Theme Park Insider

Paid 'Fastpasses' come to Shanghai Disneyland

March 23, 2017, 8:31 PM · Last month, we showed you a report from a Theme Park Insider reader who said he had seen people selling Fastpasses inside Shanghai Disneyland. At the time, we wondered if the idea that other people were selling front of the line access to its rides would prompt Disney to get in the game and head off those deals by selling Fastpass-style access itself.

Guess what? Now the park is doing just that.

Here's the scoop, direct from Shanghai, courtesy Adriel Tjokrosaputro.

"Disney Premier Access" allows you a one-time Fastpass queue entry to each of seven top rides in the park, anytime you wish to visit during the day of your access. The cost for one Fastpass entry is RMB 120 (US$17.41) or RMB 150 ($21.77) on "peak" days, when park admission tickets cost more, too. But the cost for the set — all seven — is RMB 480 or 600 (US$69.71-87.14), which works out to about $10-12.50 per Fastpass, a price that I suspect many America visitors might pay.

[*Note: An earlier version of this story missed that the set price in the photo was the one for all seven Fastpass entries.]

Disney is providing a park-approved way for people to pay for extra access to attractions, without having to go through middlemen. Shanghai Disneyland is drawing about a million visitors a month, putting it behind the Magic Kingdom-style parks in Orlando, Anaheim, and Tokyo for annual attendance but ahead of Paris and well ahead of Hong Kong. Yet Shanghai Disneyland has fewer attractions than the Disney parks that attract more visitors, which means longer lines in Shanghai.

According to Adriel's earlier report, scalpers were charging around RMB 100 for a pair of Fastpasses, which means that Disney's charging more for its version, so we'll see if this has the presumably desired effect of drying up demand for middleman Fastpass sales.

This isn't the first time that Disney has sold preferred line access, of course. VIP Tours at its other parks around the world often provide that perk, and hard-ticket events such as the recent "Early Morning Magic" at the Walt Disney World Resort also provide much shorter waits than during regular operation. But those "line skips," if you will, come packaged with other perks and services. This is the first time I can recall that Disney has put a direct price on using the Fastpass return lines... and nothing else. (Disneyland's upcoming MaxPass charges for using the park's app to manage your Fastpasses — a benefit that Walt Disney World visitors get for no extra charge — but it does not allow you to hold more than the one Fastpass you can by using the traditional paper system.)

Paid line-skipping is standard practice at other companies' parks, of course, with Universal, Cedar Fair, and Six Flags parks all selling various passes and systems to allow you to spend less time in line.

Will Disney bring its Disney Premier Access to its US theme parks? Or is this a unique solution to a particular problem in Shanghai? Make your prediction in the comments.

Replies (18)

March 23, 2017 at 9:21 PM · Please don't bring this to the US. Fastpass is special because it's fair game for anyone with a park ticket.
March 23, 2017 at 10:34 PM · I'm personally against paying for queue jumping privileges, and I think that Disney could have found a better way to solve this problem. I can see things going this way in the US too.
March 23, 2017 at 10:47 PM · Oh yeah, they will do this in the US but it won't be $17 it will be more like $100 to $150.
March 23, 2017 at 11:11 PM · With many middle class families struggling to afford a Disney vacation for their kids, I don't see them doing this stateside anytime soon. It would aggravate the disparity between haves and have nots in the parks.
March 24, 2017 at 2:26 AM · They have to do something different at WDW, as the current system is broken. Once Star Wars opens, do you think people will accept riding an attraction once after the first several months pass? Right now lines have gotten unmanageable at WDW, and a person can go To Universal and experience three to four times the number of attractions per day with the Express Pass, so something has to give. Not sure if this is the way. I do think with the billions they are making in the movie division, that it is time for a fifth gate in Orlando. They can bring the missing attractions like Mystic Manor, Center of the Earth, and even a second Pirates (the Shanghai version) with an explorer's themed park. Certainly the sea of people is a good problem to have, but I do think if they manage it better it would increase guest satisfaction and make them even more money.
March 24, 2017 at 2:47 AM · Disneyland Paris has been doing this for years if your staying in one of their hotels. They will sell you an unlimited fastpass for all their fastpass attractions but they cost 60euro per person per day. That was the price the last time I stayed there two years ago. They don't advertise it as such but you can ask at the reception when you are booking in.
March 24, 2017 at 5:35 AM · Well Orlando area parks are pretty great but it would be in trouble for locals if they start selling them. We would never get to ride attractions again.
March 24, 2017 at 6:13 AM · WDW just needs more attractions at parks not called magic Kingdom. a 5th park is totally unnecessary until the others aren't half day parks.

