We just returned from our 13th trip to Walt Disney World. It was our second trip using MagicBands and Fastpass+. As always, we tried something new and learned a thing or two.
New this trip:
- Festival of the Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom. This afternoon parade has been around for a while, but we just had not seen it and made a point of catching it this trip. Glad we did!
- Ultimate Day of Thrills Tour. After taking a Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour in Disneyland last summer (click here to read more), we wanted to try another tour and this one sounded great. We were not disappointed! That, and I think I want a tour of some sort each trip.
- Pop Century Resort. This was a new resort for us and there were more pro’s than con’s.
- Symphony in the Stars fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This recently added nighttime spectacular was a highlight of our trip. We told lots of people about it as many did not know. Maybe that is why we got a prime viewing location 15 minutes before the fireworks.
- Annual Passes. Yep, we upgraded our 4-day park hopper ticket to Annual Passes that also include entrance to the water parks. Since we had also paid for Memory Maker on our package and unlimited photo downloads are included with the Annual Pass, we were refunded the cost of the Memory Maker and applied it towards the purchase of the Annual Passes.
What we learned (or re-learned):
- Walt Disney World is a noisy place. We knew this already, but it was even more apparent this trip. Don’t plan on having any lengthy conversations with your travel party as you won’t be able to hear each other. We were sitting in the food court at Pop Century having lunch upon our arrival when suddenly the music blared and we were reminded of the noise. On our last day, we laughed when I couldn’t finish telling a story at dinner at Tony’s without some sort of interruption be it noise or wait staff. And, now that I’m getting older, if I get interrupted during a story, I may forget what I was saying!
- Okay, we knew this too, but we come to play!
- The boy needs time away from us and independence while on vacation. If we’re on a cruise ship, that’s easy. At the parks, it is more difficult. We tried to build this in with him running errands and checking on things. We also gave him time to explore with a specific meeting point and return time. He handled all of those opportunities very well.
- We either resemble cast members or look like knowledgeable and approachable guests. There wasn’t a day when we were asked questions about what to do or the location of something. Each time we answered questions the best we could or referred folks on for a better response.
- There are times Disney wants you to work for them instead of vice versa. When we upgraded to Annual Passes, I asked to make Fastpasses for that evening at Magic Kingdom. We hadn’t originally planned to go to the park as we didn’t have an extra day on our ticket, but now we had unlimited entry. It was suggested that I could do it on my phone. Yes, but I didn’t want to. The Cast Member was quickly able to add Fastpass selections to our account for the evening. On another occasion we were shopping in MouseGear at EPCOT and I asked a Cast Member about a product coming in a different size. I got the “just download the shopping app and search for the product” speech. With the addition of if you find the product you can go to the location and make the purchase. What? That’s more work when I’m trying to spend my money! I asked if she could do the same thing while I continued to browse. Although surprised, she did check on several products for us, none of which were available in sizes that we wanted. I thanked her and told another Cast Member about her helpfulness. I get that some people appreciate the “I can check on this myself” status of the app, but I wanted service—them working for me instead of me working for them.
- We like Southwest Airlines!
- There is no better place to celebrate a birthday! I think the husband and boy knew this, but I had yet to have the experience. Imagine nearly everyone you encounter wishing you a Happy Birthday. Envision special treats with candles and autographed cards being delivered at meals. And, there are fireworks! Nightly if you like. Weren’t they just for me?
- While we were there during an “off peak” season, parks were still crowded. There were many adult only groups and lots of strollers. The weather was great—not one drop of rain. And, it’s easier to add layers if chilly than to take off layers when hot. There were some attractions that were closed and construction and maintenance were evident. We wanted a fireworks photo in front of the Castle but learned due to the crane and workers maintaining the Castle, the fireworks were not fired during Dream Along With Mickey because of safety.
There you have it; our reflections from our most recent Walt Disney World trip. If you were wondering, we already have a resort reservation, flights, and dining reservations for trip number 14. Which is another reason Annual Passes made sense.