I think the plan is to eliminate the paper FP all together. What is the point of having them in the parks if they have all been reserved online and there are none available when the park opens?
The new "reservation" system doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Yes, some people can now enjoy going straight to a ride without having to wait in another just to get a FP, but this leaves a whole lot of people with nothing.
Our last Universal trip was four nights and five days at the Hard Rock with 14 day 2 park tickets, breakfast at the Three Broomsticks, and complimentary tickets for Sea World, and all those other perks we really don't use for CityWalk. We came in at around $3000 plus unlimited in/out valet at $24 a night.
It sounds a little expensive for the time we stayed, but you have to understand exactly what you get for your money. Those all day visits we had at Disney with maybe getting 5-6 rides in, including Extra Magic Hours can be condensed into 2-3 hours at USF.
We could literally go to IOA for early entry to HP and hit every ride in every island by 10AM, grab lunch and a swim, then go Universal at around 2PM and do the same thing. By 4 or 5, we have just done everything in both parks and rode multiple times in some cases.
All of this without ever getting into a bus or our rental. The water taxis arrive about every 20 minutes, but we could walk to IOA from our hotel in less than 8.
My point is, no matter how much money you spend with Disney, getting your money's worth is hard to do when it comes to riding. Four days minimum to visit all of their parks from open to close, and there is NO way you can ride everything and visit every attraction during peak season in a single day at MK. The sheer amount of guest vs ride capacity / hr is mathematically implausible, even with using FP, which is not available for every ride.
You do spend more time in your hotel room at USF because it is always within walking distance. The best part is, my 16 year old and love to ride while my wife and 12 year old like to relax and swim. We pair off and plan on meeting up by the pool in a couple hours.
A few times, we would all grab a quick nap in the middle of the day before heading out for dinner and our night time park visiting.
There is this sense of security because you know your hotel is close by and you can always head back and lay down for an hour if you are overheated etc... We would hit our room a few times a day.
At Disney, we felt trapped at the parks and there was no chance we would go back to the hotel, then return to the park for any reason. If our child had an upset stomach, or my wife got overheated, which she does at least once per trip, the day was essentially over.
I know I always sound like a Universal brochure, but you have to try staying at the resort at least once to see what it's like. Three days / 2 nights is actually overkill for most people. We, on the other hand can't get enough. You definitely come home with a sense of getting your money's worth.
Two classes of guests? If you believe that, then that split happened decades ago. Staying at a Disney resort has its perks. Free Parking, Magical Hours, Transportation, etc. Fastpass+ is just another perk that quite honestly really hasn't changed anything. I haven't seen anybody suddenly decide "oh, I got to stay at the resorts because of this now!".
Fastpasses are really a nightmare for three attractions: Soarin, Test Track, and Toy Story Mania. That's it... There are hundreds of other attractions to enjoy as well. Those are going out because of Fastpass+, its because everybody is running to get fastpasses or get in line of these extremely popular attractions.
Just like everything at Disney, Fastpass+ does have a catch: You must pick three attractions (no more, no less). Sure I want to go on Soarin, but I must also go on Captain Eo and Spaceship Earth. The beauty of Fastpass+ is if there is a couple of rides that you saved for years to ride, Disney is going to let you. It doesn't even have to be popular rides.
While it is totally understandable that Disney Resorts are expensive, there are a few options from your description: Stay at a "partner resort" (double tree, etc), a value resort, or get the DVC. I know, I know, DVC is expensive, but its an investment that will pay itself off in the future. All three options get the Disney perks.
The biggest thing to remember is that eventually, MyMagic+ will be rolled out to ALL guests, not just those staying on site. Currently, the system is testing using on-site guests to make sure it works with all systems (hotel rooms, room charges and delivery, etc...), since off-site guests will probably only use the system for Fastpass+ and Photopass. So if you somehow think the system is creating 2 classes of guests, then you're gravely mistaken. Now, it's been reported that Disney does eventually plan to offer additional perks to guests through MyMagic+ who book on-site hotel rooms, and the level of those perks will be dependant upon the type of room booked. However, at this time, there's no definitive information about any differences between on-site and off-site guests once the system is fully rolled out.
For those guests that are arriving at Toy Story Mania in the morning with all Fastpasses gone, it's not because of MyMagic+, it's because you're late. Fastpasses for the ride (along with Soarin') have been running out in the first 15-20 minutes on busy days since those rides opened. I would recommend to those guests to arrive at the park at least 15-20 minutes before rope drop (30-45 minutes ahead on busy days), and head straight to those attraction. MyMagic+ did not eliminate FastPass, and Fastpass+ reservations do not take all Fastpasses (it's supposedly in the 25-30 percent range), so if you get to the attraction first thing, there will be Fastpasses available. You can also elect to wait in the standby line, which you're essentially doing already when getting a Fastpass.
True, you're going to have a harder time getting FPs for specific rides but at EPCOT for example you have to choose either Soarin' or Test Track as an FP option. You can't do both with the Magic Band. So long time Disney Resorters who are used to playing the system are incensed right now.
Plus if rumors are true the long-term plan is for Disney to offer the Magic Bands to off-site guests. If that's true, then it's wide open.
Also, I haven't heard that Disney plans to increase the number of FPs offered per day, so the biggest change is that FP will now be a Ticket Master type scenario where does who have the fastest mouse click will get the FPs.
Then again, long time resorters (like that title) usually are lucky enough to go at least once a year. If I miss Toy Story Mania one year, its not going to ruin my time. I just come back another trip!
I think the eventual (long term) plan is to eventually eliminate regular Fastpass, but they're not going anywhere for at least 3-5 years (probably more like 10). Every theme park has an "early bird gets the worm" component, and Disney and Universal are no different. Speaking of
Universal, perhaps the reason that guests are able to see every major attraction in a half day is because the parks are still young, and there aren't as many attractions, or there just aren't as many guests. If it's the later, we should be applauding Disney for developing technology to make visiting their park and experiencing all of the major attractions that you want easier.
The bottom line is that many people are making assumptions about MyMagic+ that are speculative or simply untrue. While the system will change the way guests will visit Disney, I think it represents a positive change to make line waiting more fair and easier.
However, in the short term, assume that you're getting one paper Fastpass for Epcot if you arrive first thing in the morning on a non-Magic Hours day. Don't count on FPs being available for both Soarin' AND Test Track after that. Disney's working out the math, and yeah, things can get glitchy.
Given Test Track's single-rider line, I'd go for the FP for Soarin', then ride Mission: Space, then do single-rider for Test Track, then come back for my Soarin' return time.
My gut feeling is that Disney will incentivise the FP+ system. If you want 12 FPs per park per day, then you can stay at a Deluxe resort. But that's just a guess based on the principles of business and greed. ;P
The problems that happen at Disney really boil down to people rigging and taking advantage of the system. Thats why DVC members have lost some perks and the special needs rules have changed. I remember when Faspass kiosks used the have buttons on the back that would spit out extra fastpasses (I was honest and never used it).
For people who read my article and thought that I hated the Magic Bands, I really didn't. I wanted to give a objective review on the process and what worked and didn't work.
My family really tested and pushed the system to its limit to see how it would react. Did the problems ruin our time there? Absolutely not, but I think I would be pretty pissed if I was a first time guest.
I actually like the three fastpass+ system. It keeps you a little honest and lets you skip the line on pretty much whatever other attraction you want whether you need it or not. Skipping the line at Living with the Land is nice, but usually not needed.
Now, when these things become standard, I think people will like them. I am not a fan of scheduling vacations, but being able to say 'we will hit this, then this, then this' in an organized way is good, it helped maximize days where we had a tight schedule. Yes, there are still bugs (the app is still in need of work, and the bands themselves have some issues, like mine fell off on Space Mountain, not exactly the wildest ride.)
I really do hope Disney expands this program as much as possible, it really is nice. I had my doubts before, and still prefer the old Fast Pass system, but this is not as bad as I had feared.
This reminds me of the Ventra card debacle that is going on in my home Chicago. The city (and the state) decided that they wanted to use one pass card that would work on a majority of the major public transportation in the city (the El, trains, buses, etc). Well, they had a bit of a problem getting the cards out on time and the system was buggy for a couple of weeks. I tried it tonight for the first time and it worked like a charm. In the long run, it will be a great change, but in the short term, its a pain!
Strangely, this seems to solve the major problem everyone had with fast passes when they started over 10 years ago. Everyone wanted a centralized location to get FPs and not have to run to all the rides to get them.
Will be interested to know if anyone uses the new system at AK in the next few weeks!
We hit EPCOT at about 8:30 (they had the morning Extra Magic Hour, so we got in a half hour before everyone.) We took that opportunity to hit Soarin', which had a 10 minute wait. After that, though, my wife needed coffee and wanted her picture taken with some characters, so it took us a bit to get to the next ride, Mission: Space. We got there by 9-9:15'ish, and again, had a 10 minute wait (and it was not even that, we pretty much walked on.) After that, we did Test Track, and again, pretty much no wait (this time, it was closer to 25 minutes.)
So, yes, getting there early and hitting attractions you want will help you out, since the FP+ system seems to default to later in the AM or early afternoon. Maybe as the system is more fleshed out, it will work better, but right now, I would say the best bet for those without access to FP+ would be to get in the park early.
Truth said, I am not a 100% fan of FP+, I am not one for scheduling during vacation, if I am on vacation I just want to do things without schedules. But, there is some level of convenience. We used it on our Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom days, which helped a bit but was not 100% needed, for instance, we used Dinosaur as our 3rd FP for Animal Kingdom, but since we got there early, we would have walked on regardless of having a FP. A problem with scheduling early is you don't know if you actually need to get a FP for something. Sometimes, with a ride like Peter Pan, which always has a line, you need one. Other times, like with Everest for us, you can pretty much walk on. It is just nice to walk up to the ride, see the line, and say 'yeah, we can FastPass this'.
Also, I think the state of FP+ is in now is not what you will see in a year. Any discussions of it now, while it still is a work in progress, won't really hit all of the issues with it. Eventually, it looks like FP+ (and probably Magic Bands) will be for all guests, even those staying offsite like you. So, even when I say 'the system schedules you for afternoon times', that might not be accurate when it opens for all guests (then, the system might use the full park schedule, including the extra magic hours, which it did not seem to.)
So, if you go to the parks now, I would suggest going in for rope drop if you want to hit the busier attractions (though they still offer the old school paper FP's at most attractions.) Once the Magic Band and FP+ system is 100% implemented, I am not sure what will happen, I would guess rope drop would still probably work though (cause, really, who likes to willingly get up at 6am?)
I hope that novel helps.
Unfortunately won't get to the parks until about September (I'm in the UK), but we usually go during the 'quiet' season anyway. Last year we were there around Sept 6th and in 2 weeks the longest wait we had was 20 minutes. Fingers crossed those sorts of trends can continue with the new system. I guess its a 'try it and see' situation really.
On the other hand, it is nice that the Fastpass+ does take into effect dining reservations.
I also think they are testing it at Animal Kingdom because all their fastpass attractions are actually pretty high capacity (Everest, Kali, and Safaris). In other words, it can move large amounts of guests. I always find that fastpasses are not hard at this park.
And here's my first link--to a satire of Magicbands I wrote:
OK, that link didn't work, so here's the post--sorry it's so long. Future TPI posts will be shorter!
10 Features of Magic Bands 2.0 [satire]
ABC News has really swung for the Pulitzers in their stories about Disney’s Next Gen, $800,000,000 MagicBand bracelets that will be worn by those Disney Parks/One Disney World guests who opt in.
