The recent announcements of Star Wars Land, Toy Story Land, and other miscellaneous projects definitely gives Disney fans the world over a lot to look forward to. However, even though we couldn’t be more excited for these new projects to come to fruition (as well as Pandora: The World of Avatar, Frozen Ever After, Soarin’ Over the World, Rivers of Light, and everything else coming to the resort in the near future), it's important to remember that we are entering a transitional phase at Walt Disney World, which might make guest experiences a little less than magical over the course of the next few years. How so? Let's take a look:
1. FastPass+ is going to make queue times worse for new attractions
In 2014, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train became the first new attraction to debut after the widespread adoption of FastPass+, and unfortunately, the effect that this system had on wait times for this brand new attraction was nothing short of catastrophic. Essentially, the longer FastPass+ reservation window provided to resort guests ensured that annual passholders and those staying off site were confined to the standby line for the first several months of the ride’s operation as all reservations were taken by resort guests before anyone else had a chance to make them.
This drove up wait times for this attraction to three hours or more, even in the off season, and as guests continued to flood the park looking to experience this new attraction, the situation just got worse. Even after a year, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is one of the hardest FastPass+ reservations to come by at the Magic Kingdom, while the attraction continues to command wait times of over two hours most afternoons.
Though guests might like to think what happened with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was a one-off situation, this scenario will likely repeat itself next year, when Soarin’ Around the World and Frozen Ever After debut at Epcot. Unfortunately, the tiered FastPass+ system at Epcot will likely end up making things worse, as guests who are using a FastPass+ for Soarin' Around the World will be automatically sent to the standby line for Frozen Ever After, and vice-versa, which means everyone who wants to experience both of these new attractions will be waiting in at least one standby line (with passholders and off-site guests likely waiting in both), intensifying wait times across the park. Though Epcot will be first, new attractions at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios (eventually) will see boosted wait times as well thanks to the unfortunate restrictions placed on the FastPass+ system.
2. Disney’s Hollywood Studios isn't going anywhere (at least for now)
One of our biggest disappointments out of this year's D23 Expo was when the Parks and Resorts Panel concluded without revealing a new name for Disney's Hollywood Studios. However, looking back on all the developments that were confirmed for this park during the D23 Expo, it's easy to see why Disney held off on the new name announcement. The two big components of this park reboot, Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land have not even begun construction yet, and the most conservative estimates put Toy Story Land about three years out, with Star Wars Land unlikely to see an opening before the end of the decade. It simply wouldn't make sense for Disney to put a bright, shiny new name on a park that is operating little more than half the attractions it did a year ago with no launch date for either of the main components of its total reboot in sight.
While we know big things are coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios, the sad fact is that this park will remain in its currently downsized state for at least the next several years. While the potential is there for the park currently known as Disney's Hollywood Studios to be amazing, it's going to take a long time to get to that point, which may frustrate guests who are visiting this park over the next few years and are impatient for these announced projects to become a reality.