My First Walt Disney World Annual Passholder FastPass+ Experience

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Based on how much this blog has covered the ongoing FastPass+ rollout at Walt Disney World over the past year or two, you might assume every member of the Touring Plans team already has enough MagicBands to decorate their Christmas tree (I’m looking at you, Morgan Crutchfield). But since I haven’t stayed in a Walt Disney World on-site hotel since before the MyMagic+ program began, I’ve been excluded…until now. As we reported, Animal Kingdom went FastPass+-only late last year, followed by the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday, January 14, and the rest of the parks will remove their paper legacy FASTPASS machines shortly. Now that the FastPass+ service has been opened to all guests, this acknowledged sceptic took the plunge with my first Annual Passholder FastPass+ experience.

Animal Kingdom

To be precise, my first FastPass+ adventure was an incomplete attempt that was unfair to judge the service by. Earlier in January, I tried using the service on one of the first days it was offered to off-site guests by visiting the kiosks outside Disney Outfitters on Discovery Island.

There was no wait, and a friendly cast member assisted me in using the touchscreen computer to enter my information and select three attractions.

I was surprised to see that in the middle of the afternoon on the last weekend of the holiday peak season, there were still FastPass times available for all the top attractions, excluding Kilimanjaro Safaris (which closes early).

The problem came when the CM tried to attach my FastPass+ profile to my annual pass. Even though I had a pass of recent vintage, complete with the requisite RFID chip to activate the new “touch point” entry turnstiles, and had registered my annual pass with the My Disney Experience app ahead of time, there was still some unspecified error.

The employee gave me a temporary card (with Donald Duck on it) to use FastPass+ for that day, and advised me to exchange my annual pass for a new one at Guest Services before departing the park. The entire process took a little more than five minutes.

Unfortunately, that was the day of Festival of the Lion King’s final performance at Camp Minnie Mickey, and I ended up skipping all of my FastPasses in order to wait for the last show. So I can’t judge how well the system would (or wouldn’t) have worked.

On my way to the exit, I visited Guest Services where my annual pass (which was marked with Mickey Mouse) was swapped for a new one (with Goofy). Before leaving, I verified that my new annual pass was FastPass+ compatible, in preparation for my next attempt.

 

Magic Kingdom

That attempt came a couple weeks later on Wednesday, Jan. 15. The Magic Kingdom’s full-time conversion to FastPass+ had begun the day before, and our Crowd Calendar predicted a mild 3 out of 10.

Upon showing my annual pass at the Magic Kingdom tollbooth, I was handed this FastPass+ informational flyer.

This was my first return to the Magic Kingdom since visiting Disneyland, and I had almost forgotten how long it takes to get into the park. Total time from entering Disney property to passing under the Main Street U.S.A. train station (including ferry trip with a educational and noisy view of Polynesian DVC construction) was approximately 45 minutes.

As an Orlando-based annual Passholder, I’m unlikely to arrive at rope drop and stay until close. My typical touring pattern is to visit for a few hours on non-peak days, using legacy FastPass to pack in as many attractions as possible. My goal for this visit was to test how many attractions FastPass+ would help an annual passholder like me experience during a 4-hour mid-day period, without the on-site guest’s advantage of advance booking.

I love the new gateless entry system, but it seems to confuse many guests and require at least as much labor as the old turnstiles.

In addition to installing My Disney Experience on my iPhone and registering my annual pass, I prepared by creating a quick personalized touring plan with a dozen of my favorite Magic Kingdom attractions. Upon optimizing, the software told me what I already knew: Peter Pan, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad would be my top FastPass+ priorities.

I strolled up Main Street and swerved right into Tomorrowland, where Stitch’s Great Escape’s FASTPASS machines have been replaced by the park’s largest pod of permanent FastPass+ kiosks.

The line here was probably longer than any I’ve seen for the Stitch attraction itself, but it moved fairly swiftly thanks to numerous helpful CMs with additional portable tablets.

Total wait time: 3 minutes, 33 seconds.

