Fixing Fastpass at Walt Disney World

Written by Tim Grassey. Posted in Disney, Features, Walt Disney World

Tagged: , ,

Published on July 07, 2013 at 3:00 am with 60 Comments

Fastpass+ is coming whether we like it or not. There are those among us that have embraced our new Type A overlords. I am not one of them. I look at the current Fastpass system as flawed, but not fundamentally flawed. Yes, it certainly can be improved but an overhaul is unnecessary. It never needed this type of fix.

Fastpass+ is being sold as something that guests demanded. I find it hard to believe that the majority of guests want so many aspects of their vacations pre-determined. A more likely narrative is that Disney was looking for another way to keep guests on property and they developed a cruise line type vacation planner to meet this goal.

Under the current system, distribution of Fastpass is done day-of on a first come, first serve basis. Fastpasses for higher demand attractions run out earlier in the day with the lower demand attractions still available later. They will also “turn off” Fastpass for certain attractions if demand is too low on a given day. When a guest acquires a Fastpass they are given a time when they can get their next Fastpass and that is dictated largely by the level of demand of the Fastpass that was just acquired. For example, if a guest acquires a Fastpass for Maelstrom, they can usually ride the attraction and acquire a new Fastpass within 40-60 minutes. However, if they acquire a Fastpass for Soarin’, they typically have to wait 2 hours to acquire a new Fastpass and longer to ride the ride. This restriction on day-of demand helps make Fastpass availability equal for all guests and it reinforces the guest mentality that some attractions are better than others.

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While there are still some unknowns with Fastpass+, many components have been tested. Additionally, signage in the parks indicates what attractions will be equipped with Fastpass+ in the future. On the surface, the biggest change is that the Fastpasses themselves will become electronic. It will be integrated with the My Disney Experience mobile application and/or in park kiosks. At each attraction, the Fastpasses will be verified by either an RFID enabled ticket or the RFID enabled Magic Band. Personally, I have no objections to this change and see many positive components, most notably not having to crisscross the park to acquire a Fastpass.

However as mentioned in a previous article, the “+” components of Fastpass+ are not limited to the My Disney Experience integration. They fundamentally changed what Fastpass is, and it’s putting a huge black eye on the NextGen project. In addition to smart phone integration, Disney is planning on changing the distribution policies. At this point, resort guests, Disney Vacation Club owners, and annual pass holders will be able to select up to 3 Fastpass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance. While I’m sure that some guests will love the fact that they can guarantee their spot on a high demand attraction in advance, this will significantly hurt same day Fastpass availability. It is unknown if Disney will make all Fastpass+ reservations available 60 days in advance, or if some reservations will be held back for same day reservations.

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What is known is that the math simply “didn’t work” for Disney to guarantee 3 Fastpass+ reservations for every guest for every day when guests were limited to the current Fastpass attractions. To compensate for this, Disney has added Fastpass+ to attractions that previously didn’t need it. The biggest objection to this is that it’s woefully shortsighted. Once again, Disney is attempting to repackage what’s already in the parks as opposed to revitalizing the parks with innovative new attractions. I say this with the understanding that new attractions will likely be announced soon, but the Fastpass+ changes are also still imminent.

There is a belief among executives that guest satisfaction is a black and white argument; a guest is either satisfied or they’re not. However, like most subjective things there is a sliding scale. A first time rider on Soarin’ may leave 80% satisfied. It’s also conceivable that the same guest could have their first experience on Soarin’ right after the film had been cleaned making for a clearer picture. They may then leave the attraction at 90 or 100% satisfied. In this case, ignorance of “what could be” shows a sliding level of satisfaction regardless of whether the guest can pinpoint what leads to that satisfaction.

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This same satisfaction level can be applied to the Fastpass+ distribution. Since Fastpass+ has been added to attractions that previously had typical waits of 15 minutes or less, the time savings across guests will vary significantly. Some guests may get Fastpass+ reservations for Space Mountain, Enchanted Tales with Belle and Journey of the Little Mermaid, while others get Fastpass+ reservations for Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, and Mad Tea Party. The guest with reservations for the first grouping may wind up saving three hours of their day while the second grouping would likely only save one hour. Both groupings save time, but the extent of that time savings will effect that guest’s satisfaction. The current system accounts for this with delays in the next Fastpass acquisition on higher demand attractions. If Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, and Mad Tea Party were eligible for the current Fastpass system, it’s conceivable that a guest could acquire and ride all three Fastpass attractions in under three hours. However, it would take closer to six hours just to acquire all three Fastpasses for Space Mountain, Enchanted Tales with Belle and Journey of the Little Mermaid and possibly longer to actually ride the attractions. The system is self-governing and makes the distinction via each attraction’s popularity.

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The current Fastpass system discriminates against those who are ignorant of how it works. If a guest doesn’t know how to take advantage of it, they are unable to see as many marquee attractions. However, there is no deception under the current system. The rules are printed on the park map as well as the Fastpass itself, and signage at attractions clearly state wait times and Fastpass return times. The ignorance manifests itself through uninformed guests who are unaware of the system and/or what attractions benefit most from usage.

 

The changes under Fastpass+ increase this discrimination while also deceiving the uninformed guest in the process. A knowledgeable guest will understand which attractions should be prioritized for their 3 Fastpass+ reservations. An uninformed guest will still receive the 3 Fastpass+ reservations but they could be for lower demand attractions, and likely attractions that did not previously require Fastpass. Guests will have the option to have Disney select their 3 Fastpass choices, and it’s safe to assume that Disney will not prioritize the high demand attractions. The advanced bookings will limit same day availability for marquee attractions, and at that point it will be too late for the uninformed guests to change their selections. It’s possible that the uninformed guests may think they’ve benefited from an egalitarian system, and perhaps that perception is enough to prompt a return visit, however I feel that’s very unlikely.

 

The thought process that leads to the decisions and components related to Fastpass+ resembles an Animal Farm mentality.

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All guests are equal, but some guests are more equal than others.

Like in Animal Farm, concepts seem to be changing to fit the needs (and potentially wallets) of executives. In recent years, Disney has made significant strides to keep guests on property. Things that were initially advertised as free (Magical Express) or a cost savings (The Disney Dining Plan) changed into something different. The Disney Dining Plan devolved to the point where it’s no longer a cost savings, and now menu decisions are changing to fit the plan. The standard of quality has lowered to the point where menus have been simplified and quality of product has declined. These choices were made so that more restaurants can accommodate the Disney Dining Plan. What’s being sold as a convenience is really a decline in quality.

Similarly, Fastpass+ is also designed to keep guests on property. Guaranteeing attractions up to 60 days in advance further incentivizes visiting a particular park in favor of leaving property. However as mentioned previously, attraction capacity wasn’t available to fully accomplish this in the amounts that Disney wanted. Rather than truly add to the capacity of attractions that required Fastpass, they padded the numbers by adding Fastpass to attractions that didn’t need it. Other decisions, like shortening the Country Bear Jamboree, were done for capacity purposes as well. The manipulation of capacity is fueled by the flaw in the initial Fastpass+ concept, but rather than admit the mistake, Disney has chosen to lower the standards for what necessitates a Fastpass attraction.

Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland: the blessing of size. There’s enough land here to hold all of the ideas and plans we can possibly imagine.

-Walt Disney 

This blessing of size isn’t a competitive advantage if it’s ignored. Fastpass+ is not a long term solution to attracting guests any more than deep discounts or the dining plan. In Disney’s case, they are willing to try absolutely anything to maintain or increase attendance, except build and maintain innovative new attractions.

But that’s just the way I see it. What are your opinions about FastPass+? Would you rather have a smart phone enabled FastPass reservation system or more attractions?

About Tim Grassey

Three months before being born, Tim enjoyed his first trip to Disney World. Ever since, frequent trips to Disney World and Disneyland have helped feed the obsession. Tim currently co-owns the Disney World Rumors and news site, WDWThemeParks.com. You can follow the site on Twitter @wdwthemeparks. In addition to contributing articles to MiceChat.com, Tim is also a co-host on the E-Ticket Report Podcast. The E-Ticket Report (@ETicketReport on Twitter) is a member of the Mice Pod podcasting network, and Tim along with fellow co-hosts Derek Burgan and Chris Wakefield discuss what pleases or displeases them about theme parks.

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  • davidrusk

    I’m not one to like a pre-planned Disney vacation, so Fastpass+ doesn’t appeal to me. However, I’ll have no choice but to pre-plan which attractions I want to see on what day and when.

    • Johnny

      I absolutely agree. Disney is forcing us to micromanage our own vacation. I’d prefer to see FastPass go away all together rather than implement FastPass+ on top of it. Frankly, I’d like to see restaurant reservation times shortened as well. 180 days is ridiculous. A week in advance should be plenty.

  • horizonsfan

    I totally agree and am really disappointed in everything that I’ve heard about this Fastpass+ system. While there’s still a chance Disney will tweak it in a way that’s more positive, I still think it lessens the guest experience. Disney isn’t adding many new attractions, and they’re raising prices. The changes to Fastpass provide another way to restrict what the guest can do in a given day. Uninformed guests will think it’s a great bonus, but it’s really just another way for Disney to try and make money while not improving the experience. It makes the system overly complicated and doesn’t do what it promises. It also is unfair to day visitors and Florida residents and is a transparent way to draw people to the resorts.

  • Tielo

    You are spot on. I don’t get what Disney is doing. The food has become horrible and attraction wise nothing exciting is happening. Take Animal Kingdom. Guests demand more rides. There is the safari, 3 shows, a 4D movie, some horrible carnival rides, a very short Dino (indy) ride and the very short Kali River Rapids. So lets build a ride, a ride that is amazing, that has people jump over to AK as soon as they come from the plane, a ride everyone can enjoy, has a high capacity. They build Disco Yeti coaster. Yep, that is something Disney has never done. Take a rollercoaster and build a mountain. Sure it looks nice but at least 70% of the guests can’t or don’t want to ride it. All that while on the other side of the world the Disney imagineers are building Mystic Point. Never used ride system, story and theming that could be enjoyed by many more guests and would be a perfect fit.
    Take Fantasy land, the most crowded part of MK. What is Disney doing, they take away the temporarily envisioned Mickey Toon town that was up until it was bulldozed very popular and put a Dumbo clown there and an air-conditioned kiddy play area and an outside kiddy water play area. The rest is filled with 2 new restaurants, 1 character meet and greet Belle thingy, a meet Ariel spot and a mediocre dark ride copy from California. The highlight is the last minute change from a Tinkelbell tree to a mini coaster in and around a bloody mountain. This ride will be cool but like the Goofy coaster has limited appeal and will have lines going around the park because of it’s low capacity. Costs will rival Potter land and it’s lacklustre received by guests is a testament of how Disney is not in sync with it’s guests anymore (at least at WDW). Lets hope George A. Kalogridis can do his magic on all WDW parks like he did at Disneyland resort. The re imaginering of California adventure, like Universal Orlando resort, show that if you build amazing experiences without cutting costs, your guests will come, stay and enjoy themselves. They’ll spend money and will return.

