Disney FP+: Main Street Electrical Parade Viewing

Like many Disney fans, I threw a royal tantrum worthy of a princess when they added FP+ and took away the paper fast passes.  I loved the paper fast passes.  We got there at rope drop and I knew how to work the system so I could ride what I wanted without dealing with those long lines.  Lines are for suckers!  We’d been known to use six to ten fast passes in one day on top of getting to walk through empty lines for the first hour or so after the park opened.

And I still look fondly at our Year of a Million Dreams super fast pass lanyard that they used to give away sort of randomly in the first hour or two after park opening.  Best bit of Disney pixie dust I’ve ever gotten (sadly I haven’t been selected to stay in Cinderella Castle yet, but I’m holding out hope).

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So, when Disney took away my paper fast passes and replaced them with the three per day, non park-hopping, FP+ system they completely messed up my system.  Argh!  Was I going to have to wait in line like a tourist?  Noooooo…..

Well, like most changes in life, after railing against it and stamping my feet a bit, I tried it and between me getting used to it and Disney making some much needed improvements, I have to publicly admit that I actually kind of like it now.  The thing that actually changed my mind was the FP+ for the parade viewing.

On our last visit, even though we planned it at the last minute, we were able to get four FP+ spaces in the 9pm Main Street Electrical Parade.  Around 7:30pm we noticed people had already staked out the prime spots all along Main Street.  I just cannot stand the idea of sitting for several hours just to have a good parade spot, so we typically either skip the parades (the ride lines are much shorter then) or just kind of watch them as we walk out of the park.  But I do love the Main Street Electrical Parade, partly because I remember it fondly from my own childhood.  FP+4

Although the FP+ said to arrive between 8:40 and 9:00, we headed towards the castle around 8:30pm, because I wanted to make sure that we knew where to go.  I asked a friendly cast member who actually walked us up to the section.  It’s a roped off area in the hub on Main Street, right in front of Cinderella Castle.   At 8:30 there was already a line, probably about 20 people deep to get into the FP+ viewing area.  We went ahead and got in the line and they started letting people in right then (so about ten minutes before the FP+ said).

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As they were letting us in, they had handheld attachments to iPads they were using to scan our MagicBands to confirm we had FP+s.  That process went very smoothly and we quickly found a nice spot facing towards the turn into AdventureLand, right behind the rope.  There was a bit of  a wait (not too bad) and the worst part was having to see the eight zillion people coming up and trying to slip under the rope.  There were three cast members stationed there to keep people out and explain that it was a FP+ viewing area, but some prominent signs on or in front of the ropes clearly stating that would have probably reduced the confusion and disappointment significantly (updated to add: on future visits, I did note a lot more visible signage).

Right before the parade started, the cast members took down the ropes in front of us, which made for awesome viewing without any obstruction.  It was amazing to see the floats with the castle in the background.

Right after they dimmed the lights and before the parade got to us, a lady from the non FP+ section slipped under the ropes and shoved next to us which was kind of disappointing.  She ended up having her phone/camera in a lot of my photos, which only actually bothered me because I knew she was in there illicitly (I’m such a rules follower!).  She kept motioning for her party to come and join her, but thankfully they had better sense or better manners because they stayed where they were.

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Even with our unauthorized interloper, we had a wonderful time and I will definitely use FP+ for parade viewing again.  I think that one of the reasons they were still available so close to the day of our trip is the new FP+ policy of letting people get additional FP+ at the kiosks in the parks once they’ve used all three of their daily FP+.  That new policy is discouraging some people from taking late FP+ slots.

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One extra benefit that we didn’t use but I am pretty sure would work great is to stay in your parade FP+ spot after the parade and until the Wishes fireworks start.  Eli is still skittish about fireworks, so we tend to watch them from a distance (generally near Dumbo) but the Wishes FP+ viewing is in a different area, so you can probably have a great view just by staying put (again I didn’t actually do this, so your mileage may vary but it’s worth a try!).

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While I’m really sad the paper fast passes are gone, I do love the expansion of FP+ to other experiences like the parades and fireworks.  One day, Eli won’t be afraid of fireworks anymore so it will be great to FP+ those as well.

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How do you feel about the FP+ system?  Have you tried it for the parades or fireworks?  Looking for more Walt Disney World Resort tips, tricks, ride and restaurant reviews?  Check out my Disney Days page for lots more magic!

Comments

Disney FP+: Main Street Electrical Parade Viewing — 15 Comments

  1. Still not convinced. I don’t like waiting in line for rides. The old system made it possible to do what you wanted without waiting and was much more flexible.

