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Madame Leota

Whenever a discussion of the future of Walt Disney World and Disneyland occurs, people provide pie in the sky suggestions involving technology that has yet to be invented. I am not going to be so ambitious in my discussion. In fact, everything I mention today is already on the cusp of being available right now. What follows is not a debate about how we will enjoy amusement parks in 2060. Instead, I am evaluating five things I expect all of us to be doing in 2016.

After all, the future is never quite as far away as we think...

1. ALL rides can be planned months prior to a park visit

FastPass+

Obviously, the new FastPass+ system is a strong step in this direction. As I recounted in a previous column, the current setup has several flaws. At the moment, a Walt Disney World park visitor can only acquire three FastPasses in advance and they must be for the same location. Even consumers who own annual passes or Park Hopper tickets are arbitrarily limited in this regard. No one has the ability to select more rides or split them among the various parks. This solution is less than optimal.

In December of 2010, the New York Times famously published in article in which they quoted Disney research. The data indicated that the average visitor experiences nine rides a day. Disney was so bothered by this information that many of their modifications over the past five years have been intended to increase that number. FastPass+ is believed to have boosted the average into double digits. The problem is that as currently constructed, the system allows a user to choose only 30% of their daily rides in advance. While better than nothing, it is not good enough.

My belief is that Disney will use the data being collated in their parks right now to optimize the system by 2016. At that point, visitors should have the ability to select all of their rides ahead of time. The current restraints within the system such as the tiering system for the most popular rides and the inability to create reservations at the various parks will be lifted. The end result will be that visitors will be empowered to build an entire Disney ride itinerary prior to leaving their homes.

2. EVERY course of a meal may be planned months prior to a park visit

The luxurious dining room of the Be Our Guest Restaurant. Image © Disney

Those of you who are familiar with the current Be Our Guest FastPass+ beta lunch experience realize this concept is not far from reality already. Let me explain the process for those of you who are not. Walt Disney World suggests advanced dinner reservations for their most popular restaurants. Be Our Guest, one of the newest restaurants in the Magic Kingdom, is also arguably the most difficult in terms of acquiring dinner reservations.

This information explains why I was so surprised to receive an email beta invite to have lunch at Be Our Guest. I was provided the opportunity to select the time I wanted to eat from a set of luncheon windows, and I picked 1:15 – 1:45. What followed next was the surprising aspect of the process. My party and I were asked to select our entire meal straight down to the beverage and dessert. Twenty days before my Disney arrival, I knew exactly what I would be having for lunch on my sixth day.

In terms of enhancing my Disney experience, it was a great idea executed poorly. When we arrived for our reservation, Disney had no record of it; furthermore, our attempt to acquire our reservation number failed because their system was stuck in an infinite loop. A Disney employee confided that this happens more often than not right now, indicating that the idea is still a long way from being perfected. Once it is, however, a person will have the ability to choose their dinner in December when they make a reservation in June.

That is a spectacular addition in that it will give visitors one less thing to worry about when they get to the parks. Plus, Disney will have the ability to turn over tables faster since they can have the food prepared almost as quickly as guests sit down. In the process, more customers may be served, reducing the need for the rest of us who improvise rather than the plan to acquire the advance dinner reservations in question. In this regard, early menu selection aids both kinds of amusement park guests, planners and improvisers.

3. Transportation details will be readily available via an app

Monorail

This topic is a touchy one for most Walt Disney World visitors. Unlike Disneyland and the international theme parks, on-site transportation for resort guests is a nightmare due to the expansive nature of the four parks in Orlando, Florida. No matter which park is a visitor’s home base, traveling to and from the other locations as well as Downtown Disney is at best an adventure. At worst, it is an exercise in hopelessness. I say this from recent experience as we were rewarded for our attempt to visit Wilderness Lodge last month by an hour long wait for a ferry. Had we but known that this were a possibility, we would have taken the less romantic but more pragmatic bus. Therein lays the problem with Walt Disney World transportation. Everyone is flying blind when it comes to the arrival time of the next vehicle.

The solution is an easy one that I am shocked Disney has yet to implement. Disney drivers are in constant contact not just with one another but also with park employees. Their internal GPS system is a robust one providing ample data about arrival and return times. For no reason whatsoever, Disney currently chooses not to share this information with their customers. This is an illogical decision in that any moment a customer spends waiting in line for a bus is one that cannot be used spending money at Disney.

What should have happened by now and almost certainly will happen in the near future is that Disney adds one key feature to their MyDisneyExperience app. The Transportation tab will indicate exactly when the next bus/ferry will arrive, thereby enabling guests to plan the perfect moment to exit the park/hotel. In the process, guests can maximize their enjoyment of the Disney ecosystem while the company itself is rewarded with more emptying of the wallets of its customers. In addition, the aggravation level for Walt Disney World travel is reduced, increasing the satisfaction level of the guests in question. It’s a win/win proposition for all involved.

