Walt Disney World is set to begin stricter enforcement of the time windows employed by its FASTPASS queue-jumping system, as it prepares to introduce a premium version.
Currently, guests at the resort's theme parks can pick up a FASTPASS for an attraction from booths close to its entrance, allowing them to return during a specified time window and skip the regular line. Previously, Walt Disney World Cast Members have not enforced the end time of that window, enabling guests to skip the line even if their FASTPASS has effectively "expired".
However, a number of Disney news websites are now reporting that an internal Disney memo to Cast Members has asked them to enforce the return time from March 7, 2012. It claims that this will help to "provide the best experience possible", and will only affect a limited number of guests. Exceptions will be made for some circumstances, such as delays in restaurants and ride breakdowns
The move is widely rumored to be in anticipation of significant changes to the FASTPASS system. Walt Disney World is expected to implement a new, premium system dubbed "XPass" alongside FASTPASS, which will enable guests to pre-book time windows during which they can skip the normal "standyby" queue for rides at the resort's four theme parks. It is believed that the system will initially only be offered to guests at Disney's Deluxe Resorts.
Last year, Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, revealed that the company was working on a "version of FASTPASS for (visitors') entire Disney vacations". The XPass system will enable them to book FASTPASS-style windows well in advance of their trip, creating a personalized itinerary. This would cover character meet-and-greets, shows and meals as well as rides.
In order to implement XPass, Walt Disney World will have to reduce the number of FASTPASS tickets distributed to regular guests at its theme parks. The move to stricter enforcement of time windows is likely to be the first step in this process.
Want to know more about Disney's plans for a new queue-jumping system? Read our views on the company's XPass plans.