Jeff’s Disney World Vacation (August 2013)

Thanks to our client Jeff from Michigan for sharing his family’s experiences at two Disney World resorts (Pop Century and Port Orleans Riverside), the new Magic Bands, and Magical Express.  This was a two part vacation for Jeff’s family – they also took a cruise on royal caribbean’s oasis of the seas.  Their cruise experiences will be published on this blog soon as part 2. – Tim

Disney World – Started at Pop Century, which was our 5th time there I believe, and we able to get a room in the 80’s section as requested.  They we able to give us the same room for the continuing reservation on the 15th so that was convenient.  I just had to go down to the front desk to re-check in and get new Key To The World cards (even though we had Magic Bands they still issued RFID key cards since the Magic Bands aren’t yet 100% reliable – more on that in a minute).

At Riverside we had a room in Magnolia Terrace, which was one of the two buildings we requested.  I wish we had stayed longer – we never really had a chance to look around or use the pools.  Our room was right next to one of the quiet pools, a short walk to the main pool and main building, and was also very close to the East bus depot.  Overall, I would recommend this building and would stay there again.

A few Disney World observations:

Magic Bands were being tested at some resorts – Pop Century had carts filled with Magic Bands behind the front desk.  We received ours in the mail (very quickly, too – just a couple of days).  Since we ordered in advance we could pick the color and name on each band.  They were reasonably comfortable to wear – similar to a sports watch with a rubber-type band – and very adjustable.  As you probably know, they can be used for your room key, charging privileges, park ticket (we didn’t do this), Fastpass+, and even Magical Express ID – we found this out at the airport.  They also work at Test Track as an ID for the vehicle that you design prior to riding.  This is going to be a huge data mine for Disney.

The bands worked pretty well, but the RFID required very precise positioning to work.  It often took 2-3 tries before it would read correctly, which usually happened at restaurants and stores.  Hopefully they will address this during the testing phase.  Strangely, while they worked just fine for our initial Pop Century reservation, they didn’t work with our 2nd Pop Century reservation until one of the front desk CMs fiddled with their computers for a while (except Joseph’s; they never were able to get his working the rest of the week for some reason).  However, when we checked in at Riverside all the bands worked just fine without any extra work.

Overall, they were very convenient, and will be great for kids or anyone who doesn’t want to carry a ticket and room key around all day.  I’m not sold on the Fastpass+, though.  Seems like it will require more advance planning, just like dining reservations.

We learned something about Magical Express that I would like to share.  We did not put the yellow tags on our bags since we wanted to have them at our room as soon as we arrived, and chose to pick them up from Baggage Claim after our flight.  Unfortunately there was a large cluster of thunderstorms that prevented ground crews from unloading any planes for over 2 hours.  So after finally getting our bags we made our way to the Magical Express area, and were informed by the CM there that we could have just given them our baggage claim tags and they would have picked up our bags anyway, even without the yellow tags on them.  Of course we didn’t know it would take that long to get our luggage, but it is good to know they can do that.

One other thing – at Riverside it looked like most people had the refillable mugs.  Not sure if there was some promotion going on, but I had never seen this many mugs on any previous visit.  I would estimate >80% of the people in the food court were using them.

We had a great time on our trip!  Thanks for all of your help with our cruise and Disney reservations.

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