FastPass+ Midterm Report

Written by Kevin Yee. Posted in Kevin Yee, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

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Published on January 07, 2014 at 2:00 am with 42 Comments

In the early days of FP+ and MagicBands, there was a lot of speculation (and more than a little hand wringing) because we didn’t know a lot of details. Now that the tests are several months old and have spread to all Disney Resorts, it’s time to dip our toes back into the water of evaluation. Is this system making things better, or worse? It turns out to not be the disaster that some feared. In some ways, things are roughly the same. Granted, power users of the legacy FP system will have to expect some changes on their next visit, perhaps even big ones, but to my mind the managers in charge of this rollout have done a surprisingly good job at keeping things fair.

We’ll structure today’s article as a listing of fears about the system (given voice by many online when it was first proposed and then initially rolled out), followed by a discussion of what actually seems to be happening in the parks.

Fear #1 – the reservations will be snapped up online by vacationers paying to stay at Disney hotels, leaving nothing available on the “day of”.

These fears seem overblown. Below is a screencapture of your available day-of choices as recorded at 9am on December 31, 2013 (the very busiest day of the year):

oct-31-9am

What I notice about this picture is how reasonable this seems. 9:00am is early, all right, but it’s not like all the rides were sold out weeks ago.

By noon that same day, there were STILL reservations available for most (not all) attractions, though the return times were up to 8pm or 9pm in some cases.

Crowds on Dec. 30, but still there were reservations available.

Crowds on Dec. 30, but still there were reservations available.

And this is WITH the MagicBands (MB) being used at many Disney resorts. People staying at these hotels were sent emails letting them know they could do early reservations. They call it a “test” but I’m not sure how limited the test pool is; lately it’s looked like everyone at a Disney hotel could have a MB and make advance reservations. Apparently the phase out of Keys to the World cards is on track to be done by the end of January. (You can still request a non-band option if preferred).

Assuming many on property has the bands, this *is* the system operating near full capacity, at least as far as advance reservations go. And still, there are same-day reservations available, so the fear about not having same-day reservations seems to be have mitigated, perhaps due to limits placed on how many slots are given over to advance reservations.

That last point – limits on advance reservations – is key. It’s an easy exercise in logic to deduce that the reason there are day-of FASTPASSES and FP+ reservations is that they have restricted the total amount of online reservations (otherwise they would be sold out). I think they’ve done something smart here. They recognized they had a once in a lifetime opportunity to reset expectations about what ride reservations are, how they work, how many you are entitled to, and so on, and have wisely chosen a track that will spread out the benefits. It’s not ONLY those who plan months in advance who will get benefit; there is still benefit available for those who arrive that day. This was done by keeping the number of online reservations to just three in total for the park, but ALSO by limiting how many of a specific attraction (say: Space Mountain) are held for online only. The online reservations for Space Mountain would sell out long before the ACTUAL slots are filled, because they are keeping some (many?) in reserve for day-of reservations. Smart.

MyMagic+ kiosks have replaced paper FP at Stitch

MyMagic+ kiosks have replaced paper FP at Stitch

Of course, there are some big caveats: some (but not all) the parks have “tiers” (basically, you can only get one E-Ticket ride at those parks by advance reservation), only DAK has the “legacy” (paper) FASTPASS machines turned off, and offsite visitors (including annual passholders not staying at a Disney hotel) don’t have a way to make advance reservations, only same-day reservations. So it’s not quite FULL capacity yet after all.

Fear #2 – “power” users of the older FASTPASS system will now have to stand in more lines compared to a year ago.

This one, I think, is going to be true. You can’t get blood from a stone, and you can’t create additional ride capacity just from reservations. If the benefit of ride reservations are to be spread out evenly over the whole population (ie, make EVERYONE a power user), then yes, there needed to have a been a redistribution of benefits. I would argue that those who previously got on 25 rides in a day were able to achieve that much FASTPASS success because there were rubes in the park who didn’t know about the system, or thought it was optional and not really of much benefit, or thought it was for payment only. In other words, they benefited from the ignorance of others. Over the years that ignorance has gone down, and the advance reservations – with multiple emails going out encouraging them to try it – is likely to mean less ignorance going forward.

Not long for the world: Meet Mickey FastPass

Not long for the world: Meet Mickey paper FastPass

Fear #3 – Standby lines will move SLOWER than they did in the legacy FP era, since there are so many reservations now.

