The spectacular colors of Spaceship Earth, illuminated for Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary Celebration

My Disney Experience

A Brilliant Guide from Wishful Thinking

QUICK JUMP:

In our Brilliant Guides, we simplify things. Get expert tips for first-timers & returning guests. Perfect for Disney newcomers & travelers from abroad, we cover the basics & highlight what matters most.

In our Brilliant Guides, we simplify things. Get expert tips for first-timers & returning guests. Perfect for Disney newcomers & travelers from abroad, we cover the basics & highlight what matters most.

QUICK JUMP:

My Disney Experience

Explore Walt Disney World’s digital playground, including the Disney World app, MyDisneyExperience, Park Pass reservations, Disney Genie Service, Genie+, Lightning Lane reservations, Individual Lightning Lane, Boarding Groups, Virtual Queues, and how to link everything to MagicBand or MagicMobile.

NOTE: My Disney Experience is not in use at Disneyland or any of the world’s other Disney Parks. They have their own unique online systems.

MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE

You’ll be completely relying on MyDisneyExperience both before, during, and after your vacation. But there are major differences between the MyDisneyExperience app and the online website, and things get confusing easily. Which version should you use before the trip, and which version should you use during the trip?

We’re here to help you connect your friends & family, make online plans, link your tickets, set up your theme park reservations, and book essential advance reservations.

BEFORE YOUR TRIP | You’ll mostly use the website version of MyDisneyExperience.

DURING YOUR TRIP | You’ll be literally relying on the smartphone app version of MyDisneyExpeience, to do things like:

  • Open your hotel room doors
  • Store & scan your tickets at the theme park entry turnstiles
  • Order food in restaurants
  • Reserve Genie+ Lightning Lane (aka ‘skip the line’) reservations so you can all ride together as a group
  • Reserve free Boarding Group Virtual Queues for attractions like TRON Lightcycle / Run or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind 
  • View attraction wait times, show times, parade times, and park hours
  • View the photos that are captured on board attractions, or via PhotoPass photographers

EVERYONE (13 and above) who uses a smartphone will want to use the Walt Disney World app during the trip. Trust us.

However — and this is important — you cannot use the smartphone app until you have set everyone up via the website.

Therefore: read through our essential step-by-step guide below! We’ll help you properly set up your account, link to the others in your party, and link your reservations.  (It’s absolutely crucial that you link properly before your vacation begins.)

Then, learn how to navigate the app so you won’t feel lost in the middle of your Disney vacation.

MyDisneyExperience is web portal with all the information and planning details for your Walt Disney World vacation. From the brand new Park Pass, to dining reservations, to online check-in, to attraction wait times, to the new Disney Genie Service and Lightning Lanes, it’s all here. 

MyDisneyExperience is enormous and informative, but it’s also confusing and a bit overwhelming. Here are the most important things to know.

TWO DISTINCT VERSIONS OF MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE

It’s essential to realize that there are two distinct versions of MyDisneyExperience, and you cannot perform all the various tasks on each version. Let’s guide you through each version by reviewing the tasks that you’ll need to perform before your vacation — followed by essential tasks that you’ll perform during your vacation.

THE WEB VERSION | MyDisneyExperience.com

Do not begin with the app. Instead, before your vacation, you’ll want to access the website version, from any computer or mobile phone with a web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox. etc). Most of these tasks are much easier to perform on a computer than on the mobile web version. The web version has numerous features that you must complete before you use the app.

After we’ve confirmed your vacation, follow the steps below — in the order that they’re listed. WARNING: Performing these tasks out of order can trigger major glitches.

Visit MyDisneyExperience on the web, and then perform the tasks below:

STEP 1 | Create or edit your own profile | Please take note of something important: Disney profiles aren’t registered to names — they’re registered to email addresses. Therefore, as soon as you’re ready to link a new Disney vacation, log into (or create) your Disney account and take note of what email address you’re using to log in.

If you’ve got a Disney+ streaming account in your own name, that’s the same email address and password that you’ll use to sign in. If, however, your household uses someone else’s email address to sign in to Disney+ — like a spouse –their Disney account needs to remain in their name.

Under the main MyDisneyExpeience menu, click the very top section — your Profile. You may want to update your password, and then update all the information in your profile — including your birthdate, street address, phone number, communications preferences, etc.

It’s crucial that your profile information is complete & up to date.

Be sure your mobile number is listed & verified. If you lose a wallet, a purse — or a kid — Disney will call your cell. Be sure your street address is correct; it’ll auto-populate into every dining reservation you make so you don’t have to type your address every time. Same goes for a stored form of payment. Save your credit card number within, and you’ll save a whole lot of time. When you call Disney’s tech team for help, they’ll ask you to verify this info to verify your identity — so be sure it’s accurate. 

STEP 2 | Create profiles for any guests in your party who are younger than 13 or who do not use a smartphone. Under the main MyDisneyExperience menu, click on Family & Friends. If members of your travel party are younger than 13 — or do not use a smartphone — check to see if their names are already listed under your Family & Friends list. For those who are not, click “Add a Guest,” indicate that you’ll enter their name and age, and then select that you’ll be managing all their plans.  (Do NOT select the option which says “Import from a Walt Disney World Resort Reservation.”)

STEP 3 | Instruct your remaining guests to create / update their own profiles. | Every member of your traveling party who is 13 years of age or older and has their own smartphone must have their own Disney account.  Instruct them to follow the steps above, making sure to complete their profile with their birthdates, street address, phone number, etc. Be sure to have them select a character avatar; you may need it later. Most importantly, they need to know exactly what email address is affiliated with their Disney account. 

Why do they all need their own log-in? Because they’ll need their own phone accounts to view wait times, navigate the park maps, scan into the park entrances, place mobile orders, and reserve attractions. For any guests who do not use a smartphone — whether they’re young kids, grandparents, etc. — they’ll be able to use a traditional plastic key card to enter a hotel room / enter the theme parks. Learn more ▸ 

Why can’t my friends / family simply log into my Disney account on their own smartphones? Because this triggers Disney security alerts; Disney will email you a secret code and lock the access to your app. Not fun. 

STEP 4 | Make a list of the login email addresses  & character avatars of your family / friends. If any guests are under 18 you’ll also need to know their age — i.e., 14 — but you won’t need to know their actual date of birth. Also take note of the character avatar that each guest has chosen.

STEP 5 | Link to your family / friends | From the main menu of MyDisneyExperience, the Lead Guest (or ticket buyer) should navigate to the Family & Friends section. Next to your own name, click Update — then click Share My List. Then, build your list by clicking Add a Guest. Select the option that says “I’ll enter their name and age.”  Select  “Invite this guest to connect,” and enter the exact email address that they’re using to sign in.

(Again, do not select the “Import from a Hotel Reservation” option. It leads to common glitches which can take hours to fix.)

If any family / friends are already listed, verify that the avatar next to their name is the one they’ve chosen. If there’s ANY DOUBT AT ALL that you might be viewing an old-out-of-date profile that they registered under an old email address, ask them to modify their character avatar just to guarantee that you’re connected to their most up-to-date digital profile.

