Category: FastPass+

#TripReportTuesday – Taking on the Springs on the High Seas – Flowers, Cheddar Cheese Soup and the NBA Playoffs?

My Album 3-001

Day 1 continued: Flowers, Cheddar Cheese Soup and the NBA Playoffs?


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The first park we visit always seems to vary when we vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort. It doesn’t matter at all to me which one we visit first because I am just so happy to be there! If you read the last post, you will know we were headed to Epcot this evening. Our main goals this afternoon were to:

  1. Hit up our favorite rides
  2. Check out some of the Flower & Garden Festival
  3. Stuff ourselves silly with dinner at Le Cellier
  4. Score an awesome viewing location for Illuminations
  5. Somehow keep up with the NBA Playoffs
  6. Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours (EMH) until 11:00 PM

As you can see, we hoped to accomplish a lot and it was almost already 3:00 PM. Our first order of business was Test Track because we had a FastPass+ reservation between 3:05-4:05. Of course, we stopped to take some pictures first because the topiaries at the park’s entrance and throughout the park are amazing! If you ever have a chance to check out the Flower & Garden Festival, definitely make it a point to see all the creative topiaries, it amazes me how detailed each one is, not that I would expect anything less from Disney. After admiring the adorable displays at the entrance, we made a beeline for Test Track, which happens to be my favorite Epcot attraction!

2015-05-08-14h49m19EPCOT_ECENTR1_73018838152015-05-08-14h50m29 2015-05-08-14h50m39

2015-05-08-15h00m02Wasting no time at all, we scanned our MagicBands at the Fastpass+ entrance and headed in. Soon, we were designing our own vehicle seen below to be put to the test on the Sim track. This ride is necessary for anyone who is a car enthusiast! 2015-05-08-15h13m33And we’re off! I don’t remember our vehicle performed compared to the others in our car, probably because of the adrenaline rush. EPCOT_DPIRIDESYSGMTT_7301943749People with long hair, beware–this is what happens to you!EPCOT_DPIRIDESYSGMTT_7323127995Such a beautiful couple. 2015-05-08-15h28m09

We had some time before our next FastPass+ which was for Spaceship Earth, so we decided to check out the Flower & Garden Festival building which was near the Universe of Energy in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion. Being a Disney nerd, I could not believe I had never been in this building before.

2015-05-08-15h40m182015-05-08-15h40m37 2015-05-08-15h39m21 2015-05-08-15h39m55The building is used for festivals such as Flower & Garden for demonstrations, exhibits and festival merchandise. I wondered if the fact that the building’s skylights are shaped like a flower have anything to do with why they keep this building around for festivals and not convert it to another attraction.

2015-05-08-15h41m06We walked around the entire pavilion, they had some kind of horticulture presentation going on, but we didn’t stop to watch. We did like seeing all the cute merchandise though!2015-05-08-15h43m02 2015-05-08-15h43m51A very neat exhibit was toward the back of the pavilion and showed how Cast Members go about making the amazing topiaries. It was very cool to see all that goes into these works of art!
2015-05-08-15h52m22Feeling informed, we decided to take a break from the flowers and paid a visit to the Seas with Nemo & Friends. EPCOT_LIVINSEAS_7302059992 2015-05-08-16h11m05We also stayed for Turtle Talk with Crush, which is such a fun little show because it is always different and depends on the participation from the kids in the audience. The show is HILARIOUS! I don’t want to ruin the magic, but definitely check it out if you have never stayed to watch it! It is located in the pavilion that houses the Seas with Nemo & Friends. In fact, the entire Seas pavilion is worth exploring. You can see dolphins, manatees and tons of other fish. There are also educational presentations throughout the day! It is such a great place to take a break from the Florida heat and sun!

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It was now time for our Fastpass+ reservation to Spaceship Earth (The Ball as it is known in non-Disney circles).  We decided not to try and photograph anything this time around and just enjoyed our slow paced ride through time. As it was nearing our dinner reservation for Le Cellier, we headed to the World Showcase part of the park to explore a bit before dinner.

