So, one of the biggest innovations at WDW this year was the idea of the Magic Bands. At first I was a bit skeptical about this, but as the trip went on, both Dad and I agreed they made life pretty awesome for us, and a lot easier.
When we arrived at the Yacht Club, we received our magic bands in a box, already engraved with our names, and activated. The default color is gray (which we got), but they sell Magic Band “bling” to personalize yours. I chose Cinderella’s coach and a Princess Minnie icon.
The Magic Band is a lot of things–it’s your room key, your park admissions, your FastPass+, and you can charge things to it, which made life pretty awesome for us, since it meant we didn’t have to carry cash with us when we went to the parks, or really, anywhere (we did carry some, however, we didn’t just us the Magic Bands. Danger Will Robinson, that.). We didn’t have to worry about losing our room key or our park passes or even getting Fast Passes printed out; it also made Fast Passes easier to get, since we could reserve them ahead of time and they were saved to our bands. The bands are waterproof (I never took it off when I was swimming), they are adjustable and feel basically like wearing a plastic watch. They weren’t heavy and even on very humid days, they weren’t sticky or annoying on our wrists.
So on Monday, I started out by relaxing at the pool, having lunch at Hurricane Hannah’s (the pool restaurant at Stormalong Bay), and then heard to Downtown Disney for some shopping and pin trading
(There will be more on pin trading later. It deserves its own post.)
So Downtown Disney is three parts: The Marketplace, the West Side, and what used to be called “Pleasure Island”, but is now part of the “Disney Springs” renovation project (well, really, the whole thing is being renovated, but this is where you notice it). Cirque du Soleil has a permanent show here, and there’s a pub, the Earl of Sandwich, a Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe, a carousel, bandstand, the largest Disney Character store in the world, and lots of other shops. There’s also Disney Quest, which is supposedly some sort of virtual reality playground, which I don’t really understand, and haven’t visited. The entire Downtown Disney area is accessible either by private car, taxi, or Disney Transportation (bus line) if you’re staying at the resorts. I took the bus.
So I hit the pin trading store, Disney Design-a-Tee, where I made a shirt with the Three Fairies from Sleeping Beauty, Once Upon A Toy, and The World of Disney.
I wasn’t hugely impressed with World of Disney–the one in NYC is much bigger, I thought, and had a much better selection. However, there was some Frozen merchandise here, which made it a big hit with about everyone, and there were limits to how much you could buy. There weren’t any costumes, but there were plenty of DVDs/Blu-Rays and CDs (everywhere. Really, everywhere, this stuff was there), iPhone covers, books, and the Barbie-ish dolls (not the Toddler ones or specialty dolls). It was fun to look around but I thought Once Upon a Toy, where you could make your own Disney Potato Head, or a personalized light saber, was a lot more fun. (I mean, I had a lot more fun there, and the kids looked like they were too) There was also a Duffy the Disney Bear activity happening which seemed like fun.
Around 3:30 I headed back to the Yacht Club also via the bus, which took a lot longer for some reason–the bus for the Yacht, Beach, Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin came maybe every 20 minutes. So the stop at Downtown Disney could get pretty crowded. But it wasn’t like I had other things to do. 🙂
That night, Dad and I wanted to have dinner at Beaches and Cream, but we found out that now you needed reservations to do this, so we couldn’t get in, and went tot he Yacht Club’s Captain’s Grille instead, which was good (I had crab cakes and dad had a pasta dish). It’s listed as “casual”, but it’s a pretty upscale environment, and in a t-shirt and a skirt I felt sort of under-dressed in there.
After dinner, we bought my theme park tickets for the week–I was doing the Magic Kingdom the next day–and we made more reservations for Beaches and Cream. Back in the room, I was able to make my Fast Pass + selections. Basically, if you have a Magic Band and are staying on Disney property, you can make Fast Pass + selections early. I was able to get them for Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, and–amazingly–a Meet and Greet with Anna, Elsa, and Aurora at Princess Fairy Tale Hall. Since I’d heard insane things about the wait for this, I had no idea how I got one, but I seized it.
And with that, I was prepared for the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday….