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Old 12-09-2013, 02:02 PM   #1
DizneyLizzy
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Observations from Dec. 5-8 - Pop Century, Pop Warner, MB, FP+, and more!

Just got back from a quick long weekend pre-Christmas Disney trip. It was my third December trip in a row, so I thought I'd share some things I noticed this year that were different than past years.

1. Pop Century/Pop Warner - I know this is always a hot topic. This was our first Pop Warner visit, so we didn't really know what to expect. Yes, they were at our hotel. No, they did not keep us up at night. The only time we even noticed them was at the pool. There were two teams at the pool the afternoon we were there. One team was well supervised and had a dad or a coach in the pool with them playing ball. They were fine. The other team was not well supervised was totally out of control. After telling them time after time not to push each other in the pool or run on the deck, I was shocked the lifeguards didn't kick them out. I was a lifeguard for 6 years, and they would have been removed from my pool any day. I guess this brief encounter just goes to show you that your mileage will vary with Pop Warner interactions. I would not hesitate to stay at Pop Warner hotel again - like I said, aside from those two hours at the pool, they weren't even noticeable. If do find yourself at a Pop Warner hotel, my suggestion would be to get a preferred room location - I think this could be why we didn't hear or see them at night. Those kids are NOT in the preferred rooms. We booked one because it was all that was available, but now I'm glad we did.

2. Magic Bands - Our party of three had zero problems with the bands. We never used them to pay for anything, but they worked getting us into the parks and into the room. We had tickets from UT and an AP linked, and never had problems. I think we lucked out. I kept the band in my purse because I hate having things on my wrist.

3. Fast Pass Plus - - I booked ours before the tiering, so we were at least able to use FP+ for headliners at the parks. We also had tickets that weren't part of a package so we were able to pull legacy FP. It was fine the way we used it, but I can't imagine not having access to the legacy system AND having to use the tiering. We used both FP+ and Legacy FP every day.

On our Magic Kingdom morning, between 9 AM and 2 PM, we used our 3 FP+'s as well as 3 more legacy FPs, for a total of 6. We did this without any running around or stampeding. It was just the natural course of the morning. 3 FP+ will never be enough for the MK. On our Epcot day, we used FP+ for Soarin, Test Track, and Maelstrom, and used 2 Legacy FP's - one for a second ride on Soarin' and another for a second trip on Maelstrom - so 5 total. I can see how 3 FP+ can work for Epcot if they get rid of the tiering - same with DHS. We also talked a lot about how FP+ without park hopping really stinks. Again, it wasn't a problem for us on this trip, because we could use Legacy FP to park hop, but in the future, this will be a problem. We all felt really sad when we realized this was our last trip using Legacy FP. It really is one of the best things about WDW...at least for us. We love it.

4. Disney seemed understaffed. I was under the impression that one of the benefits of MM+ for Disney is that they will be able to better staff their parks and resorts. One more than one occasion, I felt like Disney was unprepared for the crowds this past weekend. I normally only travel during the super busy times of the year when they are uber-staffed, so maybe this is just how it is during "low season," but we ran into a few times when the CM seemed to be scrambling. It didn't ruin anything for us, it was just something we noticed. The morning we were in DHS for example, there was only one cashier working at Starring Rolls in the 9-10 hour, which created a huge backup. I've never noticed this when traveling during spring break, June, or closer to Christmas. I actually found that we waited for food/drinks much more on this trip than we did last year when our Christmas trip was Dec. 20th-23rd.


Overall, we had an awesome time, as we always do in Disney, but for the first time I can remember, we don't know when we'll be back. I'm not renewing my AP for the first time in 3 years. MM+ is a huge part of this - we're all curious to see how it turns out. Since we only travel at super busy times of year (with the exception of this past weekend), crowd management is a big part of our experience. We've never had a problem touring during crowded seasons in the past, but if this changes with the advent of FP+ we will probably take less frequent Disney trips.

Hopefully some of this insight is interesting and/or helpful!

Happy holiday traveling
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:12 PM   #2
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Very helpful! Thank you for sharing
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:28 PM   #3
Porsche44
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Our next visit is Jan/Feb 2015 and we come from Australia and stay for 14 days. I am waiting to see how all this pans out because we usually buy AP's which give us great room discounts and let us park hop and get added discounts in the park. My worry is the talk that we will be limited to a certain number of FP's within a quarter which would be totally unacceptable for us as we only tour once every two years and need 3 FP's a day for a full consecutive 14 days. If they limit the number of FP's for AP holders we will be forced to buy say two 7 days passes with park hopper added which will cost us a lot more and we will not get our huge room discount which will make our trip hundreds of dollars more expensive. (Heavy Sigh) I wish they had left everything the way it was, so much more enjoyable to plan & visit with the old system.
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:50 PM   #4
DizneyLizzy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Porsche44 View Post
I wish they had left everything the way it was, so much more enjoyable to plan & visit with the old system.
Agreed!! Good luck to you

The other thing I forgot to mention was that not one time did I get the MDE App to work in the parks - even when I was logged into Disney Park WiFi. Had I wanted to change FP+ in the parks, I would have had to find a kiosk. I never saw people using the kiosks, but they seemed well-staffed and plentiful.
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Old 12-09-2013, 11:05 PM   #5
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I haven't been since the new changes, but I am going in March 2014. I am also staying at Pop Century and very worried about the fastpass situation.

