Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My Experience With FastPass+ at Walt Disney World



A couple of weeks ago, I was able to take advantage of using FastPass+ for the first time ever.  What? You say.  How can this be the first time I've ever used it?

Well, as an Annual Passholder, I did not have the ability for a long time to use the system.  Lately, I've been staying offsite, and FastPass+ was only available for onsite guests.  Also, even up until my January trip, Legacy FASTPASS was still being offered to some guests.  So, because it was still available, I took advantage of the Legacy FASTPASS system. Between then and my last trip, Walt Disney World converted all of their parks over to the new FastPass+ process.  Therefore, my most recent trip was indeed, my first chance to try out this new system.

First let's get to my initial thoughts and then I'll explain how the process worked for me, as well as a little mini-trip report with it. 

Initially, I thought the system worked relatively well.  I had the ability to get FastPass+ options that I wanted...(for the most part...I mean one night I made them starting at like 7:00 pm...so pickings are going to be slimmer at that time of night...most of the headliners were not available though...nor would I really expect them to be.)

I did like that my AP worked to get me into attractions, but for the first time ever, I wanted a MagicBand, because I would have found it a bit easier than keeping my Annual Pass out and then making sure to remember to put it away back in it's safe place.  Just swiping my wrist past the Mickey icon would have been nice.

I liked that I didn't have to run around so much.  With Legacy FASTPASS, you had to run around from here to there to not only obtain the FASTPASS, but to also then use it.  Here, you find the FastPass+ kiosk one time, make your selections, and then can tour just as you normally would.  No more running around.

With that being said, I did find myself looking at the clock a lot more than I used to.  I honestly don't know why, but I was constantly looking to make sure of when my FastPass+ reservations were and what time it was currently.  I never used to do that with the old system.  Maybe it's because I seemed to have less FastPasses I was trying to juggle at one time.  So, I did feel more tied to a schedule than I ever have.  Especially on the day I went to Disney's Hollywood Studios, but more on that in a minute.  

As someone who's been to the parks a lot, it is sad to see some of my favorite with lines that seem to be super long that didn't use to have them.  (I'm looking at you Pirates.)  However, I think what I'm realizing is that I'm going to have to change my preconceived notions of what the length of a line should be.  What looks like it would be a much longer than 25 minute wait pre-FastPass+, may actually be on point with FastPass+ now in play.  It's going to take a while for me to get used to these new line configurations.

Remember to take a photo of your return times for your FastPass+ selections.  This not only covers you in case something happens, but it's also a good reference to look at, instead of having to back and forth in the app.

Ok...so let's get into the nuts and bolts of making my FastPass+ choices, as well as the mini trip report.

As I previously mentioned, the first day, my friend and I didn't get to the park until about 7:30 pm.  It was a Saturday night and the park was open til 1 am, so lots of park time still to go.

What the kiosk looks like and our fun Cast Member!
Our first stop was the FastPass+ kiosk area that's found in the pathway found from Adventureland that will take you directly to Liberty Square.  We were waved over by a very friendly Cast Member who made the selection process very easy.


First, he asked what attractions we were looking for.  We didn't really have a preference, so he started naming things like meeting the princesses and such.  Well, my friend didn't want to do that, so I said, can we just see the list of what's available and we can kind of go from there.  At that time of night, there were probably 10-15 or so attractions that we could book still with some availability. 

Our selections
I let her decide what we did, so we ended up picking FastPass+ reservations for Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid.  (All three are attractions that I normally would never have picked, but I was being accommodating, plus, it was nice to have the FastPasses for something...oh god...I've already fallen into the trap of just making FastPass+ choices cause they are there. ;) )

The Cast Member worked to start our first reservation within about 15 minutes of when we had finished at the kiosk and then made it so that all the rest of the reservations were all within an hour of each other...back to back to back.  It was nice to be able to roll in and get three FastPass+ options, easily, even that late at night.  That's something that would have never happened before.

That night, we actually managed to get quite a few attractions done.  We had a brief window to kill before our first FastPass+ ressie was ready to be used, so we headed over to Jungle Cruise (it is Junglier at night), then our FastPass for Pirates came up.  This is one of those times where the stand by line looked a LOT longer than what was posted (which I think said 25 minutes).  But with FastPass+, we pretty much breezed right in.

We then did Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, got caught and had to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade (not that there's anything wrong with that), used our FastPass+ for Haunted Mansion (which was an unnecessary one because the line was nothing at the time, but whatever), hit up it's a small world, and then caught the tail end of the fireworks from behind the castle. (A cool view if you've seen Wishes before.) 

We used our final FastPass+ for Little Mermaid (also, probably didn't need it, but that's ok) and then my friend was tired and cold, so we decided to leave. (It was freezing that night out...I was glad I brought my hoodie and gloves!) On the way out, we caught the last Celebrate the Magic Castle Projection Show and then looked for a snack to take back and eat at The Confectionery.  As you can see, we actually did quite a bit in just about 4-4.5 hours.


The next day, I hit up Disney's Hollywood Studios by myself.  Now at this time, they did not have new maps here indicating where Fastpass+ kiosks were.  I knew I didn't want to go to the one at the front of the park, as I figured it would be swarmed, so I decided to head inside the park to find another option.  After buying something for a friend, I found a sandwich board sign indicating FastPass+ kiosk was right by me at the Sorcerer's Hat.  I walked up and found Cast Members with iPads who were able to help me make my selections.

It was early afternoon and I knew that Disney's Hollywood Studios was a park that is tiered (for more information about what that means, check out my FastPass+ Guide.)  Knowing full well which attractions were tired in the first category, I knew that I wanted to either choose Rock n' Roller Coaster, or my first selection, which was Toy Story Mania.  He asked if there was anything I was interested in and I immediately said Toy Story.  There was an availability for much later that night (like 5 or 6 pm) but I was hoping for something a bit earlier, so he checked and out popped a reservation for about 45 minutes away. He said that I was actually very lucky!

The iPad way of making FastPass+ reservations
After that, I really didn't care what the other attractions were that I got FastPasses for.  I don't ride Tower of Terror, cause it makes me sick, but do ride Star Tours, so I had him find that.  Then, I knew that Great Movie Ride was pretty busy that day, so I decided to go for a Great Movie Ride FastPass option. (Since it's a waste to use it on any of the shows and that's pretty much the only ride that was left.)  Again, we rearranged the times so they were all within a good window frame and then I took off.

I had some time to kill, so I decided to do something I hadn't done in a while.  I took in One Man's Dream, which is just a fabulous exhibit and movie.  After that, I decided to stop by The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow show.  Here they are offering paper FastPasses with a return time for guests to come back and experience the attraction. I got one for 3:30 pm.  Then I made my way to take advantage of my Toy Story Mania FastPass+.  I've never gotten a Legacy FASTPASS for that, so it was really cool to finally experience the FastPass queue for the ride!

This is when I when I really started looking at the clock.  I had time to kill between so I kinda walked around.  I even made an on the fly Advanced Dining Reservation via the My Disney Experience app for 50s Prime Time Cafe.  Finally, it was time to use my paper FastPass for the Jack Sparrow show.  (It's not that great...but I went just to see what it was like...my advice, only go if you REALLY want to.)

I was then in my window for the Great Movie Ride FastPass+.  A good option, because the line looked really long.  (Again, another one of those where I'm not sure if I'm just not used to where the new line forms, or if the line is actually longer than I have known in the past.)  Once I got done with that, it was time for my reservation at 50s.  After dinner, I went to use my Star Tours FastPass.  Again...so easy to use and a good choice as there was a pretty decent line.

As you can see...I had all my reservations set up back to back to back and here, it really caused me to constantly be looking at the clock to know what I could get done and how long I had til my next experience. 

On this trip, I tried a couple of times to head in to see MuppetVision 3D, but the line was crazy long and it just didn't work with my tight schedule.  (And I am not used to a long line for Muppets...I am used to walking right into the pre-show...so I don't know if this new line is thanks to FastPass+ or a change in how they let people into the line here.)

I had to leave the park early that night for a Be Our Guest Podcast live show, but still felt pretty happy with my day.

The next day, I went to Epcot and you know what...I didn't make a single FastPass+ attraction choice.  I managed to get everything I wanted to do done without the use of FastPass, and then some.  (And arriving at rope drop and utilizing Test Track's single rider line.)

Overall though, I did enjoy using FastPass+.  I thought it went relatively smoothly because I was pretty prepared and I didn't come in with super high expectations about which attractions I chose.  I think being prepared and knowing as much as you can about the new system was certainly a huge help.  I used my own list of which attractions to get FastPass+ for, and then modified it for the circumstances I was in.

It was a good first trial and if it continues down this path, I actually have little problems with FastPass+.  That's something I never thought I'd say.  Are there changes I'd like to see made...of course...but the way it is right now, I think it works pretty well.  (Like I would still like to see them give people 4 FastPass+ options for Magic Kingdom because there are just SO many attractions in that park.)

Have you used FastPass+ yet?  What are your thoughts?  Let me know on the Facebook page.  Haven't used it yet, feel free to ask me questions about it in the comments section and I'll try to answer as best I can.

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1 comment:

katt87 said...

Hi. We were at WD this past January for the first time ever for a family vacation and we used the fast passes. I have to agree on watching the clock bit, I was constantly checking my watch for the time but I wouldn't know of any other way that fast passes even worked since first time and all. We were a little early on a couple of them and by gosh they won't let you in! We had a problem with people just standing there and then we realized that they weren't in the fp line at all, they were just there. All in all, we learned which rides we really didn't need fp for and ones we should've.