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Speed Pass Not Just For The Rich......

Universal Orlando: Come on Universal be a little more kinder to some of the less fortunate.

From stephen murray
Posted November 1, 2011 at 10:19 AM
As a true believer in the smiles these parks bring to the Little faces sometimes greed gets in the way. I visited the Orlando area last week. At 53 I still enjoyed WDW Magic kingdom and was impressed by the use of the speed pass booths around the park. But when I visited Universals' Island of Adventure I found something that didn't quite sit right. At first itdidn't seem that bad, but waiting in a long line with my nephew, I saw that it was taking a very long time to ride this ride. We watched as more & more entered the speed pass line(which made our wait longer). Then it dawned on me that we are rewarding people for having more than others. With the Price$ of these parks what they are, some families are lucky to be there at all. Come on Universal be a little more kinder to some of the less fortunate. You can sell speed pass but also put back the booths for the ones who can't pay.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 1, 2011 at 11:12 AM
You can't have both. Disney uses the free system to distribute crowds through out the day, making wait times, on average shorter for everyone. Universal is a money maker, with the only intentions of making money. Disney's service is nice, Universal doesn't just offer a bonus for people with extra money, but it punishes them. It's unfair, but I don't see how or why the would change the system.

From Amy Smith
Posted November 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM
Am I the only one here who hates Fastpass? It's a pain because you have to walk to the attractions twice. So I have to get a FP to peter pan say and then walk over to splash and thunder to ride before they get busy and then back to fantasyland to actually ride peter pan. You can't just swing in a circle around the park. I would honestly rather pay more money for express at Disney and be able to go through in order.

Now that being said, I agree that it is a money grab for Universal when they charge insane prices for it. They don't do that very often though. Only during summer and xmas seasons. I think if they went ahead and charged the flat 19.99 for studios, 25.99 for islands (newer and better rides), or 29.99 for both in one day no matter what attendance was and then just capped it like they already do anyway it would be perfect. It's still affordable but it is limited in amount to keep the purpose of the pass viable. Disney could do that - like 25.99 for each park individually per day or 65.99 if you have a park hopper and cap the amount. I would gladly save up a little longer for the ability to skip lines without a reservation slot needed.

From Matt Babiak
Posted November 1, 2011 at 2:39 PM
I enjoy fastpass, but would never pay for what it does. Dominick, you really hate LegoLand florida, dont you

From Tony Duda
Posted November 1, 2011 at 8:50 PM
I don't think too many people BUY the speed pass at Universal. I would bet that over 90% of the front of the line people are staying at a Universal Resort hotel and front of the line is a perk they get. No sane person would stay off-site at a cheap hotel for $50 a night and pay $200 a day for their family's speed passes.

From Amy Smith
Posted November 2, 2011 at 12:45 PM
Tony, they would if they don't do the math. More people buy the express pass for that reason, they haven't done their research ahead of time. They come on a weekend or during busy season and they think they're getting a deal on an offsite hotel for $100 a night. They don't realize that when they buy express in the park on those days it likely costs them more money per day in the end than staying at Portofino or Hard Rock would.

From Brent Moody
Posted November 2, 2011 at 1:21 PM
I like the system at Universal a lot better than the one at disney. I went this year to both places in October and when I went to Disney I went to Hollywood Studios and and waited 75 minutes in a line for toy story mania. All the fast passes were already gone so if we wanted to ride it we had to wait in the line. The line wouldn't have been any more than probably 25 minutes long except they let WAY to many fast pass people through. The concept they have is ok but they need to give out less of them per hour. At Universal I think that most all the express pass users are hotel guest and never seems to be that many of them getting in front of the lines. At least that is how it was in October. Plus this is not a communist country, those with more money get more stuff and perks if they are willing to pay for it. Thats just how it works.

From Colton McLaughlin
Posted November 2, 2011 at 3:21 PM
Skipper, I would like to point out that Disney's only intention is also to make money, they're just better at hiding it. Universal flaunts their greed shamelessly. With that said, I still love both Disney and Universal.

I wouldn't really say they are rewarding the rich, some people are putting more money into the park and they get the benefits of it. It's kind of like bribing, minus the bribing part. If that makes sense. I would never buy an Express Pass; they really aren't worth the money unless the waits are all over one hour. I got one for free once and it made my visit pleasanter, but wasn't necessary.

From Aaron M.
Posted November 2, 2011 at 5:35 PM
At Disney if the ride is more than 30 minutes maybe 45 and therese no fast pass, then ill ride it next time. At Universal the hotels get full pretty fast and if you REALLY want a fast pass then you should get the $200 pass or however much it costs. If not like you should just plan your way around the park with some thought. I live in Florida so if I go to Orlando its normally like a last minute plan, so normally the universal hotels are booked and we kinda just go with the flow in the parks nothing really planned. :) Which I think is a good thing you shouldn't stress out on your vacation thats what Jobs and School are for. lol

From Albino Pygmy
Posted November 2, 2011 at 5:55 PM
Universal did have free express tickets in their parks, you might even run into a couple former covered areas where the kiosks once were. IMO, Universal had a better system when it came to the free passes. Instead of each attraction having their own set of machines, there would be several locations that are closeby to 2 or 3 that the machines would give you a pass for. Example: By Jaws, you would not only have the option for Jaws, but premier seating for fear factor, or have an option to pick one for MIB. However, the machines were buggy and ended up costing them more to keep repairing them so they took them out.

Personally I hate the fast pass idea, and am glad that Universal found a way to still have a system, make money off it, and not have outrageous standby wait times due to the express lines clogging up the standby, which is often found at disney. The fast pass idea sounded good on paper, just wasn't executed properly, and they're still trying to tweak it here and there by playing with the amount of tickets they'd hand out to prevent that line getting too long. Reason why popular attractions such as Toy Story Mania and Soarin' FP's are gone first thing in the morning, and even still, standby is just too long. I'd really like to see what would happen if they'd taken FP off both attractions to see how they'd handle a regular line that will always be in constant motion because no one is cutting in front of you.

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted November 3, 2011 at 3:21 AM
Universal's free system back in the day was great!
As mentioned much better in that you could get multiple passes in one location and I believe it read your ticket and allocated them so they didnt clash - maybe I am making that up. (The old Men in Black distribution area is still there)

I tend to go to the parks when I probably wouldnt need an express but have bought them before. Party of 4 but we only bought 2 as not everyone does the rides. Anything we all wanted to do was done again in regular lines if reasonable wait times.
But - I planned the day we went by looking on the website and seeing which dates the passes were cheapest. Put off going for 4 days - saved $70.

I think larger families/groups would be put off buying them in the peak season, but you have to weigh up - is my time worth it? Do I want to max this day - or do I have a multiple day pass to do things leisurely. Or as said previously - is it cheaper to stay on site?
Never done it myself but I think staying on site at Uni can be overlooked by those who have tunnel vision about staying at Disney. (Never stayed there either in 22 years of visiting Orlando).

Key word - research.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 3, 2011 at 1:15 PM
It's hard to like Fastpass when you watch a million Fastpeople go by, but I've said all this before, but I'll say it again. Fastpass reduces wait time for all the rides. I am a Cast Member at Disney and have worked on volunteer research team to maximize Fastpass. I've been able to see documents from polling and research from Disney showing that it works. I can't give exact details, but I'll break it down.

The ratio of Fastpass guest to stand by is 70 to 30. Most people who ride a ride with Fastpass go through Fastpass only. First point is that you can't say that the stand by line would be shorter because those 70% would fill the stand by line. The lines move the same rate mo matter if it has Fastpss or not (100% of 100% stand by or 100% of 70% and 30%). So the lines could triple if the Fastpass line didn't exist because that 70% would be relocated into the stand by line. It's all confusing but the point is the same amount of people ride no matter what. But since more people go through Fastpass, that actually means the stand by line is shorter. The studies I saw concluded that wait time for rides were the same or shorter than before Fastpass. So why not have Fastpass if it helps shorten the line?

Here's another point. Fastpass people wait longer to ride in reality than Stand by. They just opt to go do something else in exchange for a longer wait. More Fastpasses are handed out for parade and fire work times and other slow times, moving people who would wait in line busy times to slow times to help reduce lines in the busy times.

By having some rides with Fastpass and others not, people with Fastpasses tend to fill up lines of rides without Fastpass. The Fastpass encourages a better distribution of people among all the rides. Before people would spend most of the day waiting in line for the E ticket rides and skipping other things. The effect of Fastpass is shorter lines with the E ticket rides and very ever so slightly longer lines on the other rides.

Another point of the research was that with Fastpass, people's average time total of queuing for a day. With Fastpass, people wait about 4 hours less in lines. On top of that, People have been able to ride about 5 more rides a day.

Some one pointed out that Fastpasses run out. That's the way it works. People who get the last Fastpasses at 3 pm could end up waiting until 12 am to use. It's first come first serve, like most things-parades, restaurants, non Fastpass rides, merchandise. If someone doesn't get a Fastpass before they run out, its the same as not going to ride the when the park first opens versus waiting until afternoon for a long line. But as I pointed out before, the Fastpass line wasn't the cause of the 75 minute wait, it was the capacity of the ride.

Some one else point out how Fastpasses cause too much running around the park. That can be solved with making to quicker loops. Collect Fastpasses as you work your way around a park and then make a second loop to cover the Fast Pass rides and other things missed. Or just stay in an area until the Pass is ready. But Animal Kingdom aside, most people don't mind the extra walking because in the end it still save them time.

It's true, that Disney does make money by allowing guest more time to eat and shop with Fastpass, but it is a win win for them and us.

There is the logic and proof why Fastpass, even though you may not use it, shortens lines. I rest my case.

From Albino Pygmy
Posted November 3, 2011 at 4:06 PM
Skipper Adam,

So you've seen all the cold hard facts about FP stats and all, but have you worked an attraction dealing with FP? I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guessing by your name, you should either be familiar navigating the rivers of adventure, or off slaying sharks, correct? So I'm going to assume that you were once a jungle skip dealing with the FP mayhem that occurs in that little corner of adventureland.

Here's where I have beef with the whole system. It's a big stress causing system that creates unnecessary stress for everyone, guests and cast members. As a former skip, it drove me insane with all the FP questions, and having to explain the WHOLE process of FP to everyone. Yes, I know not everyone does their research or has even heard of FP, and I don't mind answering the same question multiple times a day, but the questions on FP are a bit much when compared to "Where are the bathrooms?" or "What time is the 3:00 parade?"

But besides explaining it to thousands of people a day, enforcing the FP system, making sure people come in their time frame as printed on their tickets and not before, and then there's the FP/Standby ratio. When I went through training, I was taught 80/20 and that for every 80 people in FP line we let through, we let 20 from standby, or basically for every 2 families of 4 from FP, let one couple from standby through.

Working FP merge point was by far the most stressful position at Jungle. You are the bad guy for holding up your line, no matter which line you stand in. If you're in FP, you're not letting them on right away as you let standby finally move forward 5 feet, and then standby for well . . . moving 5 feet in 20 minutes. I've had soo many people give me dirty looks or complaints as I did my job as instructed, and quite honestly, I think all this unnecessary stress caused from FP could go away with the system as everyone goes back to standing in a regular line.

But that's just my .02 from experience with FP, although it is nice to see someone who has actually seen some FP stats :)

From Giovanny Cruz
Posted November 3, 2011 at 6:13 PM
I miss the free fast pass at Universal.

