By taking the reigns off the system, Disney is essentially mimicking the old Fastpass system in the virtual world while giving on-site guests that extra perk they've wanted to match Universal's Unlimited Express. The only thing that I worry about is that with APs and off-site guests now able to reserve in advance, what prevents them from blocking up the entire system and not showing up? Theoretically, there are a given number of reservations per hour/performance, so the old system and previous way the Fastpass+ system was managed, casual guests (not linked to a confirmed Disney Resort reservation) had to be in the park to get their Fastpasses. No shows probably happened, which was great for the standby guests, but those numbers were probably relatively small, and probably due to forgetfulness or sudden change of plans. Now with off-site and AP guests able to sign up before even entering the park, the no-show rate could get out of control, and there's really no way to compensate for it. Once the Fastpass+ reservations are gone, that's it. It's not like if someone didn't show up for their 10-11 reservation that an open reservation will become available at 11-12.
Disney was having serious issues with no-shows in their advanced dining reservation system, and countered the trend by collecting credit card information and charging guests who don't show up or don't cancel reservations within 24 hours. The Fastpass+ system doesn't really lend itself to something like that, so what's going to prevent guests from no-showing, particularly AP holders considering visits during peak days?
Aside from that minor concern, I can't be more happy to see this development, which was rumored all along, be confirmed.
I was at Epcot last weekend. Tried to get FP+ at 11am. First of all you cant get FP+ for both Soarin and Test Track. They force you to choose. (Boo) Second by that time all FP+ reservations were gone for Soarin and the earliest I could get Test Track was 6:30pm.
If the parks are even moderately busy this is going to be useless.
Maybe Disney will adjust the number of available reservations to account for that once they have enough data.
Here are the numbers we'd love to know:
What's the capacity for every attraction, over the course of a typical day?
What percentage of that capacity is available for hotel guests to book 60 days out?
If that's not 100%, what percentage is held back for all other guests to book 30 days out?
If those two numbers don't add up to 100%, what percentage of capacity then is open for guests to reserve on the day of operation?
And what percentage of capacity is never made available for FP+ and is held back for standby visitors?
I would hope that Disney builds in a no-show rate into the system to gradually increase the number of available reservations per hour (at least for attractions---may not work for shows, parades, or restaurants). Companies already do this for events, movie screenings, and the like where they invite far more people than they could possibly handle assuming that a certain percentage will not show up. Once Disney figures out what the no-show percentage is, it probably won't be too much of a problem, but may be an issue for the first few months the system is in place. Remember, they just started allowing off-site and AP guests reserve 30 days in advance.
We're lucky to get full hourly attraction capacities from them. It's always been a secret as to what percentage of the attraction's capacity is devoted to Fastpass. Just based on observations, it looked like it was somewhere between 10-20% of the hourly capacity was devoted to FP.
The word was that number would not change, but I wouldn't be surprised if they stretched that up just a bit (maybe up to 25-53%) to allow for the tiered system. The argument would then be since more guests would be able to reserve in advance, fewer would need to use standby lines, thereby reducing the need to devote the current percentage allocation to standby.
My hope would be that no FP+s are held back for APs or off-site guests, and if on-site guests grab them all for a given day, then that's life, stay on-site. I'm sure Disney has run the numbers and has figured that even if every single resort guests makes their 3 reservations for every single day of their stay 60 days ahead, there will still be plenty left over for everyone else 30 days out.
I would think that since they are now allowing off-site and AP guests to reserve in advance, nothing will be held back for day-of reservations.
The thing is that Disney can adjust these percentages at will, and we're left to play a game whose rules we don't really know, as a result. With everyone now having access to early reservations, I think that Disney could eliminate the percentage of capacity held back for same-day reservations.
But the one number that Disney itself does not yet have is: what percentage of guests will make advance reservations? Does that percentage vary between hotel guests, APs, and day guests? If a significant percentage of day guests simply won't use the advance reservation service and expects to make same-day reservations, then Disney will hold back a percentage of capacity for them, to minimize guest complaints.
So I think the takeaway here is that these percentage numbers that we do not know are changing as Disney tweaks the system. Any lessons we learn now will need to change as Disney adjusts the system going forward.
With this system you have to wait until all of your current three FP are used. By that time nothing will be available for the other one.
Robert - Oh the ways that the numbers could be dissected. Its similar to what I do for a living when I'm not seasonally slinging food. It is a fun guessing game to try and figure out that sort of information. You could get some rough estimates for some things just watching the entrance and counting the number of people going in to the ride. You would have no way of knowing which were resort, AP, or day guest though.