• STEP 6 | Instruct your family / friends to log in and accept your invitation to link | Under the Family & Friends section, everyone should accept your invitation to connect. After doing so, they should then click Add Guest to add all the other guests. They can do so by clicking “Find through my connected family / friends.”  After they’ve sent their own link invites to all other members of your party, this is very important: everyone must log in on a COMPUTER and accept everyone’s invitations to connect. Frustratingly, these invitations do not appear in the smartphone app or the mobile version of the website.

• STEP 7 |  Share plans & with all Family & Friends  | Click the word Update alongside each guest. The screen will say “Choose Which Plans and Photos (Guest Name) Can See.” It’s best to give all your friends & family permission to see and all your plans. And then on the settings of Family & Friends, it’s best to share your Family & Friends list. 

Why does this matter so much? You can only book a Lightning Lane or Boarding Group for those who are in your Family & Friends list. So if you want to ride together then, you’ll need to take care of these things now. Scroll down this page to learn more about Virtual Queues, Lightning Lane & Boarding Groups.

EVERYONE IN YOUR PARTY SHOULD SET UP THEIR PROFILES BEFORE YOU COMPLETE THE STEPS BELOW. To avoid linking to the wrong ‘version’ of someone — which screws up everything — everyone should complete those steps before you link any tickets or reservations. Avoid this warning at your peril.

STEP 8 | Link your vacation or ticket reservation | After the Lead Guest has purchased a vacation package, hotel stay, or tickets, the Lead Guest should visit the main menu, then click My Plans. From this page, hover over the planning circles.

RESORT GUESTS | If you’ve got a hotel reservation — either in a Disney resort hotel or in a Good Neighbor Hotel booked via Disney — begin by hovering over Resort Hotel then click to link your reservation confirmation number. If you have a hotel + tickets package, the system will link both your hotel room AND your tickets. You don’t need to separately link your tickets. 

NON-RESORT GUESTS |  However, if you’ve got Park Tickets without a Disney / Good Neighbor hotel stay, hover over Park Tickets and click to link your ticket purchase confirmation number.

After linking, you’ll assign the booking to each of your family / friends. Line up the names of each guest with those in your guest room(s) / ticket order.

If you’ve got a hotel reservation, begin by hovering over Resort Hotel then click to link your reservation confirmation number. (NOTE: If you have a hotel + tickets package, the system will also link your tickets). However, if you’ve got Park Tickets without a hotel stay — or if you’re staying off property — hover over Park Tickets and click to link your ticket purchase confirmation number. After linking, you’ll assign the booking to each of your family / friends.

Hopefully, now you understand why it’s so crucial that you wait to link a reservation until you’ve taken all the steps above. Otherwise, you may unknowingly link a ticket or hotel reservation to an old out-of-date profile that’s registered to an old email address for one of the guests in your party. If you make that mistake, they won’t be able to use their park tickets, enter their hotel room, etc. This happens at Walt Disney World literally every morning; at the Guest Services window, while everyone else gets in line for their favorite rides,  guests wait for help, trying to figure out why they can’t scan into the park.  That’s why we’re taking the time now to avoid a very common problem.

Step 9 | For guests traveling through January 8, 2024: Reserve your Park Pass – Theme Park Reservations |  Disney restricts the capacity for all their parks. For guests who are traveling in 2023 through January 8 of 2024, an advance reservation is required in order to visit any theme park. This Park Pass system happens exclusively on the MyDisneyExperience website — not on the app. You should book your Park Pass -Theme Park Reservations now,  so click the link below to learn how to reserve which park you’ll enter each day. We’ve also got helpful tips on how to plan your schedule:

Learn how to book a Park Pass Theme Park reservations▸ 

Disney is discontinuing its Park Pass reservation system for all guests from January 9, 2024 onward. 

ONLY THE WEB VERSION SUPPORTS FOREIGN LANGUAGES 

Foreign language Walt Disney World information |  The app, detailed below, only functions in English. The MyDisneyExperience website, however, is fully navigable in Spanish, French, Japanese, and Portuguese. This is especially valuable for reading restaurant menus, attraction information, showtimes, and transportation details. However,  because many vital skills are only available on the smartphone app — like Lightning Lane reservations, Boarding Groups, and Mobile Order for meals– many international guests hop back and forth between the mobile web version and the app versions during their vacations. If English isn’t your primary language, you’ll probably want to spend some extra time familiarizing yourself with the app below.

 

THE WALT DISNEY WORLD APP

The app is what you’ll rely on DURING your vacation. Countless features — like guest room door unlock, mobile restaurant ordering, table service check-in, attraction wait times, Disney Genie Service and Lightning Lane reservations — are only available via the app, and not on the web version. 

Download the App

Well before your vacation begins, everyone in your party should download the app to their iOS or Android device. 

Turn on notifications

You’re going to want pop-up notifications from Disney during your stay. The app notifies you when your table is ready at a restaurant, when a mobile food order is ready for pickup, when your Boarding Group has been called, and countless other items. You won’t want to miss those notifications.

Link your tickets to your digital wallet via MagicMobile

It’s very helpful to download your Disney theme park ticket / annual pass to the digital wallet of your smartphone. Learn more▸

Explore the app’s features

In the days leading up to your vacation, take time to explore the app and note many of the features which are only available on the app version.

Begin by tapping each of the five main icons along the bottom row of the app, and note the numerous features that appear under each icon. The map marker icon is especially adept; be sure to explore all the new categories that appear within the top-center dropdown menu. 

Before your vacation, you’ll want to make sure you know how to view / perform all the following tasks:

• Attractions | View current wait times (during park opening hours). Note how you can filter based on each park, and select to view a list of wait times. Also note that when you click to view a specific attraction, you can click Get Directions to find out the best walking route.

My Genie Day | Disney’s new intuitive organizer for your day is divided into two organizing tabs: the Tip Board and My Day. Learn more about Disney Genie Service ▸

 Lightning Lane reservations | The app is where you’ll make your selections for Lightning Lane and Individual Lightning Lane reservations. To do so, search for / click on a specific attraction and then add a reservation. You can only book Lightning Lane reservations on the day of your visit.  Learn more ▸

Boarding Groups | The app is where you’ll obtain Boarding Groups for very popular attractions like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcyle / Run. See our tips below.

Dining reservations | To make a new reservation, click the + button along the bottom row, then click Check Dining Availability, and enter your party size, date, and time. Be sure to click the filter funnel icon in the bottom right to filter the available tables to your preferred dining location. 

• Future plans | From the bottom right ‘sandwich’ menu, click Future Plans to see all that’s ahead for your Walt Disney World vacation.

• Maps |  Locate yourself on a map in real-time, get walking directions within a park, and get transportation directions —including buses, monorails, and water taxis — all throughout the Disney World Resort. Begin by clicking the map marker icon on the bottom row.

• Mobile food ordering | Pre-order and prepay for your food at nearly every quick-service restaurant — in the theme parks, resort hotels, and Disney Springs — and simply pick it up when you arrive, without having to wait in a queue. Begin a mobile order by pressing the + icon along the bottom row and then clicking Order Food.

• Walk-Up Dining Reservations | The app uses geolocation to identify when you’re within a short distance of a table service restaurant. If you are, you’re able to check the real-time availability and join the walk-up wait list for a table. To join a walk-up list, click the + button along the bottom row, then click Check Dining Availability, select today’s date, and select Now under the time. Or, search for the name of a specific restaurant and click Join Walk-Up List.

• Resort Hotel exclusive features | During your stay, be sure to click the sandwich menu icon on the bottom row and then click Resort Hotel. You’ll see an entire set of features here that aren’t available on the web version. You can unlock your guest room door, view your hotel charges, see the bus times for your resort’s transportation, call the front desk, and review the hours of operation for the resort’s dining, shopping and recreation. Under the dining tab, you may have exclusive resort guest access to mobile order windows or walk-up lists for your resort’s restaurants.

• Guest Services | You may be surprised to see all the services that Disney provides to its guests, from first aid and baby care centers to in-park refrigerators for medications and special access for those with disabilities. Click the map marker icon on the bottom row, then select Guest Services in the top center menu. Scroll through the list; this is where you’ll find a map for ATM locations, ECV / wheelchair rentals, locker locations, laundry services, and more.

• PhotoPass Images | View and download the images captured by Disney’s professional PhotoPass photographers in addition to any action shots captured while aboard a theme park or water park attraction. If you add Disney Genie+, you can enjoy PhotoPass lenses, which add fun Snapchat-esque filters to selfies that you can take throughout Walt Disney World.

 

COMMON BUGS & WORKAROUNDS

Unfortunately, it’s fairly common to bump into Stitch, informing you that MyDisneyExperience is glitching. Here are quick fixes if you’re getting error messages.

• If the website is glitching | On the Web, open a new incognito / private browser window. This will essentially allow you to navigate a fresh connection without any saved cookies.

• If the app is glitching | The most common glitches happen when your day’s full plans don’t display.  Often, the issue is a disconnect between the app and your device’s WiFi connection. To fix this, close the app, navigate to the settings of your phone, manually turn off your WiFi, then relaunch the app while relying on cellular data. If that doesn’t work, remember that you can always open a web browser (like Safari or Chrome) and then log in to view your day’s plans. 

Need some assistance with MyDisneyExperience? Chat with us here ▸

The ultimate high score on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, earning the Galactic Hero classification in Disney's Magic Kingdom

DISNEY GENIE SERVICE

Disney Genie Service provides complimentary, personalized real-time guidance for your Walt Disney World day.  Should you upgrade to Genie+ to skip the queues through the new Lightning Lane?  Should you purchase Individual Lightning Lane reservations?

DISNEY GENIE SERVICE: AN OVERVIEW 

Genie is a new interactive feature that makes real-time suggestions & navigations to guide your day when you’re in the Walt Disney World theme parks. It’s not a new app; it’s a feature that you use within the existing Disney World smartphone app. IMPORTANT: make sure you’ve set up your app correctly ▸

What is Genie? | At its core, a high-tech way for Disney to balance the park’s crowds — and help you avoid them — by sending real-time suggestions to guests’ smartphones.

How much does Genie cost? | Disney Genie Service is free. It does have optional paid upgrade features, including Genie+ (Genie Plus). Read on for more information.

How does Genie work? | Before you visit the park, you begin by telling Genie your wishes — i.e, the attractions and experiences that are most important to you — and Genie creates a customized, minute-by-minute itinerary that intelligently balances your wishes with the realities of when attractions, shows and restaurants are the busiest.

What features does Genie include? | Genie incorporates the following features, all of which are free:

  • Attraction suggestions timed throughout your day
  • Forecasted attraction wait times
  • Virtual Queues & Boarding Groups (when in use, see below)
  • Restaurant suggestions & mobile ordering
  • Table Service restaurant suggestions & walk-up waitlists
  • Experience reservations (boutiques & salons, Savi’s Workshop – Custom Lightsabers, etc)

Where do I find Genie on the Disney World app? | From the app’s home page menu, click on My Genie Day.  That will launch two organizing tabs: the Tip Board and My Day. The Tip Board is a list of each theme park’s attractions and experiences with the current wait times. If you’ve chosen to prioritize specific attractions, they’ll be listed first. My Day is Genie’s customized itinerary for your day; it updates throughout the day with real-time suggestions based on your priorities.

OPTIONAL PAID UPGRADES TO USE THE  LIGHTNING LANE

What is the Lightning Lane? | Formerly known as the FastPass+ queue, Lightning Lane is a separate entryway at most attractions where guests can essentially skip the line and enter with little wait time. (Some less popular attractions or shows do not offer a Lightning Lane.) Lightning Lane reservations are one-hour windows of time; you may enter at any time during that one-hour window. To be clear: the Lightning Lane entryway is for guests who do not wish to wait in the regular Standby queue — they’re completely optional.

How do I book Lightning Lane reservations? | It all happens via the app on the day of your visit (you can’t book them days in advance). There are two methods for booking them. You can 1) buy Individual Lightning Lane reservation purchases or 2) upgrade to Genie+.

1 | Buy Individual Lightning Lane reservations |  Individual Lightning Lane reservations are used on Walt Disney World’s most, most popular attractions — the most popular rides at each park. To purchase an Individual Lightning Lane reservation on the day of your visit,  open the app, select the attraction (via the Tip Board), choose an available time, and then complete the purchase within the app. Pricing for Individual Lightning Lane is dynamic; prices vary from day to day and range anywhere from $7 to $17.  Individual Lighting Lane reservations are only available for the following ultra-popular attractions:

  • MAGIC KINGDOM | Seven Dwarfs Mine Train & TRON Lightcyle / Run
  • EPCOT  |  Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind 
  • HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS | Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • ANIMAL KINGDOM | Avatar: Flight of Passage

Important: Anyone can purchase Individual Lightning Lane reservations, regardless of whether or not you upgrade to Genie+. The attractions listed above are not available within the standard Genie+ offerings. However, Walt Disney World Resort guests may begin making their day’s Individual Lightning Lane selections at 7 AM, and non-resort guests must wait until the park opens for the day.

2 | Upgrade to Genie+ to make Lightning Lane reservations | For the remaining popular attractions, Lighting Lane reservations are available to those who upgrade to Genie+. If you add this upgrade –which has variable pricing, but starts at $20 per guest per day — the Disney World app will unlock the ability to reserve Lightning Lane reservations throughout your day.

How do you add Genie+? | There are two ways. To add it for just one day, you can open the MyDisneyExperience app anytime after 12:01 AM on the day you plan to use it. Click My Genie Day, then scroll down until you see a Get Genie+ Service button (an invitation to upgrade also appears throughout the user interface). You may add it for yourself plus anyone who’s connected in your Family & Friends (as long as they’re sharing plans with you). You don’t need to add Genie+ for all the members of your party, but only those who have the service linked to their ticket may use it.  Alternatively, if you’re staying in a Disney Resort hotel, you may visit your Front Desk to add Genie+ to your ticket, plus any guests who are also listed on your room reservation. Via this method, you can add the service to all your ticket days.

Read on in the next section to learn how to book Lightning Lane reservations. 