 

This time, the kiosk recognized my pass right away, and immediately brought up my name. I was given the full list of attractions to chose from (but no dining, parade, or fireworks options).

I selected my aforementioned top picks.

The FastPass+ times the system initially suggested spread my schedule out longer than I liked, but option 3 was much better.

Look carefully through, because options 3 & 4 may change or remove some of your attraction choices.

Then I selected the Peter Pan, and was able to adjust it a further 45 minutes earlier.

I confirmed my choices, and entered my email address for a confirmation which arrived in my inbox a few minutes later.

The entire process went fairly smoothly, except for the computer’s touchscreen being frustratingly unresponsive (a problem across all the permanent kiosks).

An attentive CM also suggested taking a photograph of the kiosk screen, since Annual Passholders can’t use the My Disney Experience app’s FastPass+ function. As it turns out, that isn’t entirely true; your FastPass+ selections can’t be changed via the app, but you can view them through the “My Plans” tab.

 

Upon confirming my FastPass+ times, I opened the Lines app on my phone, where had selected the personalized touring plan I created earlier. I entered the three reservations (be sure to add all 3 before hitting “submit”) and waited for my plan to optimize around the FastPasses.

A minute later, my plan sent me to kill the few minutes before my first FastPass+ window by taking a cruise with the Pirates of the Caribbean.

The posted wait was 10 minutes; the actual wait was closer to 8.

I escaped the burning town just in time to take on Big Thunder with my first FastPass+. The posted wait was 30 minutes.

The FastPass+ sensors worked perfectly, sensing my annual pass without me even taking it out of my wallet. I later discovered I could activate it in my pocket by bumping my hip against the sensors, but that makes me wonder what kind of radiation Mickey might be sending through my nether regions…

My wait turned out to be just under 12 minutes, but most of that was due to a “brief operational delay.” Otherwise, it would have been about 5 minutes. On the down side, I did miss out on the standby queue’s explosive interactive effects.

After leaving Frontierland and cutting through Liberty Square…

The 8th wonder of Liberty Square: the backside of construction walls!

…to Fantasyland…

Peter Pan and Wendy are meet & greeting in their ride’s extended queue.

…I took another cruise, this one a little more cheerful.

A 9 minute wait at it’s a small world.

Once I finished banging my head against the concrete to get that song out of my head, I checked out the crowd around the Fantasyland FastPass+ service area in front of Mickey’s PhilharMagic.

This was by far the busiest FastPass+ service area I saw all day. There are only 2 permanent touch screens here, though there were a half-dozen cast members with handheld devices.

This FastPass+ spot gets quite congested, particularly because it’s in the path of the PhilharMagic exit. I’d suggest avoiding this location if possible.

I skipped the next step on my touring plan (I’m not a big fan of the Little a Mermaid ride anyway) in favor of lunch at Columbia Harbour House.

The lobster roll is one of my few exceptions to the rule that everything (at least in terms of counter service cuisine) is better at Disneyland. I like this sandwich more than its crustacean cousin at Anaheim’s Harbour Galley, and it’s over $3 cheaper to boot.

While perusing the park maps over lunch, I noticed that FastPass+ is so new that its participants aren’t yet correctly listed in the guide.

After eating, I checked out the Pete’s Silly Sideshow FastPass+ station, which turned out to be one of the least busy locations in the park.

If you have toddlers and are taking your time, consider taking the train here first thing to make your FastPass+ reservations.

While waiting for my Space Mountain reservation window, I took in a couple Tomorrowland shows that hardly ever have a wait.

I hadn’t seen Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor since Monsters University elements were added. The performers work hard, but I still still miss Timekeeper. (Heck, I miss If You Had Wings).

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress turns 50 years old in 2014! Sadly, some of the animatronics look it…

When it came time to use my Space Mountain FastPass+, I proceeded smoothly past a 20 minute standby line to my rocket ship.

A small army of cast members with touch pads are waiting in Space Mountain’s old FASTPASS area.

Finally it was time to use my Peter Pan FastPass+.

The standby line was posted at 45 minutes. My wait with FastPass+ was 7.

Thanks to Pan’s popularity and limited capacity, I rarely arrived in time to get a legacy FASTPASS for this early in the afternoon.

After returning from Never Land, I stumbled into the newest FastPass+ center in Liberty Square, formerly known as the Heritage House gift shop.

This location isn’t on any informational flyers yet, so it was almost deserted.

It may be a good choice if you are going to or from Frontierland.

I also inspected the FastPass+ station near the Diamond Horseshoe.

There are 4 kiosks in the passageway connection Frontierland and Adventureland.

This was already a congested walkway, and the FastPass line doesn’t help matters.

I ended my visit with the best animatronic animal band that never sold bad pizza:

Behold the Country Bear Jamboree!

On my way out of the park, I stopped by City Hall to enquire about annual Passholders’ ability to make advance reservations like on-site guests. I was assured that they “just started beta testing” but was given no time frame.

While there, I noticed a couple of unpublicized FastPass+ kiosks in the corner. I’m told there are more in the Town Square Theater, which were also not on the literature I received.

Conclusion

Overall, I was very apprehensive about FastPass+ in advance, but after trying it once I came away cautiously optimistic. I used 3 FastPass+ reservations, experienced 8 attractions total — a mix of headliners, moderately popular rides, and minor attractions — and ate a meal in a four hour span. That’s about on par with my average afternoon on a similarly busy day using legacy FASTPASS, but I accomplished it with a lot less effort expended. If I was attending for a full operating day I might have been able to use five or more FASTPASSes under the old system, but as an short-time visitor I feel I (or at least my shoes) really benefited from the one-stop convenience FastPass+. But I won’t be fully sold on the system until I can book my rides times from home the night before (I’m ok with 180-day pre-bookings being reserved for hotel guests).

Here are my hints for using FastPass+ as an Annual Passholder or offsite guest:
  • Download My Disney Experience to your smartphone, set up an account, and tie it to your ticket number before arriving at the park.
  • Create a personalized touring plan with the attractions you want to visit, and let the optimizer determine your FastPass+ request priorities.
  • Visit a FastPass+ kiosk upon entering the park, or after your first couple E-tickets if arriving at rope drop.
  • If one FastPass+ station is busy try another. Fantasyland and Frontierland were busier than Liberty Square and Storybook Circus.
  • Select your desired attractions at the kiosk, and don’t be afraid to keep adjusting options until you get times you like.
  • Once your FastPass reservations are booked, enter them into your personalized touring plan in Lines and re-optimize.
  • You can view your FastPass+ reservations in My Disney Experience under “My Plans,” but not edit them.
  • FastPass+ times can be adjusted via a kiosk at any time (reportedly even if you miss your window, though I have not tested this), but once you use all three you are done for the day.

 

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Posted on January 20, 2014

57 Responses to “My First Walt Disney World Annual Passholder FastPass+ Experience”

  • For offsite guests and Annual Passholders, will the optimizer be updated to tell you WHEN you should stop by a FP+ kiosk? And which kiosk location is best? Because that might be really helpful.

    Or should we just plan on always heading to a FP+ kiosk as soon as you get there?

    • The kiosks are so new, we need to collect more data before we can statistically recommend a particular one. For now, our suggestion is to do a couple Etickets at rope drop, then find a less-crowded kiosk (aka NOT Fantasyland) within the first hour after opening.

    • Jake – you beat me to it! That was exactly my thought when reading the article. I envisioned some way of telling the Optimizer that you need to make your FPP reservations on that day, and it would add a “FPP Kiosk” step. Kind of like the old FastPass booth steps.

      Seth – great post! Thanks for reporting on your experiences with FPP.

  • You can adjust your FP+ with My Disney Experience through “Fastpasses”. No need for the kiosks.

    • Offsite guests and Annual Passholders cannot adjust FP+ with My Disney Experience. We’re staying offsite so we will have to use a kiosk.

      • Are you referring to Annual Pass Holders staying off site? That may be true, but AP holders staying on site can use MDE to make and adjust their FP+. I don’t bother with the kiosks or the FP+ App…I find it much more effective to adjust the FP+ online through MDE.

