Hey everybody, there’s a new itinerary out for arrivals 8/31 through 10/26/2019. You can find it here.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Category — t. Disney’s MyMagic+ Project and Expansion Plans

Off-Siters Can Reserve FastPass+ in Advance Beginning March 31

Reserving FastPass+ in advance will be possible for off-site guests beginning March 31, multiple sources—including easyWDW.com and WDWMagic.com–reported March 26.

FastPass+ Reservable in Advance for Off-Siters

Until now, reserving FastPass+ in advance has been limited to those staying at a Disney World-owned hotel and Annual Passholders.

Beginning March 31, off-site guests  will be able to make FastPass+ reservations beginning 30 days before the intended use date, the same window as Annual Passholders. Off-siters need first to set up a MyDisneyExperience account and link their tickets to it.

Guests staying at Disney-owned hotels will continue to have a 30 day advantage, being able to make their FastPass+ reservations beginning 60 days before their check-in date.

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March 26, 2014   6 Comments

Staying Off-Site and Want to Reserve FastPass+ in Advance? Book Dining.

Off-Siters and FastPass+ from yourfirstvisit.netThere have been several reports lately about off-siters with in-park dining reservations being able to book FastPass+ in advance  

One of the more detailed discussions is in this disboards thread, started last Wednesday by Velvetsqueeze.

Deep in it, Lizabu quotes an email from Disney World (I’ve edited it a bit):

Since you took the time to plan a dining experience at a Walt Disney World Theme Park in advance, we’d like to invite you to test Disney FastPass+ service so you can reserve access to select Theme Park experiences in advance as well! You can do this by helping us test our Disney FastPass+ service while you’re here!

With Disney FastPass+ service you can lock-in some of your must do fun before you arrive. That means you can enjoy less time waiting in line and more time having fun. Best of all–it’s included with Theme Park admission.

Complete the following steps if you’d like to participate in this test.

1. Link your tickets
If you haven’t done so yet, you’ll need to link and assign a Walt Disney World Theme Park ticket for each member of your travel party age three (3) or older.
2. Link your dining reservation
If your upcoming dining reservation is not listed on your My Disney Experience planning page, then click here to link it now with confirmation number: xxxxxx.

Complete these steps by March 6, 2014. On March 7, we’ll send you a confirmation letting you know you’re part of the test!

So if you are planning an off-site stay, and want at least a shot at being able to book FastPass+ in advance, figure out which park you’ll go to your first day, and

  1. Set up your MyDisneyExperience account
  2. Make an in-park dining reservation for the first park day of your trip and link it up.
  3. Link up your tickets

Who knows what will happen next–but you might get the invitation that Lizabu and Velevtsqueeze got!

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March 9, 2014   2 Comments

FastPass+ Test #5 And Other News

Continuing the DVC re-visits from yourfirstvisit.netLater this week the family heads off to Disney World.  Here’s what’s on the agenda this time:

Testing FastPass+ during a high crowd period. The spring break mobs begin March 8, when most of the state of Texas moves in to Disney World. During this visit, I’ll do our first FP+ test during a higher-crowd period (the prior four tests have all been during low-crowds dates).

As in Test# 3, we’ll do most of our FastPass+ reservations the night before or day of, to see how that goes during higher crowds, and as in Test #4, I’ll also buy a regular ticket and test day-of FastPass+ as though I were an off-siter, but during a high-crowd period.

Finishing up the revisits to the DVC resorts, with stays at the Beach Club Villas and Boardwalk Villas. With these done, I’ll have gained material for revised reviews by staying again in two-bedroom villas (or, where I couldn’t book those, a one bedroom and then a studio) in all the Disney World DVC resorts in the last 10 months.

Yes I am way behind in publishing the revised reviews, but—so far—the rankings have not changed.

New Parade FastPass+ from yourfirstvisit.netSeeing the new afternoon parade at the Magic Kingdom. The new “Festival of Fantasy” Magic Kingdom afternoon parade debuts Sunday March 9 at 3p.

I’ve got it on FastPass+ (you can take this “day of use” testing too far, you know) and will be reviewing it soon after. It’s got “Frozen” so will be a monster hit…

Working on the book!!!!

Relaxing with my family…

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March 5, 2014   5 Comments

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train from yourfirstvisit.netI’m in Orlando to help out my client at a ginormous convention at the Orange County Convention Center.

The plans to attend came together very late, so the only flights available got us here a day early.

So of course we went to the Magic Kingdom, where I had a chance to see parts of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train where the construction walls had been taken down. (Click the images to enlarge them.)

This new ride will be the final component of the New Fantasyland expansion.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 1 2-22 from yourfirstvisit.net

There’s a press event for it at the end of April/beginning of May, so all expectations are that it will be open by then–and perhaps well before.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 2 2-22 from yourfirstvisit.net

It looks really, really fun!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 3 2-22 from yourfirstvisit.net

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February 23, 2014   10 Comments

Reservable FastPass+ For Off-Site Visitors?

Reservable FastPass+ for Off-Site Guests from yourfirstvisit.netLast week Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel published about Disney World’s new advertising campaign touting FastPass+ and staying at Disney resorts.

Right now, those not staying at Disney-owned resorts can use FastPass+, but can’t book rides ahead of time, while Disney resort guests can.

(So far, booking great same-day FastPass+ has not been a big deal–see this.)

Garcia’s article quoted Disney spokeswoman Marilyn Waters a couple of times–interestingly, and glancingly, on “non-hotel” guests as well (bold added):

“Disney would not say when it will begin offering reservations to non-hotel guests. Waters said only that it will happen ‘in the coming months.’

Not sure what to make of this.

It could be referring to the annual passholder test that has recently begun.

But it could also be referring to making reservable FastPass+ available to regular people with regular tickets not staying in a Disney World hotel. 

This would make a lot of people happy…

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort in the Evening from yourfirstvisit.net

Pretty much everyone expects that Disney will make the whole MyMagic+ thing better for on-site guests than for offsite.

But how much better has not been clear–and still isn’t.

If off-site guests get reservable FastPass+, something will be different for them–the booking window, the number of FastPass+ available per day, access to “Tier One” FastPass+…maybe all the above.

Pragmatically speaking, the next big practical test of FastPass+ will be the busy spring break season–this will be the first test of the full system during a sustained period of high crowds.

I could not see Disney offering reservable FastPass+ more broadly to off-site visitors until it makes it through this test…

My guess is that if off-site guests get access to reservable FastPass+, it’ll happen at earliest this summer.

There’s a press event scheduled for April 30 to May 2. Topics in it include not only the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but also MyMagic+.  If the spring break tests of FastPass+ go well, that’s a natural time for the announcement of such an expansion of eligibility…

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February 16, 2014   No Comments

Park Hopping With FastPass+

Park Hopping and FastPass+“Park Hopping” is going to more than one Walt Disney World theme park in a day.

This requires a “park hopper” add-on to base tickets—currently about $63 extra per person for a ticket of two to ten days. (And no–you can’t just use “two days” of one regular ticket…)

(There’s another way to do more than one park in a day, that I’ll come back to in a minute.)

Most longer visits by first-time visitors can be designed to avoid the need for this extra cost add-on, but for some it will make sense–especially those on shorter trips–and many returning visitors have enjoyed the flexibility that hoppers give them.

Park hoppers let you

  • Have dinner or evening drinks in a different park than you began the day in—particularly in Epcot, and a particular boon for those staying in the Epcot resorts
  • See the Magic Kingdom evening events while beginning the day in a less crowded park—a particularly good plan during the “party season,” the period from mid-September to mid-December when many nights the Magic Kingdom closes at 7p for the Halloween or Christmas Party—and as a result is mobbed during the days it is open late and has the full parade and fireworks program
  • Start the day at a morning Extra Magic Hours Park, but head to a different park later in the morning or early afternoon as it becomes increasingly crowded

Until, that is, FastPass+.

As of now, and perhaps for all eternity, you are limited to three FastPass+ per ticket per day, and those in only one park. So while you can still hop, you can use your ticket to get FastPass+ in only the first or the second park—and not both.

PARK HOPPING WITH FASTPASS+ IN ONE PARK

This has caused a bit of a ruckus, but it’s still easy to hop if your purpose is dining or evening entertainment. Neither of these requires a FastPass+, and moreover, in the ancien regime of legacy FastPass, arriving at a park for dinner or the evening shows would usually mean that the Fastpasses for that day would all be gone anyway by then.

If your purpose in hopping was to go from one park’s morning Extra Magic Hours to see a less crowded park’s attractions later in the day—well, based on my experience with FastPass+ in four tests over the last 5 months, I think you can do just fine, especially if you are staying in a Disney owned and operated resort—and hence are eligible not only for Extra Magic Hours, but also for scheduling your FastPass+ ahead of time.

Book your three Fastpass+ in the second park, and your hopping will work well. You may see one fewer headliner, but you will have a more predictable—and peaceful-day.

In the olden days before late January 2014, you’d show up for morning Extra Magic Hours, see some headliners in the first hour, and typically pull a couple of more via fastpasses. At the second park, depending on crowds, Fastpasses still available for distribution at the time you arrived, and—most importantly—resilience for staying in the park for late return times, families would typically get two to three more Fastpasses.

With FastPass+, you will miss one or two headliners in the first park from not being able to get fastpasses there, but will see potentially one more at the second park. Moreover, your experience at the second park will often be much less nerve-wracking and much more humane than under the old system with its fully-distributed Fastpasses and late return times.

If you are flexible with times, you will be able to group your three FastPass+ more tightly than you ever could in a former hop (because you were then stuck with the return times offered), and so your time in the second park will be much more productive. Moreover, you will know before you go what your FastPass+ schedule will be, and know exactly what you will get—neither was possible in the old system.

For people who have been to Disney World a lot, it’s still a bit astonishing that under FastPass+ they can still see a ton of rides in Fantasyland during Magic Kingdom Morning Extra Magic Hours, and then be able to see Toy Story Mania or Soarin at a known time with an afternoon FastPass+ at the Studios or Epcot…

PARK HOPPING WITH FASTPASS+ IN BOTH PARKS

And there’s another way to make hopping go even better if you plan to do it only one or two days. Instead of buying a park hopper, buy a second ticket.

As explained here, the three FastPass+ per day limit is per ticket, not per person. With two tickets, you can get three FastPass+ in each park.

With two tickets, you’d use the one linked to your MagicBand to book three FastPass+ ahead of time in the second park. You’d use the other ticket to enter the morning park (not, though, on an Extra Magic Hours day—because you would then need your MagicBand to enter and then everything blows up…). Hit a headliner at park open, and then book the rest of your morning’s FastPass+!! When appropriate, head then to the second park for three more FastPass+!

This is very expensive—an extra one-day ticket for a typical family of four is around $400, and an extra two-day ticket more than $750. But you also save the hopper cost—around $250. So the net cost is around $150 (or about $13 for each extra FastPass+) if you’d planned to hop for just one day, and $600 (or about $21 for each extra FastPass+) for two days.

For many families this will be not of value. Others will sensibly balk at the cost, or simply not be able to afford it. But for some, buying two tickets even at this cost and then hopping with FastPass+ at each park will be well worth it!

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February 2, 2014   11 Comments