Insider's Update: A whole lot of shaking going on
Walt Disney World visitors who aren't staying at a Disney hotel and who aren't annual passholders will get their chance to make advance reservations for Disney World attractions, starting Monday. On March 31, Fastpass+ reservations become available to "day visitors." You'll have to create a MyMagic+ account by following the "My Disney Experience" link at the top of disneyworld.com
, then register a WDW admission ticket with that account, but once you do, you'll be able to make Fastpass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance of your visit, the same as annual passholders. (Disney World hotel guests get to make Fastpass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance.) Disney will be selling MagicBands to day guests for $13 each, but you can use Fastpass+ without a MagicBand, though you might have to upgrade to an RFID-chip-embedded ticket if you've been using an older WDW ticket card. You can make that switch at any WDW ticket booth or guest relations office. And if you don't make your reservations in advance, you can continue to make or change Fastpass+ reservations at kiosks inside the park.
Using a new chip-embedded ticket at Walt Disney World to enter a park.
Tokyo Disney is giving its hotel guests a way to make ride reservations before its "day guests," too. But Tokyo's taking a significantly more old-school approach. It's letting hotel guests into the park 15 minutes early. [Google Translate link. You've been warned.] That's not much of an early entry, compared with the extensive early entry benefits available to hotel guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, but with Fastpass reservations disappearing so quickly at the Tokyo Disney parks on most days, that extra 15 minutes can help get hotel guests a coveted Fastpass to one popular attraction and place at the front of the line of another before the mass of the crowd gets into the park.
The big news in Souther California last night was the 5.1-magnitude earthquake that shook everyone in the area, up and down the coast and halfway to Vegas. Disneyland's standard operating procedure is to close all rides for inspection after a significant quake, and with little quake damage to show, many local TV stations decided to focus on closed rides at Disneyland for their earthquake coverage. If you'd like a smarter take on what to do if an earthquake hits Disneyland, we've created a discussion thread. If you've been in a theme park during an earthquake or other natural disaster, your comments are appreciated!
In other Disney news:
Because everything is better with bacon, Busch Gardens Tampa has created a pretzel-wrapped bacon snack as the "signature" food item for its new Pantopia land, opening around the new Falcon's Fury drop ride this spring. I joked on Twitter about Busch Gardens deciding between pretzel-wrapped bacon and a bacon-wrapped pretzel, and a Busch Gardens representative responded that, yes indeed, they did try both! The pretzel-wrapped bacon won because it allowed for crispier bacon. Skip to 2:30 in the video below for the bacon goodness, or just watch the whole thing to learn more about what'll be for sale in Pantopia.
Finally, if you're a fan of the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal's Islands of Adventure, head over to Goddard Group's Facebook page to see some early concept art from the attraction. Did you know that the first concept was for a Superman ride, before Universal secured the Marvel Comics rights instead of getting the rights to DC characters? You can see the early storyboards for the attraction, as well as a ride map for when Spider-Man was going to be an omnimover-style attraction, before the switch to its current motion-base system. Click the "download" link on those photo pages to download the files so you can zoom in on your own computer for better detail.
My family and I really dislike the new Fastpass+ system. You used to be able to get to a park early and strategically get your Fastpasses, then park-hop and pick up several more at multiple parks. You could arrive at DHS late in the afternoon and still ride Tower of Terror 4 or 5 times using Fastpasses. Now you are limited to three at ONE park. And when you pick your FPs 60 days out you are given times like 11:30, 2:30, and 5. This really puts a crimp in our normal park hopping plans. Depending on how my upcoming May WDW trip goes I may not pay the extra for park hopping next time. I am a serious Disneyphile, but Universal really got it right with the Express Passes. Sorry, Mickey.
This Insider's Update was incredible. I loved it. Just the right mix of news and a few silly jokes.
I just saw what Brandon said about the FastPasses and I just want to offer a different perspective. Fastpasses always stressed me out and confused me. So we never used them. And we never saw the point in parkhopping. I am not in the best physical shape and I cannot move very quickly so racing around and stressing out to get Fastpasses felt like on TV when you see those Black Friday stories on the news about people bloodying each other up and trampling one another to get a TV for $99 or whatever after Thanksgiving. I never wanted any part of that. I don't like my time in the parks to be stressful.
@Brandon: You're under the assumption Fastpass+ is done. Why do you assume that? They barely finished converting all 4 parks to the system, then made it possible for Annual Passholders and Resort guests to use the system. I am sure when they refine the system by adding more than 3 FP on a less than busy day, they will get around to park hopping such as allowing one to still have 3 FP at two to three parks, but getting to 4 FP will take much more data crunching.
For those who live in Orlando, or a few hours drive of Walt Disney World, I think the Fast Pass + system is incredible. They are frequent visitors to the parks, and have ridden all of the rides more times than they can count.
I knew that there was originally talk of the DC Comics area before it turned into Marvel, but I hadn't known that it was themed around the whole universe. The plans I saw years ago showed that it was only going to be a Batman themed area.
James: Over at Orlando United there's a discussion forum topic on the early planning stages of IOA. It's over 10 pages long of illustrations & plans of many of the attractions & lands that didn't make the final cut and also the big model mock up in the sound stage planning IOA.. There's also a good video interview with Mark Woodbury on the early years. It's very interesting but takes a while to go through the large mass of info.
As someone who lives in the UK and therefore can only visit WDW every 4 or 5 years I have very mixed feelings about `Fastpass+. I have loved the Fast Pass system - egalitarian, easy to use, and a system that allowed for a lot of spontaneity, (with the honourable exception of Midway Mania and Soarin'). I didn't have to decide which park I would be in 3 months before I arrived so I was free to adjust my schedule according to the weather forecast the night before. It was easy and utterly fair.