  • If you miss a fast pass solt, due to being at a table service restaurant eating, you can get your server to print out a receipt to prove you were at the restaurant. Show it at your fast pass gate and the cast member will let you into your ride.
    This happened to us at Mama Melrose at the studios, and saved us having to gobble down our food and enjoy the meal. And we didn’t have to run to Toy Mania and see our food come up again.

    • I will try this, but I do not think it is still true. If you miss a FP+ window you can change it through a kiosk (or the app if staying onsite).

      • Let me know if you do try this.
        I assume it’ not common knowledge, otherwise every one could turn up late .
        I questioned my server at first but assured us that we be fine.
        Once at toy Mania fast pass gate showed our receipt and was waved on in with easy. Even thought we were pass or allotted time by at least 15 minutes.
        (We had eaten at Mama Melrose to gain our front centre seating for the Fantastmic package)

        • Thanks for the update! When did you try this? Were you using FP or FP+? I knew this was available under FP, but I was under the impression that under FP+ they just have you reschedule your window. I will investigate further!

  • Thinking of converting to an AP, but this sounds like a hassle. But, we do always stay on property. Does that make a difference, so that we can take advantage of the current 60 day window?

    • If you are staying onsite, you can tie your AP to your reservation and use the app for advance FP+. For now, you will be able to keep making FP+ reservations even after your stay! but this loophole will eventually be closed…

  • I just want to say thank you fir writing this. We are ap holders and I have wondered have this new system would work for us. We rarely go as a planned visit and are rarely there longer then 6 hrs. It is nice to know they have finally thought of ap holders.

  • Thanks for your report! It’s really helpful. My family of 4 will be staying offsite for a week. When making FP+ reservations at a kiosk, do you know if I will have to go through the process at the kiosk 4 times to get FP+ times for all of us? If so, it seems like it will be annoying and time-consuming to make sure all of our times/attractions are synced up.

    • One family member can set up FP+ for the whole group. It speeds things up if you set up everyone’s names on your account ahead of time in the My Disney Experience app, but if not the CMs at the kiosks in the park will assist.

  • Thanks for the post. As an AP, I am cautiously optimistic that with advance reservations we could make lemonade out of this FP+ lemon. (For example, booking E tickets late in the day for days when I don’t get to the parks until 4 or 5pm, when previously those rides would not have had any FP left).

    Do you have any advice on actually using the FP+ kiosk? I noticed you were able to keep trying/changing it until it got you return times earlier in the day. How were you doing that?

    • The interface on the kiosks is fairly intuitive, the only problem I have is that the screen protectors make you have to push hard to get your touch to register.

      Basically, there are 4 steps at the FP+ kiosk:
      1. Scan your ticket or band, and enter your name(s) if not done already.
      2. Select the 3 attractions you want
      3. Pick one of the 4 suggested schedules
      4. Select an individual ride reservation, and change the time earlier or later (if slots are available)

      It isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and for now there is a CM at every kiosk to help guide you through it.

  • Terrific post! I’ve been debating about getting an AP now that our non-expiration tickets are nearly used up. If I purchase an AP, then the 1-year starts counting from the date of purchase, right? So I’d have to purchase it (up to) 60 days ahead, and link it just to make FP+ reservations – thus losing out on 2 months of usage? Is there a way around that, like reserving tickets with a vacation package, then having that ticket price credited toward an AP on arrival? And what’s an E-ticket? Thanks in advance for your insight.

    • Hi Angela, thanks for reading!

      Traditionally, AP didn’t start their 1-year countdown until first used to enter a park. However I’m not 100% sure what happens right now if you try attaching an inactive AP to a resort reservation for FP+, I will try to find out.

      It should be possible to buy a standard ticket for your stay and attach it to your resort reservation for FP+, then upgrade the ticket to an AP once you are at the parks!

      Remember, you can only make advance FP+s if you have an on-site hotel reservation. This article was focused on FP+ for locals and people staying on-site.

