Vote of the Week: Disney World completes the Fastpass+ switch... but which system would you prefer?
Walt Disney World has closed its paper-ticket Fastpass ride reservation system at the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom in favor of its new, online Fastpass+ system. Now we're hearing that the switch will happen at Epcot at Disney's Hollywood Studios next week.
With Fastpass+, visitors staying at one of Walt Disney World's on-site hotels can make ride and show reservations in advance of their visit to the Walt Disney World Resort. Guests not staying on-site can make reservations the day of their visit, using kiosks located throughout the park.
Unlike the old Fastpass system, you don't get a paper ticket with a return time when you make a reservation at one of these new kiosks. Your return time now is associated with your park admission ticket (or MagicBand, if you're staying at a Disney hotel) in a central database. So you just touch your ticket or MagicBand to the Fastpass+ stanchion at the attraction's entrance at your designated return time, and you're good to go.
That means that some visitors using admission tickets they bought years ago will need to swap their old tickets for the new chip-carrying ones. Even if you're not planning to use the Fastpass+ system, you'll need the chip-enabled tickets to get past the parks' new entrance system. So if you're using old no-expire tickets for your next Walt Disney World visit, plan to arrive earlier to make that switch at any park ticket booth.
Two other big changes from the old Fastpass system: You can select (and change!) your return time — it's no longer the take-it-or-leave-it next-in-order time that Fastpass gave you; and (here's the big one) you're limited to just three reservation return times per day. Right now, all three Fastpass+ reservations have to be in the same park, but that's expected to change eventually. But the new three-reservations-per-person limit will change the way that many experienced Disney visitors will go through the parks.
Under the old system, you could get just one Fastpass per admission ticket when you entered the park. You could get another Fastpass two hours after that (or less, if your Fastpass return time was less than two hours in the future). By devising or following sometimes complicated schedules through the park, many well-informed Disney visitors could get half-a-dozen to a dozen, or more, Fastpasses during the day.
Since it's a change from the familiar, Fastpass+ might seem more complex than the original Fastpass system. But since you're limited to just three FP+ reservations per day, and can make them all at once, the new system actually simplifies a Disney World visit considerably. Forget about sending one member of your party ahead with a handful of your admission tickets to go get Fastpasses for everyone, several times a day. If you're staying at a Walt Disney World hotel, you can make all your reservations online, before you leave home. And if you're not, you can take care of all your reservations for the day at once, when you enter the park. You don't need to keep track of when you're eligible to get another Fastpass, or hike all the way across the park to get the Fastpasses for the ride you want reservations on next, either. You can make or change Fastpass+ reservations at any Fastpass+ kiosk, or, if you're staying on-site, with Disney's My Disney Experience mobile phone or tablet app.
Even though you can use only three Fastpass+ reservations per day, but that doesn't mean you can only make three reservations. Remember, you can change Fastpass+ reservations. So if you get to a location where you have a Fastpass+ return time, and see that the ride or show is a walk-on, don't waste one of your three return times by using it then. Look for a nearby kiosk, or cast member with a iPad, and switch that reservation to another attraction — one with a more substantial wait time.
For visitors, the point of Fastpass+, like Fastpass before it, is to save you time waiting in line. So you'll want to use your three reservations on things that otherwise would have demanded a long wait time during your visit. In addition to popular rides with traditionally long waits such as Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Soarin', Test Track, Midway Mania, and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, consider spending your Fastpass+ reservations on things such as reserved viewing spots for the Magic Kingdom fireworks and slow-moving character meet 'n' greets, if those time spots are available.
If you're not staying on-site, you'll improve your chances of getting these most useful reservations is you go to one of the Fastpass+ kiosks as soon as the park opens. Here's where you will find the kiosks:
- Main Street — Town Square Theater
- Tomorrowland — Stitch's Great Escape
- Fantasyland — Storybook Circus
- Fantasyland — Mickey's Philharmagic
- Frontierland — Near the restrooms next to the Diamond Horseshoe
- Future World — Next to the wait time tip board
- Future World — Innoventions West Breezeway
- Future World — Innoventions East Breezeway
- Future World — Mission: Space
- Future World — Soarin
- World Showcase — International Gateway
- Discovery Island — Creature Comforts
- Discovery Island — Disney Outfitters
- Africa — Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Asia — Kali River Rapids
- Asia — Expedition Everest
- Dinoland USA — Primeval Whirl
- Hollywood Blvd — Next to the wait time tip board
- Sunset Blvd — Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Animation Courtyard — Voyage of The Little Mermaid
- Streets of America — MuppetVision 3D
Keep in mind that you might find a shorter wait to use the kiosks by heading to the back of the park, if you're not among the first in to use the ones nearest the front.
If you are staying on-site, you might think that you don't need to get up early to beat the crowd any longer, now that your Fastpass+ reservation times are secured in advance. You could sleep in, but you'll be missing what might become an even better time to ride the park's most popular attractions, as Fastpass+ pulls many "day visitors" straight to the kiosks first thing in the morning, keeping them from the attraction queues.
Over the next months, we'll learn how Fastpass+ affects guest flow through the parks, as hard-core Disney fans are now limited to three reservations, and Disney keeps fine-tuning the distribution of Fastpass+ times among hotel guests and day visitors as well as how much capacity to leave for visitors in stand-by lines.
Our question for you is this: Which system do you think you will prefer? Would you rather have seen Disney stick with the old, take-it-or-leave-it paper Fastpass system, or more flexible, online, but limited-to-three-total Fastpass+ system?
We're pushing the leaners here, with no options for "Neither" or a Universal-style unlimited front-of-line pass. We're asking you to pick one or the other, based on your experience and what you've read about the systems.
Let's hear your thoughts about Fastpass+, in the comments.
A couple of things-
I wish "Just wait in one single line that will consistently move because they aren't trying to shoehorn a second line of reservations into it" was an option. AKA No Fastpass.
I completely, totally agree with Tyler!!!
Fastpass+ was a bad idea. Disney should have taken the billion dollars plus that they spent on Fastpass+ and Magic Bands and used it to create more E ticket rides instead. Disney could have built a total of ten Expedition Everest quality attractions for what they have spent developing Fastpass+ and Magic Bands.
I don't live in Orlando any longer, but having been an annual pass holder for many years, I just go for the atmosphere. Disney parks make me feel good, and as with a lot of people, I enjoy the restaurants as much, if not more than the rides.
APs still can't do advance FP+ reservations. You have to line up with the other "day pass" folks to use a terminal. No smart phone, no do it at home. Unless you are in an on property hotel, you are screwed.
It's not even close for me. Limiting Fastpasses to three, tiering them in certain parks, and (currently) not allowing off-site guests to book in advance make it a downgrade with the new system. Plus, you're reliant on a glitchy system, and Disney's IT history is spotty at best.
It is terrible that you are limited to Fastpasses in one park per day. We always park hop, but this will have me second guessing spending the extra $ if I won't be able to ride anything at our second or third park of the day.
The poll results say it all, don't they? Disney wastes a billion bucks on this crap, and the majority still prefers the old system! Brilliant, guys. Just brilliant.
From 22.214.171.124 on January 17, 2014 at 6:47 PM NEW!
The biggest problems for me is the fastpass+ groupings they do at Epcot and Studios. You can only pick one fastpass+ out of Soarin' and Test Track, and one of out Rockin and Toy Story Mania. There are rarlely queues at the other attractions in the studios when we go in September so for us the new system will mean only really having one useful fastpass... Matt.
This is my concern.... my one main concern.... and Robert I'd love it if you had feedback on this:
Like several people here, I think I would have preferred them to spend the money on new attractions. My first experience at WDW was in 1990, before FP, it was in July, the queues were long but they moved constantly (that built up anticipation and excitement, and the constant movement avoided frustration), now they are held up with a constant flow of fastpass users.
Get rid of fastpass altogether. Like others have said, on vacation I don't want to be worrying about booking things AND the normal lines would move faster.
My wife and I usually stay at Disney World anywhere from 14 to 18 days and usually have the deluxe dining. We spend A LOT of money there. For Disney to dictate that we can only get three per day again reminds me they are only in this for the money, not for the family. That means that when we got to Magic Kingdom we can only ride Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain once each with a fastpass. We typically use at least 5 a day and at the most 10-12. We broke a record I think with riding Expedition Everest 40 times in one vacation with our kids. So now we will be forced to wait in a really long line if we want to continue riding as many times as we use to.
One thing I forgot to add. For the people like myself who purchase the photopass+ so you can have the digital downloads of the ride/attraction pictures. There will be no way that you can get as many pictures with the new system vs the old system. Last visit we had about 300 pictures to download and maybe a little less than half were attraction pictures. Now with the photopass+ system I can bet any amount of money that we will not get as many on the next visit. So not only will I get to ride less but I will have less pictures/memories of my vacation.
I am still not getting why people hated the original Fastpasses? I found it was extremely fair and not that complicated. Seriously, I don't understand what was so complicated about showing up to an attraction, getting a fastpass, and coming back.
Thank you for writing an informative article. You are completely missing some very critical aspects of this new system, however, and how it will (negatively) impact families like ours.
I absolutely hate the new system that they are currently testing
I like the limitation to three Fastpasses. It ensures a fighting chance that people can get on a more popular ride, more can take advantage of the FP, and you can select a ride in advance and change them instantly. I just wonder how long are the standby wait times. Eventually, they have to add more attractions by at least 30% to increase the FP to four per day per park. Or maybe they need dynamic notification to encourage better crowd control and ride attendance since the guest should still wait in the Standby line and can not rely solely on FP as some have done. A combination of wait strategies must be considered.
For people who live outside of Florida and shell out big bucks to stay on the property, we were fuming when we arrived to find that we could only get 3 passes in one park a day. Before, we were able to ride everything in all parks numerous times, which is what we most looked forward to. All the extra paid for park-hopper was a waste. And then to find that the rides we had to pick were categorized (ex: we had to pick one out of three big ticket rides, then the other two from the "lesser" rides) was the last straw. It's a terrible system for those of us who want to make the most out of our trip.
A quick bit of advice to anyone concerned about using the new kiosks: Find a cast member with an iPad (anywhere in the parks!) and ask for help. They're logged into the Fastpass+ system and can help you set up and change FP+ reservations. And if you hit a bug, they're can help navigate you to a solution or workaround a lot faster than you would standing in front of a kiosk by yourself.
This is a "one size fits all" system that doesn't fit anyone's needs. Superficially, it looks more flexible than the old system. But in fact, the old system was far more flexible because you could get and use fast passes according to your needs and preferences, at least until they ran out (and they can still "run out" under this new system).
The following post is from another thread about FP+, but that thread was archived, so we can't respond to it:
I used the system in October of last year. Had a few bugs that were worked out by Disney IT before my trip, but besides that had no problems at all. It requires a bit of planning before hand that's all.
We just had our first experience in Magic Kingdom with Fastpass+ yesterday. What a chaotic mess the kiosks were! Everyone was funneled into a room where several CM's with IPads were scanning tickets and making reservations. It was extremely slow-moving, even taking into account that it was a new system. The new system also seemed to artificially inflate wait times. It may have just been my perception, but we have been going to the parks since the inception of Fastpass, and it just seemed like ride queues were longer than they needed to be. I will reserve judgement until the kinks are worked out, but so far I am far from impressed with the new system.
When Fastpass+ was announced, I was completely against it. While I doubt I'll be able to pass judgment on it until I actually get a chance to use Fastpass+, based on what I've heard so far it should work well once all the bugs are fixed. It is still in the trial phase, but hopefully by peak season in summer it will be working as designed.
I love the comments that FP+ gives you a fighting chance at experiencing all the attractions.
I didn't think I'd say this reading all the stuff before it came out, but honestly, fastpass+ actually seems like a good thing to me. I mean look at how it works at the moment:
I felt that the old Fastpass gave people a fighting chance at rope drop. You had to make a decision on what you really wanted to go on. The get fastpass, kill time, ride, repeat was exactly how we did it. We were fine with that. Then again, we knew what Fastpass to get.