  • Mousecat

    Fastpass+ has nothing to do with the guest. It is simply a way of Disney rationing experiences so that they can reduce costs. Good article.

    Sam
    http://Www.samlanddisney.com

    • Happiestcruiser

      …”rationing experiences so that they can reduce costs”…

      I am not sure about the phrasing you used but I think that the major thing that Disney is doing with FastPass+ is prepping to get more income off the same rides. Not, as one would hope, by actually balancing load throughout the day but instead by setting the stage to offer up-charged experiences:

      “You say you cannot get a FP+ slot at 8am like you want? Well, we have just the thing for you! Try our new ‘Ride Hopper’ ticket add-on! By simply paying $16/day in addition to your ticket or annual pass price (per day-per park) you are guaranteed one of our ‘Executive Slots’ that no one else would get! Choose a time — any time during the day or night — and you can experience the attraction of your choice! (some exclusions apply — see really small print on the form on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’)”

      Sorry for seeming negative, but FP+ seems to me the point of a very sharp iceberg heading toward our favorite parks.

      • I can see them increasing the popularity of rides with customizable experiments but why does Fastpass have to be a factor? Rides like The Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world and Pirates of the Caribbean saw an uptick in attendance after refurbishments, why can’t the less popular rides simply be plussed instead of plussing Fastpass?

  • PatMcDuck

    Good article! New Fantasyland is a bit of a snore to most guests. Yes, some nice elements, but it is all chopped up and makes no sense. The Dumbo area seems completely out of place to me, I almost hate it. And the Tangled Toilet area (maybe my favorite part of the renovation) is all by itself, not even connected to the other new sections.

    The only thing I can say about reserving ride times in advance, is that many of us have an idea which park we are going to each day, because we HAVE to decide that, if we want to have lunch/dinner reservations. So, to choose 3 rides each day, is not that difficult. Another element though, is the crazy Florida weather, esp. in the busy summer months or during hurricane season.

    I wish they just had the wristbands used for passes, room keys, and charging, and left the FP system the way it was. Better yet, just used all the $$ on this project for new rides.

  • MainSt1993

    I haven’t been to WDW in years, because everything they’ve been doing (or not doing) has reduced my desire to visit. It will be really upsetting if these bad ideas are actually transferred to DLR. WDW used to have amazing new attractions, wonderful restaurants, and brilliant shows. Now it just seems gimmicky and mass produced.

  • daveinfontana

    So, some one plans 60 days out for the rides but on that day they go, the ride closes down for an unscheduled maintenance .What happens next? They lose. I personally would just “wing it”

    • That’s just one of many problems with this.

  • ttintagel

    The more I read and think about it, the more I wish they would do away with any kind of fastpass system. People who want to wait will wait, and people who don’t can go ride something else. It worked perfectly well before.

  • Bothepro24

    What if all fast passes have been given out on these new cards and not used? You’ll get screwed, I visit 4-5 times per year and I like to wing it. With this new program my winging it will be done on a broken wing. It’s like with
    Starbucks, who clamoured for this, just change the coffee, now it takes forever because of all the idiotic latte’s and frappe’s, he’ll just give me regular
    Coffee. But this fast pass is gonna drive me
    Away.

  • Quentin

    You only get 3 reservations a day? I’d say I get at least 5 or 6 FastPasses a day minimum.

    • In Disney’s defense, I think 3 per day is reasonable at all parks except the Magic Kingdom, but that’s only because none of the other parks have had a Fastpass worth attraction in 5+ years.

      • aggiemullins

        So true I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at your statement.

