Where “My Disney Experience” Fails

I live in one of those weird Disney families you think aren’t real, my mother’s first visit was in 1973 and my father’s not too long after that in the late 70s.

Here I am at 1-year-old hanging at Mickey's Starland at Magic Kingdom.

Here I am at a year old hanging at Mickey’s Starland at Magic Kingdom.

Myself? I have been going to Disney since I was 18 months old, I just turned 25 two weeks ago. I was also part of Disney’s College Program at age 19, working at the Magic Kingdom doing photos. I have in the last 25 years of my life experienced many different phases of the Disney experience.

Original 1993 tickets from my New Years Trip.

Original 1993 tickets from my New Years Trip.

Back in 1993 during one of my first trips, $125 got you 4 days and unlimited entrances to all 3 parks. $125 is one day, into one park with no options. I have in the last 25 years of living in Florida watched the prices soar at the park and the options becoming less and less.

But aside from that I have witnessed everything from punch tickets with stamps, to the newest and greatest technology the My Disney Experience. When I first heard they were doing away with the original fastpass system and forcing everyone to plan months in advance I was so upset.

Granted, I’d been in the park in 2014 after the change over happened but during those trips I was using main gate tickets since my friend worked there so I had never had to deal with the Magic Bands or any of the hassle.

While I am not big on changes, this was a huge blow for me because I was so used to the original system, I was so used to using the paper tickets as I walked in and keeping them in my wallet this whole new system freaked me out.

My Magic Bands arrived in the cutest box though, and yes my band is pink.

My Magic Bands arrived in the cutest box though, and yes my band is pink.

I know I sound like the grandma who isn’t used to smartphones, and I realize that but after this most recent trip I realize why. From the beginning I had to link my reservation over onto the My Disney Experience website, I had purchased Florida Resident Seasonal Passes (Known now as Silver Level) and I had to figure out how to use this system. While I had used a Magic Band during my last trip to get into my room, this was a whole new ballpark for me.

As I set up the account, I had no idea how to customize the bands which were confusing to me anyway. As time went on and multiple calls to ticketing as well as getting a nice Vacation Club representative to help me, the box arrived and I was “set” for my trip.

Well I got a follow up email telling me to download the My Disney Experience, which also allowed me to customize Fastpass+, and also sent me into trip anxiety.

Yes, trip anxiety I had multiple dreams where I forgot our bands and also my phone making my trip experience more complicated than it needed to be.

My Disney Experience Planning Page for my Trip.

My Disney Experience Planning Page for my Trip.

While the App for the phone is awesome, because it lets you access restaurant menus, it also lets you access wait times for rides. Previously you needed to download a third party application in order to see wait times, which were usually not very accurate. It also gives you maps and shows you where bathrooms are, which makes it easier if you aren’t too familiar with the parks.

The app also lets you see your room reservation and Fastpas+ reservations. Originally my trip looked as above and I got all the good fastpasses, but as we arrived and life took hold my plans changed dramatically. While I do consider myself a planner and I keep myself fairly organized, this was just disastrous for me.

To begin I noticed the app and the system don’t allow you to book multiple fastpasses for the same day. My Magic Kingdom experience had to be moved to Friday due to our driving schedule and arriving much later than anticipated, and when I did I lost all my Epcot fastpasses for that evening.

Which sucked, because I had managed to snag Soarin’. That’s another issue I encountered at Epcot you have to pick from certain groups for certain experiences, which means I have to pick either Test Track OR Soarin’ I can’t have both. Back when you used the machines, you could pull as many passes as you wanted but had to abide by the 2 hour rule between accessing more passes.

But as the trip went on and my mom accompanied myself and my boyfriend we found that the plans we had just kind of disappeared. I also kept forgetting to cancel my passes, which I am sure ticked people off who wanted them if they weren’t released back into the system.

I also hate that you have to angle the bands in such a way, so that they will read. I had a lot of trouble getting into my rooms and worse yet I am left handed so trying to wedge my hand sometimes into the door frame was harder than I would like to admit. Most of the time I found it easier to just pull the band off all together and just tap it like that because of the awkward angle.

As for the bands themselves, I didn’t know about the activation of the tickets so I had to go stand in line over at Will Call and have the tickets activated. From there I had to proceed back to main gate to enter again, in the same day I had an issue at Epcot and for some odd reason had to have my photo taken?

I felt oddly like a criminal because the passes are mine, they are paid for and the woman who helped me fix my pass was just not too nice about the whole thing. Theme Park Insider 2 years ago wrote a great experience article about when the system was still really buggy, and I find that some of these things still are true today.

While many people will scoff at me and say “Oh you’re just being grumpy” or “You just need to get with the times” I just unfortunately can’t. The bands cause me more stress and in the end ignored all the planning I had done and just enjoyed the park haphazardly.

Dapper Day Survival Guide

Photo Copyright Dapper Day, no copyright infringement intended.

Photo Copyright Dapper Day, no copyright infringement intended.

This is the official last entry in the Dapper Day series, and this is probably the most important post because we’re only a few weeks out from all the events.

Every event is different, and being prepared is the most important thing you can do before heading out for a fun night. So where do we begin in this Survival Guide?

