• 18May
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Updates to FastPass+ booking times and Rider Switch

    A lonely little Fastpass+ touchpoint waiting to be used

    A lonely little Fastpass+ touchpoint waiting to be used

    Just a couple of updates…as of May 18th, the time at which you can first make FastPass+ reservations when the booking window opens has shifted from Midnight to 7:00am ET. Good news for the East Coast and Europe – not so much for the West Coast. We confirmed this change this morning.

    Also, I’m hearing that at least at a few attractions there is a slight modification of the Rider Switch procedure, which adheres to the original idea that the Rider Switch pass should be given to someone going through the line first, insuring that it can’t be used until they return.

    What may happen is that instead of being given the Rider Switch pass at the entrance, you instead get a lanyard that you will trade in further down the queue (likely at the loading area/merge point), where you will receive the actual pass. Nothing else has changed – the pass is still good for any three guests to use any time later that day.

    [Update 8/4] I can confirm that the Rider Switch change has taken place at least at some attractions, as we used it and were presented with a card on a lanyard similar to the timing cards, and you trade that in to a CM further in the queue for the actual Rider Switch pass.

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  • 23Jun
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Why FastPass+ has improved standby wait times at old FASTPASS attractions – and why others suffer for it

    Over a year ago, when FastPass+ just started to roll out with restrictions on what you could select, I posted the following on the DISboards, explaining why I predicted that standby wait times would actually go DOWN at the original FASTPASS attractions with FastPass+:

    It can be argued that those riding TSM more than once are likely doing so via Fastpass, at least once. Not all, but probably the majority. Some are very likely to be doing it using multiple Fastpasses.

    Now, if you can only get one FP+, what happens? Warning…assumptions ahead, but based on observation and logic!!! (No, Doc, don’t bring logic into this!!!)

    Assumption 1: Regardless if you can get more FP+ in the park, you can still only get one per attraction.

    Assumption 2: Those riding TSM with FP/FP+ will not be required to have to choose a FP+ for TSM or something else due to number of FP+ limitations or potential tiering of attractions.

    Let’s give names to different classes of TSM riders. And see if I can pull together a coherent argument despite interruptions.

    The “duplicates”. They get multiple FPs through the day for TSM, and ride 2+ times via FP, and potentially via standby as well, although if they do I expect it isn’t more than once.

    The “fast-and-slows”. They ride twice – once standby, once FP.

    The “one-and-dones”. They only ride once, either standby or FP, but are at least FP-savvy.

    The “don’t-get-its”, those who don’t understand FP, and probably still won’t understand FP+.

    Now, the “fast-and-slows” aren’t likely to change at all, since the changes don’t affect them as far as this argument goes (they may need to make a choice and give up their TSM FP+ for something else, but lets assume they don’t need to make that choice). So we can ignore them.

    The “don’t-get-its” also aren’t likely to change. They are still a constant in the standby lines with their glares.

    The duplicates are definitely affected, as they now can’t get more than one FP. So what do they do? They can still ride multiple times, but they have to do it via standby. Some will, but I have a feeling most likely only do so because of FP, and won’t. So while a few might go standby and increase the line there, others won’t. So less FP usage, with a lesser increase in standby usage. This alone would be a standby win as standby users will take the missing FP slots. Advantage: Standby.

    Now the “one-and-dones” are also affected. Those that end up in the standby line simply because there are no FPs available after noon, now have the potential to get a FP+ given up by the former duplicates. They likely will fill all those slots again – but then they are taking themselves out of the standby line on a 1-for-1 basis. So although the FP+ line goes back to before, the standby line decreases by the same degree, so it is shorter. Advantage: Standby.

    Now of course there could be outliers – former one-and-dones that become opportunistic fast-and-slows now that a FP+ is dangled in front of them, but in the same token some duplicates and fast-and-slows may opt all the way down to one-and-dones. And for each former duplicate that used to ride 3+ times and now drops to 1, there are that many more slots opened for others.

    That’s why I’m actually seeing this as a potential win for the standby line.

    Where this might not work as well where Assumption 2 breaks down more easily, like at MK, where there is a higher percentage of top-tier attractions. If you only have 3 FP+, and have to choose between the 3 (soon to be 4) mountains, Peter Pan, etc. Then you’ll have guests that may be forced into a fifth category, “I’d FP+ it but I’m out and forced to ride standby”, and this could see an increase in the standby line. This was worse when it seemed you’d only be able to get one top-tier FP+ – but this could also be a reason why they changed it.

    As it turns out, I was right…turning to the great folks at TouringPlans.com, who have been collecting wait time data for many years now, they’ve analyzed the difference in standby wait times, and it shows that it was in fact a win for the standby line – not much in some cases, but still a win. The most popular attractions – Toy Story Mania, Space Mountain, etc. – saw the best increases – as they were likely the attractions that guests would re-ride as much as possible in the old system.

