FastPass+ Only Character Meet and Greet Opportunities Begin Soon

by 39 Comments

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Minnie Mouse Meet at DHSWe’ve known it was going to happen for a while, where select character meet and greet opportunities would only be available for guests who made FastPass+ reservations. It appears this exclusive option is currently on the horizon.

Beginning this Sunday, May 11, some select meet and greet opportunities will only be available to guests who make reservations. (As a matter of fact, I even noticed one of the FastPass+ ONLY signs when I was at Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion this past weekend and thought…hmmm…. Little did I realize that this would be implemented soon.)

Here are the locations where guests will only be able to meet select characters by having a FastPass+ reservation. (Standby will not be available.)

Epcot

  • United Kingdom Pavilion – Meet Winnie the Pooh (a Tier 1 attraction choice)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • The Magic of Disney Animation – Meet Minnie Mouse (a Tier 1 attraction choice)

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Character Landing – Meet Daisy and Donald

Remember that at both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the attraction choices are tiered, and guests may only choose one attraction in the Tier 1 category. This means if you choose one of these meet and greet experiences at these two parks, you would not be able to choose attractions like Soarin’ or Toy Story Mania. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the tiered system does not exist, and guests are free to choose any three experiences they would like.

Currently, it appears that there are no FastPass+ ONLY meet and greet opportunities at the Magic Kingdom.

Keep in mind that any other FastPass+ meet and greets that occur in the parks will allow for standby guests. These three are currently the only meet and greet opportunities where guests can meet these characters via FastPass+ exclusively.

As time goes on, it will be interesting to see if (and when) other character meet and greet experiences become FastPass+ ONLY.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print
Posted on May 7, 2014

39 Responses to “FastPass+ Only Character Meet and Greet Opportunities Begin Soon”

  • Wow…I would have made the fastpass for rarer, more interesting characters. There’s no way meeting Minnie (fairly easy to do) supercedes Toy Story Mania!

  • Seriously? Tier one? Who is going to choose Winnie the Pooh in Epcot or Minnie Mouse as a tier one option? That is completely ridiculous.

  • I so agree with the other comments. I wouldn’t give up a FP for any of these.

  • We have a 5 year old girl and character meetings are therefore a big part of our trips, but that tiering is madness. Hard to see us ever seeing these characters at EPCOT or DHS unless it is a day-of add-on. Bummer.

  • Should have been Anna & Elsa, and Talking Mickey! Rare characters would be good, like WALT! Get Tom Hanks out there! Maybe some other celebrities who play disney characters can rotate into to “limited engagement” events for FP+Only. Well, good luck to Disney. Not sure this idea will work – but hey – try everything once!

    • I agree. It should be for Anna and Elsa whose line is ridiculous. We were there last week and saw 300 minute waits. They should just add more fastpasses and make it a fastpass only attraction.

      • Or at least have them greet in the little Animation area that usually holds the current movie in DHS, Norway, AND Princess Hall for a few months. I’m sure they have multiple costumes.

    • Except you cannot make A&E FP only. There would be rioting if a ton of people could not get in at all, even if they are waiting in 5 hour lines.

      Go see WtP at Ak; little or no wait there.

  • These are not worthy of my FP+ reservation IMHO but for some less experienced guests it may pull some of the demand from busier attractions. Also, I think this may just be a trial run before they go with FP+ for truly hard to meet characters.

  • Maybe they are adding these options so there are some appealing choices for use after your first three FPPs?

  • by Chris Thompson on May 7, 2014, at 5:00 pm EST

    Tier One? For those meet and greets? On our last trip cast members were out actively soliciting guests for both Minnie and Winnie. Neither had a line and the characters were just standing around when we got there. I know they’re busier at other times of the year, but to sacrifice a tier one FP+ reservation for them is absolutely absurd.

    • I agree. When we have visited there have been no lines for those particular meets. Those are probably the ones with the smallest waits we’ve seen in our trips. I wonder if having it as a FPP option will actually mean more people go to them since they will have selected them.

  • Character meet as a T1?
    Anyone else think this is getting a bit out of hand?

  • I’ve always thought Fastpass+ might be useful for our trip since we have young children who wouldn’t enjoy long queues. Now I’m beginning to think this has gotten a little out of hand. A tier one fastpass+ only to see Minnie Mouse? I’d understand if it were a rare character like Jiminy Cricket, but Minnie?

  • To me this sounds like a decision made by some corporate person who never spends time in the parks or has any knowledge of what the average park visitor wants to do.

  • by Susan Carpenter on May 7, 2014, at 6:52 pm EST

    I think those characters should be for everyone to randomly meet. It’s part of the Disney experience. Otherwise you are just at a fancy amusement park. Shame on a Disney for making them only available to a limited few.

  • We were just there in November and there wasn’t a single person in line to see Minnie Mouse at HS. We walked right in and spent about 15 minutes with her, no one else ever came in line. I cannot believe this would be a tier 1 FP+!
    I actually thought FP+ was kind of good when we went, but this was before they started the tiers at all so everything was available. I don’t think this is good at all…too many restrictions. And I don’t think it’s fair to make something a FP+ only. If someone wants to wait in line forever, that should be their choice.

  • You would think Disney might clue into the fact that if people are waiting 5 hours to meet Anna and Else, they aren’t spending money for those 5 hours. I hope they make a permanent meet and greet at Norway, with multiple rooms to get more people through in a shorter period of time.

  • Hmmm… So, my tween and teen can either hit rides or my younger two can meet characters (as I see the future)? Not! Next Disney trip might be our last for a good long while. Way to make money, run off the customers.

    • You can make different Fastpass+ reservations for different folks in your party. So the teens/tweens can do rides and the little ones can do the characters.

  • by Heather Louise on May 7, 2014, at 9:21 pm EST

    I agree, why would they make it FP only?? All this is making me want to go back to Disneyland where I can get Space Mountain FPs all day long if I wanted to!

  • Scary. I hope they don’t decide to make some rides Fastpass+ only, essentially making it all standby. This sounds like another April Fool’s joke.

    • IMHO Leslie has hit on the really pernicious aspect of this. It’s not that they made a meet & greet a FP+ option. It’s not even that they made it a Tier 1 FP+, as bad as that is.

      It’s that they’re making an attraction in WDW FP+ *only*. No attraction should be FP+ only. If you’re willing to pay your admission and prioritize your park time for a particular attraction, you should be able to do it standby.

      WDW is sticking the camel’s nose under the tent with this. You watch–they’ll cite the “great success” of the FP+ only meet-and-greets as justification for expanding it to other attractions such as rides. Want to do, say, Toy Story Mania or the Safaris standby? No soup for you–come back after you get your FP+. And we don’t care that you got here at rope drop and there’s more than enough capacity to take standbys. Too bad.

      “Magic Your Way”? Ha–more like “Magic Disney’s Corporate Wonks’ Way.”

      I was a FP+ cynic and preferred the old system. But I knew I’d find a way to make it work sufficiently so I could still enjoy my WDW vacations. But the day they go to a reservation-only system for doing attractions–especially when you can only book 3 initially, and have to deal with tiering in half the parks–is the day I stop going to WDW. (And if you think I’m jumping to conclusions, just wait.) Let me use FP+ if I choose to, but don’t limit my ability to use standby.

      • Just to throw some fuel on this fire… isn’t this essentially how ADRs work at popular restaurants? If you don’t make a reservation 180 days in advance, no dining for you! There are essentially no walkups (standby) at the more popular sit down restaurants.

        • True to a point, HelenB. I suppose there are people who do parkhopper because they want to eat in Epcot several nights, but I look at my admission ticket as a ticket to do any show or ride in the park, not eat in a particular restaurant.

  • Cool (not). Please pick character meets for Fastpass +. See you when I pass by you in the 90 min test track line.

  • The only people who will choose lame FP+ choices that are “exclusive” are people that either have a DAS, secret cheats, are WAY into character greetings, or are staying for so many days that they can “afford” to “waste” a FP+ reservation.

    But it’s good to know about this scenario. Also, keep in mind that with “extra” FP+ after exhausting the 3 FP+ reservations, you probably have an opportunity to do toy story and Winnie the pooh greeting if you use the extra FP+ chances. Just don’t make a FP+ reservation for fantasmic because you won’t be able to use it and therefore get a fourth FP+ reservation.

  • Do FP+ only for the Anna and Elsa M&G and also have a pair at Epcot if people want to wait. Spread ‘em out.

  • Consider Disney’s perspective.

    First, this makes more Tier 1 opportunities at EP & DHS. Disney will advertise & promote this fact. More Tier 1 attractions means a greater distribution of guests within a park & across all parks (corollary: better access/more times available at the “good” Tier 1 attractions for Liners).

    Second, the concept of FP+ only M&G’s – and by extension, attractions – is now an accepted part of our world. When the Anna & Elsa M&G at MK becomes FP+ only, Disney management & marketing types will point out these already exist, have been successful, & guests are “clamoring for more.” If someone’s disappointed, they only need to book a MYW package at a Deluxe resort & get online 60 days prior. This concept, when transferred popular Tier 1 attractions, becomes a profit growth driver by converting off-site stays to on-site Hotels & encouraging people to stay & spend more in WDW.

    Finally, Disney is a company & this is about profit, shareholders & the bottom line. Universal Orlando will be opening Phase 2 of the WWoHP this summer, which is the next step in their 10-year plan to compete with Disney. If Disney isn’t careful, Universal will take market share, shrink Disney’s “moat” & leave TDO & Iger answering serious questions from shareholders. I believe FP+ only M&G’s are part of TDO’s plan to protect their “moat” by providing another incentive for guests to stay onsite & continue spending money at Disney.

    • I thought the Anna & Elsa M&G at MK had a standby line? AFAIK, it’s not ‘FP+ only’, so there’s nothing for them to ‘compare against’.

      While I find your analysis interesting, all of these changes have the opposite effect on me. I always stay onsite in a deluxe resort when I go to WDW. This coming June we have a trip planned where we will be spending some days at Universal and some at WDW. The difference between the two is night and day. I am spending about the same amount per night for an onsite deluxe hotel room at both parks, and the park tickets are comparable in price. However at Universal I can walk on to almost any ride I want, thanks to unlimited Express Pass. At WDW I can only reserve 3 rides and pray for a 4th when those are done. Universal is opening an entire new themed area, and has another new ride that we have not seen since we last visited 2 years ago. Disney has 1 new ride amongst 4 parks.

      If anything, FP+ and the lack of new attractions are pushing me to spend more of my vacation days at Universal, and fewer at WDW.

      • This would make sense if it weren’t so very easy for Universal Studios to turn this around. Very much like PS3 did when XBox 360 announced that there will be fines for sharing your hardcopy games with others. eventually, Xbox broke down and got rid of this ridiculous scheme of fines. Universal is in a very good position here to call Disney out on this and advertise that, while you can get special passes to get to attractions quicker and easier, it is not the least bit required. I hope they stick it to Disney on this one.

    • You are right, and Universal is taking market share. A recent Orlando Sentinel article quoted Disney’s market share as dropping from 74.9% in 2009 (when Wizarding World opened) to 71.3% in 2012. Universal’s share grew from 16% to 20.8% over that same time period. It will be interesting to see how that trend continues.

  • No, people who do any research into their trips won’t be booking these FPs. People who travel during slower times likely won’t use them much either. However, if every single person books their 3 FPs during busy times, they will eventually run out.
    The fact that they’ve started allowing people to book more than 3 after they’ve used those 3 is likely a factor as well.
    Ultimately, everything they do is just an experiment. It’s possible that they simply want to collect data on something that’s not apparent at the moment.
    FastPass has never been about reducing wait times. It’s about changing where you wait for those attractions. In the long run, it’s about people spending more money in the parks, because they’re waiting in line less.
    I have no idea how offering FP+ at attractions that haven’t traditionally needed FP is helping this, but I’m sure it is.

  • I clearly see this as a way to get unkowing guest with children to make a bad FP+ decision and thus free up some of the real FP+ attractions. Of course they may feel so good about Disney once they figure it out.

  • I understand everyone’s concerns- but I was there last week and it was a 4 hour wait for Elsa and Anna if you didn’t have a fast pass. 4 hours! It virtually IS a fast pass + only option. Honestly, sparing these people the 4 hour wait would be doing them a favor!

    But, yes, Minnie and Pooh is a little much!

    • Nicole, I share your aversion to a 4-hour wait. Any line I’m waiting in for 4 hours better have someone at the end handing out money! ;)

      But that’s how you and I see it. What if there’s a family that wants to use their FP+s on something else and are willing to do the Rope Drop Stampede to do Anna & Elsa standby? Or are willing to do what other sites have suggested and get in line for A&E late morning, when the wait is actually better than early morning? Shouldn’t they be allowed to do it standby? Why should they be denied the chance to do it without FP+?

      Or take the specific example we have now: Pooh & Tigger in Epcot. What if the line’s only 20 minutes? Or what if someone is there when World Showcase opens and walks right up to them with no wait at all? They’re not going to get to see P&T, *even though there’s no wait*. That may make sense to some bean-counter in a cubicle somewhere, but it’s less than magical.

      • I think the difference for the Rope Drop situation in this instance is that with character meet and greets even if you are the first to arrive you could potentially wait forever as long as people with fast pass + are showing up and getting ahead of you- unlike the rides where you can easily jump in a car/train etc. that isn’t filled with fast pass people. Elsa and Anna are “full” from the start. But, again, that is only speculation because it hasn’t happened yet. But, yes, of course it is crazy to make a 20 minute line fast pass only in the case of Pooh in Epcot.

        I would have a MUCH bigger issue with an actual “ride” being fast pass only- because the movement there is very different than one person at a time meeting a character and I am a big believer in Rope Drops for rides! I did it 3 days last week and purposely didn’t have an fast pass + reservations in the first 2 hours knowing that I could get more done with my usual early morning touring!

  • Common sense and history tell us that this will evolve and change in the months to come. Look at the opening of FP+ to where it is today. Disney is a business who don’t want people in lines. As said, people in lines are not spending money and they have just announced profits exceeding expectations mainly due to ‘Frozen’ grossing at the box office. To have FP+ only attractions surely goes against the ethos of Walt Disney and his vision of theme parks for EVERYONE not the select few. Anyway, those ‘unsavvy’ guests who do give up Tier 1 FP+ reservations pave the way for us ‘savvy’ liners who can plan our way out of a paper bag. Same goes for the saps who use FP+ for Fantasmic or evening reservations not realising that you can get 4th, 5th & 6th reservations after the initial 3 are done. Let the masses carry on making silly mistakes, the better the chances we have of having an even better vacation!!!! **I use the word ‘saps’ loosely and don’t intend to cause offence to anyone** :)