Disneyland has been making a lot of controversial changes lately, but one that we’ve known about for some time is the implementation of a west coast version of MyMagic+ that would bring a digital FastPass system (similar, but not the same as Walt Disney World's FastPass+) to the resort.
Though plans to get this type of system have been in the works since 2014, the only recent update we’ve had to this project has been confirmation that MagicBands are not going to be a part of the equation. However, it looks like a big development in regards to this project may be coming soon…and it could be one that ultimately make it way to other Disney resorts (including Walt Disney World) too.
Disney California Adventure to launch virtual FastPass system
Wisely, it looks like Disneyland Resort is going to be taking its time with the launch of the resort's digital FastPass system, and will be getting things started next month at Disney California Adventure. According to several sources including WDWNT this new digital FastPass service will be available beginning next month for one attraction only: Toy Story Midway Mania.
Interestingly, some queue modifications have already been made at the attraction in order to prepare for this, and new FastPass signs are expected to be installed in the coming weeks. Toy Story Midway Mania has never offered FastPass service at Disney California Adventure, but the queue is physically large enough to support two separate lines. Couple this with the fact that Toy Story Midway Mania isn’t all that popular at Disney California Adventure (it rarely has a wait time in excess of 45 minutes at this park) and this looks like the perfect place to begin to roll out this new system.
The Disneyland Resort difference
As mentioned previously, MagicBands will not be coming to the Disneyland Resort as part of the rollout of this new digital FastPass system, despite their popularity at Walt Disney World. However, what we do know is that in order to redeem these digital FastPasses, guests will need to use the official Disneyland app (released in 2015) on their smartphone. Guests can already use barcodes generated by this app to redeem park tickets, and it seems likely that this new system will generate easily scanable digital FastPasses that can be read by either machine or Cast Member. It certainly makes a lot of sense for Disneyland to make use of devices that are already in guests' pockets, rather than implementing an entire new infrastructure to support MagicBands.
With the systems already in place for guests to make and redeem digital FastPasses, this system should be fairly easy for guests to use and get used to. And while guests will need to use their own phones to make and redeem FastPass reservations at first, if there is sufficient demand a kiosk-based system similar to what Walt Disney World has may be used to help those guests who aren’t able to use their phones in the future. Which brings us to a potential problem with this new system…
The Wi-Fi problem
One of the biggest issues that we’re expecting to see in the early days of the rollout of the digital FastPass system is with guests not being able to connect. Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort does not have in-park Wi-Fi, which means connecting with an app may be difficult for those who are low on data, or impossible for international guests who don’t want to incur international roaming charges.
What about Walt Disney World?
Walt Disney World now has a well-established MagicBand system along with the associated infrastructure for managing FastPass+ bookings. But - if the tests at Disneyland go well - it's not difficult to see a similar smartphone-based system being implemented at the Florida resort too, in time. After all, the resort has pretty much blanket Wi-Fi connectivity, most guests have phones in their pockets (and need to check the My Disney Experience app on a regular basis anyway), so its a logical next step. Just don't expect to see the end of MagicBands any time soon.
Do you think Disneyland's move towards a digital FastPass system is a good one? Or is this project doomed to fail?