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The Insider's Guide to My Disney Experience

by Mommy Frog on July 28, 2020 Orlando

My Disney Experience - PinterestOh boy! You're going to Disney World. Now what? There is so much that goes into planning for a trip to Walt Disney World, but no need to stress! You've already taken that first step by doing your research to be a well-prepared vacationer. And we're hoppy to say that Disney World has made an all-in-one tool that makes things even easier. That's right, as you begin your planning, you'll probably hear a lot about My Disney Experience. This tool will help you link park tickets, book dining reservations, see ride wait times and more! We'll walk you through everything it's used for, and more importantly, how to use it so that you're an expert by the time you hit the parks. (If your tadpoles watch "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," My Disney Experience is a lot like Toodles, helping you in just about every situation you can think of!) Whether you're a seasoned pro who has used My Disney Experience previously, but may be interested in learning more about its new features, or a total novice looking to learn the ropes, we've got all you need to know! Let's jump in!

What Is My Disney Experience? | How to Set Up Your My Disney Experience Account | How to Link Undercover Tourist Tickets and Hotels to My Disney Experience | My Disney Experience Features | At Disney Resort Hotels | When Dining | In the Theme Parks

What Is My Disney Experience?

My Disney Experience - Login

My Disney Experience is an all-in-one vacation planning platform that Disney uses for just about everything. You can access My Disney Experience online at DisneyWorld.com, or on your smartphone by downloading the My Disney Experience (aka Disney World) app. (Your credentials for one will get you into the other, so you won't need to create separate accounts for both the web and app versions.) We highly recommend downloading the app prior to your visit — you'll want it handy while you're in the parks for its many in-park features!

With My Disney Experience, you can see all of your plans in one place, from park tickets, to hotel reservations, to Disney Park Passes. (And, yes, it's compatible with theme park tickets and Disney Resort hotel reservations purchased through Undercover Tourist!) You can see all of your PhotoPass photos, use Mobile Ordering service or Mobile Check-In for restaurants. Disney Resort hotel guests can use My Disney Experience as their room key. And you can even see real-time ride wait times or play interactive games based on the queue you're in while in the parks! If, like me, you find yourself a little technologically challenged, have no fear. While we're walking you through each step of the process in this guide, Disney has done a terrific job of making the platform intuitive and user-friendly (so easy a frog could do it!).

How to Set Up Your My Disney Experience Account

First thing's first: If you haven't already,  you'll want to start by making your account at DisneyWorld.com. While you're thinking of it, it may be a good time to download the app too. From there, you'll then:

  • Create your profile. This will include details such as your name and mailing address ... and also the Disney character you'd like to represent you in the app! (#Rapunzel). You'll also set up your username and password.
  • Create your "Family & Friends" list. This is where you'll add in anyone you'll be traveling with and may want to share plans with, including spouses, children or friends. You can add them manually, or, for friends and family who may already have an account, you can request to connect by email.

How to Link Tickets and Hotel Reservations in My Disney Experience

My Disney Experience - Linking Tickets and Hotel Reservations

If you've purchased Walt Disney World Resort tickets, you'll want to link them in My Disney Experience ASAP so that you can make a park reservation using Disney World's new system, Disney Park Pass. To enter a theme park, guests need both a ticket and a Disney Park Pass for the same date ... and that Park Pass is made in My Disney Experience. We have a whole post walking you through how to do this to make things as stress-free as possible (because vacation planning should be fun!). In the meantime, here's how to link your tickets to your My Disney Experience account:

  • To link your tickets in the My Disney Experience app on your smartphone, click the three horizontal lines in the bottom right hand corner. You'll then see an option for "Tickets and Passes." Click the blue + in the upper right hand corner, then "Link Tickets & Passes."
  • To link your tickets in My Disney Experience in a browser, log in and hover over "My Disney Experience;" navigate to "My Plans." Hover over the ticket icon in the planning timeline; then, select "Link Tickets."
  • No matter whether you've accessed My Disney Experience via browser or app, the process from here will be very similar. To link your Undercover Tourist tickets, start with either your email confirmation, e-ticket or mailed ticket. When you look at your Undercover Tourist e-tickets (either the ticket itself or your confirmation email), you’ll use the Reservation # to link in My Disney Experience. You can find this at the top of your ticket or on either of the barcodes. You can also scan the barcode straight into the app using your smartphone! Then, you'll be prompted to link a ticket to each member of your party (which you would have set up when you initially created your account in your My Family and Friends list).

There are a few numbers to have handy if you run into ticket issues. You can reach Undercover Tourist at any time for questions about your confirmation number at 1 (800) 846-1302 (or 1 (386) 239-8624 worldwide). Disney Guest Relations can be reached at (407) 939-4357 (or 0800 16 90 749 from the UK) for My Disney Experience help.