ADDITIONAL FEATURES WITHIN GENIE+

In addition to Lightning Lane reservations, guests who upgrade to Genie+ enjoy a handful of fun digital features within the app:

Audio Tales | Dozens of audio tours in different areas in all four theme parks, featuring behind-the-scenes insights from the Imagineering Field Guide series of popular books.

PhotoPass Lenses | Augmented reality Disney-themed lenses that add whimsical backgrounds and filters to your phone’s selfies, from the 25th Anniversary “Cake Castle” to Disney character constellations in the sky.

Wishful Thinking fine tunes our recommendations for Genie+ and Lightning Lane specifically for your travel party & wish list — and our help is free. Contact us for free help planning your theme park days.

LIGHTNING LANE

We’ve got concise, first-hand tips for 2023 on how to make the smartest Lightning Lane and Individual Lightning Lane reservations.

You could go dizzy reading the internet’s tips & strategies for Lighting Lane reservations. What should you reserve? When should you reserve it? Too much advice is probably futile. Why? Because the system is deeply dynamic, and every day is a little different, based on real-world conditions.

But a few consistent patterns have emerged since Disney Genie+ came to Walt Disney World. Let’s boil down the most essential things you need to know.

HOW LIGHTNING LANE RESERVATIONS WORK

For those who have added the Genie+ enhancement to their ticket: 

  • Your first selection |  You may make your first standard Genie+ Lightning Lane selection at 7:00 AM, regardless of whether you’re a Disney Resort hotel guest or you’re staying off-property.
  • Make additional Lightning Lane reservations every two hours | The clock begins when the theme park opens to all guests. You’re free to make additional Lightning Lane reservations every two hours. So if Early Park Entry begins at 8:30 AM at Magic Kingdom, but the park opens to all guests at 9 AM, you’ll be able to book your next reservation at 11 AM.  
  • Unless you scan in and redeem your reservation | If you redeem your Lightning Lane reservation before two hours have elapsed, you’ll be free to book your next Lightning Lane.
  • You may choose overlapping reservation times | Unlike the old FastPass+ system, you’re allowed to book overlapping windows of time for your Lightning Lane reservations. That’s true whether they’re booked via the Individual Lightning Lane system or the standard Genie+ system.
  • You may book for some (or all) members of your party | When booking standard Lightning Lane or Individual Lightning Lane reservations, you’re always free to select which members of your party want to reserve that particular attraction or experience. Others in your party (with smartphones) can reserve them, too. But to reserve one time for the whole group, it’s crucial that EVERYONE has previously set up their MyDisneyExperience Account, linked to one another, and enabled planning permissions.
  • You may cancel / modify your reservations | You’re always free to modify your Lightning Lane reservations to later times, if future time slots are available. However, Individual Lightning Lane purchases won’t be refunded without a conversation with Guest Services.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES WITHIN GENIE+

WHICH PARKS BENEFIT MOST WITH LIGHTNING LANE

The Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are the two parks where Lightning Lane reservations are most useful. Why? Because they’ve got the largest number of attractions that draw long wait times. They’re also the two parks where all the day’s available Lightning Lane windows for the most popular attractions are consistently gone by mid-afternoon. We’ll keep those patterns in mind as we name specific suggestions below.

OUR ATTRACTION SUGGESTIONS FOR LIGHTNING LANE

We’ve got guests in Walt Disney World every week, and we pay a whole lot of attention to which attractions fill up their Lightning Lane reservations soonest — along with which attractions gain long waits and which ones don’t. 

Here’s our curated list of Lightning Lane suggestions. For all the attractions which are not listed below, we suggest that you plan to enter via the Standby queue. Some attractions — like shows with large audience capacity — aren’t a wise choice for your Lightning Lane reservations. You won’t need them.

WHICH LIGHTNING LANE RESERVATIONS ARE BEST FOR MAGIC KINGDOM?

Right at 7 AM, aim for one of these attractions first:

  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Jungle Cruise

Then, when you can, purchase either (or both) of these Individual Lightning Lanes:

  • TRON Lightcycle / Run
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

*Please note: Because TRON Lightcycle / Run is new and popular, its Individual Lightning Lane reservations often sell out before the park opens for the day. As a result, those who are not staying in official Disney Resort  hotels may not have the opportunity to purchase this selection. If you’re aiming to experience this attraction and you’re not a Disney resort hotel guest, right now a Boarding Group is your most likely method. 

Once you’re in the park, as you book additional Lightning Lane reservations throughout the day, it’s smart to get reservations for:

  • Space Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Haunted Mansion

WHICH LIGHTNING LANE RESERVATIONS ARE BEST FOR HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS?

Right at 7 AM, aim for one of these attractions first:

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Then, when you can, purchase this Individual Lightning Lane:

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Once you’re in the park, as you book additional Lightning Lane reservations throughout the day, it’s smart to get reservations for:

  • Millennium Falcon — Smuggler’s Run
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Toy Story Mania

WHICH LIGHTNING LANE RESERVATIONS ARE BEST FOR EPCOT?

Right at 7 AM, aim for one of these attractions first:

  • Test Track
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

Then, when you can, purchase this Individual Lightning Lane:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind*

Once you’re in the park, as you book additional Lightning Lane reservations throughout the day, it’s smart to get reservations for:

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Soarin’
  • Spaceship Earth

WHICH LIGHTNING LANE RESERVATIONS ARE BEST FOR ANIMAL KINGDOM?

Right at 7 AM, aim for one of these attractions first:

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Na’vi River Journey

Then, when you can, purchase this Individual Lightning Lane:

  • Flight of Passage

Once you’re in the park, as you book additional Lightning Lane reservations throughout the day, it’s smart to get reservations for:

  • Kali River Rapids (especially during hot weather)
  • Dinosaur
  • Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

TROUBLESHOOTING | WHAT TO DO IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG WITH GENIE / LIGHTNING LANE

Glitches on Genie+ and Lightning Lane reservations are very common. For assistance, it’s best to enter the park and then look for the Cast Members under the Guest Experiences blue umbrellas. They wear blue polo shirts. They’re the best equipped to solve tech issues. 

The most common glitch happens during checkout for Individual Lightning Lane reservations. The app will present a time that’s available, but by the time you’ve completed your transaction, you’ll discover that you’ve reserved a much later window. If the reservation time you receive will not work for you, visit Guest Experiences for help. 

To learn the expert-level details behind these tips and a whole lot more, plan your trip with Wishful Thinking.

BOARDING GROUPS & VIRTUAL QUEUES

Some of Disney’s newest attractions rely on a Virtual Queue rather than a physical Standby Queue. To experience EPCOT’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind or Magic Kingdom’s TRON Lightcyle / Run, a Boarding Group is the free method for reserving the attraction, reserved via the MyDisneyExperience app.

VIRTUAL QUEUES

A Virtual Queue is just Disney’s way of saying that rather than asking guests to stand in a physical line to experience something, they’ve got a timed spot in an online system instead. They call it a Virtual Queue. Throughout Disney parks worldwide, Virtual Queues are in use for a handful of the most popular attractions. They also use them for for busy gift shops & retail locations, like Gideon’s Bakehouse at Disney Springs.

