Paper ride-reservations tickets return to the Magic Kingdom, for the Anna and Elsa meet-and-greet

July 23, 2014, 11:24 AM · Well, it didn't take long for Disney to bring back the equivalent of paper Fastpasses. Six months after ditching the old ride reservation system in favor of Disney's new online Fastpass+ system, paper ride-reservation tickets made their return to the Magic Kingdom today.

It's not exactly the old Fastpass system, and it's only for one attraction. Starting today, for what's called a limited time test, Disney distributed paper return-time tickets to guests wanting to wait in a standby queue for the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.

Fastpass+ reservations remain in place for Anna and Elsa, and they remain the most elusive advance reservation "gets" at the resort outside the chef's table at Victoria and Albert's. Visitors who didn't get FP+ ressies for the Frozen sisters have been left to queue in a standby line that approached wait times of six hours.

Now, instead of having people wait that long for their chance to meet Anna and Elsa, Disney is now giving those would-be standby visitors return time cards, just like under the old Fastpass system.

This means that there is no longer any walk-up "standby" line for Anna and Elsa throughout the day. Either you get a Fastpass+ reservation and wait in the Fastpass+ return queue, or you get a paper return time ticket in the morning and wait in the old return queue at your designated time. Only a limited number of guests who arrive at the location first thing after Princess Fairytale Hall opens in the morning will be admitted to the "standby" return queue. Everyone after that will have to get a paper return ticket, and those will be available first-come, first-served. Arrive after the paper return tickets are gone for the day? You're out of luck.

Temporary Tourist reported that Disney's issuing only nine Fastpass+ return times per hour for Anna and Elsa, which explains why those reservations have proven nearly impossible to get. In addition, the site reported that Disney's issuing only 80 paper return-time tickets per each hour of the day for Anna and Elsa. Combined with the Fastpass+ reservations, that gives Anna and Elsa a capacity of 89 guests per hour.

For comparison, attractions such as Big Thunder Mountain can put through about 1,200 guests per hour. The highest capacity ride in the Magic Kingdom, Pirates of the Caribbean, put through as many as 2,100 an hour when I worked there. Fewer than 100 guests per hour makes the notoriously slow-loading Dumbo look like Pirates.

Temporary Tourist said that the test will run through Friday. What do you think about Disney making attractions available on a "reservations-only" basis? Is that appropriate for ultra-low capacity attractions such as meet-and-greets? Should Disney consider this for higher capacity rides and shows?

Were you at the Magic Kingdom today? Did you try to see Anna and Elsa? Please tell us in the comments about how that went.

Replies (18)

July 23, 2014 at 11:57 AM · This is what they do during Star Wars Weekends. You line up before the park opens, wait, and hope you are one of the lucky ones to get a return time. I am just surprised that they do not go ahead and add them into the princess dining venues. I believe that would cut the lines down exponentially.
July 23, 2014 at 12:24 PM · Darn. A&E and 7 Dwarfs were soaking up a bunch of the crowd and making waits for other attractions manageable.
July 23, 2014 at 12:38 PM · I like the new system after seeing people standing in that line for 300 minutes with very little shade and they don't let you leave the line this is the way to go!
July 23, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Anna and Elsa are NOT soaking up the crowds. Gee, only 89 people getting through per hour. They are all using Fastpass and Fastpass+. They are back in line at the other attractions.

I'm glad to be the select few to see Anna and Elsa. I thank Theme Park Insider for the insider tip-off back in late April.

July 23, 2014 at 2:10 PM · A lot of little hearts will be broken...but it is for the best. In the end, a day spent riding other rides, seeing other shows, and meeting other characters will be a much better experience than waiting in line for hours just to rub elbows with the Frozen sisters.

Everything I have read seems to paint a really positive glow on the event at the studios. I understand there isn't an opportunity for a meet and greet there, but you do get a lot of Frozen fun.

July 23, 2014 at 5:39 PM · Dare we hope that this means an eventual return to the paper fastpass system?
July 23, 2014 at 8:24 PM · 89 people an hour seems a bit slow. I've seen bands do picture greets where they easily did 150 an hour, and still had time to chat briefly.

But still, my real complaint is that this is a manufactured scarcity. The people playing A&E are just like you and I and millions of other people. They are low-level park employees paid near minimum-wage to put on a costume.

This isn't a million-dollar ride. It is a $50 an hour max expense, plus a thousand for a pair of dresses that last for weeks.

So, why don't they just hire another 8 employees, buy another 4 sets of dresses, and set up meet and greets in a controlled out-of-direct-view location?

Take the line through a magical castle doorway that looks like Frozen, Once through, send the people through one of 5 doors in groups of 10. No group knows where the previous group went. Behind those doors, another passage to A&E. They all dress alike -- no child knows there are 4 other sets, and instead of 89 people an hour, you put near 500 people through. You can let 5000 guests in a day experience the magic.

Why not do this? Does Disney actually like making hundreds of little boys and girls leave the park disappointed, or is it just they they hope the kids scream and cry so much in the car that the parents buy another day at the park just to land a coveted space?

Seriously -- Even 2 more actors and a simple line split would double their capacity, for almost NO cost.

July 23, 2014 at 11:25 PM · I agree it is a manufactured scarcity. I mean how cheap can they be. Even if a face actor cost more, just an extra room doubles capacity, at a far cheaper price than a ride. Last time we went kids waited over 90 minutes for tinker bell. They could have built 2 sets and doubled capacity. Our trips to wdw are becoming far fewer because of things like this. Is there any legitimate reason not to expand that I do not see?
July 24, 2014 at 4:49 AM · They already do have the split rooms for the Mickey meet and greet and that can easily soak up a big line. The only reason I can think of them not doing it for the Princesses is that face characters are harder to cast than Mickey, but surely they could at least have 2 rooms on the go at once?
July 24, 2014 at 5:02 AM · People do realize that they are waiting to see two actors dressed like Disney characters?
July 24, 2014 at 8:57 AM · I agree with what Charles said. There is no reason why Disney can't hire four more girls to increase the capacity. Disney World management has their head so far up their *** they can't see the forest for the fake plastic trees. Disney "World" parks are sinking in my opinion. I still have my annual pass for a few more months, but then--bye bye. If they were smart they would be working on a dark ride for Frozen and fast track the ride (you know how Universal is building new, state of the art attractions in a years time)
July 24, 2014 at 9:49 AM · Charles, you seem to think it would take very little money or time for Disney to build a magical castle doorway that looks like Frozen, with five doors behind it, leading to five different rooms themed to Frozen, with a passageway taking people from those rooms back out into the theme park.

That sounds pretty expensive to me - and by the time you finished, the Frozen craze may have died down and Disney wouldn't even need it anymore!

That said, I agree there should be more Annas and Elsas out there. There's no reason you couldn't have a meet & greet in each park.

July 24, 2014 at 10:43 AM · I agree that Disney should add at least one more set of Anna and Elsa in MK, and one set in Epcot (or other park-one set in each perhaps?). Perhaps add them to the dining rotation at Akershus? Disney is crazy if they think I'm adding an extra day to an already expensive vacation just to try to see Anna and Elsa. Both of my young daughters who are big Frozen fans are already aware that it is not worth the wait to see them. It's absurd. That said, I'm glad they are at least trying to remedy the extraordinary wait times.
July 24, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Someone previously mentioned this, and I agree 100%, they need to add Anna & Elsa to the Princess Storybook Breakfast in Epcot. This will take care of many of the advanced reservation folks that want to get a quick picture and autograph book signed. There is usually plenty of time to see all of the Princesses during your breakfast and still actually EAT your breakfast. I feel they can easily accommodate 2 more princesses making the rounds. It is in Norway after all!
July 25, 2014 at 6:03 PM · I doubt it is cheap, but at $100 a ticket, each meet and greet at 90 an hour for 10 hours is serving $90,000 worth of guests.

As to whether it would be hard to find people who look like the characters, well the characters were animated, so nobody looks exactly like them. But I've seen a dozen excellent cosplays on the internet where they people looked sufficiently like them (I saw one excellent one at a steampunk convention with two girls playing Elsa and Merida).

I assume from other comments they already have the main entrance, and some place that looks like the castle, and the inner door, all you really would need is anterooms behind the last door, so you can send people in and then direct them left/center/right and move 3 times as many people.

Of course, I've never seen the inside of this place, so I'm sure it is much more involved than I am imagining and much harder to duplicate. I don't have a disney frame of mind, so I picture meet-and-greets as more of a walk-up affair, not a full-blown immersive experience, so probably it's a lot more expensive than I could understand.

But six hours seems excessive given the price of the ticket.

Will the characters become uninteresting in a year? Hard to imagine, given the popularity of the movie; I'd more likely expect a sequel. I mean, it is no Lego Movie, but still :-)

July 26, 2014 at 4:14 AM · More than one set of Anna and Elsa at the same park could destroy the illusion of the little kids that they are real. Don't think that they wouldn't notice that there are more than one pair.
July 27, 2014 at 5:36 AM · They have two rooms and meet 14 hours a day. Part of the problem is the line is huge mid day and morning, but dies out. The return passes are a way to delay gratification enough to spread the crowds out more.
July 27, 2014 at 7:53 AM · "People do realize that they are waiting to see two actors dressed like Disney characters?"

Adults do, kids do not. There should be some magic allowed in childhood!

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