Posts Tagged ‘Fastpass’

FastPass+ Changes Rolling Out Next Week at Walt Disney World

by on April 24, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Recently, I posted an article about how Disney was in the process of tweaking its MyMagic+ system to allow for additional FastPass+ perks for guests at Walt Disney World. These tweaks include adding the ability to make more than 3 FastPass+ reservations per day and adding the opportunity to park hop from one theme park to another.

Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, announced today that beginning on Monday, April 28, after guests use their first 3 FastPass+ selections, they will be able to return to one of the FastPass+ kiosks found within the parks and select another FastPass+ reservation. This fourth FastPass+ entitlement will be available on a rolling basis.: as soon as guests use this fourth FastPass+ reservation, they can then go back to a FastPass+ kiosk to select yet another FastPass+, and so on. (It does appear that, at least for now, you will have to head to a kiosk – and not the My Disney Experience app – to make your additional FastPass+ selections.)

In addition, guests will able to select and use their additional FastPass+ reservations when hopping from park to park.

These updates to the current system are occurring due to guest feedback of the current system’s set up. The change is certainly welcome. It will make it so that guests have even more flexibility in their touring.

Now I need to go change the FastPass+ reservations I have scheduled for next week!

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Magic Kingdom FastPass+ Parade and Fireworks Viewing Tips and Observations

by on April 17, 2014

FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing tips

Get a VIP view with FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing areas at the Magic Kingdom (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Welcome to the future of fireworks and parades at Walt Disney World! In recent weeks, as the final rollout of FastPass+ has concluded in the Disney World parks, I’ve been sharing my experiences using the system as an Annual Passholder at Epcot, as well as at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Since my last post, FastPass+ has been fully implemented for all Disney World guests, including day-guests not staying on Disney property, and I’ve finally had the opportunity to experience one of the most controversial aspects of the new system. Without further ado, here are my FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing tips, based on my personal observations at the Magic Kingdom.

 

Festival of Fantasy FastPass+ Parade Viewing

When the features of FastPass+ were first announced, the private reserved viewing areas for parades and other spectaculars were the aspect I was most skeptical (even cynical) about. Personally, such performances are usually very low on my priority list during a park visit for several reasons. Most of the parades had grown quite stale to me from years of over-exposure, I have an aversion to spending valuable touring time staking out a spot of asphalt just to get a good view, and I can’t abide being crammed like sardines in the crowd that accompanies the procession. So I would normally use that time to take advantage of marginally shorter queues at my favorite attractions. If I did want to see a parade, I’d typically walk up a minute or so before it started, and make do with a partial view blocked by the sea of shoulder-sitting small-fries in front of me. With a limit (soon to be lifted) of only 3 FastPass+ reservations per day, I couldn’t see myself “wasting” one on something like a parade when Space and Splash are beckoning.

This is currently the closest you can get to Anna and Elsa from Frozen without a mult-hour wait for their meet & greet.

 

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New My Disney Experience App Hints at FastPass+ Changes

by on April 1, 2014

Disney released My Disney Experience version 2.1, its mobile application for iPhone, on Sunday. Disney says the new app has 2 features: easier linking of park admission and the ability to manage FastPass+ selection for your friends.

Coincidentally, a copy of the app’s source code fell off a truck in Queens last month, just as I was walking by. It was my lucky day. Turns out there’s some hidden functionality in this version of MDE, which Disney can switch on and off remotely, to change how FastPass+ will function later this year.

Before I go over those changes, here’s a disclaimer: Absolutely no one from Disney’s Decision Science group has ever, in the history of ever, met me at a bar in Winter Park a couple weeks ago with a USB drive full of emails and Powerpoint documents to confirm these changes. I’ve never even been to the Ravenous Pig. You’re watching too much Homeland, okay? Lay off the Showtime.

Now that we’re straight, on with the show.

FastPass+ for Disney Transportation

The new version of MDE lets guests make bus reservations for transportation to and from the theme parks each day. As proof that programmers have humor, it’s called Bus+ in the code.

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FastPass+ Tips for Annual Pass Vouchers and Frozen Meet and Greet

by on March 25, 2014

As I’ve detailed in my recent blog posts, navigating Walt Disney World now that FastPass+ has fully rolled out for Annual Passholders is a whole new adventure that seems to evolve on a daily basis. Here are some updated FastPass+ tips on two of the hottest topics among users of My Disney Experience and the associated MyMagic+ programs: Annual Pass vouchers and the new Frozen meet and greet.

FastPass+ Tips for Annual Pass Vouchers

New FastPass+ tips for Annual Pass vouchers and Frozen meet and greet (photos by Seth Kubersky)

New FastPass+ tips for Annual Pass vouchers and Frozen meet and greet (photos by Seth Kubersky)

One of the most frequently asked questions in the comments to my recent blog posts has been if Annual Pass vouchers that have not yet been activated can be tied to a My Disney Experience account for FastPass+ access. This is important to guests who wish to purchase an annual pass in advance of their visit to make FastPass+ reservations without having the 365-day timer on their ticket start ticking until their arrival. Multiple readers have reported inputing their voucher number as a linked admission pass in My Disney Experience, and being unsuccessful in attempts to then make FastPass+ reservations.

