Walt Disney World tickets are not cheap (you could easily expect to pay hundreds of dollars for a family just for one day) so it makes sense to do your homework and find out as much as possible before you visit.
The resort has introduced a number of new features as part of Disney’s “NextGen” initiative, in particular making use of Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.
Theme Park Tickets
From 2005, Walt Disney World introduced a new ticket package called “Magic Your Way” which gives you more flexibility in tailoring your theme park tickets to your own specific needs but can be quite confusing at first glance. Also some of the original benefits of non-expiring tickets were replaced by a paid for “non-expiry” option.
Like all theme parks today, Disney tickets are non transferable and Disney installed the Ticket Tag system at the four main theme parks. To enter the park you had to place your middle and index fingers into a special scanner which took a digital scan of your fingers.
It was not a finger print as such but it did then link you to your ticket to stop someone else using it. If you had old tickets that pre-dated the Magic Your Way tickets you may have been asked to sign the tickets to help with identification.
You would also find that you no longer had to get your hand stamped if you park hopped, you just presented your ticket and used the finger scanner to gain re-admission on the same day. Children under 10 did not have to use the scanners.
This has now been replaced by the RFID scanners in conjunction with new card style tickets and MagicBands.
When you rent a stroller, wheelchair or electric convenience vehicle (ECV), you rent it for the whole day. If you park hop you cannot take your rental out of the park so remember to keep your receipt to avoid having to pay again. A security deposit is required for ECVs.
Note if you hire strollers or ECVs at Disney Springs then you will have to leave a substantial deposit using your credit card.
If you are planning on visiting for more than one day then consider buying a “Length of Stay” rental ticket which will make it quicker to pick up a rental on each visit and has a cheaper daily rate.
Note that there are limited supplies of wheelchairs and ECVs so it may make more sense to rent one for the duration of your vacation from an outside company.
Disney Resort Residents
RFID technology has been rolled out at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Originally you had a “Key to the World” Card but this has now been replaced by MagicBands.
To access your room you just have to place your MagicBand in front of the lock instead of sliding it into the mechanism.
You can also use your MagicBand to pay for merchandise. For bills under $50 you can just “tap to pay” and if it is over $50 you have to enter a 4 digit PIN.
The same technology has been introduced at the park turnstiles speeding up access into the parks and to reserve FastPass+ time slots.
If you are staying in one of the onsite Disney resort hotels then you will be able to take a free Disney motorcoach shuttle bus to the various attractions. If you do take your car then parking is free for Disney resort residents.
You also have access to the Disney’s Magical Express Bus Service which operates between Orlando International Airport (MCO) and the Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
Many offsite hotels also offer complimentary shuttle buses to the parks.
Disney resort guests are also able to take advantage of the various Disney Dining Plans which could save you 30% to 40% on your food budget.
Walt Disney World was the first Florida theme park to introduce the idea of a “front of queue” pass for guests which they called “FastPass”. Unlike some of the other parks like Universal Studios and SeaWorld who charge for their special passes, the Disney FastPass is free but is limited in some ways.
The idea of a FastPass is that you can effectively pre-book the time you visit an attraction and if you then turn up at the attraction during that time window, you do not need to queue.
Whilst in theory it is a great idea, some guests are not happy with the idea of other guests effectively jumping the queue but with the introduction of similar passes at other parks, the concept of the FastPass is here to stay.
As part of the NextGen initiative, Disney have now rolled out a FastPass+ for resort guests alongside the original FastPass using a plastic card containing an RFID chip. This has in turn been replaced by a wristband called a MagicBand.
Guests With Special Needs
If you need a wheelchair to get around and have not brought one with you, then you can hire them at the parks.
On some rides there are special ‘cars’ that can accommodate a wheelchair, on others you will have to get out of the chair. Also you and your party can bypass the lines for most rides and get special seating at the shows.
Service Animals and Pets
If you have a service animal or intend to bring your pet on holiday with you, there are some restrictions at Walt Disney World.
Read more about service animals and pets at Walt Disney World.
Disney’s Year of a Million Dreams
From October 1, 2006 to December 31, 2007, Disney celebrated their Year of a Million Dreams where you could win great prizes or experience wishes and dreams than cannot be bought.