Is Disneyland Paris showing us the future of Fastpass?

October 15, 2018, 3:12 PM · How much would you be willing to pay to skip the biggest lines at a Disney theme park?

Disney long has offered a free, first-come, first-served Fastpass ride reservation service at its six theme park resorts around the world. But in recent years, Disney has begun to test various schemes to allow its guests to pay to skip its standby queues, too.

Even before the start of Fastpass, fans with plenty of money to spend have been able to book VIP tours that would take them through no-wait "back doors" to top attractions. But with that perk costing hundreds of dollars per hour, VIP Tours haven't been a viable option for most Disney visitors. Instead, hard-ticket special events such as Disney After Hours or hotel-stay benefits such as Extra Magic Hours have provided a way to get on popular rides with little or no wait.

Last year, Shanghai Disneyland fought scalping of Fastpasses in that park by introducing a "Disney Premier Access" program that effectively functioned as a paid Fastpass system. Earlier this year, Disneyland Paris introduced a paid "Disney Access One" program gave people one-time Fastpass-style access to select attractions. Now Disneyland Paris is rolling out a tiered pay-for-play line-skipping system that actually uses the "Fastpass" name.

Disneyland Paris' "Super Fastpass" offers one-time, no-wait access to three designated family or three thrill-ride attractions for US$34-53 dollars, based on the date of visit, while the new "Ultimate Fastpass" gives visitors no-wait access to nine attractions at Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park. That pass costs US$68-104 for one-time access on each ride, or US$138-174 for unlimited access.

The three family rides are Ratatouille, Peter Pan, and Buzz Lightyear. The thrill rides are Hyperspace Mountain, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The final three rides included on Ultimate Fastpass are Thunder Mountain, Star Tours, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril. The paid Fastpasses are not available every day, with the lower prices charged on designated "low season" days and the more expensive price on "high season" days. You can check the dates on Disneyland Paris' website.

Disney theme park admission is required in addition to the paid Fastpass tickets. Guests staying on site at a Disneyland Paris hotel can get the unlimited Ultimate Fastpass for the price of the one-time access version. Disneyland Paris annual passholders also can get a discount on the tickets.

So is this the future of Fastpass in Disney's United States theme parks, too? Every one of Disney's major competitors offers paid front-of-line or ride reservation systems, from Universal Express to Six Flags' FlashPass and Cedar Fair's Fast Lane. Disney has used expanded access to the Fastpass system to drive reservations at its hotels in Florida and California, and Disneyland has successfully launched a paid Maxpass program that allows its visitors to manage Fastpass reservations via Disney's official park app, a feature that is complementary at Walt Disney World in Florida. Is a paid Fastpass the next step?

Disney long has insisted that free Fastpasses at its theme parks will not go away. And Disneyland Paris continues to offer its traditional, free Fastpass system in addition to the new, paid Super Fastpass and Ultimate Fastpass. But that just goes to show that a paid system can serve as an upsell to Disney's free Fastpasses instead of becoming a replacement for them.


Replies (32)

October 15, 2018 at 3:29 PM

Paid Fastpasses are one thing, but I think the real money for Walt Disney World will come from paid ADRs. People have been low-key and outright scalping dining reservations for years. I am surprised that Disney hasn't claimed a way to grab some of that money for itself. I guarantee that the resort could move bookings by giving hotel guests an expanded ADR window they way it offers them early access to Fastpass+.

October 15, 2018 at 3:40 PM

For my home park. No. If I'm going to be at an international destination park for maybe only once in my life and there are a few "Must do" attractions, then I think it's a smart investment.

October 15, 2018 at 3:43 PM

For my home park, No. If I'm going to be at an international destination for maybe only once in my life, then yes. At that point, I see it as a wise investment.

October 15, 2018 at 4:08 PM

This is very ominous. It won`t be long until only the rich can afford a high quality guest experience at Disney parks.

October 15, 2018 at 4:09 PM

I marked no, but really agree with Rob McCullough unfortunately. I wish I could so No period, but the truth is if others are willing to pay for an unfair advantage then you have to pay in order to make sure you're on the same playing field.

October 15, 2018 at 4:39 PM

I think that as soon as theme parks start to think about how they can charge people to skip queues they run the risk of alienating people who don't want to pay extra. As it is I think they give out too many Fast Passes, to the detriment of people in the 'Standby' queues. I suspect that with Star Wars land nearing opening we will see more and more trial attempts to find the best way to upsell and pull additional money from visitors.

