In my opinion Disney runs their parks much better.
There are so many websites that offer so much advice, people (especially newbies) come to Walt Disney World like commandos with so many check lists and tips that when one little thing goes wrong it throws them into a frenzy. There's all this official lingo, policies, terms, schedules, not to mention all the stuff people "learn" on the internet.
I'm just imagining monorail woman from your story: "I read that the monorail to the Magic Kingdom is supposed to take 8 minutes and the everage wait is 14 minutes but we waited 16 and now it's stopped! I'm never going to make my priority seating in time and then I'm going to miss my Fastpass return window! What do you mean rides? We went to Epcot for Soarin because the slowest day on the crowd calendar was Tuesday and the lowest waits are before noon! But we had to go to Magic Kingdom first to get a Fastpass for Space Mountain before 8am because of extra magic hours! Then tonight we're going to Fantasmic because the 8pm showing has the lowest attendance of the week! What do you mean, fun? I'm too busy to have fun!"
When I go on vacation, I like to lose the one thing I have in my normal life: schedules. Unless there is a show I want to catch, I mainly go by the seat of my pants. I have been through Disney enough times to not have to do a specific path through the parks. So, telling me 'if you want to ride Space Mountain, you MUST be there between 5:30 and 6:30' sucks, and it takes some of the fun out of Disney. Really, this is coming to the point that, after my next trip or two, I might not go back to Disney for a while.
The bottom line is people are trying to jam too many activities into a vacation and ruining not only their own, but perhaps the families they affect with their poor behavior.
Whenever we have family down to visit us we ask them what they expect to do and if they have an itinerary. Once we look at it we can suggest spreading things out a little...two days at MK instead of one (it should always be planned that way anyway)...A down day at LEAST every 3rd day if not every other. A "down" day from the parks could be a trip to the water parks or the beach or mini golf! Just something dialed down a bit.
Disney management obviously saw the need to restrict the use of these tickets. It is not hard to imagine hundreds of guests showing up late, but around the same time to Space Mountain or Peter Pan and the log jam that would cause for everybody. It's just not fair to the rest of the guests.
I am lucky to live in Orlando. I come and go as I please to the parks and rarely have anything but a good time.
I completely agree that one should have a schedule and stick to it while on vacation! Just remember to put a fair amount of rest time in. You will be happy you did! Also understand it's OK not to do everything we have here in one visit. It should still be here when you come back.
This is one of the primary reasons I prefer Universal now. Staying onsite and having an unlimited Express Pass is the ultimate relaxing, worry-free theme park vacation. But I’m not going to turn this into a Universal vs. Disney argument. Universal’s system works largely due to its smaller size. With Disney’s size and number of resorts and onsite guests, I just can’t see that sort of system working for them. But I think Disney’s size IS part of the problem…see below.
I’ll also admit that I haven’t really enjoyed Disney since they instituted Fastpass and I refuse to use it. I want on the ride when I’m there and not to have to backtrack across the park 2 hours later. I’ve always thought the whole concept was sort of stupid. For instance, when I visited DAK shortly after the opening of Everest, we went straight back to get in line after rope drop. Initially, the lines to get Fastpass for later returns were LONGER than the line for the ride itself. WTH?!?! Meanwhile, we were able to ride Everest 3 times in a row with very limited waits. Why didn’t the people getting Fastpass go ahead and ride the dang thing when they were there?
That’s part of what gets me…. When I was growing up, it was possible to work the park in an organized fashion without having to run back and forth to meet Fastpass times. My preference was to head straight back to Big Thunder, go to Adventureland, jump over Fantasyland to Tomorrowland, hit the Haunted Mansion then cover the “kiddie” section during a parade. We managed to hit every major ride one night in July between 6:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. with that strategy. But Fastpass seems to clog up the works.
And I’m not sure that the fact they’re enforcing the Fastpass return window now is the only problem. (For that matter, what was the point of having Fastpass in the first place if you could get one and then use it whenever you wanted???) I’ve thought people have seemed more stressed ever since the program was started. I would seriously suggest they get rid of Fastpass altogether and go back to the way things were and put every rider on the same footing. Fastpass just seems to add an element of stress that no vacation needs. And that “booking your ride times in advance” stuff sounds like a complete nightmare!
Of course, there’s more than just Fastpass that’s the problem. Unlike DLR, which from the sound of things is closer to Universal in size and scope, WDW Resort has just grown into a monster. I remember when riding the monorails or the buses was fun…. now it feels like being crammed in a cattle-car. There’s so much to see and people’s expectations are so high, that a lot of the joy that should be there….isn’t. Watching some families with tired parents and tired kids, it’s almost like they’re MAKING themselves have fun.
