We just returned from a week at Walt Disney World using their new Magic bands and the fast pass+ system. I wanted to post our experience in order to help others who may have some questions.
Our Magic bands arrived at our house about 4 weeks before our trip. At that point I was able to link our dining reservations and our annual passes to the bands. I tried to sign up for some fast pass+ options but was not allowed.
About 2 weeks before our trip I received an email asking if we would like to participate in the fast pass+ trial. It invited us to visit the website and pick our fast passes. This was very easy. Since we already had dining reservations we chose the parks that were the most convenient to those. They allow you to choose one major ride, such as Toy story mania, and two lesser rides. They then give you three options for times showing all three of your ride choices. You choose the option that is the best for you and the plans you already have. We did this for each day basing our choices on where we would be dining and which parks had extra magic hours.
We did the online check in for our resort. When we arrived there was a hostess waiting out front for the bus. She greeted us by name and welcomed us to the resort. She had our check in packet ready for us. She asked if we had our Magic bands, which we did. She scanned the bands and had us enter a pin number into her mobile device. Once that was done she told us our room was ready and we were all set to go play in the parks. She explained how the bands work for the room and entry to the parks. She also told us that our dining plan was on the bands and to just have the wait staff scan the bands at any meals.
We went to our room. Entry couldn't be easier. You hold the Mickey head on your band to the grey panel on the door lock and it unlocks the door.
Next we went to Epcot. When you get to the gate you'll see posts coming out of the ground. They are in the shape of a large "V". At the top points of the V are scanning stations and at the bottom of the V are two scanning stations. You can go to either station. You don't need to wait in line if one is empty, just go around the person at the other station (like at a gas station with multiple pumps, you go to the front one if the back pump is being used). To scan you simply hold your Magic band Mickey head to the Mickey head on the scanner. A white light will start spinning around the Mickey head. At that point you use the finger scanner which is right next to the band scanner. You'll see a white light start to spin around your finger. Once the scanner recognizes your scan both the Mickey head and the finger scanner will turn green. It's really that simple. Just be sure your Mickey head is inside the Mickey head on the band scanner.
For fast pass+ you simply return to the attraction at the proper time and touch your Mickey head to the Mickey head on the scanner. It's the same scanner you use to enter the parks but without the finger scanner. The scanner will turn green when you're within your time window. You must also scan your band at the end of the queue line to confirm that you are using a fast pass.
For meals the wait staff carry a hand held scanner. They run the scanner over your Magic band. Then they hand the scanner to you in order for you to enter your pin. Your meal plan comes up on the scanner so they know what your entitlements are. At the end of the meal they give you the check, you add the tip and sign.
For store purchases you will touch your mickey head to the Mickey on their scanner. Once the head turns green you'll enter your pin code. You will do this if you are charging to your room or sending your packages to your room. This is where the security issues come into play. At one point I entered the wrong pin number ( was going to fast and one of the numbers didn't register). The hostess rescanned my band but absolutely nothing happened. My band was dead. It happened immediately. My husband used his band to complete the purchase. We then went to guest relations and explained what had happened. They checked my drivers license against the information on the band and reactivated it. It took about 3 minutes for them to reactivate the band and we didn't have any more issues after that.
All in all, we found the Magic bands and the fast pass+ to be great. We used this in conjunction with the phone app and never missed a meal or a fast pass. Planning our rides two weeks in advance wasn't a problem either. We know when we go to the parks what we want to ride so knowing that we don't need to run to that attraction to get a random timed fast pass was a huge relief. The fact that they only allowed us to choose 3 attractions meant that we weren't tied down for the entire day going from one ride to the next. It really helped put just enough structure to our days to keep them moving while not overwhelming us with schedules.