I think I’m going to bring cookies to the Guest Relations Cast Members at Animal Kingdom. They will need the boost! What’s going on? FASTPASS as you know it will end this week (starting December 18) at Animal Kingdom, with only electronic (ie, FASTPASS+, or FP+) reservations remaining. The paper ticket system (“legacy FASTPASS”) will be turned off. This test is scheduled to last for four days, but clearly this is meant to be a taste of the future and what awaits us all.
Of course, apart from Guest Relations, the OTHER (and more important) population sure to notice the changes are those tens of thousands of visitors who don’t know it’s coming. Those who read Disney fan sites may have heard the news, but that leaves many tens of thousands of families who have no clue, and will show up at this park expecting an experience like they’ve had since FP was introduced widely thirteen years ago across the resort. They’ll still find paper tickets available at MK, Epcot, and DHS, but at DAK what they’ll see instead reportedly looks like this:
- The paper FP machines will be turned off.
- Those visitors with MagicBands (ie, staying at a Disney resort) were given the opportunity weeks (months?) ago to book advance reservations for rides (up to three total). Those reservations are unaffected, and can still be adjusted if desired at the in-park kiosks or via smartphone app.
- Those visitors without MagicBands can use their park admission media, which is RFID capable, as a MagicBand equivalent for swiping in for a FP+ reservation. But they won’t HAVE reservations in advance, because they didn’t have that opportunity. So instead, they will be allowed to make same-day reservations at the digital kiosks scattered around the park (note: the smartphone app will not allow them to make reservations).
- Both MagicBands and non-MB visitors will be limited to three ride reservations per day.
- There are no “tiers” at DAK like there are in DHS and Epcot (in those parks, you can only reserve ONE of the high-demand rides like Soarin’ or Test Track–you have to choose which tier-one ride you want).
Which rides take FP+? Here’s the complete list: Character Greeting at Adventurers Outpost, Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo The Musical, Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Primeval Whirl, and It’s Tough to be a Bug.
Where are the kiosks? So far, here’s what’s been installed: Kali River Rapids, Primeval Whirl, Expedition Everest, Disney Outfitters, and Creature Comforts.
The pessimist (realist?) in me wonders what will happen if people wait in line for those kiosks – and it could be a long line, given how few kiosks there are – only to discover that all the E-ticket attractions are ‘sold out’ for the day. Will there be feelings of betrayal? A storm of protests at Guest Relations?
You can see why they’d do a test like this at DAK, the “smallest” park in terms of attractions. It’s less clear why they’d do it during such a busy period. And it may make even less sense to do this when there are still shakedown-cruise bugs to work out (about every fifth or tenth reservation we make is not recognized by the system in front of the attraction, especially if made by smartphone. This is presently fixed by pulling up the reservation on the phone and showing the screen to the CM. Will this solution scale up?)
The move to electronic-only, and ditching the paper FP, will not shock many readers of MiceChat, as we’ve been saying this was likely always in the plan. The system won’t realize its full potential until it’s the ONLY reservation system in use, meaning the paper system has to go.
I think it’s also logical to assume that “advance” registrations – as opposed to those available for day-on only – will also remain only with those who have MagicBands. Doing that gives Disney a HUGE advantage. It will make everyone want to book Disney hotels. Forget 90% occupancy – they ought to be able to realize 100% occupancy on this basis alone. In many real ways, Walt Disney World is not in the theme park business, but the hotel business.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Disney intends to do away with Extra Magic Hours – the current hotel perk – once they fully ramp up advance reservations as the main perk for staying onsite. If they do that, and I think they will, they will be able to “save money” by saving labor and operating costs (power bill, water bill, etc) and yet keeping hotel occupancy high, or even higher.
More and more of the unknown variables in MyMagic+ are becoming known. Initially we didn’t know how many reservations per day you’d get, if the rides would be in tiers, if there would be any benefit to staying at Disney hotels for using it, and so on. We know all of that now, and increasingly it looks like they are building in massive incentives for people to use MyMagic+
Sure, it’s true that you can opt out of the MagicBands and preserve (most of) your privacy. But if you do that, you’ll lose out on some of the major benefits, like advance reservations. (Unless you can somehow have a MM+ account and make reservations but NOT use a MagicBand?)
There’s an old saying on Wall Street: don’t fight the Fed. The Federal Reserve sets interest rates for bank borrowing costs, and it’s part of their charter to fight inflation, so when the Fed decides to do something, Wall Street definitely notices so much that everyone gets jumpy on the news, and the prices of stocks seem to recognize instantly that the Federal Reserve is so powerful, it can move markets just by implying future action. Thus, it seems folly to “fight the Fed” and pretend the market will do anything other than what the Fed wants it to do. It’s starting to look to me like something similar is happening with MyMagic+ in that you certainly COULD try to buck the system, but there are so many incentives in the direction of this new program, it would be foolhardy to ignore it.
Don’t fight MyMagic+. By hook or by crook, it WILL make money. As a program Disney has invested more than a billion in, it’s just too big to fail.
I really do feel bad for the Guest Relations CMs. First all the issues with transforming the GAC card to the DAS system – yielding plenty of in-person queries and concomitant complaints – and now this. I would say this is why they get paid the big bucks, but, well, first that requires they actually get paid big bucks.
WDW Clicks - Holiday Decorations Tour, DtD Food Trucks, DAK construction
We tour the decorated campsites of Fort Wilderness, take in the holiday decorations at the Epcot Resort hotels, photograph the four new food trucks at Downtown Disney, examine the new trees now at Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster, chronicle updates at It’s a Small World post-refurb, catch up on some additions to Space Mountain and Dinosaur, see the Lion King theater construction, and commemorate the return of zebras to Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o4eajJq8xQ