It’s sad because I remember when Disney seemed truly magical. But now, if I’m on property for longer than about 8 hours, I start to get twitchy ;-P
As for now...The stressed people are people who stray too far. If they need to use a monorail or have anything that can cause delay, then they hurt themselves.
I think this article was a rushed assumption. Really, some days people are tense and some are not. I see it all the time at Disney. Some people are natural stressers. Fastpass or not, if vacations isn't perfect of efficient, people are upset.
The parks themselves aren't that big that it's unreasonable to get back to a spot for an 80 minute window. It's not hard to casually plan on the go as not to waste time and be where you need to be. I really don't have a problem, and no one I know has a problem with making it across the park for a ride. It's not far, it's not hard.
But if you make reservations in another park or place that you plan to spend the day in, that's a risk just like in the real world when you need to travel. Switching parks and coming back to use a Fastpass is silly.
The Ultitimate goal of xpass is to save you time. But we don't know how that will work, no one knows. So at this point, all we can say in opposition to Xpass is that yes we will hear Disney out on how we will save time, or no, that we don't care to save time and walk around Disney haphazardly hoping for the best.
I'd wager those people you witnessed, Robert, were either control-freaks or people who just try to cram way too much into a day. No system, no matter how perfect, can help them.
Patience, where art thou??
So if anyone else has theories as to why people might be more stressed, or even if you want to challenge the theory that they are more stressed, I'd love to hear from you.
Also, I'd love to hear suggestions from people how parks and how visitors each could work to make theme park vacations less stressful. Thanks.
All this stress definitely defeats the purpose of a trip. I go on vacation to get away from all that.
Losing the flexibility of the open ended fast pass is just making it harder to cram in attractions that help justify the overall cost.
As far as the Fastpass system goes, I really think Disney should have an open return time. When you get the pass, it says you can return anytime after xx:xx with no cutoff. However, each ride only admits a certain number of people at a time (say 5% of the ride's hourly capacity in each 15 minute window), and if the Fastpass line is full they tell visitors to come back later. If the parks cut distribution to more reasonable numbers (say 20% of the daily capacity), I'm sure this would work without overcrowding the attractions.
Fastpass and Universal Express spoiled people. I prefer the old days when people didn't mind to get in line for 1+ hours as it was part of the theme park experience. Those days when you started on one side of the park and did the loop without having to go back and forth. It was more relaxing.
Having said this, if Disneyland Resort lets you return after the window, then that would make things much nicer for guests.
As for the Fastpass issue Disney has upped the amount of Fastpass's being given per attraction. That was one of the reasons why Disney has asked guest to return in that hour window.
Another reason why they want guest to return in there designated times is because guests were taking advantage of the program and causing the lines to be longer then there should especially at night. A lot were saving the Fastpass's for the night which caused the lines to be longer then there should be. So know that we stop giving out Fastpass's with a couple hours to go at night the lines should be able to go quicker then the past.
There are two different programs that are being thrown around Disney right now either changing the program to resort guests only and then being able to print up Fastpass's over the computer when planning your vacation.
I thought the same thing about Universal parking until I started using valet. It is only a couple dollars more per day than parking in the lot and you have unlimited in / out with your car waiting and A/C blasting like an arctic wind, cold bottled water and valets that treat you like a rock star.
I think it was $30 or $22 a day, but that only comes to less than a dollar an hour. When I go to a White Sox or Hawks game, the parking is $27 for less than three hours.
The USF parking fees are not out of line by my standards, but walking to the lot and getting into a 140 degree car multiple times a day vs valet is a bargain for the four extra dollars per day.
The unlimited Express is the reason why we stay on-site at USF, the money saved vs purchasing them every day for a family of four for both parks is staggering. That is probably why I don't have a problem with paying for parking.
As for the stressed out people, I think they are just overwhelmed with the whole experience. Disney World is WAY more in your face than Disneyland.
Oh yeah, and its freakin hot :)
You can hold your rage all you want. We will never go back to Disney as it is a waste of a vacation. The only ride I miss is Tower Of Terror, they can keep the rest.
4-5 rides in one day is not a bargain by any standard. Did you notice this story is about people aggravated with the crowds, waiting, and Fast Pass?
Oh, let me have an itenerary for my entire day at a theme park so I can plan my attempts at getting a Fast Pass and spend the whole day trying to get on maybe five rides.