Linking your Disney Resort hotel reservation (or participating partner hotels, such as Disney Springs area hotels or Walt Disney World Swan Dolphin Resort) follows a similar process.

  • In a browser, head back to the "My Plans" page. In the planning timeline, this time, hover over "Resort Hotel" and select "Link a Reservation."
  • On the MDE app, head back to the three horizontal lines, then select "Resort Hotel."
  • At this point, on either platform, you'll be asked to provide the last name on the reservation and the confirmation number (Undercover Tourist customers can find this information in their confirmation email). 
  • We've found that linking hotel reservations is a little trickier than linking tickets. It can sometimes take a few days for your reservation to show up in My Disney Experience if you are staying at a partner hotel. And sometimes, there are room occupancy requirements in the system, which can take some backend organization to get your party situated (for example, because we have five guests and three rooms at Swan Dolphin for a recent stay, a cast member had to create a profile for "Guest A" for us so there were two guests per room). If this happens, cast members are hoppy to help! They can be reached at (407) 939-1936 (or 0800 16 90 749 from the UK).

My Disney Experience Features

There are so many hopful features on My Disney Experience! You'll find that the tools included on the app are informative and can also help you save some time in the parks. It's a great resource to have on hand. Here's what you can do in My Disney Experience in each stage of planning your vacation.

Before you Arrive

My Disney Experience - Advance Dining Reservations

Guests can now make Advance Dining Reservations up to 60 days in advance of their trip. Disney World Resort hotel guests can make reservations 60 days before check-in for the length of their trip. Those staying off-site will need to book 60 days in advance of each day of their trip. Reservation windows open at 7 a.m. EST (sorry, West Coast frogs! Get your caffeinated beverage of choice at the ready!).

My Disney Experience - Log In Options

To make an Advance Dining Reservation on the My Disney Experience app, press the "+" button in the bottom navigation bar. From there you'll select that you'd like to check dining availability. On a browser, you'll visit the top navigation bar and hover over "Things to Do," then select "Make Reservations."

On either platform, you'll then select a date, time and party size. You can also refine by park, resort or area (toward the top under "All Parks & Resorts"). There's some other filters available to play with, such as dining experience, price range, cuisine guest rating and whether or not dining plans are accepted (note that Disney Dining Plans are temporarily unavailable). All of these filtered details will also be available in more detail in the search results.

For table-service dining in the theme parks, don't froget that you'll need both valid admission and a Disney Park Pass for that particular park on that particular day. If, for example, you're hoping to dine at Be Our Guest on a particular day, you'd need valid admission and a Disney Park Pass for Magic Kingdom Park on the same day to get to your dining reservation.

Prior to arriving, you can also start the check-in process if you'll be staying at a Disney World Resort hotel. Under "My Plans" in the browser, or "Resort Hotel" in the app, scroll down to your check-in date. You should see your resort hotel there, including the dates of your stay, your confirmation number and the type of room you'll have. To the right of this, you'll see a button that says "Start Check-In." From here, you can add information such as a pin to be able to charge to your room, contact information, room location requests, what time you expect to arrive and the option to decline your MagicBand order.

Beginning in 2021, Disney World Resort hotel guests will no longer receive free MagicBands for their stay. My Disney Experience, however, will have all of the functionality of a MagicBand; alternatively, guests can still opt to purchase upgraded MagicBands for a minimal fee. MagicBand functionality will remain around property, but Disney is shifting all of the MagicBand's capabilities to the app, as well.

If you choose to customize a MagicBand or are receiving one straight from Disney, it will automatically be linked to your account. You can link an existing MagicBand or one that isn't already listed in My Disney Experience (for example, if you purchase one from ShopDisney or around property) in the app. To do so in the app, head to the three horizontal lines, then choose "My Profile," followed by "MagicBands and Cards." Then, select "Link a MagicBand or card." You'll then insert the ID code on the MagicBand and select which member of your party the MagicBand belongs to. You can set a pin for MagicBand purchases here, or in the steps below, if you are a Disney Resort hotel guest.

At this point, if you haven't already, it's a good idea to set up your preferred payment method, not only for incidentals, but for any mobile food ordering you'd like to do. You can set up your payment information in the same manner as you'd link a MagicBand: "My Profile," then "Payment Method." You can then use the blue "+" in the top right hand corner to either scan your credit card or manually key in the numbers. You can also remove old payment methods or edit your current payment method here if you've previously included it.

Just below your payment information, you can also set a pin for your MagicBand purchases. A few tips regarding MagicBand charges:

  • MagicBand charges are only available to Disney Resort hotel guests.
  • Anyone using the same My Disney Experience account will use the same pin, so make sure it's something you're willing to share.
  • There are spending limits, as this is effectively just a way to charge back to your room. If you find that your band gets declined, contact the front desk to pay down the balance before you can continue charging.