BOARDING GROUPS

Boarding Groups are only used when an attraction relies on a Virtual Queue. Rather than assign every individual a spot in a numbered list, Disney clumps guests together into larger groups. They call them Boarding Groups. The concept is similar to the way airlines often board planes (Zone 1, Zone 2, etc.).

Spaced out over the day, Disney invites each Boarding Group to come experience the attraction by sending a personalized notification within the MyDisneyExperience smartphone app. Boarding group members are provided a window of time to arrive and enter. It’s usually an hour.

HOW TO GET A BOARDING GROUP FOR TRON LIGHTCYCLE  / RUN –or GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: COSMIC REWIND

Each day’s Boarding Groups are assigned that same day via the MyDisneyExperience smartphone app. If guests do not have access to a cell phone, do not speak English, or need assistance due to disability, Guest Services can assist with Boarding Groups. You cannot request a group via the mobile site or the desktop site (the smartphone app is currently only offered in English). Only via the app.

There are 3 distribution times:

  • 7:00 AM | Available to all guests who have a Theme Park reservation (for the park where the attraction is located)
  • 1:00 PM | Available to guests who have scanned through the turnstiles and entered the park
  • 6:00 PM | Available exclusively to guests of Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels, on days when Extended Evening Hours are offered at the park where the attraction is located. Qualifying guests do not need to have entered that park before the 6 PM distribution.

Here are the key steps to take to get a Boarding Group.

BEFORE YOUR FIRST PARK DAY:

  • Make sure that everyone with whom you want to ride is connected and visible within the “My Family & Friends” section of your profile. It’s crucial to do this before your park day. Learn how ▸
  • Make sure that everyone has logged into their profile, and is choosing to “Share all plans” with every other member of the group within their Family & Friends list. This is absolutely essential. Double-check it.
  • If you’re aiming for the first distribution, make sure you and everyone in your party have a Park Pass theme park reservation for the park.
  • All those who have a ticket and a Park Pass theme park reservation will be eligible to request a Boarding Group. Disney does not guarantee Boarding Groups, and currently, there’s no standby queue for either attraction. You must have a Boarding Group or an Individual Lightning Lane reservation to enter the attraction.

ON THE DAY OF YOUR VISIT:

  • At least a few minutes before the Boarding Group distribution opens, open the Disney World app and make sure you’re logged in.
  • From the home screen, tap the hamburger menu in the lower right corner, then tap Virtual Queues. Select the theme park and the attraction.
  • You’ll be invited to confirm your party. Make sure that everyone who’s hoping to experience the attraction together is selected. Anyone in your party can request a Boarding Group for your entire party. (It’s fine if several of you all try — it will only improve your chances of success.)
  • Exactly at the moment when the distribution begins, click the button (or swipe down) to “refresh” the page.
  • Then immediately click the blue button to Join Virtual Queue.
  • At this point, you’ll know if you’ve been successful in gaining a Boarding Group.
  • If someone else in your party gets a boarding group before you do, you’ll be all set. The app won’t let you double up on Boarding Groups. Rather, you’ll be able to see your Boarding Group within the Virtual Queues area of the app.
  • If you are not successful and you want to experience the attraction, you can still purchase an Individual Lightning Lane — subject to availability.
  • Guests may only join one Boarding Group per day, unless you’re visiting during Extended Evening Hours (for Deluxe resort guests), when you may join a second time at 6 PM.
TROUBLESHOOTING | WHAT TO DO IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG

  • If you experience a major glitch during the process — for example, if one or more members of your party are missing from your group reservation, or if your Boarding Group isn’t appearing under the Virtual Queues area of the app — take a screenshot of the issue. 
  • Rather than wait to speak to Front Desk or Guest Services, it’s best to enter the park and then look for the Cast Members under the Guest Experiences blue umbrellas. They wear blue polo shirts. They’re the best equipped to solve tech issues, and there’s typically little to no wait.
  • At EPCOT, you’ll typically find Guest Experience Cast Members near the entrance area for The Seas with Nemo & Friends. If you don’t see them here, simply as a Cast Member where they’re located for the day. At Magic Kingdom, you’ll find them at the end of Main Street USA, just across the sidewalk / dining area from Casey’s Corner.
  • If the attraction goes down during your entry window, Cast Members will give you the option to return and experience the ride at any time later in the day when the attraction is running again.
  • If you’re held up and miss the 1-hour entry window for your Boarding Group, visit the attraction and speak — nicely/politely — to a Cast Member. At Guardians of the Galaxy, they can typically accommodate late arrivals. At TRON Lightcycle / Run, typically they can NOT accommodate late arrivals. 

BOARDING GROUPS & VIRTUAL QUEUES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

In 2021, Disney paused its use of Boarding Groups for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Walt Disney World. For now, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle / Run are the only attraction requiring a Boarding Group. But this is all subject to change. To make sure you’ll have the latest updates, plan your trip with Wishful Thinking.

Want some assistance? We’re experts, and we can set up your whole vacation for free. Start planning here.

Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind glows at night at Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center

PARK PASS THEME PARK RESERVATIONS

Disney restricts the number of guests who can enter a park each day. For all guests who visit through January 8, 2024, you’ll need to reserve a Park Pass theme park reservation. But how far in advance do you need to reserve?

What are Park Pass theme park reservations, and why are they required? Coming out of the pandemic, to manage crowds, Disney has restricted the number of people who can enter their parks each day. To determine exactly who gets to enter, Disney only admits those who have booked theme park reservations. These reservations help Disney avoid turning away guests at the gates, but it means that guests must plan their visits in advance. These reservations are now only required for guests who are visiting through January 8, 2024.

Theme park reservations are different from theme park ticketsIf it seems confusing, think of it like this:

  • A Theme Park ticket covers your admission price to get in to any of the four theme parks. A ticket’s good for any park you choose.
  • A Park Pass theme park reservation tells Disney to save a space for you at the specific park on the specific day you want to use your ticket. It helps Disney know who’s going where, so they can manage crowds & staff accordingly.
  • The spot is yours. You’re free to arrive at the park at any time you like that day. Your space has been held for you; no need to beat the crowd. 
  • Disney denies entrance to those who do not have a Park Pass theme park reservation when they arrive at the park entrance. It happens nearly every day.

Learn about Theme Park tickets ▸ 

WHO CAN BOOK PARK PASS THEME PARK RESERVATIONS?

  • Those who have already purchased Walt Disney World theme park tickets
  • Annual Passholders
  • Those who have paid a deposit on a Walt Disney World travel package which includes park tickets and will be visiting through January 8, 2024

WHEN WILL PARK PASS RESERVATIONS END?

Disney has announced that from January 9, 2024 onward, those with dated tickets (like the kind which are included in a travel package or a standalone ticket purchase) will not need to book theme park reservations. Annual Pass holders may need to, however. We are awaiting news.