      An “E-ticket” refers to the most popular headliner rides in the parks: the Mountains, Toy Story Mania, Soarin, Test Track, etc. The term is a throwback to when Disney had ticket coupon books for ride admission instead of pay-one-price.

  • Seth, thanks for the post. We’re local AP holders and we haven’t tried out the FP+ at the parks where it’s available yet. We were there (at the MK) last Saturday night, but it was so darned uncrowded (and so darned cold) that we didn’t really need to use the kiosks. Like you, we rarely arrive at rope drop and usually just head over for a few hours when we feel like it. I’m optimistic that this will work out OK for AP holders like us. It’s a major change in procedures that will take a long time to really get working smoothly. I’m sure Disney wants to get the kinks out, too, so they can stop paying all those CMs extra hours to work the kiosk areas. There will be small bumps and major potholes on the way, but in a year or two, this will all be routine and the legacy FPs will be just a nostalgic memory. There’s no way Disney is going to abandon FP+ at this point after sinking over $1B into it.

    • Thanks for the feedback! Right now their labor costs must be through the roof, with all the extra CMs for FP+. I’m sure they’ll find some way to streamline the process, otherwise $1 bill is be a drop in the bucket over the long run…

  • Thank you so much for posting this. I was very anxious about how the new system would work as we are staying off-property. It won’t be as bad as I thought!

  • I am also an AP but living in New England, I have to plan the trip in advance. I have a reservation on site in March and have my AP linked to my reservation and online account. When I go on the site, I am able to make FP+ reservations for the next 60 days – but my March trip is not yet in that booking window. I don’t know if it’s just a fluke, but I assumed it was that AP people could book as if they were staying onsite even though they’re not. Of course, even though it lets me make the FP+ reservations, I suppose I can’t really test if it will let me use them. Maybe a more local AP person could try and check it out…..

    • Melissa, the behavior you’re describing is exactly what our Morgan Crutchfield has reported. Currently, if you have an AP and an onsite reservation # (even just 1 night) you can make FP+ reservations for the next 60 days. I’m told this loophole is temporary, and that a formal system for APs is on its way…

  • by Ryan Lovelett on January 20, 2014, at 2:58 pm EST

    My wife and I are AP holders. Have never booked an on site hotel since becoming AP holders and have pre-booked all of our day-trips to Disney. Also, have used the MyDisneyExperience app to update switch times while in the park.

    Followed directions listed on this FAQ site (https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/passholders/reserving-attractions-with-fast-pass-plus/) and have not had a problem. In-fact, so far we find FastPass+ to be way more convenient than legacy system. The 3 per day limit kind of stinks but so far has not been a limiting factor on any of our trips.

    • Thanks for sharing that link, Ryan! Unfortunately, as that FAQ mentions, the FP+ Advance booking is only testing for a very small number of APs at this time. You must be one of the lucky ones! The majority of APs (like myself) have to use the kiosks like off-site visitors, unless they book an onsite room.

    • I agree that the 3 per day and only in one park limitation is a problem. Before we were able to do Soarin, Test Track, Toy Story and RnR in one day with regular Fastpasses. Those days are over.
      Oddly, right before this rolled out they seemed to be incenting park hopping. Not any more.

  • by Trisha Johnson on January 20, 2014, at 4:22 pm EST

    I’m very apprehensive about how this is going to work for me as an AP holder. We often don’t book our trips until a few months (and sometimes only a few days) before (we come from SC). We used legacy FP to ride the same ride multiple times each day, with our record being 7 times for Everest. I realize that is not the norm, but I hate that the option is taken from us. My new plan will be to arrive early in our 1st park and ride our favorites as many times as I can in the 1st 2 hours and then use the FP+ to book times for a second park and hop over. I know you can only book 3 in a day and only for one park, but if they see that you used your pass to enter a different park earlier in the day than the one you had FP+ rides reserved, is that a problem?

    • Entering one park, then using FP+ after parkhopping to a second is possible. In fact, it’s a great strategy!

      • by Larry Scaglioni on January 20, 2014, at 5:59 pm EST

        Seth:

        Is it possible to make FP+ reservations inside one park for a different park?

