What would you do? How to improve FastPass and other theme park ride reservation systems
Do we really need FastPass and other ride reservation systems?
Hey, I don't like spending time in boring, unthemed attraction queues, either. But I also don't like having to make two stops at every major attraction: one to pick up the FastPass, and other to use it.
Ride reservation schemes such as FastPass complicate theme park visits, requiring visitors to factor in one more variable. It's not just what you want to see and in what order. Now you have to figure out when and where to pick up FastPasses or other ride reservation tickets, too.
Want to ride Midway Mania in Florida? Get to the park when it opens for a FastPass, or prepare to wait for 40 minutes or longer.
A ride reservation system, like anything else in a theme park, ought to provide real value to visitors in exchange for their time, money or effort. Certainly an effective reservation system could do that, but it would have to be structured in a way that would assure that anyone using it would be able to see more attractions than if the system didn't exist. And without requiring visitors to spend hours trying to master the arcane details of the reservation system in order to make that happen.
So that's my "what would you do?" challenge to you this week: What would the ideal theme park ride reservation system look like?
Personally, I'd like to see a ride reservation system work on two levels:
1) It would prevent me from having to wait in hours-plus lines for hugely popular attractions, without having to go somewhere or wait in line to get a reservation first. If the park has an attraction that is estimated to have a two-hour or more wait time that day, give folks who are interested in riding it a ticket with a reservation time for that ride when they come through the front gate. But don't offer the service for anything with less than an anticipated 120-minute peak wait-time.
Offering reservations on a dozen rides that wouldn't run more than an hour wait, as Disney does, seems unnecessarily complex to me. When you factor in the time and effort required to run around getting FastPasses and keeping track of them, I'm not convinced that the system allows the average visitor to see any extra rides or shows that they would have been able to see with the same effort. Sure, a few hard-core fan experts have learned how to milk the system, but I suspect that they were the type of folks who found ways to maximize the number of attractions they saw at Disney in the days before FastPass, too.
2) It would provide a special perk for a few people who spend extra for it. The model here is Universal Orlando's Express Pass, which gives front-of-line access to anyone staying at one of Universal Orlando's three on-site hotels. The number of passes available this way needs to be limited, though. If too many people get to cut the line, that makes the wait significantly longer for everyone else, which an ideal system should avoid.
I'd love to see Disney offer something similar to Universal Express for its hotel guests. But given the much larger number of people staying on-property at Disney, that system would need to be more limited. Perhaps a Disney hotel guest would be given a limited number of individual skip-the-line tickets, say, just two or three for each day of their visit. One would have to do the math to figure out the exact amount, but such a system would allow for some additional rides for hotel guests, without overwhelming the queues for other visitors.
While Universal does a nice job with its system for hotel guests, it falls down by not offering the first type of system. I know plenty of theme park fans who would have preferred to get a return time ticket for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this summer, so that they could enjoy other rides and attractions at Universal Orlando instead of waiting for hours in the queue to enter that new land.
Disney's been dropping FastPass at more and more attractions here in California, and no one seems to miss it. Wait-times even on busy days rarely exceed an hour or so, and queues on rides that have dropped FastPass seem to me to run more smoothly now than when they had FastPass. (Waiting for Toy Story Midway Mania here is a joy compared to the FastPass game people end up playing to get on it in Florida.)
So what would you do, if you were running Disney, Universal or some other theme park? What would you offer - if anything - for a ride reservation system?
Two simple things to solve it. the good old telaphone. pick up your cell phone and call a specified number that will let u book rides by phone. when there is a opening for you now that your name is on a list you will be called throug hte parks speaker systems to come to the ride that you booked. The money that the park will make will be charged onto your phonebill when u get it. THis would work cause u can book as u r walking with a cellphone.
Another Idea IS the buzzers that you get in the resturants if you want to get one they can charge for this by having a booth at every RIDE that accepts this you will pay for the buzzer and they will buzz you when htey are ready to take you for the ride
This is an interesting topic. I for one, am the biggest fastpass fan out there. I think its a great system, especially since its free. I couldn't imagine going to a Disney park without fastpasses.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg has a system they call QuickQueue. It only works on the coasters and the shows. It comes in two varieties, Normal and Unlimited. The normal one lets you ride the coasters as many times as you want, where the normal is one per ride.
I'm personally glad Disney's removing more FP, hopefully we'll see that on the east side too because I've loathed the FP concept. It just adds unnecessary stress to everyone involved from the guests to the cast members to the guests in line and others who are using their tickets wondering why they still have a line that they have to wait in (as standby is slowly let past through the merge point.) I can't wait for them to pull FP off TSM at DHS. I've only been on it once, and it's because I happened to get lucky and walk past it when it was down, and then 5 minutes later it opened back up and I was one of the first in line. Would have loved to re-ride, but as soon as I got off, it was 70 minutes just like that, FP already been long gone, and both lines looked lengthy. Why can't we go back to the older way of waiting in lines, now especially Universal and Disney coming out with more detailed and themed lines and adding interactivity? No multiple lines causing congestion in the queues, and everyone gets the same experience along the way as they're presented with the story behind the attraction.
I don't know, I really like Disney's way of fastpasses. I find it quite straightforward really!
I would like to see fastpass machines located throughout the park that would allow you to obtain a fastpass for any ride in the park using fastpass so you would not have to actually go to the ride to obtain the fastpass. There would always be a fastpass machine nearby where you could see the wait times for all the rides and obtain the fastpass for the ride of your choice.
I believe Universal utilized a reservation system for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter during Thanksgiving week. Maybe you will get your wish for Universal.
I love Fastpass because, as Robert noted, I'm an experienced veteran. For first-timers, it's a pain in the neck. A recent
Wow great topics this mth Robert. AS far as fast passes go I hate them. ANd while Disney does a good job it could be better. One way would be to limit then number of fast passes. Ive seen and have had people reguler full freight guests.whove waited in line very patiently thieir 90 mins..Only to wwatch a line of about 60 get allowed to enter before they do. Which I understand is the way it works..That being said. Better timming of allowing the holder to enter. Example. RNR allow only every other train to fast pass..load train A with fast pass guests..second with those who have waited..next with fast pass ..and on and on. But dont run your fast pass line down and make others wait bad manners. Besides Ive never seen fast pass holders complain once there near the loading area..The whole idea is to skip the wait time not the station time.
I did not realize the caption under the Toy Story Mania picture. I have gotten a respectable time on my fastpass and I was not there at the gate opening!
Wow, I couldn't disagree more with this article. Fastpass is great the way it is. Space Mountain has a 90 minute wait. The Fastpass return time is in 150 minutes. I'll get a Fastpass, grab a snack, ride Pirates and Mansion then get on Space. I don't know if FP lets me ride more rides, but I do know I didn't stand in line for Space Mountain for 90 minutes. I don't need to know all the intricacies of FP to "fully take advantage" of it. I just need to know I can grab a ticket and come back later. Implementing a pay system would be awful. I despise Universals system for that very reason. I'm also against having a system for resort guests only. And I'm a DVC member so I almost always stay on site.
Lemme dive a little deeper into the math here in explaining why I don't think FastPass is an optimal solution:
I'd be truly disappointed in Disney if it went over to the dark side and started selling Express Pass-style unlimited FASTPASS options. While I admit it's not perfect, FASTPASS is still one of the best things about visiting Disney parks - primarily because it gives everyone a chance to avoid long lines, rather than creating an "elite" group of rich guests who make everyone else feel like pondlife. It's expensive enough visiting theme parks as a family as it is, without forcing parents to pay extra to guarantee that their kids won't be treated like second-class citizens.
When Disney parks do the extra magic hours, isn't it almost the same concept? For a certain period of time the hotel guests get reduced wait times for the attractions of their choosing. And since it's not a terribly long time, a couple hours or so, it limits the number of rides that can be hit. But I remember in 2008 we went to Magic Kingdom on an extra magic day and during the last 2 hours after the park closed to non hotel guests we rode Thunder multiple times and rode Haunted Mansion, both with almost no line, after the lines had been about an hour all day. So we essentially got front of the line passes.
How is FastPass complicated? Alot of people decide to get one once they notice the long line, others plan to walk to Pirates, and get a fastpass for Indy on the way. Autopia is infinately better with fastpass and sending one guy to get a group's worth of passes is super efficient. I know imagineers hate the concept but I think it's great. For everything BUT world of color.
I personally like the FASTPASS system because I know how to use the system better that many others, so it is their loss, not to mention that it is a novelty, where else is there a queue system with a culture centered around it?.
This discussion really wasn't meant for this site. Everyone is rushing to Disney's defense because they understand FP and take advantage of it. We are theme park enthusiasts. We need opinions from crowd control experts and people who are new to the parks.
I personally prefer to drop the Fastpass system. It’s primarily simple for individuals to either pay the extra amount to get front of the line access (which is done in Universal) or just wait in the traditional line.
What about a free downloadable APP for the IPHONE It will tell u the shortest lines in the place and the longest and when they are long u could book it though the APP
I alsolutely would keep the fast pass system exactly as it is. It is no problem at all to grab fast passes and keep up with them. If it were too easy, then everybody would do it. It rewards the planners and the people that are more serious Disney fans. Further, I can get 5-6 fast passes even during the busiest of days. To limit people to two to three would be awful. I think by changing the current system would be a monumental mistake. Other systems just stink. Ever tried a Flash Pass at Six Flags? It is awful and you pay a huge premium for it. On a busy day at Six Flags, I used it once. Once.
There are some realities that come with a fast pass system.
I will admit that I do like Fastpass because it lets me avoid standing in a long line with an impatient 5-year-old.
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