Sunday, October 12, 2014

Come On, Disney - You're Killing Me!!!...

I love Disney, no doubt about it.

But, that doesn't mean Disney can do no wrong.

So here goes:   Disney - what are you doing?????

I'm currently getting ready for an upcoming trip with extended family - including my niece and nephew who have never been to Walt Disney World before.  I want to make sure these children have a wonderful time and get to enjoy the magic and all that Disney has to offer as much as possible.

I will tell you this - I have NEVER put so much work and effort into a Disney trip!

Why you ask?  The answer is simple:  FastPass+ (FP+).

Never before have I used FastPass (FP).  Ever.  We've always walked freely around the parks, getting into whatever standby lines we wanted to whenever we felt like it.  We came and went as we pleased, never having to be at any particular ride or attraction at a set time.  This approach worked wonderfully for us.

Last August, we easily got into all of the rides and attractions we wanted.  The only rides we had long waits for were Peter Pan's Flight and Toy Story Midway Mania, which we expected and were okay with.

And then came the Magic Bands and FastPass+....

Now, one year later, everything is in chaos.

Sixty days prior to travel, I dutifully waited until midnight hoping to grab my FastPasses (FPs) online on My Disney Experience (MDE) - especially for the Anna & Elsa Meet & Greet at the Magic Kingdom. After having been on MDE all day, when midnight arrived, I couldn't log in. Ughhhh!!!!!  All of a sudden, it no longer recognized my log-in information.  

So, in other words, when midnight came, and I could finally set up my FPs, I didn't even stand a chance to get a FP for Anna & Elsa which means either the kids won't get a chance to meet them, or we might have to wait in line for hours - literally.  To say I was furious was an understatement.  

Thankfully, my awesome travel agent, Dina, was diligently working on her end until past 1:00 a.m. to grab a few FastPasses for us - fortunately, one was for Toy Story Midway Mania. Why is that fortunate? Because Disney keeps testing FP+ on a weekly basis.  Just this past week, if you didn't have a FP, you couldn't get on that ride - they did away with the standby line for the duration of the week.  Not good for all of those guests without a FastPass who had no idea what Disney was going to do.  I would have hated to be a parent trying to explain to my child why he or she couldn't ride.  Not good! 

Did those guests not pay top dollar to be at Disney???  To just pull the rug out from under them like that was just plain WRONG!!!  
Why the big deal? Because Toy Story Midway Mania is one of the most popular rides at Hollywood Studios, and people can literally wait for a very, very long time on line to get in.  Last August, my husband and daughter waited well over one hour to go on it.  

But, it doesn't stop there.  

Now, Disney has gone further.  The next target is Be Our Guest Restaurant (BOG) which is extremely popular and very difficult to get into.  

I will just mention here that last August, I not only easily got a dinner reservation at BOG 180 days prior to our trip - that's when resort guests can start making their advanced dining reservations (ADRs) - but I was also able to get into BOG for lunch after about a 10-15 minute wait on the standby line.  In essence, we bookended that trip with BOG dining - we had a wonderful dinner there on our first night, and we ended our trip with a wonderful lunch there on our last day.  

Well, unfortunately, this year I'm finding it extremely difficult to even get one meal there.  I was unable to get a dinner reservation, although I'm still going on MDE at random times to see if anything opens up.  At this point, I'm hanging my hat on the hope that I'll get an email invitation from Disney to get a FP for lunch there.  

On the other hand, this is what I'm hearing with respect to that:  After calling Disney, they tell me that all resort guests will receive a FP invitation up to 30 days prior to travel.  Unfortunately, what I'm hearing and reading from other sources state that, although you will get a FP invitation, there are no FPs actually being given out.  On top of that, I'm now reading that, if you don't have a FP, you won't be able to dine there at all because Disney has currently done away with the standby line. 

And... here we go again!  

Come on, Disney!  You're killing me!...   

I'm the type of Disney goer that is very methodical in preparing for our trips.  

First, I pick our travel dates, flights, and resort.  

Then, I find out which parks are having extra magic hours (EMHs) on which days which, for us, determines what days we'll be in which parks.  
Once that's set, I pick which restaurants we'll be dining at.  

When I have all of that worked out, I make up our itinerary.  Yes, I have an actual itinerary - a chart reflecting which park we're at for each day and all of our ADRs.  I do that every time, and it helps to keep me organized.  

However, not anywhere on that itinerary do I ever put down specific times when I have to show up to ride an attraction.  

Can you sense where I'm going with this?  I'll make it clear:  

I HATE FP+!!!!!!  Yes, I do!

For the first time ever, I'm actually dreading a trip to Disney and having to deal with all of this.  Take a moment to let that sink in... When a person with a Disney addiction, not to mention a blog, Facebook page, and Disney website, says she's actually dreading an upcoming trip to Disney, that says A LOT... 

For the first time in forever (did you catch the Frozen reference?), I'm actually dreading reading anything further on the latest Disney news or listening to a podcast for fear of hearing what Disney is up to next.  

Not to mention that Disney has now closed down, just in the last couple of weeks, quite a few rides and attractions, including Maelstrom, which our family will miss, to make room for a Frozen attraction (which really shouldn't be in EPCOT, in my opinion - but more on that in a later blog), and The Backlot Tour, which I haven't yet had a chance to experience.  Guess that one's off the list...

So, once again, I have to ask:  Disney - what are you doing?????

Please, please, please stop this FP+ craziness!  

So, Disney, here are my suggestions, and I'm sure many fans would agree, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the first to propose the following:

I know you've invested $1 billion on the Magic Bands and obviously you're not going to let that investment go to waste.  I completely understand.  

So, why not use the Magic Bands for everything they do now - entry into the parks, unlocking guests' resort room doors, etc. - and forget about FP+?  Why not return to the legacy FPs (the paper ones traditionally used in the parks prior to FP+)?  

Many have suggested that Disney uses FP+ for marketing purposes such as observing what guests purchase, what attractions they ride, where they eat - basically, knowing everything a guest does and everywhere a guest goes.  They obviously have the technology - that was demonstrated during our lunch at BOG last year.  We ordered our lunch, they handed us a plastic rose, we sat wherever we wanted, and our lunch was delivered right to us.  

So, if Disney takes that one step further, wouldn't it be terrific to use all of that technology and have, for example, the face characters at the meet and greets call your child by their name?  I'm sure little girls (and boys) would just love for Anna & Elsa, for example, to greet them by their names - they would make their trip! 

In my opinion, this would be a much better use of the Magic Bands.

I hope you take this in, Disney, and give it some thought.

And please, please, please, get things back to normal before our trip!

How does everyone else feel about FP+?  Make sure to check out my Facebook page at Mouse In Our House Blog and share your experiences with us so that everyone can participate in a discussion about this.

Until next time, please remember to keep the Mouse in your house!