Ultimately, no system is going to be perfect, but this appears to be a giant step forward beyond the existing FastPass technology. I think the lack of details demonstrates the unknown about how guests will embrace the system and how far Disney will take the technology. When FastPass first debuted, people initially thought it was terrible, but it's now considered the gold standard of free crowd control and line management. The new system does have a huge bit of "Big Brother" to it, but when you enter a Theme Park, you are already giving up some of your privacy, and by walking on someone else's property, you have the right to be tracked. The possibilities of what can be done with this technology are nearly endless.
Also, the new phone system that launched late 2011 provides an estimated wait time, so if you were waiting on the phone for an hour, you should have known that it was going to take that long when you were first placed on hold. If the estimate you were given was far less than you waited, it might be helpful to email Disney to let them know about your frustration and the inaccurate wait time.
Now I can look forward to more folks burying their heads in Smart phones and walking into us at every moment… Yippee!!!!! I do not like to plan every moment of every day of every ride on vacation…. Just go with the flow, be flexible. Just imagine a family running across the park to Tomorrow Land to get to the ride on time (knocking down a 3 year old who just does not get it.. ) Planning for Stress, run to a ride, get pissed when you have to wait- “Oh the Pain”….
I thought vacations were about relaxing and having to be nowhere committed to anything?
For the Anon poster who asked about Annual Pass Holders, the MagicBands are free to them as well. Here are the details as we have them so far (from InsidetheMagic.net):
Basic MagicBands will be given to guests staying in Walt Disney World hotels, annual pass holders, and anyone who purchases a photography package. All other guests wanting to take part in MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience will need to purchase a MagicBand. Those not purchasing the MagicBand will still be able to use FastPass+, touch-to-enter, and touch-to-pay via RFID-embedded tickets.
I also agree with the comment above about everything not needing to be planned out. I'd be more worried about being late to my next scheduled time to ride, than actually enjoying my time at the park.
Here's a radical money-making scheme for Disney: keep reinvesting in all your parks until they are of world-class quality. That will work a lot better than a zillion advance reservation, high tech doodads.
I would like to add that I wish that they had spent the money on building new attractions instead of a crowd management system, but when it comes to Disney I'll take any improvement I can get.
Besides, I still don't see a huge downside based on what we actually KNOW. Too much conjecture and not enough facts. This stuff is pretty new, so just relax and wait for the details.
I Respond: Yeah! You guys are acting like idiots! I mean, just because your worldwide theme park attendance in 2011 was 121 million people (or about 75 million more people than the second place theme park operator -- Merlin) doesn't exactly demonstrate that you guys understand how a theme park can operate in a manner that ehances the guest experience and maintains overall customer satisfaction.
I Respond: Yeah! What does WWDW "mgt." know about running a theme park that can operate in a manner which ehances the guest experience and maintains overall customer satisfaction? Their lame theme park operation only garnered 47.4 million guests in 2011. Talk about a bunch of rank amateurs!
(Chuckle x 2)
They had a good thing going with regular fast pass. It was free to all and was a great service to everyone who paid for a ticket.
I already plan everything out thanks to touringplans.com, but not having to run across the park with my entourage of little people just to grab a paper fastpass??? Yes please!!! I would PAY for that option. In fact, on my 2005 honeymoon, I DID pay for it at Island's of adventure, and it was the best 'extra' money we spent on the trip. But Disney's giving it away for free!
With that restriction, I don't see the standby line wait times increasing drastically. What really sucks about this system is you have to start thinking about attractions well before getting into the park. 180 days for dining reservations is 6 months before your vacation. Who wants to start thinking about food that early?
Now, what will we do with all those FP Distribution Centers?
All Fastpass equipped rides have return windows of one hour, set in fifteen minute intervals. Approxmiately 30% of a ride's hourly capacity is set aside for these reservations, divided evenly over the windows. Before visiting, a guest can reserve up to four time slots for each day of their visit provided they have already purchased tickets. Reservations may be made up to three months in advance. Rides may only be reserved for one park per day, regardless of whether the guest has a hopper ticket or not.