Everyone has their own vacation style and we always rent a home. My family visits Disney and Universal and also enjoy time spent at house and the pool. Our time isn't spent exclusively at Disney World. I've experienced the on-site experience when I've visited the parks with friends and I love many of the perks of staying on-site, especially the dining plan. But I've never felt like a "second class citizen" and I can't really say the same now. We've spent a lot of $$ at Disney as we vacation in Orlando every year, although we aren't DVC owners nor do purchase annual passes. We're always there at rope drop, collect our fast passes efficiently, and ride our favorite rode multiple times. Now I need to arrive at the park and stand in line at a kiosk to arrange THREE fps for the day before I even think about trying to get on a ride. I've spend extra $$ on park hoppers and a huge benefit of that has been removed. And, as others have said, I am traveling THIS year, I don't want to wait for Disney to work out the bugs AND hope the company plans on making improvements. All I can say is "Diagon Alley, here we come!"
Fastpass+ is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's a price increase disguised as a consumer benefit.
We have made many trips to WDW. We stay on site and we park hop. We always have a fastpass in hand. We never wait longer than 20 minutes for an attraction. I'd say we use an average of 6 FP each day.
I think the main problem is the limit of 3 per day.
How about this idea for next week's poll? Should Disney have spent that billion dollars plus on: a) Fastpass+ and Magic Bands, or b) expanded ride capacity and more attractions? In other words: a)Fastpass+ and Magic Bands, or b) the equivalent of ten brand new rides that would be equivalent to Expedition Everest? Which solution do you think would have been more effective in cutting down wait times and creating a better experience for Disney's guests?
The bands are a disaster! In theory it works are vacation they did not work and getting help was a struggle! Disney must remember it's the experience that's Disney and the time we had was not Disney!
I'm terribly upset about this change. My extended family will be visiting Disney World in April. We have saved for this trip for quite some time. This will likely be my daughter's only childhood visit, and my son's last. Because if the size of our group, we will be staying off property. So now, three months before our trip, Disney roll this out and removes the old FP machines from the parks. I feel cheated out of the trip I had planned for my family. I don't care about a "more relaxing" vacation if that means that we won't have the opportunity to ride all the attractions because we aren't staying in a disney resort. I'm trying to keep an open mind, but I'd really prefer to scrap the whole thing, save the money, and go when the kinks have been worked out.
We have been in Orlando for the last week, and on every visit to Disney just trying to get a fastpass+ seems to take forever. Ever visitor needs to see a staff member and then set the passes up and this is just too much trouble. Now the pass is set up at a central location then when you get to the rides you will find only a 5 or 10 minute wait and so that fasspass has been wasted as its just a walk on. I hate to think what it will be like in July.
So I now must take a pen and paper or remember the time ranges? Don't like either of those options or maybe I just don't understand. Disney is already shutting out FL residents and people who stay off site as far as dining preference, now they are doing the same to rides. Terrible system.
My family and I love to go to Disney World. We usually go every couple of years for 10+ days. We always stay off site because that is the only way we can get the kind of accommodations we want and still afford to go to the parks. We are able to find 2 bedroom villas with a kitchen for less than $300/night. The kids have some space and we can save some cash by eating some meals at the villa. Accommodations like this on Disney property would cost more than double of my whole vacation just for the room! The Fastpass+ system is new and I think that many people that can afford to stay on site are not yet using the advance reservation system. When everyone that is staying on site starts making reservations in advance there will be nothing left for those of us who prefer to stay off site. This is my point. This system wasn't designed to help guests it is designed to take your money. The way this is going the only way you are going to be able to enjoy Disney World is if you stay on site. Our next trip to Disney World may be our last...
"How about this idea for next week's poll? Should Disney have spent that billion dollars plus on: a) Fastpass+ and Magic Bands, or b) expanded ride capacity and more attractions? In other words: a)Fastpass+ and Magic Bands, or b) the equivalent of ten brand new rides that would be equivalent to Expedition Everest? Which solution do you think would have been more effective in cutting down wait times and creating a better experience for Disney's guests?"
Very BAD decision. Did they hire the team's behind such brilliant ideas such as New Coke or the Ford Edsel? 3 Fast Passes per day for the prices they charge just to get in? Nuts. We have gotten as many as 20 passes a day ( all legally) just by timing them right. Why on earth would anyone pay those prices to ride 3 rides plus what other rides you can manage after standing in the regular lines. We usually averaged standing in the regular lines on 5 rides at the most per day. We have taken over 30 Disney vacations over the years, including our Honeymoon. Not happy.