I just got back from Orlando for a spring break trip. I hate to say it, but I did not like the Fast Pass Plus at all. As a matter of fact, I think it is so bad that they should scrap it entirely. Now, I do like the armbands. I could not care less that they track me. At pools it is wonderful. It was good for tickets, and I admit I like the fact that you do not have to keep up with the little pieces of paper. What I observed was as follows: the experienced Disney visitor hates the armband. I could easily experience every attraction at peak times before, and you most definately cannot do that with the current system. The inexperienced visitor suffered even more. I saw many people use a Fast Pass Plus at 9:30 AM for Pirates or Haunted Mansion. I also believe that it creates longer lines for rides that did not need reservations to begin with. My mother in law had to be helped with the system, and we had to plan out her entire trip, giving her zero spontenaety. The people that liked it were the ones that like to go very slow during the day. I think even if they increase the numbers, you still have a system that is worse than what was before. The fact is that many people will benefit from the new system, but I think most people will be worse off. The other huge problem is weather. There are other issues like planning for weather, having to map out a vacation in advance, and other things made it less pleasant. I certainly hope they fix it. We also spent three days at Universal, and when we left Orlando, the kids said that they would prefer to just go to Universal next time. This is coming from a family that is Disney nuts. We have been to both coasts and exclusively use the Disney Visa card. I hope they fix this soon. Apparently the money used on this could have purchased a fifth theme park. I hate to be so negative, but it did diminish our visit. Nevertheless, we were still there and had a great time. Hopefully it will be substantially changed before our next visit.
As a local in California, I would like to see Fastpass+ come here. I'm not in good position to take advantage of the current Fastpass system. The most popular rides are gone before 12 noon. With a young kid, it is not feasible to run to the next attraction across the park only to be forced to come back in the evening when it is likely I won't be back after 5 pm. Spontaneity from Fastpass is no such thing. You're still required to follow their imposed schedule for FP ticket distribution. I know it is fun to get as many as you can anyways, but your FP schedule is tied up if your return time for one big attraction is Space or Splash Mountain on a particularly busy day and it ends up being 8 pm. Sometimes the FP system allows you to get a second one earlier. Then you just keep playing the game with many others running to another attraction.
"The fact is that many people will benefit from the new system, but I think most people will be worse off."
To those that responded to my initial comment about Fastpass+ I appreciate the different perspectives. This will be my first trip using the new system and I will have to save my judgement until the trip is over. (I do like the tiered number of Fastpasses based on class of hotel that was mentioned.)
"Huh? There's a lot of assertions without saying what is worse off about Fastpass+. You get the rides you want. So you use Fastpass+ on Haunted Mansion at 9:30am. Were you supposed to not do this?"
A person picking Haunted Mansion at a time when it should be a walk-on is likely to NOT be a thrill attraction rider. Anyone savvy about theme parks should pick FP+ attractions in the afternoon or evenings when the park is crowded, but you don't know their schedules. Some people favor mornings and want to be done before dinner. The incorrect assumption is they are using FP+ wrong. Everyone needs to use it as they see fit.
Just came back from a trip to WDW with the school marching band and orchestra. Had no clue there was a change to the Fast Pass system. It's an EPIC FAIL for Disney! We told the staff at every ride how much we hated, they've been hearing it non-stop apparently. Only 3 Fast Passes per day and limited to 1 park...ridiculous!. The paper system was so much better. It took our group of chaperones 20 minutes working with the staff person to get our passes settled. The whole system is so confusing, not user friendly, and limiting. The paper system of 5 years ago was SOOOO much better. This system limits park hoping...so why pay more for park hopping tickets. FP tickets are out minutes after the park opens, unused passes can't be given to other guests. This system stinks, it's a failure. We want the old paper system back. The other 104 chaperones and students agree with me.
You know, I think Annette has cracked the code when she said that she thought that Robert Niles was being paid by the Universal PR department to take jabs at Disney.
I gotta learn how to post pictures.
I have seen nothing posted here to make me believe this site promotes one theme park over another. As to Universal, I am a Disney credit card holder. I will always go to Disney. The last time I went to Universal was in 2000. We just got back. I can tell you that it has improved by leaps and bounds. I can also say that Disney has not. We go there for attractions, and while Universal has some stinkers (Disaster, Posidon's Fury, etc.), the additions have been miles above of any new attraction at Disney. Transformers, Simpsons, and Harry Potter are amazing. The Fast Pass Plus at Disney stinks. I hope and believe that Disney can turn it around. The dining is still much superior, and the resort choices are great, but they made a major wrong decision to sink one billion into armbands when they could have built more rides or even a fifth gate. To turn it around they need to do a few things. One, admit the new fast pass system is a mess and fix or discard it. Second, make a Star Wars land at Hollywood Studios. It can't be just a shop and a ride or two. It needs to have a resort, several restaurants, and AT LEAST four additional cutting edge attractions. Six would be better. Third, make a fifth park. Of course people are praising Universal. They are not resting on their laurels. Disney's response to Harry Potter? An extremely lame Little Mermaid ride and a coaster that has taken way, way too long to get going.
Tim: You are too funny!!! Great humor.
Annette thinks that Universal is all "painted concrete" and is all junky and trashy. Lol.
I have a simple technical question about off-site guests using advanced Fast Pass Plus. When they go to MDE to make reservation FP+s, do they just get to choose FP+s for the exact number of days the ticket has OR can they reserve 7 days in the next 30 (same as APers) OR up to 30 of the next 30 days?
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