  • albino_pygmy

    As a previous skipper of the World Famous Jungle Cruise, which uses FP, I’ve loathed FP ever since it’s creation. I remember the days if you wanted to ride an attraction, you waited it out with everyone else. For example: I remember waiting in a posted 45 minute wait for Peter Pan before FP. Yes the line was long, and waited maybe 30 minutes or so, but it was constantly flowing. Now look at it today. The physical length of the standby line has shrunk drastically to what it used to be, but is usually at least one hour long. I went through the standby to see if it really was an hour as posted, and I ended up waiting an hour and a half instead. I swear we moved about 20 feet in 15 minute intervals, it was miserable. I finally get to the front of the line, and of course I get cut off right before me, so another 15 minutes goes by as I watch those with FP’s skip in front of me. I was trained to handle merge point where FP and standby merge together with a ratio of 80/20, where every 80 people in FP go in, you let 20 standby in. Besides, if you ended up getting lucky and grabbing a FP letting you in a shorter line, you still have to come back at a much later time, chances are when the line has died down already and thus making the value of that waiting in a shorter line not worth as much as it was when it was busier. I’ve been all on board for removing FP and going back to wait it out, and am dreading my next visit when now I have to figure out ways around all this nonsense, or how to use it to my advantage. Disney has lost it’s touch even more so now, and I don’t think they’ll ever get back to the quality that it was once known for. Call me crazy, but I believe that Universal has pretty much embodied the creative and innovative spirit that Walt had once pumped into his parks. Disney is just another theme park now.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    This is a great article. The whole issue of Fastpass really comes clear once you have waited in the lines. This last week, I was at Disneyland and over heard a family talking about getting a Fastpass for Splash Mountain. The mother insisted that they did not “have to go to the hassle” get a Fastpass and could get in line directly. She talked about avoiding the Fastpass as if it was a pain. Now I knew as a frequent visitor that getting a Fastpass saves as much as an hour in line. I supposed it might seem like an extra and unnecessary step to go to the attraction twice to ride it, but to someone who on a previous trip has already spent an hour in line, it is a great convenience. So the new visitor will always be less enthusiastic to Fastpasses because they are ignorant of the pain of the longer line.

  • MonteJ

    I agree! Fast Pass + is only marketed as a benefit for guests. In truth, the only one it really benefits is Disney who can electronically track and manipulate guests – with the goal of increased revenues. They don’t make money when guest are on rides – they make money when they keep people in shops or food service locations. I have the distinct impression that Disney is little by little sucking all the joy out of visits to their theme parks.

  • 1WaltFan

    I will have to be the dissenting voice in this article. It seems to me people are overreacting to this enhancement. Yes, I think it will be an enhancement. The one thing I am not clear about is if they will let you use the day of Fastpass system and the FastPass+ system. If the answer is yes that is a a big advantage to the resort guests. More incentive to be a resort guests, DVC member and APs. I think that is fine too. They paid for it and it is an incentive to be part of one of those categories. If the answer is no you can’t double dip then this is not going to be that big an issue for the day of fast pass users. And remember, you don’t have to use the FastPass+ system if you don’t want to. I like the additions of reserving your fastpass especially for the shows. I think once this system has been up and running for a few years it will be a nice benefit for guests just like the fast pass system is today.

    • The understanding is that day of Fastpasses will be available at the same 3 per guest limit. This does not mean that resort guests can “double dip” as I understand it. The concern here is that we’ve already seen this type of thing manifest itself with dining. You can’t get Be our Guest reservations now unless you’re staying on property and booking 180 days in advance. is the same going to be true of Fastpasses at marquee attractions?

      The declaration that “you don’t have to use the Fastpass+ system if you don’t want to” is a gigantic load of crap. Guests who don’t use any Fastpass system are at a disadvantage, but at least under the current system all guests have access to the same system. With this they’re essentially charging for preferred access to the system, they’re just not directly charging for it.

      • Aviator621

        First off, to declare a contrary opinion “a gigantic load of crap” is bad form, especially coming from the original author of the article. Second, the statement about Fastpass + being optional IS accurate, you do have the choice, and like any decision you make, has pros and cons, and those will vary with each individual person. You obviously put huge value on ‘time’, and that seems to be your primary metric. Others, myself included, prize certainty over time. Most Disney visitors have to preplan airlines, hotels, airport transfers, etc. well in advance, so I find it humorous that so many think this pre-planning a day in the park will be too burdensome. Even one of the biggest sponsors on this site is Touring Plans, which is all about pre-planning your day well in advance. I personally like the idea of walking in knowing that I can tell my kids when we can hit their favorite rides.

        I also find some of the article’s logic flawed, as it suggests that that Fastpass+ will massively tie up Fastpasses at the popular attractions while simultaneously arguing that this will ‘limit’ you to three Fastpasses per day. As several comments have pointed out, most people usually grab 5-6 fastpasses a day and are obviously for the popular attractions. If you limit to 3 a day, many of these will now free up. I greatly suspect Disney knows those factors will balance themselves out.

        The bottomline is people who understand an existing system and have already maximized it to their own advantage, hate change. I am old enough to remember when Disney switched form the ticket books to the single entry fee. I remember all the teeth gnashing even then about how people would now never ride the Teacups because they would spend all day getting their fill of the E Ticket level rides. Now, if you took a poll here, I doubt anyone would vote to go back to the ticket book. So give this thing a chance first.

      • Aviator621,

        I can’t reply to your follow up post directly but hopefully you get notified of this response, if not I apologize although you won’t see it.

        As for my dismissal of your opinion as a “load of crap”, yeah that was harsh but I stand by it. I’m coming at this from a time savings standpoint as you have said. Yes, there are people that will like this because of the certainty, but I’m taking a different approach to my opposition. The choice being a load of crap is largely predicated on the time savings aspect.

        To your point about being limited to 3 Fastpass+ reservations per day. There is no doubt in my mind that the more popular Fastpasses will be booked first and the less popular attractions will still be lingering. That’s what popular means. What Disney did with this is they looked at the number of guests that visit the park on any given day and determined how many days can every one of those guests acquire 3 Fastpasses per day. To accomplish this they added Fastpass to more attractions that previously didn’t need it.

