This has become a common practice amongst the world's biggest parks, and while I have taken advantage of the system many times over, I have to say that I don't like it. I have stood in lines where I could see the end, but due to a constant influx of Fastpass guests what would otherwise be a 15-minute wait end up being over an hour.
Universal's model makes more sense to me, where guests have to pay for the right to skip lines. A higher price for a premium experience (whether through staying at an on-site hotel or paying a fee outright for the right) seems practical, since a guest paying the regular price understands the benefit that is being paid for by those skipping them in line. I believe that Universal used to use the Fastpass model but moved away from it a couple years ago or so.
So is there something I just don't understand about the Fasspass model??
I also agree that Universal's system seems to work better. Yes, it's an upgrade you pay for (either as an add-on or via your hotel stay), but that keeps the number of users reasonable and, in my experience, never backs the regular line past a sane wait time. I love Universal's express system and use it on my frequent stays there, but I've also visited the park just for the day without it and I think Uni's staff does a great job of letting in express pass people without holding up the line forever for regular folks. Versus the regular line stopping dead for several minutes at a time to usher in FP users at Disney.
I would throw out the idea that the Disney experience would be more relaxing and enjoyable for everyone if they scrapped the FP system altogether and went back to one line, one wait.
One should point out that none of the rumored attraction development mentioned in the MiceAge article has been confirmed or announced by Disney. So, there is no evidence that any expansion rumored to be canceled or put on hold was even in the pipeline. Technically speaking, Disney has not changed any of their plans - because they haven't announced any of their plans!
Furthermore, from a strictly financial standpoint I question the entire MiceAge report when recent business reports have indicated that money is rolling into Disney at an unfathomable (for me, anyway) rate. Flush with so much profit, I have a hard time believing Disney is worried about money. But, then again, greed knows no bounds.
We shall see what we shall see....
You make it seems like the Federal exchanges are now working as promised. The fix was announced to be completed by the end of November. It is now expected that this new deadline will not be met. The Federal exchanges is a failure. It will not enroll people at the greater rate that people received cancellations of their individual policies. You see, the problem is uninsured people and people in the individual policy market must both be served. Millions of people is expected to lose health insurance coverage due to Obamacare.
As for Disney, could this be Iger-care?
Iger did say Star Wars and Marvel is coming. The only thing is he didn't say when.
So it isn't an outright cancellation. Perhaps a delay.
"Flush with so much profit, I have a hard time believing Disney is worried about money. But, then again, greed knows no bounds."
If you read the Miceage article, this isn't about greed, but a concern about the MagicBand project that will cost much more money to fix, which will affect the bottomline when coupled with the other projects in the pipeline. Thus the focus on MagicBands to prevent a catastrophe!!!
However, I continue to question the validity of this article just as I question the validity of most of the rumors I read on the various fansites. Sure, Disney may have some concerns over the progress of the MyMagic+ program, but probably not to the point of bringing the entire company to a standstill. In other words, I believe the article is wildly speculative - at best.
Disney's Fastpass system is not a cast system, which is what virtually every other queue avoidance system is. Other parks create different tiers of guests based on how much they're willing to spend on their visit. At Disney, everyone is equal. It is a system that allows guests to perceive the advantage of avoiding a line without actually cutting the line. You see, when a guest gets a Fastpass, they are essentially standing in line at that point until their designated return time. The only difference is that guests holding Fastpasses have the freedom to do other things instead of being confined to a queue during their wait. Guests can wait in another standby line, watch a show, eat lunch, or virtually anything else aside from getting another Fastpass. Once their return time is up, they merge with the standby line and get on the ride. The Fastpass users do not "slow" the standby line because if there was no Fastpass, those guests would be lengthening the standby line. In my experience, standby wait times are extremely accurate (CMs send timecards through the line at regular intervals that update the standby wait time in real time), and the presence of Fastpass guests is automatically taken into account when posting those wait times. Perhaps you have had difference experiences, but in general, those posted wait times are some of the most accurate and reliable in the industry.
Those who complain about the Fastpass system do so probably because they are not willing to invest the time and intellect into understanding how the system works and how to use it. I would much rather have a system that rewards hard work and intelligence (Fastpass) than one that rewards the thickness of your wallet (Universal Express, Quick Queue, Flash Pass, etc...).
Now, Fastpass+ adds a new wrinkle to the system because it deliberately reduces the number of regular Fastpasses available for attractions regardless of whether or not guests redeem their Fastpass+'s. If someone doesn't use their regular Fastpass, it doesn't negatively impact the standby wait time. Also, it's rumored that the MyMagic+ system will eventually be used to give extra perks (Fastpass+'s) to guests staying at deluxe resorts, which will turn the system into a cast system like everywhere else, just not as obvious.
That is what MiceAge is reporting though. Do you have sources to indicate otherwise? I think its conceivable to think that if a project is spiraling out of control and additional resources are necessary to get the project back on track, then the company has a choice to axe the project, delay the rollout, or spend more money. Many people here probably think that Disney has infinite resources and price to them is irrelevant, but the reality is that even with a $6 billion profit (a profit mind you that would be earmarked for far more than just theme park investments), resources are not infinite. Businesses make decisions like this all the time, and as a publicly traded company, Disney must answer to their shareholders. If MyMagic+ needed some serious retooling that required additional investment, and they didn't just want to can the project, that money has to come from somewhere, which means either taking on debt, shifting existing resources, or spending profits earmarked for other projects.
Ultimately, Disney is just trying to eat its cake and have it, too. The company, especially the parks division, remains wildly profitable, even with MyMagic+ delays. So this isn't a question of finding money to complete MyMagic+. It's a question of juggling resources to complete MyMagic+ while preserving a growing profit margin.
If I were betting money, I'd wager they'll find a way to do both.
(Seriously, talking about lining up for Fastpasses when you could be riding something -- shortly after Everest opened, I visited AK and went straight back to Everest first thing. Got in line and walked right on. Came out and got in line again, only to find that the line for the FP was LONGER than the line for the ride itself. That just made no sense to me…)
Anyway, I guess I miss the old days at Disney when a savvy visitor could pick the ride they most wanted to do, hustle back to it first thing upon park opening, get in a good ride or two, then leisurely work the rest of the park in a general circle, saving the more crowded areas, like Fantasyland, for times when there was a parade or fireworks. I never had any problem with this method. And while I know there are just more people in the parks than when I was a kid, there are also two more parks than there were then too.
I think FP wouldn’t bother me so much if, again, it was managed more like Universal’s Express (on most rides) where the main line is held up for only a certain number of pass holders, then it moves again, then a new batch of pass holders are let through. Even if you had to wait 10 minutes after getting to a ride at your assigned FP time, it’s still a shorter wait than it would have been, and it would seem the main line would move faster too (or at least give the appearance of moving faster -- i.e., actually moving vs. standing still for 15 minutes). Oh, and I’d really, really like it if Disney would add single-rider lines to some of its major attractions, but I guess that’s a different argument…..
Anyway, I guess for me it’s just a combination of missing the “old days” at Disney and being completely adverse to having to do ANYTHING that involves paying attention to a clock when I’m in a theme park. I admit I’m an odd duck ;-).
I understand that Disney is trying to create a system that treats all guests as equals, but I do not believe that the actual result is mutually beneficial. I am also aware that the wait times posted are extremely accurate, as I myself have taken a time card from the front to the end of the line.
It is an illusion that Fastpass users would slow the standby line because you would see the wait time posted before you enter the line and know what you're getting into. The line itself would move more efficiently because there is only one line, and you are investing the same amount of time to wait as everyone else. Because of the large number of Fastpasses given out, the standby line moves at a crawl, and when the Fastpass line itself becomes too long than the standby line does not move at all to accommodate the extra load (DHS's Rock 'n Roller Coaster comes to mind).
In addition you can only skip so many lines during your visit, so everyone at some point will have to stand in the regular line for a ride and experience the frustration of waiting for so many others to go in front. Paying for the privilege of skipping lines keeps the overall numbers down of those that choose this option, and makes ride queues operate more effectively, such as with Universal. I believe that the Fastpass+ system is a recognition that the current system is ineffective.
I'm not sure where you're seeing Fastpass guests flooding load platforms and preshow theaters in favor of standby guests. In my experience, and the way the system is supposed to work, is that a certain percentage of Fastpass guests are allowed past the merge alternating with standby guests. At some attractions, Fastpass guests even have their own load platform or preshow theater to avoid the merge prior to the unofficial start of the attraction. Certainly there are times when it seems that CMs are just letting Fastpass guests stream by while standby guests are gridlocked, but most times that is by design. Since Disney changed the Fastpass rules a couple of years ago to enforce the return times (in preparation for Fastpass+), the infinite stream of Fastpass guests slowing the standby line just doesn't happen anymore. There are a limited number of guests that can redeem Fastpasses in any given hour, so standby guests cannot be usurped forever. With Fastpass+, those guests replace regular Fastpass users in the line, so the total throughput of standby guests is unaffected.
