Even when they started enforcing the fast pass time we could still arrive at rope drop and utilize four or five fast passes in the first half of the day.
The reservation system seemed so promising because we like to park hop. This way we could still do rope drop standby lines and schedule fastpass reservations for other rides at our evening park (perhaps Soarin' at EPCOT or ExEv at DAK, after a morning of rides at DHS or MK). However, since we don't stay on-site this option won't be available for us. And really, THREE fast passes, that's it??
But, at least in return for the crummy fast pass system we get higher prices and blackout dates on Florida resident tickets. Thanks Disney, for going downhill fast in the past 24 months...
How did we get all of this set? Well, while we had our MagicBands all set, a little secret that they don't tell you is that your old ticket still works (or, at least did in the Fastpass machines.) So we did get a few old school paper Fastpasses (mainly for Toy Story Midway Mania, but the time we got was during Fantasmic, so those were never used.)
The kiosk (which we used on our Magic Kingdom day) was useful, and assuming they get more of them, should be good for most guests. Now, there could be an issue with Disney having to staff people there who don't quite know what to do, the system could be a bit more intuitive, but assuming that people can figure out the kiosks quickly, they should be ok for most guests.
The app, though, let me say was a huge hit with us. Between being able to schedule Fastpasses, to just seeing when a certain character would be out, to seeing ride times, we relied on the app. We could (and should) have used it more, to be honest. Regardless of where you are staying, I would advise anyone going to Disney to get the app unless you are just going to hit certain rides and that's it. But, from this Disney vet's point of view, it can be a big help.
Honestly, I am on the fence about Fastpass+. I came into this thinking I would loathe it, when I go on vacation I hate schedules. I know people make dinner reservations and all of that, but for me, when I am on vacation, I just want to not live by a schedule. But, honestly, I have to say pre-scheduling 3 rides the day before is just flat out convenient, it really is. We used the pre-scheduling thing for our Animal Kingdom day, and it worked well for us.
But, there is an issue with the Fastpass + system, and it is one I just don't like. You have to blindly decide what rides to use one of your 3 allotted Fastpasses on, which can be an issue. For instance, take our Animal Kingdom day. Now, when we went the parks were not super busy, but (due to the National Pop Warner Super Bowl) the afternoons quickly filled the parks up. So, we decided to use our Fastpasses on Dinosaur, Expedition Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safaris. Well, there was absolutely no line for Dinosaur, none. So, that particular Fastpass was not needed. Everest had a 5 minute wait, pretty much no line at all, so for our first ride we did the normal line, then used our Fastpasses for a 2nd ride (but we could have easily have just gone through the normal line pretty much just as fast.) The Fastpass was helpful on Kilimanjaro, but even then the line there was not that long. I think anyone would say we used our Fastpasses on 2 of the 3 most popular rides in DAK (no Kali River Rapids because my wife did not want to get wet), and, really, we did not need them. We could have used them on other things, like Festival of the Lion King, but, because we got them the night before, we did not know.
So, do I like this system? Yes. And no. It is awfully convenient, even to those that have to use the kiosk (no more run to one attraction for a piece of paper, then to another to ride, then back to the first one to use said piece of paper), you just get all of your Fastpasses at 1 location. But, you don't know if you need to get the Fastpass (you will know more if you get it at the kiosk, honestly, since you can see what wait times are like.) And that is not saying anything about people who park hop (this is only good for 1 park per day, so if you want to park hop, you are out of luck.) So, I like the system more than I thought I would, but it still needs work for me to be completely sold.
But, seriously, get the app. It is worth the nothing you pay for it.
I used to love being able to enter the park mid morning and be able to get fastpasses for the headliners (we have smaller children so entering at rope drop is unusual). For example, when visiting Epcot we would routinely enter the park around 10-10:30, I would go ahead of the family and grab FPs for Soarin' and meet the family at Test Track and wait the 25-30 mins the standby would take. We would then head over to the other side do the land and sea pavilions and ride Soarin' after as the return time was usually ready by then.
From what I have been hearing by 10 am the FPs will be gone for the attractions where you need to utilize them so we are out of luck on riding Soarin' unless we want to wait the 90 mins in standby (which isn't happening with a 7yo).
Now multiply the one or two real long line attractions by 4 parks days (Toy Story, Space, Splash, Kili, EE, Peter Pan, Soarin')and this new system seems to really penalize offsite guests. Now on the years we stay on site then this will work great as we can book ahead of time.
So in conclusion, looks like we will be spending more time at Universal and SeaWorld(really under appreciated for younger children) on our off years. Will Disney still get our money? Absolutely we love Disney, just a lot less...sorry for the novella
My wife's family owns time-shares near the WDW resort so when we go we always stay there. Thus there is little chance we'll ever be classified as a "resort guest". This means we will not be able to choose and pre-reserve our Fastplass+ days or even weeks in advance. We are only able to choose them that day, at the park with the kiosks. Does this mean the chance is greater that the most popular rides will "sell out" of Fastpasses even sooner? If my family gets there even an hour after rope drop, still early in the day, with all the resort guest having already made their choices will there still be slots left by the end of the day? I'm just afraid of non-resort guests getting shut out of visitng rides with a relatively short wait at all.
Here's the other side of the coin: how will this affect standby lines? Will they go up or down, or stay the same? At DAK this might not be a huge deal but at the Magic Kingdom it has the potential to make or break a non-resort guest's day. I hope Disney is prepared for that.
I think rope drop will still be very, very viable, in fact it might actually get better in a way. Think about it like this, at rope drop there will be 3 distinct types of people: those who scheduled their Fastpasses the night before, those who are going straight to the kiosks to schedule their Fastpasses ASAP, and people who are just going to go to the rides. Personally, I think just going to the rides might end up working (the old, ride the busy attractions during parades technique, only this time the parade is a touchscreen computer that everyone is trying to use.)
Like I said, I am not 100% for this, and I think this system will be improved (I think non-resort guests will eventually get full access, but that is just a guess there.) It is nice in some ways, and bad in others. But, it's what they will be using, so either we all have to adapt or complain really loudly.
I know that's how it is at the busiest attraction Fast Pass queues first thing in the morning today (Soarin', Toy Story, Everest) but for the current system that's just one ride. As a non-resort guest, If you choose not to visit the kiosk first thing and reserve your three best rides of the day, you might be screwed. Again time will tell - maybe it will all even itself out.
I wonder what the wait is the last few days at the Animal Kingdom kiosk?
What I found interesting is that even though we didn't have park tickets tied to our hotel room, our magic band worked just fine for FastPass+ in the park. It seems if you have an active band, i.e., are currently staying at a resort, it doesn't matter how you get in the park, your band will work.
Like mentioned in the article, we could only use the kiosks. Limiting to only 3 is a bummer but I love the fact that you can book a ride, and, for whatever reason, miss the come back time, and not be penalized, you can just pick a new ride. You only lose one of your 3 reservations when you actually use your reservation. It's good and bad. I fear a lot of people are going to book the premium rides early, even if they aren't sure they can make it in time. There's no penalty if you miss your time, just go to a kiosk and change it for another attraction, or if you are lucky, the same attraction for a later time.
Kevin, Winter Haven, Florida
Further, I'm interested to see how quickly those guests who have vacation packages will reserve ride times and will the pass "sell-out". I'm just imagining Radiator Springs Racers being sold out before the park even opens for operation.
Day Guest Off Property Get up to 3 Fast Passes but no parades or fireworks
Guest at Value Resorts get 4 Fast Passes
Moderate Resorts and DVC get 5 Fast Passes
Deluxe get 7 Fast Passes and for certain guest on those properties unlimited Fast Passes
Or something of this ilk
Disney could also contract out additional Fast Passes to guest at Bonnet Creek, Waldorf Astoria and such along with off property partners (thinking Grand Cypress)
A billion dollar investment could be re-payed via greater efficiency and extra merchandise sales
But it could be repaid event quicker by increased room rates and increased occupancy at Disney's higher end hotels.
While guest can not spend money in line...on average who would you rather not have waiting in line all day: A guest at the Grand Floridian or Pop Century (I stay at Pop Century)...traditional the Grand Floridian guest will have a greater disposable income and have a greater ability to return more frequently. And the reducing that guest wait could also increase their frequency on return visits by having a more enjoyable visit.
And the tiered system at Epcot & DHS, with only being able to book 1 headliner? Then we get to choose 2 attractions you don't need FP for? Have to choose between Sorin or Test Track? TSMM or RCnR? Not very happy about this, and don't see how that is going to improve our park experience.
There's another problem with this system. If you aren't a traditional family group, but friends meeting up at WDW, and maybe not all parties are staying on site. Before we could all just get paper FPs together. Now the new system is making it impossible to ride together.
I stayed onsite in October and received magic bands for fastpass+ reservations. Then returned in December and stayed off-site and was able to reserve rides using the previous bands registered to the mydisney site. (I have a windows phone so no app for me - yet...)
So, at some point, just stay one night somewhere where they will give you a magic band. Once you have one, register your band and park tickets to your online account and you are free to reserve fastpass+ from now on.
I for one will not miss taking the family's passes to run around for fasstpass and meet them later as they enjoy the quick access rides. Booking in advance is much better!
To reiterate: I can plan when I will come, what hotel to stay at, and what ticket to buy, but I can not plan what park on what day and what time I will be there. Bad enough when we have to plan what time to eat and where, do we also have to plan bathroom breaks?
We want great new rides and attractions, plussing of existing attractions, much-needed refurbs and other enhancements; they give us a high tech boondoggle that has eaten up money better used elsewhere, while offering little that wasn't already available with the room key (and that's assuming the "Magic Bands" will ever work properly). Nice to know the corporate bean counters and creatively challenged decision makers have their priorities straight!
I also loathe the fact that you can only get three fast passes per day, which is a pathetic total. And if you park hop, you can't even get FPs for your second park of the day?? This money gobbling new system is CRAP.
This new system is far from perfect (truth be told, I personally prefer the old system too), but I see why they changed it. I do think, however, we are judging this early. We don't know what the final form of this will look like, probably won't know for a few more months. They absolutely have to add park hopping to this, and the 3 ride limit is a bit strict. There are issues with this, but I think they will iron out those.
Regardless, I still like this system better than any other 'front of line' access system, even though if it is 'you get more if you pay more' then my opinion will quickly change.
As someone who stays off property, Disney has just made a mistake. I understand updating a system but just make it available to all park attendees.