I'm getting ready to put the final touches on our May Disney trip and I started thinking about the Magic+ Bands. I kind of lean towards not liking them but as usual with Disney, I'm going to have to learn to deal with them. We were able to fully use them in our November trip and unfortunately, we didn't optimally use them because they were new, but now I have a pretty good handle on them (I think). I'm not going to go into the details on them so if you aren't sure what I'm writing about, then read this post from Disney on their Magic Bands.
Here Are the Good Points about Magic Bands
1) Disney Really Cut Back on The Amount of Cards You Have to Carry - No more room cards. No more disney charge cards. No more paper fast passes (more on that in a second). You just wave your band to get into your room. You just place your band on the stands to get into your room or use your fast pass. You roll over the the charge mouse, enter your pin and now you bought something. It's cool.
2) Photo Pass Works Better - Yes, no more carrying around photo pass cards. That's another card that's no longer needed. Now you don't have to worry about losing your photos. That's nice but now what makes it even better is that everyone in your party can access pictures. So, say you and your wife separate. Now you can see her pictures that she takes without having to worry about getting her photopass card.
3) You Can Schedule Your Fast Passes in Advance - That's right. No more rushing to Toy Story Mania at the park opening. You can schedule your fast passes right from home and as long as there is availability, bang you are good to go. You can pick times. You can assign different rides to different people. Keep in mind, that there are some real Uglies with this but I'll get to that in a few. I also found out there is a grace period in the window so if you arrive (please confirm this when you are at a park) no more than 15 mins late you can get in.
4) The Mobile App Works Great - You can reschedule your fast passes. You can see where you are having dinner. You can see the wait times. The app works great. I did have some connection issues when I wasn't in a park, but once in the park, no problems.
5) I think you are likely to try other less popular rides because the more popular rides have no advanced fast passes remaining.
Here Are The Bad Points (I think these will be fixed)
1) You still need to carry cards as a DVC member to prove your membership.
2) You still need to carry your tables in wonderland discount card.
3) You still should carry some ID and maybe a credit card for the odd shop that doesn't take a Disney room charge (there always seems to be one of those in the Animal Kingdom).
4) As an annual card member, I had to go to guest services my very first day in order to activate our bands.
5) I think you will miss some favorites because you had to make a choice on which fast passes you can get. I missed out on test track in the fall.
6) You now have a fast pass window. So, you have to arrive during your scehduled time with a 15 minute (confirm this when you are in the park) grace period at the end of your window.
Here Are The Ugly Points (And they are really Ugly)
1) You are limited to 3 Fast Passes Per day. I really hate this. I think once you are in a park and used your 3 advanced fast passes, you should be able to make more if there is availability. Maybe limit to 3 advance passes, but you can get more once you are in a park; perhaps I'd like it better that way.
2) Fast passes are limited to one park per day. This one is really ugly. So let's say you want to go to the MK and Epcot - you can only make fast pass reservations in one of those parks and the other one you are out of luck, even if you only wanted one fast pass in MK.
3) The combination of 1&2 kills spontaneity and park hopping to an extent. Imagine waking up one morning and you decided, oh I don't want to go to MK I want to go back to Epcot. MK is where you have your fast passes. You are at the mercy of whether the Epcot premier rides have any advanced fast passes left. Regarding park hopping, only one of those parks can have the fast passes so park hopping won't be as much fun.
4) Oh and good luck trying to get a popular ride's fast pass the day you are in the park or if you wanted to switch something around. I had little luck. One day in the MK we went to switch around our fast passes to the morning but I couldn't get any of the popular ones so we ended up with the meet and greet with the talking Mickey Mouse; we did have a great time and would (maybe with time permitting) do that again but still, we couldn't switch the passes around.
So what am I going to do about the ugly parts of the magic band? Well, I think I'm going to try to schedule the vast majority of my advance fast passes in the afternoon. Why? I get to the parks early so a lot of my rides should be available as a walk on. That won't be the case for Toy Story, Soarin and maybe Test Track. I've never seen a time when those rides are easy to walk on but the roller coasters you can get on.
Park hopping well, unless you are park hopping to the park with the fast passes or just want to go to eat at a particular park or want to do other park activities, then park hopping doesnt work the same anymore. I'd guess people stop adding on the park hopper unless the cost is so minimum that it doesn't matter.
Also, forget about waking up one morning and changing your park. Sure you can change your mind as long as you don't need fast passes, but if you want to go to Studios and ride Toy Story, forget about it....