeet Woody & Jessie near Splash Mountain entrance

Tom Sawyers Island

Ride the Railroad Around the loop

Not much very nearby – you can hike over to Jungle Cruise or Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Park Rider Switch Attraction Non-FastPass Options FastPass-able Attraction
Epcot Test Track The after-market: Tons of cars to climb in and out of and fun things for kids to enjoy! Epcot Character Spot
Soarin’ None really Living with the Land
Mission Space Exit has a play area for kids of all ages Epcot Character Spot
Park Rider Switch Attraction Non-FastPass Options FastPass-able Attraction
Hollywood Studios Rock n Roller Coaster Art of Disney Animation (or character meet and greet at the end of Hollywood Blvd – check daily schedule) Disney Jr Live on Stage (it’s not very close)
Tower of Terror Art of Disney Animation (or character meet and greet at the end of Hollywood Blvd – check daily schedule) Disney Jr Live on Stage (it’s not very close)
Star Tours Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie SetWatch Jedi Training Academy (or participate if kids are age 4+) Frozen Sing-Along
Park Rider Switch Attraction Non-FastPass Options FastPass-able Attraction
Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest Maharajah Jungle Trek Finding Nemo the Musical
Kali River Rapids Maharajah Jungle Trek Adventures Outpost (Meet Mickey & Minnie)
Dinosaur The Boneyard Finding Nemo the Musical
Primeval Whirl The Boneyard Finding Nemo the Musical

If you still have questions, please use the comments section below!

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 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 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!

Friday Five: Review of 5 non-ride FastPass selections

 

With the addition of FastPass+ in Disney World, you have many choices each day to choose either rides, live shows, or character meet  greets. Having been to Disney many times, we took a little detour from our normal path for FastPass and tried some new live shows/non-ride FastPasses. Some of them proved to be very worthwhile and others were a complete waste!

DSC_0665

Our view from the FastPass+ area for Illuminations

1. IllumiNations Preferred Viewing area: This was a very worthy use of a FastPass. Full disclosure: I don’t like Soarin’ (too much for my eyes to take in)  and my husband has seen it enough times that he as ok skipping it. We also ride Test Track single rider instead of using a FastPass or doing rider switch. Once our daughter gets older, we’ll need to change that strategy a bit, but for now, it was perfect! This may be a great addition to a 2nd Epcot day or as a 4th FastPass for those that are savvy and complete their first 3 passes early in the day. The FastPass location is right at the entrance of World Showcase, so it’s a quick exist after the show is over to be first to head to the monorail or buses. We arrived well into the FastPass window and didn’t have an issue finding a perfect spot for all of us to see (including our 2 year old who was comfortable in her stroller). Big thumbs up from all of us!

2. Fantasmic: This one gets a big thumbs down for me! It was our 4th FastPass after using our first 3 before noon. Our Hollywood Studios plan is always to arrive before park open and accomplish all of the big stuff early in the day, so by 11:30 am our scheduled FastPasses were done. We took a nice long break after lunch for napping and swimming and headed back to DHS shortly before the Fantasmic show. Much to our surprise, the FastPass section was not only full, but was full of general admission guests as well. For me, the whole point of the FastPass was to not arrive so far in advance of the show so I didn’t have to entertain an antsy 2 year old for as long. The section is well off to the side. While no view in the show is bad, it’s not the best. If you want great seats for Fantasmic, book the dining package at one of the 3 restaurants available. Two thumbs down on this one!

3. Main Street Electrical Parade: This is another WIN for us! Another full disclosure: we had three Magic Kingdom

Our amazing view from the FastPass viewing area of MSEP!

Our amazing view from the FastPass viewing area of MSEP!

days and the first one was the lowest crowds I’ve ever encountered so we accomplished almost everything we wanted to do during our entire stay in a single day. That freed up a FastPass later in the week for Main Street Electrical Parade. I only booked it 1-2 days in advance for the first parade (showing how low the overall crowds were during our stay). The location was perfect: in the hub at the flagpole near the entrance of Magic Kingdom. You’ll be the first to leave or follow the parade back into the park if you want to stake your claim on a spot for Wishes! We arrived later than we would have linked but still found a spot right behind the folks that arrived early enough to find a seat on the curb. I was pleasantly pleased to see how few people were there. I wasn’t shoulder to shoulder to anyone else and got to lean comfortably against the railing while we waited for the parade to start.Another two thumbs up!

4. For the First Time in Forever: Frozen Sing-Along: This one gets mixed reviews from me. It was nice to have a guaranteed seat in the theater (something that is definitely helpful during busy times). We arrived about 10 minutes into the FastPass window and were surprised to see that they let in all of the general public before the window closed so we were stuck off the to side. I would have appreciated a bit more lead time to let those with FastPasses into the show first. Again, with a 2 year old in tow, I don’t want to have to entertain her for longer than I need to (over the course of 7 park days, the same books only work for so long!). The show itself was great. The location is moving during Frozen Summer Fun but the theater it was in seemed like the perfect size for the time of year.

5. Voyage of the Little Mermaid: One more for Hollywood Studios (it’s short on rides, so we tried lots of shows). I’m not big on the thrill rides of in Hollywood Studios…free falling, going upside down, and simulator rides….yuck. The show itself is worth seeing, but not worth the FastPass. Once you get through the line, you are all lead into one room and then it’s a free for all to get seats. Seating is no battle and all of the seats are good ones. Again, not worth a FastPass in my opinion. The show is cute for those that enjoy Ariel and the Little Mermaid and a great diversion with the “big kids” are off on Tower of Terror or Rock n Roller Coaster.

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 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 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!

Disney World FastPass+ for Character Meet and Greets

 

FastPass+ again changes the game when it comes to touring Disney’s theme parks. If you’ve got little ones who are character crazy, using one of your 3 daily FastPass+ allotments is a great opportunity to see the magic come to life. You have character meet and greet options in 3 of the 4 theme parks (Hollywood Studios is the only one lacking in this great opportunity – but you don’t be fooled, there are some great character meet options available without FastPass capability. I can make an argument that it’s one of the better places since others are becoming so well known! This also gives you the experience of characters without the added expense of a character meal!

If you’d like to use some of your FastPass+ allotments for character meet & greets, here’s what’s available:

Magic Kingdom

  • Cinderella & Rapunzel at Princess Fairy Tale Hall
  • Ariel at her Grotto
  • Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater
  • Tinkerbell at Town Square Theater (NEW)
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle (kind of a stretch, but I’ll count it!)

Epcot

  • Epcot Character Spot (Usually Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy)

Animal Kingdom

  • Meet Disney Pals (Usually Mickey and Minnie)

Remember, these are just the options available via FastPass! You have PLENTY of other character meet and greet options all over the 4 theme parks (a future blog post with all of those details coming as soon as I can get my head wrapped around all the new updates from spring and summer 2014!)

Make sure you know all of the details of FastPass+ and how to make the most of your time!

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

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

Ready to get started planning your 2015 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!