Observations from Disney’s Hollywood Studios Toy Story Midway Mania FastPass+ Only Testing

Toy Story Mania FastPass+ only test
This week’s Toy Story Midway Mania FastPass+ Only testing means you may sees this sign at DHS.

If you want to toss some virtual rings this week at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’d better head to My Disney Experience right now, because for the first time Walt Disney World is experimenting with eliminating all standby options at this headlining attraction. As Rickki Nibblet reported, a Toy Story Midway Mania FastPass+ Only test means that from October 6-9, 2014, you must have a FastPass+ reservation — booked in advance online or day-of at an in-park kiosk — in order to ride the popular Pixar-themed shooting gallery. The standard standby line will not be available at all during the testing period, and once all FastPass+ reservations are claimed for the day, you will not have the option of waiting in line the old-fashioned way.

Having previously experienced Epcot’s short-lived experiment with using paper FastPasses for the Soarin’ standby line, I wanted to see how this FastPass+ Only test operated at Toy Story Midway Mania (TSMM). Monday, Oct. 6, was a moderate 5 on our Crowd Calendar, but now that the Studio Backlot Tour is closed, TSMM is (along with The Great Movie Ride) the only all-ages ride in the park. Since guests seem willing to wait an hour or more in standby for TSMM even on off-peak days, I was curious to observe their reaction to this temoprary change.

The Studio Backlot Tour is now a backdrop for hula hooping.

As an annual passholder, I was able to log into My Disney Experience around 10 a.m. and secure a FastPass+ for Toy Story Midway Mania at 12:55 that day; 6 p.m. was also offered, but there were no other timeslot options. Previously, I have had difficulty booking TSMM for early afternoon on such short notice, so it appears Disney has added some additional FastPass+ availability during this test.

However, by the time I arrived at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at noon, signs were posted near the entrance declaring that “Toy Story Midway Mania has reached capacity for the day.”

Identical signage was posted outside Pixar Place, along with an unusually large number of Cast Members on hand to answer questions about the FastPass+ Only test, and assist with making FastPass+ reservations.

Even though all the FastPass+ windows were officially consumed for the day, Cast Members indicated that, due to cancellations, availability may still occasionally (and unpredicatably) open up. However, there was no regular release of “held back” timeslots in the afternoon, as has been used in earlier FastPass+ tests at Princess Fairytale Hall. If you are denied a Toy Story FP+ at first, try selecting a different Tier 1 attraction, and keep checking back to see if you can convert it to Midway Mania.

Outside the attraction, the standby entrance was roped off, and a Cast Member was organizing a queue of waiting FP+ guests.

There was no holdup due to MagicBand scanning when I visited; these folks were just waiting for their time window to arrive.

Once inside, TSMM’s elaborate queue was eerily quiet. They were alternating sending guests through the standby and FP+ queues, so I got a private audience with Mr. Potato Head.

The stairwells leading to the loading station were also unusually empty, and there were only at most a couple carloads of guests waiting to board.

As I waited, I watched the line dwindle to the point that they sent some empty vehicles, which a Cast Member confided they had had to do periodically throughout the day.

After my ride (I was awful as always, barely earning my stuffed beaver and sore elbow) I lurked around the exit and calculated the number of riders TSMM was serving at approximately 1150 guests per hour. While Disney doesn’t release official numbers, the ride’s maximum theoretical hourly rider capacity (THRC) is approximately 1500 guests, but an average day’s operations come closer to 1300.

Yes, I’m really terrible at this ride…

The reduced capacity resulted in fantastic experience for those able to secure FastPass+, as I heard guests remark that they were in and out of the building in under 10 minutes — ride time included. That’s an improvement on the normal system with Standby, when the FastPass+ queue can exceed 15 minutes.

On the flip side, I observed a number of guests who were confused, upset, or just pain angry over the Toy Story Midway Mania FastPass+ Only test. A couple who shared my ride vehicle had tried unsuccessfully to get a FP+ through conventional means, and their appeal to Guest Services was denied. It was only after they complained loudly to their bartender at the Brown Derby that a Cast Member was “magically” able to make a reservation appear.

Over at Guest Relations, I saw about a dozen guests waiting, and overheard several say they were there to complain about the TSMM test. One was quite agitated, and claimed that the test had “ruined” her children’s visit. Interestingly, while I heard Guest Relations CMs ask what they could do for the guest in compensation, at no time did I observe them offering to cicumvent the test by granting a FP+.

Another controversial aspect of this test is that it applies equally to guests using Disability Access Service (DAS) passes, which ordinarily allow users into the FP+ queue immediately if standby is under 10 minutes, or at an assigned time if longer. During this test, DAS users must use one of their regular FP+ assignments for TSMM just like all other guests, and get no expedited entrance at Toy Story Midway Mania. As long as the No Standby test is in effect, once all FP+ windows are taken, DAS guests are just a out of luck as everyone else.

After seeing the Toy Story Midway Mania FastPass+ Only test first-hand, I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it was undeniably luxurious to stroll casually through the TSMM queue, step into a car vitually unimpeded, and be back outside again in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, seeing the wasted capacity on a popular attraction, and the unhappy people outside being told they had no other options, goes against my guest service instincts.

If I had to guess, this test is not a precursor to Disney permanently making this popular attraction FastPass+ only — though the upcoming conversion of Maelstrom to Frozen could conceivably be a candidate for that. Instead, I surmise Disney may be experimenting in advance of adding a third track to TSMM. The new track would go in Soundstage 1 (where Wandering Oaken’s recently was) to the left of the current standby queue. Standby guests could conceivably all be diverted to the new track, while FastPass+ gets exclusivity on the original two tracks, as was tested this week. Currently, FP+ reportedly consumes 66% of the ride’s capacity, so this scheme would keep the ratio the same while increasing throughput for both types of guests.

This test is scheduled to end after Oct. 9, but could return in a different form. If you had a chance to try it for yourself, please leave your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

55 thoughts on “Observations from Disney’s Hollywood Studios Toy Story Midway Mania FastPass+ Only Testing

  • October 8, 2014 at 8:17 am
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    To me, the most egregious thing is that they are intentionally restricting this access, and then failing to utilize the full ride capacity! Sending out half-filled cars is pretty lousy, and I’d love to hear some official justification, especially in the face of unhappy guests.

  • October 8, 2014 at 8:58 am
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    If they also did this to Soarin and Be Our Guest, I’m wondering if this is being tried on rides that have heavy FP+ use. Guests not staying on resort have to wait until 30 days prior to their trip to book their FP+. If this resulted in non-park Guests not being able to ride except on Stand By, this wouldn’t be fair either. So they try something completely different

  • October 8, 2014 at 9:01 am
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    We are PAP holders, visit WDW 3 or 4 times a year, and are currently at WDW. Typically, we arrive at DS at opening and go straight to TSM. We can sometimes ride this 2-3 times before the line becomes too long. My kids love this! We did not know of the new trial before this trip, so we did not make FP+ for TSM. I have been trying at different times all week to score FP+ for TSM but have had no success. We have found ourselves spending far more time at US/IoA this week, where we do not have to deal with FP+ or very many lines.

  • October 8, 2014 at 9:08 am
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    We were there that day and found the experience very disappointing. TSMM is out favorite ride and it is not uncommon for us to ride it 3 or more times the day we are there. We had tired to secure a fastpass prior to coming and were unable to. Imagine our thoughts when we see that sign after rope-drop knowing we do not have a fastpass. Thankfully a cast member saw us and explained they had released more passes. We waited in line for a castmember to help us give up or Rockin’ pass for first TSMM time slot available (around noon.) After riding, passes were give and even though we continued to check there never was another pad available for us on TSMM.
    We spent close to an hour total waiting for cast members doing fastpasses trying ti get another TSMM pass. I would have much rather spent that time in line for the ride. If we choose to stand in line for an hour, so be it, that is out choice. We felt like the only way to secure a second slot as a group of 8 was to stay on property. Obviously we were not fans of the test, and we aren’t fastpass+ fans either. It was nice when you could just go on vacation. The pressure to plan and reserve so much before even leaving kind of ruins it all…too much fuss. We go a couple times every year, but are starting to think of other places to visit.

