Counting down to your Disney vacation is part of the fun of going. As the anticipation builds we all get more and more excited to finally GO and it gets harder and harder to focus on work or school or other day to day concerns. Disney understands, I think, and offers us something useful to do during our countdowns — Walt Disney World’s Online Check-In service.
Online Check-In becomes available ten days from your arrival date, and a helpful reminder will pop up at the top of your reservation page on the Walt Disney World website to tell you so. Simply click on the link and you’re taken to a page where Disney asks for your estimated arrival and departure times, names of the guests in your party, a credit card for “incidentals,” your address and a phone number where you can be contacted while traveling. There is also a spot on the web page to enter room requests which varies by resort as to what options are offered.
The idea of Online Check-In is to speed up the actual check-in process when the big day arrives and you finally walk into your Disney resort‘s lobby. There will be a line designated for Online Check-In users and this is theoretically shorter and faster moving than the tradition check-in lines. Disney explains it by saying it gives the Cast Member working with you more time to “focus on providing helpful information and answering your questions.” In any case, if the desk is busy, there’s a good chance the few minutes spent on the website doing online check-in prior to leaving will save you at least that much time during your actual check-in.
Having said that, is Online Check-in worth the time and effort? I’m going to say yes, mainly because it in fact takes so very little time and effort. It’s not a perfect system. I completed my online check-in at the Caribbean Beach Resort yesterday and found two problems. It would not accept the credit card I tried to change to for “incidentals” and it would not accept any room requests. The credit card thing may just be because the new one was a debit card and it didn’t like that, who knows? It will add a minute to the check-in on arrival day, but that’s not a big deal. The room request thing is a little more frustrating. Why ask for requests if the system can’t take them other than by a phone call? Again, though, it’s not a huge deal, I’ll just call and that won’t add any time to my check-in desk experience.
The main benefit of Online Check-in, in my opinion, isn’t so much in speeding up the process when you get to your resort as much as it is psychological. Checking into Disney a full ten days before actually getting there is a bit of a thrill. It made me feel like I was already checked in, already on vacation, mentally at least. And that will make the last days of my count down go that much easier.
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