AVAILABILITY CALENDAR

Anyone may view the availability calendar for Park Pass reservations, even if you haven’t yet purchased tickets. Disney’s Park Pass allotment is divided into three distinct groups, and each group has its own portion of available spaces:

  • Disney Resort Guests | Those with reservations within an official Walt Disney World resort hotel
  • Annual Passholders
  • Theme Parks Tickets Guests | Those who have Theme Park tickets but do not have a reservation within an official Walt Disney World resort hotel

View the current availability calendar for Walt Disney World Park Pass Reservations ▸

HOW DO I RESERVE A PARK PASS THEME PARK RESERVATION?

You must purchase tickets or a Walt Disney Travel Package before you can make a theme park reservation.

To begin, read our important step-by-step guide to make sure you’ve set up your digital accounts correctly. After everything’s set up correctly and properly linked, visit the website version of MyDisneyExperience, click the main menu and select Disney Park Pass System.

Those with a Disney Resort stay may reserve a Park Pass for their entire length of stay. Those who simply hold Theme Park tickets may reserve for as many days as you’ve got a ticket. If you’re an Annual Pass holder without a resort stay, you may hold a limited number of reservations at any one time, based on your AP category.

A few important notes:

  • Before booking your Park Pass theme park reservations, it’s CRUCIAL to set up everyone correctly within MyDisneyExperience. | We’ve got a multi-step guide that you must complete before you book Park Pass reservations. Follow those steps closely, or you may end up with glitches that severely delay you from entering a theme park on the day of your visit.  Full step-by-step guide ▸
  • If you have a ParkHopper ticket, you’ll reserve the park where you want to begin your day. | After you’ve entered the park you’ve reserved, you can ‘park hop’ to any of the other parks after 2 PM until the final park closes for the day.
  • You may split up your party. | Everyone in your travel party is not required to reserve the same Park Passes. The system is similar to Disney’s dining reservations; you’ll be asked to simply select some (or all) members of your party when you make the Park Pass theme park reservations.
  • Guests who are under 3 years old do not need them. | Only ticket-holders and passholders must have theme park reservations. 
  • Arrive and depart as you like | You may enter, exit, or re-enter the park at any time during its opening hours.
  • If your plans change, you can modify a theme park reservation and book a new one. | Verify first that there’s availability; if so, you may reserve a different available date or park. 

HOW SHOULD I CHOOSE WHICH DAYS TO RESERVE EACH PARK?

Want advice on how to plan your park days? Here are some helpful tips.

Look at the operating hours. | Hours are typically locked in place about 6 weeks in advance, but you can get a good general idea by looking now. Animal Kingdom typically closes earliest, so it’s wise to schedule Animal Kingdom the day before you expect to have your earliest alarm clock. EPCOT is often open late, and if you intend to enjoy some ‘Drinking around the World,’ you might not want to schedule that before an early morning! If you’re in a Deluxe resort, you’ll benefit with extended evening hours at select theme parks a few nights a week.  And if you’re visiting during the late summer through Christmas, keep in mind that Magic Kingdom closes early many nights a week for its holiday parties. See below.

View the general operating hours ▸  | View the extended evening hours for Deluxe resort guests ▸

Consider the travel time between parks if you’ll be ‘park hopping.’  | EPCOT and Hollywood Studios are right beside one another, and a convenient watercraft transports guests between the parks. The monorail conveniently connects EPCOT to Magic Kingdom. There are free Disney motorcoach buses between all four parks, and those buses begin running at 1:30 PM. 

Learn more about transportation & travel times ▸

Look at the dates for after-hours events. | From August through late December, the Magic Kingdom often closes early for their popular Halloween and Christmas parties, which typically happen 2 or 3 nights per week. There are typically no fireworks on those evenings; if the iconic Cinderella Castle fireworks are an important part of your wish list, keep that in mind. At other times of the year, Disney offers special after-hours tickets that provide access to select popular attractions.  

View the holiday parties and after-hours events ▸

Keep Virtual Queues in mind. | Extra popular attractions like Magic Kingdom’s TRON Lightcycle / Run and EPCOT’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind rely on a Virtual Queue distribution to join a Boarding Group, and you may only enter the morning’s virtual queue if you’ve got a Park Pass theme park reservation for EPCOT. If you’re considering park hopping that day, remember that you may receive a Boarding Group time for a late afternoon or evening time slot. 

Think about your ideal vacation vibe & pace. | Do you anticipate arriving at the opening / staying until park closing? Will be more of a wake up early kinda mood or more of a stay up late kinda mood? Would you like to select a day to sleep in a bit? Or choose an evening to stay out late? Might you like to schedule a memorable breakfast (with or without characters) to coincide with a day when it’s not so crucial to be in the park first thing? Or, schedule a dinner on a day when you don’t mind leaving the park a bit on the earlier side? How about a day for rest & relaxation, outdoor recreation, a visit to a water park, or some shopping / dining / nightlife at Disney Springs?

HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD I RESERVE A PARK PASS THEME PARK RESERVATION?

Recently — as of late summer 2023 — most days do not fill up on their theme park reservations, but this could change. Disney advises that availability for a Park Pass is subject to change at any time. You’re urged to book Park Pass theme park reservations as soon as you’ve got a ticket or package confirmation. You have nothing to lose by reserving ASAP. You can always modify them later — provided there’s availability.

View the current availability calendar for Walt Disney World Park Pass theme park reservations ▸

MAGICBAND 

Why is everyone wearing bright colored bracelets? MagicBand is not actually magic, but it’s a highly useful accessory. Do you need one? If so, when & where is the best time to get one? And, what’s the difference between MagicBand and MagicBand+?

A MagicBand is a colorful, polyurethane bracelet — about the size of a wristwatch — with an embedded RFID chip in the “mouse” face of the bracelet. Each band is uniquely assigned to a specific guest’s digital profile. Your digital profile is similar to what’s viewable when you log into MyDisneyExperience: all of your tickets, plans, reservations, and lodging information is stored within.

Currently, MagicBands are only in use at Walt Disney World resort; they do not function at any of the other Disney resorts around the world. Soon they’ll be coming to Disneyland in California for the first time.

Anyone can buy and use a MagicBand during a Walt Disney World vacation, regardless of your lodging location. After your vacation ends, your MagicBand is yours to keep. You may re-use a MagicBand on your next Walt Disney World vacation, but keep this in mind: the internal battery of a MagicBand will only survive for about three years.

Although MagicBand is very popular, you do not need one during your vacation.  All Disney guests may receive a complimentary plastic key card known as a Key to the World card to enter the theme park turnstiles or unlock their hotel guestroom door. They’re available at any Will Call ticket window or resort hotel Front Desk.

MAGICBAND vs. MAGICBAND+
 

MagicBand comes in a variety of options. The plain solid-colored version is the cheapest. However, there are a whole lot of decorated, embellished versions of MagicBand which feature Disney characters, unique colors, limited-editions, etc. 

In 2022, Disney introduced MagicBand+ which has all the normal functions of MagicBand, but also glows with LED lights and haptics during nighttime spectaculars and activates interactive games & responses via the PlayDisneyParks app. It must be recharged regularly (via a USB cable) for those extra functions to work. But if the battery dies, it’s still scannable for entrances at attractions, PhotoPass, etc. Unlike regular MagicBand, a MagicBand+ also works at Disneyland Resort in California.

 

HOW TO BUY A MAGICBAND

MagicBand is no longer complimentary for Disney resort guests. If you’ve got an upcoming stay at an official Walt Disney World resort hotel (ie, one of the hotels owned and managed by Disney), you’ll qualify for a discount if you purchase your MagicBands via the MyDisneyExperience website. Using a computer — not the app — log into your profile, make sure your upcoming vacation is linked, and then from the main menu click on Magic Bands & Cards. You’ll see the prompts to buy. 

Select your MagicBands for an upcoming Walt Disney World vacation ▸

If you do not have an upcoming resort stay, you can purchase MagicBand in person at many of Disney’s gift shops in Walt Disney World — however, it’s often better to buy online and have it shipped to your home. You can find them on ShopDisney.com or — for a higher price — on Amazon.

Please note: as of recently, the gift shops in Walt Disney World have very few solid-colored MagicBands — the cheapest version — within their inventory. There are far more MagicBand+ and decorated classic MagicBands on sale, which are $10-$20 more expensive than the plain models.

HOW TO LINK A MAGICBAND

If you purchase a MagicBand without an upcoming resort reservation — or if you’ve already got a MagicBand from a previous visit — you’ll need to log into MyDisneyExperience to digitally link the MagicBand to each guest’s profile. Important tip: it’s best to do this on a computer. Log in, click the main MyDisneyExperience menu, then click MagicBands and Cards. The process is straightforward. 

GUEST INFORMATION LINKED TO YOUR MAGICBAND

When Disney scans your MagicBand, they can view the following:

  • Tickets | Theme park tickets, Park Hopper tickets, water park tickets, and any tickets to special events, parties, or guided tours which you’ve linked to your online profile. 
  • Dining Reservations | All your table service dining reservations. 
  • Mobile Orders | Any quick service orders you’ve placed via the MyDisneyExperience app.
  • Lightning Lane Selections | If you’ve opted to upgrade to Genie+ or you’ve purchased Individual Lightning Lane selections.
  • Disability Access Return Times | If a member of your travel party has registered with Disability Access Service.
  • Friends & Family which share your plans (Lightning Lane selections, dining reservations, etc.)
  • Meal Plan Credits | Exactly how many credits remain if you’ve booked a vacation with the Disney Dining Plan.
  • PhotoPass | Any time that one of Disney’s PhotoPass Photographers takes your picture, they’ll link the pictures to your digital profile via your MagicBand.
  • Credit Card (optional) | Disney Resort hotel guests can choose to link a credit card in order to make shopping or dining purchases with your MagicBand. Guests of hotels which are on property but are not owned & operated by Disney — like the Disney Springs hotels, the Swan / Swan Reserve / Dolphin, the Bonett Creek resort hotels, etc, may not link a credit card to their MagicBand during their stay.

Walt Disney World will scan your MagicBand when you do any of the following:

  • Enter your Disney resort hotel guest room — it serves as the room key for Disney resort hotels 
  • Enter any of the theme parks or water parks 
  • Enter an attraction during Early Park Entry or an After Hours event 
  • Enter the Lightning Lane queue 
  • Check-in for a dining reservation, guided tour, or dessert party
  • Provide assistance for a Mobile Order at a Quick Service restaurant 
  • Redeem credits on the Disney Dining Plan (currently paused)
  • Get your photo taken by one of Disney’s PhotoPass photographers 
  • Get an automated photo taken on board select rides or attractions — i.e., when you zoom through Space Mountain
  • Pay for something at an in-park retail location, Disney Springs store, food kiosk, or restaurant (if you’re a Disney resort guest and you’ve linked a credit card to your profile) 
 
GET THE MOST OF MAGICBAND

To get the easiest and most convenient use of MagicBand, book a Disney resort reservation ▸
 

MAGICMOBILE

Even if you’ve linked park tickets inside the app, that doesn’t mean you can scan your phone at the turnstiles to enter a park. You must download your ticket to your device’s digital wallet. Disney calls this MagicMobile.

MagicMobile now equips smartphones to essentially do all the things that a MagicBand bracelet can do.
 
MagicMobile is different from the MyDisneyExperience app. It’s not an application; it’s within your phone’s functional settings.  MagicMobile enables your phone’s NFC (near-field communication) technology so that digital ‘readers’ can read data from your phone. It’s similar to the way that you might add a credit card, transit pass, etc. to your phone’s digital wallet. When you set up MagicMobile, you’re adding a new card to your digital wallet.
 
Again, to be clear, Walt Disney World can’t scan your theme park tickets from the app (unlike Disneyland in California). They scan your tickets from your Apple Wallet or Android Passbook Wallet.
 
Therefore, you must take extra steps so that the readers can read that data on your phone. 
 
HOW TO SET UP MAGICMOBILE
 
  1. Install the MyDisneyExperience app on your phone. (Download here for iPhone or Android.) 
  2. Navigate to Tickets & Passes, and confirm that you’ve linked a Theme Park ticket or a Room + Tickets vacation package. Learn how ▸
  3. In the Search field of the app, type “MagicMobile” and follow the links.
  4. Add your ticket — plus any which are linked to your Family & Friends — to your smartphone wallet (or a linked AppleWatch).
  5. Select the designs for each ticket that you add to your wallet.
 

WHEN YOU CAN SCAN YOUR MAGICMOBILE

Here’s when you’ll scan your phone:

  • Theme Park turnstiles | You’ll have access to your theme park tickets, Park Hopper tickets, water park tickets, and any tickets to special events, parties, or guided tours  linked to your online profile. 
  • Early Theme Park Entry / Extended Evening Hours | For guests of select Disney resort hotels.
  • Contactless Payments | Guests at Disney resort hotels who have linked a credit card to their stay may bill purchases to their resort folio.
  • Attraction entrances | If you’ve opted to upgrade to Genie+ or you’ve purchased Individual Lightning Lane selections.
  • Disability Access Return Times | If a member of your travel party has registered with Disability Access Service.
  • PhotoPass | Any time that one of Disney’s PhotoPass Photographers takes your picture, they’ll link the pictures to your digital profile.
MAGICMOBILE — COMMON GLITCHES
 
As with all new technologies, it’s not uncommon to encounter issues with MagicMobile. Sometimes, your phone won’t scan — or your battery is dead. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to visit the Front Desk of your Disney resort hotel — or any ticket window if you’re staying off-property — and get a plastic Key to the World card. It’s a credit-card-sized plastic card that you can scan at any of the turnstiles, attraction entrances, etc. They’re free.
 
The most common issue, however, is among those who want to use ApplePay to make purchases throughout Walt Disney World. If you’ve linked a ticket to MagicMobile, it’ll automatically appear within your wallet when you try to make a purchase — and you won’t have any way to select your payment card.
 

Here’s how to fix the ApplePay MagicMobile glitch: open your Apple Wallet, select your MagicMobile card, tap the ellipsis (…) button in the upper right corner, scroll down, and then toggle OFF the option that says Express Mode. That fixes the issue; you’ll be able to select your payment card any time you use ApplePay.