My concern is one Fastpass per hour is very restrictive. This ties up 3 passes in 3 hours. Although you don't wait in line, this is virtual line waiting. Also, the selection of some attractions in some parks are rather lame. Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot have the worst selection of rides, and Epcot can't allow you to select Soarin', Test Track, Maelstorm, on the same day.
It forces you to use Fastpass on a lame attraction, tying up your Fastpass unnecessarily. I don't care to use Fastpass on the Imagination ride, but I can't select something else that I prefer to ride. I can't just select 2 good rides, which is better than 1 good ride and 2 lame rides. And now I can be allowed additional rides and I hope I can get Soarin' or Test Track as options if I couldn't get them before.
Disney needs to improve their ride capacity and ride mix to better accomodate the guests.
Similarly on slower days, you could get FPs to Toy Story Mania and Soarin', but if you didn't race to them after rope drop, you were probably out of luck in less than an hour.
The new tiered system prevents on-site guests from monopolizing the most popular attractions, but still allows them to get a leg up on off-site guests and AP holders.
With the new system, there's nothing preventing you from reserving Soarin', and racing to TestTrack at rope drop and riding through the standby queue. The way it was before, the prevailing strategy was if you were going to walk to an attraction to get a FP, you would also ride it through standby while the line was short (even better when they weren't enforcing return times). It didn't make sense to walk all the way over to Soarin' just to get a FastPass and then either wait for the return or go do something else. FP+ allows you to enter the park with FPs already in hand, so if you already have one for Soarin', you can race to TestTrack to ride through standby, and then go to Soarin' for your FP return. For me, this system is going to save a lot of walking and backtracking.
However, since theoretically a majority of guests will be entering the park with 3 reservations already, whatever is left over for the day should be relatively easy to grab after you've exhausted your first 3 FPs. It's going to take some investigation and experience to figure out what the prime strategy will be under the new system, which will likely change rapidly as people get wise to different touring plans, but I think it will eventually be a good system that will be about as close to the old system as one could have expected. For instance, as Robert mentioned, will people hold off on making fireworks reservations in favor of FPs earlier in the day hoping that there will still be FPs after they've gone through their first 3? Will guests shy away from return times for prime attractions later in the day in favor of lesser attractions earlier in the day?
I'm just glad they're announcing this now so I don't have to be a Guinea pig, and can instead gather information about how the system is operating and different strategies before trying it out myself in October.
Russell, I really appreciate your well considered responses. Lots of great insight.
Overall, I am with Rob. My tentative plans for another visit to Orlando are for mid 2015... by then everything (including the crowds for Seven Dwarves, Potter 2.0, and Falcon's Fury) should be much more settled.
As long as they keep the FP line to about 20% of the people in the regular line, it will work. When you allow unlimited reservations after you have used the first three, it throws the entire balance out of whack.
If the additional reservations are only for park hopping and not the same park, it may work out.
Real question - Do we know if you can make the reservations from the My Disney Experience app? If so, can anybody do it? And if, if so, would it be possible to change your reservations on the fly while park hopping and such (regular non-resort ticket holders too)?
That would be awesome.
About Soar'in- unless I'm a bit toasted, that ride isn't worth it to begin with so there's no way I would waste a fastpass on it, nor ride it. Test Track all the way!
Take the Magic Kingdom as an example. When the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opens, the park should have around 27 FastPass+-enabled attractions, parades, and fireworks). Combined, those attractions should be able to give rides to around 35,000 people per hour (plus parades and fireworks). Assume half of that capacity is allocated to FastPass+, and the other half to standby riders. Over the course of a 12-hour day, that works out to around 225,000 FastPass+ spots available on those rides.About 49,000 people visit the Magic Kingdom on an average day. If there are 225,000 FastPass+ spots available, each person can have about 4 FastPass+ reservations before all of the spots are taken.However, if 75,000 people visit the Magic Kingdom during the same 12-hour day, they can only have 3 FastPass+ reservations each before all of the spots are taken. At 75,000 people, Disney could keep the park open longer, but it would take an 18-hour day (e.g., from 8 AM to 2 AM) to guarantee 3 FastPass+ reservations per guest. Keeping the park open costs money.
I'll be honest; I haven't yet used Fastpass+. My next visit to WDW is the end of May and I'll get to try it out then. I've read through most of these musings, and been following the general response to the Fastpass+ system.
I live just outside Toronto in Canada, and I frequent Canada's Wonderland as the local theme park. If you haven't visited a Cedar Fair park and their fast lane system, let me tell you how awful it is: it costs at least $50 PER PERSON to use, and only works once per attraction, which excludes Leviathan and Behemoth (the two most popular rides which often post 90-120 minute wait times). It's beyond terrible.