No thanks buddy, I will take Universal any day. I had the unfortunate experience of Disney four years in a row until my wife suggested USF. The differences are huge, we actually get to relax and ride all we want with no wait.
What a concept, everything on one property and perks that Disney doesn't offer, even for purchase. Yeah, let's blow 8K on a vacation where I come back more stressed out than before we left.....
Its your holiday and you spent a whole lot of money to go to Disneyworld. I agree that you want to make the most of it, get value and do everything etc, but isnt it better to cherish the time with your family, chill out and smell the roses a little. Otherwise what was the point in spending all that money in the first place?
Currently, it appears that Disney's crowds are just too big for Disney's britches. So, to help solve the problem Disney needs to expand the parks (maybe even open a 5th gate), build more attractions, and HIRE MORE CAST MEMBERS (and train them!) Three simple steps, and Disney will be able to better handle the masses that swarm to WDW, the #1 vacation destination on the planet. However, there is no corporate solution for a person's rudeness. The only thing Disney can strive for is to create an environment that helps to keep rude people somewhat in check. It is up to an individual to manage his/her behavior and make better choices in his/her daily theme park walk/run.
As for the comparisons between Disney and Universal crowds, it is apples and oranges. IOA averages about 16k visitors a day, while the Magic Kingdom pulls upwards of 50k... how can you compare wait times and stress levels between the parks? I completely agree with NB, Universal is a great place to go if you want big attractions and small crowds. Additionally, if you are willing to pony up and pay Disney-fied prices, Universal's on site resort perks are wonderful... but the only reason they are so great is because so few people are utilizing them. Furthermore, if Universal had 20+ resorts and 50M visitors, they would not offer the same perks and they would have the same overcrowding issues as Disney. And trust me, Universal would LOVE to have Disney's problems!
And for us "Insiders" we need to remember: go to the parks when the crowds aren't there. Easiest solution: home school your kids and vacation in the off season! =) There's nothing like going to Disney when the crowd levels are small like at Universal, and going to Universal when you are the only one in the parks! Best theme park vacations ever happen in the off-season, folks!!
If you ask me this all comes down to one issue with Disney, and really Magic Kingdom in particular; the park is not EASY. Getting into MK takes forever- from parking lot to TTC to monorail/ boat to bag check to turnstiles. All that just to walk into the park! Here is where a previous posters comment comes into play-- the check lists with tips from the internet! Problem is... if you don't have those tips you would never know that in order to eat somewhere other than a quick service resturant you needed to make a reservation 90 DAYS ago, or that Fantasyland is going to be slammed from around 10 am until a little before closing. If you came into the park without knowing about FastPass the truth is that most people just don't immediately get it. The system does take time to comprehend without any prior knowledge- I say this as a former cast member who has had to explain FP to TONS of people (including my own family). Again I stress, it just isn't EASY to visit those parks now making it a stressful visit for most.
Bottom line is, you can't fight human nature, specifically ego. So the only solution that I can see working at all is to limit the crowds to a fraction of what they are now by instituting an entrance-by-reservation system, but that's totally illogical from a business model standpoint. Well, unless you turn WDW into a rich-elite playground by charging a super premium for it. Some would argue it's going that way anyway. The only other solution is to force-feed people brownies at the gate...yeah, you know what brownies I'm talking about.
Even then, you'd still have jerks who have to be first in line for everything. Again, ego. Veruca Salt anyone?
Hate to be a pessimist, but I've seen too much at parks not to feel that way.
It all has to do with dropping thousands of dollars on vacations I never enjoyed. Yes, we go in the peak summer months and all the Disney parks are packed in late June / early July.
I don't think we were doing anything wrong, the Disney parks were just mobbed and wait times were beyond acceptable. Not very fun for us. Like I said before, I don't want to have to plan my entire day at a park.
There is this strange social behavior at Diney where everyone is in competition with each other or something I can't quite put my finger on.
For example if you decided you want to visit the Magic Kingdom on the first day of the your vacation online you pick the rides you want for Fastpass's, you then recieve them when you check-in, then on the day of the visit you can use the FP anytime you want so you can use them with-in 2 hours or streach them over the day.
Then Disney can either lessen the amount of FP given out that day to regular park guests or add more if there arent a lot planned out that day.
I think this is just one of those things that go along with visiting a theme park, & the fast pass system, no matter how efficient, could prevent folks from getting stressed out. Tt's similiar to driving in traffic. Some are calm, & then there's road rage, no amount of off ramps, extra lanes, etc. can change the way people react.