2015-05-08-17h32m27Here is a hint to the country we ended up in:

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If you didn’t guess Mexico, I cannot help you. Definitely the best World Showcase pavilion in my opinion. Not only is it beautiful inside because it looks like you are outside, but you also get to ride on a Grand Fiesta Tour with the 3 Caballeros! Trust me, it is not as wild as it sounds! After our visit with the 3 Caballeros, I resisted the urge to get a churro because it was dinner time and we were off to Canada!

We checked in promptly at 5:40 which was our reservation time and were seated in no time. This is a pretty small restaurant and popular, so I recommend getting a dining reservation 180 days in advance if you have your heart set on eating here.

Le Cellier is a delicious steakhouse, but I honestly go for the ever popular Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup!! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, heaven in a bowl:2015-05-08-17h55m29
Dip the pretzel bread in that soup, and I swear your life will be changed forever.
For our main entree, we both got the Le Cellier Filet Mignon: here is the description from Disney’s website-

AAA Canadian Beef Tenderloin, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Heirloom Toy Box Tomatoes, Truffle-Butter Sauce

Is your mouth watering?

Dinner was wonderful and we were extremely full. We made the smart decision to skip on dessert because it was our first day of vacation and we had many more days ahead not to mention a cruise with unlimited desserts coming up.

After dinner, we leisurely made our way back into Future World taking some beautiful pictures along the way. Epcot always looks to peaceful from this angle.

2015-05-08-17h34m36 2015-05-08-17h34m48 2015-05-08-17h34m562015-05-08-18h54m07We had a FastPass+ reservation ready to be used at Journey into the Imagination with Figment and our full bellies were happy that the attraction is pretty close to the World Showcase so we didn’t have far to walk! After a journey into the imagination with our favorite purple dragon, we played in the Imagination fountains as any normal adults in their thirties would. I think this is why we love Disney so much – there is never any judgement to completely grown adults acting as children.

2015-05-08-19h13m31 2015-05-08-19h15m09Feeling like we did pretty good on the rides this afternoon, we were ready to stake out a spot for Illuminations and seeing that it was only 7:30, we would definitely get an awesome spot. We found a spot front and center right past the Mexico Pavilion.

You may remember, one of our goals for the day was to stay informed of the NBA Playoffs, now normally, when I am at Disney, I tune out the entire real world and do not want to any communication with it! But, in our house, we are big Chicago Bulls fans and they were in the second round playing their arch-nemesis LeBron James & the Cleveland Cavaliers and I had to know what was happening. We contemplated walking over to the Boardwalk to catch the game at the ESPN Club, but I really wanted to see Illuminations, so we did the next best thing…we streamed it on our phones using Disney’s free Wi-Fi. What a technologically advanced world we live in! This really made the time fly by though and we made some friends along the way as they would ask what we were watching or what the score currently was.We could just tell some dads were jealous of our little setup. In between our NBA watching, we took this beautiful picture of the World Showcase Lagoon. Dusk around the World Showcase is one my happy places!

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Soon, the sun was gone and an ominous voice came over the speakers wishing us a “Good Evening” alerting us that Illuminations was about to begin.

Illuminations-9ps 2015-05-08-21h04m16 2015-05-08-21h10m20 2015-05-08-21h11m21 2015-05-08-21h14m14 2015-05-08-21h14m34As usual, Illuminations did not disappoint one bit! The fact we had a front row seat with no heads blocking our view made it even better! This is why I don’t believe in wasting a FastPass+ on the nighttime entertainment. If you just plan to arrive 30 min – 1 hour early, you should have no issues finding a great viewing location for any of the shows.

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While many people headed for the exit, we had two more goals to accomplish during Extra Magic Hours: Soarin’ and another ride on Test Track.

Remember that Extra Magic Hours is a perk for Disney resort guests which allows to stay in select parks two hours after regular closing or enter one hour before opening. Check Disney’s official park hours for the Extra Magic Hours schedule.

2015-05-08-21h29m20Soarin’ is my husband’s favorite ride and since we already rode Test Track, we decided to ride Soarin’ first. The Bulls game was still going on, so we watched the game while in line, making more friends with jealous dads along the way. The game actually ended up going into overtime, so once we were done soaring, we took a seat on one of the benches at the exit to watch the final minutes. The game went down to the wire with Derrick Rose hitting the game winner! We literally jumped up screaming and people thought we were insane!! With the game over we needed to calm our nerves, so naturally, we hightailed it to Test Track for a 65 mph ride in a car. EPCOT_DPIRIDESYSGMTT_7323142612With such a full & exciting afternoon/evening and an upcoming day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, we were ready for some shut eye. And with that, our evening came to an end & we said goodnight to Epcot!

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Should I Get a FastPass+ For…

june245So you finally have your theme park admission linked to My Disney Experience & are ready to make your FastPass+ selections, only to find you have no idea what 3 experiences to choose for each day of your trip! Don’t worry, this is a common problem! This little issue is now exacerbated by the fact that Disney has increased the number of options which offer FastPass+ and include a number of different experiences from rides and shows to character meet and greets and preferred viewing areas of the nighttime spectaculars. Now, more than ever, guests have some decision making to do when it comes to FastPass+ planning.

Now, just because FastPass+ is offered at an attraction or show, does not mean that you should go ahead and book it without thinking it through and having some sort of plan. I have learned that all FastPass+ options are not created equal and choosing wisely is key.

Many factors can come into play when choosing your selections. The first is the season/time of year you are visiting. You will think twice about booking that Kali River Rapids FastPass+ in December when the weather can be in the 60’s and 70’s and the standby lines are almost non-existent. In the hotter months, those babies are a hot commodity.

The time of day you are visiting is also another factor. Let’s say Magic Kingdom Park is open until 1:00 AM and you plan on staying until closing, I can almost guarantee you that you will not need a FastPass+ for Dumbo since it is an experience mostly enjoyed by children, most of which are hopefully fast asleep by 1:00 AM. You will be able to walk right on to this attraction and even possibly ride multiple times with no waiting if you are into that! (Plus it is so much prettier at night!) Here is a tip for you: typically, most Fantasyland attractions (with the exception of the enigma that is Peter Pan’s Flight) can be enjoyed with little or no wait during the evening hours. Many attractions have better standby times during the nighttime parades and/or fireworks too and obviously the same is true if you are an early riser and make it to rope drop (Disney speak for opening time). If it is an attraction you want to ride multiple times, (Tower of Terror, anyone?)  a good strategy is to get a FastPass+ at park opening time (any other time will work too if you don’t mind walking back and forth) and ride it once (or more) standby with little/no wait and then again with your FastPass+ return time.

Another factor in choosing your FastPasses are the ages of those in your travel party. Obviously if you have toddlers, you will probably not be riding Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, and will want to focus your FastPasses around more family friendly attractions. If you do have young children, but you want to have some thrilling fun, Disney offers a service called Rider Switch at most attractions that have a height requirement. Rider Switch allows one adult to ride while the other adult waits with the non-riders in a specialized area. After the first adult returns from their thrilling fun, the second adult is allowed to ride with no wait.

Along with the ages in your travel party, you also have to take into account the general interests of your travel group. If you know your family will hate sitting through a 25 minute parade, then you most definitely will not want to waste a FastPass+ on a preferred viewing location and would rather hightail it to Space Mountain instead. I highly suggest getting the travel party together before it is time to make FastPass+ reservations to get a feel for everyone’s must do’s. Think of it like a Disney planning party.

The final thing to keep in mind is asking yourself, “Do I really need a FastPass for this?” That is where I come in! Now, I certainly haven’t tried each of these attractions with FastPass+, but there is a general consensus among the Disney community for experiences that you just shouldn’t waste a FastPass+ on. That is not to say that the attraction/show is something you should skip, it is just a suggestion that your FastPass+ reservations could be better utilized!

Here is how it works, below you will find I have broken down the experiences which are available at each park and then separated them into categories such as Attractions, Live Entertainment, Character Meet & Greets and Parades/Fireworks. Each experience is rated by the plus signs meaning:

+++: FastPass+ Highly Recommended — Standby line often has long wait times throughout the day, very popular/headlining attraction.

++: FastPass+ Recommended, But Not Needed — Standby line can be long at times and non-existent at other times. If you are visiting during the busier times of the day (11 AM – 5 PM) you may consider booking it.

+: FastPass+ Not Generally Needed — Standby line are often quick moving or very short. Many of the experiences in this category are shows that hold a whole lot of guests with each showing so with a little advanced planning, you should have no problem just attending them without a FastPass+. Many of the parades/nighttime shows are also in this category because with some simple planning, you should be able to secure a great spot to watch the shows.

***Note that what is listed below are only the experiences that offer FastPass+, each park has a multitude of other experiences that do not offer the service, so make sure you take those into account when making your touring plan, if you choose to vacation with a touring plan that is.


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Magic Kingdom

You may choose any 3 FastPass+ selections in advance:

Attractions:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad +++
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin ++
  • Dumbo ++
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle (Attraction/Live Entertainment) +++
  • Haunted Mansion ++
  • It’s a Small World ++
  • Jungle Cruise ++
  • Mad Tea Party ++
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic +
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor +
  • Peter Pan’s Flight +++
  • Pirates of the Caribbean ++
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train +++
  • Space Mountain +++
  • Splash Mountain +++
  • The Barnstormer +
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin ++
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ++
  • Tomorrowland Speedway +++
  • Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid +

Character Meet & Greets:

  • Meet Anna & Elsa – Princess Fairytale Hall +++
  • Meet Ariel – Ariel’s Grotto ++
  • Meet Cinderella & Rapunzel – Princess Fairytale Hall ++
  • Meet Mickey Mouse – Town Square Theater ++
  • Meet Tinkerbell – Town Square Theater ++

Parades/Fireworks:

  • Festival of Fantasy Parade (preferred viewing area) +
  • Main Street Electrical Parade (preferred viewing area) +
  • Wishes Fireworks (preferred viewing area) +

DSC_2370Disney’s Animal Kingdom 

You may choose any 3 FastPass+ selections in advance:

Attractions:

  • DINOSAUR +
  • Expedition Everest +++
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug +
  • Kali River Rapids +++
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris +++
  • Primeval Whirl +

Live Entertainment:

  • Festival of the Lion King ++
  • Finding Nemo The Musical +

Character Meet & Greets:

  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals – Adventurers Outpost ++

2013_05_14_14_26-0000Epcot

FastPass+ experiences are separated into categories. You must choose 1 from the Tier 1 offerings and 2 from the Tier 2 offerings.

Epcot – Tier 1 (Choose 1)

Attractions:

  • Living with the Land ++
  • Soarin’ +++
  • Test Track +++

Parades/Fireworks:

  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth (World Showcase Lagoon) ++

Epcot – Tier 2 (Choose 2)

Attractions:

  • Captain EO +
  • Journey into Imagination +
  • Mission: SPACE ++
  • Spaceship Earth ++
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends +
  • Turtle Talk with Crush +

Character Meet & Greets:

  • Character Spot (Meet Mickey & Friends) ++

DSCN7812Disney’s Hollywood Studios

FastPass+ experiences are separated into categories. You must choose 1 from the Tier 1 offerings and 2 from the Tier 2 offerings.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Tier 1 (Choose 1):

Attractions:

  • Toy Story Mania! +++
  • Rock ‘n Roller Coaster +++
  • The Great Movie Ride ++