        I don’t think it’s fair that people will be able to reserve a shorter wait at Space Mountain at 60 days in advance if the same opportunity isn’t available to day guests as well. I also don’t think Fastpass should be added to attractions that never get waits in excess of 20 minutes. That is 100% deception, nothing more.

      • Dania

        Wow and Wow!

        “I don’t think it’s fair that people will be able to reserve a shorter wait at Space Mountain at 60 days in advance if the same opportunity isn’t available to day guests as well.”

        So in your eyes and I would guess many who have posted here in agreement with your article, it is also unfair that Resort guests get the jump on crowds during Early morning/late night park hours or that they have to pay for parking at the parks because they aren’t staying on property.

        You approach this issue from a time saving standpoint and others from a preference one. Your article (and your opinion) is neither completely right or completely wrong. Neither is the poster who you summarily dismissed as having an opinion that is “a gigantic load of crap”.

        Again, wow.

  • Gamefab

    First, i’m french, so sorry for my english skills.

    For me, FP+ is a good addition to the actual FP system. And I say that as a foreign visitor, who will be on a second stay at WDW next september.
    To really enjoy my days, a wan’t to be only one park a day (except Animal Kingdow, but it’s different), and so my restaurants reservations are made 180 days prior, because my hollidays are planed with my girlfriend long time prior the visit. And because of the restaurants reservation, i’m 99% sure to know wich park i will go each day. So, I hope I will be allowed to use the FP+ system to get, for example, a Toy Story Mania FP on Internet, and not going on FP line in a hurry in the morning and lose 10 minutes for waiting for a ticket.

    On my thoughts, FP+ will add more “freedom” for my hollidays, because i will less run along crisscross the parks.

    At last, I want to say that you probably miss the most important unkown point in FP+ system : will the amount of Fast Passes available each day on a attraction be on separate or unified total ? For example, if there is 2000 FP for a day at Soarin, will the FP+ be on the 2000 total, or on a seperate part ? Like 1000 FP / 1000 FP+. If Disney seperate the total of FP available each day, so FP+ will not really impact your day in park.

    Again, sorry for my english skills.

  • DavePurz

    We visited at WDW last year and couldn’t help but feel that Disney had its hands in my wallet at every turn and corner. We had the Disney Dining Plan and utilized it TO THE MAX to make sure we got our money’s worth, even going so far as to zero-out our food bank by getting 8 snacks, various drinks and such on the last day.

    Even though it was our first time there, we were easily able to exceed the 3 FastPasses per day limit that FP+ is going to offer, except at DAK.

    IF we were going to return, we wouldn’t do Disney Dining again because the latest price increase makes it no longer a value. I personally also have a HUGE objection to being banded and tagged like a wild animal. I don’t want to have my EVERY MOVE tracked and analyzed by some number crunchers who wants to find a way to keep me off rides (by reducing FastPass availability) and keep me IN stores, trying to extract EVERY LAST BIT of cash that I have in my bank account.

    Come to think of it, if this is what WDW is devolving into, we’ll just pass on returning. I know, I know, more rides for someone else. But you see, there AREN’T more rides under FP+.

    • It seems like this is exactly what they want to do. If you have $4,134 to spend on a family vacation they will make sure they get all $4,134. If you have $15,000 to spend, they’ll have something for you there too.

  • eynsteinp

    I know I am in the minority with this but I really don’t have a problem with the fastpass + system. While I agree adding rides is the best way to increase attendance but I don’t think people are fair in this regard towards WDW. I have a premier pass and visit Disneyland very frequently and WDW at least 1 to 2 times per year. While my kids are not the target audience of the new fantasyland expansion, they are vey excited for the seven dwarfs mine coaster. If the rumors are to be believed they are going to be doing a major overhaul to Hollywood Studios and adding Avatarland to Animal Kingdom. Epcot can use some new attractions but they did do a very good job with test track. My point is that the fastpass + system is not necessarily a replacement for new attractions but in addition to new attractions. I think that the WDW management takes a beating that is not always fair on these boards. Before judging fastpass +, maybe we should actually let them get it up and running and try it.

    • I did acknowledge in the article that new attractions are coming, however there has not been a new E-ticket attraction since 2006, and the last attraction actually announced for WDW was in January of 2011. The parks are getting stale and no amount of rebranding/repackaging is going to fix that. New rides will fix that.

      As for judging before it’s rolled out, Disney reads this sort of thing and fans do occasionally get heard. These judgements are based on what has been revealed up to this point (60 days out, limit 3 per day, etc). Yes, it’s possible that this all changes (fingers crossed), but right now this is what is known publicly.

  • Susan Hughes

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this stays at Walt Disney World. There were rumors that the often malfunctioning biometric finger print scanners at the turnstiles would be duplicated in Anaheim. And thankfully it never did. In fact, Disneyland and California Adventure came up with an alternative that works much better.
    So if they do in fact bring this to the west coast, I’m hoping it will be a different (and better) version of what Orlando is going to be burdened with. Or even better…it doesn’t come here at all!

    • DisneySam

      I’m sorry but where do you get your information regarding the biometric scanners. I’ve had annual passes for 10+ years and have not once come across a fingerprint scanner that did not work. In addition, the entrance “turnstiles” are fantastic to use and have worked perfectly every time as well. As with all technology (or even mechanical units) something is bound to fail at some point but you seem to be generalizing a great deal.

