If you follow us on Facebook, you may have noticed that we were listening to Christmas music from the Music Choice cable channel- Christmas is our favorite holiday and loved that we could listen to it during their “Christmas in July” promotion. July 25 is the official day of “Christmas in July”, and coincidentally, it is also the first day that we arrived in Florida! Tomorrow marks our three year anniversary, and we decided to celebrate with a giveaway!
Last year after Christmas we were gifted with two Mickey ornaments from one of our readers, and we wanted to pass them along to you: Magician Mickey and Mickey’s Toy Machine.
There will be two separate winners: the giveaway will run until July 31st; winners will be announced August 1 on this blog, and the Wishes and Pixie Dust Facebook Page. Click on and use the Rafflecopter link below to enter.
Recently we were chosen to be among the first Annual Passholders to test MagicBands (MBs) and MyMagic+ (MM+), including the ability to schedule our Fastpass+ (FP+) times in advance. We wanted to share our experience and some advice.
First, some quick background. Recently we had some issues with using our DAS card and miscommunications we had with Disney. We sent an email to Disability Relations at Walt Disney World and received a call from a Disability Relations representative and had a very nice call with her for almost an hour one afternoon. She asked about our experiences overall with the entire DAS process and then what happened to cause our concern. She was shocked at how we had heard so many different stories about the program. What it all boils down to is that the only people who will know about any changes are people at her level and above working directly with the DAS program and that none had been planned or discussed back to Guest Relations (GR) or to those who staff the DAS help line; and that includes their Supervisors and Managers. So, if anyone at that line or at GR tells anyone that there are ‘changes’ in place, planned or coming, that’s not true. They won’t find out about any changes until they are ready to roll out and that’s not happening. Right now and for the future the DAS works as always, 1 return time at a time with no limit per day or per the 14-day period. Accommodations are the same as they were always meant to be. They are on a guest by guest, day by day and Park by Park basis. The only change is that there should be no notes in the files anymore “guaranteeing” a certain accommodation. It all depends on how busy any Park is on any given day, how many attractions that Park has available and how much those accommodations are needed by that particular Guest. And she stressed that no Cast Member should ever be saying that there is nothing they can do, and if you hear that, ask to speak to a Manager immediately, as there is always something they can do. It might be re-admission tickets (paper Fastpasses), and they are allowed to give up to 3 sets at a time. Or it may be as simple as giving you your first return time while at the GR desk if the Park isn’t busy. How she put it to me is to simply state that you are using your Fastpasses and using your DAS but it just isn’t enough and you’d like just something extra to help with your day. She did say that they take the feedback they get from guests like us to a weekly DAS committee meeting and they use that meeting to plan for the future. So, send those emails in with your feedback. The two biggest pieces of feedback they have right now is the ability to use a single return time for multiple rides and being able to have multiple return times at a time. Email WDW.Guest.Communications@disneyworld.com, copying the email to Disability.Services@DisneyParks.com and specify that it for a DAS concern and give a phone number to call.
Some basic background on Fastpass+ may be needed. As of today (and the program is subject to change), each guest is allowed 3 FP+ ‘reservations’ per day and they must be all at a single Park. Epcot and Hollywood Studios (DHS) use a tier system which allows one FP+ for Tier 1 and 2 from Tier 2; the Magic Kingdom (MK) and the Animal Kingdom (DAK) have no tiers in place at this time. A full list of all available FP+ attractions is at the end of this article for your reference. If needed you can change your FP+ times and/or attractions at any time using the My Disney Experience (MDE) app on your phone, computer or at any of the FP+ kiosks available throughout the Parks.
We have now used our scheduled FP+ at all 4 Parks. In order to test successfully, we chose to use only the DAS card itself and no additional accommodations. Our first Park was DAK, where we had FP+ scheduled for Kilimanjaro Safari, Dinosaur and Finding Nemo – The Musical. We started out by riding Kilimanjaro Safari. Afterwards, on the way to Dinosaur, we stopped to get a DAS return time for Expedition Everest. After riding Dinosaur we headed back to use our Everest return time. We then headed back to get a DAS time for Primeval Whirl before going to watch Finding Nemo; afterwards going back to use the Primeval Whirl time. There was a little more ‘back and forth’ and planning here, but it was reasonable and do-able; and we were able to successfully spend a good afternoon with little stress.
