Now if we can just get rid of the whole stay at Universal, ride as much as you want deal. There needs to be controls because I swear that some people spend their whole day riding Men-In-Black over and over.
I do agree with the boss man about needing better control & loading onto rides. Men in Black is a great ride to mention. All too many times has this ride been sent out with seats empty, and not just 1 or 2. I've seen it very otfen with entire rows empty, because the "loaders" have been dealing with other issues (Families moving down the single rider queue and then whining at the end when 6 year old Johnny doesn't want to get seperated from his mummy). Lets move on to THE HULK. Only once, in the near hundered times i've ridden this ride, has there been someone loading people onto this ride. Normally its a big free for all, so, you get seats empty, 3 out of 4 seats in a row unoccupied. A single rider queue would have really helped this ride out.
But ultimately, getting rid of the express pass, in my opinion, was a bad idea. You can't give a kid a lolly and take it away again with someone crying....
As for me, I do not mind waiting up to 20 minutes, but after that go to the FastPass or avoid the ride altogether. I guess that's a perk of living in Orlando and having season passes to everything.
I do agree that paying for the express pass is a slap in the face to consumers and a shameful attempt to generate more revenue, but even in that regard, if people have the money to pay for the luxury, then who are we to gripe about it! There are many levels of resorts at Disney that have a great variance in price when in reality most of the rooms look about the same. To me that's a similar issue.
This is how we do theme parks. We have Disney, Seaworld and Universal passes. We will get a fastpass for a ride we HAVE to ride that day (like Test Track), we will then walk around the park. If there is a ride with a time less than 15 mins, we will get on. Otherwise, we shop, take pictures, eat, talk, hang out, have fun. We don't get in another ride line if it is over 15-20 mins.
If Disney did away w/ Fast Pass, b/c of how busy they are, we would stop buying our passes. I don't want to waste my time standing in line. I'd rather not go. That's just me. W/ fastpass I can ride rides (albeit not as many as someone who would stand in line), but w/out I guess Disney does not get my money.
I will not be renewing my passes at Universal.
For me, I'd rather wait in themed queue for an attraction than in a line in a store or restaurant. And I'd rather be able to walk around the park without having to navigate a crush of people. But when parks dump their queues into stores and pathways, that's what you get. Ride reservation systems don't reduce the amount of waiting in a theme park. They merely shift the location of your waiting elsewhere, from places designed to accomodate waiting to places not.
Themed queues are a lot better than unthemed queues, but they still don't keep me entertained for long before I get annoyed at having to wait in general. Maybe I'm weird that way....
Your contention that Fastpass/Express leads to gridlock in the shops/restaurants/paths is a headscratcher to me. I've never visited a park with front-of-the-line privileges where I've seen this to be the case.
One of the things I like about Fastpass/Express is that I enjoy having a system to game, and I'm smart/motivated enough to do pretty well at it. I realize that the majority of park visitors may not want the hassle of figuring out the system, but to me that's part of the fun.
A simple way around this is to ensure that there are enough high-capacity rides to prevent absurd lines in the first place, but most parks are pretty inconsistent about this. One exception to this is the Busch parks, which manage to handle pretty large crowds without a Fastpass-type system.
The key to my comment on expense was *marketing.* Parks have marketed ride reservation systems as attractions unto themselves, instead of having to develop a real new attraction to market. That's not as big a deal now, but it's not a coincidence that Disneyland didn't roll out as many new rides when it was rolling out FastPass.
Again, I'm not against ride reservation systems for attractions that would be otherwise pulling 90 minute-plus waits. But slapping it on half a dozen rides, or more, in the park serves primarily to increase confusion and anxiety among a significant percentage of guests (granted, usually not the ones who do the advance research such as visiting a site like this). And it doesn't help more than a small fraction of visitors go on any more rides in a day.
When a park diverts half or more of its hourly boardings to the reservation system, that forces everyone to play, or suffer with longer waits, even if those visitors do not want the hassle of juggling reservations with standby lines. That forced participation seems to me inefficient for a system that ultimately benefits only a few.
Better then to restrict the number of boardings to that small fraction, as not to disrupt standby times for the others... and charge those who do want the reservations for the convenience. Just like Universal is now doing. That way, the reservation systems provides a real benefit, in allowing you *to* do more rides in a day, while letting others who don't want to have to figure out that additional variable when planning their day to ignore the system entirely without significant consequence.
Short answer. Wanna keep your customers happy? Then keep their transactions with you simple.
(By the way, I'm thrilled to see so many comments on a Blog Flume item. Just a reminder, whenever you see a newsworthy development involving theme parks that you think people would be interested in talking about, you can submit it to the Flume. Thanks.)
Now, I actually have season passes to all of the central florida parks (a little extreme but that's another story). Universal still has those crazy wait times during the summer like they always did. Also, Busch and Seaworld (non FastPass parks) do not have this huge backlog of wait times. The reality is that my trip to those parks is not different - long waits in summer, short waits in winter.
Another major irritation with the system is that you have to get a pass to the most desirable rides early or they will run out. That's just unneeded and unwanted stress. I think when I was younger and my wife and I didn't mind running around it would perhaps be different. But now, I lug around a whole flock of kids. And, so since I don't want to work the system, I will suffer from it. I say, down with the system Man, down with the control!
I agree withe class thing though, that REALLY sucks.