Walt Disney World testing FastPass Plus

Written by MiceChat Staff. Posted in Features, Orlando Parkhopper, Walt Disney World

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Published on December 13, 2012 at 4:03 am with 47 Comments

The Walt Disney World Resort is holding a third test of its FastPass+ system from December 11th to 15th.  The new reservation system allows Guests to prebook FastPass tickets in advance of their park visit. Guests who are staying at a Walt Disney World resort and utilizing Disney’s Magical Express were pre-selected to participate in this limited time engagement. New with this round of testing is the addition of experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Prior tests were only conducted at the Magic Kingdom. With the addition of Disney’s Hollywood Studios the service will allow the testing of FastPass offerings at live shows and parades. Also, several new locations were added to the list of experiences at Magic Kingdom.  Guests participating will also be able to change their selections from the time they make their initial selections right up until they have utilized their virtual passes.

Your RFID enabled FastPass+ card

How Does the New FastPass Plus Work?

Guest will be able to choose to spend one day at Magic Kingdom with four different prebooked experiences out of 20 and an additional day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the choice of three experiences out of 11. The following locations will be participating in the test:

Currently Available Magic Kingdom FastPass+ Attractions:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad®
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin®
  • Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Haunted Mansion®
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Main Street Electrical Parade
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor®
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Space Mountain®
  • Splash Mountain®
  • The Barnstormer
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Town Square Theater: Meet Mickey
  • Town Square Theater: Meet the Disney Princesses
  • Wishes™ Nighttime Spectacular
  • Under the Sea—Journey of the Little Mermaid

Currently Available Disney’s Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Attractions:

  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
  • Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular!
  • Lights, Motors, Action!® Extreme Stunt Show®
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster® Starring Aerosmith
  • Star Tours® – The Adventure Continues
  • The American Idol® Experience
  • The Great Movie Ride®
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!®
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

At each park, the attractions will be divided into two lists.  At Magic Kingdom Guests will be able to choose two attractions from one list and two from the other. At Studios Guests will pick one attraction from the first list and two from the second list.

This is the first test with the new system that will include live shows. If you pick a show to experience, you will be guaranteed a seat in the theater.  Shows also have a smaller return window then traditional attractions. For example, Disney Junior live on stage has a 10 minute window while Lights Motors Action has up to a 25 minute return window.  The window will end 5 minutes before show time.  Any seats that are empty at that time will be filled with guests from the standby line.

Reserved seating for the parade.


Redeeming your experiences during your park visit is very simple and is very similar to the use of today’s FastPass system.  For traditional FastPass attractions, when Guests arrive during their assigned window, Guests will touch their FastPass+ card on a Mickey head icon.  If the Mickey lights up green, they will be admitted into the FastPass line.  If a Guest arrives at the wrong time or wrong attraction, Mickey will light up blue and the FastPass return Cast Member will be able to assist the guest with the issue.  After entering the line, you will need to touch your card on another Mickey icon at the traditional merge point of the attraction.  For shows, Guests will only need to touch their card on the Mickey icon once to gain access into the theater at their assigned time.  For parade and nighttime spectaculars, Guests will touch their card on devices being held by Cast Members.

Green – you are welcome to enter

 Using the FastPass+ system has some key advantages:

Experiences can be booked in advance of your trip. This will allow families to pick their favorite offerings ahead of time and not worry about missing out.  Also there is less of a need to arrive at the park super early to obtain some of the more popular FastPasses.

FastPass+ is a very flexible system.  You may switch out your return time or experience (if available) until you redeem your experience. If you miss your return window, the old system you would have just lost out, with the new system you can rebook for a later available time.

With the current FastPass system, if you lose your FastPass tickets, you have lost out on that attraction and the time you have to wait to obtain new FastPasses.  With FastPass+, cards can be looked up in the system and replaced with your reservations still in tact.

It is very easy to change your experiences.  At any time, a Guest may use a web enabled device to log on to the FastPass+ website.  The website is well formatted for any devices including computers, tablets and smartphones.  If you do not want to use your cell phone’s data plan in the park, you may use the new park-wide WiFi system.  If you do not have any devices in the park with you, kiosks are available throughout the participating parks at select current FastPass locations as well as at Guest Relations. You may also use any of these methods to look up your current itineraries for experiences you have already booked.  An email of your changes or current itinerary can be sent from the kiosks to an e-mail address of your choosing.

Choice of experiences can be modified individually after your initial picks.  Going into your reservation, you may make changes as a group together, or select to change just one member of your party to another experience.

If you are not that tech or park savvy, FastPass+ will offers a “FastPicks” feature.  Picking this will automatically assign experiences and times to your account.  These may also be modified just like any other pick.

