FastPass+ is having a minimal effect – so far – on lines at Walt Disney World. That’s according to our initial analysis of 330,000 standby wait times collected at Walt Disney World since FastPass+ went into effect in January. We compared those to 3.9 million standby wait times collected across Walt Disney World since 2009.
This is good news to families concerned that they’ll wait in line longer because of FastPass+’s various restrictions, and even better news to those who hoped standby lines would be shorter because of better guest distribution throughout the parks.
The results indicate FastPass+ is not causing significant changes to standby wait times:
Wait times are increasing less than 1 minute, on average, across all attractions at all parks
Super-headliner attractions have seen a small drop (under 1 minute) in standby waits
This indicates FastPass+’s impact on wait times is at the low end of Disney’s original estimates. Here’s the breakdown by park and ride type:
And Now, The Math
The challenge in doing this analysis is in attributing an increase or decrease that you observe, to a particular change in circumstances. If standby times go up, can we be sure that the increase is due to the new system? In reality, it may just be due to a general increase in attendance. So we must work some statistical magic to find the partial dependence of the new FastPass+ system as it relates to standby waits. That is, holding all other factors constant, we want to find the level of increase or decrease on the standby waits due only to FastPass+.
Many people are understandably concerned about how Disney’s new FastPass+ system is going to affect their Disney vacation. Some of the worries most frequently mentioned with the new system are:
Limit of three FastPass+ reservations per day
Not able to get multiple FastPass+ reservations for the same attraction
No ability to get FastPass+ reservations for all headliner attractions
Only getting FastPass+ reservations for one park per day.
Some of the benefits of the new system, such as the ability to select the time of the FastPass+ reservations – may not be as obvious. And not having to run around the park to get paper FASTPASS tickets will definitely save people time.
In many cases, however, using an optimized touring plan with FastPass+ will result in a touring plan that’s just as fast as one with the same attractions and legacy FASTPASS.
Given the way my family tours the parks, I assumed that Epcot would be the most negatively impacted by the new system. With Legacy FASTPASS we would acquire multiple FASTPASSes for Soarin’ and Test Track. Now we can only get one FastPass+ for Soarin’ or for Test Track, but not both.
To evaluate the impact of FastPass+, I’m going to compare touring plans for Epcot on the second Monday of June in 2013 and 2014. Both touring plans include the same attractions and optimize the use of the available FASTPASS/FastPass+ system. Since we would never use FASTPASS/FastPass+ in World Showcase, and since we take a casual touring approach in World Showcase, I’m going to allot a chunk of time for World Showcase. I’m also allotting 100 minutes for eating. For our family, FastPass+ will not affect our dining or touring World Showcase.
In the meantime, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the FastPass+ program as it applies to those not staying in an onsite resort hotel. I’ve spent some more time testing the FastPass+ service and talking to cast members who work with it, and I’m here to report back my first-hand experience with some of the questions raised by our readers.
Note that the following is strictly from the perspective of a local Annual Passholder who has not stayed onsite since FastPass+ testing began, and has not been selected for any beta testing programs. If you previously stayed onsite and still have a MagicBand linked to your admission media, or are otherwise already eligible to use the My Disney Experience app and website to make advance FastPass+ reservations, your mileage will vary.
How busy are the FastPass+ kiosks?
It varies widely. The lines at some, like the Fantasyland kiosks at Mickey’s PhilharMagic, are epic. Others seem to be largely deserted.
I received assistance from this FastPass+ cast member inside Magic Kingdom’s Town Square Theater with almost no waiting.
Annual Passholders have been waiting (some patiently, most impatiently) for the day when FastPass+ testing for them would begin. It appears that AP holders will now have this opportunity, beginning in the next few weeks. This test is very limited, and Passholders will be selected at random to participate.
The test will allow Annual Passholders to test MyMagic+ by making advance FastPass+ reservations, using My Disney Experience, and customizing MagicBands.
Like other tests, the Passholders who are selected for the trial will be able to make 3 FastPass+ reservations at a single park per day. Those testing the system will be able to make FastPass+ selections by using either the My Disney Experience app or by stopping at a FastPass+ kiosk. Passholders will be able to make up to seven days of FastPass+ selections over a continuous 60 day time period.
In addition, participating Passholders will receive a discount card. This card must be used (along with a photo ID) to receive a Passholder discounts. Cards will either be black or gold. The gold card indicates complimentary parking is included. The black card indicates that the guest has no complimentary parking.
A small ceremony at Leave A Legacy in Future World Plaza marks the end of FASTPASS.
Epcot begins exclusive use of FastPass+ on Thursday, marking the official end of the original FASTPASS system at Walt Disney World. We think it would be appropriate tomorrow to recognize the occasion.
We’ve updated of our Epcot touring plans to use only FastPass+. Each plan now lists the suggested FastPass+ start times for the attractions that will save you the most time in line, like this:
Suggested start times for FastPass+ reservations:
Mission: SPACE (Orange) = 9 AM Soarin’ = 10 AM Spaceship Earth = 11 AM
The updated plans are very efficient, with the average wait in line under 9 minutes per attraction on most plans. In fact, because the plans are so efficient, we’ve added Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure and other attractions to many of the plans for teens and adults. (We also really like the game.) And some touring plans only use 2 of the 3 FastPass+ reservations you’re given each day, which means you have 1 more to revisit a favorite attraction (that you’ve not already used FastPass+ on that day) or try a new ride.
When we updated the plans, we kept track of how many times each attraction was identified as needing FastPass+. As we did for the Magic Kingdom’s FastPass+ priorities, here’s Epcot’s chart:
This weekend I went over to Animal Kingdom to test FastPass+ and to check out the former site of Camp Minnie-Mickey. I thought you guys would like to come with me! Saturday was very cold by Florida standards! The high was only 57 degrees, so I was thankful afternoon FastPass+ slots were available for Kilimanjaro Safaris. I secured our 3:40 – 4:40 time slot. Since all FastPass+ reservations come in trios, I was also assigned FastPass+ to meet Mickey and to see Finding Nemo – The Musical. Upon arriving at 2:30pm I discovered parking attendants weren’t even directing cars where to park! This suggested that crowds would be manageable. Here is what it looked like walking in:
Disney’s Animal Kingdom began exclusive use of FastPass+ on earlier this month. At that time, we updated of our Disney’s Animal Kingdom touring plans to use only FastPass+. Each plan now lists the suggested Fastpass+ start times for the attractions that will save you the most time in line, like this:
Suggested start times for FastPass+ reservations:
Kali River Rapids = 10 AM DINOSAUR = 1 PM Kilimanjaro Safaris = 4 PM
The updated plans are very efficient – the average wait in line should be under 7 minutes per step during summer for our standard 1-day Unofficial Guide Touring Plan - with more than an hour of free time available in the afternoon.
When we updated the plans, we kept track of how many times each attraction was identified as needing FastPass+. As we did for the Magic Kingdom’s FastPass+ priorities, here’s the Animal Kingdom’s chart:
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.
A thing of the past.
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.)
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.
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.
The Magic Kingdom begins exclusive use of FastPass+ today. We’ve updated all 50 of our Magic Kingdom touring plan templates to use only FastPass+. Each plan now lists the suggested FastPass+ start times for the attractions that will save you the most time in line, like this:
Suggested start times for FastPass+ reservations:
Peter Pan’s Flight = 10 AM Buzz Lightyear = 5 PM Enchanted Tales with Belle = 7 PM
When we updated the plans, we kept track of how many times each attraction was identified as needing FastPass+. It turns out that this is a prioritized list of which attractions you should use FastPass+ for to avoid long waits in line: