12/16 – FastPass+ Test at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom – Our Experience, My Thoughts

Back in 2000/2001, I was working at the Disney Reservation Center when I first heard about a system being put in place that would eventually create a more personalized experience for Walt Disney World guests.

When staying onsite, guests would arrive at their resort, and the front desk would greet each family by name upon arrival. Most of what we were told about was in regards to reservations and the resort experience, but it’s clear that technology needed to catch up to what Disney had in mind. That was 13 years ago! It wasn't called NextGen at that time, and I don't recall attraction reservations being mentioned to us.

Fast forward to 2012, and Walt Disney World is testing NextGen on many fronts. We had the opportunity to test out FastPass+ yesterday with our Cast Member friend Derek. FastPass+ will offer guests the ability to make attraction reservations up to 2 months in advance of their trip with a Magic Your Way ticket. Annual passes have not yet been addressed, and I don't know if it will be mostly resort guests, deluxe resort guests, etc. I've not seen that addressed by Disney either.

Before I share our experience from yesterday, I will say that I have mixed feelings on FastPass+. I like the personalization, and found the layout of our experience pretty easy to follow. On the flip side, I wouldn't have a desire to make ride reservations 2 months out. We live in Orlando, but if and when Disneyland implements this, I'd not really care about booking Space Mountain or the Matterhorn 2 months ahead. When I've participated in the Walt Disney World free dining program, I left up to half of my dining reservations unused because I really didn't know where I'd be dining 6 months out. I might feel like Italian food and Midway Mania one day, and steak and Soarin' the next. But I won't know that until…well, the day of.

As a former Disney Authorized Vacation Planner of 6 years, I expect this will also add another layer to the job of any travel agent that books Disney. I used to spend a lot of time discussing dining options with guests so that they'd not arrive unprepared for their vacation. I expect that travel agents will be spending much more time now discussing rides and attractions (making those FAM trips even more important!)

Now to explain how our test worked! Jeff and I had a trying time getting to the Magic Kingdom. The boats were backed up, the monorail had issues – so we were too late for our Space Mountain FastPass+ time. Derek needed to be at work for 4:30, so he rode Space Mountain and changed our time to later in the day. In this case, he would be a "Connected Friend" (see here), allowing him to modify our reservations. (We'd also had reservations for Disney's Hollywood Studios the previous day, but I was sick and we had to cancelboth parks were part of the test)

We arrived in time for our next attraction, The Haunted Mansion. There was a 25 minute wait, but we were able to walk right in with our FastPass+ RFID card. There are two stantions at the entrance to the attraction where guests tap their cards to enter. The light will turn green if you are at the right attraction at the right time. This also allows the Cast Members to see the guest names, and also to see if there is a celebration in the party. Derek chose "My Personal Triumph" as the celebration. 🙂 When guests get closer to the ride itself, there are another set of stantions, and guests will tap again. When the light turns green, themed music plays from the speaker. This is what it looks like as we walked through.

 

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These screens give the Cast Members information about the guests who enter:

 

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Jeff and I didn't have access online to change or look at the experiences, so Derek showed us how it worked. There are also kiosks in the park, but not a lot of them now. Currently, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain share just one. 

 

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Our next experience was Jungle Cruise. We waited in line at the kiosk to see what the experience of modifying attractions was like. You can see our video showing how it worked. We weren't able to modify our Jungle Cruise experience to another attraction since we were within the attraction's timeframe, but we could have modified our Big Thunder Mountain to either Splash Mountain or Enchanted Tales with Belle at that time. 

 

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Our next ride was to be Big Thunder Mountain, but it was closed. We were told by a Cast Member that it wouldn't likely be open again that day. In this case, our FastPass+ was a bust because we couldn't change attractions anymore, just the time – and there wasn't a point in changing the time for an attraction that wouldn't likely open (and we'd not be there even if it did). The kiosk did tell us to have "A Magical Day"!

 

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I've been under the weather, so I let Jeff ride Space Mountain while I waited. The test worked the same as at Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise, with the only slight difference being that The Haunted Mansion doesn't have regular FastPass, so there was no mixing with any other guests holding FastPass tickets. With Space Mountain and Jungle Cruise, we were in the regular FastPass line.

 

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This is just a test of what the system will be like when it debuts. There will be many more attractions and many more guests when that happens – so it's hard to know how well it will work once fully implemented.

On this page, you'll find information about FastPass+. I find it a little mind-boggling, even after testing it! 

The rides are on a tiered system, we didn't make the reservations so I didn't see how that part worked. How it was explained reminded me of having ticket books as far as tiers, although only one reservation could be made per attraction. Splash, Big Thunder Mountain and Enchanted Tales with Belle were all in the same tier. Again, this is just a test – I don't have all the details on how it will work when fully implemented. Parade viewing and Wishes viewing are also among the experiences that will be available with FastPass+.

Remember to check out our video!

Check out the new Disneyworld.com here!