In Which Jenn Has To Run For Oga’s Cantina

Okay, let’s pretend for a moment you’re me. (I’m sorry.) You are going to Walt Disney World, theoretically and vaccines willing, in April. Your travel buddy is on top of the vast majority of dining reservations, but just to be safe you have been given one, and only one job: secure the ADR for Oga’s Cantina. Mission date: February 16. You put a reminder in your phone and carry on your merry way.

Of course, February 16 arrives. You remember nothing of your assignment. You get up at 5:30am, cheerily slap together your morning’s outfit and provisions, and set out on an 11 mile run. Your bothersome heel is taped up, you’re wearing your newest Brooks Ravennas, and you’re feeling good. 

Until 7:30am,* when the reminder you set all those day ago pops up on your Garmin: Oga’s Cantina ADR. Thirty minutes. You have a little over 2.5 miles to go.

You can do this.

You – not really you; take a deep breath and remember that for you this is strictly a mental exercise – don’t want to blaze it because of that whole left heel thing and you don’t want to risk an injury. But you trudge out your last mileage under mild stress and come screeching into the alley next to your apartment building with scarcely any time to spare.

No problem! You have the My Disney Experience app in your phone and you know how to use it. OR DO YOU? Because you open it up with your thumbprint and tap furiously through to the Oga’s Cantina ADR screen only to discover that it’s not giving you the day you need. Why isn’t it giving you the day you need? Is the app angry?!

You race through the gate and into the elevator to hit up your computer, feverishly checking your email while you’re at it to make sure you’re trying for an ADR on the correct day. You confirm that you are as you slide in front of your laptop and whip through the MDE login screen. Ah, there’s Oga’s Cantina, and there’s the day you wanted!

But wait… the calendar on the website won’t load?!

You hit a hard refresh while you thumb through the MDE app on your phone and discover that while you were logged into the app, you were somehow not logged in ENOUGH, and the app didn’t register the hotel reservation that should open up the extra ten days of ADR openings. You fix this problem and now you can access the correct date. You select 1pm per the agreed upon early afternoon time slot preference. Hooray!

Hold on. It’s not loading? Switch back to the website. Ah, yes, there’s the calendar. Refresh. Okay, 1pm is gone, but there’s 1:20pm. GO THROUGH, DAMMIT!

Okay, back to the app. How about 1:40pm? No? 11:25am on the website? Fine. No, not that either? 2:30pm on the app? 3PM ON THE COMPUTER???

Ah, whew. That one finally went through. You did it! You did it! It’s a bit later than originally intended, but you did it! DJ Rex, save me a seat!!!!!!!

Oga ADR

Sit back. It’s over. You’re not me anymore. Sweet.

Hmmm. It’s hard to tell, given how far up Disney’s butt I have crawled over the last 15 years or so, but this might be one of the most inside-baseball blog posts I’ve ever written. But then I suppose you’d have to be pretty inside the baseball yourself to get to the end of such a melodramatic tale. The point is, I got my coveted ADR. Now who’s got a vaccine they’re not using?

*Yes, you’re right – the Disney reservation system opens at 7am. PR doesn’t do daylight savings and is therefore currently 1 hour ahead of… everybody else, basically.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has A Counterintuitive FastPass Theory

I’ve got a theory.

Wrong!

Wrong again!

It’s about FastPass+. It may make you uncomfortable. But if you hear me out, you may have an effective new strategy on your hands. Or I’ll ruin your whole vacation. Either/or.

So on my last trip to WDW with my mom, I left plans for the final day completely blank, the idea being that I would let my mom decide how she wanted to spend our remaining hours based on what she liked best the previous days. As such, I reserved precisely zero FastPass+ slots. How could I, if I couldn’t be sure where we’d be?

Well, unsurprisingly, we wound up in beautiful, majestic, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Inevitably we started our day in grudgingly accepted Pandora, in the early-bird line for Flight of Passage.

To pass the time, I pulled up the My Disney Experience app on my phone and began fiddling around with the FastPass+ screen. Because I had made no previous selections, all rides were open to me – regardless of tier

That is important. It is important because through some dedicated refreshing of the available FP+ screen, I was able to snag two slots for Na’vi River Journey. By the time we finished with Flight of Passage, River Journey was showing something like an hour posted wait, but thanks to my last minute grab we were able to waltz right on.

And it got me thinking. Through heated, determined refreshing of the FP+ portion of MDE, I have made some miraculous eleventh hour reservations, up to and including Frozen Ever After and, yes, even Flight of Passage. Mind you, this has always been for parties of one or two, so my theory may only apply to smaller groups.

Still, I wonder: if you go to make your FP+ selections in advance and can’t get the popular ride you want, might it be more advantageous to simply forego making FP+ decisions in advance and instead winging it on the day?

I know this sounds crazy, but listen. If you want Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but can’t get it, and instead make three selections for other rides, you’re now blocked from attempting to grab new FP+s until you use up those three – and depending on what times you accepted, that might not be for hours. In the meantime, someone could drop their SDMT FP+ slot and you’ll be powerless to pick it up.

If you don’t have any FP+s at all, you can start madly refreshing from the moment you wake up in the morning in the hopes of getting what you want. It occurs to me that you can start trying earlier, too – a week out, say – but then I also understand that Disney will sometimes release FP+ slots the day of. Your odds increase!

So what do you think? I admit it’s the classic case of forgetting about the bird in hand while going after one in the bush, but the risk has paid off for me before. For those who are willing to be flexible, I think it could work nicely.

One a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is I WILL HAVE A PANIC ATTACK and 10 is chill, baby, how comfortable are you with winging your FastPass+ plan?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Uncovers A Surprise (FastPass)

I’m sure I’m not the only one who keeps a small shrine to Disney parks in their cubicle. Some of the more enterprising of you may have beautifully framed photographs and artfully fanned park maps. Me, I more or less slapped some schmatta on the wall with push pins and called it done.

Okay, so it’s not the most impressive display, but it definitely cheers me up to glance over once in awhile and see my old Annual Pass or the pin I got for helping train a porcupine at DAK

Recently while casting an eye over my collection, I spied an ancient relic. Do you see it?


That’s a paper WDW FastPass, all right. But so what? I’m sure there are tons of those floating around. They’re even still issued for some special occasions. But this particular kind may never be seen again. Check out the text: it’s a Surprise FastPass from 2011!


This particular type of FP was spit out in conjunction with the FP you had actually come to the machine for. I only ever remember getting one for Philharmagic, as this one is, but maybe someone in the audience remembers getting a different kind?

Obviously its presence on my work wall means I never used it. That is because a Philharmagic FP is basically useless. I like the show, but since I can basically wander into it at any time I don’t generally worry about it. Unless it’s a peak period, I can’t imagine this FP being useful to anyone – and I betcha these FPs weren’t sliding out of the machines as a bonus when the crowds were Thanksgiving-heavy.

The only thing I can think of is that Disney was trying to a) shuffle crowds around and b) hoping that n00bs would just be excited for an extra FP and not actually realize how pointless it was. 

But the real question is this: think My Disney Experience will ever randomly assign surprise FastPasses? 

Because I don’t. >D

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn’s Magic Bands Are Disappointingly Tasteful After All

You didn’t think I’d leave you hanging, did you?

If you haven’t been following my Magic Band drama, let me sum up, Inigo Montoya-style: I tried to put “Pork Butt” on my Magic Band and Disney wasn’t having it. (Read the full story here to get the scoop on how I found out, who I talked to, and why “butt” is a bad, bad word and Nemo never should’ve touched it.)

But wait, there’s more! After calling a Cast Member to begrudgingly let her change the name, I subsequently received two separate Magic Band shipment confirmation emails. Could Disney IT have decided to flout the system and send me the bands I originally requested anyway?

Well, I have both boxes now, and I can tell you the answer is this: kind of but not really.