The FastPass+ system takes into account the location of each experience.  With its initial offering, the system will do its best to assign attractions and times to keep you from backtracking as much as possible, so you do not need to run across the park unnecessarily.

Guests testing out the new system will also be able to obtain traditional FastPasses with their park ticket during their park visit as well.

Potential Issues with FastPass+

There are still many questions that are left unanswered if Disney chooses to move forward with this technology.  There has been no word on how Annual Passholders or Guests not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort will be able to pre-book their park experiences with the new system (if they will be allowed to do so at all).

Perhaps the biggest impact will be on the standby wait times for all FastPass+ enabled attractions. With FastPass & FastPass+ guests, wait times are sure to increase for regular guests. In addition, since FastPass+ guests will be able to select up to 4 attractions in advance, and then be allowed to use regular FastPass as well on the day of their visit, they will have an unfair advantage over guests not on the new system. That could create guest satisfaction problems and, by extension, serious issues for cast members and guest relations as regular guests learn that they have been downgraded to a lesser status.

A FastPass+ management kiosk at Guest Relations

 

There is also the question of how much information a guest will need about the parks before even being able to schedule their FastPasses. For example, would a guest know that they would be wasting their FastPass+ by selecting Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor or the American Idol Experience which don’t usually run a long standby wait? Or that parades and Fireworks usually have enough room for you to enjoy them with only a bit of prior planning on all but the busiest days? As a result, First time visitors to the parks will need to spend a significant amount of time researching the parks and attractions before their trips to ensure that they are making the best possible decisions. A certain degree of just being able to explore the parks may be lost. 

While this is only a limited-time test, it is exciting to see what is to come in the future.  The new Mickey head icon seems to be popping up in other locations including the new My Disney Experience app available for most smart phones, as well as in Fantasyland at the Be Our Guest restaurant.  This is a hint at much more to come. It should be noted that the RFID in the new Key to the World card now used at most of the Walt Disney World resort hotels uses the same NextGen technology as the new FastPass+ cards. Point of sale tests are also being run at restaurants and shops. The technology will ultimately allow guests to plan, play and pay with the same card or NextGen device.

If you are involved with any of the upcoming FastPass+ tests or have thoughts or concerns about the system, we’d love to hear your thoughts below. Do you think FastPass+ will be a net gain or loss for the average guest?

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47 Comments

Comments for Walt Disney World testing FastPass Plus are now closed.

  1. Oh no I saw a castmember with a iPad in the video. I can tell you from experience that working with an iPad during work turns out to be problematic. Most of the time it become annoying and it will get set down and problaly go missing. I do not think this will be a long term addtion to the park or else Disney will have to issue everyone new AP’s cards on both coasts and that will be expencisive.

  2. I don’t view Fastpass+ as planning out every single detail of your vacation. If you can only pick 4 per park, this just allows you to make sure you are able to hit the 4 things you want to do the most. You can spend the rest of the day wandering or spontaneously deciding what to do.

    • That’s 4 attractions plus all the regular FastPasses you can add. It’s a positive for the select few and a negative for the masses.

    • I’m going to agree here.

      In addition, because you can move your reservations around on your smartphone, it makes it MORE flexible than the existing Fastpass. Seems like a neat option. As long as it’s open to just about everyone.

  3. If it works out, hopefully, they’ll bring it on over to California as well.

  4. Am I the only one that thinks that a major goal of FP+ is to remove ‘Extra Magic Hours’? Think about it:

    Let’s say they give FP+ to all resort guests. Generally, during EMH you can get on a couple of extra things. If they then guarantee those few extra things throughout the day, they don’t need those ‘extra hours’ anymore, and they save tons on staffing and logistics.

    • And hopefully giving those Extra Magic Hours back to maintenance.

    • @Monorail Man.. Thats a possibility . But dont they charge a premium for extra magic hours. So they must be making a decent enough profit in order to justify the extra staff and logistics. I would think Fastpass+ is aimed at getting as many people to stay on property as possible . Unless they decide to follow the route of universal express and charge a premium for fastpass +

  5. As a Annual Passholder and a WDW local, the new Fastpass system is VERY disappointing. WDW has never appreciated the Annual Passholders……

  6. The regular FP system is already a heapin mess. I don’t think you would’ve never had this much of an issue had the FPs been restricted to resort guests only from the beginning (or had a system similar to Universal’s FOTL. To me FPs would’ve been a better plus for resort guests as opposed to an additional 1 or 2 hrs in the park that not everyone eligible is gonna take advantage of.

