With the legacy paper FASTPASS program about to go the way of Horizons and [insert the name of your favorite defunct Disney attraction], I thought this would be a good time to review the differences between the old system and the new.
Here is a roundup of how legacy paper FASTPASS (FP) and FastPass+ (FP+) are different.
Ability to Obtain the Reservation in Advance of Your Trip
- With FP, you had to get your ride reservation in the park, on the day of your visit.
- With FP+, some guests can make ride reservations as early as 60 days prior to their trip.
- With FP, all guests had equal ability to obtain ride reservations.
- With FP+, guests of the Disney resort hotels have priority ability to get reservations.
Ability to Get Ride Reservations at More Than One Park Per Day
- With FP, you could Park Hop and get ride reservations at more than one of Disney’s theme parks during a single day.
- With FP+, you are limited to obtaining ride reservations at one park per day.
Ability to Get More Than One Reservation for the Same Ride
- With FP, you could get a ride reservation, use it, and then get another reservation for that same ride. The only limit was FP availability and the guest’s stamina.
- With FP+, the computer system only allows you to make a reservation for a ride once per day.
Number of Ride Reservations Available to Each Guest
- With FP, the upper limit of ride reservations was just the number of hours in the day.
- With FP+, each guest has a limit of three ride reservations per day. (Note: Some guests have seen four reservations per day in testing. This may change.)
Location of Reservation Acquisition
- With FP, guests had to physically visit a machine at each attraction to obtain a ride reservation.
- With FP+, ride reservation acquisition has multiple points of entry. Disney resort guests can make reservations on their computer at home, or on a personal smartphone or tablet at home or in the parks. All guests can make reservations for any available attraction at kiosks throughout the parks. (Note: With the death of the paper FP, we can now also retire the related terms “FASTPASS runner” and “FASTPASS sacrifice.” R.I.P. Disney jargon.)
Number of Attractions Available for Reservations
- With FP, the Magic Kingdom had 9 attractions (mid-2013 number) for which you could get a reservation.
- With FP+, the Magic Kingdom has at least 25 attractions (early-2014 number) for which you can get a reservation.
Ability to Select Reservation Times
- With FP, the pass machines at the attractions controlled your reservation time. The only way to influence your reservation time was to stand at the attraction and wait for a later time if that was possibly more convenient for your party. Basically, it was a “you get what you get” situation.
- With FP+, pending availability, you control the timing of your ride reservations.
Ability to Change Ride Reservation Times
- With FP, once you got an attraction reservation time, you were stuck with it.
- With FP+, pending availability, you can change the attractions for which you have reservations and you can change attraction reservation times.
Ability to Ride Headliner Attractions Late in the Day
- With FP, on busy days all the reservations for popular attractions were fully allotted during the morning. Guests arriving at the park late in the day would have a long standby wait as their only method of experiencing an attraction. (There’s a possibility that off-site guests might still experience a version of this.)
- With FP+, if you know you’ll be arriving at a park late in the day, you can make an afternoon or evening ride reservation time in advance, securing your ability to ride without a wait.
Variability in the Attractions which Have Reservation Access
- With FP, barring major opening/closing events, the attractions for which reservations were available generally remained static from day to day.
- With FP+, Disney has the ability to change the attractions for which reservations are available on a daily, or even hourly basis. For example, Disney might decide to make Wishes a FP+ attraction only on weekends.
Transferability, Internal to Your Party
- With FP, you could share your paper passes within your party. For example, if Anna loved Maelstrom but Elsa hated it, Elsa could use her park admission to get a FP for Maelstrom and then give it to Anna, allowing Anna to ride twice (possibly twice in a row). This does not impede Elsa’s later ability to acquire reservations for rides she enjoys.
- With FP+, it becomes more challenging to share ride reservations. Theoretically, Elsa could make a reservation for Maelstrom and lend her card or MagicBand to Anna, allowing Anna to ride twice. However, two problems come along with this. One, if Elsa gives her ride reservation to Anna, then Elsa permanently loses one of her possible reservations for the day. And two, if Elsa wants to give her ride reservation to Olaf (he likes it even more than Anna does, snowmen are like that), when Olaf takes Elsa’s MagicBand to the FP+ terminal, the cast member attendant will see his monitor read “Elsa” when a male snowman goes through. This is potentially awkward.
Transferability, External to Your Party
- With FP, if you were unable to use a ride reservation, you could give your paper ticket to a stranger in the park. This was a nice bit of Pixie Dusting It Forward.
- With FP+, if you’re unable to make it to a ride reservation, you can change it to another time or another ride for yourself, but you’re not going to give your MagicBand to a stranger to let him use your reservation. Bye, bye random act of kindness.
Souvenirability (your fake SAT word of the day)
- With FP, if you couldn’t use your ride reservation and there were no strangers around to be nice to, then you could put your paper ticket in your scrapbook as a nice illustration of your vacation.
- With FP+, there’s one less free Disney souvenir.
Use It or Lose It
- With FP, if you missed your reservation time, you lost that reservation forever.
- With FP+, if you miss your reservation time, you maintain the ability to use that reservation. Use an in-park kiosk or your smartphone/tablet to change the time or attraction of an unused reservation, even after the reservation time has passed.
Type of Attraction for Which Reservations Are Available
- With FP, the vast majority of attractions with reservation availability were headliner rides, plus a very few character greetings.
- With FP+, the most attractions with reservation availability are still rides, but many of them are smaller or less popular rides. Additionally more character greetings, shows, fireworks, parades, and even a restaurant (Be Our Guest) have reservations available at least some of the time.
Cutoff Time for Ride Reservation Access
- With FP, if the passes for an attraction became fully dispensed, there would be no more reservations available for the day. There was no use checking back.
- With FP+, if guests make reservations for an attraction, it may appear that the attraction is fully booked. But if guests then cancel/change their reservations during the day (I’ve done it myself many times, even for headliners), then those reservations will become available to other guests. Keep checking back.
- With FP, you received a paper ticket as proof of your ride reservation. If you physically lost the ticket, your reservation was gone.
- With FP+, your ride reservation is retrievable from the Cloud. Even if you lose your card or MagicBand, you can get a new one from Guest Services and still have access to your ride reservation.
- With FP, it was possible to have your ride reservation be totally anonymous. If you paid for your park ticket with cash, you could insert that ticket into FP machines, get paper passes, and Disney would gain no information about you or your habits.
- With FP+, you have to create a Disney account to make a ride reservation and use an RFID enabled card/band to claim the reservation. Disney is collecting lots of data about you.
Ride Combination Limits (thanks to reader Brian for the reminder about this one)
- With FP, you could get ride reservations for any combination of rides you wanted.
- With FP+, guests are presented with a tiered ride selection process at some parks. For example, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, some attractions are in “column A” and some are in “column B.” You are allowed three FP+ reservations, but only in a configuration with one from A and two from B. The tiered structure prevents guests from making FP+ at all of the headliner attractions. Epcot has also used the A/B selection process.
Please bear in mind that FastPass+ is still in its infancy. The program is in flux and changes can happen at any time, possibly without warning, so take everything you learn with a grain of salt.
So pass wranglers … have you spotted any other differences between the FASTPASS and FastPass+ programs? Are you putting a few old paper passes in your safe deposit box so you can sell them on GoogleRetinaAuctions in 2058? Have you scheduled extra sessions with your therapist to work through your paper FASTPASS grief?
Let us know in the comments below.