Talking To Your Family About Theme Park Safety

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Vehicle

 

Preparing for a Disney vacation is part of the excitement. The packing….the planning…the anticipation. Everyone in the household counts down the days and checks everything twice to make sure it is ready to go for a fun-filled week.

Vacation safety is often a topic that is left for those hurried minutes while running around a hotel room preparing for the day. Ensuring that the family is safe and prepared for most events can be  part of your planning process. Consider setting aside one evening before your trip to talk to your family about vacation safety.

Here are some of my suggestions for topics of discussion….

Keep your arms and legs in the vehicle at all times:

We have heard this phrase on hundreds of occasions at theme parks, but the warning is not simply Mickey Mouse trying to ruin your day.

There are real dangers in sticking a limb outside of a moving car or boat during a ride experience at the parks. Sure, that water on It’s a Small World looks tempting, but there are hidden tracks and moving parts under the boat that could cause some serious bodily harm. Talk to your family about the need to stay seated and keep their limbs in the cars of every ride, boat and transportation vehicle. Perhaps appoint a “safety expert” in your family whose job is to remind everyone of the rules before boarding each ride and keeps a close watch of the little ones.

Stay close to the family:

Crowds at Disney can get overwhelming. I have to admit that there have been times that I have gotten lost in a sea of people while looking for a family member. Talk to your family about sticking together; especially in largely populated areas.

What to do if you are lost:

Create a plan of “what-to-do” in case a member of the family separates from the party. Mobile phones are great for connecting; however for the little ones, it is important to tell them where to go if they become lost.

Cast members can be found at the beginning of each ride queue, in stores, kiosks and walking around the park. Instruct children to seek out a cast member if they should become lost. Cast members are recognized by their oval nametags and have training to handle lost family member situations.

The new MagicBand bracelets used in the parks identify family members and when scanned, gives the contact information for the family; including a phone number and resort information. Make sure when checking into the hotel, that you give the cast member a contact number for the mobile phone you will be taking into the parks.

Only go near the water when an adult is present:

There is water EVERYWHERE at Disney. Lakes, rivers, pools, lagoons….water is a plenty!  Instruct the little ones to hold the hand of an adult whenever they are around a body of water and to wait for the go-ahead before jumping into a pool.

The guard rail is there for a reason:

Balcony and guard rails look like a fun playground….especially at the themed resorts and lakes where the views are glorious. Talk to your kids about balcony and railing safety and instruct them to only go outside or go near a railing when an adult is present. The resorts have a security lock on the sliding glass door, but setting the ground rules prior to the vacation can be helpful in stopping unaccompanied balcony adventures.

Stay hydrated and cool:

The Florida sun is hot and standing in lines in the blazing sun can take a lot out of you. Make sure that each family member stays hydrated throughout the day. We take a backpack with water into the parks so when we need a quick drink, it is available. Monitor the little ones to make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids and instruct them to tell an adult if they are feeling overheated and need to take a break.

Cool down in an air conditioned theater or shop. I keep a list of attractions that are indoors or have ride queues that are housed inside that we can visit when the heat is unbearable.

Sunscreen is a necessity:

I am sure we have all witnessed a sunscreen meltdown. A child comes back from a splash ride and doesn’t want to put the fun on hold for another sunscreen application. Talk to your kids about the necessity of sunscreen and how a sunburn could ruin an entire vacation. Sunscreen should be applied every 2-3 hours or after a water ride or splash in the pool.

 

Stay safe…stay informed….stay connected…..and your vacation should be a magical experience!

Are there any tips that I missed?  Please feel free to share them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Changes to FastPass+

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Link FastPasses to your MagicBands.

Link FastPasses to your MagicBands.

One of the major complaints regarding the new FastPass+ system is that guests are limited to 3 passes per day. In the old system, guests could keep getting passes throughout the day from kiosks as they experienced rides and could even park hop.

The Orlando Sentinel has announced that as of today, April 28th, the process will change to allow for more FastPasses.

So how does it work?