You said that you didn't have tickets as part of a package. Where did you purchase them? Did you link them to your account? I am assuming that you must have since you used the bands for entry into the park. But you were still able to use the paper tickets to get Legacy Fastpasses?

Sorry, I am so confused by all of this right now and trying to figure out the right strategy for my family...

Thanks so much.
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Old 12-10-2013, 07:32 AM   #6
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Hello DizneyLizzy............was there Nov 27 to Dec 1 and plan for a trip this Friday until the 19th. Double dipping has been the only way that I could keep FP+ rules and restrictions from "messing up" touring the parks. The tiering and the limit of 3 per day has been the pits. Glad to hear you guys had a good time. I also don't wear the MB all day either. For one thing, I keep on glancing down at it to check the time because I keep thinking it is an old cheap watch (at least it feels like one)
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Old 12-10-2013, 09:30 AM   #7
lalanik
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Just came back from a week long trip last week. For some reason, the parks seemed much more packed than it usually is in the beginning of December. On a few occasions we were stuck on the monorail for 30 minutes because they were adding monorails to the loop due to the crowd levels. Here is a picture of MVMCP on 12/3 (exactly one week ago, you can see how packed it is).

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Old 12-10-2013, 09:34 AM   #8
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Did you use your MB or your UT ticket to enter the park?
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Old 12-10-2013, 09:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lalanik View Post
Just came back from a week long trip last week. For some reason, the parks seemed much more packed than it usually is in the beginning of December. On a few occasions we were stuck on the monorail for 30 minutes because they were adding monorails to the loop due to the crowd levels. Here is a picture of MVMCP on 12/3 (exactly one week ago, you can see how packed it is).

I was there that day and had a 6:55pm BOG reservation (no party tix) and trying to leave the park through that crowd was INSANE.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:16 AM   #10
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Per the Looking for the Live Report and Just Back Threads? sticky thread, I have moved this to the Disney Trip Reports board.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:18 AM   #11
DizneyLizzy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyOfNawlins View Post
I haven't been since the new changes, but I am going in March 2014. I am also staying at Pop Century and very worried about the fastpass situation.

You said that you didn't have tickets as part of a package. Where did you purchase them? Did you link them to your account? I am assuming that you must have since you used the bands for entry into the park. But you were still able to use the paper tickets to get Legacy Fastpasses?

Thanks so much.
We had 1 Annual Pass and 2 Undercover Tourist 10 day non-expiration tickets. All 3 tickets were linked to my MDE account, and we used the MBs to enter the parks. It was no problem to pull Legacy FP with the tickets.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:20 AM   #12
DizneyLizzy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BridgetBordeaux View Post
Hello DizneyLizzy............was there Nov 27 to Dec 1 and plan for a trip this Friday until the 19th. Double dipping has been the only way that I could keep FP+ rules and restrictions from "messing up" touring the parks. The tiering and the limit of 3 per day has been the pits. Glad to hear you guys had a good time. I also don't wear the MB all day either. For one thing, I keep on glancing down at it to check the time because I keep thinking it is an old cheap watch (at least it feels like one)
Looks like we just missed you! Hope you had a great trip.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:21 AM   #13
DizneyLizzy
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Did you use your MB or your UT ticket to enter the park?
We used the MBs. But the UT tickets were linked to the MB.
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Old 12-10-2013, 10:35 AM   #14
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I 100% agree on the understaffed part. We were there 11/14-11/22 - a very slow time, before Thanksgiving. We stayed at CSR and waited nearly 30 minutes in the online check-in line to check-in. I attributed this to the families in front of us who were not aware of the MB system and had to receive their bands and the explanation at check-in. This is VERY time consuming since there is a lot to explain. Since 50% + of the people checking in were not familiar with the bands and needed these long winded explanations, they should have had other employees on hand to keep the line moving.

Same issue in the parks. All of the QS lines at DHS moved very slowly for us. We found that when paying by band, especially at the QS locations using hand held band scanners, it really slowed the line down. Not because of the issues but because the CM had to click through 3-4 screens on these iPods to get to the scanner, scan the band which was finicky sometimes, have the person enter their pin number, and then turn to the back counter to get the receipt that was printing out. It was just quicker to swipe a card through the machine.

I expected additional CMs on hand to assist with issues, etc but that wasn't the case.
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Old 12-10-2013, 11:34 AM   #15
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So even though your tickets were linked to MB you were still able to use them for legacy FPs? I am so hoping we can do that in Feb and in fact bought tickets from UT for that reason alone.
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