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Disney World to enforce return times for FastPasses in March

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Families planning to visit Walt Disney World after the first week in March may want to reconsider their touring strategies for the theme parks. Beginning March 7, cast members will enforce the end times on FastPass tickets, according to multiple reports and sources.

FastPasses are essentially reservation times for guests to return to the most popular Disney attractions at specific times in exchange for shorter wait times. Under the current system, a FastPass is issued for a one-hour window. However, cast members routinely do not enforce the end times, meaning guests can use their FastPasses anytime during the day once the start time arrives. (To read more about FastPasses, see the AllEars resource page.)

When cast members begin enforcing the FastPass policy in March, guests will be allowed to return five minutes earlier than the FastPass window starts and 15 minutes past the end time.

One common strategy for those familiar with the FastPass system is to ride attractions in the morning when the parks are less crowded and collect the maximum number of FastPasses -- one every two hours -- to use in the afternoon or evening when lines are longer.

With that option disappearing, families will need to determine their priorities -- experiencing more attractions per day by planning with the FastPass system or being able to explore at their own pace and take their chances on the standby lines.

Critics say that enforcing the FastPass windows will eliminate the spontaneity from a Disney vacation, as dining reservations, parade and fireworks times and other entertainment will have to be considered more closely with FastPasses. They also claim guests will be able to ride fewer rides. Those in favor of Disney using the system as it was designed remind guests they are not being forced to use FastPasses; they are simply an option for those who want to plan ahead.

Longtime Disney writer Jim Hill points out that enforcing the FastPass times is not a random change; it's being done to prepare for the rollout of the XPass system this year. XPass is a premium guest experience that is said to include such perks as FastPasses for every attraction a guest wants to ride, reserved parade seating in front of Cinderella Castle, special seats for the fireworks, dining reservations and more -- all booked from home well before a vacation starts.

Perhaps the most-talked-about aspect of the XPass system is the personalization of character experiences and rides for those with the RFID wristbands. Hill says characters will be able to greet guests by name and there even will be additions to rides such as it's a small world that allow computer-generated dolls to interact with the guests who created them. Hill reports XPass will first be made available only to guests staying at deluxe Disney resorts.

Disney World has not officially announced the XPass program, but it has been alluded to in public comments by company leaders talking about its NextGen project. Last summer, cast members at the Magic Kingdom tested a FastPass system for parade seating.

As one writer astutely observed: These changes, which begin by enforcing the FastPass windows, are a step toward Disney World offering all-inclusive vacations, where everything is planned for the guest, much like going on a Disney Cruise. Do they make you want to step onboard?

Leave a comment on your thoughts about these changes.


The previous post in this blog was Introducing Kristin Ford.

The next post in this blog is Girl Scouts to celebrate 100th birthday at Walt Disney World.

Comments (61)

Dennis:

I see alot of holes in this plan. There are too many things that can go wrong last minute. If I have my "ride reservations" all planned out for a day and there is a ride breakdown, there goes my whole days planning. Plus weather related problems.

Peggy:

Hi Kristin!

These changes worry me. I already have enough planning to do with the hotel and dining. To have to plan our fastpasses in advance will take all spontaneity out of our days. We will have to decide months in advance which park we want to go to on what day. To have to plan character meets and parades as well stress me out already!

Also, I don't like the idea of only Deluxe hotel guests having certain perks. Having been a Florida resident at one time, this seems very unfair.

Peggy

Ken:

I guess we cant really complain considering it was a procedure that was already in place, Disney just decided to not enforce it. But all in all it still stinks.

What really troubles me is the direction that they are heading with the XPass system. Granted the personalized attractions and all sound neat with RFID wristbands, but if you look closely, Disney is changing the in park experience for those who can afford to pay more. Up to this point, once you were in the park, everyone was essentially equal. The length of the lines, use of fast passes and was the same for every person. Now if you can shell out more money to stay at a Deluxe hotel (which I am sure will get more expensive once this is launched) then you get perks. That is just sad.

