Walt Disney World adds new ticket option for last-minute visitors

May 7, 2018, 12:21 PM · Walt Disney World has added a new ticket option for that rare visitor who decides to make a last-minute, spur-of-the-moment decision to visit a Disney World theme park.

The new ticket is a one-day, one-park ticket, available only for the next day and that includes three pre-assigned Fastpass+ return times. Currently, anyone can buy a one-day, one-park ticket for some day in the future and choose his or her own Fastpass+ reservations through Disney World's official app, up to 30 days in advance of the trip.

But with some Disney guests able to reserve Fastpass+ times up to 90 days in advance now, the pickings can be slim for people trying to book ride and show times for a visit that's only a few days away. That seems to be the motivation behind the new ticket, though the pre-assigned selections pretty much look like the ones that would be available for next-day selection anyway. You're not going to find Flight of Passage or Toy Story Mania reservations available with the new next-day ticket.

The prices are the same for a one-day, one-park ticket without FP+ reservations attached. Here are the current FP+ options:

Magic Kingdom
Fantasyland Classics

Futuristic and Frightful Fun

Pint-Size Adventures

Whimsical Escapades

Delightful Encounters

Immersive Explorations

Disney's Hollywood Studios
Movie-Inspired Excitement

Sensational Stage Shows

Disney's Animal Kingdom
Prehistoric and Whitewater

Wild Performances

Pirates of the Caribbean as a "pint-size adventure"? Uh, that ain't Jake and the Never Land Pirates there. And blowing a Fastpass+ slot on The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, or MuppetVision 3D isn't exactly making the best use of the system. Of all these options, I'd find the Futuristic and Frightful Fun option the most tempting if I was in Orlando tomorrow without an AP and needing a Disney fix. Mansion and Buzz are two solid Magic Kingdom FP+ picks.

Disney does not seem to be promoting this new option aggressively. While the page is available on Disney's website, the option is not yet linked from the main Disney World tickets page. So why is Disney doing this? As with most new options at a park, I suspect there's an element of experimentation in play here, as Disney contemplates a future where tickets are based not just on when you will visit, and for how long, and for which parks you will be visiting... but on what you will do in those parks when you visit them, as well.


Replies (24)

May 7, 2018 at 1:15 PM ·

Now we know the real motivation behind altering the auction scene... they just wanted to reclassify the ride as a "pint size adventure".

May 7, 2018 at 1:15 PM ·

This is a pure marketing ploy, given that the FP+ selections are no better than you can get when you book the night before.

May 7, 2018 at 3:41 PM ·

Ugh. There goes the lines for the Haunted Mansion and Pirates. I predict they will never be under 45 minutes from here on.

May 7, 2018 at 4:59 PM ·

Will anyone actually buy these tickets, though?

May 7, 2018 at 5:20 PM ·

Disney is looking for the limit on the stupidity of it's customers. So far, it looks like there isn't one...

May 7, 2018 at 5:27 PM ·

It's not even a discounted ticket. I would think that if the ticket isn't already attaching the thrill rides and you have to wait in the stand-by queues for those rides, than the ticket should be cheaper, but no, I just looked it up and it was $119 for Magic Kingdom and $114 for either Epcot, Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom. Now I wouldn't mind paying a little bit more if I were guaranteed a fastpass for their top attractions like Flight of Passage, Rock N' Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, Frozen Ever After, etc.

May 7, 2018 at 8:24 PM ·

I guess it likely would be a minimal number. The best way to visit is with a multi-day pass to get the price down and plan way ahead, so you would be foolish to show up on the day of.

May 7, 2018 at 9:34 PM ·

No one. The days of loading ourselves, kids, et. all in the car for a last minute surprise day trip to Disney are over. It's become way to complicated.

May 7, 2018 at 10:00 PM ·

Stevo, you left out un-affordable.

May 8, 2018 at 1:29 AM ·

I used to be one of those people. We live in SC, but had season passes and would go to disney world 6 or 8 times a year. No planning. Just decide thursday at work to take off friday and monday, go home throw stuff in a bag and get in the car and drive. Start calling hotels from the car to find simeplace to stay.

No stress, though. If we missed something this trip, just catch it next time. Totally spontaneous. Disney is so crowded now that we dont really do that so much anymore. I prefer universal. Its like disney was 10 years ago. (Still have a sweet spot for busch gardens, too. Especially with free beer. Everything is better with free beer.)

May 8, 2018 at 4:47 AM ·

Tracy, we did that in 2000. I can clearly recall it, because Mission Space had a huge 2000 on it. Upon entering what was Disney MGM at the time, I recall an absolute sea of people. Having never been there before, I thought the amount of people was insane, but the actual wait times for the attractions were all less than 30 minutes. The only attraction we had any wait at all was Spider-Man at IOA, but it had just opened, and had intermittent breakdowns. Pretty much everything at Disney was 30 minutes or less or you used a fast pass, which you could get with ease. And they had the Alien instead of Stitch. Good times.

May 8, 2018 at 5:13 AM ·

I'll bet part of the crowding is because of the people like me who are FL residents and pay monthly for their passes. For a family of 4 I can't afford to make one lump payment for 4 Gold Annual Passes, but break that up in monthly payments? Heck yes I can budget for it! If people want WDW crowds to go down, Disney would need to get rid of either the option for FL residents to pay monthly...or a few of the FL resident tiers. So I am sorry to admit that, but I know a lot of people who do APs as FL residents because of the payment perks, etc

May 8, 2018 at 5:49 AM ·

Lots of people still show up same day and buy tickets. I had to wait 40 minutes in line at the TTC on a Thursday a few weeks ago because I lost my magic band. Every ticket window was open and it was supposedly a 'slow day'. I don't see a market for this ticket offer. You either buy online 60/30 days out or you are not in the know and you buy at the ticket counter.

May 8, 2018 at 8:09 AM ·

Florida local reporting in. I apologize in advance for this anecdotal info but I'm genuinely surprised. People I've talked with actually seem to like being able to snag a ticket with a few fast passes already set up. Most of these people are older and are trying to be spontaneous with young kids. Apparently throwing $500 bucks for 4 tickets is worth it to surprise the grandkids.

I'm not saying I like this deal and I agree almost any amount of planning gets you more value for your money. But this does package value, ease of use, and quality together. Disney is experimenting here... and I wonder what they are thinking.

May 8, 2018 at 8:35 AM ·

This is such an odd promotion, and perhaps a capitulation by Disney that the FP+ system is overwrought and complicated. Not a single one of these attractions have enough demand (even on the busiest days) to not have FP+ reservations available day-of, so it's not like Disney is giving guests something they could not get for themselves anyway (and who knows what times you'll end up with - wouldn't be surprised if they back load guests with late afternoon/evening times).

Honestly, I wouldn't want a ticket with pre-arranged FP+ reservations, because I'd rather take my chances on getting ones for at least one of the headliners (I've always been successful doing so, including getting 2 same-day reservations for FoP). By forcing 3 FP+ reservations on guests purchasing tickets through this offer, no only does it take some of the secondary and tertiary attractions off the market from guests expecting to use those later in the day, but it locks those spur-of-the-moment guests from getting additional FP+ reservations until they get through those first 3. I assume that Disney doesn't prevent those guests from modifying their reservations once they walk into the park, but it's not the same as guests making their own reservations and times.

Maybe Disney is getting closer to admitting what a disaster FP+ has become.

May 8, 2018 at 8:35 AM ·

Not a bad idea, but they need to include at least one big ride in each package. They should do this for multi day tickets too.

May 8, 2018 at 11:19 AM ·

But that isn't the Disney way, Anton. The planners get the best options. You know, the ones that book their vacations a year in advance, ADRs 6 months in advance, and FPs 60 (or now in some cases, 90) days in advance. The procrastinators get the leftovers.

May 8, 2018 at 11:50 AM ·

Having pre-booked Fastpasses as an option actually isn't a bad idea, especially if there is no additional cost. For those who don't understand the system, it guarantees they'll have reservations hassle-free, and for those who do truly book last minute it eliminates the stress of trying to put everything together quickly. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a test, with the option being available for all tickets at some point in the future. The only problem I have is if pre-booked Fastpasses become mandatory for anyone who purchases tickets separate from a Disney package (unless there was free choice of attractions and reservations simply had to be made at the time of purchase).

May 8, 2018 at 12:44 PM ·

@AJ - I have to disagree with you here. It seems like a good idea to give guests pre-booked FP+ reservations, but what good is this really doing? Disney is just giving these spur-of-the-moment guests leftovers, which some of these guests might not even use. What would be better is to encourage guests to view and make tentative FP+ reservations BEFORE purchasing their tickets. At least guests showing up at the last minute would know if they could at least get 1 ride on a headliner before committing over $100 on a ticket (right now you cannot even access the FP+ system without a valid admission). Instead, Disney is just handing out all the FP+ reservations that don't get taken until the day of to the guests that probably don't even care about these lesser attractions, and are probably planning on spending most of their time slogging through standby lines for the top attractions. By making this feature free, there's a good chance guests will sign up for it, get 3 reservations times that they don't like, and never use them. That's 3 FP+ reservations other guests, who do know how to use a maximize the system, will not have access to and forcing them into Standby lines.

Sorry, but this promo is lose/lose all the way around. If they're trying to sell last minute guests on FP+, they're giving these people the bottom of the barrel attractions and times that are out of their control. It in no way encourages those guests to learn and utilize the FP+ system as designed (since Disney is booking for them, meaning less of a chance that they'll modify or supplement their reservations once in the parks), and takes another chunk of FP+ reservations off the table. Guests that know how to maximize the FP+ system expect FP+ reservations for those lesser attractions to be available later in the day after they've used their first 3, but now Disney is going to hand those out to last minute guests that may or may not even use them.

If this is a test to transition all guests to pre-arranged sets of FP+ attractions, then we will seriously consider rethinking future trips to WDW. FP+ sucks and is annoying, but at least there's some level of freedom and control if you know what you're doing. If Disney is going to take that control away, then I might be done with WDW.

May 8, 2018 at 1:01 PM ·

Russell, I agree with you 100%. It is almost like there is some crazy executive that refuses to acknowledge their idea is a bad one and keeps on making the program worse instead of going the other direction.

May 8, 2018 at 1:08 PM ·

Russell, I think you may have missed a key point. I think this is a good idea only as long as it is OPTIONAL. If someone simply doesn't want to deal with the Fastpass system, they can pick a pre-set selection of Fastpasses that Disney offers them. However, if they don't like those offerings, they can still go and select attractions and times on their own instead. It's fine as a convenience, but if it ever became mandatory it would definitely wreck visiting.

And, as much as I hate to say it, Disney couldn't care less about guests who know how to take advantage of the system. The goal of Fastpass+ is to equalize the experience rather than improve it, and they would have no reservations about giving away 100% of the time slots in advance.

May 8, 2018 at 1:14 PM ·

Absolutely JC - I had hopes for FP+ after we first used it back in 2014. It was a clunky system then that had obvious bugs that needed fixing, but it showed promise. However, every single year, Disney finds a way to make it worse. From the tiering to the on-site head start to the FP/standby load ratios to the club level upcharge to now this. It's almost like Disney is trying to take any level of convenience FP+ offers and strip it away. Frequent visitors and obsessive planners will find ways to negotiate these changes, but in the end, Disney continues to throw money at a system that simply doesn't work as advertised. It doesn't balance crowds in the parks. It doesn't make guests' visits any more enjoyable. It doesn't make a visit to WDW any more seamless. It doesn't reduce overall wait times for most guests. FP+ is an unmitigated disaster, and the thought that somehow throwing scraps to spur-of-the-moment visitors is going to make everything better is pure folly. The more they fiddle with FP+ the worse it gets.

May 8, 2018 at 1:53 PM ·

@AJ - I understood what you meant, and it's pretty clear this program is optional. However, when presented an option that is FREE, guests will take it whether they want/need it or not. My point is, why give these guests scraps when instead they can try to encourage them to use the system. I agree that Disney doesn't care whether guests take full advantage of the system or not, but I think it's pretty clear they still want them to use it. Why not let prospective last second guests take a peek at the FP+ reservations available over the next week and tentatively book them (and the day of their park visit) just prior to buying tickets? There probably won't be a lot of great attractions available within a 7-day window, but at least let guests make a decision before they plunk down the money on a ticket. I think in essence that's what they're trying to do here with this plan, but in reality they're giving these guests a slate of FP+ reservations that are ALWAYS available (even on Christmas Day) without the flexibility of choosing their times (what are guests that have to leave at 7 PM to fly home supposed to do with a POTC FP+ at 8 PM?). What's the harm in letting guests view the system just prior to making their ticket purchase? If they're just window shopping, make their tentative reservations disappear if they don't purchase tickets within an hour (just like buying concert/sporting/theater tickets through an online system). Instead, they're feeding 3 FP+ reservations to guests where they might use 1 or 2, leaving remaining reservations unused.

The whole point of the system was to balance crowds, but now you're going to increase no-shows, and decreasing secondary/tertiary FP+ attraction availability, further decreasing the reliability of the FP+ system to perform its primary function.

If I'm a last minute visitor, and can see and reserve a FP+ reservation for a headliner that happens to be available, I'm more likely to visit, not the promise of 3 FP+ reservations for bottom of the barrel attractions. By letting casual guests view what's available at any given time within the system, FP+ can help drive visits to WDW, not away from WDW.

May 9, 2018 at 5:35 AM ·

I agree that the current fastpass system has not been what Disney envisioned when they started it. The idea was to have people spend less time in line and more time at other parts of the park where they, in theory, would spend more money. However, from my experience, this is definitely not the case. It seems that people are either walking from one fast pass to another (since they are usually at opposite ends of the park), walking around and looking on their phones for the next fastpass they can get once they use up their starting 3, or waiting in even longer stand-by lines since they have no fastpass for the ride. I also think it has made me stand in line even more than before. Other than the 3, 4, or 5 rides I can manage a fastpass for, the rest of my time is spent on super long stand-by lines that move slower and take longer than ever before. The ratio of fastpass to stand-by is so high that you stand there forever, hardly moving, and it makes the line seem even longer than it is. My last trip (last summer) I did not go on as many rides as I had on previous trips because the rides I didn't get a fastpass for just had lines that were way too long. Plus, I could not get the afternoon/evening fastpasses as easily as I could the summer before. I think if they have these options where people can get fastpasses for the lesser rides that don't need it, it makes the possibility of getting a later in the day fastpass less likely, makes the stand-by line even longer, and makes a trip to Disney even less efficient since you get on even fewer rides than before. Its even worse at Epcot or Hollywood Studios since there are fewer rides and the good ones will never have fastpasses available the day of. I think something needs to change.

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