Darkbeer, I want to thank you for a superb job with regard to the intricacies of FastPass. Being an APH I almost never use FastPass. However, realizing that as an APH I am clogging up lines for people who have one or two days to experience Disneyland and DCA. For them, FastPass is a great tool to pack in as much as possible. On 6/12 I was hosting a Birthday party for my son (his 7th). We invited my cousin, her husband and her three boys (10, 8,and 7). My cousin and her husband have not been to Disneyland for 15 years! The boys had NEVER been. This was unbelieveable to me. I took it upon myself to maximize their experience and manage their day. I knew that FastPass could be a way of doing that but did not know how to "work the system". Your post was perfectly timed. I did have to read it three times to really understand everything but I can see that there was no concise way of laying it out. EVERYTHING you laid out (in the regular FastPass explaination) was on the money. BUT it took a lot of stratagizing and leg work to do it right. However the results are phenominal. Included in my party are my parents, my son, my wife (all pass holders) all totaling 10. Here is how the day went:
9:45am Entry into the park
ALL rush to Buzz Lightyear BlastersUpon arrival I collect everybody's tickets/AP. While they ride I walk to Indiana Jones to collect FastPasses. FP Start is 11:1510:15am We converge outside Buzz. From there I send them on some Stand Bys. Half go to Star Tours, half go to Matterhorn. Meanwhile, I park hop to DCA with a short list of rides they want to go on.
10:30am: Collect FastPasses for ToT. DCA and Disneyland are on seperate networks. Yeah! 11:30am start on ToT passes. I am not in the greatest shape so keeping walking to a minimum was also a strategy point I needed to concider. So I walked to Screamin' and waited until 11:30am so I could collect my second FastPasses for DCA.
11:10am: Via cell phone I gather everybody back in tomorrowland by Buzz. I direct them to do stand by on both Haunted Mansion and PotC. This bided me lots of time to collect more FPs.
11:32am: After 25 mins of rest and people watching I collect FPs for Screamin'. Start time 1:15pm.
11:45am: Collect FP for Grizzly River Run (GRR). Hey it's not on the network! Start time 1:05pm (no biggie because it's not on the network) Darkbeer rocks! I've collected all I could at DCA without staying another two hours. I check on everybody and they have just walked out of Haunted Mansion (all the kids sufficiantly scared) and are heading to PoTC. I give them a progress report.
12:15pm: Indy's start time has now elapsed so I am free to get another FP at Disneyland. Autotopia was of importance to everybody so I got FP there. Start time 1:30pm. Autotopia was slower than usual. I should have done stand by here and opted for Splash.
12:30pm: Rushed to ToonTown and got FP for Roger Rabbit. Start time 2:05pm.
12:45pm: Rushed to PoTC to find everybody still in line. Popped in line with them. Now for a recount. I now have FPs for Indy, ToT, Screamin', GRR, Autotopia, and Roger Rabbit.
1:00pm: Climbed Tarzan's Treehouse. Kids loved it. Especially when I made the Tiger roar!
1:10pm: Entry into Indy for use of first FP. This was pivotal because I was not sure if the FP CM would honor an "expired" FP. According to Darkbeer they are trained to only look at the beginning time. The CM did not question us at all. We breezed right in.
1:30pm: Report time to Birthday party with Mickey and Minnie. Cake surprising good. We had happy birthday good time and we even did the conga!
2:15pm: Party over. I send everybody to Autotopia. Meanwhile, I b-line to Splash Mountain.
2:30pm: Get FPs for Splash. Start time 7:05. However, I can get another FP at 4:30pm according to Darkbeer's explanation and the ticket print out.
2:45pm: I report back to Autotopia. Everybody was just pulling into the end of the ride. One of the kids won a car! Nevedr had that happen before. What a thrill. Group decision was to head to DCA.
3:05pm: Arrival at DCA. Group decision was to eat. I head over to Soarin' for FPs. FP Start time 7:55pm! Looks like we are in for a late one.
3:35pm: We all complete a great meal at Test Pilots. Group decision was to get wet! So GRR we go.
4:00pm: A very soaked group of ten exit GRR with lots of smiles. My wife won the contest for "most wet". No prize given. Sorry Hon'. As host, recommend "It's Tough To Be A Bug". A good time to sit in air conditioning and dry off. Off we go.
4:40pm: Everybody thoroughly entertained by "It's Tough To Be A Bug". Rave reviews from these first timers. Group decision was to go to ToT.
4:45pm: Block Party Parade started. The kids seemed very into it so we decided to stick it out. Seeing the kids get into it made it more enjoyable.
5:15pm: Arrival at ToT. I was nervous about this one because the FPs "expired" at 11:30am. Almost SIX hours ago! Still no problem. We again breezed right on ToT bypassing 30 to 40 mins of line standing.
5:30pm: Exit ToT. Everybody loved ToT. The "what is going to happen next factor" really gets first timers. This energized everybody for more.
5:45pm: Spontaneous stop at Muppet 3D Show. Since "It's Tough To Be A Bug" was such a hit I thought maybe this would be too.
6:10pm: Muppets got a luke warm response but still good. Personally, The pre-show is funnier than the actual show, but that's me. Group decision was to split up. Four of us were desperate to go on Screamin' the six others wanted to shop a bit and look around.
6:35pm: The brave four arrive at Screamin'. Again, we breeze right on the ride.
6:50pm: We exit Screamin' with big smiles. It also occurs to us that we have enough FPs to do it again! We get right back on. We ask for the front car.
7:05pm: We exit Screamin' again. We all agreed it was the best "thrill" of the day.
7:20pm: Met everybody under Golden Gate Bridge. We shopped a little bit more, rehydrated and talked a bit. All while heading over to Soarin'.
7:55pm [Sharp]: Breezed onto Soarin'.
8:25pm: Everybody loved Soarin'. How could they not. Group decision was to head back over to Disneyland.
8:45pm: Back at Disneyland. We picked up our pictures from the Birthday party. Everybody decided to view the fireworks show. We were able to get a center spot a little less than halfway into Main St.
9:45pm: Fireworks show rocked. Consensus was that being it was a school night and the fact that we were all very tired that we would call it a day. I still had FP for Spalsh and Roger Rabbitt. Too bad.
Okay, a lot was achieved but a lot left to do for a second visit (soon I hope). Here is a ride recap:
1. Buzz Lightyear Blasters
3. Star Tours
4. Haunted Mansion
6. Indiana Jones
7. Tarzan's Treehouse (okay this is a stretch)
10. "It's Tough To Be A Bug"
12. Muppets 3-D
I think that 14 for a group of ten is pretty good. I took personal sacrifice in walking my butt off and missing a ride or two but the payoff was to experience Disneyland and DCA through the eyes of a first timer. It was a reminder of why I love the parks. And in retrospect we missed a lot too. A second trip is a must. More focus on Disneyland itself, probably. So FastPass can be a great thing but requires work to do it right. My wife and I were thinking of offering FP management as a tourist service. I think it is worth $100 a day. Any thoughts?
Anyway, Darkbeer, I owe you a dark beer at Ariel's Grotto Bar and some Lobster nachos. I'm serious. THANK YOU!