Upon arrival at the park, guests may visit a central kiosk to make additional reservations and/or change existing reservations to any available time slot. When reserving attractions, they may select from the time slots that are not already full. In addition, the following restrictions apply:
-Guests may only reserve one time slot per attraction per day-Guests may not choose any time slots that overlap with each other-Guests are able to change reservation times using their smartphones, but must visit the central kiosk to make additional reservations-Once the hour window has begun for an attraction, the reservation may not be rescheduled.-If a reservation expires without being used, guests may not rebook the attraction for later in the day and must use the standby line if they wish to ride.-In the event of a ride breakdown during a reservation time, guests who check in at the attraction will recieve a readmittance pass good for any time during the day. Guests who do not check in will be treated as missing their reservation and will not be compensated.
Don't sit back and take what happens to you when you call as acceptable. We can all vent about our frustrations and that does affect persons opinions about partaking in that company's business.
I implore you that if you truly have a problem, one that is not solved by venting to friends on and off line. Then file a complaint with the FCC. They will launch an investigation into the call center. The company has to maintain records of every call and how long they are on the line, how long they are on hold, how often they are placed on hold and if a call is escalated.
@Todd, after the endless series of cheap shots and lame jokes you have posted on this site (Jerry Sandusky "jokes", mom "jokes", gay "jokes", personal attacks, and outright hostility) you continue to surprise me with your audacity. Please review all your recent posts with an objective eye, see the error of your ways, and try to be a better man in the future. I will do the same. Moreover, if somewhere along the line I have unintentionally offended you with my words, I do apologize.
@Rob, you've been a long time poster on this site, with interesting opinions, but I am disappointed in your most recent stance. To call Todd and his crass and tasteless posts "funny" - thereby lending support to his continued hostility - is an insult to the competitively friendly nature TPI. Furthermore, if you don't like when people challenge your assertions, don't post. This site will be diminished without your insights, but if you aren't willing to be debated, what is the point of posting?
Whatever...look, I'm done. I have said my piece and stand by it.
Again, sorry for the thread hijack. Carry on.
They've been using Fastpass for almost decade-and-a-half ... and it works! With attendance as a fair yardstick, they have maintained their standing as a theme park operator that provides its guests with an exceptional experience.
The first article I read about Disney NextGen appeared in the Orlando Sentinel in January of 2010 -- three years ago. By that time the development of the project was well underway. And while there will certainly be anomalies in the management of the programs affiliated with NextGen, I find it dubious to assume that a majority of very obvious concerns (some of which are posted here which I won't ... or apparently have been asked not to reference) have not already been identified and addressed by Disney Parks.
Walt Disney World welcomed 47.5 million guests in 2011. It seems reasonable to assert that the company has the potential to implement this program with great success. As a theme park guy who has great admiration for multiple park operators (not just Disney) I lean toward a school-of-thought that advocates the proposition "Let's see what happens" as opposed to "Let's hammer 'the suits' before the program has even been implemented." I tend to give the planet's most successful theme park operator the benefit of the doubt, rather than post (as an anonymous person did) "I'm not impressed by this system. I think Disney will be losing quite a few visitors when they implement this."
And for the record, any TPI poster can feel free to pull any quotes out of any of my posts and respond. Slap me around. By all means irritate me. My ego can take it.
(Chuckle x 3)
I think that most people who have fears of the new system aren't grasping all the facts, and I don't blame them because so much of what people have heard about the system is coming from other people's imagination and speculation and so little fact is out there yet. Here are a few detials that should assuage most fears.
- No more passes will be handed out than are in the current system. In fact, there might be less handed out.
-Guest Assistance Cards, those red passes that are handed out now will be extremely limited if not eliminated. People using the GAC cards now makes up to 40% of the Fastpass line. With GAC cards under control, the Fastpass lines will slim down dramatically, and so will stand-by.
- There are limits. There is a limit on passes you pick ahead of time, with more to acquire the day of. There is a limit on the number of D and E Ticket attractions you can use.
-There will be twice as many attractions with Fastpasses available. You can bet that people really want to get passes for the smaller, less busy attractions. As bad as this may sound, it will encourage crowds to spread evenly to more attraction, allowing shorter lines overall.
- You can plan ahead on a limited basis. More importantly, there are passes that can be reserved on the spot the day of, anywhere anytime before that passes time. On that note, you can switch those passes anytime for another attraction for whatever reason, including a short stand-by line existing after all.
- The MAGICBANDS ARE AN UPGRADE FOR A FREE SYSTEM. Everyone's tickets will include and RFID chip automatically, including CMs and APs.
And while you think about those points, remember Fastpass+ is just a small part of the integrated system of Nextgen. For example, the roses at Be Our Guest lunches and white cards at Test Track are fillers until the RFID cards and MagicBands are in use. There will be new ways to enter the park, pay faster and worry less.
My favorite example of how this tech will improve so many little things is lunch at Be Our Guest. The RFID enambled tables prevent that obnoxious table saving practice to provide a quicker service and less time and stress wasted on mealtimes.
On a more extreme scope, the idea is to take the system to pick up Guest's RFID cards so provide an interactive atmosphere that harkens back to the original focus of theme parks, to convey the notion that you are somewhere else, not there just for some rides.
@Rob I agree, if someone misquotes or misrepresents you, you have every right to call that person out and defend yourself. I am not debating that right. By the same token, anything we post in a public forum is fair game. It is part of the package deal. As for me having problems with one poster, that is not a fair statement. I have an issue with anyone who posts hostile, vulgar, or derogatory comments on a regular basis. Furthermore, I question anyone who by action or inaction condones such comments. I am an amiable guy, and turn the cheek quite often, but there always comes a boiling point when someone goes too far. It is at that point that even amiable people have to take a stand.
I really am trying to keep an open mind about this.... the proof of the pudding is in the eating as we say in the UK.I'm not even sure I would bother to use it myself we dont stay on site, we go in the off-season etc.
I have already thought of one positive. With the 'on the day' changes/bookings...I dont have to send someone from Tomorrowland over to Splash to get a fastpass! (As I wouldnt bother to do it myself of course :-)) Although I will dread my mobile internet bill when I get back to England!
I Respond: Really? You're going there? Wow.
But it's the uncertainty over what Disney will do with that ability that's driving so much anxiety. From one perspective, that's a huge compliment to Disney. People care about their Disney vacations and don't want to see them messed up. But if the fear of change itself is enough to drive people away from Disney, that's bad for the company. More detail would be appreciated. Even if Disney ends up having to change the system down the line, I think people would appreciate more transparency about MyMagic+.
That said, as Disney works to an equilibrium on this, some people are going to figure out how to work this system to great advantage, and others will absolutely screw it up. The first crew will post glowing reviews online - the second will pan it and declare Disney's finished. As with paper Fastpasses, eventually, Disney and its fans will figure it out and it'll end up running somewhat smoothly.
Again, anything remotely related to the delight that is Be Our Guests' lunchtime ordering system is a plus, in my book.
@Robert You run a clean site...no worries. I can fight my own battles... Well, that is unless Jake Rivers returns!! ;)
Nothing here is\was abusive. And I know abusive and obnoxious. If someone does not have the same opinion and there is some back and forth, we can sit back and enjoy the conversation.
I do believe Disney is trying to make things better, but myself, I would rather Disney spend money for park attractions, rehabbing and adding new things… Sometimes waiting for an attraction and the calm before the storm, building anticipation of excitement is better the running to the front of the line….
As for your point about Disney's spending, I will repeat, why not do both? One does not have to preclude the other. Disney has enough money for new attractions and Next Gen... why not build the best all around vacation experience money can buy? I believe Next Gen is just one piece of a much larger puzzle.
This statement is absolutely not correct. Is Guest Assistance Card usage out-of-control? - Absolutely! Is there massive abuse of the system? - Absolutely. But it does not account for 40% of the Fastpass line usage. There is no way!
Put your head on and think about the number of guests in attendance who have to be carrying one or have access to one so that 40% of the traffic through a FastPass line would come from one. 2 out of every 5 people who enter the line would use one. That means if I stood at the entry to a FastPass line almost every other person entering would present a GAC. That's not true!
GAC are a huge problem and especially the abuse. You don't need to tell me that. I got into a major verbal altercation in December at DHS with a group of four who admitted they were abusing the system. However, I doubt it even reaches 10% of the traffic through the FP queue, but at even 5% I would still view it as a problem.
But as in investor in companies like Disney, they will only allocate some much money for improvements. They do have a budget. And if they are investing many finds in a new FP system, that means rides like Splash Mountain, will keep getting ignored and run down. There is not an unlimited amount of monies for improvements…
I am sure when the system is built and in operation it will be very useful. Just keep an open mind all aspects of budgets.
As for maintainence, I believe that budget is separate from new attraction outlays, right? Sure it all comes from one pool, as you noted, but it is one very large, Royal Pacific-sized pool! Also, Splash Mt is currently under the knife for an extended maintainence (two months), so it would seem Next Gen is just "in addition to" and not "instead of" all the other park necessities - at least that is how it looks to me.
That's what always set Disney apart from other parks.....treating ALL of their guests equally with no 'class system' once in the parks.
If they are too short sighted to see that, screw them too.
It would be lining the pockets of the shareholders for which I am one! It's a publicly traded company. Your comment is insulting and typical of so many Americans attitudes! Making a profit is equated to a crime.
"rides like Splash Mountain, will keep getting ignored and run down."
NextGen spending has nothing to do with the maintenance of attractions. The biggest issue with WDW and ride refurbishment is demand exceeds ride capacity so the window of opportunity to close rides is very limited. When a major ride like Splash Mountain is closed the park capacity is reduced. Disneyland is afforded more opportunities to refurb rides due to greater fluxuations in attendance and the fact that the park has so many more attractions. Two of the WDW parks - DHS and DAK - have a very delicate operation with too few attractions. If you loose a major attraction like Everest or Tower of Terror all things fall apart.
The second part of the story is the origin of guests and Disney's desire to not let people down. Disneyland Resorts attendance primarily originates from locals, so if a major ride is closed those attended during that time will likely experience it on a future visit. Not true at WDW. If Space Mountain is closed for example it can be a real disappointment.
Now let me thank him for the 30 minutes of laughs.
@James T, Most of Jake's "best" posts have long since been deleted. Mr. Niles did have to step in when Rivers became very abusive to some of the female regulars.... fun times!
If we're breaking down the percentages of the Fastpass lines, 35-40% are GAC, 10-15% are No Strings and or Re-Adds (forms of guest service recover) and finally the rest is plain Fastpass.
Fastpasses don't create lines, it's everything else we send up Fastpass lines.
Are you attempting to deflect attention from a real issue or are you justifying Disney's complacency with the fact that the masses who spend all that money just aren't noticing how bad the parks are being maintained?
And I'll be interested to check out the system this weekend. I'm not thrilled with it myself, as I am not a planner at all. I like to walk into a park and get on whatever. The regular Fastpass system works OK for me - but I'll get used to it I guess. Not thrilled with the notion of wearing something around my wrist though - I am an AP holder, so I won't get to try it this weekend, but I will likely do a little observation.
The room key method at Universal works very well, although you have to get it out for every ride. We always wear the lanyards so the park ticket and room key are together at all times.
The scanner displays the room number, age, and gender of who is trying to use it (as does the room key) from what I understand. It also checks to make sure the key is still a working one and the person has not checked out yet, although your room key is good until the parks close on checkout day.
I am just wodering how many photographers Disney will have to employ to get things moving quickly? Perhaps some in the know (TH) could shed some light on this.
I wouldn't be surprised if UOR followed suit (RFID) at some point, but I like the fact there are two or three checkpoints for Express on a given ride. The first person waives you through at the ride entrance, the second one manually scans your room key at a point where it is impossible for someone to jump into the Express queue, usually at the loading platform.
UOR only started scanning every room key recently. They used to just take a quick look to make sure the info matched your physical appearance. They also used to use a different colored marker on the paper versions to mark off each ride you had already ridden with the one time use tickets.
The paper Express Pass gets scanned as well, so it is impossible to use them twice on the same ride or pass them off to someone else. Universal is relentless when it comes to scanning prints, I saw an entire family get booted at IOA for trying to use someone elses tickets as none of the prints would let them through.
I am glad Disney is finally cracking down on ticket abuse.