Our second Park was DHS. Here we chose FP+ times for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (RNR), Tower of Terror (ToT) and Star Tours. On our way to Star Tours, we stopped for a DAS return time for Toy Story Mania (TSM). Let me mention that for a day at DHS, we would suggest getting one FP+ time for TSM due to the always high return times. The available times this day were outside our visit range so we adapted. After Star Tours we stopped and watched Muppet*Vision 3D before returning to Toy Story for our return time ride. We then went to Tower of Terror and rode and headed for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The coaster was down at this point and we later learned that Disney had sent an email to our registered MDE email letting us know that it was down and allowing us to use our FP+ at any time that day at DHS on any attraction. If an attraction is down during any of your FP+ times, check your MDE or at a FP+ kiosk for the options you’re given in exchange. We did ride the Great Movie Ride before heading out this day. My thoughts on DHS are to FP+ TSM and if you plan to ride both ToT and RNR, to FP+ ToT and get a DAS time for RNR first. That will allow you to hit both rides fairly easily with little back and forth.
Our third Park was Epcot. For this visit we chose Test Track, The Seas with Nemo and Friends and Spaceship Earth. We first headed to The Land where we got a return time for Soarin’ and then rode Living with the Land and a quick rest stop at Sunshine Seasons before riding Soarin’. Soarin’ is a good choice for using your DAS instead of FP+ only because you do have some options within The Land to spend your wait time (Living with the Land, Circle of Life, a meal or snack at Sunshine Seasons). We then rode Nemo and Friends and visited the manatee rescue station before heading over to Test Track, riding with our FP+. We then ended our visit with a Spaceship Earth ride. If following our method, you could also stop and get a return time at Mission: Space before riding Test Track and can also use Universe of Energy to spend wait time. Maelstrom can easily use a DAS return time with a stroll around the surrounding Pavilions to pass time.
Finally our tests brought us to the Magic Kingdom. For this particular visit we chose Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMR), Under the Sea and Space Ranger Spin. On the way to BTMR we stopped for a return time for Haunted Mansion, rode BTMR and then returned to Haunted Mansion to ride. We got a return time for Pirates of the Caribbean and went to get Dole Whips to pass the wait time. We returned to Pirates and then headed to Fantasyland. There we got a return time for Winnie the Pooh, watched Mickey’s PhilharMagic and then went back to ride Pooh. We then went to Under the Sea for our FP+ time (we would have gotten a return time for Peter Pan’s Flight but that was down at the time. After Under the Sea we stopped at Space Mountain for a return time before riding Buzz and the PeopleMover. We then used the return time on Space Mountain (well, the kids did) before heading out for the day.
We did a second trip to the Magic Kingdom this past Saturday, starting earlier than usual (we arrived around 10am whereas we normally start our Park days between 1:30pm and 2:30pm). We were able to walk on Haunted Mansion, PhilharMagic, Country Bears, Carousel of Progress and PeopleMover that day while using FP+ for Big Thunder, Mickey Mouse Meet and Tomorrowland Speedway and DAS return times for Pooh, Buzz, Space Mountain and Peter Pan. Our son did comment that this was the best day he had at Disney since the GAC changed to the DAS.
Our overall experience was positive. If planning accordingly, you can balance FP+ and DAS return times along with shows, snack/meal breaks and “quiet time” periods successfully. We would highly recommend consulting a Park map as you plan FP+ times so that you can work them well together with DAS return times without doing more ‘back and forth’ travelling than is needed and to plan DAS return times for attractions where there are some low wait time attractions or shows nearby to help you pass wait times. A good example, based on our experience, is to get a FP+ for BTMR given how far it is from other attractions (especially when Splash Mountain is closed); so you won’t have to trek to the back of the Park to do this as a DAS return. We would also suggest that if you have a child who would like to ride something more than once to get a FP+ time, but get a DAS return time before boarding at your FP+ time. This will allow for a quicker re-boarding for a second ride. Finally, we suggest that if you eat a meal, get a DAS return time before you go to the meal, as we did with Haunted Mansion when eating at Columbia Harbor House.