Because I spoke to a Cast Member on the phone, we received these plain, boring just-our-names Magic Bands:

But(t) because I never called back Disney IT, who originally flagged the issue, we also got these:

So Pat gets his Bort, but I get… nada. Boo. The inside is just a string of code.

Oh well. At least Pat is happy. He really really wanted to be Bort, which is apparently a reference to The Simpsons…? I pointed out that I’m pretty sure the Magic Band triggered content (your name on signs and stuff) reads your actual MDE account name, not your band’s name, but he’s very insistent that SOMEONE WILL SEE IT and THEY WILL LAUGH. I don’t know. You’ve seen it now; did you laugh?

I’m fairly confident that both sets of bands are connected to the same MDE accounts and will work fine for Magical Express, FastPasses, etc., but just in case we’ll bring both sets with us. Less than two weeks to go!

Am I forgetting anything? Oh, I know: BUTT. (FACE!)

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Is Obscene, If You Ask Disney IT (Assuming You Can Find Them)

OH MY GOD, GUYS. I simply must tell you about what happened to me a couple days ago. It is Walt Disney World roller coaster ride… OF THE MIND.

On Wednesday afternoon I get a voicemail from an unknown Greensboro, NC number from someone purporting to be calling on behalf of Walt Disney World. They claim they need to talk to me about my recent Magic Band order. Immediately, the whole thing raises a bunch of red flags for me:

  • The Greensboro phone number, which has no internet presence, except for one page of people claiming it’s spam
  • I’m told to call a separate number back, which has almost no internet presence – one person saying it’s related to their WDW annual pass and then a separate page calling it a mortgage scam
  • They say that phone line is only open from 8am to 4:30pm, which are some very un-Disney times; most Disney phone lines I’ve encountered are open until 11pm
  • While I do have Magic Bands presumably coming soon, it’s not really an “order” as they’re the automatic ones attached to my resort reservation and
  • The order number they give me is completely different, both in numbers and pattern, from the confirmation number given in MDE

So I hop on the WDW website online chat feature and explain the whole situation to the Cast Member. She checks on my Magic Bands and says there does appear to be a hold, but she doesn’t know why. She also polls her surround CMs and comes back with the information that all Magic Bands are distributed from Florida and she has NO idea what those Greensboro phone numbers are. She gives me a legit Magic Band number to call later.

At this point I am entirely convinced I have unearthed some secret underground fake Disney scam call, and they clearly went up against the wrong Disney fan. But before I get too excited, I close the loop by calling the new, official Disney Magic Band number I now have.

I get a Cast Member who is initially no more aware than the first CM. She looks up my account, sees that my Magic Bands are in the fulfillment stage, and assures me that I should be getting them in a couple weeks. Sensing that she thinks I’m just getting ahead of the timetable, I press a little further, explaining about the weird phone numbers and the order number. She asks me to hold while she consults with the Disney IT team.

About ten minutes later, she returns and we have our answer: ladies and gentlemen, Pat and I broke the Magic Band system.

Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Here’s what happened:

Enough months ago that I don’t even remember doing it, Pat and I selected our Magic Band colors and nicknames, as you do. Feeling a little silly, Pat put “Bort” down for his (this is apparently a Simpsons reference?), and then instructed me to put “Pork Butt” for mine, this being a funny nickname he uses for me sometimes.

Kids, Disney considers “butt” a swearword. I’ll say that again: “Butt” is a swearword, as far as Disney is concerned. “Butt” got flagged in the system.

“You see,” said the apologetic Cast Member, “these packages are often seen by children, and…”

“Sure, but ‘butt’ isn’t a bad word,” I countered.

“I agree with you,” the CM replied, “but the system won’t print it. I can’t have your Magic Bands sent to you until you change the name.”

And now Pat and I have boring Magic Bands again. The other alternative was to have the bands sent directly to the resort, but we need them in advance for the Magical Express.