    • October 8, 2014 at 11:18 am
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      Sorry to hear about your experience, that sounds pretty frustrating.

    • October 8, 2014 at 11:42 am
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      Us too. We use to love going to WDW. However; we
      are not wealthy enough to stay on site. It seems only
      the rich can truly enjoy WDW now. We don’t even
      buy our tickets until we get there. All the planning
      and having to be a certain place at a certain time takes
      all the joy out if it. Now you can’t even stand in line if
      you want too. If all the attractions are not even possible
      Why bother going?

  • October 8, 2014 at 9:10 am
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    It seems to me that a FPP line would be in the new space. Otherwise the extensively themed standby line will remain empty. One of the things Disney has identified is that TSMM is an attraction that many want to re-ride. I could see the double track side used for standby exclusively for that reason too. Disney seems highly aware that guests in line are not spending money and its a priority to get them out into the parks

    • October 8, 2014 at 11:17 am
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      Currently FP+ gets 2/3rd of the ride’s capicity, and I wouldn’t expect that to change with a 3rd track. You could put a single track to the left of the current entrance and feed the standby queue to it, while keeping the original FP+ entrance for the current 2 tracks.

  • October 8, 2014 at 9:19 am
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    Was there in August and like everyone, had to pick between Toy Story and the Rockin’ Roller Coaster options under the tiered Fast Pass system. Chose the coaster and figured I observe the standby times for Toy Story. They never came down from 90 minutes, so we opted to avoid that ride. Didn’t lose any sleep over it. It’s certainly not worth that long a wait.

  • October 8, 2014 at 9:22 am
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    The biggest problem that must be overcome is that rides like Toy Story is a an enjoyable tame ride that the whole family can go on and wants to but cannot. The problem is , fast pass or not, the throughput for the ride is too low as with most of the new Disney rides. Therefore the average attendance makes it impossible for most of the guest to ride.

  • October 8, 2014 at 9:22 am
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    Bad show. Period.
    Leaving many guests unable to enjoy a functioning attraction; defeating the immersion of the pre-show; offering no explanation for a previously-unheard of change to policy… I could go on.
    WDW has officially lost its way and is in desperate need on someone at the helm to right this off-course ship.

    • October 8, 2014 at 9:49 am
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      DisneyDad hit the nail on the head. Disney had ruined the magic.

  • October 8, 2014 at 9:45 am
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    What people are failing to realize is the parks are not owned by them! Disney can run there rides how they see fit. I find all the constant complaining really annoy at best. Hate how Disne runs there parks? Start your own.

    • October 8, 2014 at 11:15 am
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      You are right Rebekah, Disney does have the right to run their parks the way they see fit, but guests have the right to complain if they don’t like the way their money (because all of Disney’s money comes from their guests) is being spent, or to stop spending time there…

    • October 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm
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      You’re right. Disney has the right to run their park however they want. However, most people would have already spent considerable money to go to the park- plane tickets, non-refundable hotels, non-refundable Disney tickets, before this ‘test’ was scheduled. If Toy Story was your favorite ride, and now you can’t ride, imagine how disappointed you’d be- and angry about all the money you invested.

      If Disney announced that in Oct. 2015 that Toy Story would be FPP only, people may not like the change, but at least they’d have the option not to go. Instead, they sprung this on people who may have invested a lot of money in a “once in a lifetime” trip.

  • October 8, 2014 at 9:47 am
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    You state in your article that “Another controversial aspect of this test is that it applies equally to guests using Disability Access Service (DAS) passes, which ordinarily allow users into the FP+ queue immediately if standby is under 30 minutes, or at an assigned time if longer.”

    For clarification:
    The immediate access to the FP+ line for DAS users is only if the standby line posted wait time is 10 minutes or less at WDW. It is 30 minutes or less at Universal for those using their Attraction Assistance Pass.
    Thanks!