March 24, 2017 at 8:39 AM · This is AWESOME!

It's like like Universal's AWESOME 'Front of Line' premium ticket!!!

or

The premium room rate UO charges for the 'Express Unlimited' pass!!!

March 24, 2017 at 9:23 AM · For years I bought Orlando fastpasses from an operation that called themselves "Magical Park Tours." They went out of business when Disney switched to digital FP's and enforced return windows. -- I could order whatever/however many FP's I wanted and they would deliver them to my hotel. My son and I went on TSM 10 times in a day once.

Disney could probably increase their park revenue 10+% if they had the brains to develop a decent pay-to-ride system. They're LONG overdue on this.

March 24, 2017 at 10:33 AM · Instead of tearing down one ride to replace it with one ride, Disney should start adding rides to MK to alleviate this. Maybe a new land like villains village or something...they might be able to squeeze a few well,thought out rides and a dining experience. But, as it currently works, the fast pass system is not fair to everyone. We can only visit the disney parks after sunset. So people that used their three fast passes can get additional ones. We can only ever use three. I would love Disney world to offer their after hours party once a week to each park. I would pay to visit one park a day with limited crowds. The after hours party is so worth the price. Or, bring that pass to the US. Or maybe do what Universal does, stay on property to access fast pass. But something needs to be done because the disney experience is not as magical as it once was.
March 24, 2017 at 11:12 AM · Amen...I know it sounds like a broken record, but Pirates and Haunted Mansion should never ben over an hour wait and they consistently are since they started the new fast pass reservation system...I've been to Disney twice since it was implemented and both times just really didn't have a magical time at all. Got Universal season passes this year and the day just always feels relaxed and fun, even if I don't have express passes. That's how it should be.
March 24, 2017 at 11:15 AM · You don't even know what lines are till you've been to Japan in a standby queue.

The fastpass system has always been broken. It's always created artificially increased standby wait times as it makes it more difficult to board guests. Would be best to create a system where only onsite hotel guests can purchase fastpass tickets.

March 24, 2017 at 11:55 AM · yeah I just went with my family to Tokyo Disney Resort two weeks ago. It was my 7th time going over the last 15 years and It was an hour wait for just small things like buying popcorn. Hour and a half waits just to get a fast pass. 4 hour waits for regular standby rides ! I will never go to Tokyo again. Waste of time and Money IMVHO

So is the set UNLIMITED rides ? or just ONE fast pass per ride ? Once only for the set would be a waste of money.

March 24, 2017 at 12:29 PM · Bob Iger is absolutely right to charge for fastpasses in Shanghai. After all, Disney must recoup the $5.5 billion wasted in Shanghai somehow.

It's a shame that Americans will also continue to pay the price for Iger's foolish investments in NextGen/MyMagic/MagicBands, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Paris.

Why does Disney even need a CEO? How hard is it to raise prices every year while cutting costs to the bone? A monkey could do that.

The most skillful thing Iger ever did was trick George Lucas into giving up the Star Wars franchise for peanuts. How many more suckers are out there? Iger will soon find out.

March 24, 2017 at 3:58 PM · Just to clarify that anonymous posters comment. Japan is totally worth visiting, however the Disney parks there are nothing special. I can assure you aren't missing much if you've done WDW and UOR. Tokyo Disneyland is the same crap as out here. DisneySea has great themeing but far too many people and too few rides to be enjoyable. Hour long waits for salted popcorn is just dumb.

