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Thursday, February 15, 2018

My Disney Experience - Tips and Tricks


by: guide4wdw - Collin

As we say time and time again here on the site, planning a Disney vacation can be a stressful experience. However, it doesn't really have to be if you have the right help and take the time to learn and carefully set up your vacation experience. As always, we're here to help in any way we can and that's been the goal of Guide4WDW.com since the very beginning. I enjoy helping people find a way to experience the best possible Walt Disney World vacation they possibly can and finding new ways to improve your planning experience. I'm not perfect and I do miss a few things along the way because the parks are always changing and developing from day to day. While taking that into consideration, we have found a few things along the way that may be helpful to you. So today we're taking a closer look at the My Disney Experience site.  

As one of the newer aspects of the Disney planning process, MyDisneyExperience.com has revolutionized the way we plan our Disney vacations across the board. For those of you who may not know, the site (owned and operated by Disney themselves) is an offshoot of the main disneyworld.disney.go.com hub of official Disney reservations, dining, and information of all types. However, My Disney Experience takes things a step farther and integrates an all in one planning resource for guests that allows you to avoid calling, or moving from page to page to book certain aspects of your vacation and compiles everything into an all in one section of the main Disney site. As you buy tickets, integrate a package stay, book accommodations, or plan dining reservations, Disney's platform updates a running itinerary for your stay with down to the minute information and a few suggestions along the way. 

Unfortunately, in the creation of the system, Disney failed to create a truly step by step process and left a lot of the system and utilizing it up to guests to simply figure out. Truth be told, it's not an overly complicated process if all goes well, but not everything always goes well. We'll get to more on that later, but beyond linking your reservation to your account and ordering your magic bands and making fastpass+ selections Disney doesn't entirely walk you through all that the system can actually do leading up to your vacation. As a result, we share this article to share a few tips of using the My Disney Experience site and how a few simple tips could better your experience overall. As always, if you have any questions along the way, feel free to reach out to us on social media or email me directly at Guide4WDW@gmail.com. The account is devoted to questions and we're more than happy to answer them or take article suggestions there as well! 

If you're booking your first vacation, when you get done with this article, or even before you begin it, be sure to take a quick look at our 2018 Disney World Vacation Planning TipsDisney World Dining Tips For 2018, and 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018. They're a great place to start if you're planning a vacation and may help you as you step into the realm of "My Disney Experience." 

There's a lot to cover today, so we'll jump right into it with one of the simplest but most useful features of the site.  

Split Payments
If you're traveling in a group or attempting to split payments among individuals, we've all been there and know how frustrating that can be to get perfectly right. As a bit of a lesser known feature of the program, My Disney Experience offers guests the option to pay for their vacation in parts or sections rather than in one big lump sum payment. Additionally  you can pay with more than one form of payment. So, instead of attempting to collect money from various parties involved in the vacation or multiple families or group members, each person can use login information to submit their own card and dollar amount they want to pay on that card without having to transfer money to other guest in the party or anything of the sort. All of the transactions are secure and can be spread out over time at your convenience if you book far enough in advance.         

Paying Through Travel Agents
As touched on above, the online system is great for slitting payments your own way, but an interesting thing to note is that if you book through a travel agent (depending on your agency), sometimes the online payment option will disappear. However, you can still pay at your convenience through your agent. It's not the easiest situation, but it's good to know that the option is still available despite the somewhat unexpected hiccup in the booking process if you're not entirely expecting it. As always, I suggest a travel agent, especially for first time guests and here's a closer look at why. No matter who you use or how they book your stay, it's something you may want to be aware of before your payment timeframe rolls around.    

Book Fastpasses With A Second Browser Window
This particular tip I've been utilizing for years and actually tried it once just to see if it would work and it resulted in a flawless fastpass+ booking experience. As many of you know, Disney's new(ish) fastpass system is now all online and called fastpass+. Fastpass+ integrates the My Disney Experience site with a physical Magic Band you wear to the parks and allows guests to select up to 3 fastpass+ selections for one park on each day of their vacation. For on-site guests, this passes can be booked 60 days in advance and for off-site guests they can be booked 30 days in advance. 

