Magic Bands, FastPass+, ADRs, OH MY!

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Remember, back in the day, when you could just show up at Walt Disney World, ride the rides, eat nice meals, have a great time, and go home?  Yeah, me neither.

For as long as I’ve been planning Walt Disney World vacations (approximately 7, 459 years), I’ve had to get up at the crack of dawn at some distant light year from the actual vacation to book a dining reservation at a restaurant for which I personally have no fondness, but I have deemed it an experience my children MUST have to prevent them from ending up in years of therapy for the mental cruelty they suffered at the hands of a negligent mother.

But as if that fun and excitement wasn’t enough to give you hives, there’s more!

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You have, no doubt, heard of the latest technology rolled out at the Disney theme parks.  The aptly named “Magic Bands” have debuted, and boy oh boy are they fun!  They come in pretty colors, you can add little charms to them, a cutie patootie frame around your Mickey head – what’s not to love?  They even have your name on them!  Adorable!

But the responsibility that comes as a Magic Band owner! While planning for a recent vacation, I spent the better part of my days trying to make sure everything for our upcoming vacation is going to be magical for my family.  I spent hours on the phone with Disney IT, when somethings weren’t working out right, and I went back into My Disney Experience dozens upon dozens of times, trying to make sure I wasn’t overlooking things.

And as the vacation date loomed, I didn’t feel ready.  For the first time, I was afraid our ability to navigate the park without stress was going to be impeded.  I worried that the FastPass+ selections I made were not really the ones my kids want.  I feared the kid who could easily ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster a half dozen times would be disappointed when I had to drag her away after one ride, not having the ability to snag FastPasses throughout the day.  It’s like the old fashioned ticket books!

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Well, I can say that the vacation wasn’t a total disaster, but it was super stressful.  My husband declared it “not fun” to have my head buried in my cell phone as we tried to make adjustments to our FastPass+ selections, made 60 days in advance, to accommodate our schedule.  My kids were disappointed I couldn’t snag extra FastPasses to come back to things like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Toy Story.  And we did race through a meal or two in order to make sure we were able to run to our FastPass+ attractions before our time was up.

I am confident that in time, this will be an awesome system.  I loved, for example, not carrying a bag with me, because I didn’t have to store keys or passes or FastPasses.  I breezed right through the “No Bags” line like I’d done it a hundred times before.

But I did need a vacation from that vacation.  The stress of making sure we were where we needed to be so we could enjoy things killed some of the enjoyment.

Or maybe I’m not so good with the winds of change?

D is For Disney – Duh!

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DAs if there was a way to get to the letter D in the A to Z Blog Challenge and not have me mention Disney.  In honor of the letter D, I present with fond memories and intense longing my favorite Disney “D List”.

Dole Whip – Well, yeah. Virtually impossible to find anywhere outside of Disney, this creamy, soft servey, pineappley deliciousness makes me smile and drool – not a pretty sight, if it’s a big, open mouthed smile, because then the drool spills all over the computer keyboard. Not that I speak from experience.

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Donald Duck – Love to see his big, beaky (or is it a bill because he’s a Duck?) smile as we enter one of the best buffet meals not only at Walt Disney World, but anywhere – Tusker House.  So unexpected for a theme park meal, and so many unusual, off the beaten path things to try!

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Disney Dollars – Unlike Itchy and Scratchy Dollars, which they don’t take anywhere, including Itchy and Scratchy Land, Disney Dollars can be used for just about everything during your Disney vacation.  And thanks to my friend Kay, another Mom on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, I’ve learned a fun game with the Disney Dollars that gives the kids a bit of their own spending money with each meal.  Buy your Disney Dollars ahead of time, and put them in plain white envelopes.  Everyone at the table chooses an envelope, which could contain $1 to $5, and the person with the biggest amount of money in their envelope throws the trash away!  The kids get a kick out of it, and they love to save their dollars until the last meal to get the best souvenir their winnings can buy!

Double Flying Dumbos – Oh yes, I love them. But not for the reason you probably think.  I cannot ride the Flying Dumbos because going around in a circle like that makes me so nauseous and dizzy, I’d have to browse the rest of the park with my head in a bucket.  But this is that quintessential first ride – the one even the youngest kids can go on without fear or worry.  I’ve gotten some of my most favorite pictures of my tiny beauty girls as they spin around on their own flying elephant.  Priceless.

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What are some of your favorite Disney “D”s?