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More Adventures with Disney World Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+: DHS & DAK Edition

by on March 22, 2014

Welcome back to the continuing saga of Walt Disney World’s recent roll-out of Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+ privileges to the general public. As explained in our last episode, all WDW annual passholders should now be able to make up to 7 days of FastPass+ reservations within the next 30 days through the My Disney Experience website and apps. Last time, we looked at how I set up my first week of FastPass+ selections, and saw how my first intinerary turned out at Epcot (TLDR: not perfect, but pretty good).

For this followup, follow me to Walt Disney World two least-popular parks for examples of how advance FastPass+ may (or may not) work to your advantage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios FastPass+

Much like my day at Epcot, I arrived at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios parking lot a little after 1:00 p.m.

Advance FastPass+

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Adventures at Epcot with Walt Disney World Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+

by on March 21, 2014

Walt Disney World regulars rejoiced last week, as the rollout of advance reservation FastPass+ features finally reached all WDW annual passholders. That means that all Disney World annual passholders should be able to access the My Disney Experience website or mobile app and make FastPass+ bookings up to 30 days ahead of time. Previously, I shared my experiences using FastPass+ as an annual passholder making same-day reservations using in-park kiosks, as off-site guests still must do (at least for now). Now, I’m going to detail my personal adventures with week #1 of Annual Passholder advance FastPass+ reservations.

Getting Started with Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+

First of all, if you haven’t already, log into MyDisneyExperience.com and set up an account. Be sure to link your account to your valid annual pass using the ID number on the back of your pass, or voucher number if you have not yet redeemed an online purchase.

Next, visit the Magic Band page to customize your RFID wristband. You can select a color and name, verify your shipping address, and receive confirmation that your order has been received.

According to the webpage, Magic Bands should start shipping to annual passholders shortly.

Until your Magic Band arrives, you can continue to use your RFID-enabled credit-card-sized annual pass to enter the parks and activate FastPass+ sensors.

If you carry a smartphone in the parks, be sure to download the Apple or Android app. The iPad app is probably the most efficient platform for scheduling and adjusting FastPass+ reservations, but the website and phone apps work fairly well.

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3 Simple Fixes Disney Should Make to FastPass+

by on March 21, 2014

I spent all of last week in Walt Disney World with Unofficial Guide author Bob Sehlinger, using FastPass+, listening to questions that guests asked to Cast Members, and seeing how guests used the new FastPass+ kiosks and lines.

One thing we noticed was that FastPass+ lines could grow quickly at an attraction, if even the simplest thing went wrong at the front of the FastPass+ line. Because we’re geeks, we tried to identify both the root cause of the problems, and their solutions.

We think that Disney can reduce guests’ waits at FastPass+ lines through a few simple operational changes. Here’s our list of suggestions.

1. Build a Recovery Zone Next to Each FastPass+ Entrance

The main reason for long FastPass+ return lines is that the guests at the very front of the line don’t have valid FastPass+ reservations. During our trip last week, this happened every 1 or 2 minutes, at every attraction, for a variety of reasons:

  • Guests arriving outside of their FP+ window
  • Guests not having a FP+ reservation for that attraction
  • Guest not understanding how FP+ works

These issues are compounded if the guests don’t speak English.

Maybe the most common FastPass+ issue we saw was guests arriving too early for their FastPass+ reservations. Unlike paper FASTPASSes, MagicBands don’t have a way to display your return time, and checking the My Disney Experience app is a lot of effort. As a result, many guests just scan their MagicBands to see if they work.

If the MagicBands don’t work, a Cast Member has to figure out the problem, explain it to the Guests, and provide a resolution (let’s call this the Recovery Process, “Recovery” for short). This stops the entire FastPass+ line dead, because the Guests are still standing right in front of the FastPass+ readers while the CM is doing Recovery. Here’s a diagram showing the problem at Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland:

Pirates-FastPassPlus-AsIs

(Clearly, my drawing aptitude is giving my singing skills a run for their money.)

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Full MyMagic+ Rollout Expected For Annual Passholders Soon

by on March 7, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Good news, Annual Passholders!

The full MyMagic+ rollout, including receiving your MagicBands, as well as having the ability to make FastPass+ reservations ahead of time via the My Disney Experience app or website, is expected to take place by mid-March 2014.

Annual Passholders should soon be receiving information that they may customize and order their MagicBands via the My Disney Experience platform.

If you are a bit antsy to get the ball rolling on your order (like me) and you haven’t yet received an email letting you know it’s available to you, make sure to check in your My Disney Experience account. You see, when I logged in to my account, a message popped up that I could now create and order my MagicBand.

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How FastPass+ Is Affecting Your Wait In Line At Disney World

by on February 19, 2014

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:

FastPass+ Impact on Standby Wait Times

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+.

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Case Study: FastPass+ Impact On Epcot Touring Plans

by on February 18, 2014

FastPass+ Kiosk LogoMany 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.

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