What's already here
If you're staying at a Disney hotel, you may well have a new hotel key/park ticket with an RFID chip in it. As of now, RFID is being used for just two things - park entry and room entry at some hotels. Here are some details on both:
At the parks, there is a separate entrance area for those with RFID tickets - instead of turnstiles, there are poles that look like this:
In addition, Disney is installing RFID readers on hotel room doors - not all hotels are yet complete. You can use your RFID-enabled card to enter your room as well.
As of now, this is just not a big deal. In fact, when I was at the parks earlier this week, it appeared the entry line at the RFID poles was a bit larger than at the "regular" turnstile! (Something I'd imagine Disney will address asap).
While it isn't a big deal now, it WILL be a big deal in the future - RFID will be enabled for many more aspects of your trip. (This will be a topic of a future blog post)
"My Disney Experience" app for smartphones
Now THIS I love. Disney has created an app called "My Disney Experience" for Walt Disney World. This app has many aspects - it has maps, it can pull up all your restaurant and event reservations, and you can make dining reservations on it as well. All fine and dandy, but not exactly revolutionary.
However, there is one aspect that is terrific - the app has real-time wait and FastPass return times! This is absolutely terrific news if you're a "serial planner." For example, say Space Mountain is down and you don't know when it'll be back up. Rather than heading back to Space Mountain every 20 minutes to check or finding the Disney wait time tip board (what a pain), just check your smart phone!
Or, suppose you have a 6:00 dinner reservation, and want to check the Space Mountain Fastpass return times before getting a Fastpass (to see if they aren't over your dinner time). Once again, use the app rather than walking around the park!
The app is still a bit buggy and can crash, but when it's working, it's a nice addition to make the day go easier for "serial planners."
Tests for "Fastpass+"
Disney has conducted tests for the new Fastpass+ system - it's not quite ready to go live yet, but some guests of Disney hotels have been asked to partake in tests. If you're asked to participate, answer yes! Ultimately, it means you'll be able to schedule a few more Fastpasses, but it does not (yet) affect the number of regular Fastpasses you can get. That means more Fastpasses, and less waiting.
If you are an Optimal Magic customer and get asked to partake in a Fastpass+ test, please let me know asap -there are several factors that need to be juggled, and I'll help you use it in the absolute best way possible.
The currently aspects of MyMagic+ are relatively minor - RFID entry to the park (big deal), a nifty Disney app for your phone, and some testing of future services. The big changes will be rolled out over the next year or so. In the next blog post, I'll talk more about the bigger changes, and how you can optimally use it to have a better trip and avoid the lines!
And, as always, let me remind you that if you're not the type who wants to worry about this stuff, just drop me a note - the whole point of Optimal Magic is to help people have a stress-free, fun trip, and if you don't want to do any of the planning, I'll do it for you!