Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Joys and Pains of Disney's Fastpass

Everyone knows that there are certain topics that gets nearly everyone heated. Pool hopping and mug reusage are two of the major firecracker issues. But I've recently found another one. Fastpasses.

Now, I'm not gonna lie...I love Fastpass. To me, it is one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread. And although I would guess I'm not using it 100% the way Disney would want (I usually fit in a ride or two in between my Fastpass time...instead of spending money, which was Disney's original goal) I still think of this perk as an amazing invention and one that I utilize to the fullest when I'm down at Disney.

Fastpass, for those not in the know, is where you insert your park ticket into a kiosk. The kiosk then spits out a ride time...this time is the the time that you're supposed to come back and ride the attraction...essentially, this machine is holding your place in line. What do you do while waiting? Well, you can do what I usually do and ride attractions, or you can shop, eat, people watch, pretty much whatever you can think of to do to kill time.

Then, when your ride time comes around, you go back to the Fastpass entrance and get in a separate line and you'll have little to no wait. Sounds relatively easy, you'd assume...and for the most part it is.

However, there are some who have problems with the way Fastpass is handled.

One of the major concerns, and I'll have to admit, this is one of mine as well, is that if you are standing in the standby line, it seems as if sometimes the number of people let in through the Fastpass line is highly disproportionate to the number of people who enter through the standby line, causing the standby line's wait to soar astronomically. This happened to me at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We should have been on the attraction in 45 minutes, however, it took us at least an hour...probably closer to an hour and 15 minutes. In this instance, even though there were no people standing in the Fastpass line, the CM still wasn't letting anyone in the standby line through because she saw people coming up through the Fastpass line.

The ratio Cast Members are supposed to allow in is supposed to be 80/20...80% Fastpass to 20% standby, which wouldn't be so bad...if they actually followed this example. Personally, I think I'd prefer 70/30 though or at least 75/25. And if no one is standing in front of them in the Fastpass line, then the standby line is supposed to filter in until Fastpass has a line yet again.

Another problem people have with Fastpass is that some of the attractions simply don't need Fastpass, yet they have it anyway. Many people claim that shows don't really need Fastpass (something I'd agree with...I hate wasting my Fastpasses on a show) or rides that are continuous movers like Buzz Lightyear.

There are two attractions though, that I'd like to see how much Fastpass really does effect the standby wait times for--Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan. For some reason, I think the Standby line would move a lot quicker if Fastpass wasn't included on these attractions. Not to mention, these two attractions are some of the only ones where if you get in the Fastpass line, you do end up having a "longer" wait, despite the Fastpass. If everyone entered as one, I think things might move more smoothly, but I'm not 100% sure on this one, as I don't really remember what wait times were like for Peter Pan before Fastpass was installed.

The last major issue people have with Fastpass is the big "secret." The thing it seems very few people know about, but yet this secret is as evil to some as pool hopping and reusing resort mugs. So what topic gets people riled the most?

It's the fact that you can use a Fastpass that has expired, meaning, Disney will accept late Fastpasses. So, if you had a Fastpass for 4:00-5:00 pm and you show up at 7:00 that night to ride, they will let you on with no problems. Many people blame this as the major problem with Fastpass, claiming it causes major backups, especially near the end of the night. I however, have a different way of viewing things.

The way that I view it is that it's a complete wash, but not in the way you might expect. The wash is that there will be people who follow the rules of the time stamped on the ticket. I think I can safely say the majority of people who missed their window will not come back to the ride once they missed their window...therefore, they will then either get in the standby line or they will just not ride that attraction. The people who come back with expired Fastpassess are really only taking the place of the people who didn't show up for the Fastpass line in the first place--those who missed their Fastpass times to begin with.

Now, in my opinion, I would imagine that the number of people who missed their Fastpass times and didn't come back would far outweigh the number of people who missed it and do actually come back to ride at a later time that day. Otherwise I don't think Disney would continue accepting late Fastpasses. Actually, I would believe that because people are completely missing the Fastpass time and not coming back, that helps to make the standby line move quicker too. However, the majority of people are going to see the time stamp and adhere to it.

Edit:  9/21/11- It has come to my attention that currently, Disney is sticking to the scheduled Fastpass times for some attractions.  This is not something that is being done at every attraction and you could visit the attraction once during one part of the day and be denied your late Fastpass, but then potentially you could try to use it again later and be allowed.  Please keep in mind that this may only be a test, but that because they are trying this out currently, this Fastpass "secret" I've discussed could be yanked at any time, meaning that Disney may soon only allow Fastpasses to be used for the scheduled time for all attractions at all time.  Keep in touch with the blog for further details on this matter. 

So with all that being said...what do you honestly think about Fastpass?


Beth said...

I love them and I think you are right: not many people realize that once the time has expired, you can still use them. I once used a 12:00-1:00 Tower of Terror Fastpass ad 8:00! We were at WDW last month and one of the days we were at MK, I know my husband had Fastpasses for 5 different rides all in his wallet at once. It was like Fastpass poker! We know how to play the game though and many people don't. It certainly helped us. We were able to "finish" MK much earlier that day than planned.

Anonymous said...

I really like FP as well, it lets you take in other rides while waiting for that particular ride. I do hope Disney CM's stick with the time frames so this system will work as it should as well as filtering the FP line in with the general line.