The jury is out, of course, because we don’t know yet if they will add tiers to all parks, whether off-site visitors will get advance reservations, or what will happen once they turn off paper FASTPASSES, but on balance I think this fear will not come true.

The pace of the Standby line is a function of many moving parts. How high is the throughput for the attraction in the first place? A people eater will move lines faster, of course. What is the merge-point Cast Member aiming to get as an intermix ratio? 70% reservations and 30% Standby, or 80/20? How good is that CM at actually hitting her target numbers?

The big elephant in the room, though, is total number of reservations sloshing around in the system. If this were Wall Street and we were talking about stocks, I’d use the term “float”–how many shares are out there? If there are a LOT of them, that decreases the value of each one–again, for Wall Street. For FastPass+, the float does something different: it affects the speed of the Standby queue. If there are FEWER total reservations for Space Mountain in 2015 versus 2009, then the Standby line will go FASTER in the new order. If there are MORE, the line will go slower. This is a number Disney can control, which also means it’s a number they can adjust as they continue to roll out FP+ and tweak things. I certainly hope they consider making the float smaller than the legacy FP days. It would mean faster-moving Standby lines. Yes, it would mean fewer people got all the reservations they wanted, but that’s part and parcel of this change. If they are re-defining what park ride reservations mean and what they look like, why not redefine it in a way that means you get SOME of your favorites locked in, but not EVERYTHING? It spreads the benefits around to everyone.

Fear #4 – newbies will be confused and clog up the system.

A little of this seems to be true. There are delays as people try to scan their MBs “Mickey to Mickey” (which is harder than you’d think). There are the usual folks trying to return early and clog up the entrance. And the combination of those two clogs means a line forms outside the FP+ entrance, effectively creating a line to skip the line. On December 30, the Space Mtn Return line began next to the elevators for Astro-Orbitor–all the way across Tomorrowland. Routinely, Big Thunder must now use queue poles outside the FP return area since the line is so long.

I suspect some of this will work itself out. The introduction of paper FASTPASS in 1999 resulted in similar confusion and delays. Inch by inch, they will work out the kinks.

Carousel of Progress was a "freebie" paper FP

Carousel of Progress was a “freebie” paper FP

Fear #5 – Locals without MagicBands will be shut out.

The status on this one is unknown. So far, nothing has been sent to annual passholders about FP+ that I’m aware of. It’s possible we are already where Disney wants us to be: if you stay at a Disney hotel, you get the band and can make advance reservations. Otherwise, you can show up that morning and make your own reservations. Of course, locals could always stay at a Disney hotel (despite living 15 minutes away, say) and still get a MB that way.

I do hope they find a way to grant advance reservations to annual passholders, even those not staying on property. Something would be off on the fairness meter if this group of highly dedicated individuals was left completely in the cold in favor of the hotel visitors. I can see the logic of rewarding and incentivizing the hotels MORE, but hopefully that doesn’t mean giving no rewards at all to annual passholders.

Things are about to get more interesting. I’m hearing whispers online that the legacy (paper) FASTPASS machines are about to get ripped out of the parks entirely. Some say late January will be the purge, but certainly by summer at latest we will see a full ramp-up to electronic reservations only.

As I’ve been claiming for a few weeks now, by hook or by crook, MyMagic+ will be seen as a success. Disney has lots of levers and lots of leverage to get people to use the system, with incentives lurking in all sorts of places. Discontinuing the paper FP system is only one part of that larger machinery to guarantee a return on investment on this billion-dollar program.

Earbook 2013 is now available!

I publish an annual “yearbook” of Walt Disney World changes – completely unofficial and told from one fan’s collection of pictures. This year’s volume is now ready and for sale! It costs $12.99 (often discounted by Amazon) and is 66 pages of full-color images.

There was a lot added to Walt Disney World in 2013, including Princess Fairytale Hall, A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas, Villas at Grand Floridian, Limited Time Magic, Jingle Cruise, Long Lost Friends, MagicBands, Wilderness Explorers, Norsk Kultur, Princesse Plass, Rapunzel Bathrooms, Prince Eric’s Village Market, L’artisan des Glaces, Lava Lounge, and several Starbucks shops. We bade goodbye to Apricot Lane, Bamboo, Beastly Bazaar, Cap’n Jack Restaurant, Club 626, Countdown to Fun, Disney Channel Rocks, Fuego, Haagen Dazs, National Treasures at the American Heritage Gallery, Sid Cahuenga’s, SmarterPlanet, Sound Stage, SpectroMagic (officially), Stave Church Gallery, and Wetzel’s Pretzels. Re-live the special events, additions, removals, and alterations with this yearbook-style volume designed to show, using hundreds of pictures, how rapidly the portrait of life at Walt Disney World changes. An index at the back will make finding information even years from now a breeze.

The Kindle version isn’t ready yet, but hopefully soon.

You can also find older editions on Amazon: 2012 print, 2011 print (or Kindle), and 2010 print (or Kindle).

Top Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris – Now in Print Also!

My quick-and-dirty guide to visiting DLP – with emphasis on traveling considerations, navigating the country and streets without speaking French, and making good decisions before your vacation – has long been on sale on Kindle. Until this week, however, there was no option to buy it as a paperback. I’ve finally fixed that. The print version retails for $5.99 and is 62 pages long. Unlike the ‘Earbook, this one is not a picture book primarily, so the photos are fewer in number and come in black and white, to keep the book price down.

WDW Clicks #9 - Holiday crowds, minor construction at WDW, Fun Spot additions

 

Updates this week include:

  • Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special at DHS
  • small improvements to Backlot Tram Tour
  • Downtown Disney parking garage update
  • Magic Mirror at World of Disney
  • 2014 logo merchandise
  • Tortuga Tavern buffet
  • Incredibles Super Dance Party in Tomorrowland
  • Diamond Horseshoe holiday meals
  • Mission Space postshow area screens
  • RFID readers in shops
  • Cast Member gingerbread houses in the Land pavilion
  • updates to Living with the Land
  • new ornaments in France pavilion
  • Spice Road Table signage
  • Hogwarts Express construction update (IOA side)
  • new coasters at Fun Spot America on International Drive

Direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh4W0xHQx8M&feature=youtu.be

And, because I didn’t have a video last week, there is a SECOND video update this time:

WDW Clicks #10 – Farewell to MK Parade, Heritage House, Seven Dwarfs Mine shop

 

We say goodbye in pictures to three things this week: Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade, Heritage House (exit to Hall of Presidents), and Seven Dwarfs Mine shop near the Princess exit in Fantasyland. Plus, we peek at ongoing mine coaster construction and see what’s new at Fun Spot.

Direct link: http://youtu.be/KK3qnaLJaqE

About Kevin Yee

Kevin Yee is an author and blogger writing about travel, tourism, and theme parks in Central Florida. He spent more than a decade working at Disneyland and cultivating a never-ending fascination with that park’s rich traditions and history. Now relocated to Orlando, Kevin enjoys the Disney offerings on both sides of the country. Kevin is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History. Readers are invited to connect with him online and face to face at the following locations: UltimateOrlando.com – Kevin’s personal blog for daily WDW updates Public Facebook page – or friend his personal Facebook account, Twitter feed (user UltOrlando), Google+ account (user cafeorleans), Email at [email protected], Weekly Walt Disney World, a Facebook group of regulars who visit Disney World each weekend. Visitors from out of town are encouraged to come and say hello when in Orlando! Join the FB group to learn when/where the next meet is. Kevin’s books on Amazon

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42 Comments

Comments for FastPass+ Midterm Report are now closed.

  1. Just looking at the WDW Magic Handcuffs screen of options and imagining a family of 5 from 9-50 looks like a giant pain. Reminds me of some spreadsheet at a job.

    Somebody in the family is going to be tired in the morning and not want to get up on “their” vacation at 7 am?

    Somebody else is going to want to head back to the hotel in the early evening but need to hang around until a 9 pm fastpass at Imagination?

    It’s going to rain hard on the morning of your Thunder Mountain Handcuff Reservation Time.

    Of course, none of this is about “our” vacation is it? This is about what WDW wants; no more infrastructure (rides) by driving guests to 10+ year old undesireable attractions, and trying to make guests over pay for WDW motel 6 value motels.

    • What would you do if you got a paper FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain in the afternoon, and it was pouring rain the rest of the day? With the paper FastPass system, you couldn’t make changes. With FastPass+, you can go in — right up to your reservation start time — and change to a different attraction.

      If someone doesn’t want to hang around until 9:00 for Illuminations, then don’t use the FastPass+. Or change it to something different. It’s very easy.

      • Well, we watch the weather and choose where to go based on that and what we desire to do on the night before. When our family wakes up in the morning we verify that we still want to do the same thing we decided at bed time.

