FastPass (and a Disneyland/Disney California Adventure version, called MaxPass) is a virtual queuing system created by the Walt Disney Company. Introduced in 1999, it’s a way for theme park guests to avoid long lines for rides and other attractions by reserving a time to come back and wait on a minimal queue, ahead of most people who don’t have a FastPass and are waiting on a “standby” line.
Joe and I have been Disney fans for what feels like forever, and are at an advantageous point of view where we’ve lived long enough to have spent several years both with and without the various versions of Disney’s FastPass service. After all, Joe’s first trip was in the mid-1970s and mine was in the late-1970s, so we both had 20+ years of Disney parks “BFP” (before FastPass). We’ve also lived in the northeast AND in the Orlando area, so we’ve been able to experience Walt Disney World as vacationers and locals. This is significant because visiting Disney is usually a different experience, both with their respective advantages and disadvantages, as a visitor and a local. So we’re able to see things from both sides of the coin. So when a friend of mine posted the following article, I found it to be a VERY interesting read.
The article is by Brian Krosnick, of Theme Park Tourist and is called
It’s a long but excellent read that goes over:
- the history of standing in line at Disney theme parks
- how FastPass works
- how FastPass DOESN’T work
- the ways FastPass leads to overcrowding
- the disadvantages FastPass causes in terms of storytelling
- how FastPass doesn’t increase ride capacity
- the unfairness of FastPass
- how FastPass makes your vacation more difficult to plan “right”
- the ways that FastPass makes the rest of your waits worse
- imagining a world without FastPass
If you have some spare time to read it, please do.
Our Take On It:
I remember when FastPass first came out. Michael Eisner was still in charge and although he had done some amazing stuff for the parks in the 80s and early 90s, his later years seemed to be focused more on how to squeeze more money out of guests. So developing a plan where people could NOT spend time in line and instead spend time shopping and dining made perfect sense for the company from a financial point of view. As stockholders we liked the idea but as Disney park fans, well, I’ll be honest – we mocked it as “just another way to get people to buy stuff” and we joked that whoever it was who had pitched FastPass probably got a nice bonus that year.
That being said, we admittedly liked FastPass when it first came out. As visitors from the northeastern U.S., and even when we first moved down to Florida and lived in Tampa for a couple of years, it was easy enough to plan our day on the fly, depending on what paper FastPasses we could get as we went past the various kiosks. Of course, we didn’t spend our extra time shopping and dining as Disney would wish…we just went on other attractions. 😉 But even with the advent of Fast Pass, you could still do a Disney vacation with relatively little planning.
The problems began when the newest rendition of Fast Pass became app based and people who were staying at WDW vacations were able to make these reservations months in advance, as opposed to more local people who made their plans to go to WDW days or hours in advance. “Hey honey, you’re off this Thursday – wanna go to Disney?” That’s generally how we roll. And even when we get to Disney, we don’t make any particular schedule or anything…we just….walk around. If we find a queue that’s short, we go on it. But with rare exception, we don’t “make plans” when we go to Disney.
And I guess that’s what bothers me the most. In order the experience everything at WDW (including the “good” attractions), you have to have a game plan. Oh, I don’t mean knowing where you want to eat for dinner…making meal reservations has been going on for forever. I mean planning nearly every single second on every single day there, possibly with a color coordinated spread sheet for each day that includes when the bathroom breaks will be and how long it’ll take to stand on line to buy a churro, because you have 3 Fast Pass Plusses scheduled for that day and you only have a window to use them, so you have to be HERE at this time and THERE at that time and then you can get more Fast Passes, and really, how many people have I heard say that you have to have a vacation after you vacation at WDW? It’s just not a relaxing vacation anymore. Oh, it may still be fun. But it’s not relaxing.
I guess that’s what I miss the most* about the WDW of “then” versus the WDW of “now.” Being able to have a relaxing vacation there. Of course, that would be difficult to do anyway, with so much to see and do and wanting to experiencing it all. But Fast Passes, especially Fast Pass Plusses, as far as I’m concerned, don’t help.
Again, this is an opinion piece. Your Mileage May Vary. 😉
And really, read Krisnick’s article. It’s a fascinating look at Fast passes.
* Well, not including the Adventurers Club at the now-extinct Pleasure Island complex. I think I will forever miss that most of all. Kungaloosh, y’all!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary