Why you need to understand Disney World’s FastPass+

For all you Disney fans that have been traveling for years and took a break, don’t expect the same old vacation! With Disney’s FastPass+, touring through Disney parks is a whole new game. As of January 2014, all of the paper FastPass kiosks are gone and don’t expect to get a FastPass same day for some of the headlining attractions. It’s important to understand what’s changed and what is important, so listen up!

You’ll need to know ahead of time which park you’re planning on going to. No spur of the moment decisions unless you have park hoppers and no dining reservations. This also needs to be decided WELL in advance of your arrival 60 days to be exact. Disney is now allowing resort guests to book 3 FastPasses 60 days before their arrival. It’s becoming as competitive as dining reservations are at the 180 day mark, so it’s nothing to laugh at!

Unlike dining, you won’t need to set an early morning alarm. You will need to drink an extra cup of coffee because the day switches over at midnight EST. For those on the west coast it’s easy peasy compared to the 3 am wake up call for dining.

It’s not uncommon to find little or no availability for Anna & Elsa during the first two days of your trip and limited options later in your trip if you don’t hop on at exactly midnight! While this is the most dramatic of possibilities, it’s best to be prepared for other popular attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Soarin’ and Toy Story Mania.

Strategy wise, it differs for on site and off site guests. I’ve talked extensively on this topic. Please see the FastPass+ strategy post for complete details!

In short, make sure you know the FastPass+ rules and what is included with your package. It’s completely free, so take advantage of what Disney is offering and embrace the change! I found it to be less walking than with the old paper system. As an on site guest you do have the opportunity to earn more FastPasses throughout the day, so it’s not terribly different than the previous system!

A brief synopsis for those new to the system:

  • FastPass+ allows you to skip the line for your favorite Disney World attractions
  • You are allowed to choose 3 attractions each day you have park tickets (this must be in the same park if you are park hopping)
  • Once that 3rd FastPass is used, you are able to schedule additional reservations (one at a time) once you inside the park
  • FastPasses are not available during special events or extra magic hours
  • Reservations open 60 days in advance to your arrival – this is for your length of stay you are an on site guest

Questions? Feel free to ask!

100,000 views – an unbelievable number!

I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to every single person that has read a page of my blog, an even bigger THANK YOU to all of the people that have reached out to me with such wonderful feedback of how their blog has helped them and the BIGGEST thank you to the over 40 families that I’ve helped send to Disney World and Disneyland in the past several months and the 50 and counting more that are planning to or thinking about going in the near future.

I am absolutely grateful for the opportunity and confidence every single person has provided me. Grateful for the opportunity to help others have a magical vacation, grateful for the ability to take my daughter to Disney for the first time sooner than expected due to my personal success, and grateful for those that refer friends and family after they have their wonderful and happy experience.

I can’t wait to see what the next 100,000 views will bring and how fast I can get there. I’m sure I’ll easily beat that first 100,000. They always say the first few years of starting a home business is the hardest but with the support of readers, family and friends, it’s been amazing, successful, and wonderful!

More to come in the future, but I’d love more suggestions for blog topics or to hear from you if you’re interested in going to any Disney destination!

Love and Pixie Dust!

Disney World Extra Magic Hours: Useful or exhausting?

Extra Magic Hours at Disney World

A great debate among Disney veterans is using extra magic hours. Is it better to enjoy the extra time in the parks without day guests or is it better to skip that park completely? It’s something that’s variable and completely dependently upon how want to tour the parks and your family.

Early Magic Hours

  • All four Disney theme parks have at least one day each week with early morning magic hours. This typically occurs from 8-9 am in the morning and only select attractions and rides are available. The queuing process is fairly simple since cast members know all guests in the park are active resort guests by their entry into the park. Unless you plan on arriving at the park before that 8 am opening, don’t bother with early magic hours as this particular park more crowded earlier in the day than others.
  • Early magic hours may be for you if you are an early rising family, you live in a household with a built in alarm clock (a.k.a. a baby or toddler who often wakes up early and goes to bed early), you are interested in a select few attractions at the morning park and you have an escape route of park hoppers.
  • Early Magic Hours are NOT for you if you enjoy taking part in Disney’s evening activities (don’t try and do it all – you’ll be burned out for the second half of your trip), you like to sleep in, you don’t know if you can make it to the bus stop no later than 7 am for that 8 am rope drop!

Evening Magic Hours

  • Only 3 of the 4 Disney theme parks have evening magic hours (Animal Kingdom is the exception). Most evening magic hours are 2 hours in length.  The later you get into the extra evening magic hours, the lower crowd levels become.
  • Getting into each queue may take a bit longer. A cast member will have to scan one MagicBand from each party to confirm you have an active reservation.
  • Evening magic hours may be for you if you have a family that enjoys staying up late (or a family from the west coast who is used to being awake at that hour), families with older children/teens, to skip over the heat of some summer days, or if you have a day off following a late night.
  • Evening magic hours are NOT for you if you got up very early that morning for AM magic hours or you have a younger child who doesn’t do well with a variable bed time.

Do Magic Hours really make lines shorter?

  • Yes they do, but don’t expect to walk on headlining attractions like Toy Story Mania or Soarin’. You’ll still have a line at many attractions, but you won’t see anything soar into the high double digits or the dreaded triple digits.

Additional Tips/Suggestions when using Extra Magic Hours

  • Do not eat during morning extra magic hours as this takes time while the general public is not allowed entry
  • Make sure that your entire party has MagicBands as each guest will need to prove they are resort guests
  • Some moderately popular attractions are only available during evening extra magic hours (see list below).
  • If you only choose to do Extra Magic Hours once, your best bet is Magic Kingdom evening hours as there are the most available attractions. Hours are often longer than other parks.
  • The park that has evening magic hours is often less crowded the next day. This is usually a good option if you do not have a park hopper pass.
  • There is no FastPass+ during extra magic hours, just standby lines.

What attractions are available during extra magic hours?

Attractions available during Extra Magic Hours

Animal Kingdom:expedition-everest-animal-kingdom-walt-disney-world-prints-shawn-obrien

  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Pangani Forest Exploration Train
  • Primeval Whirl

Epcot:

  • Living with the Land
  • Mission Space
  • Soarin’
  • Spaceship Earth

    Test Track: A must do on my DIsney vacation list!

    Test Track: A must do on my DIsney vacation list!

  • Test Track
  • The American Adventure (PM only)
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment (PM only)
  • Honey I Shrunk the Audience (PM only)
  • Grand Fiesta Tour (PM only)
  • The Maelstrom (PM only)

Hollywood Studios:

  • Muppet Vision in 3-D
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Star Tours
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • The Great Movie Ride (PM only)
  • Voyage of The Little Mermaid (PM only)

Magic Kingdom:

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • The Barnstormer
  • Prince Charming Regal CarouselAnna & Elsa - Frozen
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Meet Cinderella & Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Meet Anna & Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover
  • Haunted Mansion
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Mickey’s Philharmagic
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Space Mountain
  • Stitch’s Great Escape!
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (PM only)
  • Country Bear Jamboree (PM only)
  • Enchanted Tiki Room (PM only)
  • Jungle Cruise (PM only)
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin (PM only)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (PM only)
  • Pete’s Silly Sideshow (character meets) (PM only)

Remember, all attractions are subject to change without notice. Check with a cast member when you are on site with any questions.

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)

If you’d like more great tips and tricks, like my Facebook Page and sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Want help planning your next Disney World vacation and choosing the best park days for your family? Contact me to start planning your vacation!  The benefits to using a Disney travel 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!) If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, please feel free to use the contact form below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Fall and Winter Discounts for 2014 Disney World Vacations!

Whether you have a current reservation or are looking to book a new reservation before the end of 2014, Disney has the deal for you! A room only reservation is available as of today and booking fast!

Here are the details direct from Disney:

Save up to 30% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels, valid for stays most nights October 4 through November 25, and November 29 through December 23, 2014.  Book by October 3, 2014.

Explore savings for select Disney Resort hotels within each Resort Category.

Resort Category Save on Stays
Most Nights
 

 Select Disney Deluxe Villa Resort Hotels

Save up to 30%
Oct 4 – Oct 19;
Nov 8 – Nov 15;
Nov 29 – Dec 23
Oct 20 – Nov 7;
Nov 16 -Nov 25;
Dec 7 – Dec 23
Disney’s Beach Club Villas 25% 30%
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House 15% 20%
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
 

 Select Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels

Save up to 30%
Oct 4 – Oct 19;
Nov 8 – Nov 15;
Nov 29 – Dec 23
Oct 20 – Nov 7;
Nov 16 -Nov 25;
Dec 7 – Dec 23
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Standard/Pool View Rooms 30% 30%
Disney’s Polynesian Resort
Disney’s Beach Club Resort 25% 30%
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Savanna View/Club Level Rooms 15% 20%
Disney’s Contemporary Resort

 Select Disney Moderate Resort Hotels

Save 20%
Nov 29 – Dec 23
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort 20%
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

 Select Disney Value Resort Hotels

Save 15%
Oct 4 – Nov 25;
Nov 29 – Dec 23
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort 15%
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites Only
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Little Mermaid 0%

Some of the details can be a bit confusing, but a few of the highlights for me: 20% off at Port Orleans French Quarter which is almost unheard of!!!

If you want pricing or details on this great special offer, I’d love to hear from you. Please contact me at any time for a free quote or use the form below. The benefits to using a Disney travel 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!) If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, please feel free to use the contact form below.

NEW Military Discount for Disney World Vacations for 2014 and 2015

Disney World for Military Families

Announced much earlier than previous years, Disney released the details of their military salute discount! This special rate for active and retired military personnel and their families runs from August 25, 2014 – September 30, 2015. This is a renewal of their 2013-2014 discount with a few changes to pricing.

Park tickets

  • 4 day park hoppers are $177 each, plus tax
  • 4 day water park fun and more tickets are $177 each, plus tax
  • 4 day park hoppers with water park fun and more tickets are $207 each, plus tax

For those that are unfamiliar with the rules and regulations around these tickets, you are allowed a maximum of 6 tickets per family/military ID. This can be split into more than one trip, but no more than 6 may be purchased during each promotional period.

If you need additional tickets for your immediate family, exceptions may be considered. If you are purchasing additional tickets for extended family, there is a general military discount which saves about 5-10% off general public tickets. You may not add additional days to these park ticket options and they may not be available at all ticket offices at all times, so please plan ahead if you have a specific number of tickets in mind. These tickets can be purchased through your bases ticket office or upon your arrival (I know Shades of Green has an adequate supply).

Also note that proper military ID must be showed to activate your tickets before first use. This is done at guest service.

These tickets may be used from September 28 (the day after the 2013-2014 offer expires) through October 3, 2015. Ticket blackout dates are:

  • December 22, 2014 – January 2, 2015 (Holiday season)
  • March 29 – April 9, 2015 (Easter season)

Resort discounts

Disney also has a running resort discount for military families. You may book up to 3 rooms on one military ID, but the active or retired service member must be present with proper identification upon check in. Discounts are tiered as they are for the general public.

  • 30% at value resorts
  • 35% at moderate resorts
  • 40% at deluxe resorts

These rooms can be booked as a room only reservation or as a package by adding the dining plan to your reservation. Disney room only and package rules apply. This is one of the only ways you can get Disney’s dining plan without purchasing tickets as part of a package. There is no discount available for the dining plan under this room discount, however your overall cost savings may be greater than the cost of the plan based on your resort choice and length of stay. The only exclusion to this promotional offer are Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation. Everything else is just based on availability at the time of booking.

Other Discounts

Once you are on site, many stores provide a 20% discount when you show your military identification. If you plan on making non-food purchases, ask at check for details.mickeymilitary

What about FastPasses?

Once your reservation is booked and your theme park tickets are purchased and linked, you will be able to make FastPass+ reservations 60 days prior to your arrival as you are an onsite guest. This will all be linked on your MagicBands and no changes or problems with activating tickets at the gates!

If your princess NEEDS to meet Anna & Elsa, make sure you have your tickets early!

What about Shades of Green?

Shades of Green is an Armed Forces Recreation Center located on Disney World property. Be aware that this is NOT one of the Disney World resort hotels. While I cannot go into great detail about the resort or it’s amenities outside of what is available on the internet (as I’m a civilian), I can provide the following comparison between Disney World resorts and Shades of Green:

  • Cost: Cost of a Disney World Value room during peak season and Shades of Green are roughly the same cost depending on the booking category you qualify for at Shades of Green and your party size.  In a close race of cost after a comparison, choose a Disney resort as the benefits outweigh the difference of $100 or so!
  • Transportation: Shades of Green does have bus service to all Disney World theme parks. Once at the theme parks you are welcome to use any additional method of Disney Transportation to get around. Unfortunately this bus runs on a structured schedule which is often once an hour. Disney buses tend to run every 15-20 minutes continuously and add additional buses on demand as crowds increase. If you miss a bus for a Disney resort, there is likely one right behind it! You must show proof of stay to board any Shades of Green bus. There are no requirements for Disney buses.
  • Airport Transportation: Shades of Green does not qualify for Disney Magical Express Service. You are able to book somewhat inexpensive shuttles, however you can’t beat the cost of free!
  • Parking at theme parks: Parking for Disney World resort guests is free at all of Disney’s theme parks. Unfortunately this benefit does not cover Shades of Green as it is not considered a Disney resort. The current cost of parking is now $17/day.
  • Dining Plan: Shades of Green guests unfortunately do not qualify for the dining plan as they are not resort guests. As noted above, you are able to add Disney’s Dining Plan to your room only package without the purchase of park tickets with the military discount.
  • Extra Magic Hours: Both Shades of Green and all Disney Resorts qualify you for Extra Magic Hours at Disney World theme parks. One of my favorite benefits!
  • FastPass+: FastPass+ service is available to add Disney World guests with valid park tickets. If you purchase tickets ahead of time, you are able to make reservations 60 days in advance at Disney World resorts and 30 days in advance at Shades of Green (as it is considered an “off site” hotel). Your tickets must be linked to your My Disney Experience account in either situation.
  • MagicBands: MagicBands are free to all Disney World resort guests. Any guest can purchase a MagicBand in the theme parks.

Looking for more information on this great discount? Please feel free to contact me any time for a free quote or use the form below! The current room discount runs through September 27th, but is typically renewed around that time. If you are planning on traveling after that time, I can estimate costs until rates are available. Working with an authorized Disney travel is 100% free! You’ll save time, money, and go to Disney well prepared! I help my wonderful guests with things like making resort reservations, booking dining, scheduling FastPasses, helping to create an itinerary to make the most of your time in the parks, and answer any questions along the way. I look forward to hearing from you and I thank you for your service to our great country!

 

Be Our Guest FastPass+ Lunch Tips and Review

be-our-guest-restaurant-00

After traveling to Disney World earlier this spring, we were lucky enough to enjoy the difficult to get into Be Our Guest restaurant. It was a FastPass+ reservation for lunch and my husband and I both really enjoyed the experience.

This special FastPass+ reservation is ONLY for Disney World resort guests as you need an active reservation number to access the site. To access your this separate FastPass, visit http://beourguestlunch.disney.go.com. You may use your existing My Disney Experience user name and password to access this site as well. If you have a room only reservation, the process is simple: just type the 12 digit reservation number into the reservation ID box. For those with a package reservation, this process is a bit more complicated. You will need to FIND your 12 digit reservation. At the time of this post, the easiest way to find that number was to hover over the “check in online” link that pops up 60 days prior to your arrival in your My Disney Experience account. At the bottom of your browser window, you will be shown a preview of your the link. The end of that link is your 12 digit reservation number. If that’s confusing, please let me know! :)

The time window that this FastPass becomes available has been variable since June. Start checking around your regular 60 day FastPass mark, and don’t get discouraged if nothing is available! Almost the entire month of July was released on July 1st.

Once you are able to find times for your preferred dining date, choose your time. If the two times that appear are not idea based on your other plans, you can refresh your screen for different openings.

Once you have your preferred time, you have one of two options:

1. Expedited arrival which allows you to choose your arrival window and skip the long line out front OR
2. Direct to Table which allows you to choose your food at the time you book your FastPass.

beourguestWe elected to to choose the direction to table option. We were asked to review our order twice prior to making our payment so it’s not “direct to table”, although, I don’t thing we waited more than 10 minutes to get to our table. As you wait, notice all the little details that went into making this beautiful restaurant! As a note: non-resort guests will be given a rose pager and all resort guests (with MagicBands) will not. I was a bit worried about this part of the process!

If you would like to choose your food via the expedited arrival option, please take some time prior to your arrival in Disney to look at the menu. This will help both you and other guests.

You are then allowed to find a table in one of the three rooms. The West Wing fills up the fastest, so if it’s crucial that you eat in this specific room, be prepared to wait for a bit. We found plenty of space in the other two rooms but chose to dine in the Rose Gallery and enjoyed our choice as it seemed quiet, even during main dining rush hours.

One of the nice things about this quick service is that it felt nothing of the sort! Your food is served on real plates and you are given real silverware (unlike the paper and plastic of the other quick service options).

As if by magic, your food is delivered to your table (shhh…it’s the MagicBands) in rolling trays. We don’t typically both order an entree at a quick service restaurant, but we made an exception for Be Our Guest! I can’t wait to go back again and try the rest of the menu. We ended our meal with the Master’s Cupcake topped with the Grey Stuff. Not as delicious as I had hoped it would be as it was hyped by many people who tasted before me. I’ll try a different flavor next time!

Any questions about Be Our Guest or want help getting into the restaurant? Contact me at any time to join my little Disney family or use the form below. Using a Disney travel agent is absolutely free and you’ll get little bonuses along the way, help planning your entire magical vacation, and much, much more!

 

 

Planning Your June 2015 Disney World Vacation

Planning a June 2015 Disney World Vacation

This guide is specifically for guests traveling to Disney World in June 2015. The rest of the year is coming soon. (See already completed January 2015  February 2015March 2015, April 2015, May 2015. June begins the the summer season at Disney. The first two weeks of June have more moderate crowds. After the 15th(ish) of the month, both crowds and prices increase. The early portion of the month continues and completes Star Wars weekends at Hollywood Studios.

June weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of June is 91 and the low is 71. Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. Stay hydrated during hot days! Make sure you pack your sunscreen, take frequent breaks, and take advantage of your resort’s pool.

Choosing Your Travel Dates

Below is the predicted crowd calendar for June 2015. Try your best to stay on the green and yellow crowd day for the lowest wait times inside Disney’s parks. You can definitely see where summer season begins!

(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

Disney World Special offers for June

None currently available for 2015. Discounts will likely be released in early 2015. Historically Disney has offered a room only discount (which can be booked as a package with park tickets) offering up to 30% off resort rooms. June discounts are typically split between the month as the second half of the month falls in summer season and typically summer promotions

Refurbishment

TBD. Nothing scheduled at the time of this post.

When to book dining

Disney allows their resort guests to book dining reservations for their entire trip 180 days from their arrival, a benefit that will give you a leg up to get some of those hard to make reservations. If you don’t have a reservation or are staying off site, you can make any dining reservation 180 days prior to your arrival, but don’t expect some of the best places to have prime time offerings! Click the chart below to enlarge to see what your magic number is.

June 2015 Dining Dates

Cost

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in June of 2015? Disney will be releasing 2015 rates on July 30th. Prices will be updated to reflect accurate costs at that time!

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. TBD

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them TBD.If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them TBD. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room their vacation would cost them TBD

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge to have access to Magic Kingdom. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them TBD If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them TBD

The bottom line

The beginning of April is a popular time to travel o Disney World! If you are able to stay away from Easter time, a family of 4  have a reasonably priced vacation and enjoy some of the summer-like activities like Water Parks, Disney’s Pools, and clear skies! For more Disney World tips and tricks, check out my Facebook page or sign up for my monthly newsletter!

Start planning your June 2015 vacation

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 or use the form below. The benefits to using a Disney travel 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!) If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, please feel free to use the contact form below.