        We don’t want to run around trying to log in and change last minute trying to get 3 reservations whenever WDW says we can have them.

        This is what we do at Universal. We are at Universal now. It was cold yesterday so we chose Universal Studios because there are so many rides and shows indoors. Then we skipped all the lines with our Portofino pass. We decided what we wanted to do next after each attraction. The Mummy made a couple of us feel like waiting to do Transformers a little later because the rides are a little tough in a row. So, we did the Disaster show and Animal show in between.

        We didn’t decide 8 weeks ago what we wanted to ride yesterday.

        Can’t you see something is screwy when Carousel of Progress has a Fastpass?

        We aren’t spending any money or time at WDW this vacation or on our last two.

        Maybe WDW will be catering to us in the near future because we have changed from Die Hard WDW fans into Universal fans. We are now WDW VERY infrequent users.

        Come on New London, Hogwarts Station and Train (which a cast member told us will be several simulations of journeys with over a 6 minute travel time), and Gringott’s E-Ticket attraction.

      • CaptainAction, to be fair, the FastPass+ experience and the “front of the line via Universal Hotels or Universal Express massive upcharge” is an apples and oranges comparison. Whether one likes MyMagic+ or not, it’s included in the cost of admission. One has to pay a lot more for an a la carte ticket addition of Express or spend at least $200 a night on a hotel room to get that treatment. The two aren’t remotely equivalent experiences. (For that matter, considering that MiceAge has long lamented over the increasingly economic class based stratification of the parks at Disney, one can’t get more ‘steerage versus first class’ than Universal Express.)

      • Aaronius,

        I have a family of 5 and we live in another state. I can put us all into Pop Century in TWO rooms w each room running around $120-$160 per night, per room with the frills of MOTEL 6. That is $240-$320 per night, STANDING up in a CROWDED BUS.

        OR, we can stay in a 900 SQ FT suite at the 4-5 star Portfino for under $200 per night w Universal AP discount. This suite has TWO FULL baths, DVD player, cool boat rides which travel the mile long beautiful canals to the front of both parks, the boats run so often that we have never needed to stand on the trek, included access to 5 star spa at hotel, pools of Wilderness Lodge quality theming, early park adm, front of lines at 99% of all rides as often as we like, $100 of restaurant credit at hotel per check in, (Loew’s First Club – which is free), etc.

        We don’t understand your point.

        One company is spending money on the guests – Universal, with this kind of treatment, new rides, new lands, cutting edge technology, new infrastructure, etc

        The other, WDW, won’t spend money on infrastructure so guests stand up on a bus which they waited for over 20 minutes, must choose restaurants 180 days ahead, choose parks 180 days ahead, choose rides 180 days ahead, and be ovr charged and treated like suckers.

        We haven’t been to any WDW parks in two years except waterparks and 2014 will be year 3.

      • CaptainAction, AGAIN you compare apples and oranges.

        I’m getting two midpriced hotel rooms for five people versus a discounted premium suite single room for five people.

        Would the midpriced hotel rooms offer significant savings with their own discount? (I’m betting yes, see Mousesavers.com.)

        Or is there a suite available at its own discount? (again, see Mousesavers and I’m betting yes.)

        Could a family of five go even cheaper with a rollaway? (I don’t know if they allow them in the All-Star/Value Resorts, but if they did, even WITH a discount its a done deal.)

        I totally agree with you regarding the Motel 6 “ambiance” of that class of hotel, so why not stay off property? That gets us into “apples and oranges” again, but note that wherever one stays, on-property or off, for a ton of money or for next to none, everyone gets equal access FastPass. If you want front of the line, you have to stay at an expensive Universal Resort (as the Cabana Bay won’t offer it,) or pay approximately half the cost of a single day ticket to gain Universal Express.

        That’s it. It’s apples and oranges.

        Now, you may PREFER Universal, Universal Express and the Portofino Bay to anything Disney has to offer, but you’re comparing apples to oranges. A full priced SET of rooms in a 2.5-3-star clean motel to a discounted single suite in a 4-star hotel. A queue-jump reservation system available to all guests to a for-premium-onsite-hotel-guests or those who pay a lot of money for the service of skipping MOST lines except Harry Potter. Once.

        It’s two different systems. Two different hotel classes. Two different amount of rooms. Two different measures of pricing (with or without discount.) You presented a very skewed picture of an apples to oranges comparison.

        And dude. Disney World is way, WAY worse than Universal Orlando is at the moment, and will remain that way until at LEAST 2018 or so, if not longer, considering the dilly-dallying. You don’t have to remotely skew a comparo.

        Even if MyMagic+ works out like a dream and all the vacation planning fanatics are thrilled with the system, Disney World has nothing on the level of Harry Potter Land at present.

        NOTHING.

        They have nothing on the level of Transformers at present.

        NOTHING.

        They have nothing on the level of The Mummy Ride at present.

        NOTHING.

        Heck, they have nothing on the level of the Spider-Man ride, and that’s 15 years old.

        NOTHING.

        So, you don’t have to compare a full-priced set of motel rooms to a discounted 4-star resort. Just compare the level of awesome rides and experiences from one park to another. Universal, at least for this generation and probably the next, wins, every time…and will until Disney wakes ups, if they do.

      • Aaronius,

        I didn’t skew. I showed what $200 gets a family of 5 at Universal to WDW. Motel 6 in 2 rooms at Pop Century and buses or 4-5 star Portofino in 900 sq ft suite w 2 full baths and boats, etc.

  2. Has it been confirmed that they’re saving slots for same-day reservations? Last I heard from somebody who works on the MM+ program is that nothing is saved, and it’s all first come first served. I suspect this may change as FP+ gets introduced to off-property guests, but for now it seems like they’re stuck eating leftovers

    Then again, there appears to be plenty of capacity for high-demand attractions to accept reservations, so it may not really be necessary

  3. I hope you are right about all of this. My personal experience was that 3 & 4 were both COMPLETELY true. Stand-by lines were out of control slow and the inability to use the system correctly was bogging everything down from park entrance to fast pass lines. This was consistent over 10 days in October.

  4. October was the beginning of the test of the Magic Bands at the Resorts so of course operations taxed.

    • Oh yes, I’m sure the Magic Handcuffs will work better at Christmas, New Years, Spring Breaks, Summer, Easter, and Thanksgiving.

      Fastpasses for Imagination, Carousel of Progress, Treehouse? Wake up. This all sounds like a Goofy joke.

      • CaptainAction, while I agree that this program is most certainly for the benefit of Disney versus the benefit of the guests, clearly there’s a market for the over-planned Disney vacation. There are guidebooks and ‘experts’ who staunchly advise working out a game plan for your visit months in advance, making reservations at restaurants far out from the actual dining date, and so on. So, while YOU may not be one of those Disney vacationers, a LOT of people ARE, as a statistical cohort.

        It makes sense, really, as one is going to spend a LOT of money on a familial trek to Disney World. One would want to get all the “good stuff” in, so one might consider a game plan to the parks. Even as a frequent Disney guest and former “casual Floridian daytripper,” I had my game plan locked upon my park visit, honed after years of attendance. (Not that my personal anecdote is any more evidentual than yours.)

        As for the Magic Handcuffs, if they’re really going to be so offensive to the visiting public, don’t go. It’s really as simple as that. Nobody is being force-fed anything. Go to Universal, or SeaWorld or Busch Gardens or Legoland or FunSpot.

        My biggest issue with MyMagic+ is that it seems to be the cart before the horse, which is to say that attraction investment on a scale as far-reaching and as grand as the billions spent on this system should have been made PRIOR to the implementation of MyMagic+, not after or in lieu of. But, I’m not an executive at Disney, where there is no doubt a wall of data that supports the other side of this argument.

      • Aaronius,
        What makes you assume I’m still going to WDW?
        We haven’t been in 2 years.
        This will be my family of 5′s year 3 for not visiting.
        We used to go for around 3 weeks every year split up over 2-3 trips.
        You seem to want me to quit writing and pointing out all the terrible decisions and extreme lazyness of WDW execs over the last 10 years.
        Why should I stop writing about my opinions?
        I’m not in the mood to quit, sorry.
        When I started pointing out that the new WDW emperors have no clothes I only had a few folks as company, now most folks are seeing it and writing about it.
        The folks defending all this lazyness and selfishness of WDW execs are in denial and can’t admit the truth about how they are being treated relative to pre 10 years ago, or are castmembers, or related to castmembers.