October 15, 2018 at 4:41 PM

"This is very ominous. It won`t be long until only the rich can afford a high quality guest experience at Disney parks."

Isn't this already the situation?

October 15, 2018 at 5:21 PM

I agree with Rob.

For a park I may never visit again, on vacation, I'd splurge. For me home parks....I'd pass.

While, if one could afford it, this could be a great thing......I could also see it creating a great divide in the overall guest experiences for the general public.

October 15, 2018 at 5:29 PM

Paid fastpass at Disney cannot get here fast enough. This is one of the main reasons I avoid Disney over Universal. It is simply so much easier and stress free when you have Express pass at Universal. I find booking your rides months in advance ridiculous and if they had a proper paid fastpass system like Universal I would actually visit their parks! Hopefully Orlando rolls this out soon but I highly doubt they will!

October 15, 2018 at 5:39 PM

Universal works because crowds are smaller and there are no free passes. Cannot have paid and free, standby lines would be even more insane. The only option for Disney is to bring back the old system, unfortunately there is no profit in that.

October 15, 2018 at 7:02 PM

Even though I don't like the idea of paid fastpass systems I would actually prefer WDW got rid of the current system and went to paid only (or resort guest only). Having a system that everyone gets to use and giving out tons and tons of them creates a situation they can't control and makes the Fastpass line huge, significantly slows the standby lines, and there's nothing they can really do about it other than build more tracks to make the ride higher capacity which obviously they can't do with every ride.

Also god forbid a major fastpass ride breaks down, it pretty much destroys your chances of even getting on it even later in the day as the thousands of fastpasses that were booked beforehand all need to get on it as well.

October 15, 2018 at 9:30 PM

OH PLEASE...

Disney is years behind Universal’s Express Pass.

October 15, 2018 at 10:10 PM

I can say one thing that is idiotic- letting anybody access a ride reservation on their cell phone. They can take up a spot and not even be in the park, and it creates people wandering around on their phones more than necessary when the park is crowded enough as it is. The system is certainly a million times better at Universal, but they have less people and less hotels. I have said it over and over, the older paper system is better. If Disney charges for it, you better get ready to pay. I would predict a rediculous, ricdiculous amount. I just got through booking our latest trip, and I am amazed at the increases. I really miss the early 2000's when it seemed like everything they did in the park was geared toward maximum customer satisfaction.

October 15, 2018 at 10:27 PM

I somewhat agree with the comment above mine. I do think they should keep the Fastpass system as is most attractions, with the exception of E and possibly D ticket attractions. Make those ones cost extra or come with deluxe resorts. And don’t raise ticket prices to make up for the Fastpass downgrade for most people. Disney needs to stop charging more for less.

October 15, 2018 at 11:22 PM

Anyone who has an issue with FastPass+ isn't good enough at it, plain and simple. You can easily get double digit FPs on the most crowded days at WDW if you have a little patience to play around with the app for 5-10 minutes with continuous refreshing. It's only a bit more difficult than something like Express, and I don't have to shell out essentially a second park ticket to get it. The day Disney rolls out paid FP as a replacement for the current system is the day I stop going.

October 16, 2018 at 12:45 AM

Personally, I would not support the addition of major pay-to-play Fastpasses in addition to the free system as I think it would just cause tons of problems on both sides. However, I would support elimination of the free system for an upcharge-only Fastpass, as I think that would actually benefit everyone. Not only would there be fewer people using the paid system (improving availability for those that choose to use it), the decreased usage would also help standby lines move faster for non-paying guests, resulting in less guest complaints. While this would probably result in slightly more people standing in line and thus being unavailable to shop or dine, Disney would probably make up the difference in Fastpass sales and higher guest satisfaction scores may result in increased visitation.

Ultimately, what I'd like to see Disney do is adopt something similar to the Six Flags Flashpass model, though using smartphones rather than Q-Bots. Essentially, guests would select an attraction and be issued a return time based on the attraction's actual wait, then when their return time arrives they can enter through the Fastpass line. Return times wouldn't expire, but guests would be unable to book their next ride until they've used their previous one (or cancelled it). A base fee (probably around $20 per person) would be required in order to use the system (unless it was included as a perk with some sort of package), then higher tiers would reduce the amount of time guests would have to wait to board, with an instant-access option available for about $100 per guest.