    • October 8, 2014 at 11:10 am
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      Thanks, the typo has been corrected. As you can tell, I spend much more time with Uni’s system than DAS!

  • October 8, 2014 at 10:06 am
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    I’m trying to stay positive and think this has to be a test of the system in advance of the third track. However, I think it’s a terrible move from a guest service perspective. There has to be a way to test this in a theoretical environment that did not keep guests who’ve paid full price from doing the ride. I think they need to hire some Touring Plans statisticians!

    • October 8, 2014 at 11:11 am
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      I’m guessing that they did run computer models first, but sometimes you just have to test in the real world and see what happens. That’s probably why they chose the off season to try this.

  • October 8, 2014 at 10:17 am
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    My feeling is that it is such a waste of a fabulous attraction in the queue that standby folks could enjoy – Mr. Potato Head! He gets completely ignored in this system.

    • October 8, 2014 at 11:11 am
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      Very true, it was odd being the only person watching Mr P do is shtick.

  • October 8, 2014 at 11:24 am
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    What is Disney thinking?! This is such a popular ride, one of the only ones in HS for small children, and one of the main reasons we even visit HS. What a horrible trick to play on paying guests who may not have made a fastpass for Toy Story Mania, because they had no idea Disney would restrict the ride like this. I am not following the logic here. Isn’t Disney concerned about the angry guests? If it was me, I would have been so angry and disappointed it would have severely dampened the “magic” that day.

  • October 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm
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    I’ve seen this story on several blogs and facebook posts and all are followed by a flood of “What are they thinking?” comments. I know exactly what they are thinking and guests satisfaction/convenience has nothing to do with it. It’s the same reason you will have a hard time finding benches nowadays in the parks.
    People that aren’t moving can’t spend money.
    Whether it’s in line, or sitting on a bench, it doesn’t pay to keep guests stationary. Get’um in, get’um out, get at their wallets. The bean counters are eating away at the magic like termites.

  • October 8, 2014 at 12:49 pm
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    Disney isn’t “ruining the magic” by TESTING this option. They are trying to see how they can make TSMM a more efficient attraction. If you’ve waited in either line, you know how tiring that wait is, even if you have a FP+. It’s the same thing for when you go to a park and find a ride is under referbishment., they’re trying to better the parks, not ruin your vacation.

  • October 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm
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    I mean, we should all keep this in perspective: it’s a three day test. Everything is going back to normal after literally three days. I think the more interesting angle is ‘why’ is Disney doing this? Perhaps to expand the ride? Or tear the long queue down to make room for a bigger/newer land? Or, maybe it really is just about how to get more of your money (I kind of doubt that… they’d know that to preserve guest experience this has to end up with some benefit to the guests).

    So, everyone take a deep breath, sanity will be restored soon, and at the very least Disney now has overwhelming evidence to not make FP+ mandatory for rides.

  • October 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm
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    I loved the old Fastpass system and always thought more people would be happier if more used them. I have to say I always felt a little bad that I was missing out on some of the great queue experiences when using FastPass though. I think the new system, especially the tiered system at EPCOT and HS, is getting a little too far off track. It’s getting too complicated and creating too much anxiety forcing advance choices. People who don’t enjoy pre-planning already had a tough time with Disney before, but now it’s that much harder.

    That all being said, I’m not as cynical about Disney’s motives on this test. People waiting 90 minutes or more for a 10 minutes ride also creates a lot of unhappy people. I can’t imagine that many people who would have waited for 90 minutes in standby are going to finish a 10-minute FP+ ride and use that remaining 80 minutes to eat or shop somewhere that they otherwise wouldn’t have gone to. They’ll likely use most of that extra time enjoying other attractions across the park.

  • October 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm
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    To the person who said Disney can run their parks anyway they want, yes this is true. And guests can spend their money anyway they want to as well. And if this unchecked greed by the powers that be at Disney continues, many will chose to spend their money somewhere else besides Disney Parks! This catering to the rich and upper middle class has TOTALLY off the original Walt Disney concept of families having fun together. And BTW, I am upper middle class, so if I am offended by all this money grubbing, lackluster customer service, Disney had better wake up and go back to it’s roots.

