Our Experience With My Disney Experience: A Walt Disney World Review

by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 04-17-2014

Photo illustrating Walt Disney World - Touring

Will Garmer's excellent primer on My Disney Experience has inspired me to share our experiences.

Here are our thoughts on how My Disney Experience worked for us during our recent visit to Walt Disney World.

FastPass+ Kiosks at Epcot photo
FastPass+ Kiosks at Epcot

FastPass+ kiosks

Before we left home, I managed to link our Disney Vacation Club reservations via My Disney Experience easily enough, although none of our dining reservations showed up. Eventually most of them did, but I never quite managed to get all of them linked up, so I don't know what the problem was there.

Once I'd gotten that far, I thought I'd see what FastPass+ options we could see, and how easy the My Disney Experience system is to use. However, there was a problem ... I had my paper Annual Pass, but my husband had managed to lose his since we were last in Walt Disney World. Now what to do? In the end, after a lot of fruitless searching (to this day, I still don't know where it is!), I called Disney, and asked for their help. It took a while, but once I was done, we were set and I had both Annual Passes linked through to our online account.

I found the process for making FastPass+ reservations hard work to say the least! Bear in mind, this was last fall, when there were no restrictions on how many E-ticket attractions you could have a FastPass+ for. I was expecting to be offered a series of times for the attractions we wanted, so I was surprised when the system selected times for us. In every single case, the times weren't convenient to us, no doubt something to do with the fact that Disney wants to keep you in the park as long as they can, which is perfectly understandable. It took quite some time to change the times to ones that worked for us, which I wasn't expecting, but at least once it was done, we had our FastPasses.

Before I got into My Disney Experience, there was so much I didn't realize, things like the fact that all your selections have to be in the same park for one day -- no help for park-hopping. I really would like to see that change going forward, as the system offers the opportunity to do that, and what a bonus that would be for guests of Disney hotels in the future.

All set, we headed across the pond, and checked in for our first night at the Villas at the Grand Floridian. Now here was where we were surprised. I'd only personalized Magic Bands for our stay at the Beach Club Villas, which started the following night, so I assumed that's the only place we'd get them. Imagine the look on my face when I was presented with two grey, completely unpersonalized Magic Bands. Ok ... not what I was expecting. I actually felt a bit cheated by this. I'd much rather have known that we'd get a set of Magic Bands per each resort stay, and been given the option to personalize all of them. If I'm being really honest, if we're on a split stay, which we often do, I'd actually prefer that I had one set of Magic Bands for the whole stay, a lot less confusing.

We were given the spiel about how good the MagicBands were, and how they won't fall off, which was great. It sounds as if they'd thoroughly road tested them, although sadly that didn't prove to be the case. We both managed to lose our MagicBands the following morning, when they fell off, but fortunately we found them soon afterwards. However, this isn't what we'd expected. We mentioned this to a Cast Member, and were immediately given decorative sliders to hold the Magic Bands closed, which did the trick.

We encountered another problem on our first night with the Magic Bands. We went to pay for our dinner at Gasparilla's Grill, and were asked for our PIN number. Logical of course, as it helps to ensure that if your Magic Bands are lost and fall into someone else's hands, no-one else can use them, but sadly the cast member who'd checked us in had forgotten to discuss the PIN with us, so they were useless for purchases. Thank goodness we had a back-up Key to the World card to use instead. After that, we had no issues with paying using our Magic Bands.

We had no problems with the Magic Bands in terms of park admission, or using them for our FastPass+ experiences, but we did have a general problem with FastPasses. I'm a planner, don't get me wrong, and I liked the idea of selecting times in advance, but somehow they just never worked out for us. On most days, we'd only use one or two of them, because things happened and the other times no longer worked for us. I thought that was a huge shame, and I felt bad about it. At least in the old days, when you selected your FastPass, then used it fairly shortly afterwards, that didn't happen. I wonder how many FastPass+ each day are going to waste?

Something we did struggle with was changing our FastPass times. Let's just say that our American cell phone isn't the greatest, and it takes a long time to get online. If you have a phone that operates a lot better, then it certainly makes your life a lot easier. When we were there, there were very few FastPass+ kiosks to be seen, perhaps because they were at an earlier stage of testing, but I understand that, with the elimination of the old paper FastPass system at various parks, there are now a lot more kiosks, which would certainly have made our lives easier.

All in all, we coped with the technology that is the My Disney Experience, but we didn't find it as simple as we would've liked. I suspect a lot of that is down to the fact that it was still in its testing phase, and hopefully Disney has ironed-out all the kinks, because as cast members told us on a regular basis, the system is here to stay. I think I can learn to love it on future visits, but only if the glitches are gone from it for good.

MagicBand with 2013 Slider photo
MagicBand with 2013 Slider

I was given this little glow-in-the-dark 2013 slider for my MagicBand when I inquired about keeping my band on at the Concierge Desk

About the Author:
Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have made numerous visits to destinations across America and Europe. They recently completed their tour of every Disney theme park around the world, which culminated in their visit to Japan, including the Tokyo Disney Resort. Click here to view more of Cheryl's articles!

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