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I'm a Disney World bus driver. Our buses are dispatched by computer system APPROXIMATELY every 20 min. We constantly get comments from guests that they have waited longer. But we know it to be untrue. We have a record of when our buses arrive at each destination.like the article says, we are all on GPS system. It informs our dispatchers if we are off route or not moving. So we are not just off having a snack leaving people waiting. And none of us like to hear unhappy guests upon our arrival. We are mature professionals who enjoy our jobs. Our dispatchers can tell you at what time the last bus arrived at a destination. And 9 times out of 10 you could go back and check the record and it would tell you what bus was at which location at any given time. And Disney did listen to guests about the issue of guest not knowing the very minute the bus would arrive. Well bus systems that work this way are usually doomed to fail. Because there are times when you have weather conditions, traffic conditions, bus break downs etc. We do have a system to where if there is a bus breakdown, we can easily plug in another bus to do that run at any time. We do this by not using one bus to do one run. We are dispatched every time we go into the hub (or park). And it is not as mysterious as it is made out to be here. The parks are the hubs. This is where you make connections to other resorts. The closest park to you is the one you should use to make your connections. Ask any bus driver if you need help with this. Any of us can give you the proper information. Don't ask front desk people. They often don't know the best routes. That's like asking one of us about things inside resorts we never go into. We don't know. We do try to give you any information we can. And Disney has started implementing a new system in each resort with screens that tell you approximately what time the next bus to the destination of your choice is going to arrive. But it is not working totally as designed yet. You might get a time for two or three parks but two might not be showing a time. The system is undergoing some bugs. But it's a huge system. We have nearly 400 buses going to all of our destinations all day and into the night! It is the 3rd largest fleet in the state of Florida! And they are working on it. But if you come out at peak times you will likely see full buses and long lines. We try our best to be prepared for peak times and we have extra buses out there. Sometimes there are sudden rainstorms when everyone everywhere are all coming out at the same time. This is going to be the time when you will likely see the longest lines. It does not mean we have not been there in an hour! It means we are doing our best and we are working the hardest! Remember safety is the most important priority at Disney World! And if it is pouring down raining, our buses might have to go 5 miles an hour slower. This is what we are instructed to do to keep everyone safe! So please be a little patient. We are doing our best to make you happy! And I challenge you to look at your watch when you arrive at the bus stop. It always seems longer when you are waiting than it really is. You should see a bus APPROXIMATELY every 20 min to any destination on the entire FORTY SEVEN SQUARE MILE property. That's 33,000 acres of land. It takes time to get from place to place! We have not yet implemented our magic carpets yet.

I'm a Disney World bus driver. Our buses are dispatched by computer system APPROXIMATELY every 20 min. We constantly get comments from guests that they have waited longer. But we know it to be untrue. We have a record of when our buses arrive at each destination.like the article says, we are all on GPS system. It informs our dispatchers if we are off route or not moving. So we are not just off having a snack leaving people waiting. And none of us like to hear unhappy guests upon our arrival. We are mature professionals who enjoy our jobs. Our dispatchers can tell you at what time the last bus arrived at a destination. And 9 times out of 10 you could go back and check the record and it would tell you what bus was at which location at any given time. And Disney did listen to guests about the issue of guest not knowing the very minute the bus would arrive. Well bus systems that work this way are usually doomed to fail. Because there are times when you have weather conditions, traffic conditions, bus break downs etc. We do have a system to where if there is a bus breakdown, we can easily plug in another bus to do that run at any time. We do this by not using one bus to do one run. We are dispatched every time we go into the hub (or park). And it is not as mysterious as it is made out to be here. The parks are the hubs. This is where you make connections to other resorts. The closest park to you is the one you should use to make your connections. Ask any bus driver if you need help with this. Any of us can give you the proper information. Don't ask front desk people. They often don't know the best routes. That's like asking one of us about things inside resorts we never go into. We don't know. We do try to give you any information we can. And Disney has started implementing a new system in each resort with screens that tell you approximately what time the next bus to the destination of your choice is going to arrive. But it is not working totally as designed yet. You might get a time for two or three parks but two might not be showing a time. The system is undergoing some bugs. But it's a huge system. We have nearly 400 buses going to all of our destinations all day and into the night! It is the 3rd largest fleet in the state of Florida! And they are working on it. But if you come out at peak times you will likely see full buses and long lines. We try our best to be prepared for peak times and we have extra buses out there. Sometimes there are sudden rainstorms when everyone everywhere are all coming out at the same time. This is going to be the time when you will likely see the longest lines. It does not mean we have not been there in an hour! It means we are doing our best and we are working the hardest! Remember safety is the most important priority at Disney World! And if it is pouring down raining, our buses might have to go 5 miles an hour slower. This is what we are instructed to do to keep everyone safe! So please be a little patient. We are doing our best to make you happy! And I challenge you to look at your watch when you arrive at the bus stop. It always seems longer when you are waiting than it really is. You should see a bus APPROXIMATELY every 20 min to any destination on the entire FORTY SEVEN SQUARE MILE property. That's 33,000 acres of land. It takes time to get from place to place! We have not yet implemented our magic carpets yet.

I actually remember during Spring Break of 2014 my family was emailed that we would have lunch at be out guest, so we planned our dining, and then they gave us this cute little rise that held everything in it. Of course things didn't go right, so we ended up re-ordering it, but at least we got into Be Our Guest

was at the contemporary in September and they have a monitor showing when the bus going to certain destinations will arrive

WDW' s bus system is atrocious. There is nothing magical about cramped, dirty, inconvenient buses. A new monorail line from DD-EPCOT-Animal Kingdom would be such a huge improvement as would a more centrally located bus hub (Boardwalk?), since the buses are never going to go away completely. Also some type of non-bus link from the EPCOT monorail/bus stations to the boat hub in World Showcase without having to go through the park. Never have figured out why the central bus station is on the very edge of the property at DD?? I've always wondered why Disney executives have never realized that all those hours we're spending on transportation represent lost revenues because you can't spend much on a bus.

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