Cynthia Barry:

THis is terrible...the XPass....the rich get richer...the cost of a WDW vacation to many that stay at non Delux resorts, including DVC, is a larger percentage of our disposable income than someone that can just write a check and stay at the Grand Floridian. Shame on you Disney Co. You are turning into Universal.

There goes the magic.....

MIke Venere:

Why??
What is the point?
I can understand if the fast pass lines are getting too long, but when I grab a fast pass and return at a later time, even later than the time the fast pass is over I never encounter longer than regular fast pass lines that would make this an issue.
So what happens if I grab a fast pass for buzz, head over to Space mountain, get caught and have to wait when the ride stops when they are re-adjusting the cars and it goes over my fast pass time. Should I have got out of my line at Space Mountain when I was just 2 or 3 riders from going?
Do not like this idea at all.....again, do not see the point of cracking down.

Craig:

I'm wondering how much of the information in your blog is known to be true, and how much is rumor. For example, I have read in information provided by Disney about enforcing the end-time on FastPasses, so I consider that to be a known item. But I've never heard about the five minutes before or fifteen minutes after. Have you gotten that from Disney, or is that a rumor?
Thanks!

Steve:

Kristin:
This nextgen system sounds like it is going to eliminate the equal opportunity those of us who have to scrape pennies to be able to afford a trip to the World every 10 years against those who can afford to go anytime they want. Right now, it doesn't matter how much money you have, you have an equal opportunity to sit pretty much whereever you want for the parades and fireworks. If a character is greeting someone by name and paying special attention to them, then what is the non-select person's child to think when they observe that? Disney was always a place we could go and not have to worry about being separated by how much we can or cannot afford. Usually Disney makes improvements which benefit everyone. In this case, it appears only the elite will benefit leaving the rest of us peasants behind.

Booo.. Definitely don't like the sound of this, and it's really hard to believe that any cast member would truly enforce this. If they do give it a try to really enforce, talking to several angry parents within the same day will certainly teach them it's not worth it.

The XPass system strangely leaves a sour taste in my mouth, I think because it makes disney feel more class elitest. Disney to me feels humble, isn't the message that "anyone can make their dreams come true"?

Dunno.. I understand it's a business, and they'll be able to make more money with this system.. but the more "First Class" sections they install, the less it feels like a small world after all. hehe.

Hope to run into you sometime soon at the park.

- Your x-neighbor Gregg

J. Neibert:

I wonder if this would include Vacation Club Members?
Kinda sad for people coming for there first visit and not knowing. I know after waiting over an hour to watch the parade and told to stand back behind the line. That at the last 10 min. the line was taken away and then hoards of people just got to fill in in front of us. So frustrating. Hope it wont be like that. All the good spot for parades and seats for shows etc all taken by those who have $ and made reservations. Not must left for those who aren't Disney savy. Takes alot of the magic away.

Sarah:

I am outraged that Disney have never enforced the end time on fastpasses! You are in a virtual line so you can go on more rides. You can only get one fastpass at a time so saving up fastpasses and using them past their expiry time seems dishonest. Not using them when they should be used makes the fast pass lines longer later in the day and uses up passes for people who want them earlier.

Agree that the Xpass doesn't quite seem right though. Disney resort guest have perks in regard to the extra magic hours and transport, but interacting with characters? I would rather see character meet and greets at the resorts for those guests.

Paul S:

To Cynthia, Universal has had a "class" based system for a long time, where you could pay more to skip the lines. Disney is only catching up in that regard.

I don't like it either, but Universal is not the answer.

Doug Buchheit:

First, most that posted responses have already touched on most of these points. That’s good – I’m not alone, maybe even sane.

My wife and I have been great Disney fans, but our enthusiasm is not without limits. The idea of this new system is truly troubling.

