Personalizing the Happiest Place on Earth

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Monday morning it was reported Disney would begin a major upgrade to their theme parks to help how guests plan and visit.

The new system called MyMagic+ would combine RFID bracelet technology with web and mobile apps to give a guest the power to plan more effecfiently before they visit and even purchase food or merchandise. Guests could even get a unique relationship with a cast members and rides because they will know the name/s of your or favorite character/s. For more information read the full news story at NY Times.

This sound like a stupendous idea and is an inventive step forward for the Walt Disney Company. However some of it I don’t see working out so well such as the turnstile portion; I have attended Walt Disney World quite a bit in the past few years and on three occasions was visiting on a day while they were experimenting with a sort of new turnstile technology in an attempt speed up the line. In every case the process seemed flawed and inefficient.

Having access to FastPass via the My Disney Experience website and app will create richer vacation experiences for those coming to the park for the first time. I don’t think you should over plan when visiting the parks but one thing I always tell people is they should pick a few key attractions to experience at each park and do those first so they remainder of the day you can go with the flow as the park gets busier so if you could have access FastPasses before you even enter the park I save some of the stress of getting to particular FastPass stations.

I love the idea of being able to plan as well as having easier access to FastPass and having personal interaction with the cast members and park itself. When I visited the park on my birthday the best experience I had was when Mary Poppins darted across Fantasy-land to wish me a happy birthday, and that was only because she noticed my birthday button. So the idea they could even further create memories like that with this new technology is worth the investment.

I would also be weary of providing too much information and unsure about using it for purchasing items, RFID techonology is already simple to hack and with that many people around in one area thieves could have access to many peoples information.

New Fantasyland: A Gallery of Thing-a-mabobs

My last post was about my weekend previewing the New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

  • Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid

After lunch my friends and I check out the ride Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid.  The queue was a long winding maze through caves littered with all sorts of who’s-its and what’s-its from a shipwreck.  Keep your eye out for the blue craps and they help they need sorting out all the debris.   The ride takes you through the Little Mermaid story using all the tricks Disney has perfected over the years.   It laid out very similar to the Finding Nemo ride at EPCOT.

  • Gaston’s Tavern

The tavern has great decor recreating the overt manliness of Gaston including a chandelier made of deer antlers.  Unfortunately they don’t serve real beer and instead serve Lefou’s brew.  It’s no-sugar added frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam.   It tasted like they took Gaston’s ball sweat and mix it with apple juice flavored vomit from the spinning tea cup ride.

Overall one can tell the New Fantasyland is geared towards those who like the Disney Princesses and probably are at the park wearing a princess outfit.  It will not be on the top of my list to go back to over and over when I visit Magic Kingdom (that what Pirates of the Caribbean is for).   As always though I am amazed how much detail Disney achieves.   Check out the pictures from the happiest place on earth to see for yourself.

New Fantasyland: Disney asks you to be their guest

Beast’s Castle

This past weekend I had the opportunity as a Disney annual pass-holder to preview the new Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.   Getting the chance to preview the new area was quite a roller coaster.  I had friends who were also pass-holders and the plan was for all of us to attend by signing up at a Disney website starting at a certain time a few weeks back.  Lets just say that only some of us registered and had little to no luck getting the others registered   Thankfully on the morning we had to check in for the event I used my irresistible charm and manly beard to get the rest of our group access.

  • Be Our Guest Restaurant

Be Our Guest is a Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant.  During the day it is a quick serve style and for dinner its a sit down restaurant.   First you enter the restaurant through these great big doors carved into the side of a mountain with two lion statues on either side of you.  Then as you are waiting in the queue a row of knight’s armor surround you.  Just as you get caught up in choosing your meal options from the picture screens some of the knights start talking and interacting with each other. It spook one of my friends right out of her shoes. Once you get to end of line a cast member ask how many are in your party and gives you a red hockey puck with a rose etched in it.  From there you take the hockey puck or “squashed rose” as the cast member called it to a touch screen computer.  Basically you sync the puck with your order and the server use the GPS in the puck to find wherever you are sitting.  You have one of three rooms to choose from to enjoy your meal.   The main hall recreates the dance hall from the film with such details as chandelier, fresco ceiling, and snow falling outside (which you can see through the windows at the far end of the hall). The room we consumed our meals in recreated the west wing of the castle complete with dark mood lightning, shredded portrait of the prince, and cursed rose encased in glass.  The food was great and server spoke mainly in french to maintain the atmosphere.

Cursed Rose
  •  Enchanted Tales with Belle and Ariel’s Grotto

Two areas the group decided not to visit was an interactive story time with Belle, primarily because the line was a 40 minute wait.  For what I understand it is a chance for children to explore Belle and her father’s cottage then sit with Belle as she tells the story of her and the Beast’s love story.    Ariel’s Grotto was where you could go and interact with a real life Ariel, fish tail and all.  Since we had no children with us and I might be too tempted to hit on her we skipped seeing everyone’s favorite mermaid.

For more about my New Fantasyland weekend, including a full gallery of pictures, look for part 2 in the next few days.

Ariel Statue