The FastPass+ ride reservation system has come in for heavy criticism from Walt Disney World fans - but Disney is set to make 3 major changes to it that should improve the situation.
FastPass+ has replaced the legacy FastPass system at all of Walt Disney World's theme parks. It allows guests to reserve time slots during which they can head to a popular attraction and experience it without waiting in the normal, standby queue. It has been undergoing testing for some months, with resort hotel guests being equipped with RFID-enabled "MagicBands" to identify them as part of the system (the bands also act as a room key and a virtual wallet).
However, FastPass+ has been hamstrung by several significant limitations to date. Most notably, guests were limited to just THREE reservations per day, and only ONE of these could be for a "top-tier" attraction such as Toy Story Midway Mania or Soarin'. ALL of the reservations had to be at the same park, negating the benefits of a Park Hopper ticket. And OFF-SITE GUESTS (those not staying at Disney hotel) could only make reservations on the day of their visit.
We've had hints already that many of these limitations could be on the way out. And now we have official word from Disney Parks chairman Tom Staggs that Disney is working to lift the restrictions. Here are the three big changes that have now been confirmed by Disney:
1. Advance FastPass+ reservations for off-site guests
This one was actually revealed last week in TPT's Dennis' weekly rumor update, and has already been implemented. As of March 31, 2014, guests with a Magic Your Way ticket are able to make FastPass+ reservations 30 days in advance. This is the same rule that applies to Annual Passholders.
To begin making FastPass+ reservations, guests simply need to link their Magic Your Way ticket to the My Disney Experience website. That also allows the guest to manage his or her FastPass+ reservations from the My Disney Experience app on their smartphone. This should greatly decrease the long lines that currently exist at the MyMagic+ kiosks in the parks. If a guest does not have a smartphone, they can still make advance FastPass+ selections at home and the kiosks will be available as well.
Off-site guests will now also have the option to purchase MagicBands for $12.95 each, with resort guests and Annual Passholders still receiving them for free. They are not compulsory for off-site guests, though - the Magic Your Way ticket can be used for the same purpose.
Resort guests will retain the advantage of selecting FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts are now included.
2. The removal of the three reservation limit
Here's the word from Staggs on the current three reservation limit: "We've heard from a number of guests that they would like the opportunity to add additional FastPass+ entitlements during their visit, in addition to the three they can plan in advance. So, we’re working on providing them with the ability to add and enjoy additional entitlements on the day of their visit. Once they’ve used the three they've booked, we’ll enable them to select another at kiosks in the parks. And once they’ve used the fourth, they can select another, and so on."
So - there's no timescale as yet, but the three reservation limit is on the way out. There's no word on the future of the tiering system as yet, but we'd currently assume that once a Tier One reservation has been used, another one will be able to be made (assuming timeslots are available).
3. The introduction of Park Hopping with FastPass+
Staggs went on to say: "We also heard that other guests liked the fact that with the FastPass service they could use FastPass when they park hopped. So we’re working on a service enhancement to add that feature to FastPass+ as well."
Again, there's no timescale or word on exactly how this will work (for instance, will it be possible to book timeslots in advance for multiple parks, or will reservations at the second park need to be made on the day?). But it's a step in the right direction.
What do you think?
Essentially, the second two changes here are really only restoring features that were available in the old FastPass system. What do you think the overall effect will be - will FastPass+ ultimately be a more useful tool than the original FastPass, or would you prefer Disney to have stuck with the previous system? Let us know in the comments section below!