    What I didn’t get in to was at the opposite end, although the results there should be somewhat self-evident…standby wait times at other attractions got longer.
    Continue reading »

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  • 10Jun
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on FastPass+ tier changes at Epcot and Hollywood Studios

    A few attractions will change their FastPass+ tiers at Epcot and Hollywood Studios, starting with FastPass+ selections for June 16th and later.

    According to WDW Magic, Epcot’s “Living With The Land” will move up to Tier 1, while “Maelstrom” and “Character Spot” will drop down to Tier 2. At Hollywood Studios, “The Great Movie Ride” will move up to Tier 1.

    This means that “Living With The Land” and “The Great Movie Ride” will be part of the tier where you can only choose one of the experiences in advance, while you can choose two from Tier 2.

    There is no tiering at Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom.

    This only applies to new FastPass+ selections made for days on or after June 16th. Existing reservations are not affected, but if you cancel them and then make new ones you will be subject to the new tiers.

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  • 24Apr
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Additional FastPass+ selections, limited park hopping available starting Monday April 28th

    It’s official…you will now be able to get more than three FastPass+ selections a day. But there is a catch…you can only make an additional selection after you have already used up your first three. That means if you are choosing late FastPass+ experiences, especially things like Wishes and the Main Street Electrical Parade, you won’t be able to get more until very late – and whenever you do use up your three, you will only be able to choose from what is still available at that point – so don’t plan on Soarin’ or Toy Story Mania for a fourth choice.

    After you’ve used your fourth choice, you can make a fifth, and so on, one at a time.

    You will also be able to park hop with those additional selections – but it seems that the first three must be in the same park still.

    Another point is that both prior rumors and the official news said that the additional choices are made at the FastPass+ kiosks around the parks – and don’t mention the web site or mobile app at all. I believe this is because neither currently have the flexibility to add that feature right now and it will take some development time – but I expect they will add it in the future as they really don’t need longer lines at some of those kiosks locations 🙂 Making additional selections for a particular park will appear to be limited to the kiosks at that park, it appears, so if you want to park hop you’ll have to wait until you get to the next park to make selections.

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  • 26Mar
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on FastPass+ and MagicBands to be available to off-site guests starting March 31st

    The endgame of the MyMagic+ rollout is here…according to WDW Magic (and checked with a few of our own spies), off-site guests will get full access to MyMagic+ including advanced FastPass+ reservations starting March 31st, 2014.

    Guests who have created their My Disney Experience account and registered their tickets in the profile will be able to make up to seven days of advanced FastPass+ reservations within a 30 day period from the current date. They will no longer have to wait until they enter the park and use the kiosks, which have had long lines since off-site guests were given same-day access. The 7/30 day limit matches what Annual Passholders are able to do since they were all activated a couple weeks ago. Guests booked at a Walt Disney World resort will still have a 60 day window.

    A ticket MUST be registered in the guest’s profile to be able to book FastPass+ experiences. This means that tickets must be purchased in advance.

    Also, off-site guests will have the option to purchase a MagicBand to use in place of the regular ticket media. The price is not yet confirmed but we are hearing $12.95. It is also not certain what color choices will be available, as currently the resorts only stock “Iconic Gray” for guests who have not pre-customized their bands before arrival. To start with, guests with off-site bands will be able to use the bands for park entry and FastPass+ redemption, which can be done with their regular RFID-enabled tickets. But the bands will also allow some behind-the-scenes magic some of which is still being developed, but one current feature is being able to associate some ride photos automatically to your account by detecting the band when the photo is taken. More such magical features will be forthcoming.

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  • 14Nov
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Changes to FastPass+: tiered choices at Epcot and DHS, no regular FP for Pop Century guests, limited FP+ for Swan/Dolphin

    Recently there have been some sudden and surprising changes with the FastPass+ system being rolled out. And at least in one case, it has guests shifting to other resorts or canceling their reservations all together…

    First, about a week ago Epcot’s FastPass+ selections began to be “tiered”. This is similar to how attractions were handled with the Birthday/Give A Disney Day Fastpass cards, and with very early FastPass+ testing. What has happened is that the attractions were placed into two groups, or tiers, and you could only make ONE FastPass+ selection from the top tier, which included Epcot Character Spot, IllumiNations (when available), Maelstrom, Soarin and Test Track. Then you can pick two from all the remaining attractions. And you could not change your selections afterwards to attempt to get a second top tier attraction. Note that Soarin’ and Test Track – arguably the top two attractions at Epcot and often the only two you really need a Fastpass for, are in the top tier, which means you have to make the choice – which one are you going to use your FastPass+ for? For now, you could still get a regular Fastpass for the other, but that is changing as well (see further below.)

    Now word breaks today that the same is happening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with Toy Story Mania, Rock’n’RollerCoaster, Fantasmic! and Beauty and the Beast in the top tier. While this pits TSM and RNRC against each other, it leaves Tower of Terror and Star Tours in the other tier, so you at least have some reasonable choices.

    Why are they doing this? Well, without any specific data, it is believed that these top two attractions at each park are getting almost all of the FP+ selections – and this is making availability somewhat scarce as the day draws near. By tiering and forcing the choice, more availability among the top attractions will allow more guests to take part instead of only those planning far ahead.
    Continue reading »

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  • 14Sep
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Disney opens up MagicBands, Fastpass+ to all Disney resort guests over coming weeks

    It appears that Disney has opened up the ability to customize MagicBands and start selecting Fastpass+ options to all Disney resort guests for guests checking in on or before October 31st, although they are being released over the coming weeks. Check the schedule below to see if you qualify. Note: Nothing has been scheduled for November at this point.

    You must have a reservation at one of the following resorts, checking in as specified. To make Fastpass+ selections, you must also have a valid ticket registered in your My Disney Experience profile. And there are lots of reports of difficulties getting some tickets registered, as they are still working out all the bugs. At a minimum, they should be able to get you set when you check in, and then you can make selections then, but they are trying to iron out all the options and tickets.

    No word yet on Annual Passholders and the general public getting access.

    ALL DATES SUBJECT TO CHANGE

    Currently actively available for all guests of the following resorts:

    Art Of Animation
    Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House (including Villas)
    Beach Club and Beach Club Villas
    Contemporary Resort
    Pop Century
    Port Orleans Riverside
    Polynesian Resort
    Yacht Club

    For check-ins AFTER September 30th:

    All Star Movies
    Animal Kingdom Kidani Village
    Bay Lake Tower
    Grand Floridian (not including Villas)
    Port Orleans French Quarter

    For check-ins AFTER October 7th:

    All Star Sports
    Boardwalk Inn and Boardwalk Villas
    Caribbean Beach

    For check-ins AFTER October 14th:

    All Star Music
    Coronado Springs
    Old Key West
    Wilderness Lodge and Wilderness Lodge Villas

    For check-ins AFTER October 21st:

    Fort Wilderness
    Saratoga Springs

    For check-ins AFTER October 23rd:

    Grand Floridian Villas

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  • 04Aug
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Review of MagicBands

    Some of the DIS folks managed to take part in one of the tests of MagicBands and Fastpass+ – check it out here.

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  • 28Jul
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on Updates on MagicBand/Fastpass+ testing

    I’ve been asked why I haven’t given an update on the recent MagicBand and Fastpass+ testing that’s been going on. Honestly, there has been a lot to keep track of – and not much to report that’s concrete.

    Recently, guests staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Contemporary Resort checkin in on certain days were able to receive MagicBands and take part in the first full guest MagicBand field test. They were allowed to schedule up to three Fastpass+ experiences per day during the test via My Disney Experience (DMX) web site/app. This included all the existing Fastpass attractions, plus a number of other attractions and some more unique items like reserved fireworks and parade areas.

    In general, the testing has worked well and been well received, but one thing to note…guests participating in the tests have also been given a “normal” KTTW card as a backup device and to use at table service locations for room charges as they are not yet fully equipped to handle MagicBands. But these cards also work in the current Fastpass kiosks, so the guests were able to use regular Fastpass in addition to Fastpass+, without any interference from each other. It is uncertain that this will be the case when it is fully rolled out, as I’m still hearing information that “regular Fastpass” will go away, and information is still uncertain about whether you will be able to use Fastpass+ similar to Fastpass on the same day.

    One thing that did come out of testing – although you can only pick a given attraction once per day, after you’ve used the Fastpass+ for an attraction, if you have any remaining you can change a previous selection to the same attraction.

    Another test is currently going on with some guests staying at Bay Lake Tower (the first one including DVC members), and then for most of August it appears that most guests staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Contemporary Resort, Pop Century and Yacht Club will be optionally participating. However there is a lot of conflicting information as to whether they will be able to use regular Fastpass on the same day as Fastpass+. Some guests calling for info and support have been told adamantly no, others certainly yes, and still others are told they can use it as long as they don’t book any Fastpass+ that day.

    So it is safe to say we can’t really say much for certain yet. 🙂

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  • 13Apr
    News, Walt Disney World Comments Off on MagicBand/MyMagic+ testing potentially under way with select guests at Animal Kingdom

    WDW Magic is reporting that MagicBand testing – including full features of MyMagic+ such as Fastpass+ and touch-to-pay, is taking place, although it seems limited to pre-selected guests staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge and going to the Animal Kingdom park.

    I have not seen any reports from any participants yet, nor any from a rumored test with Boardwalk Inn guests that was supposed to have happened already. It remains to be seen how this all works out.

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