The fastpass system doesn't even work that well out there. The fastpasses we acquired put us in a 2 hour wait for Indiana Jones as opposed to the 4 hour standby wait time. There isn't anything fast about it.

March 25, 2017 at 12:28 AM · I don't think Premier Access will ever come to the US parks, but I do think some form of paid Fastpass is on the horizon. Personally, I'd like to see the whole system reworked into a true virtual queue (like Accesso's Qbot system that Six Flags uses) rather than the reservation system they are currently using, as in my experience systems like that are the most fair and efficient all around. As soon as a guest enters the park, they can enter the virtual queue for an attraction using their smartphone or a kiosk in the park. They are given a return time equal to the current wait time of the ride, and may then return to the attraction anytime after that to ride. Once they have ridden, they are free to enter the virtual queue for another attraction, but they may only be in one virtual queue at a time. Depending on how elaborate the system is, any number of different free and upcharge options could be implemented (for example, free guests may only use 5 virtual queues per day, but for a fee the reservation cap is increased or removed completely and/or additional attractions are made available). I would be disappointed if Disney completely eliminates a free Fastpass option, but as they are the only major corporate theme park chain (at least in North America) that doesn't offer a paid system, I don't see anything wrong with adding one.
March 28, 2017 at 12:19 PM · We made it to Shanghai Disneyland! Had 18-hour layover from 6am to midnight with China Eastern Airlines LAX to Manila flight.

Weather report said rain all day so we brought rain suits and changed into them inside the airport terminal, our checked bag did not need to be retrieved, and our carry on suitcase we stored in an airport locker. Then we took a taxi to SDL, and even though I had a print out of the park name in Chinese and picture of Princess castle driver had a little hard time finding where to drop us off. Driver turned around meter so we couldn't see fare and cheated us.

Upon arrival on weekday walked to security and got through no problem, then waited for park opening. Even with the rain a lot of persons waiting to get in most with no rain gear or just an umbrella. Lady in line started screaming at her baby in a stroller. Presented passport at entrance turnstile to retrieve tickets purchased online. Persons entering ahead of us sprinted full speed off into the park.

In the park went to Pirates and rode twice within 15 minutes, they use lots of big IMAX type screens which are not as impressive as real animatronics. Next Seven Dwarves single rider wife and I both in around 15 minutes, it is outdoors and rain hits the face, in single line they pair up with another rider I had Chinese young lady close next to me.

With daughter went on Winnie Pooh and Peter Pan, Pan was better the ride is up in the air. Got Mickey Pizza for lunch, cold and rain and wind started getting to wife also jet lag catching up to us so decided to let go of our plan to reach downtown Shanghai and instead just finish SDL and go back to airport. Many of the persons at start of day without rain gear seemed to have left the park.

Disney app showing ride wait times didn't work for most of the day on Samsung phone with USA simcard and ATT International data plan, and many internet websites such as Facebook we could not access anytime while in China. We went counterclockwise around park and didn't waste time and energy crossing large park to get fastpasses or for other reasons. Didn't have any pushing or line cutting, didn't see any kids peeing in public or trash on ground, maybe because park lightly attended.

Went to Stars Wars Launch Bay, that was warm and out of rain. Darth Vader was mean to kids including my baby daughter, he put his fist in her face and next group of kids he just stormed out of the room and they stood there bewildered and disappointed.

Tron may be the best roller coaster in the world and best ride at any theme park. Sit on like a motorcycle and it accelerates really fast. No wait and there is a single-use two hour locker for no charge to keep your stuff in while on the ride. Jet lag really kicking in got disoriented during ride so couldn’t do it a second time.

On way out of park walked through Princess Castle noticed persons climbing stairs that wind upwards from the inside, wind blowing through castle too tired and cold to attempt climb. Took taxi back to airport and retrieved luggage from locker. On way to airport noticed lots of very tall apartment buildings looked like stereotype communist terrible place to live.

We weren’t interested in Soaring, and wished we could have seen some shows and viewed the outdoor sights, but on the plus side we did most of the best rides in a short period of time.

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