For our family, we get Fastpasses only for the most-desired attractions, and even then only when the regular waits are pretty long. So we're talking maybe 2-4 per day at most.
Since these are the most-desired attractions, they're also typically the most anticipated by one or more family members. As soon as we get the Fastpass we usually figure out what we're going to do so we get back right at the beginning of the window, since people can't WAIT to use the Fastpasses and go on these top attractions.
As such, getting back within the hour is not even a concern, we're usually there a few minutes before the Fastpass window!!!
I'm surprised more people don't do this exact things, but per the comments it seems like different strokes for different folks.
Last time we were there, there were no Fast Passes avaialable at any kiosk. We stood in very long lines to try and get them, but they seem to run out very quickly.
I don't think the system was in place all that long when we went in 2001. I believe it was introduced in 1999.
We were on site and thought we would get to ride in the extra hours. We figured the park would thin out after the parade, but it was still a mad house.
We got in line for Space Mountain very late at night, after the line moved for about 40 minutes, they came over the intercom and announced the ride was closed until further notice. They never did open it back up that night.
Just a microcosm of our whole experience.... frustration.
As I have stated before, I actually like the Disney parks. Trying to manuever your way through a sea of people with a stroller takes it's toll on your patience at WDW. The problem with Disney is it's success and routine capacity crowds.
I would probably enjoy the Disney parks a lot more if we went in the off season, but that will never happen.
FastPass suggests that guests using the system will wait "15 minutes or less.". That time frame is calculated based on the fact that a certain number of passes go out each hour. Once a threshold is met, the return time increases. The system is silently calculating based on the number of passes provided so that the wait time should be slim to none. As there is a ratio of FastPass to Standby guests that must be followed, a large influx of guests outside of the window will significantly increase the wait time for the FastPass queue, causing it to soar to 30 minutes plus... This then forces Standby guests to wait considerably longer than the posted time as they work to clear those guests and reduce the FastPass wait time. These situations cause severe frustration for guests, who ultimately head to Guest Relations to unleash a storm of anger on the poor cast members there.
As for guests frustrated with issues like late dinner reservations and being stuck on a broken attraction, they simply need to inform a cast member at the Fast Pass return queue, and on a case by case basis they will clearly accommodate as necessary... Again, that would be on a case by case basis and not at all available to everyone who was just "running late."
I myself don't often use FastPass because like others have said, I live here and I am more likely to spend a couple of hours hanging out and if I want to ride something I simply wait in standby. Those folks visiting or the first time are better off (in my opinion) arriving with an open mind, grabbing a park map and a times guide and setting out to enjoy a day at the parks, instead of spending weeks or months reading articles online with "tip and tricks" and pre-planning their day only to become super upset when an attraction is down and they have to deviate from it.
Lastly I will say this.. The statement about returning within the allotted time has ALWAYS been on those tickets, and therefore has always been a valid practice, if anyone is upset it should be those that have always returned on-time only to find they have to wait 30-45 minutes because a big group of ppl from early in the morning decided to hop in line!
That is my gripe about Disney. We just found it to be a long and stressful day. Granted it is always peak summer and the hottest days of the year.
I would love to hit the Disney parks on one of my Florida trips solo and during off season to see the difference. I bet I could get a lot of riding done and have a whole different perspective.
Hollywood Studios would be my first visit, then Epcot, Animal Kindgom and MK in that order.
My husband couldn't join us on this trip; he had to stay home. So, my daughter and I ventured to WDW (stayed at PO-FQ)for a week to celebrate both her 18th birthday last month, and her impending high school graduation. We traveled over Spring Break, not because we particularly wanted to go at that time, but because  We did not want her to miss school and  she has PMLE - a sun allergy - which only gets worse as summer draws nearer.
So, with a bag full of sunblock, and a fist full of money, we went to WDW to play, and celebrate.
What we learned was this: There are families that are doing the "commando-style" touring - and woe be upon those who are unfortunate enough to step into their paths! These people - typically armed with the dreaded "double-wide" strollers - simply do not care. They literally use the strollers like a battering ram, pushing through crowds. On more than one occasion, I had my heels run over by these over-zealous kiddy-pushers. They load the strollers down so heavily with diaper bags and souvenirs that on more than one occasion we saw them tump over when the kids were removed.
Monday afternoon, I witnessed an angry parent yelling at a cast member outside of Philharmagic, as he wanted to push that double-wide stroller *inside* the attraction. He logic was that if wheelchairs and ECV's were allowed, then strollers were too.