October 16, 2018 at 12:49 AM

The fast pass + system is good, but does require planning to get the most popular rides. Max pass (DL) is a good option ($10/person which can add up) that doesn’t require preplanning to get the good rides. Can’t book max passes until you’ve entered the park. Once in the park, works just like fast pass + for booking & with max pass, you can keep getting passes every 90 mins.
For park pricing, we wanted to do Universal FL, but for 6 front of the line passes, it would have cost $2300 (over $3000 for us Canadians!) for ONE day! A 3 day park hopper with fast pass + was about the same price for 6 people. Which one had a better value? Cram 2 Universal parks into one day or spread 4 parks over 3 days...
Oh & about the fast passes for rides that break down, if you have a FP & the ride breaks down during your FP time, it turns into a ‘multiple experience’ FP that can be used on any other FP ride in that park. So hopefully not everyone will use them later on that one ride that broke down.

October 16, 2018 at 5:33 AM

As a long time Disney fan, and stock owner, I’m quite upset about their continual efforts to make visiting Disney a club for wealthy individuals to bypass the lines ordinary folks must endure. Nickel and diming for every imaginable item that can be monetized is greed beyond compare, and regular people are being priced out of a Disney experience because of this never ending spiral. I’ve visited the World since 1974 and am dismayed at the elitism that seems to be planned for the future.

October 16, 2018 at 5:47 AM

On principle, I'm really against this move. I still pine for the paper fastpass system in WDW.... But,I'm also a hypocrite.

We're visiting DLP in February for the first time, with my three kids (all under 5) and to be honest I'm dreading how they'll tolerate the waiting at what will be a peak time of the year. And so I found myself clicking on the link and working how much my sanity (and those around us) is worth.

Niles, I'm staying onsite and I can't see a link/mention to the discounted rate. Is that yet to go live?

October 16, 2018 at 6:35 AM

AJ, I have seen worse results with Flash Pass, but that could simply be poor management at Six Flags. I find all of this very interesting, and I am sure an industrial engineer has studied this somewhere. All of these parks are apples and oranges. For me the best system is UO, but they have fewer hotels and people. The old paper system at WDW worked great for me. I just bought the Unofficial WDW guide and the reviews of the FP+ system are brutal. I would predict the only people that truly like it are folks that were not overly familiar with the old system and love cell phones, but I could be wrong. Comparing DL to MK, I can experience 7-9 more attractions a day at DL with the system they use. I wonder how many actual comparisons with the same crowd volumes from each of those parks have been done? Some people are content experiencing 5-7 attractions a day. My family is not.

October 16, 2018 at 7:05 AM

If I had a season pass, then I would not consider the pay-for Fastpass, but if I continue with my 4-day pass every couple of years then I might consider it, depending on the price.
But ... I agree with @evanweston .... there is nothing wrong with Fastpass+, as long as you are prepared to put the time and effort in to check the app through the day when you are at the park. I know we've had this discussion before, and a lot of people just can't be bothered with the hassle, but it does work, and it works really well.

October 16, 2018 at 11:14 AM

I don't think Disney can have it both ways at WDW. If they want to profit from FP+ at WDW, they have to give up the notion of guests getting any FP+ reservations for free. I'm not sure what level of success they've had at getting high brow guests staying on Concierge Levels of Deluxe Resorts to pay for an extra 3 FP+ reservations, but my guess is that not many are falling for that ploy. Perhaps they could still give guests the 3 pre-reserved FP+ reservations, but any additional FP+ reservations (or any reservations made the day of) would come at a price. This would pattern more with how MaxPass works, and create a system that doesn't leave the uninformed in the dust. Those that like and can maximize FP+ would pay for that advantage, while those that are clueless or less adept at using the system are not significantly inconvenienced.

I do think if Disney were to start charging for minimal FP+ access, they would have a major public relations nightmare. The problem is that there's no better solution to get guests faster or more efficient access to the best attractions, and their most loyal guests are committed to the current system. Any major changes, especially any attempt to monetize the minimal advantages of the system, would be met with a lot of resistance.

October 16, 2018 at 11:29 AM

They are ruining Disney parks. I have lost interest in going.

