Tips from the DFB Guide: How MyMagic+ is Impacting Disney World Dining

When we all had our first glimpse of Magic Bands a couple of years back, did any of us have an idea that MyMagic+, Disney’s all-inclusive planning system, would impact so significantly the way we dine in Disney World?

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As soon as we saw those super cute bracelets (how many colors do you have??), we had an inkling that they’d spell major changes in the way we enjoy our Disney mealtimes. Almost immediately we put together this post, which gave our predictions for the MyMagic+-ful future.

Fast forward a couple of years, and we’re definitely seeing the impact of Disney’s commitment to the technological overhaul. So today, we thought we’d share with you some seriously helpful information from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2015!

And if you find these tips to be helpful, pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code 2015 right here!

So let’s talk about some ways that MyMagic+ is impacting your Disney World Dining!

Schedule Meals and FastPasses — Without Conflict

This is probably one of my favorite things about MyMagic+. Use of the My Disney Experience app to preschedule my Advance Dining Reservations and my ride FastPasses means that the two don’t ever conflict.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Choose Between Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Be Our Guest? Now You Don’t Have To!

In the past, when the FastPass machines simply spit a time out for your return, there were times that I had to choose between Soarin’ and La Hacienda de San Angel’s Crema de Elote. (And seriously. You do know that the food always, always won, right?)

Corn Soup -- Up Close

Sorry — But I Will Always Choose La Hacienda’s Corn Soup Over Soarin’

But in the time since MyMagic+ was introduced, I’ve been able to schedule attractions around meetings, meals, and anything else I’d like! Seriously — I’ve ridden so many more rides since MyMagic+ came on line!

Touch to Pay is Awesome!

If you ask me — and pretty much all of the DFB Staff! — we agree that the Touch to Pay using our Magic Bands is one of our favorite things about MyMagic+ System.

Touch to Pay at a Counter Service Location

Touch to Pay at a Counter Service Location

Across the board, we love that you no longer have to search through your bag or wallet for a Key to the Kingdom card or credit card to pay.

Touch to Pay at Raglan Road

Touch to Pay at Raglan Road

Teenagers especially love the freedom of being on their own in the parks, knowing that [Read more…]

Review: Yak & Yeti Restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

At the request of my family, I decided to venture away from my familiar dining locations and try Yak and Yeti in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Earlier in the day, we chose to move up our Advance Dining Reservation from 4:45PM until later in the evening. A quick phone call to 407-WDW-DINE and we were able to re-schedule for 7:30PM.

Atmosphere

After utilizing the single rider line at Expedition Everest, we trekked to Asia’s Yak & Yeti and were one of the last parties seated for the evening. (Isn’t Animal Kingdom awesome in the dark?!)

Expedition Everest at night

Expedition Everest at night

Upon arrival, the upper level was closed off, but the lower dining rooms were still bustling.

Yak sign

At first, we were led to a table right outside the kitchen and nearby the elevator. It was so loud that we couldn’t enjoy our conversation and quickly asked to be seated in a quieter spot.

Decor in Yak & Yeti

Decor in Yak & Yeti

In the next interior room, we settled at a table that was conducive to dinner conversation and also enabled us to enjoy the restaurant’s decor. (Big kudos to the hostess that assured us that she wasn’t a fan of tables near the kitchen and completely understood our request.)

Dining Room

Dining Room

Statue

Statue

Our waiter was very informative and fun. We asked questions about how the new My Magic+ payment system was working for the staff. He shared his frustration with weak wi-fi connections; sometimes he has to move around the restaurant to find a better signal!

Reception Area

Reception Area

He also indicated that it’s more difficult taking Disney Dining Plan credits with the new system; although he felt it was much easier to deal with customers paying with their room accounts. The Cast Members at this restaurant were extremely friendly!

Dining rooms at closing time

Dining rooms at closing time

Bar at Yak & Yeti

Bar at Yak & Yeti

Since I love themed restaurants, I was anxious to take in the detail within the walls of this Asian hideaway. The exotic menu foreshadowed the unique dishes we’d find inside the booklet.

Look inside for exotic dishes

Look inside for exotic dishes

While chopsticks were added to our tabletop, we stuck with our silverware skills!

Chopsticks

Chopsticks

Eats

Already fans of the Crispy Honey Chicken served at Anandapur Local Food Cafe (Yak & Yeti counter-service), hubby and son confidently put in their wok-based order. Made with tempura chicken, broccoli, carrots, and honey sauce, this dish did not disappoint.

Mr. 13 ate heartily (including the brown rice) although he pushed his broccoli to the side. Both agreed that the rice was cooked well, chicken was very tender, and the honey sauce had just the right amount of sweetness.

Crispy Honey Chicken

Crispy Honey Chicken

All three of us chose [Read more…]

Review: Be Our Guest Restaurant FastPass+ System

UPDATE: Please note that as of February 25, 2015, FastPass+ is no longer available, as Be Our Guest Restaurant began to accept Advanced Dining Reservations for lunch. For further information, please click here

I took a quick trip to Walt Disney World last week and had the opportunity to experience several new technological initiatives related to Dining at Disney World.

I’ve written these up in several posts for DFB, and today we’ll cover my review of the new FastPass+ system being rolled out at Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant!

