Sunday, August 27, 2017

3 Changes at Disney World Over the Past Year

Our most recent vacation to Disney World was exactly one year ago.  The girls are still very much interested in a return trip and we're thinking we may be able to fit one in sometime during 2018.  If the stars align.  Even though I'm not actively planning a vacation, I do keep up to date on Disney news.  I hope you don't mind me sharing Disney tips and such here and there.  Planning a Disney trip can be quite extensive so when I across anything that may be helpful, I feel the need to share.

So what's changed since our last Disney World vacation?

Mobile Food and Beverage Ordering

You can now skip the line at select quick service restaurants by placing your food orders through the My Disney Experience (also known as MDE) app on your phone.

How does this work?

Open up the MDE app.  On your home page under My Plans, you'll see an Order Food button after Get FastPass+ and Reserve Dining.  If you don't, it simply means your app needs to be updated.

When you want to place a food order, simply click on the Order Food button, select your restaurant of choice and make your food selections.  You can place your order at any time.  This means that you don't need to be at the restaurant in order to place an order.  When you get close to the restaurant, a notification will pop up asking if you are ready for the restaurant to make your food.  You'll receive another notification when your food is ready to be picked up at the counter marked Mobile Order Pick Up.

I was really excited to hear about this new service but there are some negatives.

1.  Only select restaurants are participating.  It is expected to roll out to additional restaurants so this isn't a huge negative but one to note.

2.  Your order cannot exceed $150, which wouldn't be an issue for us but may be for large groups.

3.  (The big one.)  You can only pay by credit card.  If you are on a meal plan, you cannot utilize mobile ordering unless you plan to pay out of pocket for some reason.  The app does state "we aren't accepting dining plans just yet" which to me indicates that at some point they will be accepting dining plan orders.  If you want to pay using Disney gift cards, you'll have to get in line.  Credit card only.

Security Screening Areas at Magic Kingdom

In the past, bag checks and security screenings were conducted right outside the entrance gates to Magic Kingdom.  In addition, guests who arrived early in the morning, would wait at those entrance gates for "rope drop."  Disney began allowing guests into Magic Kingdom prior to the official park opening.  Guests can now wander down Main Street to the front of Cinderella's castle.  Ropes block the entrances to the different lands off of Main Street.  

Guests now go through security screenings before they reach the entrance gates.  If you come through the Transportation and Ticket Center, you'll be screened there.  If you are staying at a resort and using the monorail, you'll be screened prior to entering the monorail.
It was assumed that these changes were implemented to reduce congestion at the park entrance.  I think this was done more for guest safety than for guest comfort.

Wait Times for Frozen Ever After

have decreased significantly.  Last year, it wasn't unusual for standby wait times to exceed two hours.  Now, you're looking at an hour or a bit more.  For touring plans, I would secure FastPass+ for Test Track if that's a ride you want to do and hit Frozen Ever After when you first enter the park.  Assuming that you're not entering the park halfway through the day.

What hasn't changed?

It's still nearly impossible to make an Advance Dining Reservation for dinner at Be Our Guest.  As Rich pointed out, there really isn't a huge selection of full service restaurants in Magic Kingdom.  With fewer choices, this one remains highly popular.  We ate lunch here a few years back but I've never been able to find an ADR for dinner.


Lisa H. said...

I'm in LA and they changed the security here, too. It also used to be closer to the entrance to the parks (Disney/California Adventure) and now it's by the parking garage. It makes sense for safety, but it's interesting that it was in Florida as well and not just here. It must be a company wide mandate type of thing.

Also, you probably know this and I'm sure it exists for the Florida parks, but you can look up crowd trackers online for the parks out here at least and they'll give you ratings for how busy the parks should be--"hell no" through "ghost town". Since your girls are school aged you're probably a bit more stuck with travel times than we are with a toddler, but it's really helpful if you have flexibility with travel.

Happy travels! :)

Jennifer said...

We managed "Be Our Guest" dinner reservations a few times now, but it was only because I stalked the reservation daily and managed to time it right with someone cancelling a reservation! It can be done, but I think I was checking it like 3x/day in the month leading up to our trips.

Kate said...

We are planning a trip for 2018 and got a BOG lunch reservation.. people in a Disney F.Book group I am in made it sound like you can preorder there using a meal plan, but I haven't tried it yet. So hopefully that is changing now!

Shannon Cravalho said...

Great info! We just got back from a WDW trip. I finally met The Beast! It took 3 trips to get a ADR for dinner. I was able to score this totally last minute by stalking the App. We had to eat at 8:30 which is late for us but it was worth it.

Melissa B said...

Hubby stalked the reservation site for BOG reservations and it was amazing - worth a first thing in the AM check until you get one!