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted November 4, 2011 at 1:51 AM
Skipper Adam - fastpass waits longer in reality...
I never thought about it like that before! Thats totally true! I could be waiting 3 hours for my time on say, Splash Mountain, while someone in standby could have been on and off twice.
Puts it in into perspective when stuck in the standby watching what feels like 100,000 people go before you!
I will go with a new standby attitude next time now! :-)

From N B
Posted November 4, 2011 at 3:21 AM
As an avid Universal fan, I have to agree that paying for Express Pass is insane. I did it once, and it was very expensive. You only get one ride per attraction.

If you stay on-site at Universal, your room key is your Express and it is unlimited for both parks.

I have made several mentions of the dirty looks we get at peak times, pretty much exactly what Stephen is referring to.

I don't see us as more fortunate, just a perk for staying on-site, which keeps us coming back. One ride in particualar really stands out to me for some reason.

We were waiting to get on the Woody coaster while my daughters were still very young, and an affluent family (it was a major NFL player and his extended family) with at least 12-15 people blew right past us and got right on. They then proceeded to get back in line two more times and our line did not move as I think the coaster only seats about 20.

This was our first time visiting and we stayed across the street at the Holiday Inn. Tony hit it right on the head. Going to Universal for a week and staying off-site in insane.

Universal Express for purchase is really only for a one day visit if you want to ride everything, and it is very steep for both parks.

I have to say, when we walk right through Spiderman or the Hulk at peak times and wait essentially 0 minutes to board, I do feel bad because I have waited in those crazy lines and felt the same way Stephen does. I don't feel special or priviliged in any way, however.

When people ask me, I simply tell them it's free if you stay on-site. There is the occasional person (almost always male and a heavy set loud mouth embarassing his family) who has to say something loud enough for everyone to hear when we fly through an almost empty queue. It gets worse if we go back for another ride and pass them again a few minutes later.

Spider-Man and MIB seem to cause us the most grief, and those queues are air conditioned and indoors. If you do ever decide to go to Universal and stay on-site, be sure to hang your key around your neck in a see through lanyard. The park employees and hostesses at the restaurants do take notice.

They (visible room key lanyards) got us an employee shortcut through Hogwarts / Forbidden Journey, even though we were willing to wait out the regular queue. A female employee flagged us down, opened a gate in the queue, sent us through a back door and radioed ahead to the loading platform that we were coming and to let us on in the single riders line as a group.

We weren't expecting anything other than regular wait times and it was the room keys that she noticed. We were all very grateful and I mentioned this to a Universal representative that I spoke to after our vacation.

So, Universal got it right with the free on-site perk, but wrong with the insanely high prices to purchase them. The strange thing is, the Express lines really don't slow the major rides down.

The Express Pass queues are mostly empty and people trickle in a few at a time, so there isn't 100 people going before everyone else in one shot. I understand that is how Disney Fast Pass operates.

I have read the comments about lines not moving for 20 minutes while they let on all the FP holders at once. With Express Pass, you can do a complete loop of the park, hit (almost) every ride and be out of there in 2-3 hours. You get a lot more them park for your money and a lot more time to relax, which is what a vacation is for.

Yes, I am probably the biggest Express Pass cheerleader on the TPI forums, but I think it changes the entire vacation for so many reasons.

Only three rides at Universal / IOA don't have Express Pass lines, but you can easily notice that Rip Ride Rockit and the Forbidden Journey are already set up for them. I was told they will eventually add them, but that is why they let you have early entry into WWOHP if you stay on-site, which pretty much amounts to Express Pass for that ride as you can go on 2-3 times in an hour.

The other ride is the Pteradon Flyers, which used to have crazy long lines, but they changed it so adults have to ride with a child and they have a dual height stick at the entrance with an actual person holding it. The adult has to be taller then the top and the child under the lower section. Children can ride together or by themselves, but adults cannot.

The wait times are now 10-15 minutes at peak times for a ride that used to have 60-75 minute waits all day long. My daughters got on in less than 5 every time.

That leaves Rip Ride Rockit as the only ride where you have to wait in normal lines or you can use the single riders queue. We waitied in the normal queue every time and it wasn't that bad, the line moves at a constant rate because of the conveyor type loading system. A first for any roller coaster that I know of.

From Rob P
Posted November 4, 2011 at 4:30 AM
What Universal COULD do is advertise, outside, just how busy the park is.
i know someone who bought fastpasses for his whole family as they only had one day there. When they got in they discovered that all of the lines were very light and they cold have saved themselves a small fortune on unnecessary express tickets.

From Randy Stellar
Posted November 4, 2011 at 9:22 AM
It's shocking to me that anyone would rather pay than use a free Fast Pass. And even if the price is built into the admission ticket somehow, I'd rather only feel like I'm paying for ONE thing. And as far as the walking thing, you're going to walk miles that day anyhow. And you can use some strategy behind your walking. Space Mountain fast pass? Tomorrowland attractions while you wait.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 4, 2011 at 1:10 PM
@Albino Pygmy. I worked at the Jungle and currently work at Space Mountain. I share you woes with working the Fastpass line. It isn't easy and it can get tedious with questions and working the machines, however that is our job, and though it may be annoying, I can tell you that about 80% of the people who work at Space would always rather be on the Greeter Rotation, which is greeter, distro, return, merge and a few other positions.

Personal work experience aside, the system works pretty well. And some rides are 80/20 but it doesn't matter because it all adds up to the capacity of the ride.

But at the Jungle, you must have noticed how people show late in the day with Fastpass but the lines are short? That's just one way of the system works, it makes people come back when the lines are slower.

Unfortunately as Castmembers, we do have two lines about people complaining how long the line is, but imagine all those people that go through Fastpass, they would end up in the Stand-by and even that extra room back by pirates probably could barely hold the queue

From Albino Pygmy
Posted November 4, 2011 at 9:04 PM
I'm sure if you've worked Jungle long enough, you've had to deal with at least one pirates evac, and you'd know how much of a pain in the patoot that is, with everyone frozen in position until the evac was done . . . and then all the angry tourists coming off the ride with their re-ad's make a sharp right and head down the stairs straight to clog our FP line, and we're doing 95/5 if not 100/0 until that line dies down. Sucks to be merge point getting chewed out by angry guests in standby, yeah that was me, and then I got bumped and on a boat with the same people in standby line . . . "Oh, I remember this guy, he held us up! GET HIM!" Ok, it wasn't that bad, but they made those 10 minutes quite uncomfortable.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:57 PM
I'm sure most Skippers have been in that situation. And I evaced Space more than Pirates (which I did about 7 times). Evacing Pirates is a unique situation. And it does mess up Fastpass for Jungle (usually only affects Jungle) the few times that happens.

Most rides like Space, we hand out the re-ads too, but we reduce the number handed out for a few hours from the machines, making up for the extra Fastpasses and nothing horrible happens. I think the Jungle/Pirates things is a strange problem that is unique.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 6, 2011 at 5:21 PM

From Tom Cunningham
Posted November 8, 2011 at 10:25 AM
Fastpass has just one job and thats to keep you in the Park all day most Disney Parks have Three major attractions and are set up this way. MK Thunder Mountain,Space Moutain,Splash Mountain. HS Tower of Terror,Rockin Roller Coaster,Star Wars. Epcot Mission space,Soarin,Test Track. AK Dionosaur,Expedition Everest,Kali River Rapids. What Fast Pass does is the first ride you fastpass you are on in an hour the second pass makes you wait till mid afternoon and the third pass normally has you waiting till 7 or 8pm depending on the park, in other words if you dont want to spend an hour and a half on a busy day standing in line you will be in the park from the time it opens to the time it closes. Im not the biggest fan of it for those reasons and even off peak times in the park Fastpass tends to do this, also it massivly increases standard wait times If you need to do a park quickly Universals system is better and if your not in a rush fastpass is just a pain as you have to get back to a part of the park you have already been to and belive me at 5pm on a busy day when your feet are in bits crossing a park to get back to a fastpass ride is not something to look forward to !!

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 8, 2011 at 10:59 AM
@ Tom. That's completely wrong. Fastpass is based on park attendance, time of day, and the current wait time. Fastpasses are naturally shorter in the morning because of the three factors above, but the Fastpass is always long than the wait time.

And unless you can find ways to argue against my points above about how it shortens the wait times, than it would seem you don't understand the system at all.

Universal's passes, however, do just that, increase the wait for everyone else.

But seriously, read my long post above about how Fastpass really works.

From N B
Posted November 8, 2011 at 12:53 PM
"Fastpass has just one job and thats to keep you in the Park all day" - Exactly

You cannot simply make a loop through a park like you can with Express Pass. Fastpass is very similar to Six Flags Flash Pass. You either have to hang around until your reservation time or walk back from halfway across the park to time it just right.

I now know Skipper has never been in an Express Pass line. He would know that they are never packed with 200 people, even during peak Summer months. You rarely have more than a few people in front of you and a few behind you on any ride.

All I hear about are people complaining on here about Fastpass and how they let huge lines in at one time making people stand still for 20-30 minutes in line.

On our next trip, I will bring the Flip camera and film how it actually works to enlighten you, Skipper. You are of the mindset that everything Disney is better. I can assure you, it's not.

The argument was that Fastpass doesn't decrease wait times for the people holding them, whereas Express Pass does. So, in reality, Fastpass increases the wait for everybody in the park.

From Tim Hillman
Posted November 8, 2011 at 2:58 PM
I love this argument. Skipper Adam has been filling in some of the Fast Pass operational details that I've been curious about, and N B and others have expressed some of the frustrations that I have felt about Fast Pass over the years.

Since I used to teach queuing theory, I pulled up the patent application for Fast Pass and looked at the math. I wouldn't recommend doing that unless you are a math geek, but it is a rather clever application of queuing theory. If you are interested in learning more, I would suggest that you start with the Wikipedia page on Fast Pass and go from there. The link to the patent application is at the bottom of the page in the References.

Anyway, here's my take on Fast Pass:
1. Fast Pass is a ride reservation system, and
2. Fast Pass is a traffic management system.

Now, most of you may be saying, "So What? I knew that already." OK, but what you may not realize is how the system manages you and your expectations. Before I go into that discussion, I'm going to digress for a minute and talk a little history.

Back when I first started going to Disney parks as a pre-teen (Disneyland and Disney World), Disney used coupon books. Most coupon books had an assortment of E- thru A-tickets. As you entered the entry point for a ride, you tore off the coupon and handed it to the (no facial hair) ride attendant. If you ran out of tickets, you could buy more individual coupons or more of a particular type of coupon (usually E-tickets), but the individual or single-type coupons came at a premium when compared to the coupon assortment, so you tended to use up your coupons as best you could by going on less popular rides.

Then in a cost-cutting measure in the late 70s or early 80s, Disney replaced the coupon books with a pay one price and ride as much as you want type of system. Things started to change. Lines for the more popular attractions got longer as people started to act like a fat man in a buffet (more fried chicken! more BBQ ribs! more Haunted Mansion!). Instead of riding once on Space Mountain with an E-ticket and then hitting Carousel of Progress and Mission to Mars with B- and C-tickets, people just got back into line at Space Mountain. As long as the parks weren't crowded, the re-rides weren't a problem, but when was the last time you saw a Disney park that wasn't crowded?

Thus the development of the Fast Pass system.

As far as managing expectations goes, people are funny creatures. Countless studies have shown that people are far less satisfied if a service is promised in 5 minutes and delivered in 10 minutes than if the same service were promised in 20 minutes and delivered in 15 minutes. People are actually happier with the longer wait time of 15 minutes than they are with the shorter wait time of 10 minutes because the 15 minute wait time exceeded their expectations and the 10 minute wait time did not! Go figure!

Disney uses the Fast Pass system to under-promise and to over-deliver. Very clever, relatively easy to implement, and relatively inexpensive. Disney also uses it to manage the behaviors of the patrons to the patrons advantage as well as to Disney's advantage.

Here are the good points about Fast Pass:
-You are guaranteed a ride on at least one and usually two premium attractions with a relatively short time in the queue.
-Re-rides are discouraged.
-You get more rides per visit to the park. (I'm skeptical of this one, but I'll take Skipper Adam's word for it.)
-Your customer satisfaction is higher.
-You have more time to shop and eat.

Here's the bad points about Fast Pass:
-You have more time to shop and eat. (I guess I have mixed feelings about this one.)
-Most first time visitors don't catch on about Fast Pass until it is too late.
-Late arrivers to the park are usually shut out of the Fast Passes since they seem to be all gone pretty early in the day.
-You end up riding some rides and attractions that you really aren't interested in since they happen to be in the area where you need to be for your Fast Pass attraction and you've got time on your hands.
-You walk a lot more.
-Lines for lesser attractions seem to be longer.
-You've got to have a plan.
-Several thousand virtual visitors are added to the park queues due to Fast Pass.
-It enables Disney to NOT provide more and better rides and attractions than they should based on their attendance. (A totally subjective opinion of mine that I suspect is shared by many other people.)

So, I have mixed feelings about Fast Pass. I don't like it, but there really is no alternative other than adding rides and attractions to the park or limiting the number of admissions, and that's just not going to happen. Fast Pass is here to stay whether you like it or not.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 8, 2011 at 3:43 PM
Yes! Thank you for some logical reasons as to the downside of Fastpass. That makes sense, what you say. I would have to say some of the negatives aren't too negative. I appreciate the chance to ride less popular rides while FastPass affrods me more time, not a negative. Also, the difference of wait time for less popular rides because of the distribution effect isn't such a bad thing because first the lines are so short to begin with compared to the E-ticket ones, at most it would bump it up to what Robert is calling "Average" if not still shorter. That and there are so many options for attractions that there will not be a large increase.

I will concede there are frustrations. Some Castmembers hate it, but that's just because of angry people. Some people don't like the idea of Fastpasses running out, but first come first serve is a general rule of life.

For the argument that it forces you to stay in the park, here is why it doesn't.

1. Fastpass distrobution rates are based on several things. The rate of Fastpases being handed out and return times are separate calculations, each determined by factors such as time of day, crowd attendance, how long the stand-by lines is, ride capacity, park hours etc. It's all connected and calculated that way, not by making you wait longer as the day goes by. Some attractions will have shorter waits at the same time others will have longer ones, or some hand out more in general.
2. It's free, so nothing lost by leaving.
3. If you leave and go to another park, you can get a Fastpass there without waiting for one from another park to expire.
4. Generally, rides, shows, food, shopping and characters keep people in the park, not Fastpasses.
5. If you leave a WDW park, chances are you are going to another WDW venue anyway, so it doesn't matter.
6. There are more than just three Fastpass Attractions at each park.
7. While working, at least 20 people give me passes they can't use because they're leaving. I see another ten people hand them out to stangers directly. This takes place in a window of maybe 2 hours while I'm outside, and inside, and that's my one observation. All the people I miss doing the same adds up to a lot of people who don't mind leaving.

I have used Expresspass at Universal. I have had an annual pass for three years now, and usually go at least twice a week, all times of the year. In fact, it's hard to find any person who goes as often as me, and can observe how their system slows down the regular line, especially on busy days. What gets me is unlike Disney, the people cutting in front have not waited any time at all, they just walk up there.

From Tim Hillman
Posted November 8, 2011 at 3:45 PM
I agree with you about Express Pass.

We all have the opportunity to buy it or stay at an onsite hotel, but for many people that just isn't possible. Watching people breeze by you in line makes you feel second class or cheap.

If Universal is going to continue with the Express Pass program, I wish they would do a better job of disguising or hiding the Express lines so people stuck in the regular line aren't confronted with their lower class status. There's got to be a better way to do this.

From Lauren Hayhurst
Posted November 8, 2011 at 5:15 PM
It's all about your political style. Either let everyone have access to the jump-queue-time-with-a-ticket scheme, but graduate it with a first-come-first-served policy, or sell the rights to it with a who-earns-more-money dispenser.

From N B
Posted November 8, 2011 at 5:45 PM
Tim,

That was very well thought out. I like the fact that Express Pass doesn't penalize you for arriving in the afternoon, or two hours before the park closes.

Express Pass does the opposite of Fastpass, it makes you spend less time in the park so you can enjoy your vacation and actually use the room and hotel services you paid for.

A day at Disney MK (for us) consisted of getting to the park when it opened, spending the whole day in incredibly long lines, not getting to ride everything because of the lines, and going home that night after the parade so exhausted that we could barely stand.

At USF, you can get into IOA an hour early to see WWOHP and ride FJ up to three times before the park opens, then ride everything else (more than once) before 10:30-11:00 AM. The rest of the park seemed almost empty after we left WWHOHP. Regular lines were 15-20 minutes for Hulk and Spiderman, whch are the two most popular non HP rides.

I would love to see a system at Disney that allowed this kind of time management. An entire park and multiple rides before 11AM.... if you are up for it, head over to Universal and ride everything and be out by 2PM.

You now have the rest of the day to relax. Of course, we would eat and swim, then do it all over again (except WWOHP) and be back to our hotel by 8:00 or 9:00PM for more swimming and late night drinks. Three more hours of poolside horizontalness and outdoor movies.

After 2-3 days of this, we head off to Discovery Cove for a day of snorkeling and more "beach" time. The fourth day, it's Sea World. Day five, Busch Gardens and a drive to Clearwater Beach to our favorite restaurant (Frenchy's Rockaway) and some sunset beach time.

We now have days 6-7-8 to visit Universal / IOA as much as we want, jumping from park to park, knowing we can ride everything in a short amount of time. My youngest did talk us into visiting IOA early for two of the remaining days, so it was another case of being done by 10AM, becuase by this time, we have mastered our routine.

All this is possible because of on-site Express. By day 8, it is USF overload and we are ready go home. Fastpass doesn't improve your relaxation time, it removes it by making you stick around.

I can't fathom how someone who has stayed on-site at both parks can't figure this out. You can argue all day long about how Fastpass is a great feature, but to me, it's a time vampire.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 8, 2011 at 7:17 PM
I simply don't understand the desire to be out of a park by 2pm. If I pay for a park, I would tend to enjoy it all day, whether it be WDW or USF.

As a local, paying for Express Pass gets expensive, but most of the time, I don't need it anyway, unless it's a busy summer day.

Disney does Extra Magic Hours in the morning and at night. Experienced people would tell you to get there early, collecte Fastpass and enjoy the short lines, go back to the hotel for a rest or swim and then hit the parks for late hours.

I can appreciate people who do purchase Expresspass liking it, but that's for people who buy it or stay at the hotel. Overall, Fastpass is a fairer system that reduces lines for everyone, and helps you ride more rides. But if that still isn't want you want, you could shell out the money for a tour guide who gets you to cut all the lines.

But there is just so little to do at USF I can't imagine how fast I'd do everything with the Expresspass because I usually fit everything in half day.

From N B
Posted November 8, 2011 at 10:02 PM
"So little to do at USF".... as opposed to Magic Kingdom.... USF is about rides and not "magic".

Disney is overcrowded and there is no incentive to stay on-site, period. Fastpass is a joke. I'm done with this little back and forth, you just can't come up with anything logical.

USF will get tens of thousands of my dollars for years to come, Disney will not. You do not make any sense what so ever. A vacation to Orlando is a vacation, not spending an entire day waiting for sub-standard rides in three of the four Disney parks.

Staying on site at USF is better than anything Disney has to offer, and that is a fact. You think people need to spend all day in a theme park to have fun? Must be the Disney braiwashing seminars to keep people in the parks.....

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 8, 2011 at 10:29 PM
I'm pretty fed up with your accusations of this Disney brainwashing. I think you hate Disney more than I come close to disliking USF, which I don't. I have been going to USF about twice a week for three years. Clearly I don't have this intense burning hate you think I have.

I try to follow why you hate Disney so much, but you just give vague rants.

And yes, any one Disney park as more attractions than any one USF park.

From Tim Hillman
Posted November 9, 2011 at 9:05 AM
It's funny. I agree with both Skipper Adam and N B.

I live about 450 miles away from the parks, so I get to act like a local as well as a tourist, and I visit the two resorts differently.

If I take a vacation to the Disney parks, I have to stay on site, and usually on the monorail. The drive onto the Disney property, the transport to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and the ride to the gates are more than I care to put up with for just a day trip. Because the Disney resort is so isolated and so large, it is hard to visit as a daytripper. As a result, my visits to the Disney parks are infrequent.

I keep an annual pass to the Universal parks and I visit them on a regular basis like a local would. The parks are easier to get into and far more relaxing than the Disney parks. I tend to have more fun for less money at Universal than at Disney. Doesn't mean that I dislike Disney, I just have to approach my visit to the parks differently.

On a slightly different note... I don't understand the disagreement between N B and Skipper Adam about things to do in the parks. First of all, Universal does not have a park like the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. Both MK and Epcot are 1-1/2 to 2-day parks with a lot to do that are in a class by themselves. Universal may eventually grow as large as MK or Epcot, but I doubt it.

Where Universal does shine is the comparison with Disney's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. USF and DHS have a comparable number of rides (19 and 18 respectively) with an equivalent number of premium attractions (4 each). When you factor in the lower attendance at USF (5.9 million) vs DHS (9.6 million), the visit to USF can't help but be a more relaxing experience for most visitors.

IOA really knocks the socks off of AK. (For those of you who disagree with my comparision of IOA with DAK and think that it should be compared to MK instead, I understand. I base the comparision on the fact that DAK and IOA were built around the same time.) IOA has 23 total rides with 7 of them being premium rides while DAK has 18 total rides and attractions with only 4 of them being premium rides. Throw in the attendance disparity of 9.7 million for DAK vs. 6.0 million for IOA, and once again it is easy to see why some people would prefer Universal Orlando as a more relaxing visit.

So really guys, you've got to give each other a little credit. Both resorts have a lot to offer. Disney World offers an awesome yet expensive and exhausting vacation experience while Universal Orlando gives you a less expensive yet more relaxing trip.

From Tim Hillman
Posted November 9, 2011 at 10:38 AM
I did a little more number crunching, and I think I'm going to open up a can of worms.

First of all, let me throw in a caveat. Numbers tell only a portion of a picture. McDonalds sells a lot of hamburgers, but would you want to take someone you are really interested in there on a first date? (For those of you who are tempted to say yes, Jerry Springer needs you in his audience.)

Quality is is hard to define, but I think that most of us might agree that Universal and Disney have comparable quality when it comes to theme parks.

I looked at the number of rides and attractions for MK and Epcot, and actually surprised myself. MK has 30 rides and attractions with 7 of them being premium attractions (subjective analysis). Epcot has 19 rides and attractions with only 3 of them being premium attractions. (Premium = E-Ticket)

From a numbers point of view, Islands of Adventure isn't far behind MK as far as the number of rides goes. Matter of fact, if they add another land, and sprinkle a few more dark rides (their weak point) in the existing lands, I think that they would be equivalent to or superior to the Magic Kingdom. Those are big ifs and it may be heresy to some on this site, but it is food for thought.

