John, you are so right. I was around when FP first rolled out. The man behind it was actually Bruce Lavalle. He said it would never work for attraction capacities under 1200 guests per hour. Dumbo, for instance, has a capacity of only 640 (20 hourly cycles of 16 elephants, 32 people). Say you gave 75% to FP, that would allow only 4 elephants every 3 minutes for the Standby line. 8 guests would move up every 3 minutes! People would wait forever and eventually riot. He knew this from the start, but over time, they forgot the rules and with MagicBands they were too desperate to add more FP attractions. He also stressed that the Merge Point cast member was critical. They actually had to keep count. If the attraction had a 70-30 split (FP to SB) they needed to let in 7 from the FP line, then 3 from SB. Gets tricky with varying sizes of parties, but he emphasized that the SB line needed to keep moving. If a parade let out and FP lines backed up, the CM could take 10 from FP, but always needed to take 3 from SB, to keep that line moving. My last trip to WDW was so frustrating as the CMs were obviously not being trained for the merge point. At Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, our “45-min Stand by” turned into 90 minutes. We could see the trains running, so it wasn’t downtime. But when we finally got to the merge point, we could see the CM was allowing every guest returning in the FP line to board right away. They never went to the SB queue unless FP was completely empty. That’s not how it should work and boy guests were angry. Personally, I’ve always hated FP because it causes so many problems and upsets guests. It definitely favors the rich (who can stay in Disney resorts and get FPs months in advance) and the folks, like annual pass holders, who have studied the system and have had the time to know how to work it and get more than their share. Regular people are losers with FP and their vacations are ruined.
Let’s not forget, FastPass came at a time when “lines and hassles” was the guests’ #1 complaint. It was a clever “win-win” solution to get people out of lines and into shops and restaurants. 22 years (and billions of dollars) later, what’s the #1 complaint? Lines and hassles. FP is an Epic Fail. Time to move on.

Would love you to add a “post-script” to this article, comparing the data to the pandemic-era elimination of FastPass+. I’ve always hated FastPass (for the reasons you stated.) Plus, I think it was used as a way to “encourage” guests to choose a Disney resort when the MagicBands came into being (you could get yours much earlier than folks off property).

Great article Brian. I hope Disney will re-examine the whole Fastpass concept and change it as you propose. Last time we were in WDW, we got in the stand-by line for Toy Story Midway Mania. I remember getting out of line and leaving after 35 minutes because in that time we had barely moved at all. Another issue that I have not seen mentioned is guests having to wait for long times in queues where that was never meant to be the case. The prime example I can think of is the Roger Rabbit Car-toon Spin ride in Disneyland. My husband and I had a special trip to Disneyland (we live much closer to WDW) and really wanted to go on that ride since it is not in the Florida parks. We did not have Fastpass but did not think a minor ride like that would have a long wait. Wow, were we wrong-- like every other Fastpass ride with low capacity, we slogged through a terrible line. The queue, which was very well themed, was also very loud with cartoon dialogue and sound effects. It was clear that guests were supposed to take in each scene for a minute or so as the line moved past. Instead, it was headache-inducing to listen to the same dialogue over and over and over while standing in the same place for five minutes. It gets to the point where these rides are not being experienced as they were intended to be, and that's a huge shame.

I think one of the HUGE drawbacks to the FastPass+ system is that it inherently discriminates against the less wealthy. Why? Because Disney assumes that everyone has a smartphone with the latest operating system to support the Disney app. So if you don't have a smartphone or you have an older/ slower phone, then you can't use the Disney app, meaning you can't book a Fast Pass, meaning your day will be spent waiting in lines for *every* ride.
Or should I rephrase that to say, "Disney assumes that everyone *who wants to go to Disney World* has a smartphone that can run the app"? Does that mean Disney doesn't want guests who don't have a smartphone, since that implies that don't have money? Or is the price of a $110 one-day ticket enough to scare off people who can't afford the latest smartphone?

I've been an annual passholder for almost 25 years and it seems like the FastPass experience is getting worse. For example, we decide to go to Epcot on Saturday, so we get FastPasses for Soarin, but not Test Track since we're only allowed 1 "big ride" FastPass. Then the app *forces us* to choose 2 small rides because we're *forced* to get 3. So we choose Journey Into Imagination and Living with the Land, 2 rides that have zero wait times already.
But now my family (all 4 of us) have taken 4 "slots" in both of these rides, even though we probably won't use the FastPass for them because the app forced us to get them. How many other rides have their slots taken by people who aren't going to ride? Sure, this doesn't affect the people waiting in the standby line, but at what point will the data engineers figure out that a lot of rides have tons of FastPass reservations but a fraction of actual riders?

My worst experience with the FastPass system was at Toy Story Midway Mania: the wait times used to be horrendous until they built the FastPass only ride. Before that, it went something like this: the standby line would go, then the cast member would hold the line for the FastPass people... then hold the line for another FastPass person. Oh, wait, there's another FastPass person coming, so let's hold the standby line some more. Anyone else? Good, we'll re-open the standby line for 5, 6, 10 people. Oh, look, another FastPass person. Please wait while he goes. Okay, now the standby line can go... no, wait, another FastPass person.
It would have been a lot smarter to alternate: let the standby line go until the FastPass line builds up to 10 or 15 people, then stop the standby line and let the FastPass people so. It was almost idiotic to stop hundreds (or thousands?) of people in the standby line while one person casually walked through the FastPass lane, when people in the standby line could have been going while until that one person reached the castmember.

As a former Disney team member and opening crew at animal kingdom, I have seen the FPS problems up close. This article is the best explanation I have read about it. Great job and sad to say, it is all true.

This is exactly the reason we skipped going to Disney World for the first time in 15 years. After last year, the waits were so horrid we were lucky to be able to use our two fast passes, even with booking 60 days out. Even 60 days out was almost impossible to get fast passes for the popular rides. Then you add the dining reservations, which you never get seated on time, so we were constantly losing one of our three fast pass rides because we couldn't eat fast enough to make it. Disney actually has lost us as customers. We got tired of walking from one end of their park to the other, only to find the wait times were ridiculous for the "slow" period when we vacationed. Let's get real, when It's A Small World ride is over an hour during their slow months, late January/first week of February on a weekday, you know you're being taken. So we tried Universal for the first time this year, and behold, it reminded of Disney World when we visited for the first five years! So good bye to Disney until they get it under control. But I seriously doubt we'll ever go back to Disney unless Universal becomes as ignorant. I don't know of anyone who likes to schedule the living heck out of themselves while they're supposed to be on vacation!

You do have the option of getting a FastPass for rides after your three are redeemed. I have gotten on major attractions all day long by using FP, even larger attractions. You just have to know how to work the system.

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