Live Entertainment:

  • Beauty & the Beast Live on Stage +

Parades/Fireworks:

  • Fantasmic! +

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Tier 2 (Choose 2):

Attractions:

  • Star Tours +
  • Muppet*Vision 3D +
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror +++

Live Entertainment:

  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration +++
  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage! +
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid +
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! +
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show +

The FastPass system has definitely gone through some changes and it can be difficult to adapt to often times only having 3 FastPasses per day. Remember, you can make one additional FastPass+ reservation in the park at the FastPass+ kiosks once your original 3 are used/expired. We have found that what we want to use that 4th FastPass+ for is usually “sold out” for the day. Whatever your strategy may be, I hope this guide has been helpful in making your FastPass+ decisions. Happy planning!

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An Introduction to FastPass+

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What is a FastPass?


Disney’s FastPass has been around for quite some time now, but has recently gone through a major re-haul with the addition of MyMagic+. A FastPass is basically a coveted pass which allows you to enter a different queue and bypass the standby line, resulting in shorter wait times. Different from other theme parks’ “front of the line” passes, FastPass is available to all guests, free of charge. FastPass used to be in the form of a paper ticket that you would receive from a FastPass machine which were housed in the front of the most popular attractions. The paper pass had a return time indicating when you were allowed to come back to enter the FastPass queue. You could obtain another FastPass after two hours of pulling your first ticket or after the return time (whichever came first). There was also no limit in the number of passes you could pull in a day. This “legacy” FastPass system with its distributing machines and paper passes is now a thing of the past although the basic idea of having a reservation to bypass the standby queue still remains in FastPass+.

FastPass+, What Makes it +?


FastPass+ allows you to make reservations in advance to some of the most popular Walt Disney World attractions and entertainment. If you have valid theme park admission and a My Disney Experience online account, you can make reservations before you even leave for your trip. This is very different from the legacy system in which you had to physically walk to the attraction in order to receive your FastPass, only to sometimes find out that they were all distributed for the day.

FastPass+ is not just for rides, users can reserve character greetings (Anna & Elsa, anyone?), shows, parades and fireworks too-which is a new welcomed addition that was not available with the legacy system.

One of the best and most innovative features of the system is that your FastPass+ reservations are linked to your My Disney Experience account and if have a MagicBand, you can simply scan it at the entrance at the FastPass+ queue when you reach your return time. If you are not using a MagicBand, you will need to scan your RFID enabled ticket.

FastPass+ is still available to ALL guests visiting Walt Disney World, but how soon you can make them in advance varies. If you purchase your theme park admission in advance and are staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, you may make your FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance. If you purchase your theme park admission in advance and are staying offsite, you may make your FastPass+ reservations 30 days in advance (same holds true to Annual Passholders). If you are planning on buying your admission at the gate, you will have to make your FastPass+ reservations that day, but note that availability will be limited since many have made them 30-60 days in advance. If you can, I highly recommended you purchase your tickets in advance!

How do I make FastPass+ Reservations?


FastPass+ reservations are managed through the My Disney Experience website and app. Remember, in order to make FastPass+ reservations in advance you must have already purchased valid theme park admission and have it linked to your My Disney Experience account. If you purchased a vacation package or tickets directly through Disney, this will most likely automatically show up in your account. If you purchased your tickets elsewhere, you will need to manually add them. Those wishing to make reservations 60 days in advance must have a valid Disney hotel reservation linked to their My Disney Experience.