As far as Epcot goes, it is my least favorite Disney park, and it is the Disney park in the greatest need of help. 19 rides and attractions in that huge footprint? Are you kidding me, Disney? Break open the piggy bank and add some attractions to the back side of the lake. At least give me some reason to justify that miserable hike to the backside. After Oh Canada! I look at the trek around the lake and usually say Oh No! (Maybe if they added a Professional Rasslin' venue like Universal Studios has, I might consider it.)

What do you all think? Am I totally off base or do I have some valid points here?

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 9, 2011 at 10:54 AM
You do, I'll be the first to say Disney has space and they waste it. The problem with the World Showcase is that those are sponsored pavilions by the countries or corporations. If the don't want to expand, they wont. I personally love the countries already, but they could have more to do. Also, more countries also makes sense.

The focus of Epcot wasn't rides when it first opened, but education. Expectations have changed, and a lot of people don't like Epcot, and thus the semi logical rides like Test Track.

DAK and MK are getting major upgrades, and before the 50th, I bet all the parks will get something. Already, chances are Test Track will get an update. But it's harder to update four parks than it is two parks.

But from personal experience, and I am saying this without all supposed bias, I can do most everything (I skipped attractions in every park, but just one or two) once and spend more time in a Disney park than Universal, and that's because there are more, albeit slightly, more things to do.

I still simply don't understand the desire to rush through a theme park. I take my time exploring the area, not rushing ride to ride. If it was about rides, perhaps Ceder Point would be a better vacation.

From N B
Posted November 9, 2011 at 8:53 PM
I am not anti-Disney.... I just found a better way to maximize our vacation and get a lot of riding in with less stress. That is pretty much it.

If it weren't for on-site Express Pass and early entry into WWOHP, I wouldn't be going year after year.

Disney is way more popular, hence the bigger crowds / long wait times and everything is spread out over a huge area. USF feels more like a planned community where everything you need is on one property and is in walking distance.

Parks, restaurants, shopping, movies, night clubs and live entertainment. Margaritaville is the closer for me, however.

The problem is WWOHP. It is drawing huge crowds and is way too cramped with narrow paths and tiny shops. 2 Butterbeer carts for the entire area....

USF has it's faults, but they are minor by comparison. My only gripe is the three foot deep pools and they need to open more gates for entry when it gets crazy at IOA.

Universal has a side entrance that NOBODY uses. We just head straight for it instead of using the front gates. 30 seconds vs 10-20 minutes at peak times.

I am hoping USF never becomes as popular as the Disney parks. Smaller crowds = better experience.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 9, 2011 at 10:50 PM
See, I can understand those reasons for really liking USF, and those reasons point out downsides of Disney.

From N B
Posted November 10, 2011 at 1:52 AM
"We all have the opportunity to buy it or stay at an onsite hotel, but for many people that just isn't possible. Watching people breeze by you in line makes you feel second class or cheap." - I completely agree, when I go through Express, I try not to make eye contact or look directly at people. The glares are noticeable.

I have been on both sides of the queues. It is uncomfortable at times. There is a psycological aspect that I completely understand.

When we were at Busch Gardens over the Summer, I noticed the QuickQueue line was empty for Cheetah Hunt and there were people trickling in and getting right on. We waited an hour and fifteen minutes in the regular line although the sign read 45 minute wait at the entrance.

What I didn't know at the time.. the tickets for SeaWorld and Busch Gardens were free becuase we went to Discovery Cove. Paying for QuickQueue would have been a bargain. They only charge 40 a person for unlimited. I think tickets go for $70 a pop. Next time....

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:34 AM
Not to sound like I'm praising Disney too much, but the math behind Fastpass prevents lines like that. Since the majority of guest go through Fastpass and not the stand-by, the wait times are about the same or less. It may be less because of the distribution theory and a few other reasons.

Of course if you have Express Pass or QuickQue (not sure what it's called there) sure it's better than Fastpass, for the people who have it only though.

I think we have found a mutual point of agreement on this, finally.

From N B
Posted November 10, 2011 at 5:24 PM
Skipper, I concur...

If Disney offered a multipark Express Pass type system for purchase, I think people would actually pay for it.

Barging-you-way-to-the-front-of-the-line access is available at almost every theme park these days.... Other resorts are starting include it with on-site stays as well.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 10, 2011 at 5:53 PM
I've had a million people tell me they would pay for it at Disney, and people have tried to bribe me in handing them a Fastpass. But it's not the way Disney wants to do it. Even Celebrities have trouble getting to cut lines.

From N B
Posted November 11, 2011 at 9:55 AM
Even Miley?

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 11, 2011 at 11:27 AM
Miley who?

But seriously yes, both at the Jungle and Space, and even for in house celebrities like Kelly Ripa uses Fastpass with her family.

Funny story about Miley. I worked the Christmas Day Parade filming where she sang in front of the castle. I was doing crowd control, which turned out to be more crowd gathering. We needed it to look like there was a massive crowd of people watching her, but we couldn't get people to watch her. Honestly though, I can understand why Space Mountain may be more fun that watching her.

From Tom Cunningham
Posted November 12, 2011 at 3:45 AM
Hi Skipper Adam, I would love to argue with your points above but you seem to have an awful awful lot of them many contradictory. My view of the Fastpass at Disney is based on personal experience of myself and friends and while quoteing the Disney operations manual is great it ignores the fact that Disney operates everything it does to keep its visitors in its parks and rince as much money out of them as possible while there hence my point above as to the way Disney Parks are designed and how fastpass operates

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 12, 2011 at 10:27 AM
I can see why the idea of keeping people in the parks is appealing, but that really isn't why Fastpass exist. Both before and after Fastpass, Disney had no problem keeping people in the park.

To sort of go along with, but not exactly, with what you are thinking, what Fastpass does allow is more free time to eat and shop while they have Fastpass, and that's the real benefit Disney gets out of it. Does it keep a person in the park? Not any longer they people want to stay. From both the OG, the statistics and my observations-I'm in the parks almost everyday, work or not- there isn't the slightest shred of evidence to even give anyone that theory behind Fastpass, or evidence to support it.

Maybe a side effect of Fastpass is people staying longer, but I wouldn't ever say its the primary reason for it's existence. The business theory I think people are getting confused is the idea to keep people on property, not just in the park. If people never leave WDW on vacation, that's where the money is.

I would say that for ExpressPass and others. When you buy those, people probably feel a certain obligation to stay all day and utilize it.

Fastpass distribution is based on almost every factor other than making you wait longer to keep you in the park longer. Some rides will have a shorter wait time with FP while others in the same park will be three times as long. It is not based on how long you have been in the park, how many passes you have or on any thing to keep you longer. It is true, just like regular lines, Fastpass wait's get longer as the day passes, but should you not blame Disney for making the lines longer to keep people in the park?

Like a said before, it's free so no one really feels like they've wasted time if they give it away. From experience, people take Fastpasses they know they probably won't stay for. Aside from catching a plane, or a dinner reservation/another park (which most likely is on property-like the idea of keeping them on property) there isn't much reason for people to leave before the fireworks. Let me tell you, people stay because they paid so much money to get in, and that's why they are vacationing there...for the parks, not the passes.

I'll say this again, the up side for Disney is more time for shopping and eating, but not, as it has been implied, to force people to stay. If any one of you have from experience, known a pressure to stay, the need to stay, felt the obligation to stay longer than you wanted to because of Fastpass say something, please.

I'll concede this. Perhaps people stay longer because they enjoy using Fastpass. Even if you are a local just visiting half a day, Fastpass does nothing to keep you in if you don't want to stay. If you are there on vacation, chances are you stay in the parks, or do some other Disney venue.

And please point out any contradictory arguments I may have made. I'll clear them up, because there shouldn't be anything contradictory.

From N B
Posted November 13, 2011 at 9:25 PM
You have to remember that Universal Express for purchase is different than Express Plus. You only have one ride per attraction, so you could stretch your day out if you like.

Some people buy them for both parks on a one day visit to ensure they get ride everything.

We visit both parks twice a day and are on overload by day 4, which is when we hit Discovery Cove, Sea World and Busch Gardens.

Discovery Cove and Sea World are never all day visits. We are usually out by 5PM, so we hit the parks for our favorites (Spiderman, Hulk, MIB, Twister) on those nights and do some CitiWalk afterwards.

From Rob P
Posted November 14, 2011 at 10:09 AM
It's probably just me but some of these posts are getting so long that I really haven't the patience to read them. Sorry guys but epic posts turn me off.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 14, 2011 at 10:25 AM
Then skip them. Was that short enough? :p

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:38 AM
Honestly, there are a few issues with Fast Pass, but I'm not sure there is a perfect system to be had because I don't have access to their numbers. We sometimes think we have a better way, but without actually crunching the numbers, we can't really say for certain.

I'll say this. With the flaws, we've still been able to use the Fast Pass system (or equivalent) pretty efficiently and with a good deal of success. We'll see how it works next June with a higher attendance volume and after we changed how we're hitting the parks.

From N B
Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:26 PM
Skipper and I tend to post long threads... but you have to remember a lot of people only take one vacation a year, it is expensive and we like to get the most out of our visit.

This site is great for all sorts of info. There is a lot of WDW vs USF discussion and nobody is right or wrong. We just disagree.

From N B
Posted November 17, 2011 at 6:25 PM
I do have the solution.... if you are visiting Orlando and are planning on visiting WDW parks and Universal, just stay on-site at USF.

As there is no benefit to wait times at WDW by staying on-site, but it will make your visit to USF seem like a pleasure by comparison.

The Disney parks are a 5 minute drive and you will be amazed at the amount of riding you can do in a single day... just flash your room key and enjoy.

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 17, 2011 at 11:33 PM
Unless you like the Extra Magic hours, which can be crucial.

From Ashleigh Noad
Posted November 18, 2011 at 4:19 AM
^ True, however, I find that avoiding parks with EMH always gives lower queueing times for the whole day. I plan my whole two week holiday based on the EMH - and avoiding them. For me, the biggest benefit of staying on Disney property would be 'The disney magic'.

I think these boards have a tendency to favour staying on-site for these queue shortening perks. Personally, with a lot of research and planning and an acceptance of getting up early, a theme park vacation in Orlando can be easily done without queueing too long for any ride (and yes, even in the height of summer) and a lot cheaper by staying off-site.

From N B
Posted November 18, 2011 at 6:50 AM
Maybe I just don't get the allure of spending the entire day (8AM-9PM or later) at a single park an more. When the need to do that has been removed in order for you to ride everything you want, it changes everything.

We have no daily plan or schedule. It has taken me years to get my wife to become spontaneous and stop carrying around stacks of iteneraries for each day. I like our trips they way they are now.

On the last couple of days, we sleep until noon. My first though is "Let's hit the Waffle House and then hit the parks". There is no worry about them being crowded, because it doesn't matter. We still manage to find time to swim and sit down to dinner.

USF on-site Express all about freedom to do whatever you feel like on a given day and not worry about wait times. They just don't do a good job of making people understand how cool it is and how much more you can do on your stay because of it.

There are times when my wife and little one want to swim and my oldest daughter and I want to ride. We walk over to the park(s), do our thing and come back in a couple hours. I couldn't imagine trying that at Disney while staying "on-site" at the Best Western Lake Buena Vista.

The unlimited Express perk and everything on one property is why we return year after year.

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