  1. Plan for Weather

Last Spring Disneyland saw a chilly rainy event, last fall Hollywood Studios saw a rainy steamy event and no one knew what kind of weather they’d be having till that week.
Now if you’re in Florida, you know the weather here is temperamental we go from rain to sunshine in under 10 mins. So bringing a good umbrella or having a rain plan is a great idea, if there is lightning certain things will shut down in the park so plan for that as well.
California weather is warm during the day, but temperatures do seem to dip down a bit in the evening so its smart to plan for that. Same can be said about Paris which tends to have temps around 60 in mid-september.
Despite what park you plan to attend at, make sure to have the proper clothing as well.
You don’t want to show up in a long sleeve wool dress in Orlando because you’ll probably pass out, but you don’t want to under dress in case the weather does take a turn.
Simply put? Check the weather, and make sure to pack what you think you may not need.

2. Speaking of packing…

My first Dapper Day, I wore heels that were not comfortable. While many gals will wear them, make sure they are comfortable and you can stand to be in them for a few hours. While trying on shoes, consider this “Can I stand in a 60 minute line and then walk?” that’s usually how I pick my shoes.
If you’re like me and you’re an orthopedic’s dream, make sure you do have an extra pair of shoes or insoles in case the shoes you chose turned out to be less than. While ruining a Dapper Day dress or outfits with a shoe change, consider the long term effect on your feet.
What about my actual outfit?
Well always consider what you would need to pull it together, do you need a hat/fascinator? Or flowers? Or maybe a bow tie? Whatever the case may be always bring a few options you would match with that outfit. I wear panty hose usually so I bring an extra pair just in case for the day.
I have learned it’s smart to make a mini kit in your bag in case you need to redo your lipstick or add an extra pin or maybe just put some hairspray in your hair to keep it from falling apart.
All these little things will help make your day just a bit better

3. Water you doing?
Yes water, either bring your own or ask at any quick service location in the park for a cup with ice water. No matter the temperature or what you’re doing staying hydrated is important, especially those of us who plan to drink at the after events.
Spending a whole day without water could spell disaster later on in the evening for you.
So make sure to drink plenty of fluid throughout the day, especially in Orlando.

4. Eat, Obviously
Spending the whole day out, it’s important to make sure you eat and keep yourself from going hungry. Between the walking and the heat, it’s smart to eat something as you roam the park. While park food can be expensive, Disney does not prohibit outside food, so don’t be afraid to pack a few granola bars into your bag before heading out.
If you do choose to eat, stay away from too many sweets and try to eat something that will hold you over. While that churro and ice cream may seem like a good idea in the moment, you’ll probably wish you had gotten a burger later on.

5. Sunscreen
I probably can’t express this one enough, always wear it. Even if you’re wearing make up put some on under your foundation, because the sun can ruin any vacation.

That’s it. Thank you for joining me and I hope to see you at the park, this fall and next spring.

Dapper Day Inside Out 3

Apparently it is 4 weeks till Disneyland opens it’s doors for Fall Dapper Day, meaning it’s about 5 weeks till Paris does their event and 6 weeks till Orlando kicks off their event.

While I can’t talk too much about Dapper Day in California, since I have never been to the park there I wanted to take today’s post to talk about the little perks you get when you buy through Dapper Day’s official site.

Dapper Day is technically billed as a convention due to their use of the convention space at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel, so they offer things like convention rate tickets and rooms.

This year’s event at Disney World will offer convention rate rooms, and again will provide tickets as well.

So how does this all work?

Through your designated event page on Dapper Day’s website, you will find links how to obtain both rooms and tickets at convention rate prices.

This Fall Walt Disney World is offering rooms at Port Orleans French Quarter and rooms at Wilderness Lodge. While tickets can be purchased online, the rooms must be purchased via phone and calling the reservation line at Walt Disney World and following the prompts.

Though all the information for rooms and hotels can be found online, one of the things I learned this spring was how to use the convention rate tickets.

While my boyfriend and I purchased our passes online, we went with the one park, after 4 option since Magic Kingdom was having Extra Magic Hours and we had an on property room it didn’t matter.

The convention rate tickets are actually pretty fairly priced, and you have a lot of options to pick from for your trip. It’s also cheaper than one day pass through the ticket booth at Disney, this is due to the raised prices at the park as of the start of 2015.

But in order to pick up your tickets you do need to stand at Will Call and wait to speak with a guest relations cast member. It helps if you have the card used to purchase in hand, as well as an ID for them. The good thing about the passes at Walt Disney World is that you can have your passes put on your magic band making it easier for everyone in the party. So that was a nice little perk, since your room and everything else can be done through the bands.

Another thing to remember going in with the tickets is knowing all the policies before purchase and making sure that if you have any questions to contact Disney ahead of the event to ensure no hiccups.

The after events for Walt Disney World at least are normally free, though last fall we met at Atlantic Dance Hall which had a cover charge. This year the event is being held at The Boathouse in Downtown Disney which shouldn’t have a cover charge. While we skipped out on the Spring event for more rides, there are people who meet for other activities throughout property so you aren’t forced into joining any official events.

For Walt Disney World Guests it should be noted that about half of Hollywood Studios is closed currently, due to the expansions being done at the park to accommodate for the new rides and attractions the park has few rides.

The above map from Theme Park insider shows the amount of closures at Hollywood Studios, everything in Green is closed, while the non-highlighted areas are open. 

Though the closures shouldn’t stop anyone from going, many folks will be meeting up and just bringing a group can change the whole experience.

Tomorrow we look at surviving your first Dapper Day what to bring and what to do.