    • October 8, 2014 at 4:16 pm
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      LIKE button.

  • October 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm
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    So, we are staying on-site in a couple of weeks, and we were planning on doing DHS without any FP+. We plan to arrive well prior to a EMH rope drop and do TSMM standby and then (as this is a trip focusing on a 3-year-old) do toddler-centric attractions. After a nap, we intended to go to MK and use our FP+ there.

    If I’m understanding this correctly, if we show up to DHS and find that they are doing TSMM as FP+ only, we would have to undo all our FP+ at MK in order to ride TSMM at DHS. Is that correct? Is there any place where this kind of info is posted ahead of time so that we don’t show up and have to make a decision to skip DHS entirely to keep our Anna and Elsa FP for later in the day or ditch the elusive Anna and Elsa FP for TSMM?

    • October 9, 2014 at 12:41 pm
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      Sorry but this 3-day test had virtually no advance notice, if they do it again in the future I don’t expect much warning…

  • October 8, 2014 at 2:27 pm
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    I don’t have a problem with Disney trying to improve guests’ experience through experiments such as this, but it’s not like it’s a construction project – why not try it one or two days a week over a month’s time, rather than 4 consecutive days? That way you’d likely have fewer guests who would lose the opportunity to ride if their vacation coincides with the experiment dates.

  • October 8, 2014 at 2:44 pm
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    Please correct your article – Maureen is correct; the posted wait time for DAS users must be 10 minutes or less before they can enter the FastPast line. Otherwise, they have to get a return time which is then ONLY 10 minutes less than the stand-by line wait time.

    This would have been a great time for testers to see just how many DAS cards were being used, considering they normally do not even keep track of the return times they are giving to those guests. And another thing – DAS users are NEVER expedited into a ride – they wait just like any other FastPass user!! But it would be true to say that the FastPass line IS an expedited line compared to the Stand-by queue! Problem is, once the DAS user returns, they end up not only waiting the stand-by time (less 10 minutes) but ALSO how ever long the FastPass line is, which means they usually are waiting longer than any of the other guests!!!

    Please fix your story if you care about accuracy….

    • October 8, 2014 at 2:45 pm
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      Well, you must have fixed the error while I was typing my last comment because it said 30 minutes when I read the article. Thanks!

  • October 8, 2014 at 9:26 pm
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    Although it didn’t seem to work out, I do appreciate that Disney is trying to do *something* about the lines at TSMM. Because of its universal appeal, everyone wants to ride it and I’m sure that all the FP+ are taken before the day begins. Releasing more FP+ would seem to make sense, but that would make the standby line (already very long) totally intolerable. So my guess is that they decided to try releasing as many FP+ as they could for a day, and then eliminate the standby line completely since it would hardly move anyway.

  • October 8, 2014 at 9:47 pm
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    This summer we visited Disney California Adventure. During our five days, we never saw the line for Toy Story Midway Mania longer than 30 minutes. Just an observation. Perhaps a few more attractions would ease the problem at DHS?

    • October 16, 2014 at 11:41 am
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      The problem Hollywood Studios suffers from is that it has attractions, but not ones that necessarily cater to the entire family, aside from Toy Story. Tower of Terror and RR w/Aerosmith are definitely not for the very young. If it weren’t for Toy Story, the Disney Jr. show and the Jedi Academy, our family probably wouldn’t even be going on our next vacation. Hopefully with the Backlot Tour leaving, they’ll use that space for more family friendly options.

  • October 9, 2014 at 2:26 am
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    This is insane. The idea of FP only attractions is bad enough, but to do it, even for a test, with no advance warning is inexcusable. In what world does even basic customer service allow this? Guests show up prepared to wait in standby and they are simply told “no, we want to test something so you are s.o.l.” Not only is this not Disney customer service, this is worse than what I would expect from WalMart.

    • October 9, 2014 at 7:55 pm
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      Totally agree with this statement; never thought I would see a day where Disney World was the example of what not to do, however it is here. Looks like not only is it here, but it’s here to stay. This feels like a lab experiment, and we are all the rats running in the maze trying to find the cheese.

  • October 9, 2014 at 3:58 am
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    Apparently Disney did not plan for an emergency, per a cast member the ride was down for about two hours creating a very long wait time to enter the building and get in the seat. The fast pass line at 6:00 pm on 10/8 was all the way down to (the old) Who Wants to be a Millionaire building. The cast members were handing out fast pass paper tickets to be used anywhere except Toy Story Mania until the end of the month. While standing in line I observed numerous empty seats why would these seats not be used, why makes the wait time even longer by running empty seats. You can understand a random out of service chair but not the total number of chairs observed within a five minute window that ran through completely empty, often two chairs back to back.

  • October 9, 2014 at 6:59 am
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    I worry about the little kids without FP+ and not understanding why they couldn’t ride with woody and Buzz. My four year, whose make a wish, is to go on an adventure with Woody and Buzz would be devastated to miss this ride. For me, if I was at the resort without a pass I would just skip Hollywood studios. It wouldn’t be worth the fight.

  • October 9, 2014 at 9:05 am
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    So we went on TSMM yesterday and the Queue was definitely NOT empty. And no vehicles were being sent empty. When we walked in most of the Mr potato head queue was full and we waited about 20 min before riding. It was kinda maddening because it wasn’t “fast” like a fast pass usually is. Basically our FP was just permission to stand in line.

    • October 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm
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      That’s interesting. Either they are adjusting the # of FP available (too many instead of too few) or there was downtime earlier in the day (see Susan’s comment above).

  • October 9, 2014 at 9:34 am
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    Just wondering… maybe the whole point of this experiment is not to alter the FP+ system, but to prevent the ‘mad dash’ to TSMM at park opening? Disney has never been happy with those early morning sprints, and perhaps this is their way of shutting that down?

    Or is that just a side benefit to them? 😉

  • October 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm
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    I participated in the experiment today 10/9. they did change several things. They added more fast passes to the ride and staged their availability throughout the day. they had cast member stations at the ride schedule fast passes for guests wanting to go on it today. It does mean the same rules for a fastpass apply. It has to be and 1 of your 3 for the day. They did not honor DAS or have any alternatives to those guests. Wheelie guests were sent by easy of the FP queue as always. Wait times inside were the same as always. No empty cars that I saw. Only jam we experienced was the wait outside in the sun to scan our FPs. About 7 mins. We went at noon.

  • October 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm
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    I’ll reiterate my thoughts here that I posted on the original announcement of the testing and just add that I really feel for the folks that were visiting for the first time and/or had not reserved FPs. I can only imagine their disappointment and frustration.

    We were there the first day of this and observed many angry and confused guests. We ourselves were pretty perplexed and it congested a lot of the rest of the park. With a higher capacity attraction having just closed (Backlot Tour), the park felt really busy. We ended up leaving early because we just were not having any fun by early afternoon with Starring Rolls even closing an hour early despite the crowds. We had to give our love to the CMs on duty though, because it must have been a really hard day for them with more to come and they were awesome. They get the brunt of guests’ anger even though the situation is well out of their control. Believe me, we’re sending our thoughts to management!

  • October 9, 2014 at 7:44 pm
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    Two days of this years trip went to Universal/IOA, and next year we might go to Mickey’s not so scary for one night. The reason being, less money, and the feeling that I’m not just a number. What really angers me about this stunt is the absolute disregard for the customers who made the mistake of using free will. I heard on a recent podcast someone say that if you don’t like it don’t go, absolutely agree, and will comply. When a single day ticket is 100 dollars and people are saving sometimes years to go here, it is completely within their right to be extremely unhappy about a stunt like this.

  • October 10, 2014 at 7:02 am
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    I didn’t see this mentioned previously, but while I feel for those caught unaware, Disney has to do some of this stuff “in motion”. There are no other models for them to follow and some of their experimentation needs to be on THEIR attractions and with real guests.

