Sunday, December 21, 2014

Magic Kingdom Vacation Planning HERA Pilot

One of the things I loved the most about my role was all of the opportunities that I had. Near the end of my program, I had the opportunity to be involved in a Vacation Planning pilot test. One of my managers told myself and two other Epcot CPs that we were going to be part of the Magic Kingdom HERA pilot. The three of us, along with 3 CPs from Hollywood Studios, 3 CPs from Animal Kingdom, and the Magic Kingdom CPs were going to be trained on HERA -- which stands for Handheld Entitlement and Recovery Application. This is an app on the iPad which would allow us to sell tickets and redeem will calls.
I loved being able to use the iPad to walk around and help guests!
The pilot was held over the two weeks of Christmas and New Year's. Now you may wonder why we would do a pilot at THE busiest time of year in WDW. Our ticketing lines get very long. During Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, we had guests waiting over an hour just to get to the front of our lines. So what better time to implement this new operation than a time when we could truly see how it would affect the lines!

Our main purpose was to speed up the Will Call line. Guests aren't happy when they pre-plan and purchase their tickets ahead of time, but would arrive at the park to find a huge Will Call line. At any given time, we typically had 6-8 CP's on the iPads behind the Will Call booth, and 1-3 CP's sorting through the line to bring guests back to the next available iPad Cast Member. We were able to move through the line SO fast! It was wonderful to be able to make such a difference in guests' experiences. It really started off their day well when they saw how efficiently they were able to get their tickets and head into the park.
Epcot's still my home park and I absolutely loved it, but it was amazing to get to work with a view of the monorail, Contemporary Resort, Seven Seas Lagoon, and the Magic Kingdom!
I learned so much from this entire experience. In addition to HERA, we also got trained in CastApp in order to help with the capacity closures. When the Magic Kingdom closes for capacity, they still let guests in at phases. We reached Phase B on New Year's Eve, so we got to use the iPads to determine whether guests were able to go to Magic Kingdom at that time. Between being part of trying out a new process in the operation, to being trained on new systems that are also used in other roles, this pilot will be really valuable in the future. The guest service experience was amazing.
My friend Tim and I during the pilot!
I loved being part of this pilot because I got to be part of Vacation Planning history. We were the very first group to run this pilot testing and implement iPads into the Vacation Planning operation. We had many leaders and Cast Members from different divisions come by to observe the pilot and ask us about our experiences. Every day, we were able to give input to the managers running the pilot and then implement any changes to the process. It was also great to be able to come together with most of the CP's from all 4 parks, and be successful together. It was so neat to work with all of them at the same time, and it really made the experience so much fun!


  1. Hey Courtney, this is awesome! I'm a front desk CP and am interested to see how the iPads are used at resorts for check-in. Vacation planning sounds awesome, I'd love to try it in the future!

    - Shae (

  2. Hey Courtney!
    I got accepted to be a vacation planner at Disneyland! I am so excited! Seeing your posts have been extremely helpful in helping me understand the job a little more! I don't know if you know how similar the DLR and WDW are but do you know if the job is similar to yours? I think the iPad thing is so cool and hope that I get to do that too! Do you know what time they stop selling tickets at the front of the park?


    1. Hi Stephanie, congratulations! I'm not sure how Vacation Planning is at Disneyland, but I would imagine it's somewhat similar!
      At Epcot, we closed the booths at 7:00 PM for our typical 9:00 PM park closing. Each park is different, though!