October 16, 2018 at 12:28 PM

So depressing. Disney is already become cost-prohibitive for many families, which builds resentment, but giving rich people the right to avoid lines, and thereby INCREASING WAIT TIMES for the rest of us is downright galling. I understand Disney is a business and is trying to maximize profit, but then Disney is meant to be this egalitarian place where all children can visit and enjoy themselves equally. Creating a caste system whereby the rich avoid any inconvenience and the less-rich are inconvenienced MORE runs contrary to the Disney ethos and, honestly, makes me hate Disney. Why am I going to bring my children to a place where they're made to feel like second-class citizens because their father isn't rich? Absolute nonsense.

Maxpass allows people who can afford $10 day the convenience of not having to walk over to the fastpass machine, but that doesn't adversely effect the people who can't. But if Disney creates a world where I effectively have to pay DOUBLE to enjoy the same rights I have now, it will make a new stage in my 45-year relationship with Disney, one where I will be FAR less likely to travel there, especially on the regular schedule I do now. Offensive.

October 16, 2018 at 12:56 PM

We just returned from DL and used the Max pass it’s a great system for $10 each. Unfortunately, the FastPass system completely went down midday, and we we were stuck with paid maxpass to access free FastPass and neither worked. Wait for haunted mansion ballooned to 222 minutes. Before Disney institutes a further pay to play system, they should figure a refund if broken system. We have heard nothing from Disney, they know who and where we are, but the $10 is not worth pursuing. I’m sure they know that, and count on it.

October 16, 2018 at 1:20 PM

As they increase the number of paid upgrades they vastly reduce the value of a regular admission ticket. If this comes to pass in the Stateside parks it won't be long before I lose interest in attending except on very special occasions. Unless they pull hard in the opposite direction..reduce the admission fee to about $30, then upcharge for every attraction selling "ticket books".

October 16, 2018 at 2:22 PM

I've seen the writing on the wall for this coming stateside for years. Disney was just forced to raise wages across the board let there be no doubt food isn't the only price increase we're going to be seeing very soon. If it was up to me I would restructure fast pass like this. Guests of Delux resorts get 5 choices, Moderate 4, and the rest 3 selections per day. Those who stay off-site are limited to standby or can purchase the tiered FP option. With Star Wars coming and the immense crowds with it, people will be begging to spend another 175 a day to not wait in those lines. My only wish would be for them to let outside guests add dining to their stay. A moment of silence for the wallets of Disney fans everywhere.

October 16, 2018 at 3:00 PM

JC, I've used the Q-Bot system at five different Six Flags parks (plus Dollywood when they had them) and I've consistently found it to be the best skip-the-line system currently in use. Perhaps you got unlucky when you used it or the park you used it at didn't do a good job with running the system, but when it works properly it seems to work really well.

There really isn't a good option for Fastpass overhaul at Disney. Either they keep the current system and allow the guest experience to continue to decline, or they make major changes that might turn off longtime visitors or those who feel priced out of the new model. Something is going to give at some point...the only question is what.

October 16, 2018 at 3:11 PM

We've seen it in the cruise industry, and are seeing it in the theme park industry. Every possible chance to upcharge for an upgrade meant to improve your experience is being offered, for a price. I've always despised FastPass, every iteration, and wish we could enjoy the parks they way we used to, without bouncing from one corner to another according to the random vagaries of FastPass times. But who wants to wait 170 minutes just to ride Space Mountain again? (If you've never ridden, I understand your motivation) To pay for the privilege is probably inevitable, but no more palatable than the concept of "Preferred Parking". I know for every veteran fan who gives up on the idea of enjoying these things anymore, there's another one coming of age that doesn't know any different. But at least for me, these things just aren't as much fun as they used to be.

October 16, 2018 at 6:55 PM

AJ, you may be right. I have only used it at one SF parks, so I will admit that is not a statistically representative sample, and they could have improved it since then. I think Disney could bite the bullet and go back to the old system but improve it somewhat.

October 16, 2018 at 8:33 PM

Disney knows exactly what they are doing....if you pay it,they will always find a way to charge you more. You are your worst enemy.

October 17, 2018 at 8:50 AM

This news makes me sad. One should not forget that providing fastpasses for extra pay means to take those fastpasses out of the big (free) pot. It means providing worse service quality for guests not willing to pay extra without charging them less for the worse service. I always liked about the Disney parcs that there was some feeling of equality in their pricing system, this feeling is slowly fading away.

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