As mentioned, the booking process for these passes is all online. While for many that's great, what you don't necessarily expect is that you have to book your selections around any dining reservations or other special events you have booked throughout your Disney vacation. It sounds rather simple, but remembering all that while you frantically (which you don't necessarily have to if you use our top reservation/fastpass securing tips) try to make your ideal fastpass+ selections isn't always easy. To overcome that mental block, I started using two browser windows when booking fastpass selections. I use one window for the actual selection making process and on the other window I pull up the itinerary Disney automatically creates for each day of your stay after linking your resort reservation and other plans. As you book a pass, refresh your itinerary window and you'll see it pop up moments later revealing how it fits in with the rest of your plans. If you need or want some fastpass+ tips, be sure to take a glance at our 5 Simple Fastpass+ Tips That Could Better Your Vacation Experience.

Expect An Issue Along The Way
Even a few years after the systems major debut (which was not received all that well) the system itself still has a lot of bugs to work out. Disney phone support for the site is very good at what they do at this point and tend to be aware of the quirks of the system and how to resolve them, but inevitably you'll run into some type of issue as you use the online site. Personally, I've seen extra guests pop up on my account, fastpasses randomly disappear and reappear, and even guests from previous trips pop up on our account even after Disney support went in and manually removed them. Expect something strange to happen, but also be aware that Disney is willing to help and just a phone call away at (407) 939-4357.      

Look For Special One Time Offers
This particular tip or rather simply an offering is rather rare based on my experience. During our last fastpass+ booking experience for our July 2017 trip, a unique offer popped up on our account asking if we wanted to take part in a DVC tour or receive an informational packet in exchange for an extra fastpass+ selection (s). For some reason I opted out of taking the offer, but nonetheless it struck me as odd. I'm not entirely sure how frequent this is, but in the past Disney has offered very little incentive to learn more about Disney Vacation Club. They don't like to be overly pushy with their marketing for that option (and I'm glad they aren't), but if you have time to take advantage of this offer, it's something you may want to look out for!      

Order Your Magic Bands Early 
I know that picking out the perfect Magic Band color for your stay may not be the first thing that comes to mind as soon as you book your trip, but it should be one of the first things you do. If you put it off or wait to choose your custom bands on the online site, it's extremely easy to forget and then when you get within a few weeks of your arrival, your magic bands will no longer be personalized and you'll end up with the stock, single colored, bands available at resort check in. Once again, it's not a vacation destroyer or anything like that but rather something that can easily slip your mind if you don't do it as soon as possible. 

Extra tip: If you want a nickname or other name than your actual given name put on the band, be sure to alter the custom name option on the magic band order. Also, every once in a while the system will capitalize every letter of your name for some unknown reason so you may want to verify that as well before your bands ship.         

Linking Families
One of the most unique features of the online site is that when you book with groups or two separate families, you can invite other guests to view and take part in your planning process by linking the two accounts. It's not all that easy to get to work correctly on the first try, but once the two accounts are linked it works incredibly well. Again, if you can't get it to work on your own, give Disney's support team a call and they should get it fixed within minutes! I've had nothing but good luck from their team.    

These tips just scratch the surface of what you can do with mydisneyexperience.com and with the site continually growing and changing from month to month, there's no telling what's next. Last but defiantly not least, if you want to take advantage of the online capabilities but don't necessarily need all of the features or need a majority of the features in a more convent option, be sure to download the My Disney Experience App. The app had a ton of issues at first but is now an incredible tool when booking and during your Disney Vacation. 

Your Thoughts
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are! 

Ready to Plan?
Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner! 

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips, 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets, check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections!

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