The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure entrance

The Disneyland Resort is currently offering two free FASTPASSes to guests staying at its on-site hotels, enabling them to skip the queues for some its most popular attractions.

Guests can use each of the FASTPASSes only once, on a single attraction of their choice. It is likely that many will choose to employ for some of the resort's most popular attractions, such as the recently-opened Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. The offer is available through September 5, 2011, according to the Disneyland Resort website.

The promotion extends beyond the standard FASTPASS lines that are already implemented for many attractions at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. While the new The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure dark ride doesn't feature a FASTPASS queue, Disney will operate special FASTPASS line for hotel guests only until the offer expires.

The FASTPASS system is available to all guests at Disney's theme parks. It works by enabling them to head to a popular attraction, insert their park ticket into a machine and receive a pass stamped with a time window. They can then return during this window to bypass the regular ("standby") line for the attraction. By restricting the number of FASTPASSes given for a particular time slot, Disney ensures that guests using the system can have a short wait for even the most popular attractions.

Disney has experimented with premium versions of FASTPASS before, and carried out a survey in 2010 asking for opinions on paid-for "unlimited" versions of the system. The move to offer the latest perk is aimed at increasing the number of guests staying in Disneyland's hotels, though it is more limited in scope than some of the options outlined in the survey.

The queue-jumping system was pioneered by Disney's arch-rival Universal, and in the early 2000s free queue-jumping systems proliferated at theme parks around the world. However, the majority of these have since been replaced by premium "VIP" systems, with Universal once again leading the way with its Express Plus Passes.

Join the debate: Should Disney offer an "unlimited" FASTPASS option at its theme parks?

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