To review:

  • Disney IT is apparently based in Greensboro, NC, but it must be a very secretive operation because very few other Disney departments know about it and the entire internet isn’t too aware either
  • The Disney website does not have a validation system when it comes to Magic Band names, although they really should because I bet it would save them a lot of time and trouble
  • DISNEY CONSIDERS THE WORD “BUTT” TO BE THE SORT OF OBSCENITY THAT COULD CORRUPT CHILDREN

I mean, I kind of get it. I think their intolerance for “butt” itself is ridiculous, but I can see why they wouldn’t want some obnoxious older brother to put “Anal Queef” as their name and then his little sister opens the box and asks what a “queef” is and the parents are enraged and then media coverage and pandemonium, etc. etc. But if “butt” is unacceptable, I think their vigilance overreaches somewhat.

I have it on good authority, however, that you can totally put, like, “Bob Iger” on your bands. The system has no problem with low level identity theft. Now, “butt,” on the other hand…

Anyway. I’m not mad or anything, but I am equal parts amused and incredulous. I mean, it’s pretty absurd, don’t you think?

Oh well. At least I got probably my most popular tweet ever out of it.

At least now I know what the people like. (Butts.)

What do you think? Was I wildly inappropriate for attempting to put “butt” on my Magic Band? Or could Disney stand to cool it just a tad? Also, what the hell is up with Disney’s clandestine IT department?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Kill/Refurb/Marry: My Magic+

Yes, I’m back from Walt Disney World. 🙁 Trip/race reports forthcoming, of course, but first I’m knocking out this month’s Kill/Refurb/Marry – for the last time. :/ The infrastructure on the blog hop has changed so much that I can completely understand why it’s ending, but I’m bummed; it was nice to have it in the monthly post rotation. Ah well. Onward!

The final topic is My Magic+. Hmmmmmm. Tough one.

Kill: Magic Band Batteries

I have wracked my brains and decided to kill the battery inside Magic Bands. They only last a year, which means piles of Magic Bands will become useless, creating more and more waste as the years go on. Plus it makes otherwise nifty customized bands borderline useless. Let’s get some rechargeable batteries in there!

Refurb: FastPass+

The obvious one, but I mean it so hard I can’t not go with it: REVAMP THE FASTPASS+ SYSTEM, PLEASE. I like the non-paper element and I don’t even mind the reserving in advance. But I miss the old, spontaneous system, which allowed me to play a bit more fast and loose with my plans if I so desired. I also don’t appreciate being locked into one park for said FastPasses. But most of all – WHY do we have to go to kiosks to get new FastPasses? Why can’t we just do it through the app? Huh???

Marry: The App WITH CAVEATS

If you had asked me even a year ago what to kill, I would’ve unhesitatingly said THE APP. Getting it to work anywhere inside the parks was well nigh impossible for me and many others. However, the system has improved markedly since then, and I was able to use the app very effectively last week with excellent results. FP+ changes, show schedules, wait times – all good.

HOWEVER. Disney, so help me, if you do not continue to strengthen and expand your wifi system, THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY. Keep that app in good shape and your wifi robust and we will all be happy campers.

There you have it: my last K/R/M. Thanks to the organizers for all their hard work on the series – maybe it’ll come back some day!

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Solidifies Her Disney Park Planning Cred

My now sadly former boss is planning a Walt Disney World vacation for her extended family, and I have, as is my wont, been offering advice every step of the way. I assisted in her resort selection, her dining reservations, and lately she’s been sending me emails asking about My Disney Experience.

I have now gone through two rounds of helping her pick which attractions to FastPass+, and my last email garnered this TOTALLY AMAZING response:

This weekend as we were doing these plans, I said to my parents, “Are you SURE you don’t want me to make dining reservations for you two?” My parents: “We’ll want to go out, but we’ll figure it out there.”  My husband: “Oh man, what would Jenn German say about that!”

WWJGS

YOU GUYS. I HAVE MY OWN ACRONYM.

Next time you’re planning a Disney trip, remember: WWJGS. We all need this on t-shirts immediately.

BOW BEFORE ME


Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out
Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.com. See ya real soon!