Thursday, September 17, 2015

Planning: Deciding Which Attractions to FastPass+ (FP+)

By: Melissa

The first time we took our kids to Disney, FP+ was in the testing phase. And due to our touring strategy, we didn’t really even use the old Fast Pass system very much. Like it or not (it’s actually a huge debate among Disneyphiles), it looks as if FP+ is here to stay. So how do you decide the best attractions to use it on?

First, I think it’s important to understand what FP+ is and isn’t.
  • It’s free! Anyone with a ticket can use it. If you’re staying on site, you’re allowed to make your selections 60 days in advance. If you’re staying off site, you can make your selections 30 days in advance.
  • You do NOT have to have FP+ selections in order to visit or ride attractions.
  • You’re allowed to make 3 FP+ selections per day, and they must all be at the same park.
  • Your selections are made online, and you can change them through My Disney Experience online or via the app.
  • You can make FP+ selections for part or all of your traveling party.
  • Your FP+ selection is for a certain window of time during the day. If you miss your time window, you’re out of luck.
  • FP+ is not a walk-on guarantee. It’s kind of like calling ahead to a restaurant. It’s not a reservation, but when you arrive, you’re in a shorter line.
  • You’ll redeem your FP+ at attractions by scanning your Magic Band or ticket at the FP+ line.

Now, in order to make FP+ selections, I think it’s important to know your family and your touring style. For instance, if you don’t want to ride Space Mountain, you don’t need a FP+ for it. I also wouldn’t recommend using a FP+ selection for most shows, as there doesn’t seem to be a real advantage unless you’re going to be there at a high crowd time (there are always a few exceptions).

...Know what attractions you’re truly interested in. If you don’t want to ride something, you certainly don’t need a FastPass for it.
...Have a plan for your park days before your FP+ day comes. Make a list of things you’d like to get a FP+ for.
...Understand the tier system at Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
...Try to book your most important rides/attractions first, possibly starting with the last park day, working backward.
...If you’re planning to hop to a second park during the day, consider making your FP+ selections for the second park. The lines will be longer in the afternoon, and touring will be easier without FP+ in the morning.
...Check out FP+ recommendations on the EasyWDW Cheat Sheets and at WDWPrepSchool.
...Schedule your FP+ for a little later in the day when lines are longer.
...Keep trying to get a FP+ for rides/attractions that didn’t have openings when you first booked. People change their plans and it may leave something open for you.
...Download My Disney Experience on your phone and get familiar with the FP+ section so you can edit your FP+ while you’re in the parks.

...Use a FP+ on something just because it’s available. Some things just aren’t worth it – especially if you have no interest in it. If you must take a selection you don’t particularly like, you can always edit it later. Don’t waste it!
...Book your FP+ for first thing in the morning if you’re doing Rope Drop. That’s the lightest crowd time and you likely do NOT need FP+ that early in the day.
...Be distressed if you can’t get something on your FP+ day. People change their schedules all the time, and things open up. Keep checking back, even while you’re in the park.
...Get FP+ for something just because someone else loved the ride or it’s on a recommended list. Make sure it’s something you truly want to do.

As you look at the list of attractions, it’s tough to only choose three things! Keep in mind that with a good touring plan, you’ll be able to ride most things without a FP+ just fine. I personally reserve FP+ for things we absolutely cannot miss and I don’t want to take a chance on the Standby line. There aren’t 5 hour waits to see Anna and Elsa anymore, but they’re still important to us. You can bet they are on my FP+ list.

Can you ever get more than three Fast Passes? Sometimes! After using your first three, you can get more Fast Passes at in-park kiosks based upon availability. Disney actually tested allowing a fourth FP+ over the summer, and that could mean they’re planning to roll that out in the future. It could also mean nothing.

When you’re ready to learn more about how to make your selections in My Disney Experience, check out Lindsey’s post.

You can check out the Real Moms’ favorite FastPass+ selections if you need more ideas.

How does the FP+ system work for your family?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Should I purchase Disney's trip insurance?

By: Lindsey

When we booked our first trip to Disney, the cast member we talked to asked us about trip insurance. We had never used trip insurance on any trip before. We originally didn’t plan on getting it but after listening to the explanation of benefits, we decided to try it and see what it was all about.
First of all, what if it gets close to your trip date and someone gets sick or an accident happens? Disney’s trip insurance covers it if you have to cancel your vacation after the 30 day mark. This was a big draw to us since our first trip was traveling with a not quite two-year-old. If one of us came down sick or had an accident, we’d be able to get reimbursed for the cost of the trip.

It also covers things like lost luggage, lost items, flight cancellation or a delayed flight, injuries or sickness while on a trip, hurricanes, damage to your property while you are traveling and a host of many other things.  Here is a link to the current (as of 09/10/2015) coverage of the Disney trip insurance plan.
During that first trip, our iPad was damaged. We never figured out if it was in the hotel room or on the flight, but both were covered. We were able to claim this against our trip insurance and we had a check covering the loss in about a week or two. Since that moment, we’ve always chosen to add on the insurance.

Since that first trip we, thankfully, haven’t had to use the insurance but it’s always nice to know that it is there. When you are trying to decide whether or not to add that expense to your trip, sit down and weigh the pros and cons. For us, the pros outweigh the cons but that might be different for you.
Have you used or do you plan to use the Disney vacation trip insurance? What are your thoughts?
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