      • Aaronius,
        What makes you assume I’m still going to WDW?
        We haven’t been in 2 years.
        This will be my family of 5′s year 3 for not visiting.
        We used to go for around 3 weeks every year split up over 2-3 trips.
        You seem to want me to quit writing and pointing out all the terrible decisions and extreme lazyness of WDW execs over the last 10 years.
        Why should I stop writing about my opinions?
        I’m not in the mood to quit, sorry.
        When I started pointing out that the new WDW emperors have no clothes I only had a few folks as company, now most folks are seeing it and writing about it.
        The folks defending all this lazyness and selfishness of WDW execs are in denial and can’t admit the truth about how they are being treated relative to pre 10 years ago, or are castmembers, or related to castmembers.

  5. I was happy with the magic bands and didn’t experience any big issues. But I’m still not sure there are any major benefits to us as consumers. I was able to take advantage of the legacy FP systems and got tons of FP’s and I went when it wasn’t overly busy. changing ride times and parks was easy. Until the last 3 days when we hit thanksgiving week. we couldnt change much even the day before. I usually try to avoid dates like that so I’m not too concerned.

    As much as my experience was positive, I’m still not entirely convinced. My only problem is and remains booking FP’s months in advance and then having to change them if I plan for something different or the weather dictates a change. And again I really had no troubles most of the trip, but on busy days people are going to have to stick with what they have.

    I feel like I was sceptical, went and had a good experience, but remain sceptical. Which to me is a weird feeling. I was proved wrong in my assumptions yet still feel something negative about that one aspect.

  6. We will be at WDW at the end of January and we just got our bands for the test last week. Should be interesting.

  7. As a DVC member and annual passholder we got magic bands during a recent stay. Now that we have the bands it looks like I can go online and book advanced reservations for any day I choose. I haven’t gone all the way through the process yet but I was testing to see if I could pick any day at random, without having booked a stay, and the site was giving me available options to choose from. I plan to take a day trip soon and will try to make reservations then and see what happens.

  8. I remember when you used to be in SoCal and write about Fastpass and how locals were taking advantage of the knowledge of how to use it – and that most tourists (out of town guests) most likely don’t even know much about it or how to use the system. And yet – today you write how Fastpass+ and MyMagic+ is in use (with many assumptions) by both hotel guests and the impact on locals. It seems, to me, that the theme here is that WDW guests are more learned and more knowledgeable about the use of MyMagic+ and FP+ – and yet there is still an unknown about exactly why there are still reservations left. I would state that there are still many out of towners who don’t know how to use the system and what it means for their stay. Same as the old Fastpass. Once its been around longer than 1 year then I think you have enough time for the use of the system to percolate across most all groups – and how to incorporate it into their stay.

    • The difference versus 1999, when I was pretty anti-FastPass, is that the company is going into this trying to favor the infrequent visitor this time, unlike in 1999.

      Then: frequent visitors had the upper hand by a lot, both in terms of knowledge and access.

      Now: infrequent visitors – the ones booking Disney’s overpriced hotel rooms – are getting emailed and told to make advance reservations. They are doing so because they are used to the idea of ride reservations (which have been around since 1999).

      The reason there is excess capacity is that everyone is limited to THREE reservations, not seven or ten or whatever the power users were getting in the paper system. It spreads the wealth and the benefit, so to speak. In 2015 we’ll have fewer benefits for the superusers compared to 1999, but we’ll also have more benefits for the rubes compared to 1999.

  9. This “fair” symantics is anything but fair to the public. It swaps out a system that was not broke and replaced with a broke system. Even the thinking of Disney execs was that the “fair” -ness of these systems would work more for profits and not for the enjoyment of visitors to WDW and Disneyland. I think that Walt’s old time philosophy would see right through this pig in a poke scheme.

    • But the previous system was broken. How else would you explain that within the first 1-2 hours after park opening that all the fastpasses for Toy Story Midway would be all gone? The magic bands and FP+ have not yet worked out all the kinks, and by that I mean not everyone is as familiar with it as they should be, but that doesn’t mean the system is broken. Everything new requires a learning curve. Personally I don’t see how this system is that difficult. I’ve used it and it’s very easy.

      • Easy, yes. But it’s also restrictive. By limiting each Guest to three ride reservations per day (only 1 – E Ticket within that), the vacation experience that millions of people are used to having available to them has changed.

        I’m reading a lot of comments from people who feel its a great system and they like the bands. But does it really enhance your visit to WDW compared to the old system? Are the vast majority of people gaining something by using it (not that they have much of a choice)? I don’t believe they are gaining anything. In fact, I think many are losing things. Nobody is reporting that this system has shortened lines or wait times. Nobody is commenting on the experience of trying to ride their favorite ride 4 times in a row and whether that is in fact now taking their entire day at a WDW park. Judge us people all you want, it’s my vacation and I want to ride what I want to ride.