IMHO, double-wide strollers are simply adding to the chaos and causing problems. "Double-length" strollers (two seats, inline - one behind the other) while still somewhat ungainly would help a great deal, if for no other reason than they would require a smaller path to move through crowds.
There are a great many people (my daughter included) who *must* travel on wheels - either by ECV or wheelchair. They have no choice. But on this trip, on more than one occasion, we were "hassled" by other guests with remarks like these:
"I guess it must be *nice* to always go to the front of the line...!"
"At least my kid isn't too lazy to walk!"
"Do you like to ride around like that, "Princess"?"
We actually cut our trip short by three days, and came home early because our daughter was so upset and distressed by the way we were treated in ALL of the WWD parks on this trip. I'm afraid that if my husband had been there, he would not have been able to control himself in the face of such cruel remarks and outright discrimination from guests.
The reality is that we don't get any preferential treatment - in fact, we often wait longer (stuck away in back hallways) for our chance to ride. If we can ride, that is. Because if you can't "transfer" (meaning that you can't stand unassisted, and often you must be able to walk 20 feet or more) then you can't ride. At all.
My kid isn't too lazy to walk. She doesn't think she is a "Princess", or that she should get special treatment. She just wants to experience life as much like her peers as any other person does.
People from other countries often are not used to seeing physically limited people out in public; in many parts of the world, a person who cannot walk, stand, or move unassisted would be shunned, and set aside from society. We are used to their stares, and have had the opportunity from time to time to "educate" them. They are often surprised that my daughter is so intelligent; they assume that because she is in a wheelchair, she is retarded. Nothing could be further from the truth; she is a straight-A student who is concurrently enrolled in both high school and college, and has plans to form her own accounting agency after she obtains her CPA.
On this trip, her chair was actually stolen from outside an attraction. Cast Members quickly supplied another chair, and ours was recovered hours later - at Hollywood Studios, where college kids were using it to push around a comrade who had too much to drink, and had passed out. It was covered in beer, and vomit.
WDW used to be a place where we could go, and enjoy our vacations. I'm not sure we will ever go back after this trip. We saw the stress that Robert wrote of; it was evident at every park, every day. I don't have a solution to the epidemic of rudeness and stress that currently pervades the parks. But I do know that I can vote with my travel dollars. And for now, I vote to stay away.
In that case, they apologised and let me on outside the window.
Fastpass is the best free perk in the Disney parks and I wish it was available on more rides. I would much rather be shopping or dining than stood in a line.
I just don't understand how people cannot get back for the end of the window, we are normally stood at the entrance waiting for the start clock to click over!
During food & wine it is terrible. Not only are people rude, they are rude drunks. Disney parks are also for kids and with all the drinking in the parks that have drinking is terrible. There are parents that should not even be in the parks with their children while they are intoxicated and could harm even their own children.
That was pretty sad to hear. I am a very calm person, but if I was in your situation, I would have cleared a 100 foot radius dealing with the people who made those comments and embarrased the everloving daylights out of them without resorting to profanity and yelling.
When we did take stollers to the parks, we actually walked a bit slower than everyone else as not to run into their heels and get dirty looks.
The worst thing I have dealt with is those human centipedes of Brazilian teen tours who think they own the park. They like to take up an entire walking path leaving a narrow, 3 foot wide area that everyone has to use on one side, which gets annoying in places like Jurassic Park because they are narrow and very bumpy to begin with. The sides of the walking paths curve upwards there too, making it impossible to push a stoller along the side.
I have seen the occasional drunk teen, but we tend to go a few weeks before school begins, so it is mostly families as opposed to the people you would see during Spring break. I am sure every park has these problems, not just Disney, but with the crowds they allow, it has to happen more often there, statistically. The packed parks just add to the stress factor and the way people behave in situations like that.
Sorry, dont have any symapthy here. Dont really understand the issue either since thats what its promoted as - if they didnt enforce the rules, its still bad on you for ignoring them.
Our approach now is to go in the off-season or at the beginning of the peak season (late May) as soon as the kids are our of school. We only use fast-pass 1-2 times a day for the very biggest attractions. But don't sweat it if we can't get one. The atmosphere, food, and being with my family are the important things and those memories are what make the trip great.
Lots of good comments about the internet, people's expectations, and commando approaches. I think people are so used to living their lives according to a plan (soccer schedules, work schedules, and such) that they naturally let it become apart of the vacation. Some people just don't know how to relax. They've been on a schedule aka "death march" since high school.
Let alone the fact that many of these people may be taking vacations that they really can't afford. Just one of many factors I am sure.