After you use your first 3 FastPasses that you select through the My Disney Experience app, you can go to FastPass+ Kiosks to pick up additional passes.

The first three FastPasses must still be used in the same park; however once you have used your 3 passes, you are free to park hop and use FastPass kiosks in other parks. The same rules apply wherein you must wait for the prior FastPass timeframes to expire before acquiring another pass.

The system for FastPass+ continues to change as the MagicBand process is monitored and evaluated by the Walt Disney Company.
I am sure in the future we will see additional benefits and opportunities for FastPass+ as guests give feedback regarding their experiences.

My Disney Experience: The FastPass Selection Process

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My Magic +

My Magic +

Guests staying onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort are now wearing bracelets called MagicBands that act like a room key, theme park tickets and dining passes ( if you have added dining plans to your stay). We officially hit the 60 day mark of our Disney vacation countdown the other day, which meant that it was time to select the FastPasses that will be added to our MagicBands.

If you are unfamiliar with FastPasses; they are a way to schedule a ride, character meet and greet or a live show time so you do not have to wait in a lengthy queue. Guests arrive at a designated time (an hour increment) and wait in a much shorter line or get priority viewing at a nighttime spectacular…thus freeing up more of your day.

The new MagicBand technology allows guests to add FastPasses to the bracelet…so no more walking around with paper passes that could get lost in your backpack. Gone are the days of running to a FastPass kiosk in the morning to score those coveted gems. Guests are now scanning their MagicBands at the rides and experiences during their FastPass timeslots.

How does the new process work?

On your 60 day mark (or shortly thereafter), log on to the My Disney Experience site. Under the “Plan and Manage” section, select “FastPass+”.

You will select your vacation dates, park you will be attending each day and make your ride selections. Disney also asks you to list the priority for each ride, in order of most important to the least important to you. There is a limit of 3 FastPasses per day.

The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom group their selections into one category from which you make your selections. Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot have separate categories since some of the rides in the parks are significantly more popular.

Here is the current breakdown of the selections for each park. They are subject to change as the FastPass process progresses.

Magic Kingdom

Select 3 from this group:

  • It’s a Small World
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyears’ Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Ariel Meet and Greet
  • Cinderella Meet and Greet
  • Mickey Mouse Town Square Meet and Greet
  • Rapunzel Meet and Greet
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain (currently closed for refurbishment)
  • The Barnstormer
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Under the Sea- Journey of The Little Mermaid

Epcot

Select 1 from this group:

  • Illuminations: Reflections of Earth
  • Maelstrom
  • Epcot Character Spot Disney Pals Meet and Greet
  • Soarin’
  • Test Track Presented by Chevrolet

Select 2 from this group:

  • Captain EO
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Select 1 from this group:

  • Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage
  • Fantasmic!
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!

Select 2 from this group:

  • Disney Junior- Live on Stage
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  • MuppetVision 3D
  • Star Tours
  • The American Idol Experience
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Select 3 from this group:

  • Dinosaur
  • Expedition Everest
  • Finding Nemo- The Musical
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Disney Pals Adventurers Outpost Meet and Greet
  • Primeval Whirl

 

The system will give you several Fastpass options and will specify if there is a conflict with a dining reservation. Once you make your selections, the FastPass times will be added to your daily itinerary. Guests must manually make selections for each day of their trip.

If you wish to change the times of your FastPasses, you can easily go into the itinerary and make the corrections. The system will even allow you to choose a timeframe if you ask to see all of the available timeslots.

Are there any drawbacks?

While selecting our FastPasses, I noticed that the system tended to plan most of the passes for the morning hours. When vacationing, we really like to take our time leaving the hotel and are not at the park as soon as it opens. There were several occasions when it gave us evening hours; however some of the times conflicted with our dinner reservations. Disney should consider allowing guests to select the times that work for them, prior to offering choices of timeslots.

After choosing the FastPasses, I continued to get a “Server is Busy” screen during every selection. It said that the system was down and suggested to try again later. Upon checking the itinerary, the FastPasses were indeed scheduled, so this is obviously a glitch they need to fix.