Stay tuned over the next week to see more new technology innovations that are affecting Disney dining in Disney World!

Be Our Guest FastPass+

First up, I was invited to test a FastPass+ reservation to the Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest restaurant at lunch. The invite came via email with a link to the WDW website.

The email told me to log into my My Disney Experience account and enter my resort reservation number. Once logged on, I was allowed to choose which day I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity.

Choosing which day to dine at BOG.

Then we were allowed to choose whether we wanted “FastPass+ Expedited Arrival” or “FastPass+ Direct to Table.”

Expedited Arrival allows you to skip the line into the restaurant. “Direct to Table” allows you to completely order your meal in advance so that it is ready for you when you walk in the door. I chose “Direct to Table” — more on that in a sec.

Then we selected which of the available dining times we wanted. The only times presented to us during the test were early (before 11:50 a.m.) or late (after 1:45 p.m.) My guess is that Disney is trying to offload guests to less popular times.

Because I had selected “Direct to Table,” I was brought to a new set of screens where I could choose to order meals for my husband (my traveling companion for this trip) and me individually or as a group.

We then saw the restaurant’s menu, just as if we had been ordering from one of the touch screen kiosks in the standby line.

I ordered the Tuna Niçoise Salad and a helpful screen popped up asking me if I wanted my dressing on the side or tossed into my salad in the kitchen.

There was even a link to [Read more…]

Disney World Tests Be Our Guest Restaurant FastPass+ and Pre-Order System

UPDATE: Please note that as of February 25, 2015, FastPass+ is no longer available, as Be Our Guest Restaurant began to accept Advanced Dining Reservations for lunch. For further information, please click here

Finally! A FastPass for Food!!!

For those who aren’t huge fans of waiting in 30-90 minute lines for a quick service lunch, there may be relief on the horizon — at least for Be Our Guest Restaurant patrons in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom!

Line to get in to Be Our Guest Restaurant for Lunch

For the past several months, the restaurant has been testing out a new FastPass+ Pre-Order system so that guests are able to bypass the monstrous lines that form as early as 10AM for a quick-service lunch at New Fantasyland’s  popular Be Our Guest Restaurant.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom Dining Room

This is part of the new MyMagic+ program that is being rolled out in Disney World this year.

To date, Disney has chosen testers randomly — usually from the Magical Express line at Orlando International Airport or while checking in to a Disney World resort hotel.

The system is currently not open to all guests — only to those randomly selected for the testing process. It does seem that you need to be staying at a Disney resort hotel to be chosen.

Be Our Guest Restaurant FastPass+ Process

So here’s how the whole thing works:

Be Our Guest Restaurant Pre-Order System
when a guest is selected to take part in the testing process, he or she is given a card with a registration website and reservation number. The guest logs into [Read more…]

How MyMagic+ Will Affect Disney Dining

Planning your Disney World vacation is about to change—big time. While making your Advance Dining Reservations 180 days in advance will still be important, MyMagic+ is going to make it easier to pre-plan your trip and maybe even save your Disney dollars at the same time!

We’ve outlined the basics of the new Walt Disney World Resort technology below, followed by a healthy dose of Disney dining tips for making the most of the new system — including how it will change your Disney Dining planning, and how you might save money using MyMagic+!!

How MyMagic + Will Affect Disney Dining

MyMagic+: The Basics

This past week, MyMagic+ — a new, tech-savvy planning process for your Disney vacation — officially rolled out across the Walt Disney World resort. Relying on RFID technology, this will create a “more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience” for guests, according to Disney Parks Blog.

A major piece of the MyMagic+ puzzle is the new My Disney Experience website and mobile app, which help guests plan their trip. The interactive tools allow guests to log in to book advanced dining reservations and ride times for popular attractions as well as parade and fireworks viewing locations with FastPass+. They’ll also make it easy to change those plans on the fly from any smartphone or Guest Relations kiosk.

All of that MyMagic+ data—including ride and meals times—will be encoded onto the new must-have Disney accessory: the MagicBand. These high-tech bracelets will replace the Key to the World card, becoming a room key, theme park ticket, PhotoPass card, FastPass and charge account in one.

MyMagic+ MagicBand

MyMagic+ MagicBand in action

Right now, guests saying at WDW resort hotels, Annual Passholders, and those who purchase PhotoPass will automatically receive a complimentary standard MagicBand. Upgraded wristbands, decorated with characters, will also be available for an additional fee.

Guests who stay off property will receive an RFID-enabled card, which will act as a park ticket, charge account and FastPass+ ticket, but they will have to purchase a MagicBand separately.

Don’t Forget Your MagicBand!

The new technologies will likely have a significant impact on your dining strategy, so we’ve put together a quick primer on how to make the most of MyMagic+:

Pay and Go

The most immediate and obvious impact of the MagicBand will be the ability to pay for snacks and quick service meals with the flick of a wrist.

Literally tap the RFID bracelet (or card for non-resort guests) against the sensor at the register to settle the bill on purchases of $50 or less quickly and efficiently. No more digging around for the Key to the World!

Schedule Your WHOLE Day

With the current system, FastPass dictates your return window based on how many FastPasses have already been distributed. On some days, it’s possible to arrive at Soarin’ at 9:30 a.m. only to be locked into a 6:35-7:35 p.m. return time. That presents a problem for those [Read more…]