There’s no place like home, especially when it is the ever-growing Orlando, Florida. My 43-year-old friend Jay grew up in suburb of Orlando, graduating from local public schools with high honors and also from the University of Florida where he met and eventually married his wife, Carrie, many years ago. It wasn’t long before incredible work options drove them off to live amid the west coast of United States. Jay and Carrie have always been avid travelers, even with their eventual two kids in tow since your ages but who are now teenagers – a bubbly girl, Abby, and bottle-of-lightening tween boy named Jonah, both of which share their parents joy of travel and adventure. Growing up in the Orlando area, with family still here, Jay and Carrie and are well versed with Orlando and Walt Disney World® Resort, knowing and experiencing the parks many times since near inception as young ones and as adults with their children since they were all but 2 years old – their last visit to the theme parks being 5 years ago. Jay and Carrie are continuously surprised by the growth of attractions, restaurants, area developments, and this time Walt Disney World Resort. The family recently spent an entire vacation with family strictly dedicated to just Walt Disney World Resort for 10 days with plenty of time to find respite at their resort between park-hopping days, enjoying its plentiful amenities. What they found at Walt Disney World, even in just a five year absence, was a totally new, refreshed and exciting experience, during which they all were pleasantly surprised and said it felt like a nearly new Walt Disney World Resort vacation experience.
“It was really updated with overhauled and better favorite rides and new rides and more experiences and entertainment that showed its growth along with technology,” they all agreed, even with differences in enjoyment among their ages and likes/dislikes. The teens rattled off tales of new rides and coasters, and more importantly updated rides like the formerly classic Snow White ride that was even bit too scary for young kids. They offered enthralling reviews about the revamps and completely better Test Track and Space Mountain rides. They all agreed it was like visiting for the first time in some ways and amazingly better and much more exciting.
“Test Track was so awesome and so much better… and FAST!” squealed and excited Jonah and Carrie. “It was programmable and recordable and just really. It was totally different and so much better and it was even our favorite ride 5 years ago. Space Mountain was totally redone too – it was so cool and so different from even five years ago!” It was extremely different from what Jay and Carrie fondly recall and laugh about as children, when waiting in line included Blondie’s big hit “Heart of Glass,” playing in the background, and futuristic technology-type family displays that hinted at the future development of cell phones and big-screen TVs, which were showing the popular and OLD movie, 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
“We were impressed by the difference in Walt Disney World Resort overall and had a better time than even five years ago,” shared Jay and Carrie. “It was MUCH better and offered so much more,” said Jay, a technology specialist and buff. “It was like a totally new experience, especially with the all-new digital Fast Passes you can get way ahead of time through your smart phone after downloading the new Walt Disney World Resort App. Plus, we really had plenty of time to experience it all with 10 Walt Disney World only days and extra Magic Hours, too. We know Walt Disney World has always been on the cutting edge of technology, but it is so worth a repeat visit and especially for those who have never been before.”
“Even though we have all been before, we all loved the changes and new experiences. There was even something spectacular and majestic about the mew fireworks show over Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom,” Carrie added. But I tell you, there’s still something so much more incredible when you experience it through your children’s eyes, and let you own inner child loose and being a kid yourself for a few days! ”
Another change and surprise Jay and Carrie quickly found out about is that there are no longer paper Fast Passes nor any paper Fast Pass kiosks at the parks – only digital Fast Pass kiosks. Now, you digitally download the specific Walt Disney World Resort App onto your smart phone and it allows you to get Fast Passes even up to the day before you know you’re going. It also allows you to get Disney news, alerts, updates and the ability to check ride wait line times and much more – a very handy tool they found to be extremely helpful considering it was peak travel period and spring break. They did a lot of pre Fast Pass setups the night or even a day before to ensure they had a spot and time for the rides they really needed and wanted to experience. But they also found the number of Fast Passes you could get per day ahead of time and via the App were also limited.
