Congrats to Universal for dumping Express passes
Now that Universal has officially shoveled dirt on Universal Express
, allow me to say a word about the passing of this ride reservation system:
Good riddance. Now if only FastPass and more of the industry's ride reservation would follow.
Ride reservation systems are fine for hugely popular rides when they first open. I'd rather get a reserved ride time for Expedition Everest (or, for past examples, Top Thrill Dragster or X) than blow three to five hours of my paid-admittance day waiting in a single line.
But when ride reservation systems start going on decades-old attractions where wait times rarely exceeded 90 minutes anymore, we've got a problem.
Why? Let's do the math. A ride reservation system does nothing to increase an attraction's operating capacity. In practice, these systems can reduce it if queues slow down while attendants check return tickets and admit reserved guests.
Plus, those ticket machines and readmission points must be staffed by attraction personnel who would better be deployed policing queues, grouping parties on the load platform, or ushering guests quickly through the unload area. From my experience working at and visiting parks, the number one cause of attraction downtime is slow guest loading and unloading, causing ride cascade failures as those slow guests stop the circuit. Trained, experienced attraction operators in those positions can, and do, prevent those incidents.
At the very least, ride reservation systems make park visits even more of a logistical headache for new and infrequent visitors who have not done extensive research to figure out how to game the system. Life was much easier when every line was the standby line, and visitors didn't have to keep track of lines, plus their reservation tickets and their new reservation eligibility times, when trying to make their way through the day.
Universal is keeping its Express Plus program, which allows a limited number of people to buy their way to the front of the line. And on-site hotel guests will continue to have front of the line access. So long as the number of those passes remain a small percentage of park visitors, that's fine. A few paid passes should not slow standby lines significantly, and I'd rather see front of the line passes as a hotel bonus that early openings, which can build up queue times before "normal" guests have a chance to get to them. (After all, getting to a park at opening is the best way to bag several popular attractions without long waits.) Better to distribute those hotel guests throughout the day, than loading them all into the morning "prime time."
In California, Disneyland's bagged FastPass on Pirates of the Caribbean and appears to be operating it less frequently on other attractions. Here's hoping that the rest of the industry comes to its senses and starts finding ways to make theme park visits less confusing and more enjoyable. Restricting ride reservation systems to first-year thrill rides would make an excellent start.
Not a Fastpass fan? I am actually suprised because I do believe it is one of the best thing Disney has done in awhile. Maybe the reason why I like it so much is because it seems to work at Disney World! Why do you hate it so?
Amen Robert! Finally someone has spoke out against this vile invention. Let's face it folks, it does not make you wait in less lines. Think about it, the fastpass system makes all standby lines LONGER. So for a whole day at a park your wait times all average out. It works like this: you spend 0 minutes on a fastpass line, 45 minutes on ride 2 and 45 minutes on ride 3; a total of 90 minutes. Now, a non-FastPass system you spend 30 minutes on ride 1, 30 on ride 2 and 30 on ride 3 (because they are all shorter without fastpass); a total of 90 minutes -EXACTLY the same. Honestly, I would rather spend less time on each ride than take one fast and others really long. Also, it makes the trip more stressful, especially when you lugging around kids.
Now James. It almost seems like that last remark was directed at me personally. Ride "all day" at Men in Black. Maybe a few times in a row. And then I take advantage of the Single Rider Queue.
I disagree, Express Pass was a great thing. You could get an express pass for an attraction with a 90+ minute wait, go ride 2 or more attractions with waits of 35 minutes or less, go back and ride with your express pass, and repeat the whole process over again. Besides, since they still sell express passes there will always be a "stand by" line, granted people in the regular line may not have to wait quite as long since people are more reluctant to purchase these passes, but it will still be a "stand by" line nonetheless. I think this was a huge mistake for NBC/Universal!!!
Completely off base Robert. FastPass allows a person to take in more of the park and less of the queue. If you are satisfied with spending 90 minutes of your day waiting in line for something then God Bless you! Enjoy your expensive vacation looking at somebody's backside!
I think your right. Getting rid of fastpasses will decrease line times around the park.