  • Country Bear

    I hate to be negative about something that is not in production yet, as I see some great “added” offerings that this system could hold if implemented properly. However, I must agree with almost every comment on this subject. Based on the information shared to this point, I feel like I am about to be manipulated and raped and given less than I once had at WDW. I already resent having to decide where to eat and what park I will feel like visiting everyday 6 months in advance. Now I will have to decide what attractions I want to visit that much in advance as well. I’m finding WDW to be a nightmare of stress and planning months before I even get there (this was already true before this new offering showed up). Some may comment that this is an added bonus to the experience (nobody’s talking about what you gave up to have these new features) but I’m not reading it that way currently. You will get less opportunities per day and you will have to book those opportunities well in advance or not be allowed to have access to them at all. Really? What if Space Mountain doesn’t suit me at 9am on Tuesday, 6 months from now? Do I simply say “no” once I’m there and kiss that Fastpass goodbye? In the current system you could gather as many as 8 of these passes and decide how you wanted to manage your day THAT SAME DAY. Disney is now saying that you can’t do that anymore. You get 3 and that’s it. And if you don’t book it early enough, you can settle for the Swiss Family Tree House and whatever other B-C tickets that are still available in our newly expanded Fastpass options. Oh, and thank you for staying at our resort in a mid-range higher priced hotel so we could share these wonderful new privileges with you. See how many benefits you get by being a part of the Disney magic? More decisions to make in advance but less options overall. How do you like us so far? I would have to say “not very much” at this point. Prove me wrong Disney, I beg of you.

    • Another enhancement to the current Fastpass system that can be integrated into Fastpass+:
      Link the Fastpass attractions at all 4 parks, and allow guests to make a Fastpass reservation for the park they’re hopping to once they’ve checked in at their first park of the day. It would follow the same rules as before, you would just be able to do it from any park.

      For example, you start your day at the Animal Kingdom and around noon you decide that you’re going to hop over to Hollywood Studios later. You can make a Fastpass reservation for Toy Story Mania for 8 PM and now your ticket is locked from Fastpass for 2 hours. You can still stay in DAK for those two hours but you can’t get any Fastpasses during that time. It’s a feature that I would love to see.

      • Country Bear

        Good points Tim, but that assumes there is availability of the Fastpass you are looking for. I am thinking that if you are comparing it to the reservation system for dining, I know that if I don’t book certain restaurants six months in advance to the second, I won’t be eating at them when I visit. I can’t help but think this will be true of Fastpasses for key attractions in all parks. I know that if I want to ride E tickets on the current system I have to get up early and get those passes right away, or resign myself to a standby line. Perhaps it wont operate that way and these attractions will always have times available for the Fastpass+ user so all this drama is for not. If the availability of these Fastpasses is always open then you don’t need to plan anything 6 months in advance. You’ll still get less passes but at least you’ll always get the key ones you want.
        My experiences hopping parks at WDW has not been good as it has taken about 2 hours to get from one to the other (with the exception of MK and Epcot). With park hours being cut on a regular basis this has small value to my family. We normally commit the day to the park we start with. But I see your point to the value of the system in that case. Again, assuming the pass is attainable.

      • Country Bear,
        If Fastpass distribution remains “day of”, there’s no reason to believe that the current distribution patterns would change until new attractions are added.

  • holierthanthoutx

    Amen, Amen and Amen.

    Everything about Fastpass+ sounds horrible. I dislike Fastpass enough as it is — it makes your day more stressful (get to the ride to get the Fastpass early, then make sure to watch the clock so you don’t miss your window, and don’t stray too far lest you can’t get back in time).

    My only hope is that the system ends up being underused. People will make their ride reservations 60 days in advance, then won’t actually use their Fastpass+ reservations on the specified day. Whether it’s because they’re in the wrong park, or in the wrong part of a park, or they just lost track of time, it could potentially benefit those in the standby line by reducing the number of people in the Fastpass+ line.

    The people who thought up Fastpass+ should be forced to plan their entire workdays 60 days in advance, EVERY DAY. That’ll show them what it’s like to micromanage your time before you even know what you’ll be doing.

    • The thing is, there are components of Fastpass+ that are beneficial. Being able to get a Fastpass on your phone is a great benefit, it eliminates crisscrossing the park or dealing with lines at the Kiosks themselves. If you don’t have a smart phone there can still be in park kiosks that would have access to every attraction, not just the one it’s near.

      This would be a great Day Of enhancement, but it’s still lousy at 60 days out.

    • Happiestcruiser

      My biggest issue with FastPass (or FastPass+) is that I do not WANT to plan my day. PERIOD! I have accepted that I have to plan my flight, plan my hotel — in many cases plan my one major meal of the day (depending on which park I am in) ALL in advance. I would like to relax on my vacation — not plan anything else.

      My method is to go to the park, see the sights, figure out which ride I am in the mood for and ride it when I wish to ride it. If I have to juggle the time I ride due to the current wait (or line-length) at that time, well, then I juggle. I go to another ride and pass the time.

      The last thing I want to do is plan which ride I wish to ride on which day at which time. How is that any different from work?

      • TodAZ1

        My favorite post. So far……….:)

  • Supermatt70

    The fact that FastPass has been added to attractions such as, It’s Tough to be a Bug (remember that it was previously removed from here as it wasn’t needed), American Idol Experience, Aladdin’s Magic Carpets and Spaceship Earth should be enough to give frequent WDW Guests pause. A system that adds FastPass to it’s a small world can only be viewed as suspicious. Why would WDW add FastPass to attractions that clearly operate fine without it (and have for forty plus years)? If anyone thinks that the Disney company is spending more than a billion dollars to benevolently help us, Guests, better manage our vacation priorities, then I have some land near the new Texas Disney project for sale cheap!

    • The thing is, you can actually have Fastpass added to some of those rides like Magic Carpets, SSE and it’s a small world, there’s just no reason to run it daily. Hopefully at least part of the plan is that the newly added Fastpass+ additions are not eligible for reservations on days with lower crowds.

  • StevenW

    Sorry, I have to be another contrary opinion on this article. Not that you’r wrong, but you taken your logic to an extreme.

    You said “deceiving the uninformed”. This is purely a subjective reaction. This comes after you already declared “most subjective things there is a sliding scale”. How do you know how people are uninformed about attractions? You don’t know especially since people have different tastes. Since Disney insists on using this system, it forces people to confront the attractions they like. They are BETTER informed after using the process than to arrive in the park and use FASTPASS without any prior exposure.

    You also assume a lot, like some attractions have less wait than others and people are idiots to pick incorrectly. This is by design as you already said the system that only featured the top attractions is unworkable. By featuring more attractions in the mix, even the more informed park visitor might pick the less popular attraction if that is their preference. Thus freeing up attractions for other patrons to use. We are dealing with a finite resource.

    Certainly, the logic is eventually Disney will have to add ride capacity. This is the only solution and I think we both agree.

    BTW, that form is the same one that Disney cruises uses. HINT!!!

    • The popularity of an attraction can easily be measured, wait times are a logical enough barometer. However, I have yet to see on any of the Fastpass+ testing an average wait time section for each attraction. Put that on there and you’re no longer deceiving guests.

      The current system at least benefits the ignorant in as much as they can get another Fastpass quicker. From an evolution standpoint, the distribution/usage policies of Fastpass+ should have come first and then evolved into the distribution/usage that currently exists. The new system is a step backwards.

      • StevenW

        What? Why do you need to advertise wait times? It isn’t necessary. Fastpass tells the guest that will not wait for their FAVORED attractions. So even if there’s an average wait time for some attractions at 1 hour and others at 30 minutes, they have zero waiting. You see, some might not want to do Space Mountain or Splash Mountain. I know people who won’t do thrills even if they are marquee attractions. AND let’s stop with assuming people are idiots. People know Space Mountain is a good attraction. That’s why Disney theme parks are so popular. It is strange to assume people who visit a theme park don’t know what they’re buying.

        Your evolution theory is unclear on what you’re trying to say. Fastpass and Fastpass+ policy is working hand in hand. You seem to have empathy for the stupid (not really, but I guess you do), but the result would be more congestion for the regular guests who didn’t participate in Fastpass+.

  • Malificent2000

    To play Devils advocate…

    Maybe Disney should just charge extra for this system. Universal charges for their Express Pass service to non resort guest. Maybe that would help… oh wait, no it wouldn’t, people would complain about that.

    Hmmm… maybe they will build Carsland in DHS like so many people want adding to the park a new guest experience… oh wait, many people complain about Disney cloning rides for both coast.

    I know, maybe Disney will create and build something new and creative for the parks to drive people there… oh wait, they announced Avatarland and it got major flack for that too.

    Well the only answer I see fit to answer the issue with Fastpass + is to fire all the Disney Executives and replace them with people who visit the parks and write blogs!

    • They will be charging extra for it, it just won’t be direct. It will be free the same way that Magical Express is free. There is no exchange of money when you get on Magical Express, the cost is just built into the cost of the room.

  • Big D

    Like all theme park decisions, this will benefit some people and hurt some people. Obviously this is clearly designed for the person who is booking a package from out of town. The locals with annual passes will probably be hurt, or at least not benefit very much, by this new system. Guess which person Disney cares about more? The person spending $5000 on a package to WDW who is going to spend even more money on three meals a day, souvenirs, etc. I work in the travel industry and I sell packages to WDW among many other things. People booking a trip to somewhere they’ve never been before usually do want everything planned out ahead of time so that when they get to where they are going, they don’t really have to think about it, they just show up and follow the itinerary. It never ceases to amaze me how many European rail tickets we sell to people ahead of time who just want to know for sure that they have their seats already taken care of, even though it costs about $40 extra then buying it on the spot and I’ve never, ever heard of a European train selling out (other then overnight trains). Yes, one someone actually gets to WDW they might realize that getting a Fastpass+ reservation for the Flying Carpets was probably unnecessary, but it’s just not worth the stress of worrying about it for the three months between when you book the trip and when you actually go. In reality, it is probably unnecessary, but perception is more important and this will probably be perceived by the person coming New York or Dallas or wherever who has never been to WDW before as an added value. Then when they go back a second time they’ll already be used to Fastpass+ and they’ll have a better understanding of which rides they need to pre-reserve and which rides they don’t. So I do think that it will be a perceived benefit for the out-of-town tourist, and that’s pretty much all that matters to Disney.