“Had it not been for that Digital App and advance Fast Passes, we may have missed some must-do rides or waited in popular ride lines well over an hour. The night before, I could get my family’s Fast Passes already set for all the parks avoiding running o each park every morning to get Fast Passes so we had them for every park first ting in am and could schedule out day around the times. It was a a sure-fire sign of Walt Disney World Resort’s advanced technology and guest services,” said Jay who would know as a techie and former high school summer employee at the Magic Kingdom® Theme Park amid the number one playground of the world.
While this smart phone advance Fast Passes ability may not bode well with those who do not have smart phones with data plans, don’t worry. There are still DIGITAL kiosks at the parks for getting Fast Passes, just be sure to get to the parks early and get one for every ride you want to ride as soon as you get to the parks. Jay also said he could do his whole family’s reservations and pre Fast Passes on his phone alone with all their tickets, which indicated only one person in the family may need to have a smart phone with the App. This does give smart-phone users an advantage by giving them much more time than those without smart phones – even days ahead of others – but there still are digital kiosks at the parks for Fast Passes, giving secure times to ride your favorite or must-do rides at the parks.
Jay said, get there early and get your Fast Passes first thing in the morning upon arrival before the chunks of allotted Fast Pass times to walk right on rides before each day’s time slots per ride run out! Carrie did assure me that Walt Disney World Resort is still working out the kinks and bugs in the new digital Fast Pass program, which would include attention to non smart phone users.
After sharing their stories, fun new memories of the trip, a few good laughs and their nearly new magical experiences at Walt Disney World Resort on heir recent vacation to Orlando, the family offered a few good tips for visitors headed to Orlando on a Walt Disney World Resort vacation:
- If you have a smart phone, immediately download the Walt Disney World App and get your Fast Passes the day before you go to the parks, or as soon as it lets you get them, which could be more in advance of your trip.
- If you don’t have a smart phone in family, get there early and get your Fast Passes for must-do rides that day.
- Get there early and rides as many rides as you can. Book it around the park before all the buses and shuttles start dumping people in.
- Check out all the rides, even ones you have tried before because some are new and some are completely overhauled and much better like Test Track, Space Mountain and Snow White.
- Experience every park, as there is something new, upgraded and amazing at each one that makes it a new experience if you are a repeat visitor. It’s especially different for children who have grown in teens – an entirely different viewpoint and experience … and more fun for the joining adults sharing he joy and hair-raising adventures often missed when there with young ones.
- At least once watch the spectacular fireworks show over the castle at the Magic Kingdom at 10 pm EST, which they said was spectacular and majestic with tinker bell still soaring through the sky, but only a small part of the brilliance of the new show. Also be sure to get there early for a good spot and pre fireworks shows and spectacles that are very amusing and show Disney’s advanced technology!
- They also recommend and early spot at the lakeside restaurant for dinner and margaritas at Epcot’s Mexico pavilion for its brilliant fireworks display.
- After seeing the firework once, the family said this is the best time to go ride a bunch of hard to ride rides because everyone else is watching the
- Use the Walt Disney World App to check for dinner specials out at Epcot – they managed to score a 25$ per person phenomenal German-food-filled, buffet in Germany one night.
- Whenever possible, definitely take shuttle service from resorts but be sure to build in enough time to get to the pick up areas and know the first and last departure times. It is much more convenient for the Theme Parks than driving, lots of extra time in the car because of heavy traffic. Also be ready to go because shuttles literally pick up who is there, they do not wait and rotate per resort or hotel schedules so you may miss and have to wait 20 minutes or more. If the last shuttle is too early then drive; park hours are different every day and for each park, especially when some hotel or report guests or ticket packages offer extra special Magic Hours, not open to general public.
- If you don’t get a Fast Pass and really want to ride a ride, use the single rider line, even as a group with a spot set to meet up afterward if you don’t make it on the same car. Riding as a single rider can shave an average of 20-30 minutes off your wait time in line on busy days!
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What are your tips for upcoming repeat visitors to the refreshed and upgraded Walt Disney World Resort of today?