    I have no idea whether they plan to move to this model more permanently or with other attractions, but, like FP+ itself, change isn’t always bad. As someone else mentioned, eliminating the mad dash would be good, as would figuring out exactly how many FP’s they can give out and keep the queue almost entirely empty but a steady stream of guests on the attraction.

    As the article pointed out, TSMM wasn’t at capacity, not by a long shot. And this is probably because guests didn’t return in an orderly, predictable manner. Instead, they returned within a window of time. So Disney has to experiment with what will happen if they increase FP+ distribution, decrease the return time slot and other variables… all with live guests. It might suck while you’re there, but it’s also why CM’s can’t give out extra magical FP’s – it can destroy the integrity of the test.

    • October 10, 2014 at 9:20 am
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      Doing this sort of test without prior notice or proper compensation on unsuspecting guests is absolutely the error here. CMs themselves aren’t aware of the tests until the day of or a couple days before. Someone in their ivory tower of management is thinking up this irritating ideas and forcing them on the masses. Guests are not your test subjects. They are your livelihood. If a manager had been in the parks before this they would have seen it was actually a very busy time for them. All those crowd calendars you saw on line were wrong the last couple weeks. Guests and CMs have been overwhelmed with crowds and extended wait times for the last 3 weeks. Ever since Food & Wine started, Magic Kingdom decorated for Halloween and Frozen Summer Fun weekends were ending its been busy. Far too busy for this experiment nonsense. The tests should have been no more than a day or waited until Jan/Feb when it really is quiet. As a DVC Member and AP holder who vacations in WDW around 6 weeks a year, I’m ending my trip glad I’m going home and somewhat staying coming b back. We have two more days here and are electing not to go to any parks. We’ll go to the movies, lounge at the pool and maybe go to Sea World. Disney has just stopped being fun. Since I invested a lot of money in the DVC program that worries me. I’m at the point where I think WDW has to suffer a major failure before management heads roll and they learn. Disney has gone from being the leader in guest satisfaction to bring arrogant and indifferent.

      • October 11, 2014 at 6:30 am
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        Compensation? Seriously? WDW is a business. They’re not a public service. They don’t owe me, you or anyone else anything. You and I both know that any given attraction could be closed on any given day for any number of reasons. Life happens.

        As I said before, some of these things have to be tested in the real world. A computer model is only going to show so much. And Disney doesn’t have any other Parks to watch for some of the things they do. Heck, they’ve even discovered that models that work in one Park don’t even work cross-country, and definitely don’t work in another country due to cultural differences. So I would be disappointed, but ultimately, I understand the logic.

        One ride isn’t available, so “Disney has stopped being fun”? Wow. And you visit Disney for 6 weeks out of every year and are complaining about this? Drama much? Even as a DVC member, Disney doesn’t owe you anything. In fact, you pay less, per trip, on average, than the usual non-DVC, non-AP guest. So if anything, they owe you less than the family from the Midwest who are on their One Trip To Disney and won’t be coming back.

        My suggestion is to drop the entitlement and enjoy every other part of the trip.

  • October 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm
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    I think it comes down to this, when you are spending thousands of dollars (& I mean thousands bc Disney is ridiculously expensive to visit) you should be able to participate on any ride you wish if the ride is not broken. I understand the fast passes but to say we are taking away your right to stand in line for five minutes or five hours is wrong. Theme park tixs for a day are about 100.00 a day. I should have the right to stand in line all day if I wished. I also feel that some folks do not want to plan their entire day in advance. It’s vacation and sometimes just strolling around and deciding what activities you want to participate in spur of the moment is appreciated. My kids are sometimes into thrill rides other times they want nothing to do w them which is why I like flexibility. I also prefer the old run to the line n get a tix option at times.

    • October 11, 2014 at 6:36 am
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      See my comment to BroganMc above about entitlements. But I’ll repeat it again because I’m seeing this more and more frequently. Disney doesn’t owe you anything. You are a GUEST. You don’t own the place and you don’t have a RIGHT to anything while you’re there.