        As a tourist, this system scares the heck out of me. I appreciate that I will have three guaranteed reservations, but I was actually planning on riding more than three rides a day when I’m paying $300.00 a day to visit Disney in Florida. Based on my past experiences with WDW and their line-ups, I don’t see a win here.

        It is the standby wait times that are the most contentious issue of this new system. With the old system, the lines were already unbearable. Now with these new limitations of FastPasses, how can you possibly get the value you desire? The math just isn’t adding up and no-one seems to be reporting on that particular component.

        This system doesn’t seem reasonable to anyone but Disney.

        Oh, and what about those personalized “enhancements” that Disney is selling this system with? The “+” in MyMagic+. Still no comments about anyone experiencing any of that. Has that become too expensive to now be included in this massive program?

        So far it seems to be more of a MyMagic- program.

  10. I wonder how this will play out for the throngs of Brazilian power-using tour groups? Will the operators have to individually fight for spaces like the rest of us or will Disney follow the money (and also attempt to manage them) by reserving them large pools of time slots?

  11. The Brazilian question was raised by a friend of mine last weekend, too. I think it’s a good question. An important question, actually.

    The current software allows for you to associate your son’s MB with your account, so you have one ‘traveling party’. That’s great for making sure we all get the same rides.

    Will they allow a 200-person tour group to form one party? Or five such groups to be a thousand-person brigade storming the beaches of Under the Sea at once? If so, we could well see an entire hour where the FastPass+ return line is nothing but Brazilians… and I mean that literally, not figuratively.

    I wonder if Disney might want to DISCOURAGE the tour groups rather than work with them. They don’t make any extra money off the tours that I’m aware of (they provide guaranteed ticket sales, I suppose).

  12. I had a few concerns. The first one is that people are more looking at their phones and not at the nice park. The second is that I would need a watch *beside show times and parades”, to get “most out of my day in the park” and the third is Disney spending more that 1 billion dollars on a system with the only purpose: to separate money from their customers NOT by building new and fun attractions or shows but by introducing a system to just DON’T do that.
    I won’t know how the system will work because I won’t visit a park where I need to be tagged and scanned all day like an animal.

    • I completely agree. Why would you want to “get away from it all” to stare at your phone all day? Personally, we always would leave our phones in our room when going to the park. I don’t want to be connected all the time. I feel like no one has imagination anymore. People can’t stand in a line without some sort of screen in their face. Take in the environment you’re in, soak it up.

  13. I think this is one of the fairer assessments of Fastpass Plus that I’ve read so far. I’m still not thrilled about it since I typically fall into the “power users” side of visiting. However, I understand that Disney isn’t focusing on that end with this change. I really hope that it doesn’t kill the standby lines even worse, which have become a big issue with the rise of FastPass. If they truly limit the reservations in advance and give day guests a chance, there’s a slim chance it might not be a catastrophe. I still think the limit of three is too small, but if having that limit leads to better standby lines, maybe it’s not the worst thing. Only time will tell.

  14. We’ve used the MagicBands twice now, once toward the beginning of the testing and again just a couple of weeks ago. The system is definitely improving.

    I think a lot of judgments are premature, because the system is very much still in the testing phase and changes are continually rolling out. I don’t think we can even begin to look at “same day” reservation availability yet, because I don’t think there are enough people in the “tests” to book up all available reservations for each day.

    The concern about slower standby queues is legitimate, simply due to the physics of the system. When FastPass first started, standby queues for all rides with FastPass did become slower. This can’t be helped, unless only a very small number of FastPasses are made available each hour.

    People who are concerned about making reservations in advance should — at this point — have no concerns. We found ourselves only wanting to use our pre-planned FastPass+ reservations about half the time. The other half of the time, we were either not ready to ride something, or we didn’t want to ride a particular attraction. Every time, we were able to either move the time to later in the day, or change to a different attraction. We could do it all at once as a group (five of us), or individually, when one person didn’t want to ride something.

    There were problems, to be sure, but they were minor. We couldn’t always remember when our reservations were for, and we would sometimes have trouble accessing the app on our phones due to the high number of people using Wi-Fi in the parks. But it was no more trouble to keep up with than our dining reservations.