But from that point onward, you’ll need to double-tap your on / off button any time you scan your MobileMagic ticket at a turnstile or entry point like Lightning Lane. If you get tired of double-tapping every time you scan your MagicMobile pass — and you can use other methods of payment — simply toggle Express Mode back on.

 
 
PhotoPass sign in Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

PHOTOPASS & MEMORY MAKER

You’re going to need the picture. You know the one. Photopass and Memory Maker capture those frame-able moments where everyone looks good.

What’s Photopass? What’s Memory Maker? Because many seem to use these two terms interchangeably, it’s easy to get confused. Read on for a detailed explanation.

WHAT IS PHOTOPASS?

Disney’s Photopass photographers are professional photographers stationed all throughout Walt Disney World. You’ll find them in front of all the most iconic locations — in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, the giant geodesic dome at EPCOT, and the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom. They’re also located at every character meet & greet, at the park entrances, at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique locations, and many other photogenic locations throughout the theme parks and water parks. They are generally not on hand at Disney’s resort hotels, at character meals, or in the restaurants at Disney Springs. 

Everyone can pose for a Photopass photographer | It doesn’t cost anything to have your picture taken, and contrary to popular belief, you do not have to purchase (or pre-purchase) anything to pose for these pictures. You’ll only need to pay if you want to download or print the image.

Photopass offers cool digital exclusives known as Magic Shots |  Photopass photographers have a whole lot of magic up their sleeves. Magic Shots are whimsical, digitally enhanced pictures and videos that are exclusively produced at Photopass locations. Some feature animated characterss superimposed on your pictures — so it might look like Tinker Bell is flying over your head or Aladdin’s pet Abu is sitting on your shoulder. Other Magic Shots include cool special effects, like stunning zoom-out videos with panoramic perspectives of Cinderella’s Castle or Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Disney is continually enhancing these offering. To get a Magic Shot, simply ask any Photopass photographer to include some in your photo shoot. They’ll usually deliver a few different surprises to your Photopass gallery.

Photopass includes automated pictures taken on board many of the thrill attractions | Automated pictures are captured when you’re on many of Disney’s best attractions, and if you’ve got a MagicBand, Disney can automatically link the images to your account. If you don’t have a MagicBand, look for signs with QR codes in the queues of each attraction to change the settings of your smartphone; photos will link directly to your account. Alternatively, you can scan your ticket at on-ride photo monitors that you’ll pass on your way out of the attraction. 

Currently, automated images are captured on the following attractions:

Magic Kingdom automated attraction photos:

  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • TRON Lightcycle / Run

EPCOT automated attraction photos:

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Test Track

Hollywood Studios automated attraction photos:

  • Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Animal Kingdom automated attraction photos:

  • Dinosaur
  • Expedition Everest: Journey of the Forbidden Mountain

After you pose for a Photopass photographer, you can view the images online  | Within about an hour of posing, your images will be viewable online (and viewable in the MyDisneyExperience app). If you’ve bought Memory Maker (see below), you’ll be able to download images directly to your device. If you haven’t, you can purchase a digital download of any individual image –which currently costs $14.95 plus tax per photo — or you can print your image on any number of different products — from a simple photography print to mugs and greeting cards — and have the products shipped to you. Remember, there’s no obligation to buy anything if you pose with a Photopass photographer.

Capture Your Moment | Capture Your Moment lets you book time with a Disney PhotoPass photographer for a personalized photo session (during regular park hours) at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Animal Kingdom. In these sessions, you can capture celebrations and milestones, such as a proposal, baby announcement, graduation, anniversary, family reunion, first visit, birthday, and more. The sessions are by reservation only. The cost is $50 for a 20-minute session; you can book back-to-back sessions for a total of $100. Reservations are limited and are available 60 days in advance. Search for “Capture your Moment” on MyDisneyExperience to book a reservation. 

WHAT IS MEMORY MAKER?

Memory Maker is a digital photography package that allows you to download all of your Photopass images for just one price. With this entitlement, you (plus anyone in your party who’s listed within your Friends and Family) can download an unlimited number of your Photopass images. Additionally, you’ll have unlimited downloads of of the automated photos that are captured on board various theme park attractions, like zooming down the hill on Expedition Everest or the moment when the elevator plummets into the Twilight Zone at the Tower of Terror. 

Those who purchase Memory Maker receive surprise extras | You’ll find that Disney will often enhance your Memory Maker package by adding professionally shot images and videos of attractions, characters, and more. Recent extras have included sharable videos like a voicemail from Mickey Mouse, or a floating “hologram” image of yourself from onboard the Millennium Falcon.

There are three different Memory Maker prices | With Memory Maker One Day, you can enjoy unlimited downloads from one day of your Walt Disney World vacation. The current price is $69 plus tax. For the regular Memory Maker package, the cost is $169 plus tax if you purchase it before arrival at Walt Disney World, and $199 plus tax if you purchase it after your vacation begins. If you do the math, it’s worth the cost of Memory Maker if you can imagine wanting to download 5 or more images from your online gallery. Otherwise, you can always just pay to download individual photos — including images from within the theme park attractions. Pricing starts around $15 per image.

One purchase covers everyone in your party |  Everyone who’s connected to you via the Friends & Family section of MyDisneyExperience can enjoy unlimited downloads, even if you’ve got a very large party. However, it’s helpful to note that as of now, only the person who actually purchases the Memory Maker package can download photos via their app. All others would need to log into the website to download pictures without a watermark.

ADD MEMORY MAKER

To add Memory Maker to a Disney vacation package, contact us here ▸

A shaman audio-animatronic delights guests within the Na'vi River Journey in Pandora, the World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida

KEY QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Walt Disney World in 2024 & 2025

When is the best time to visit? How busy will it be in the theme parks?

Why should I book a hotel on-property vs. off-property?

What’s located at each theme park? What’s a must at Disney Springs?

What rides, dining, & experiences are most popular & need reservations?

How can I combine park tickets, dining, and hotel stays to save money?

What are realistic tips for transportation and getting places on time?

How much do park tickets cost? Which ticket options save money?

When & where do I use the smartphone app, Genie+ and MagicBand?

Join our community!

Ask questions. Share your favorite travel stories. Get expert-level free help for any Disney travel destination around the world. You’re invited to join our Facebook group! As Yzma would say, it’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!

illustration of a princess wearing green
illustration of a princess wearing green

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Our trip planning is free. When you book a Disney vacation through us, you’ll pay the same price as if you booked it on your own, yet enjoy the bliss of a talented Wishful Thinking travel planner.

A Wishful Thinking travel planner is:

  • Bright. We’re nerd-level experts on Disney’s past, present and future.
  • Talented. We’ve been designing travel itineraries around the globe for 15 years.
  • Realistic. We help you prepare for everything and set honest expectations.
  • Whimsical. Spontaneous fun often produces our most treasured memories.
  • Inspiring. We’re still kids at heart who believe in the power of dreams.

It’s never too early to start planning!

TESTIMONIALS

© Wishful Thinking 2024 | As to Disney artwork, logos, and properties: ©Disney | The official Disney web site is available at www.disney.com. | Ship Registry: The Bahamas

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Good Thinking!

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