Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Fastpass+ The next generation in planning!

'Let the chaos commence and may the time slots be ever in your favour'

Walt Disney World has finally gone live with their Fastpass+, sometimes known as the X pass, trial runs. May 1st - 15th sees selected Walt Disney World Resort guests given the opportunity to experience one of the creations from the $2billion technological initiative Walt Disney World is embarking on. 

Back in March I had a look at what the future holds for the Fastpass, when the X Pass was highly speculated but not a done deal. Two months on and here we are, looking at what could be the finished product!

So just what am I blathering on about? Well, Fastpass+ as we'll be calling it for now, is going to allow guests (possible only Walt Disney World Resort Guests) to pre-book their fastpass slots. Where you would normal put your park ticket into the fastpass machine and be given a printed allotted time slot, Fastpass+ aims to allow you to pre-book your slots in advance of you actually arriving at Walt Disney World. So whilst your sitting there making all your Advanced Dining Reservations, you can book a pre-dinner ride on Haunted Mansion and a post dinner meander through Its a Small World. 

Guests will be given a card, similar to their resort key (thought I imagine the two will be integrated at some point) which they will then use to access the Fastpass+ queue of the selected ride. You swipe your card at the terminal and if it glows green your good to go, glows red though and your possible too early, too late or at the wrong ride. They will also have separate terminals set up that allow you to see everything you have booked. Cast Members at the Fastpass+ entrances and access terminals will have iPads connected to the system, so when your card is swiped they will see all your parties details, including any special notes you have made on your booking e.g a birthday, anniversary, insert other celebration here. The idea of this is that eventually your little card will act like some sort of biometric passport to the World, including all kinds of other information such as food allergies. I'm in two minds about this aspect of the tech. Do you want Cast Members to greet you by name as you enter the ride or would your rather they show an interest and got chatting with you? Will this all knowing little database cut down the guest - Cast interaction? They'll have all your information, so no more inquisitive 'getting to know you' questions? That interaction is something that sets Disney so far apart from other theme parks and holiday destinations. 

During the trial period, around 300 Resort Guests a day are being selected to pre-book up to three attractions in the park and trial the system out, presumably having to report back with their feedback. Word about online is that the system is currently working pretty well, in fact I'm hard pushed to find anyone complaining about their experience with it. Of course, once it's opened up to all Resort Guests (the original rumour was that it would only be available to deluxe Resort Guests) then we will really see what it's capable of. For now it sounds like they will just be focusing on the ride fastpasses and some Guest information. There is also no mass roll out date for the other parks (right now it's only in Magic Kingdom) or news on what will happen after May 15th - but I'll be keeping an eye out! With a trip coming up in September, it will be interesting to see what progress is made between now and then and how it's going to, or if it will at all, affect my trip! 

I know a lot of people are already not happy about the Resort Guest only restriction put in place. Remember, it's not set in stone just yet but, I can see why they might do this. They need to be, and keep filling their resorts. There are already numerous perks to being a Walt Disney World Guest, extra magic hours, free transportation, Magical Express and more, but many, if not most theme parks that have hotels attached do offer some form of early entry plus their version of ride fastpass. Universal offers it, as well as European parks such at Port Aventura. And I'm pretty sure it does draw a crowd, especially during the busier seasons when you don't want to be standing in line 120+ minutes! 

This will not be the end of the original, and much beloved Fastpass. I can never see them taking away the original, especially if Fastpass+ is only for resort guests. I imagine resorts guests will get the best of both worlds (though there will be a block on using the Fastpass printing machines during an already pre-booked time slot). Though having three queues and/or entrances to a ride could make the place look a bit cluttered! 


Until next time,

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