Clearly Fastpass+ is an imperfect system, but all things considered, I think a lot of negative comments towards this system in terms of how it handles ride wait times are coming from selfish, whiny children.
Disney still has one of the best (and the only FREE) ride reservation systems, and they have many more and easily perturbed patrons. While the re-vamp may not have been their highest priority, clearly Disney is working hard to improve the new system they've developed, but more importantly, Disney is clearly listening to the complaints from guests and is taking steps to make them happier.
Can't we simply appreciate there's finally an even playing field to reserve rides, there are more attractions to pick from, (they may suck, but that doesn't mean there aren't visitors who'll enjoy the choice), and that this annoying testing is over and we can simply focus on enjoying on being at DISNEY WORLD. This is the happiest place on Earth - it's not about who gets the most Fastpasses or who goes on the most rides.
Maybe I'm completely missing the mark, and I'll totally be knocked down to Earth after I try this myself (as a day guest!) in several weeks. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I'd rather be optimistic and grateful for the free Fastpass+ service that is and only improving and focus more on enjoying the parks as they are. :)
As far as unused reservations go, this could be solved by simply allotting a set number of reservations to each passholder per year. For example, if you assume a passholder visits 2-3 times a month, they could be given a grand total of 100 advance reservations for the year. All the current rules apply for when the reservations can be made, but if reservations are made and are not changed before their date, they expire and the passholder doesn't receive any compensation for them. The same could be done for multi-day ticket holders...someone with a five day ticket gets 15 reservations and if they don't visit the park on a day they made them and forget to change, too bad. Of course, unlimited reservations are still available at the park, but this would hopefully prevent the system from being compromised due to excessive unused reservations.
NOW...I make reservations in one week, and suddenly I'm in a pickle. Do I make my FP+ reservations in the morning so that in case they open this up by June, I can get more FPs during the day? Or do I stick to my old plan?
For the summer months, I would be inclined to schedule reservations in the middle of the day when crowds are at their peak with the hope that when you've run through the 3 FP+s, there will still be some left later in the day. However, I would not have any expectation of getting additional reservations for the top attractions (Seven Dwarfs, Toy Story Mania, Kilimanjaro Safari, and Soarin') on the day you're there.
I'm hesitant to give specific advice, because it's difficult to predict what WDW visitors will do with these new rules. However, if I were visiting in 2 months, I would probably shoot for reserving three important attractions in each park between 10 AM and 3 PM (including characters and shows). Then, I would see what's available when those expire. My hope would be that reserved fireworks/parade locations might still be available or lower tier, but low capacity, attractions (like Peter Pan and Splash Mountain) might still have availability later in the day. You might even get lucky, and big rides might still have late night FP+s, but from what I've heard, most of the biggies are completely sold out more than a week in advance. That's the current report, at a time when the parks are probably a little slower than they will in mid-June.
Unfortunately, your visit will probably correspond with the early summer crowds and the new rules, and there won't be any definitive touring plans. Since you probably can't change your stay at this point, I would just try to make the most of it, but leave yourself open to take advantage of the new rules for unlimited FP+.
Biggest prob we had was overall bugginess of everything. My Disney Exp app was awful. Very slow and caused more probs than it was worth. Linking caused some tix to lose Park Hopper' option, FP+ res's disappeared prior to ride time & a meal res was lost. Spent too much time with cast members trying to fix issues.
Those issues aside, the FP system is geared toward those 'in-the-know' who will game it and get most FPs. The average schmoe who drags the family to WDW will be only using StandBy lines as all FPs will be booked out before the rope even drops...
Instead of focusing on data collection, customer tracking, & personalized marketing angles, Disney should've spent the $1Bil building a few more rides so there wouldn't be lines and therefore eliminate the need for the whole FP+ fiasco...
I too am one of the "crazy" ones who go off season and was accustomed to working the system, equating to as many fast passes as I wanted in a day. My largest problem with the new system was the inability to park hop. Why would Disney discourage visitors from spending more money on a park hopper when the consequence for doing so was losing out on opportunities? As an annual passholder, it made even less sense. It is glaringly clear (and has been since magic hours started)that Disney values guests who stay on property to those who pony up for the annual pass.
The ability to get more fast passes after you have used your first three is great, but the categorical choices do add another dimension to your decision making beyond that of "do I want reserved seating for the parade, meet Elsa and Anna, or make it on Soarin'?"
I hope that soon enough they can find a way to even out the playing field. Staying on property certainly makes them the most revenue and is their largest area of competition (accommodations in Kissimmee are easy to come by), but I don't want the good or new rides to sell out 6 months before I get there. It's hard enough to get into Be Our Guest, is the same thing going to happen to the new Snow White mining ride?