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A Big Change Could be Coming Soon for FastPass+

Love it or hate it, FastPass+ has been a part of the Walt Disney World experience for the better part of the last decade. Though this system has gone through many changes over the years, its core advance reservation function has stayed the same. However, a number of recent developments surrounding FastPass+ reservation ability for new attractions has us wondering if Disney may be looking to fundamentally change how this service works or even phase it out completely in the next few years. 

FastPass+ and new attractions

Earlier this year, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run opened with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as a standby-only attraction, with no FastPass+ offered at all for this new ride. This wasn’t exactly a strange decision, as many guessed that this attraction would be in high demand along with the opening of the new land. And then again, when Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened last week, again FastPass+ was not offered for this attraction, with Disney instead offering a virtual same-day queue that works similarly to the old-school paper FastPass system, and continuing to offer Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run without FastPass+ reservations, even though it has been open since August. 

And though these two cases might seem like isolated incidents, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is now less than 90 days away from opening (also at Disney’s Hollywood Studios), which means extended window FastPass+ resort guests should be able to make reservations for this new attraction. However, it is currently unavailable, suggesting that FastPass+ will not be available for this new attraction either when it opens on March 4, 2020

Image: Disney

If all of these attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios continue to operate without FastPass+ in the new year, Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be running three out of its nine rides without FastPass+, which could make this park an interesting pilot test for a partial phase out of FastPass+. And while this is certainly an interesting development by itself, it’s not the only thing we’ve noticed in regards to FastPass+ 

FastPass+ vs. virtual queue

Earlier this month Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to massive guest demand. And though the park is still getting a hold on operations for this attraction, they introduced an interesting concept with this attraction: a fully virtual queue. Though the boarding pass system was originally designed to control access to the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land as a whole, Disney has repurposed this system to basically recreate same-day paper FastPass at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And though this first-come, first serve virtual queue has basically brought back the early morning rush to rope drop, it has been a great tool to keep guests in the park, riding rides (and spending money!) while they wait for their boarding group, which is called as it comes up, and is not tied to a specific time. 

While there have been a lot of complaints about how Disney has been managing early morning crowds for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the virtual queue is undeniably a success, and if Disney really is thinking about overhauling the FastPass+ system, we can’t imagine them not taking in to account the popularity of this same-day reservation system. 

The power (or lack thereof) of paid FastPass

The average Walt Disney World guest might not realize it, but the resort does have its own version of paid FastPass+. Introduced in 2018, this add-on allows club-level resort guests the ability to purchase three additional FastPasses to use on a given day for $50 per day, per person with an advance 90 day reservation window. This service is only offered to club-level guests who have a 3-day minimum stay, but Disney probably figured that guests that are already paying a lot for a Walt Disney World vacation would be most likely to actually take advantage of this additional upcharge. However, it looks like this assumption may have proven false, as paid FastPass+ reservations have simply not been popular with these guests, as most are still satisfied with the 60 day advance FastPass+ reservation period that is enjoyed by all Walt Disney World resort on-site hotel guests. 

And though the lack of popularity surrounding paid FastPass+ might not be that big of an issue by itself, taken together with the great start for the virtual queueing system and the lack of FastPass+ integration for new attractions, and it seems likely that we could be seeing a reinvention of FastPass+ in the near future, which perhaps combines the same-day virtual queue system and potentially a paid option as well for non-resort guests. Though its doubtful we’ll hear anything about this any time soon, we can’t help but think that the Disney Genie app, when it debuts sometime next year, will somehow figure in to whatever the next iteration of FastPass+ is, so hopefully we’ll know more soon!