To begin with, the cost of Disney vacations has risen significantly over the years, certainly outpacing the wages of most Americans. I can remember when my wife and I would come with our 3 girls, stay at deluxe resorts and come home with plenty of money to spare. Now, it’s tough for the two of us staying at a value resort. Adding an additional cost for the new system will only exacerbate the situation.

Stating the obvious, if this system materializes it is going to increase the cost, and if true to Disney form, it will be expensive. It is also going to increase the wait time for those not participating in the new system. In essence, Disney will be creating a caste system. Unless people enjoy just strolling around the parks, this is going to kill the magic for many.

I for one can only stand so much pain. Now I am faced with more financial pain or more physical pain due to longer waits, while the fortunate essentially get to cut in front of me for a fee.

If Disney wants to reduce wait times, how about expanding the parks with new attractions to spread out the crowds? Yes, they are expanding the MK, but that is primarily for the very young children.

Quite frankly, I’m sure that Disney is far less concerned about the shortcomings in the current Fast Pass system, than it is about making more money. The old system wasn’t perfect, but it was at least fair. Even the old ticket book system was better – yes we’ve been vacationing at Disney that long.

People will likely either love or hate this plan. Put me the latter column. It may be time to find a new vacation destination.

Belinda:

I hope Disney reconsiders the XPass idea. I have to agree with the other posters that it would make a definite "elitist" difference when visiting Disneyworld. A vacation to Disneyworld already costs a pretty penny for the majority of people who visit, I can imagine this will make people question whether or not "the magic" is worth it anymore. I love Disney and visit every year, but I hope Disney pays attention to their visitors and chalk it up as a bad idea.

Danielle:

This is the worst idea ever. My family stays at deluxe resorts every year and we are absolutely opposed to this new idea. I agree that if a ride breaks down or it rains the guest will lose out on the "Disney" experience. What is Mr.Staggs thinking? When discussed amongst myself and my recreation management colleagues, we all think that this is disney's worst move, much like their Aulani disaster. As a Disney stockholder, I am appalled with all of these changes, too many too fast, too soon. Staggs needs to stop over compensating for his position, slow down and actually think of his actions and desires for where he wants the future of Disney to be in 10 years.

Heidi Potenza:

My husband and I are sitting here literally dumbfounded by this news! We scrimp and save and have managed to get to WDW once a year as a family. We have everything planned out and truly enjoy the parks because the Fast Pass system works so well. We never stay in the Deluxe Resorts - we couldn't afford our annual trip from Buffalo for a week if we did! Now they are giving what sounds like a "premium park visiting experience" to those who can afford it. If we had purchased the DVC like we have considered - I would be furious right now at this X-Pass system. We will also now seriously reconsider our trip destination and the thousands we spend on tickets, dining and Disney in general. BIG MISTAKE DISNEY!!

Anna:

I think I may be one of the few in favor of Disney enforcing the fastpass times. Some people abuse them by essentially gathering them for all the rides and leaving none for anyone else. I don't think that is what fastpasses were intended for. I feel the same way about Disney charging people who do not show up for their ADRs because they've just decided they want to do something else, but not canceling to free up the reservation for others. Sorry. I think Disney enforcing their own rules is a result of people being greedy and feeling entitled.

As for the nextgen fastpass system, I'll reserve judgment until the plan is rolled out.

JJ:

This is absolutely absurd. They are going to offer it to members staying only at deluxe resorts. WHAT ABOUT DISNEY VACATION CLUB RESORTS?
We get absolutely nothing. The value and deluxe resorts get free dining plans and now they're going to get premium seating and riding. We DVC members spend more money and now their giving these people everything. Give them nothing.

Scofnagle:

As a long time Disney fan, it saddens me to think that the magic is going become a casualty of profit. Disney's message has always been one that emphasizes equal opportunity for those who dare to dream and believe. I've always felt that as soon as I drive underneath that Mickey and Minnie Welcome sign, I can leave the world behind and enter Mr. Disney's "World".... it's always been a wonderful escape away from the news of the day, wars, political strife, economic woes, etc. By installing what amounts to a park goers "caste system," Disney is ruining this. I have stayed at a deluxe resort before, but truly, I HATE this plan. How sad. I am almost what you would call a Disney fanatic, but this might actually affect my future with WDW. Knowing that the park experience will become stratified, with the wealthy able to enjoy all the perks while the regular people are pushed aside... I don't know..... it just feels crummy.

Hi Kristin -
As Disney Fans, my family and I never really pushed the FastPass envelope. We've thrown away FPs that were past the end time. We tend to aim for the beginning of the time slot anyway - if not, we usually always make it within the hour. It hasn't effected the spontaneity of our days. We have tried once or twice to go back after the end time but usually it was so late in the day, it didn't really matter.

As for the XPass, the way I read what you wrote above, "Hill reports XPass will first be made available only to guests staying at deluxe Disney resorts," is that they will start with the deluxe resorts and expand to other resort guests later on. My guess is it's easier to roll it out and work out the bugs using smaller hotels such as the deluxes which have a few hundred rooms each as opposed to the moderates which have about 2000 rooms each or the All Stars with a total of around 6000 rooms.

Perhaps I'm being too optimistic, but I see this being rolled out in stages - just like the Wi-Fi they've been rolling out - start small and go big.

Amy:

This whole x-pass is just another way for Disney to squeeze more money out of us. It just outrages me. How completely unfair that they will be separating the haves from the have-nots inside the park. I simply do not like it!
As for enforcing the fast-pass times...well, whatcha gonna do about that? I mean, the time limit has always been there. We've just been lucky that they haven't been enforcing it.

Dan in NH:

I am torn and can find arguments both for and against Fast Passes and XPasses or whatever. We live in New England and cannot go often as say those Florida residents who can certainly, both due to distance & cost, go far more often than we can. How many times in a year do they go on, for example Toy Story?? And last time my family went, the Fast Pass doled out at 10:30am had a return window of 6:35-7:35pm - same time as our dinner reservation. So we either go stand-by, taking much longer - thus doing fewer attractions in a day, or skip dinner at a favorite location?

If your family only makes one trip in a year or two, and it is like that for Soarin and all the other popular attractions, do you end up being able to make much use of FP? If we are able to stay at a deluxe resort, it would be nice to get something for the extra $$$ spent.

Conversely, if you cannot afford staying in a deluxe resort, you should not be penalized either. I unfortunately do not have a solution that fits every scenario or pocketbook. Florida residents get many perks as it is. Maybe scrap fast pass altogether and everyone is left equal and in line...and still in line... waiting...waiting......

Peggy Walker Doyle:

Disney is always coming up with new ideas, some good, some bad. I believe Disney should rethink both these new options. Disney is a magical place for all. These new options would hinder the magic.

G Stephen:

How sad that Disney is going to make it more difficult for the average person to enjoy the park. Many of us are huge Disney fans, but on a budget. Wait time for everyone else will increase significantly.

Cindy:

I'm in minority on the Fastpasses and extras for deluxe hotel guests. There are already differences between guests based what dining package they purchase for their vacation at Disney. There is a tremendous difference in what you get with the counter service only dining plan (some meals and a cup) and what you get with the platinum plan (3 three meals -including Victoria & Alberts, unlimited recreation, tours, etc). The FP and extras being included if you stay at a certain resort, isn't that much different than the extras someone gets for spending more money to get one of the higher end plans.

The info, from what I read, says it will roll out to deluxe hotels. That could mean that it may roll out to the other hotel levels at a later date.

Rhett:

About a year ago I had a day trip planned to a major theme park in Springfield, MA. When I was looking up the park online to try and figure out the best way to see all the rides, I noticed something they offer called the "Flash Pass". The Flash Pass costs $40-90 and works much like a FastPass except you can pay more to get additional perks like shorter wait times and the privilege to ride twice in a row.
When I first saw this, my first reaction was "I need one of those!", with my second reaction being "I wish it didn't triple the cost of my park ticket!"