Festival of the Lion King
Finding Nemo – The Musical
It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
Kali River Rapids
Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade
Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ Attractions
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Festival of Fantasy Parade
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Enchanted Tales with Belle
The Haunted Mansion
it’s a small world
Mad Tea Party
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Main Street Electrical Parade
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
Peter Pan’s Flight
Pirates of the Caribbean
Princess Fairytale Hall: Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess
Princess Fairytale Hall: Meet Rapunzel and a Visiting Princess
Princess Fairytale Hall: Meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Town Square Theater Mickey Mouse Meet and Greet
Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
Wishes Nighttime Spectacular
Epcot Fastpass+ Attractions
Group A (Choose 1)
Epcot Character Spot
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
Group B (Choose 2)
Journey Into Imagination With Figment
Living with the Land
Mission: SPACE (Green or Orange)
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Turtle Talk with Crush
Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Attractions
Group A (Choose 1)
Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Toy Story Mania!
Group B (Choose 2)
Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
The American Idol Experience
The Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special (Seasonal)
The Great Movie Ride
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Now that both of our kids are officially done with school for the year, we can sit back and breathe a bit! Our daughter finished the year in a Florida public school, our son half a year. We’re happy with the gains both of them have accomplished.
We are looking forward to having the entire summer to enjoy-last summer it was segmented due to the move; by the time we arrived in Florida the kids had less than a month of summer left due to school starting in August. This year we dub it “the lazy summer”, because that is what we hope it will be–lazy summer afternoons relaxing by the pool or playing at Disney. It almost seems wrong to label a summer here as lazy; there is so much activity that can be done, and we certainly have no intentions to stay inside and be lazy in the traditional sense.
For us, lazy means enjoying the day with little schedule interruptions, and no real desire to get it all done or see it all. The summer heat requires that we slow down, and the beautiful Florida weather reminds us that if we don’t get it accomplished today, there’s always tomorrow, next week, next month, next February. For us, it has been an absolute wonder, and really, a dream come true, to live in a state that has awesome weather year round. We never turned our heat on this winter, have no idea if it works or not, and did not wear our winter coats at all.
The one thing we have discovered is that if the weather turns cold or rainy, unless we are running errands, we don’t have to go out. It sounds like a simple concept, but one that didn’t occur to us right away. The mantra is, if you live here, you go to Disney. All the time. Well, it dawned on us after one particular cold and wet day at the Magic Kingdom, that we weren’t really having fun, it wasn’t a magical time, and we didn’t have to be here! The luxury of living so close to the magic is that you can pick and choose when you experience the magic! This Friday our current plan is to go to Hollywood Studios, but if the rain continues, then we will switch to Plan B and do something else, indoors.
Watch for more regular posts coming out this summer. Ben’s homeschool evaluation is next week, so we’ll blog about that; we will be travelling back to Wisconsin at the end of this month for Nick’s wedding, and a special one year blog post will appear on our anniversary, July 25! We are excited to share it with y’all!
We have also set up a Facebook group for our blog: Wishes and Pixie Dust– if you’re interested in talking Disney, let us know and we’ll be happy to add you!
Today we are celebrating our ninth month anniversary of arriving in Florida as residents! The interesting thing about a moving blog is that it gives you an opportunity to look back at your thoughts prior to the move. On April 13, 2011 we wrote this blog: 100 days and we thought it would be fun one year later to take a look at a few of the items on our “Top 100” List to see how we feel about them now.
10. Start a new tradition of celebrating birthdays at Walt Disney World
This is an awesome tradition that we have started and will continue. In February we purchased the Tables in Wonderland card and we anticipate that we will not only receive back the membership fee, but also extra savings above and beyond the initial cost. We purchased our card from Guest Services at the Magic Kingdom, and received our card immediately.
14. Have lunch at Le Cellier
Reservations are set for August 8!
18. Explore the beaches of Florida–kids have never been to the ocean before. We plan to go to both sides of Florida: The Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
Done and done! We have been to Anna Maria Island and Treasure Island on the Gulf side and Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic side. We definitely intend to schedule in more beach days this summer.
22. Exploring the city of Clermont and getting to know our new home city.
We haven’t done this as much as we expected to. We even missed the annual festival Pig on the Pond due to inclement weather, something that we had been looking forward to ever since we made the decision to move to Clermont.
26. Enjoy the Osborne lights at the Studios as many times as possible.
We never tire of this.
27. Enjoy making new friendships with all our Facebook friends who live in Florida.
We really have enjoyed meeting y’all and we feel blessed that we are able to spend time with two different couples who we consider good friends of ours. Facebook is a really great way to connect with people to begin that friendship.
33. Chuckling to ourselves in February when the temperature is 80 and sunny, knowing that back in Wisconsin it is probably blowing and snowing and bitterly cold. Will we miss snow? No we will not!
Yea, we’ve done that 🙂 Although we feel it is ironic that Wisconsin had a mild winter this year.
34. Taking in Bob Jackson’s show at the Port Orleans Riverside resort!
35. Staying at the Port Orleans Riverside resort for old times sake!
We have not done either one of these yet, but it is definitely in the works. We’d like to stay in one of the new Princess rooms.
37. Riding down the Sassagoula River from Port Orleans Riverside to Downtown Disney (and vice versa)
40. Being there for opening day of the new Fantasyland.
We were not there for the soft opening of Storybook Circus. The crowds were absolutely packed in, and we’ve discovered as residents, it’s simply not worth it. We went a couple of days later when it was not as busy.
Yes, we’ve done this a few times, and thoroughly enjoy ourselves every time we go. It’s a great alternative to a rainy day. Our philosophy is that we do not go to the parks when it rains- it’s simply not worth the hassle of dealing with the ponchos. We have been a couple of times, and it does detract from the magic of the parks.
54. Flower and Garden Festival
We are not garden people by any means, but walking around Epcot looking at the various topiaries and displays was enjoyable.
66. Take a family Christmas picture at WDW
Hmmm. We did not do this at Christmas; may be a new tradition we need to start.
69. Move in to our new apartment in Clermont
It was quite exciting to have that newness of being able to discover everything and experience many “firsts” but it was also overwhelming to not have the basic necessities with us those first weeks. While it is fun to buy all new items, it can be scary to walk into Target knowing that you need to buy “everything”. Nine months later there are still a couple of pieces of furniture that we need to purchase, and a few assorted kitchen items, but we want to let our readers know that everything does not need to be purchased right away. To do so requires gobs of money or extending yourself on credit, the latter being something we would never advise.
70. Find the best pizza places in the area.
We have found two good pizzerias, and this is a goal we are still working on!
71. Our first Saturday library visit to our new “home” library.
We still regularly visit the library every Saturday. The kids are currently into the ‘Harry Potter’ series, and we pick up other books as well. It is not as nice, nor as big, as our library back in Wisconsin. There are no tables and chairs to sit at, and the kids used to enjoy doing that. So consequently, our visits are shorter.
88. Swim with the manatees.
We have not swum with the manatees, but Ben has become a huge lover of manatees, loves to visit them at Epcot, and we all are looking forward to visiting Sea World for the first time.
89. Explore Florida’s state parks.
Between the poisonous snakes, alligators, bears and black panthers, this is not something we are so eager to do anymore. 🙂
96. Enjoying the scenery of Florida, knowing that it will stay green year round, and not become brown and dead for six months out of the year.
This is still huge for us. Love, love, love seeing all the palm trees, and it is so nice to see flowers in bloom in January! Yesterday and today it was cool enough to open our lanai doors and let the fresh breezes blow in.
99. Take a yearly family picture in front of Cinderella Castle.
We have not done this yet, but will need to do soon! Another new family tradition!
We had heard prior to our move that it may take as long as one or two years after relocation to adjust fully to our new environment. We still feel that we are in the adjustment process, but that it gets better every month. We couldn’t have picked a better apartment complex to move into, for which we are very grateful. The cost of living is higher here than in Wisconsin; but we knew it coming in. The only negative thing to report is the school situation for Ben, but we know God is in control with it and he will lead to us to the right school or option for Ben.
We wanted to share a picture of our new fur-baby! We adopted her from a local shelter, and after our home visit today she officially is ours. She is such a little sweetie, though still a little scared, but that’s understandable. She definitely is going to be spoiled!
This weekend we plan on attending Pig on the Pond; a local festival that we first discovered last year prior to our move, so we are excited to finally be able to attend. Watch for a blog post coming soon.