        Meaning, can I be in MK, go to a kiosk (or using the mobile app or website), and make FP+ for EPCOT?

        Or do I need to be in the park I am making FP+ reservations for? Or once I enter a park, that becomes the only park I can make reservations for that day, including the mobile app or website?

        I know I can only do 3 a day, and only one park a day, but want to see if I can be in one park, and make reservations for a different park.

        This would help with hopping; if there in nothing available in the other park, no reason to leave the park I am in.

        Thanks.

        • This is an awesome question, I hope you get a reply as I am curious as well. Thanks for thinking of it-

        • Great question, Larry! As far as I can tell, you can only make FP+ reservations via the kiosks for the park you are already in. If you make reservations in one park but don’t use them all, you can go to a second park and reschedule FP+ for attractions there once inside the next park.
          Keep in mind the new system is in flux, we’ll keep watching for the inevitable changes…

    • We did this very thing this past weekend. We were able to make FP+ reservations from a MK kiosk for AK but we were still limited to 3 total. I was very glad we were able to do this because passes do become scarce later in the day.

      We also like to ride one ride over and over again. Usually, we would grab a Safari FP, then do standby, use FP, get another FP, do standby, use FP, get new FP…… My sons like to ride Safair 10 or 12 times a day. Needless to say this new system does not work with our preferences.

      • That’s great to hear, Kristina! I wasn’t able to do that the day I tested it, but I’ll give it another shot on my next visit.
        It is true that FP+ will not be a benefit to those who like to ride the same headliner over and over, which unfortunately may be part of the point of the new system…

        • by Trisha Johnson on February 2, 2014, at 2:18 pm EST

          I’m sorry to think that the reason they changed the system to allow only 3 is because of repeat riders. I am one of those. Anyway, repeat riders still have to wait in line for stand by or get additional FP only in their window or 2 hours after they picked up the 1st one. Besides, even using the 2 hour window, you were not able to pick up a FP for a ride you already possessed one for. If we were willing to do that where was the harm? I think this is an effort to make more money. The longer the lines, the longer you will be in the park if you wish to ride all the “big rides”. As we were often done touring before lunchtime using the old system, we would leave and eat and shop off property. Disney wants you to stay and eat in their overpriced restaurants!

          • I think the money thing is probably a big part of it. You only get a certain # of passes, no repeats, which means more time in line and less time to see everything… And that ultimately leads to the need/want to spend additional days in each park, more overnight stays, etc..

  • I’ll be going in July with about 12-14 family members & staying offsite. If I understood correctly, I’ll be able to link everyone’s names to the same FP+ ahead of time through the Disney app?

    • Yes, you can register with MDE online or thru the smartphone app now and start setting up your family, but you won’t be able to make FP+ reservations yet. I’m not sure if there is a limit for how many people you can tie to a single account, I’ll ask next time I’m there.

  • Seth: so let me get this straight as I am 3 days from buying my first ever AP. If I have an AP, and book a trip for this August and stay on-site, I will be able to make FPP+ reservations 60 days out and also edit them thought the My Disney Experience app, right?

    You also mentioned to enter the FPP+ times in lines, then re-optimize…where in lines do you go to enter the new FPP+ times? I have yet to set up a personal touring plan with optimizer; in the past I used one of the “canned” plans as this option was not around in 2012. I hope to hear back as this is all very new and confusing to me. Thanks!!!

    • Hi Scott. Currently, anyone who has an onsite reservation and a valid AP can register on MDE and start making FP+ now bookings for the next 60 days. Keep in mind this could change at any time.
      To enter FP+ times in Lines, have a touring plan (either personalized, or a copy of a canned one) selected in the app, then hit “edit plan”. You’ll see spots to input your reserved FP+ times.

  • We are non-Florida resident Annual Passholders and have been to the parks twice since AK and MK have rolled out the FastPass+ only test. Both experiences have been terrible. We arrived at 4 pm at MK on a day that the park was open until 1 am only to be told that most of the passes had already been distributed. We were able to book a FP on Barnstormer and Mansion and couldn’t even find a third that would work for us.