  • TodAZ1

    It’s funny because, like a bank, Disney is “offering” something to the public that they are hoping the public thinks is a benefit to them. But, also like a bank, nothing is done without, ultimately, benefitting the company. Guests be damned.

    Sad, too, because I’ve never compared Disney to a bank before. But, more and more, that’s how I’m seeing Disney.

    • StevenW

      Your analogy is flawed. You missed Big D’s previous response. There are two guests served here by Disney (The Bank). Public 1 and Public 2. Public 1 is the on-site vacationing guests. Public 2 is the off-site guests and locals. There are slightly more benefits for Public 1 than Public 2. This means Public 1 is served a guaranteed 3 more rides without wait times per day than Public 2; however, Public 2 can still use Fastpass and accumulate Fastpasses depending on demand.

      Who will miss out? Those who might not want to use Fastpasses, or those who focus on rides that are not popular, but this is subjective. Depends on the guest.

  • DisneySam

    What’s amazing to me is that some people are complaining that they don’t want to schedule themselves on vacations and that Disney is forcing them to do so. That is not at all the case. You either use Fastpass + or you don’t. Same as now, you can pre-book your dining, run to grab a Fastpass or not. As an annual passholder and DVC member I like to do it both ways. It depends on my mood, length of stay, etc. And either way my wife and I always manage to have a good time! I guess it just depends on your attitude and whether or not you decide to wait and see the results or make assumptions on what is to come. I prefer to see the results.

    • DisneySam, the problem with the choice of not doing this things is that you’re not getting as good an experience as you could. You could make a reservation to a nice restaurant for your anniversary, or you could have forgot to make a reservation and wind up at McDonald’s. The two are far from equal.

      • DisneySam

        Tim, I’ve been enough times to know when it is good to make a reservation and when it is fine not to. Going to Disney should be no different than planning a night on the town in your local area. You either decide to head out and wing it with your decisions made on the fly or you decide to plan it out and make dinner reservations and pre-purchase your movie tickets (or whatever entertainment you had planned). If I have a special event to celebrate I make sure to plan things out. If I don’t care what happens then I let the day dictate itself to me. The institution of FastPass+ or anything else doesn’t change that in any way. Some people are acting as though their freedom of choice is being infringed on here and that is simply not the case at all.

  • TDSTOM

    All these bloggers always hate everything. I guess it “sells papers” to be negative. But everyone I’ve talked to just LOVE the new Fastpass + system. I guess the proof’s *NOT* in the pudding.

    Thomas

    • papamouse1

      I do hear what you are saying, but be careful you don’t make the same mistake as the haters. The FP+ system has NOT been used in full functionality yet, so no matter how many people say they loved it when they were in a limited experiment, it is not a trustworthy analysis . Not until the whole thing rolls out and we get real data to show if its working. I hope it does work, I am just not confident yet. I guess we will see, they have spent WAY too much money to just scrap it, so it is coming!

  • aggiemullins

    One big positive aspect to fastpass+ (in regards to Big Brother watching your every move) is how it will show them when and where they’re losing money. With everything linked to wristbands, it won’t take a rocket scientist to breakdown how many of our vacation days and dollars they’re losing to Potterland, Sea World, Legoland, etc.

    Numbers don’t lie and they’ll have precise data to back up their incompetency and lack of respect for the guest and the competition.

  • papamouse1

    While the article made a good point when it said that the current FP system discriminates against those who don’t know how it works, there is an even more disturbing trend coming with FP+. Unless this program goes through some extensive changes, the FP+ system and My Disney Experience is so convoluted and involved that I believe even more people will be discriminated against because this is even more complicated and unforgiving than the current system. The + system will not bring the FP experience to more to enjoy…

  • Skipper A

    Here’s a counter-article pointing out so gaping logic flaws in the article. This article is under researched and presents a very biased opinion as fact. The link below is for an article that specifically counters point by point this article.

    http://orlandohipster.blogspot.com/2013/07/my-magic-busting-misconceptions-and-hate.html

  • Dania

    Well I am apparently in the minority here, but I love the concept of the new Fastpass+ system. We can only travel once every one to two years to WDW and it has been YEARS since we’ve been able to rid the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Peter Pan’s Flight. My children have never experienced them as I did when I was growing up and it saddens me. The thing is, what one person considers “top attractions” that merit a guest getting a FP for is not necessarily what another person considers a “must-ride” attraction. If we could schedule FP riding times for BTMR, Peter Pan’s Flight and Toy Story in Tomorrowland, our trip to the MK would be successful IN OUR EYES. I would consider getting a FP to Pirates of the Caribbean or The Haunted Mansion way more important than scoring one for Space Mountain or Journey of the Little Mermaid (which we wasted a FP on during our last vacation and shook our heads collectively when we exited wondering “That was it? I didn’t get to ride Peter Pan’s Flight FOR THIS?”. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is a happy and satisfying Disney World vacation. I for one am thrilled they are finally allowing guests to schedule FP times (I’ve been praying for this FOR YEARS). Just knowing we will be able to ride what WE want to ride without having to criss-cross the park, wasting time, with the small kids in tow is a HUGE stress reliever. Believe it or not folks, there are many of us out here who are happy about Fastpass+.

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