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Disney started a new phase of testing of its My Magic + program June 20 through 26, inviting a group of preselected guests staying at Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Animal Kingdom Resort to participate in a trial of the Fastpass+ system using MagicBand wristbands. Until now, the only exposure most Walt Disney World guests have had to My Magic+ has come in the Key to the World cards that are used not only for Disney resort room entry, but also for theme park admission and to pay for dining and retail purchases using the "tap to pay" terminals.


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With this newest test, Disney now has regular park guests wearing and using the bands, and has even begun selling MagicBand accessories in resort shops. The debut of MagicBand wristbands among regular theme park guests, even on this limited scale, is a sign that all WDW visitors should become more familiar with what My Magic+ means for you once it's implemented across the board. The full extent of the program isn't known, so let's take a look at Fastpass+, the most visible part of the new system.


Fastpass+ might make Fastpass machines like these as obsolete as "E" tickets. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

First of all, what exactly is Fastpass+ ("Fastpass Plus"), and how does it differ from the Fastpass service Disney already offers? Like Fastpass, Fastpass+ gives you a specific time to ride selected attractions. The two main differences are:

  • You make these reservations while you're planning your trip, just like you would a restaurant reservation
  • You have access to rides, attractions, and experiences that aren't on the regular Fastpass system. Not only can you reserve a time to ride Space Mountain, you can also reserve a spot along the parade route for the Main Street Electrical Parade, and schedule your turn to experience Enchanted Tales with Belle.

When the program is opened to all visitors, you will make these Fastpass+ reservations before you ever leave home using the new My Disney Experience website, and modify them on the go using the My Disney Experience smartphone application. Unlike the traditional Fastpass, there are no paper tickets to use, which is where the MagicBand system comes in.


MagicBand accessories are on display at the Fantasia Shop at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The MagicBand wristband is your own personal storage device, a combination room key, charge card, Fastpass tracker and more. Instead of presenting a Fastpass ticket to a cast member when it's your time to ride, you tap your MagicBand wristband on a special pilar installed at the Fastpass+ entrance.

While I didn't see many guests using MagicBand wristbands during this most recent test, what really caught my attention while in the parks was the number of attractions that now feature a Fastpass+ entrance. Here are the rides that currently offer Fastpass, and the attractions that now offer Fastpass+:

Magic Kingdom

Attractions currently offering Fastpass: Attractions & shows offering Fastpass+:
  • The Barnstormer – opened with Fastpass
  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo The Flying Elephant – opened as a Fastpass last year
  • Jungle Cruise
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Town Square Theater – Mickey Mouse
  • Town Square Theater – Minnie Mouse
  • Mickey's PhilarMagic
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Haunted Mansion
  • it's a small world
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opening in 2014
  • Stitch's Great Escape
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Main Street Electrical Parade
  • Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade

Epcot

Attractions currently offering Fastpass: Attractions & shows offering Fastpass+:
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Maelstrom
  • Soarin'
  • Test Track
  • Captain EO
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
  • Character Spot

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Attractions currently offering Fastpass: Attractions & shows offering Fastpass+:
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
  • Star Tours
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania
  • The American Idol Experience
  • Disney Junior Live on Stage
  • The Great Movie Ride
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Attractions currently offering Fastpass: Attractions & shows offering Fastpass+:
  • Dinosaur
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid
  • Adventurers Outpost Meet 'n' Greet
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo The Musical
  • It's Tough to be a Bug*

Didn't that attraction used to have Fastpass?

If you're looking through those on the new Fastpass+ list and thinking, "Hey wait—didn't that attraction used to be a Fastpass?," you're probably right. When Fastpass became all the rage in the early 2000's, management was labeling anything they could get away with as Fastpass attractions. Included were attractions like Haunted Mansion, It's Tough to be a Bug and even Honey I Shrunk the Audience before it was re-converted to Captain EO again.

Fastpass+ is being added to many attractions that previously discontinued regular Fastpass service, or never offered it. They are also adding Fastpass+ to shows and parades that have never been part of the Fastpass program.

How does Fastpass+ work for parades and fireworks?

Fastpass+ lets you reserve a spot in a designated viewing area for parades and fireworks, but doesn't save you a specific seat. You'll still need to arrive before the show starts, but you won't have to hold your spot on a curb for hours as you might without a Fastpass+

Since Fastpass+ is still in a test phase, everything about future implementation and how it will impact your next visit is all speculation at this point.

If your family was selected to particiate in this recent Fastpass+ test, I'd love to hear from you.



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(Send an email to Jeff Kober)

J. Jeff Kober, (@MousePlanetJeff) is a major thought leader on best-in-business practices at the Walt Disney Company and other major fortune 100 companies. He brings those ideas to organizations via keynotes, seminars and workshops to organizations around the world. He has authored "The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney" as well as "Disney's Hollywood Studios: From Show Biz to Your Biz". You can learn more about this and other offerings he has at DisneyatWork.com. You can also learn more at PerformanceJourneys.com, where he is a consultant to businesses seeking to improve their organizations.