I recently activated passes on December 17th. It was my first time too, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I had read on here that it was better to go to a guest services window so that’s what we did. We stopped by the one at Epcot, but unfortunately we didn’t get the most awesome cast member. It was one of my least favorite experiences of our trip.
If I were to advise past me:
– Might go to Disney Springs or Hollywood Studios. I know it’s all up to chance, but we had very good luck with friendly cast members there.
– Have the bar codes that they emailed to you screenshotted for easy access, but be prepared for them to want to scroll through the entire email. Because I get so many emails from Disney I asked the cast member if they had any suggestions of what I could search for to pull up the barcodes easily- I mistakenly assumed that because they were linked to my magic band they would be reflected on my account on their side as well. They aren’t, and it can be difficult to find them amidst the many other emails you have from Disney. The cast member had no tip to help me, but my search tip is “annual will call Disney”.
– Have photo IDs ready, but honestly I would also have emails and phone numbers written down on a paper that you can hand them, or a screenshot.
– Hopefully you will have a friendlier cast member who will guide you through the process. Mine was frustrated when I wasn’t fast enough or was too fast. The personal side conversations didn’t help- they made some unkind remarks and tried to pull them off as “jokes”. Super weird experience.
– There is a tremendous lag between activating your pass and getting emails saying that they’ve been activated. Our cast member did not mention anything about the annual passholder magicbands available online, but I knew about them from this website. The more you know before you do it the better- just in case.
– I understand that there can sometimes be a wait at the window. We did not have to wait, but the process did take a while. I would give yourself a good 30 to 40 minutes before you actually want to be doing something else to take care of it.
– If you travel with and manage multiple people on My Disney Experience, I would recommend using the same email (The planners) for everyone.
– I believe they asked how I paid for the passes. I used a gift card, but I think if I had used a credit card they would have needed to see it.
Hopefully this helps- we already love having them. It made the trip much easier and the discounts are pretty swell.