    Here’s one idea to consider: instead of having people reserve their rides months in advance at home, have it so they can’t pick the rides until they arrive at the hotel to start their vacation. You could order and pay for FP+ in advance at home but have then have kiosks in the hotels to organize your ride plan for your entire stay and then you can receive your passes. Of course this would only work if they plan to make this a resort-only benefit which I would strongly advise Disney to do. Plus this could cut down on no-shows and unused reservations.

  7. I have mixed feelings about all this. In some ways, there is a gain, but the loss spontaneity seems big here. I understand how reservation times for a restaurant is important, but in my trips to WDW even getting to restaurants on time puts pressure into a vacation. And then I have decided at the last minute to eat at a particular place too. So the reservation system has limited value. So with rides and attractions also seem to lose something with this system. WDW is not really taking care of more guests. Capacity is not improved, only the priority for the rides are shifted to the out of town guest who is a good planner. In my experience, not everyone is a good planner. Many people avoid it with a passion, particularly for a vacation. So my feeling is that if all the money that has been on NextGen could have been spent on actual ride, it would have better improved the experience for the average guest.

  8. I’m not going to worry about it until it comes to Disneyland, hopefully by then all the problems have been tested out at WDW.

    • Hopefully it’s not needed at Disneyland. Disneylands Fastpass+ system is to build NEW rides and attractions to increase park capacity and spread the masses around! That’s the way to do it! That’s exactly what CarsLand/DCA expansion did for the entire resort it. Not only did it increase the Resort’s total attendance it helped balance the two parks and took a lot of the pressure off Disneyland.

      To me Magic Kingdom’s super overcrowdedness is simply a result of the lack of investment in their parks. Think about it Magic Kingdom is more(albeit slightly) popular than disneyland, yet has fewer rides and attractions. The natural result of that is longer cues because more people are cueing up for less attractions. More attractions is the answer. Also they should be investing in the other underperforming parks that could easily accomodate millions more guests (I’m looking at you Epcot and Animal Kingdom!).

      • Exactly – that’s the real way to combat long lines — build more attractions that can accommodate a lot of guests moving through. That used to be the strategy when Disney developed high capacity rides like Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Its a Small World, and Carousel of Progress — all considered to be classics.

        FastPass was designed to guests out of the lines and into the shops. FastPass+ is intended to get guests into the resorts or extort money from them if they don’t want to feel like second class citizens. Everyone at the Disney parks should feel like they are getting the same first-class experience — that’s what they are paying those premium admission prices for.

        No matter how you try to rationalize it, being passed-up in line by those who have some sort of perk is denigrating.

  9. One upside to the system that I haven’t seen anyone mention is this idea that you get to pick more from list 1 than list 2, etc. Maybe they could go to 4 lists. It is possible that this could ultimately restore some ride-management balance to the parks that was lost when they went away from ticket books to the unlimited admission passes.

  10. I thought it would sound that bad, but actually sounds more like Epcot Center’s World Key System 2.0, but being applyed to (at this time) the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It actually doesn’t sound that bad, the only downsides I would see from it would be the long lines and the negativity; I’ll wait when Disney is ready to implement the system in WDW and wait for reviews from vacationers and micechatters on great/good/well/bad/horrible it runs. In the mean time, I’ll add this article to my favorites as I think will be valuable information when playing ahead.

    Timekeeper

  11. I think it’s stupid that they can’t come up with anything better to name things so they just add a “+(plus)” to everything. So now we have PhotoPass+(plus), Attractions+(plus) and FastPass+(plus). That’s really the best they can come up with?

    • That actually doesn’t bug me too much, as it helps reduce confusion. Fastpass and Fastpass+ are very similar in function, and it would just get complicated if it was Fastpass and Advancepass (or whatever). Better to have multiple versions of an offering (with or withouth a +) than a longer list of offerings.

      But to join to chorus of everyone else, I just hope all this silliness stays in Orlando.

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  13. [...]  We were selected to trial test the new Fast Pass+ system.  It’s just like the trusty Fast Pass, but you get cards mailed/emailed to you so you can [...]

  14. This sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I just feel like it’s going to bewilder the guests who don’t plan out their vacations and just go a few days. It’s going to create a lot of chaos, and the benefits aren’t significant at all. I don’t see a way where this isn’t set up to push people to book at Disney resorts. They’re hurting because their prices for deluxe resorts aren’t competitive, so they’re looking for a way to give them incentives. I don’t care about special “experiences” that might be possible with this system, and any benefits in that regard are overwhelmed by the negatives.

    Is there a place on Disney’s site to submit concerns? I know it’s weird to complain about something that isn’t in place, but I feel like it can’t hurt.

  15. [...] It's pretty limited, at least in the test run. I think it will go unnoticed by most everyone! Walt Disney World testing FastPass+ When we were there,they had people at the gates chasing people down asking if they were on the [...]