(Click on screenshots to enlarge them, these instructions are for using the website not the app, though the process is very similar)

Step 1: Visit www.disneyworld.com and log into your My Disney Experience. From the My Disney Experience menu, select FastPass+. This will take you the area of the website where you can make new, modify or cancel any FastPass+ reservations.23-MDE-Tutorial-FPFRONT

Step 2: If you are looking to set up your FastPass+ reservations for the first time, choose “New FastPass+”. Otherwise- choose modify or cancel.14-MDE-Tutorial-FP

Step 3: You will now be asked to choose the people whom you are making the reservation for. Only those with valid theme park admission linked to your account through the Family & Friends section will show up. Keep in mind that children under 3 do not require theme park admission, therefore, they will not need FastPass+ reservations. 15-MDE-Tutorial-FPStep 4: Choose the park you would like to visit and the date you are planning to visit it. The dates you are eligible to make reservations will be highlighted in blue. If the dates you are planning on visiting are not highlighted, make sure you are making reservations 60 days or less before your check-in date if staying at a Walt Disney World hotel or 30 days or less from your planned park date if you are staying elsewhere. The system will not let you book days that do not fall in that range no matter how hard you try. 16-MDE-Tutorial-FPStep 5: Choose your FastPass+ selections. You are allowed 3 reservations per day and all 3 MUST be in the same park. It is important to note that at Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, you may choose any 3 attractions from the list. Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios group their FastPass+ selections into different tiers, creatively called “Tier 1” and “Tier 2” experiences. At these parks, you may only choose one selection from their Tier 1 grouping and two selections from their Tier 2 grouping. These parks have fewer headliners/thrills so the thought behind this is so that everyone doesn’t flood these popular attractions resulting in long FastPass+ queues and it forces people to other areas of the park.17-MDE-Tutorial-FPStep 6: The website will now generate 4 different timing options for you to choose from based on the attractions/entertainment you picked. Choose the option that BEST fits your plans. Do not fret if the times aren’t perfect because you can tweak them to better meet your needs right after they are booked. The system also already takes into account any dining reservations linked to your account, so there will not be any conflict, however, it does not account for transportation time or if your party consists of an extremely slow group of eaters, so make sure you keep that in mind when you are reviewing your options, Now click “Done.”18-MDE-Tutorial-FPStep 7: This will take you to the confirmation page showing you that your FastPass+ reservations have officially been booked! If you want to modify the times to better fit your needs, you will be able to modify them easily from this screen, just click “Select New Time” or “Modify” to change the experience altogether. Note that the time you really want may no longer be available, so be prepared to choose the next best option. You may now repeat this process from steps 2-7 for other dates that you are eligible. 19-MDE-Tutorial-FP20-MDE-Tutorial-FP

Also note that your FastPass+ reservations will now be available in your itinerary section of My Disney Experience to easily view, modify or cancel if needed. 21-MDE-Tutorial-FP

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Overall, making FastPass+ reservations is actually quite simple and very user friendly!

Tips, Tricks & Other Information


 

 

  • Did you know that you are allowed to make additional FastPass+ reservations in addition to your 3 in advance? The caveat to this rule is that you must use your 3 FastPass+ experiences for the day (or be past your final arrival window). This additional FastPass+ can now be made on the My Disney Experience App or by visiting one of the FastPass+ Kiosks in the park. You may only make one additional FastPass+ at a time, but there is no limit to how many you may make in a day. To take advantage of the “bonus” FastPass+, it is recommended that you make initial FastPass+ reservations early in the day to give you a better a chance of getting additional ones.
  • The FastPass+ kiosks are also used for people who did not purchase tickets in advance or chose not to make reservations in advance. These guests may visit these kiosks to make their 3 selections for the day. There are always plenty of Cast Members available to help you along the way or make the reservations for you.
  • You can easily use your Smart Phone and the My Disney Experience app while on your vacation to tweak your FastPass+ reservations as you see fit. You probably won’t have a ton of availability, but it is easy to do and does not hurt to try if it means you get to sleep in a couple more hours. If you don’t have a Smart Phone or access to a computer, lobby concierge at your Walt Disney World hotel can assist you.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how the FastPass+ system works. I will be doing part 2 of this post highlighting the best (and worst) attractions/entertainment to use FastPass+. That topic is just way too long to add on to this post!

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