    The posted wait times were wildly inaccurate. We jumped in what we would have previously considered a relatively short line for Buzz with a posted 20 min wait time and it took an hour. We talked to FP holders in the adjacent line who waited 10 minutes just to get to the scanner to scan their passes and then waited another 20 minutes in line for the ride. And the ride was not broken during this time. This also happened this weekend at Kilimanjaro Safaris in AK. A posted wait time of 10 minutes there quickly turned into a 70 minute wait as FastPass holders streamed in. I have never experienced this before and it was very annoying.

    As passholders who travel 7 hours to get to the parks on a monthly, we are feeling very overlooked. I aired my complaints to guest relations and was told that at this time there is no plan to add passholders who are not staying on site to the reservation system. So I have no plans to remain passholders which means my vacation dollars will be spent elsewhere.

    • Hi Kristina, that does sound like a pretty bad experience, I’m glad things weren’t that rough during my visit. The system is definitely a work in progress, and things seem to shift daily (or hourly). The affect on the standby and FP+ return times is what we are most concerned about! and are keeping an eye on the stats submitted to Lines.
      I’m pretty sure the CM who told you there are “no plans” to add APs to the FP+ pre-booking system was mistaken, they are testing it now but it hasn’t been rolled out widely. In the meantime, if you are driving 7 hours you may want to consider booking a single night onsite…or you could switch to Universal Orlando passes! ;-)

      • With the new Harry Potter expansion, we are eyeing those Universal passes.

      • by Trisha Johnson on February 2, 2014, at 2:23 pm EST

        Between the decreased discounts, huge increase in price and now this FP+ thing,we have had enough! As AP holders ,we are not renewing our passes and are “skipping” Disney this year for the 1st time since 1998! We are going to Universal instead. I hope Disney monitors these sites and sees what happens to loyal patrons when they stop making it attractive to them. Will we go back? I am sure we will, but I’ll be looking for the deals they give the General Public which means less time and less money overall spent on Disney property.

  • Glad to hear a majority of people having good experiences. I’m a little worried about when we do go in July since it is peak season. I would hope that Disney would increase the number of reservations as the peak summer season gets here. We would love to stay on site but for an extended family of 12-14 people, a vacation house was much more affordable.

  • As a fellow annual passholder I want to thank you for writing and documenting this. I skip on over to Disney any time I can after work and usually don’t get there til 6 or 7 pm. We generally stay a few hours and utilize fastpass on whatever ride it’s best for at the time. I’ve been EXTREMELY bummed (more than I should be about something that’s non life-threatening) about traditional paper fastpasses being ripped out of the parks and this new, confusing system.
    As an annual passholder I honestly feel left out in the dust. The whole point is to be able to go whenever I want, but now all the fastpass times will be gone by the time I can get over to the parks.
    You put it perfectly when you said: “But I won’t be fully sold on the system until I can book my rides times from home the night before (I’m ok with 180-day pre-bookings being reserved for hotel guests).”
    I would be okay with this whole change if I could just book something the night before!
    Sigh. I’m really going to miss just grabbing a good old fastpass. I’m even more going to miss the awesome moments when a stranger would hand us two fastpasses for that exact time as some kind of gift from heaven!
    Talk about a thing of the past.

    • I can imagine the frustration of any annual pass-holders. I know when my husband and I eventually move to Florida, I will be getting us annual passes. To spend that amount of money per year and be left out would really irritate me. I would think that AP holders would get more advantages than any other guest.