    As for anyone who has a concern about having to pre-plan your entire day, that’s completely unfounded. When you can only make three reservations per day, you cannot possibly pre-plan an entire day. We tried to group our FastPass+ reservations into a particular geographic area for a small window of time (Future World for 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or Fantasyland for 9:00 a.m. to noon). The rest of our days were completely free for us to do what we felt like doing, and we got a few “important” attractions guaranteed.

    There are two big questions that remain for me:

    1) How will this work for people who don’t have resort reservations? Will Disney allow anyone to make advance reservations without knowing that they will be on property on a particular date? Will non-resort guests have to do same-day reservations only?

    2) Once the system is open to everyone, will reservations (and changes to reservations) be “sold out” early in the day, like with paper FastPasses for Toy Story Mania? Will they actually “sell out” for everything, since it’ll be so much easier to get them before you start your day? Will it become like dining reservations, where, if you want a reservation for Soarin’, you have to make it 60 days in advance or not get it at all?

    There’s a LONG way to go before it gets to that point, I suspect. From the cast members I’ve talked to, they’re still months away from rolling out the system for everyone.

    • What if I don’t own a smart-phone or a wireless device other than a laptop? (that I’m not going to lug around the park) ? Pre-planning in the morning for the whole day and then being stuck with what you planned *at the time* could lead to trouble.

      • There are kiosks in the park to make changes throughout the day if needed.

      • D.O.M. – yeah, what all guests are looking for – more lines – now at kiosks – wahoo!

  15. I despise the fastpass+ system for several reasons, the foremost of which is what I see as a major decline in value in a visit to the parks. Due to the cost, I can only make it to WDW every other year at best, and sometimes every three years. (I have been only 3 times thus far). It becomes harder and harder to justify that cost when you begin to see you are getting less, not more for your money on each succeeding visit. This new system has pushed that over the edge towards “less for your money” now. I see this as not declining in degrees, but declining in an avalanche.

    Case in point – we usually travel during off peak times, to maximize what we can do. Again, this is to maximize the large expense that a visit to WDW demands. With the paper fastpass system, we could typically acquire fastpasses for about 5 – 7 attractions in a day. And not secondary attractions like COP, but the headliners, including multiple times for some attractions. Even though the standby lines were not insane, typically 45 minutes tops, we still were saving that much time 5-7 times per day. With the new system, currently there is a limit of 3 fastpasses per day, and at least in one park I believe you can only pick one headliner out of those 3. You can easily see the math here. I just lost out on fastpassing anywhere from 4-6 headliners per day. Sure, I can still go the standby route for each of these, but then that adds a minimum of an additional 3 hours of waiting in standby line per day, or 18 hours over a full 6 days in the parks. Obviously, this cuts down on the total amount of things we can do, and yet I am paying the same price. Actually I am paying more for this, as ticket prices go up annually.

    I do not care that I can “book my attractions” months in advance. I do not see that as a fair swap out for spending an addtional 3 plus hours in line each day.

    To make matters much worse, since it has been leaked that this whole NextGen rollout (of which Fastpass+ is only a part of) has a price tag in the neighborhood of a billion dollars, one cannot help but to wonder as an earlier poster pointed out, what Disney could have done with that money instead. I belive Expedition Everest cost in the neighborhood of 200 million. Imagine having 5 new E-ticket attractions instead of this mess. Ouch! It has also been leaked (and not verifiied) that many projects have been either put on hold or cancelled entirely, due to the hefty price tag of this iniative. Double ouch! Imagine, not only could we have possibly had multiple new attractions for the same cost, but due the budget overrides and delays of NextGen, other attractions and lands (read Star Wars in HS) that were still planned on top of NextGen may now not see the light of day.

    Again, this is a huge reduction in value to me. In my 3 trips spanning about 7 years now, to my knowledge, the only new attraction that has opened at WDW in that time is the Little Mermaid ride. Sorry folks, but that doesn’t cut it. I would say compare to what Universal had done, but really a comparison is not necessary. Disney should not continually raise admission, unless they are offering a better experience, and the bottom line is that the attractions are the main experience. One new one in 7 years does not cut it.

    I dare say that possibly having your name show up at the end of Small World or having your ride photos “magically” show up in your Photopass account does not justify admission increases. Unless you are a sharp pencil boy at Disney.

    • Little Mermaid is also the worst executed dark ride since that Minnie thing at California Adventure.

      WDW just keeps giving less and less and will continue until enough potential guests wake up.

      I think the folks defending WDW’s efforts of the last 10 years are WDW Castmembers.

    • I agree with your comments completely.