"The way this is going the only way you are going to be able to enjoy Disney World is if you stay on site. Our next trip to Disney World may be our last... "
FYI: There is a new Facebook page, Love Disney Hate New Fast Pass.
Actually, I have to say that I welcome FastPass+. My last trip, back in November, we used regular Fastpass only 3 times: for Soarin, Splash Mountain and Toy Story Mania. So, according to this new Fastpass system, I will be able reserve those in advance without going to the actual attraction, which I found very inconvenient, especially in bigger parks like AK or EPCOT.
I used the Fastpass+ system on a trip I took in December. It was great to be able to make my Fastpass selections on my phone, usually the night before, and not have to worry about the mad dash of trying to get to a ride to get a paper Fastpass. It was extremely easy to change a selection or time. I loved it. As for the limitation of 3 Fastpasses a day, I personally think its a more fair system. Everyone gets the same.
A Tale of Two Theme Parks: Disney vs Universal
I want to know how Toy Story Mania at Disney Hollywood Studios can have a 120 minute wait time. Then I want to know why people are standing in line for a mediocre ride for 120 minutes. There's no way I would do that.
I thought fastpass+ sounded like it may be a good idea until we experienced it in Epcot and magic kingdom over the past 3 days. What a nightmare! You get to the park and get to stand in a 20 minute fastpass kiosk line to then select your choices with a cast member holding an ipad. We did this within an hour of park opening and Peter Pan fast passes we're already gone for the day. When resort guests can book 60 days in advance all the prime fast passes are gone and who knows if these people willl actually even show up at that park that day. The earliest fast passes we could get for Rapunzel character greeting was already well into evening hours. The fastpass return line was a 15 minute wait itself out into the park before you could even show your card. We witnessed constant problems and very upset people all day long at the park. And the flexibility to change your fast passes without standing in line to do so doesn't exist unless you are staying at a disney resort. You cannot access via your phone and have to write down your times or take a photo of their iPad screen.
I haven't experienced Fastpass+ yet. But I don't know which parks I want to be in each day. I guess I'll have to make the reservations when I get there. So the great advantage of booking these rides 60 days in advance just doesn't mean much to me (yet).
I like the concept. BUT from what I've read, I see problems with it before I go on my Disney Vacation (April). I want to be able to have fastpasses for more than one park in the same day. Actually, I don't like the idea of guessing which park I'll visit before I get there. I'll start with EPCOT this time, but which park will I want to see on day #2? I have no idea. I've already booked dinner at EPCOT for day 1 and day 2.
Fastpass+ is a terrible substitute for expanding ride capacity and adding new attractions.
YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET!!! I wish that comment related to how good that Disney World will become. But it's just relating to the greed Disney has towards it's guests. ZERO interest in guest experience or safety. 100% interest in short term profitability.
Has it occurred to none of you that...
The endless post above was obviously written by a Disney public relations representative. At one point, he writes: "Even if we bump it up to 4 passes..." If he doesn't work for Disney, then why does he say "we"?? Oops!
So he cut and pasted his endless post yet again below mine. Wonderful. I pity anyone who tries to wade through that ocean of drivel. And, P.R. or not, he admits to working for the company. So we're biased but he's not??
This was my post. I work for both major theme park resorts in orlando. So I do know more about this than most. I am not a PR person. Disney is so controlling that PR Reps would not be found on sites like this in debates getting as petty as this.
Again. It blows my mind that some random person's opinion becomes fact. Just because one or two people post an opinion, about DAS or wait times doesn't mean it is true. One person, who goes to MK for one day and has a bad time doesn't mean they magically represent fact and opinion of the other 16 million plus guest who don't visit chat boards about theme parks.
"Again. It blows my mind that some random person's opinion becomes fact."
"That's paranoia and conspiracy theory crazy talk. If that's the case, isn't it possible that corporate espionage might be the happening, and you and others are from Universal bashing Disney to sell itself?"
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