I thought that these parks make a substantial portion of their money on in-park spending. The beauty of Fastpass/Express is that I can be spending money while I'm effectively waiting in line. If I'm waiting in a real line for 90 minutes, I can assure you that I'm not going to be in the mood for purchasing trinkets at the gift shop. I love going to theme parks, but if I regularly have to wait more than an hour for the big rides, I'll just take up another hobby.
How about this argument, then? Take the money a park spends on FastPass machines, personnel and marketing... and spend it on a new attraction instead. That actually will increase overall park attraction capacity, and give people more to do.
While we are on the subject, if there was an award for best ride queue ever, it would have to go to duelling dragons! Freaks me out when i'm on my own!!
All I know is that if it wasn't for fastpass, I would never ride Test Track, Indiana Jones, or Soarin! Also, it will be the only way I will be able to go on Everest at AK!
Robert, I think that it's pretty naive to assume that a modern theme park will take the savings from the elimination of a program like Express and plow them back into the park. I'd be surprised if Universal did anything with the extra cash other than adding it to the bottom line.
I don't see how Universal is going to save a substantial sum of money by eliminating Express pass, much less enough money for a new attraction. I do agree that a good queue goes along way and that is probably the only reason I would regret using an express pass, but it just doesn't go far enough. Time is such a valuable limited resource for visitors who shell out time and money from their busy lives to enjoy going to a theme park for a day alone, it is these people who deserve to have the express pass option, not the people who live in Orlando and are passholders (like myself) who can enjoy these parks at their leisure, it's for the people who don't make it often and want to see as much as they can in the little time they have. Even if they stay in Orlando a week or two, the likelyhood of them visiting the same park twice is pretty low, so let them have their express passes.
I also dont agree with Robert N.
The downside of overimplementation of ride reservation systems was more apparent at Disneyland than Walt Disney World, which has much larger pathways, shops, etc, to accomodate people than does Walt's original park. Here in SoCal, that queue space is needed to physically handle the load of bodies in the park on a busy day.
I think it is stupid to get rid of this system. In peak summer times in Orlando it is sometimes the only way you can ride a ride. I love Fast pass at Disney. It means i can ride Tower of Terror whilst waiting for my fastpass time on Rock'n' Rollercoaster to come round. Its an easy way to fit in more things with less queuing time. As for charging for an express pass i think that is awful. Getting rid of the Express pass but keeping this one they are charging for means anyone not willing to pay extra will have huge lines to wait in because people will buy these passes. I think its unfair and dont understand why they have got rid of it as it was working!!!
I suppose it is all in one's perspective(even though the majority of peolple were for express pass rather than against it). If they must get rid of "free" express pass, then they should get rid of express passes altogether, then there will be no "standby" lines, just your good ole' fashion regular line.
I don't know. I know I don't usually (although I do sometimes), I think most people do in fact stand in line while waiting for their fast pass time. They get to ride two rides in the same amount of time (at least it seems like that to someone at the park).
Sorry to offend (which I know I will), but a totally moronic opinion piece. Anyone who has been going to the 2 big parks for any length of time over the years KNOWS that the wait times have improved tremendously (even with the vastly increased attendance) due solely to the "fast pass/express pass systems" inovations. It was the single biggest change in queuing since the "themed" and winding lines were "invented". Who ever thought it up should be applauded. Universal used to be TERRIBLE for wait times before they copied Disneys fast pass (which by the way improved Disneys wait times greatly even though they were never as bad as Universals). I'll never forget the days of 2-3 hour waits for the Back to the Future ride or King Kong, etc. They kept me/us away from their parks until they opened I of A and we stopped going again after 2003 when they started the "pay extra" for the privilege of using the express lane. It just wasn't worth going anymore. Universal only changed the system for one reason....short term cash flow...period! It will backfire and they will either change their ways and remember that they are a "service industry" or be sold within the next 2-3 years, mark my word on that. Attendance will suffer greatly do to the lines and the backlash of having a "class system" in an amusement park which is supposed to make you forget about the "real world" for a few hours. Shame on Universal and you as well Robert.
Look, it's simple logistics. The FastPass system does not make people magically disappear from the parks - they are still there and they are still standing in lines. All the system does is shift people around more and give them a false sense of control. Now, I would agree that if you are young and like running around the park running calculations in your head about the times and which rides to do next and which passes to get next, and etc. etc. then you might be able to fit a little more ride time into your day. But I would rather not do the mess and I have no interest in a false sense of control.
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