  • Seth, Nice article, as Annual Pass holders, adults in their 50’s no kids the new system is a deal killer for us. We were at Magic Kingdom this pass 18th. 19th and the 20th, and for us and how we have come to experience the parks under the old system that we purchased our Re- Annual Passes under in November, that Magic Kingdom is gone now for us. If we had experienced what we just did this past weekend and our passes were up for renewal it would be easy, absolutely” NOT”, I know this is a business decision and then again so was JC Penney eliminating sales for a while and we know how that turned out. It seems the person who came up with that idea now works for Disney designing the Limited Enjoyment Fast Pass+. We feel a little deceived, maybe there should have been a warning the new fast Pass system will make some Annual pass holders not renew their passes but then again that also seems to be an intended consequence.
    However, We had a great Christmas season at Disney this year, the best ever, but now the new Limited Enjoyment Fast Pass has made us entirely rethink our numerous yearly trips to the Disney parks. If we can only ride Space Mountain once per day or wait in line for over an hour then NO Thank you to the Limited Enjoyment Fast Pass +. Yes we are the people at the rope drop,( on this past Sunday there were very few characters on the train). Yes we are at the parks on Christmas Day, (My husband’s birthday) New Years Eve, Fourth of July, Labor Day, birthday dinners at the Be Our Guest, Disney Visa Card holders with a WDW AP sticker on our car. Our phones are full of movies we take at Disney and what did we buy for Christmas but a 1080P movie camera to take pictures of the Christmas Parades. We may have gone overboard but compared to the very nice Japanese couple we met at the Christmas parades that Santa Clause called them by their names as he passed by we aren’t even close to what some of the other people on this blog and at the parks do for their time at Disney. Very sadly though, with this new system our days of Annul Pass holders will be over. We still plan on going to the Very Merry Mickey Christmas Parties, at least then we can ride Space Mountain and Big Thunder Railroad more than once without waiting for over an hour each time.
    If Disney can’t improve this shortly, then they should, although we know they won’t, offer a prorated cancellation for Annual Pass holders who have seen the Parks that they purchased an Annual Pass holder under disappear like the riders at Maelstrom at Norway.

    • ^hey, I love Maelstrom! ;) haha

      But I agree with you totally, Becky. You gotta love the resort guests who are all “I don’t see what everyone is so upset about! This is great!” of course you think it’s great- you came here for one vacation and got to pick all the fastpass times. We passholders pay a LOT for our annual passes and are very loyal to Disney. I’ll probably never get a fastpass again under this new system because I can’t get to the parks in time to get one anymore.
      Oh well. I don’t think I would have renewed mine either if I knew they were making this huge change.

    • We were at Disney World 1/25-29. What a difference removing the old Fastpass system made. Limiting the choices to 3 per day in only 1 park and only 1 choice out of the top attractions has INCREASED the standby wait times considerably. We saw long lines and confused people waiting at the most accessible Fastpass+ kiosks. Although the park crowd levels were light I would say the experience was that of twice the crowd in wait times in the regular lines for most rides.
      I like the analogy of the JCPenney disaster…I used it myself while there.
      We are annual passholders from NC. We stay on the property. When we were able to utilize the old system plus the magic bands it was great. But now I feel that my experience shouldn’t suffer for their experiment, their testing and adjustments. My renewal is in May. And even though it is partially paid, I’m thinking taking a year off might be a good idea. I’m always asked how my trip was. Everyone knows I’m a Disney World fanantic, selling it to anyone who will listen. This time I had to say “not so great”.

  • It seems the system only works for AP’s when the crowds are light. The bad experiences occurred during Christmas, when the crowds are crazy busy. I’m interested because I’m a DLR AP and everyone is wondering if they will transfer this disastrous system to CA. With the huge number of AP’s here versus FL I figured they just couldn’t do it. The guest mix in CA is completely different than FL, but then I wonder if part of their testing of AP’s in FL is with the thought of getting it in CA. I sure hope not. The expansion and changes to TL in DLR have already been delayed so that, that money could be sent to WDW to pay for the FP+ system.

  • We are also AP holders and last week my daughter had a few days off school so went to MK at lunchtime, the kiosk lines were very long and the earliest Fastpass+ we could get was 7.00pm, in the end we had a wander round and went on Testrack and Buzzlight Year which took over 40 minutes to get on. The FP+ line for Space Mountain was nearly all the way over to the Buzz ride and the standby wait was 120 mins, I have never seen anything like it in all my years of going to disney. Unless they make AP more like on site guests we might just be renewing our Universal Ap tickets this year