On my recent trip I got to try out the X-Passes (FASTPASS + is another name being floated around) being tested in the Magic Kingdom. As we previously reported the TouringPlans.com team got wind of Disney testing a new version of Fastpasses in the Magic Kingdom in early May. We heard they were contacting guests who would be staying on property in during to see if they would be willing to participate in this test. We also heard they were surveying guests when they arrived at the Magical Express (DME) desk at the airport. First, one of our readers was selected which allowed us to bring you last week’s report. A few days later my friend, Kim, saw cast members in the DME area when she was checking in to take a a bus from the airport to our resort. Since she knew the testing was taking place and had heard people were being selected at the DME desk she inquired as to what they were up to. Sure enough they were distributing X-Passes! She was asked a series of questions about which Magic Kingdom attractions interested her party most. She was able select four attractions she was most interested in experiencing during her trip. She was able to select The Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, and Space Mountain. Note not all of these attractions are considered “E-Ticket.” Kim was only allowed to select two of the headliner attractions and two of the less popular rides. What I found most interesting is the Haunted Mansion doesn’t usually use the Fastpass system, but it is one of the attractions being tested.
They were extremely accomodating and gave her the passes for the day she planned to tour the Magic Kingdom. We did not have to rearrange our plans to fit into the test; instead we were able to make our own schedule. We planned to be in MK on Sunday so they were happy to give Kim passes for that afternoon. Our first time slot was at 3 p.m. for the Jungle Cruise with the others following at about every hour or so. I was especially impressed they gave Kim enough passes for her entire party even though she arrived at the Magical Express desk by herself. I couldn’t believe they gave her nine passes! They even labeled each pass with our names so we wouldn’t get them mixed up. You’ll see later why this is important.
On the morning we were able to use our X-Passes Kim received and email reminding her of the time slots we were assigned. We could also get this information by scanning one of our cards at Guest Relations on Main Street or visiting a kiosk set up in Fantasyland. If you are looking for the kiosk it is next to the Fastpass machines outside Mickey’s Philharmagic. The cast members in both of these locations couldn’t have been more friendly. If you have any questions about your return times I’m sure they would be happy to help.
Now that we’ve discussed all of those odds and ends let’s talk about how it all worked. We only had time to use it once, but it went very smoothly when we did. We entered the regular Fastpass queue at the Jungle Cruise where a cast member greeted us and instructed us on how to use our cards. Guests simply hold their cards in front of the RF scanner which has been installed in the queues of select attractions and wait for it to turn green allowing them admission into the ride. If you try to use your card outside of your return time the light will turn red and the cast member will assist you. The cast member manning the scanner has an iPad where all of your information will appear when you scan your card.
The gentleman working at the Jungle Cruise really freaked me out when he said “thank you, Kristen” when I scanned my card. I had no idea my name and such would appear on his iPad, but Kim was behind him so she could see that my name as well as the rest of my card’s information became available to him when I scanned my card. Now you understand why it was important for my friends and I to have cards with our names on them! It is clearly stated on the back of the card that they are nontransferable. I’m sure it would have worked if I gave my card to a female friend, but if I tried to give it to my brother he wouldn’t be admitted since a girl’s name appeared on the screen. If X-Passes go into wider circulation I’m sure they will be put onto a Key to the World card which would eliminate any mix up potential.
Once through the queue guests will need to keep their X-passes handy to scan them again before actually boarding their ride vehicles. At the point in the line where a cast member would normally collect a paper Fastpass, there is another RF scanner where you will need to verify your entry. I didn’t realize this and had put my card away, but the cast member didn’t seem too concerned since I was with Kim who had her’s ready.
I’m not sure how I feel about the X-passes yet. They were simple to use, and it was nice to not have to go to each of the attractions to collect Fastpasses to return later. However, if they become the only Fastpass option in the parks I could see it becoming problematic for the kind of touring I often do. In our case Kim wasn’t aware of the time we had a reservation for dinner so many of our return times overlapped with our dinner time and we were simply out of luck. As you can see, it will take a fair bit of planning to make these passes work for your group. If you are using a TouringPlan and you know exactly what you want to do and when you want to do it, they could be a great tool. But, if you are heading to the parks for a spontaneous day of fun, this could be a real pain if they are the only option available. I know some local friends are very concerned the X-Passes will only be available to resort guests which would leaving them in the lurch.
How about you? What do you think of these new Fastpasses? Or better yet have you had experience with them? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments!
A special thanks goes out to Kim Knight for doing the leg work on this one and allowing me to come along for the ride!