This new system does not take into account if the guest is park hopping between two or more parks a day. Your FastPasses can only be scheduled for one park per day.

With the introduction of any new process, snags and issues are to be expected.  While I encountered several situations that will surely require some adjusting, overall the process will simplify our days in the parks.  It will be nice to be able to use the My Disney Experience app on our phones to view our daily itinerary and note the FastPass times, rather than relying on my paper lists of the past.  While spontaneity is lost with this process, it will be nice to know we won’t be standing in hour long lines for our favorite rides.

Do you think this process will make your vacation more magical? Do you like being able to schedule FastPasses before your trip?

 

Will MyMagic+ Make Your Disney Vacation a Little More Magical?

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MyMagic+ Kit

MyMagic+ Kit

Are you a meticulous Disney vacation planner like me? Then you may absolutely LOVE the new MyMagic+ process of Disney vacationing.

Our next trip is scheduled for the Spring of 2014, and we just received our MyMagic+ starter kit in the mail.

The kit included the following:

  • An introduction leaflet to the packet
  • Personalized booklet with information about the process, planning tips and important dates for your trip. (In the photo, the little Mickey ears are strategically placed over our last name.)
  • USB Flash Drive
The flash drive lights up!

The flash drive lights up!

Upon plugging in the flash drive….my eyes widened as I watched that thing light up. The flash drive is reminiscent of the MyMagic+ Mickey icon that we will now see throughout the parks.

The flash drive takes you to a welcome video starring Edna Mode from “The Incredibles” and a knowledgable computer friend. Edna introduces viewers to the MagicBand; a bracelet that guests of the resort will be wearing throughout their vacation.

The MagicBand will serve as your Disney Resort room key, admission ticket, dining plan card, FastPass, and can be used to make purchases at onsite shops, food vendors and restaurants.

The second part of the welcome video takes viewers to the MyDisneyExperience website to begin planning. You will need to login with your established Disney.com username and password. If you do not have one, you can easily set it up through the link.

Once you are logged in, you will be shown instructions on how to link your hotel and dining reservations to the MagicBands. You will also have the option of selecting your MagicBand color and the name you wish to be printed on the bracelet in order to further personalize your experience.

Two months prior to your vacation, you are permitted to start making FastPass selections.
This is a newly introduced process that allows guests to select their FastPasses for each day of their vacation in the parks.

Currently, you are permitted 3 FastPasses daily:

1 FastPass for what they are calling a Tier 1 ride (rides that are the most sought after in the FastPass world)

and

2 FastPasses in a Tier 2 category (rides that are less crowded)

I am also hearing that you are only allowed to select FastPasses for one park each day…..so park hopping won’t grant additional passes.

This tier system is something new that Disney is trying since the FastPass selection system was causing FastPasses to be unavailable to non-MagicBand users. The FastPass method is constantly evolving until a solution is found that will be a positive experience for guests.

Draw-backs of MyMagic+

Errors and issues will arise during the trial stages of any new process or service. This testing phase lets Disney know what is currently working and what is not up to the standards that guests look to from the organization.

The process so far as been very smooth, with the exception of adding our dining reservations to MyMagic+. Even though I have my confirmation numbers, I was getting error codes from the site, telling me that the service was unavailable. After a few more tries, I was able to link the reservations to my name, but not to my husband’s MagicBand. I will try this again in a few weeks and if it is still unavailable, I am sure it can be easily corrected with a quick call to Disney.

The other issue that I can see as being an issue is the over planning. While I enjoy a creating a daily park plan to schedule which rides we go to and when to ensure we make the most of our day; scheduling a FastPass 2 months in advance takes away some of the spontaneity of the vacation. We have to make sure that there is enough time in between the FastPass and our dining reservations, for example. This process will take some additional planning, but it will be interesting to see how it all works out!

More to Come

I will know more about the MyMagic+ within the next coming months as we continue to plan and eventually make it to the resort. I can post more details as we go through this exciting new test phase.

What do you think of the new MyMagic+ process? Do you think this will enhance your Disney vacation?