Universal has to be more controlled with their merge because they don't use the same level of technology to control their queues. They don't give out Fastpasses, and guests with Universal Express have unfettered front-of-the-line access, so those lines must be carefully managed at the merge point to avoid backing up the standby line. UE is a great system from the perspective of a guest that can afford it (and from the park's perspecitve, because they make money off something that costs them virtually nothing to manage), but from the perspective of a guest who's not willing or able to pay for the perk, it's far more frustrating than Fastpass.
The only attractions that don't have single rider lines that should are the Big Thunders (I think when it reopens at DL it will have one) and Towers of Terror. Every other Disney ride it's either impractical or unnecessary to have single rider lines, plus Disney CMs are some of the best at filling ride vehicles quickly and efficiently, especially Space Mountain and Splash Mountain. Do you have any specific examples of Disney rides that need single rider that don't? The only one I can think of is Toy Story Mania at DHS, but I already mentioned why they likely eliminated that in the queue design when it was cloned in Florida.
Second (and partly contradictory), Universal is also attempting to scale-up its theme parks in a literal way (building massive amounts of hotel room capacity). Universal has, up until now, so surprised and surpassed expectations on its recent growth that the result has been all up-side for guests. But once Universal is truly competing with Disney in attendance (a real possibility, at least in comparison to DHS and AK), they will be judged on a new higher plane, and will be dealing with similar issues to Disney, who at that point will have the nextgen stuff working more smoothly. The end-game, in other words, is hard to predict.
Walt Disney himself never had interest in doing things to make money. His company was in debt for over thirty years before he began making a steady profit. He did things in the park and on screen because they were fun and for the public. I am quite tired of hearing the main directive of the company more concerned about making money than providing a better Disney experience. If you make a better Disney experience, the money will come naturally. One could easily argue that that's what the Magic Band did, in fact, make the system easier for guests (glitches notwithstanding.), but the news reports didn't shy away from explicitly stating that Disney was looking to exploit your wallet/pocketbook more. So is it any wonder why the system is tanking as quickly as it is?
Never once did I hear, "I'm going to come back in the future because it's now easier to get my Fastpass and get into my room!". Frankly, Disney is the place where you're supposed to return to ride the great rides, meet the characters, and eat the food. Imagine you have a park down the road. Why do you visit it? Well, it's fun, timeless, and a great place for the kids, right? And yeah, there's a few potholes in the road to the park, but it's well worth the trip overall. Disney's NextGen system is the equivalent to paving the road, adding flashing lights, a sign that says, "This way, Johnson family!", adding overhead lighting, and Mickey walking alongside you for a billion dollars. It was a system that was never really broken. A hassle, but not broken. The park down the road never changed, just the road to get there. And there seems to be some extra-deep potholes here and there, but that always comes with progress.
We want more rides in the future. Better rides, cleaned up rides. Better written shows, a piece that's growing and evolving, not a gimmick to sell merchandise. And because this brainchild is plunging out of the sky, it's taking all the great possibilities of new rides in the future away. It's like your brother, the favorite son, his grades are slipping! Time to revoke your college tuition to save him, while you, WDI, go, "Hey, WHAT?!"
But the latest MyMagic+ developments are seriously affecting that love. I can see almost no advantages to me in the system but many disadvantages. It appears to threaten the spontaneous vacation I have previously taken with one that has to be micro-planned and locked into a fixed pattern months before we even arrive. The old FastPass system rewarded a degree of planning and research but was egalitarian in its delivery. Anyone could grab a pass if they played the system right on the day. And it allowed for the luxury of spontaneity - grab a pass for X and return after riding Y, thus making the most of the day.
Now I'm faced with having to select which attractions I want to ride months in advance if I want to experience the popular attractions and spending way longer in lines for others with no option to FastPass at all... Frankly it makes the whole experience less appealing. Add to that the rumour that new attractions will be delayed or sacrificed to pay for this 'improvement' and I begin to see why Universal is getting the love...
My problem is that I don't like Universal that much. I find their Express system deeply unfair as it has no hourly limit on how many people can push to the front. I have experienced a 5 minute line become in reality a 30 minute one simply because so many people kept turning up for the Express line and they all simply went to the front....
FastPass was a brilliant, fair, simple system and Disney are in the process of making me far less eager to pay them vast amounts of money.... That should worry them. It sure as hell worries me.... I can't help but wonder what if they had spent that $1 Billion on attractions what that would have done to Disney's profits instead....
The problem with optimization is that every optimization decision means you are optimizing towards a specific goal. Disney seems to target having people spend less time in line to allow them more time to spend money. This target sounds great for Disney.
However, this optimization pushes one approach that fits one specific type of visitor, the hard core planner that seeks to extract as much out of a short visit as possible. Interestingly. These are less likely to be the people looking to spend the incremental money Disney is seeking. Instead it primarily targets the people that are just cooperating with the optimization to ride more. Optimization carried too far dilutes the experience Disney seeks and leaves frustration. Finally, the more targeted the optimization, the more expensive it is to deliver, while benefitting fewer people.
