Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dreams really do come true! (FastPass+)

OK, full disclosure, we didn't actually dream about FastPass+ specifically, per se. That being said, we were pretty darn giddy to discover we had been invited to beta test the new FastPass+ technology for our upcoming trip.

What is Fastpass?
Per The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, Fastpass is a ride reservation system designed by Disney to moderate the high wait times at some of its most popular attractions. The current Fastpass system is available at select popular attractions that are prone to long wait times. You show up to the attraction, if the posted wait time is too long for you (for us, we usually won't wait more than 20-25 minutes), check to see if a Fastpass is available. You put your park ticket in a machine and it spits out a ticket to come back during a designated window of time and you skip waiting in lines. Unlike other theme parks that use this system, Disney Fastpasses are free. 

I had heard rumors about the future of Fastpass in Disney World. Instead of traipsing across a park to get a Fastpass to be used at a future time that may or may not be convenient to you, you could schedule your ride before you even left for the airport! But here is our first-hand account so far.

1. Be part of a special test during your upcoming Disney World visit!
We got this email from Disney on Sept 4, 2012 (Bill insisted we note this date so we can tell our grandchildren about how technology changed the way we book our trips.) From what I can tell, this invitation was sent to a random selection of guests who will be in the World between 9/18 and 9/24 and who are using Disney transportation. 
Click on any photo to enlarge

2. Log into with your reservation #. It appears that Disney provided us with a separate reservation # than our trip # for the purposes of this pilot. 

3. Pick the date.

4. Select up to 4 experiences. 
There are 2 groupings of rides, shows and experiences and I was invited to select 2 from each group. I haven't seen a pattern as to why they grouped these attractions the way they did but they break down as follows:
  • Group 1 - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Main Street Electrical Parade, Peter Pan's Flight, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Town Square Theatre: Meet the Disney Princesses, Wishes Nighttime Spectacular
  • Group 2 - Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Mickey's PhilharMagic, The Barnstormer, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Town Square Theatre: Meet Mickey & Minnie

There was even a button at the bottom called Fast Picks, which I assume randomly selects 4 attractions for you. Being a control freak, ahem, planner, I can't understand why anyone would use this option, but maybe some people like the option of the site planning for them.

5. Select from 4 options
The site then presents you 4 Options for using these passes. 
At this point we got a little nervous because we had a dinner reservation that overlapped with the times offered. Prepared to cancel the dinner reservation, we accepted the option that best fit the times we would be in the park. Fortunately, the next screen appeared!

6. Get more options around specific attraction times.
Although it gives you a final line up, you can select "Make Changes" for individual attractions and it gives you about half a dozen options for other available times for that specific attraction. Luckily, we were able to select a new time for the attraction that coincided with our dinner. (You see? We CAN do it all, dear!)

Final Thoughts
We look forward to receiving an RFID card to bring to the park to skip waiting in line. Anytime Disney stuff comes in the mail, it's a good day. I can't wait to see how this technology enhances the guest experience. I will be sure to report back the pros and cons.

Just think...years ago we used to just wander around and wait in line. Then we went to the attraction for a Fastpass, walked around some more and back tracked. Soon we'll just show up at the park and walk right onto attractions. Now that's progress! 

Sing with me now...



  2. Thanks very much for this detailed description, it's good to know how it's all working for those of us not part of the Beta.

  3. Did you get any information on the fastpass+ for "Wishes"? Is this for a reserved, unobstructed seating area? I'll be curious to know if it is worth using one of your four slots on this. I'm hoping it is reserved, unobstructed seating that will enable you to enjoy "Wishes" without the need to stake out a good spot an hour ahead of time, and then spend the hour "defending" your territory. let us know how it goes. thanks!

  4. Great question! I got a confirmation email that said "Rose Garden next to Tomorrowland walkway". I'm assuming it will be a roped off area, but I don't know that there is much seating in the Rose Garden area. I will definitely update with lots of pictures!