My friend Eric Blair at Cyberdyne Systems Skynet Division (which has worked with Thomas Staggs on his new next-gen bracelets) has let me in on nine of the ten new features of Next-Gen 2.0, expected to be rolled out in 2016.
These nine features will be absolutely OPTIONAL during phase 2.0.
1. Parenting Plus. Although I wasn’t spanked and chose not to spank any of my eight sons, many Disney guests choose to exercise their constitutional and biblical rights to use negative reinforcement when raising their own guest sons and daughters. (See Focus on the Family.) Minor electric shocks from the bracelets will teach your children to avoid danger and will make your kids more user friendly for your busy schedules.
2. Each land in each Disney park will contain a naughty (security) pole. Thin cables of braided steel will allow Disney’s friendly guest controllers to attach villains' MagicBands to these poles till Anaheim or Lake Buena Vista Police Officers can remove them from the property. Berms will protect younger guests from the naughty pole areas and kids will even be able to spray suspects with water!
3. Princess BM Training (Behavior Modification) Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes a sad princess. A voice recognition feature in each bracelet will reward little girls who say nice words like “happy,” “cool,” “churro,” and “swell,” by heating the bracelet up a cozy 75-80 degrees, while words that make them unhappy like “unhappy,” “sad,” and “no” will cause the bracelet to chill out to a cool 45.1 fahrenheit.
4. Disney Forever! These special bracelets cannot be removed and will cheerfully announce special Disney values and Disney news every half hour for your friends and co-workers to hear. Of course, during your pre-selected nine-nighttime hours, your bracelets will emit soothing Disney lullabies.
5. Family Guard: Ladies, don’t you wish GPS stood for Guy Patrol System? Now it does! Leave it to Disney to let you know where your husband is 24/7, and if he should enter a Dis-no zone (bath houses, strip clubs, and even entire areas like San Francisco, Madison or Greenwich Village), his bracelet will a give a little whistle that will get him on the straight and narrow path.
6. Ankle bracelet option!
7. Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me? Let the world know! Whenever your bracelet passes within any image of Mickey Mouse anywhere in the world, your bracelet will cheer! All praise our great leader!
8. Future Guest Program. Bracelets of mommies at their most fertile will glow purple and emit a sexy saxophone rendition of “Cruella Deville,” whether you're creating your first Disney guest or your 101st!
9. Our most exciting feature will allow our cast members to give our guests the service they deserve. Bracelets of guests staying in our value resorts will have a red flashing light and will receive the same high level of service you’ve come to expect from WDW over the last ten years.
Moderate resort guests will sport bracelets that glow a comforting iron grey and can expect a few extra smiles from our cast members or a few more fries with their burgers. And your iron grey bracelet will even permit you to access certain public areas of our luxury resorts at special times on selected days!
And our luxury guests will be pampered with decadence during their entire stay, receiving an instant hug from any cast member when demanded. If Main Street’s sidewalks are a bit crowded, caste members will jump to the street when they see your green glowing bracelet coming their way! And green means “Fun Unlimited”! You’ll enjoy your own faster Fun Unlimited (F.U.) lines at every quick service restaurant, shop, and refreshment stand. And our trains, monorails, and boats (even on the Jungle Cruise) will all feature first class sections for all of you who join the green team. Your green bracelets will permit you to access almost all public areas of our luxury resorts. (Ask about our flashing green concierge level!)
Prince Akeem: Sir, did you happen to catch the professional football contest on television last night?
Cleo McDowell: No, I didn't.
Prince Akeem: Oh sir, the Giants of New York took on the Packers of Green Bay. And in the end, the Giants triumphed by kicking an oblong ball made of pigskin through a big "H". It was a most ripping victory.
Cleo McDowell: Son.
Prince Akeem: Yes?
Cleo McDowell: If you want to keep working here, stay off the drugs.
(Quote courtesy of IMDB)
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Hollywood