Growing up next to Busch Gardens Tampa, it was always fun to enter the park and have no idea what rides I would end up on by the end of the day. Some visits I would spend mostly in exhibits, and other times I would ride Kumba 10 times. The theme park experience is supposed to be a way for ordinary people in their tightly-scheduled lives to let go a little bit and give in to their fun-loving, schedule-free side. Of course, it takes some forethought to be sure to catch a show or two and to avoid predictable crowds at certain times of the day, but who wants to know exactly how their day is going to play out before they get to a park? That's what my job is for.
There are certain benefits that could come out of the NextGen design. I can imagine that for someone who has only one chance to visit a park in their lifetime wants to have the guarantee that they will be able to visit their favorite attractions. But even with this planning there is no guarantee (i.e. broken down rides, weather delays, etc.). The intent is good, but it seems to only muddle the system.
For me personally, visiting a park is my one chance out of the year to experience complete freedom in my day's schedule and to just go with the flow to an extent and see what happens. I would hate to see that go away as a park attempts to create more stringent demands on park guests.
This is the perception that is going to take Disney a long time to overcome. Many people think that changes to the system are going to create longer lines. That is simply not the case. The MyMagic+ system is not going to put any more people in the park on a given day, so the total park capacity will remain relatively unchanged.
So if you don't have any more people in the park, how are lines going to be "way longer"? Are more people going to be waiting in line instead of eating or watching shows? Are the attractions going to magically get better encouraging more people to ride and re-ride them? Fastpass+ looks to actually reduce those lines by giving guests the option to pre-reserve rides up to 30 days in advance (not months and months as many seem to think). The system is virtually invisible to the average standby guest, and it's biggest impact will be felt by guests who are dedicated regular Fastpass users, because it reduces the number of regular Fastpasses available per hour (and replaces those with Fastpass+ reservations). The traditional standby guest is not negatively affected, and the theory would be that a certain percentage of Fastpass+ users will probably not even be waiting in a standby line (unlike dedicated regular Fastpass users), making the overall number of people standing in a standby line less.
The biggest concern (and there's some emperical evidence to support it) is that regular Fastpasses will be running out much sooner than they did before MyMagic+. However, at the end of the day, with ride capacities remaining relatively unchanged, and the number of guests in the park at any one time relatively unchanged, the chances of "way longer" lines as a direct result of this system is highly unlikely. I'm not a huge fan of change, and the way I typically use Fastpass, the new system will affect me dramatically, but I understand the need for change and constant updating to make guests' experiences more customized and special. Ultimately that is what MyMagic+ is seeking to do.
You liked it better when every single guest stood in line for hours to ride a single ride? The only way to effectively reduce lines is to increase the number of attractions (ongoing), increase the capacity of the attractions (difficult with older rides), or limit the total number of guests in the park. Disney is seeking to better manage its queues without going to the extremes of the other 3 options.
Magic Kingdom Park Makes Disney History As All Walt Disney World Parks Go Turnstile Free http://shar.es/D2I9v via
My concerns with Magic Bands is more a privacy/theft issue. I'm leery of linking a credit card to any park admission media, possibility of losing the park admission card/band & having someone else use it to charge. I also don't like the idea of WDW being able to directly track when & where I spend $$ in the parks. With Magic Bands, they can track where you are & when. How long you spend in a store, if you're walking from Point A to Point B, they can provide suggestions for dining, etc. Even though I don't have one yet, I've already purchased an RFID blocking pouch to block my Magic Band so Disney can't track me while I'm in the parks. Just a bit to Big Brother for my taste....
Imagine that you have been saving for 5 years for a trip to Disney World and your 6 year old son who loves planes really really wants to go on Soarin. Fastpass+ gives you the piece of mind knowing that you will be able to get that fastpass without having to show up at EPCOT before it opens.
Remember, there is a catch with Fastpass+. You have to pick three attractions, whether you want to or not. This "forces" you to be in different parts of the park to spread the crowds.
I know my reviews were a little mixed, but using Fastpass+ to get a seat in Fantasmic is worth it.
This Universal "building things faster" thing has got to stop too. It is a soundbite that Universal is feeding to newspapers and websites like this. Do not be gullible and fall into their trap.
Also, when it comes down to it, people are coming down to FL to go to Disney, not Universal. Even if people are staying at Universal, there is at least a day or two spent at a Disney Park. After experiencing both of them in May, they don't really compete with each other since they tend to cater to different age groups.