    • I’ll always miss the old FP system and I’m not a huge fan of having to plan so far in advance, but they are continually making improvements (park hopping, letting you add past the original 3 at the kiosks) so I can see it being even better in the future.

    • It is very different and I hated it at first, but I’m slowly coming around to like it. Actually I loved it at first when we had it available PLUS paper fast passes. Oh those were beautiful days… But I’m letting go of my sadness about the paper FP going away. I really do like the FP+ for parade/show/fireworks viewing and we get there at rope drop anyways, so we get to do lots of rides with no lines even without the FP in the first hour or so. It’s not a perfect system, but I know they aren’t bringing my beloved paper FP back, so I’m trying to focus on the positive! 🙂

      And seriously, if you have any questions when you’re doing your planning, feel free to ask me, if I know I’ll be happy to help!

  2. Wow. I’m not sure how I feel about Fast Pass for parades. It seems like one more thing (like restaurant reservations) that is being slanted for people “in the know.” It’s one more thing to have to plan ahead of time. On the other hand, at DL, people stake out their places for Fantasmic and the fireworks like a good hour ahead of time, so newbies are already screwed. I’m already kind of lukewarm to fast passes in general because they artificially inflate the wait lines for the rides. The whole park experience seems to be changing to one where you have to obsessively plan what and when you’re going to do everything. Some people like that, but others might not like being so schedule bound in a place that’s supposed to be fun. You start to be like the Griswolds glued to a clock.
    Jen recently posted…The Voices Are Starting AgainMy Profile

    • During the busy times at WDW, those primo parade spots are being staked out HOURS (plural) in advance. I just don’t have that kind of patience, so I really enjoyed being able to have a great spot without waiting for hours. I’m not a huge fan of the overscheduling though. I remember before the dining plan existed at WDW, you could just walk up to any restaurant and get a seat with a pretty short wait, no reservations needed. Those days are long gone, and it’s a little sad. But we’ve figured out ways to make it work for us and sometimes we just end up not using some FP+’s, just like sometimes we left with FP in our pockets too. If you’re doing a once in a lifetime trip, it’s probably a lot more overwhelming and stressful, since we go so often, if we can’t eat somewhere we want or ride a ride we want, it’s no big deal, we know we’ll be able to do it again on another visit soon.

  3. I have not used FP+ for parades yet, but it does sound nice and hassle-free. I am still getting used to the idea of FP+ though…I’m not AS anti-FP+ was I first was but still I am trying to warm up to it lol. Maybe things will be better after our Wine & Dine vacation later this year!
    Lauren @ Lauren’s Glass Slipper recently posted…Weekly Recap 6/30/14 – 7/6/14My Profile

    • I railed loudly and often against Disney when I heard they were taking away the paper FP machines. It made me angry and sad and nostalgic and worried (way more than it should have). And I pouted quite a bit. So, the fact that I’m starting to warm up to it is pretty amazing. But I do love the parades and hate sitting on the curb for hours waiting for a good spot or standing behind a bunch of tall people (for me that’s anyone over the age of 10 since I’m so short!) and missing out on the good stuff. I can get on my super important rides by going at rope drop, but absent a thunderstorm or going in mid January, it was not easy to get a good parade spot without a long wait. And I think that they’ll have even more enhancements to it over the coming months. The only FP+ I couldn’t get at the last minute were to the crazy new things like Anna & Elsa and the Mine Train. All the other rides and shows were available even a week out.

  4. I totally agree with you on this post! I was against them until I used them and found the great perks in them. I was there over Memorial day weekend and I cannot tell you how nice it was to show up at Hollywood studios in the afternoon and get to ride everything with no wait during star wars weekend. I brought my boyfriend, it was his first time at WDW, and he cannot stop singing the praises of FP+.

    I miss the paper fastpasses (we still have them at DL though!) but I really am becoming a convert to FP+

    • I worry that it will be harder to get last minute FP+ once more people figure out how they work, but I trust that Disney will keep tweaking the system. I think they should hold back 25% of them and release them at park opening so everyone has a chance to get them. I’ll always miss the paper FP (I have a small collection at home!) but the special parade viewing really has won me over to at least not hating them!

    • I do love my paper fast passes. With us driving down for day trips, I did notice that the parades and best rides are “selling out” pretty early. I think that a gradual release would be a good idea so that there are some available for everyone.

  5. Thanks for this great information! We’re going to WDW this November for the first time since FP+ started, and I’m really apprehensive, since we’re paper FP pros like you! Sounds like maybe it won’t be so bad 🙂
    Lana recently posted…eShakti and Summer Challenge EndsMy Profile

    • If you’re staying on property, make sure to mark your calendar for sixty days out!

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