My Disney Experience - My Plans

You can check your daily itinerary at any time in "My Plans." This includes your tickets, hotel stay, Disney Park Passes and dining reservations you have planned. What's more, you can see how many days of your ticket you have left (and its use dates), or, if you're an Annual Passholder, when your pass will expire.

While FastPass+ service is currently unavailable, My Disney Experience is also where you make your FastPass reservations.

We highly recommend downloading the app so that you have easy access to use it while in the parks (and be sure to enable location services!). From here on out, you'll likely solely be using the app. With that in mind, we also recommend that you bring a portable charger with you to keep your phone fully juiced. With all that My Disney Experience can do, our phone sometimes needs a little charging to keep going! My Disney Experience - Hotel Room Ready Notice

Using My Disney Experience at Your Disney Resort Hotel

All of this information and prep work serves a purpose! On check-in day, you'll receive a text or  notification notifying you that your room is ready — online check-in for the win! This allows guests to bypass the Front Desk unless they have specific questions or concerns. Once you have your room number, you can view a map of your resort for more specific directions on My Disney Experience if you aren't familiar with the grounds. This is where having the app downloaded and location services enabled will start to come in handy!

My Disney Experience - Polynesian Map

To view a map, open up the app and hit the location icon. If you have location services enabled, the app should pinpoint where you are and show you a map based on your current location. We generally navigate with our fingers from the main map; you can zoom in and out. Alternatively, in the drop down, you can select "Resort Hotels" or even "Show List" to choose your hotel from the list. You can then zoom in on specific areas to see building names, the layout of the resort and more, or select "Get Directions" or even "Call" for more specific navigational assistance.

Once you've found your room, get ready for the magic! You can use the My Disney Experience app or your MagicBand as a digital key to unlock your door. (The tadpoles are definitely going to want to give it a try or 10!) Once you're in your room, you can use that same map feature to find nearby restaurants, view menus, find the pool (we hear you, Tad) and more.

Likewise, checkout is fully digital at this time. You'll be emailed your guest folio on check-out day, or you can view a copy at the Front Desk.

My Disney Experience is also your best source for news or policies, including Disney World's new health acknowledgement, park health and safety policies and property news. If you have questions at any time, there's also an online chat feature!

Using My Disney Experience When Dining

My Disney Experience - Dole Whip

By this point, you've made your Advance Dining Reservations. But of course, there's times when an unplanned meal or snack pops up; your dining reservations likely don't account for all of your meals. My Disney Experience can help with food-time features such as Mobile Order service, mobile check-in for table-service restaurants, online menus, and of course, additional dining reservations. Recently, My Disney Experience added a feature to allow guests to "Check Dining Availability," and if you select "now" as your timeframe, the app will show you which restaurants are currently accepting walk-ups, starting with those closest to you.

If you didn't snag a dining reservation you wanted, we always recommend continuing to check all the way through your trip in case that particular restaurant has availability — guests can and do cancel their reservations!

If you're anything like us, we generally don't plan a dining reservation for our arrival day (there's just too many variables, and I always start sweating thinking about making it someplace on time). Instead, we take our time to arrive, get settled and then decide what we'd like to do as a family. Sometimes, that means something quick on our way to the pool; sometimes that means a nicer sit-down option together before we catch that night's Movies Under the Stars. No matter your touring style, My Disney Experience has the functionality to get you fed!

My Disney Experience - Build Mobile Order

Mobile Order service enables you to order ahead at your favorite quick-service restaurants. You'll order, customize and pay for your meal in the app, then pick it up in the designated window at the specified arrival time — easy as pie (so to speak ... or should we say Dole Whip)! In the app, select the "+" icon, then "Order Food." You'll then select an arrival window at the restaurant you're looking for. If you'd rather sort by what's around you, select the map pin icon to the bottom right of this list to see nearby options.

Once you've picked your arrival time, it's time to get to the good stuff — pick your fave! You can sort by category (including Kids Meals, Plant-based, Dessert, and, in parks that serve alcohol, Alcoholic Beverages). You'll then be prompted to make it your own, customizing and choosing sides, if applicable. Once that's done, click "Add." (If you find that the "Add" button isn't available,  double-check that you've filled out all of the selections.)

My Disney Experience - Mobile Order Pick Up

You can continue this until your order is ready, then click on the shopping bag icon in the top right, or the "View My Order" button at the bottom of the page. You'll see a summary of your order, where you can either go back and modify or review. Once you're ready to review, you then have the option to continue to check out (with credit card) or pay with Apple Pay. The final step is to show up at the restaurant within your specified timeframe, select "I'm Here" and pick up your food! It sounds like a lot of instructions, but really, we've found that the app does a great job of walking you through each step. You'll be a pro in no time!

My Disney Experience - Dining Options and Menus, Be Our Guest

In My Disney Experience, you can also view menus digitally. Most table-service restaurants have switched to an online menu at this time and are also using mobile check-in to minimize contact with the podium (which is also done through My Disney Experience, similar to the "I'm Here" feature for Mobile Order). Remember that map you used to view your resort's details? You can do that all around property, and it's an easy way to see which restaurants offer Mobile Order. At the top of the map, press on "Wait Times" and select the "Dining" option. You'll see a map (based on where you are) and different icons; the icon that looks like a smartphone with a fork and knife represents a restaurant offering Mobile Order service, while the fork and knife icon are generally table-service restaurants. You can select any icon for more information, including directions, hours, type of cuisine, price range and menu. You'll also have the option to Mobile Order (where applicable) and Make a Reservation (if offered).

Using My Disney Experience at the Theme Parks

The fun features don't stop once you're in the theme parks! Toward the bottom of your homescreen, you'll find the daily park hours as well as showtimes for the day for each park. You can even add showtimes to your itinerary! Remember, you can always see your itinerary for the day in "My Plans."

My Disney Experience - Guest Services Options and Restrooms in Pandora

Hop back to that map in the app. You can use that same filter you've used previously to find attractions, wait times, entertainment, PhotoPass stops (the icon is a toadally cute Mickey head), restrooms, Guest Services, shops and transportation (including bus stops and ride share pick up/drop off areas). (Not only can you see where these services and amenities are on the map, but also, you can get directions to these locales based on where you're currently located.) Note that the Guest Services icon actually includes much more than the locations where you can find the Guest Experience Team. The Guest Services filter also includes the locations of AEDs, service animal relief areas, hearing disability services, visual disability services, ATMs, package pickup, rider switch, portable phone charging system kiosks, coin press machines and more.

And speaking of attractions, My Disney Experience is how you and your crew can join a Boarding Group to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney's Hollywood Studios! Once you enter the park for the day, open the app and log into your account at either 10 a.m., 1 p.m. or 4 p.m. You'll see a prompt on the home screen to "Join a Boarding Group." As long as your whole group is connected via My Friends and Family, you can create a party for the whole gang. You can learn more about the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance here. While there is more availability now for this epic attraction than previously, we still highly recommend that you are prompt when logging in — Boarding Groups go quick!

Take a photo of your PhotoPass code to help save time and your phone battery!

The My Disney Experience app is also how you'll access your PhotoPass photos (you can also purchase Memory Maker or a daily photo pass through My Disney Experience using the "+" icon on the home screen).

My Disney Experience - Scan PhotoPass

At PhotoPass stops, or after rides, you can scan your MagicBand or the app to have your photos automagically uploaded to your account. From the homepage on the app, you can scroll down and click either "Link Photos" or "My Photos." "My Photos" is where you can head to view your photos; "Link Photos" is where you'll head if you need to add photos. This will enable you to scan to link a PhotoPass card you've received, or to show your PhotoPass code to a photographer. While viewing a photo, you can also edit, save, share within the app, or purchase photo gifts such as frames, ornaments and mugs.

My Disney Experience - PhotoPass

In addition to FastPass reservations, if you are utilizing Disney Disability Access Service (DAS) or Rider Switch, you'll find information about your service's return times in the app, as well.

More Uses for My Disney Experience

In addition to these hopful in-park features, there's some fun built in too! While in the park, you can:

  • Shop for merchandise (and then select whether you'd like it shipped via ShopDisney or picked up at a store or at the designated pick-up area, if you're on-site. This is helpful if you're looking for a high-demand item to see where it's still available!)
  • See where in-queue games are available using the Play Disney Parks app
  • Watch fun videos inspired by the parks, or access at-home crafts or activities
  • Connect to trivia games through Play Disney Parks app
  • Connect to a Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Datapad through Play Disney Parks app
  • See virtual guides for EPCOT's fabulous festivals, including this year's International Food & Wine Festival

OK, confession time. While we feel like we are My Disney Experience pros by now, there is one little technological trick that left Leap and I scratching our heads: QR codes. You'll find that digital menus and guides can be access by the app, or by scanning a QR code. But how exactly do you scan a QR code? All you have to do is take a photo of the code and a notification should pop up for you to tap to access the information in My Disney Experience. (Thanks, Tad!)

Believe it or not, this is only scratching the surface of My Disney Experience's capabilities! What's more, Disney has promised extended capabilities coming our way in 2021, so we'll continue to keep this guide updated. What questions do you have about My Disney Experience? What tips or tricks do you have to share? Be sure to share with us in the comments below!

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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