      Disney has made these changes in an effort to serve ALL of their Guests. FastPasses, originally, were going to be the death of Disney. Then everyone who learned how to use them to do more and wait less loved them. Now Disney is adjusting them and it’s going to cause some growing pains… but it’s never been guaranteed that you’d get to go on every attraction you wanted to ride.

      They didn’t shut down every ride. They limited the availability of ONE ride in ONE of four Parks. I’m certain that there was something else for you to do that day.

      • October 11, 2014 at 8:49 am
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        I agree with you that Disney is a business and can do what they want. I’m sure the new changes and FP+ do benefit some guests and improve their experiences, and I’m sure we’ll have a great time the next time we go. Even so, Disney made these changes to help their bottom line. They were struggling with hotel capacity and were looking for a way to drive that through new incentives. They also set up a system that could be used for upcharges and special experiences. It’s a profit generator that was put in place instead of trying to draw guests through new attractions. They’re working on being more efficient to drive greater profits per guest, and FP+ and the Magic Bands are one element of that approach.

        The real issue has been the execution. They’ve made changes with no warning to guests on a constant basis, and the communications plan has been terrible for FP+. There are ways that they could have sold it better and enacted it in a way that actually felt like a benefit. Instead, it’s been a mess for a lot of guests.

      • October 11, 2014 at 4:55 pm
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        While I agree that talk of rights or entitlements can cloud the issue, Disney customers are given an expectation by their advertising and history of being well worth a giant price tag. It’s certainly their prerogative to tick off high paying customers by getting them to spend more in the parks while cheapening and disappointing them here and there, closing off standby lines and requiring micro planning etc, I suspect the Disney merchandise and spending is – in the long run – going to start looking ugly instead sweet. You’re right, it is not about one ride.

  • October 12, 2014 at 8:55 am
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    If Disney wants to experiment with its systems, isn’t there software somewhere that would let them do virtual testing, rather than making so many guests unhappy? With all the analysis and reverse engineering that Touringplans.com does, you can’t tell me that Disney itself is incapable of running computerized testing to answer these kinds of questions, rather than changing the rules so often on its guests, who already have to jump through innumerable hoops in the name of overpriced fun. Plus, it seems to me that if you make the ride an all-fastpass experience, isn’t that the same as having no fastpasses at all, and just letting everyone get in line? Has that every been tried?

    • October 12, 2014 at 9:21 am
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      First, let’s talk about optimization. In a perfect world, Disney hands out a quantity of FPs that ensures that the ride is full at all times, while at the same time, allowing people to just walk-on to the ride without wait. This keeps guests happy and, if done perfectly, frees up ACRES of space that’s used today for queues (space isn’t needed if you don’t have to wait).

      But people are unpredictable. In the paper FP world, you could return anytime AFTER your FP window started. This led to lines in the FP return queue. Even now, people don’t always use the FP they have, especially if you can go online and rebook it to something else even at the last second. So models have to be built that can accurately predict this erratic behavior.

      If software exists, my guess is that it’s because Disney has made it (probably an app developed in SAS). But models can’t completely show human behavior as easily as testing it in the real world. You have to take into account: weather, number of people in the Park, special events, FP distribution patterns and timing, amount of time FPs are good for the return, number of people who return every minute of that return window, optimal return volume, number of expired FPs (and where those people go instead).

      With the Magic Bands, Disney can not only see who doesn’t return for their FP, but where they go instead. This is critical to understanding FP “attrition”. And it should actually lead to the availability of MORE FPs distributed and handed out in a way that ensures near-complete attraction optimized use while minimizing wait times.

      No matter what Disney does, some folks are going to be upset. Entitlement is the tip of the iceberg. But I go a lot and I have NEVER had a situation where I couldn’t ride what I wanted. It might not be at the time I wanted, but that’s a minor inconvenience. So unless the TSMM FP-only test started on the last day of my vacation and I had saved DHS for that last day, chances are, if already ridden it (this is also why I recommend folks do what they MUST do at the beginning of their trips – you have more time to fix any snafus).

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