Planning for a vacation these days takes a lot of effort. Gone are the days of randomly picking a destination and then loading the family in the station wagon. A trip to Walt Disney World brings its own set of challenges and details that you’ll need to plan for and keep track of. From hotel details to dining reservations, there’s a long list of aspects of your trip that can be hard to keep organized on your own. Luckily Disney has a digital planning system that can be an invaluable tool in keeping you on top of your trip.
My Disney Experience (or MDE) is an online system that combines all of your reservation details as well as a wealth of information and tips to help you during your Walt Disney World stay. MDE is available online at disneyworld.disney.go.com as well as in a free app that can be downloaded from most major app stores. Let’s take a look at everything MDE can do, and how you can use it successfully on your next trip!
Registering and Linking Your Reservations
Your first step in accessing the MDE system is to register for an account. If you’ve already registered an email with another Disney site, you’ll use the same log-in details. Once you’re registered, you’ll need to then link your package or hotel reservation to your account. To do this on the mobile app, simply click the three horizontal lines at the bottom of the screen. You will then see another menu, click on “My Plans” and then the option to “Link to Account”. After clicking that, you will have the option to “Link Hotel”. This is the option to use whether you have a room-only reservation or a vacation package. From there you will enter your reservation confirmation number and the last name of the lead guest.
This section also has options to link standalone tickets, dining reservations, Memory Maker, and purchased MagicBands. For linking your park or special events tickets, make sure you have the order number ready as well as the ID code found on the ticket. Tickets can also be added by clicking the “Tickets and Passes” link.
After you’ve registered your account and logged in to the MDE app, you will see a landing screen with links to all the information you could need during your stay. This page contains links to your package or hotel reservation details, tickets, park hours, Disney Park Pass reservations, and Disney PhotoPass shots, and more. You’ll see important information for your stay right at the top followed by a snapshot of your upcoming reservation. You’re also able to see park hours for all posted months and even see some of your PhotoPass photos right after having them taken.
If you don’t see what you’re looking for on the Home Screen, the three horizontal lines at the bottom of the screen will present you with more options like Virtual Queues, Mobile Ordering, and even an option to chat with a Cast Member directly from your device. One of my favorite features of the app is an interactive map of the entire resort that pinpoints your location and can provide detailed walking directions to your desired location.
Accessing Your Plans
To see all of the important details of your reservations, you’ll want to click those three little lines again and then choose the “My Plans” option. This screen shows all of your resort, dining, tickets, and Park Pass reservations in one handy list, broken down by day. You can start or update your hotel online check-in, or modify your dining reservations. This section is the one you’ll use the most during your trip.
Park Pass Reservations
With Walt Disney World’s reopening after a lengthy closure come a few new guidelines for visiting the parks. The most important new change is the requirement of making a reservation for the park you wish to visit on a given day. At this time all guests wishing to visit a Walt Disney World theme park will need to reserve a spot in advance. Passes must be made through My Disney Experience, but can only be done on the website. Clicking on the link in the app will take you to your internet browser where you can complete the process there. You can find all of the details in our Guide to Disney Park Pass Reservations.
Making Dining Reservations
If you haven’t already made your Table Service dining reservations, you’ll need to click on the “+” located at the bottom of the screen. This will present you with a few options. Click on “Check Dining Availability”. From there you’ll be asked to determine your party size, and then choose your date and time. If you’re not looking for a specific dining time, you can choose from Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner and any available reservations in those meal times will appear.
To narrow down your search, click on the small flashlight icon at the bottom right of the screen. This will allow you to choose the park or hotel the restaurant is located in as well as filter by cuisine, guest rating, price range, and dining style. After you’ve chosen your reservation, you’ll need to provide an email, phone number, and credit card to secure your spot. If you’ve already registered this info with MDE, it will auto-fill the forms. This screen will also let you put in any allergy notices or special requests. To modify any existing dining reservations, you’ll need to access the “My Plans” section again and after choosing the reservation, click on “Modify”. To cancel, just choose the “Cancel” option instead.
Finding Your Resort Information
After you’ve linked your resort reservation, you’ll see a window on the Home Screen listing your hotel along with the dates for your stay. If you haven’t already done the online check-in process, you can do so with the link in that window. If your check-in is already complete, you’ll have the option to modify it. The last link in this window is “My Resort” and clicking that will take you to a page listing all of the important info about your stay and the hotel itself.
This page has links for resort dining, recreation offerings, shopping, spas, and more. There’s also a link to a resort map to help you find your way around. One of the most useful features of this section is the ability to use your phone as a room key. If you’ve lost your MagicBand, have no fear, you’ll find a button that when pressed while placing your phone next to your door lock, will open your hotel room.
Finding Theme Park Information
I find that the most use I get out of MDE is day to day during my trip. The MDE provides theme park hours as well as showtimes months in advance. A new addition to the system is the ability to see Disney Park Pass availability for the near future, to determine if you can enter a park before purchasing tickets. To access this section, click on one of the park icons located lower on the Home Screen. After choosing your desired park, you can click on “Today’s Showtimes” or “All Hours”. Today’s Showtimes will give you a list of every event happening in the park that day as well as when they will happen. This list will also contain any shows that are closed for refurbishment or other reasons. Choosing All Hours will give you a calendar setup that will display the hours for all four parks after you choose the desired date.
One of the newest features of My Disney Experience is the ability to make virtual queue reservations for eligible attractions. At this time, the only attraction offering virtual queues is Rise of The Resistance at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. To make a reservation for that attraction, guests must first have valid admission as well as a Park Pass reservation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Beginning at 7 AM on the day of your visit, you can join a “Boarding Group” that will give you a specific time to enjoy the attraction. This can be done right from the app and before entering the park by clicking on the window listing Rise of the Resistance virtual queue request. If you miss out on the 7 AM boarding groups, the second round of groups is released at 2 PM. Please note that you must be within the park gates to try for the 2 PM groups.
The My Disney Experience app has an innovative tool that can keep you from feeling lost no matter where you are in the sprawling resort. To access the interactive map, click on the map pin symbol found at the bottom of the Home Screen. This will automatically determine where you are in the resort and focus the map on your location. You can then zoom out or in and move around the entirety of Walt Disney World. Clicking on the “Filter” link at the top will allow you to narrow down your map by park or Disney Springs. If you prefer a list of what you’re looking for over a visual aid, you can click on “Show List” at the top right corner. Other links at the top of the page allow you to search for attractions, restaurants, restrooms, shops, and more. You can also access current attraction wait times, helping you plan your next move.
Using Mobile Ordering
All guests of Walt Disney World have the ability to order food from Quick Service dining locations using the app’s Mobile Dining feature. This option allows you to create and pay for orders and at most Quick Service restaurants. You can find all of the details in our Guide to Mobile Ordering
Accessing PhotoPass Photos
Walt Disney World offers guests an easy way to capture photos during their stay that includes everyone in the family. Disney’s PhotoPass system consists of on-ride photos and photographers found in the theme parks that can take pictures that are then linked to your My Disney Experience account. If you’ve purchased the Memory Maker add-on or are an Annual Passholder, you can download your photos directly from the app. You’ll see a small window on the Home Screen labeled “Disney PhotoPass” that usually displays one of your most recent photos. From there you can either link photos with the card the photographer gives you, or access the ones already linked. You can also filter your photos by theme park as well as who is in them (if all people in the photo are registered in MDE and linked to you).
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