After I thought about this program more, though, I became increasingly outraged and appalled. This pass overtly gives extra privileges to guests with more money. I guess I can not expect different from a business whose sole interest is making more money, but it certainly sends a negative message to the kid waiting in a long line when they see someone cut to the front of the line by essentially buying their way up there.

When I talked to my wife about this, she said: “You wouldn’t see that kind of thing at Disney.” I agreed with her, and we both talked about how egalitarian the Disney experience is. No matter how much money you bring in, your park experience is roughly equal to everyone else’s.

Now this new XPass system will create a divide between the “Deluxe” and “Non-Deluxe” guest. There has been a lot of discussion in this country over the past year regarding how people are divided by economic classes. I just never thought I would see such a thing at Disney. The parks have been profitable for centuries without instituting economic strata among their guests; I wonder what has changed to make this a necessity now.

Shirley:

Where does it state that the XPass system will be reserved for Deluxe Resort guests? I'm guessing it will be available to anyone who wants to fork out the $. If they do it much like Universal where on-site guests have access and also if you choose to pony up the big bucks when staying off-site, it might work, but not if they open it up to every single on-site hotel guest. The lines would be ridiculous. Yes, I pay a premium to stay at a Deluxe resort, and, of course, there are perks already, and there should be.

If it's only going to be available to anyone who pays big $ to purchase it, this is just another money-making ploy of Disney. I enjoy the parks and hotels, but I've got to admit that they nickle and dime you for everything, and the level of service is not up to that $ amount based on other resorts I've stayed at nationwide. So sad.

Jim:

The Elite bracelet is a terrible idea of Disney taking steps to reward the rich people in life. The best part of Disney was that if you could buy a ticket you were an equal in the park. Now that will change like all other amusement parks out there greed takes over and class warfare begins. I never considered Disney to be an Amusement park in the past but if this happens they will lower the experience to that. I am a florida resident who has paid thousands of dollars yearly for premium passes and food and merchandise every year since 2004 when we moved here. Shame on Disney! Walt would not support this.

Glenn :

I see legitimacy in one issue, and not the other.

First, if the fast pass end times are not enforced, they are collected and run out by mid day. This is unfair to the folks who wish to use FP in the afternoon/ evening. Just makes sense to enforce.

Second, I disagree with the role out of the XPass system. I have always believed, as others have noted, that once inside the parks, there is a "level playing field". This goes for rides, lines, parades, firework viewing, etc. This plan will separate the classes of people (which never seemed to be the Disney way). Most telling to me was a previous comment which stated "If a character is greeting someone by name and paying special attention to them, then what is the non-select person's child to think when they observe that?

We can afford to visit WDW once every few years, and have always raved about how well we are treated when there (particularly in restaurants, as we have a child with severe food allergies).

This XPass plan will definately influence my opinion of Disney. It is not the Disney way, and Walt would not approve, I am sure.

Jennifer:

I for one am curious to see how these new deluxe resort perks will work out. If the get enough good feedback, I'm sure they will roll out the features to all the Disney properties. As for all those who say that the resort guests and non-resort guests get the same treatment in the parks must have forgotten about the extra magic hours. I would love to spend an extra three hours in a park at the end of a day but if I haven't shelled out the money to stay on property, I can't. My guess is that for those who don't see the value in staying at a Disney resort or are on the fence, may decide there are now enough perks to justify the higher cost. Just my two cents.

Scott:

My partner and I LOVE Universal's Express system. Yes, we have to spend more to stay on-site, but so much time is saved by not having to wait in line. Disney's Deluxe resorts do not directly compare with the local competition; the Waldorf, Ritz Carlton and the forthcoming Four Seasons hotel. By providing the XPass for the Deluxe resort guest they have an extremely powerful tool to draw those guests back onto Disney property. We prefer to stay at Coronado Springs, but will move back to the Wilderness Lodge or Contemporary when XPass goes into effect.

Kris:

This is a terrible idea. Against our better judgement we visited Universal Studios during our annual Christmas trip to Disney. The ticket booth worked hard to try to sell us their version of the fastpass....at a cost of $60 per person. That's another $240 on top of a one day pass for a family of four. That left a bad taste in my mouth (we did not add the pass) and I began to look at the park differently from then on. We were there specifically for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which did not disappoint. The rest of the attractions, dining, cleanliness made me long for Disney. Disney is magical. It CAN be affordable. It's easy to get around the parks on a whim and not have every second planned out. This new system that caters to a select group of people is in very poor taste. Once you enter the turnstile EVERYONE should be afforded the same experience.

Lisa Babjak:

I agree with all who are appalled that Disney would institute a class system within the park. I hope our friends at Allears.Net have the ears of the Disney decision-makers and share these postings. Like others posted here, we live in the north and struggle to be able to take our kids to Disney once a year. The magic of Disney always made the expense worth it. But to add stress inside the park to the stress of planning and paying for a visit to the park is just unacceptable. How could Disney put in place a plan for a princess to speak with one child by name but not mine because I stay at an All Star or a DVC resort????

So many of our favorite things have changed(such as removing our extra magic after-hours at Animal Kingdom) and cast members say its in response to guests' wishes. They never asked for our wishes. As for the passes... yes its always been posted for one hour but as others pointed out, there are things that can keep you from your appointed time (breakdowns, dining res, etc) so does that mean your one-a-year visit should fall short of expectations? And I thought the idea of the fast pass was to "save a spot" in line so you could ride other rides - by the time you walk to the other rides and get in their long lines, you won't stand a chance.

Lynn:

I am pretty upset about this. It seems Disney is all about making money in every way they can. Hotel prices, ticket prices, food prices have gone up so much. It certainly has changed to suit them and not their guests. I love going to Disney World, have been there more than 35 times, but now I think I will have to look at other places to vacation, its becoming too much of a rip-off in many ways.

Samantha Nichols:

I know that I am in the minority but I have always followed the correct times on my FP. I am pretty organized and like my day SOMEWHAT mapped out anyway, so advance fastpasses would be great for me. My only concern would be how early could I get the times? I book my ADRs as early as I can so what if I was to be at Sci-Fi at 4:30 and I got a FP for Toy Story at the exact same time that I will be at dinner?
I am sure that they (Disney) knows that there are kinks to work out. I also agree with the comments that believe Disney is STARTING this at the deluxe resorts. I have always believed that you should get perks for staying on Disney property. I know that some will not agree with this but.. just my humble opinion. :) So if they offered this to everyone staying on property.. just like the perk of EMH.. good for all of us. The only thing that I do not care for is the parade seating. Come on people... that should be first come first serve... Either way, to be honest, no matter what they do I will continue to frequent the parks because I will still love it... but that's just me!

Alea:

I think it's pretty dangerous to post things that are rumored, because obviously a lot of people are now irate, and we don't even know all the facts from Disney yet! I think enforcing the FP times is fine, they are given free to us anyway. Trying out the system on a smaller group as Jeff Blanks suggested they are doing makes sense as well. If Disney would continue with only giving this treatment to Deluxe resort stayers, that would be wrong, but the author did make it sound as though it was just at first. I guess it's all in how you read it. Anytime you want to make a change or protest something you feel is wrong, go for it! First, tell the people in charge IN WRITING what you are boycotting and why. Then try to get as many people as you can to boycott with you. Remember the ants in Bug's Life! There are more middle class people visiting WDW than rich folks, I guarantee it!

Ann:

The new proposed system may sound "elitist," but the reality is that Disney is a business. And as a business with shareholders, the bottom line is what return they can provide. Like it or not, people with more money can and are willing to spend more. And why should Disney not take advantage of this? It could be to all of our benefits. If they make more money off of others, maybe they can offer more and keep costs down for the rest of us. I have seen some incredible deals advertised lately, and they need to be making the money somewhere to be able to offer such deals. I have also heard from many people with more money, that as the parks become more crowded they have no desire to spend their vacation dollars there. I don't think it's good for Disney's business model if people at the higher end stop traveling and spending there. In the end I think that hurts everybody.

Mary:

I find it interesting that it says CMs will begin enforcing -- CMSs are the ones who have told us time and time again not to worry about end time -- that pass was good 'til close of park. I have so many issues with them changing this, I wouldn't know where to start. But, I can honestly say -- and I am a HUGE Disney fan who has been many times since 1971 -- I would likely skip our trip if this change is made. Too much like Universal where you have to pay or stay on property to get "fast pass" -- which is why we don't go to Universal. Would be a giant step backward in customer service in my opinion.

CW:

I pretty much agree with everything that has been said. One more thought... I am a FL Resident annual passholder of 8 yrs. So are they going to roll this out to DVC and annual passholders? Dont we already pay enough with no perks (as well as any average person who pays such a high price for a one day ticket!)? When its all said and done, the only people without the XPass system will be the perceived middle, lower middle, and lower income families, putting them at a severe disadvantage to enjoy the parks. Didnt Walt create the park for the average family? I guess Disney has lost sight of this. There is always Legoland folks, where they dont do any of this, and everything, including the merchandise and food, is much cheaper. Very sad Disney, you should reconsider this!

Art Gallego:

The 1%ers should never have to stand in long lines or wait hours to see a parade. They are far too important for such things. Besides, they may have to mingle amongst the 99%ers. What kind of vacation would that be?

Occupy Main Street!

Robin:

My family has ALWAYS used the Fast Passes within the one-hour window. I had heard that cast members did not enforce it, but I was always too worried that I would come across a cast member who WAS enforcing it and then we'd miss out on riding altogether. It's really not that big of an issue. Using the Fast Passes within the one-hour window has never been a problem for us. It may require a bit of planning, but we've always been able to ride everything we planned to. (Of course, we have always been "rule followers" and would generally like for everyone to follow the rules -- rules are generally in place for a reason)..

Robiin Gorrell:

Hello Kristin,

I also agree that the Elite Bracelet is a awlful idea. We usually stay at the Polynesian but have also stayed at the All Star Sports and the French Quarter. I love the fact that we have the same experience and wonderful time regardless of where we sleep. The special benefits you get at Universal for staying in their hotels is wonderful if you can swing the $300 a night, but terrible if you are one of the poor souls waiting 2 plus hours to ride anything because the hotel guests can get off a ride and walk back on creating gridlock for the regular park travelers. I have no problem with requiring guests to utilize the fastpasses for the required time but perhaps Disney should make the fastpass times 2 hours, the same amount you must wait to get another one. If people find the new fastpass system unfair, just let Disney know by not going. See how long they keep it going if their Moderate and Value resorts sit half empty. The huge number of people that stay in these resorts will not upgrade to the Deluxe Resorts, they will just stay home.

Scott:

This may cause me not to renew my premium annual passes. It lets the rich have everything. I don't think Walt would have liked this.

Renee:

I'm not too upset about enforcing fastpass return times, but I think it would be wise of the to increase the return window from one hour to two hours. It seems that would keep the intent but also provide a bit more flexibility.

I am upset about this xpass system. I'm definitely a planner when it comes to our Disney vacation, but I certainly don't want to plan every minute of every day. Usually we leave a day or two unscheduled to go back and do favorites or hit something that we missed the first time around. Giving more affluent guests better access to the parks also seems unfair to me.

Steve:

Kristin:

Great way to begin your AllEars blogging! Would you be able to provide us with where we can express our opinions so that Disney hears them (just in case they miss this blog)?

Gayle:

I'm probably on the "other side" of this issue. By no means are we flush with cash and do have to plan pretty far in advance for our Disney trips (mostly WDW & DCL). Yet when I read this article I was/am all for XPass.

First, I presumed by "deluxe" it would also include DVC, which we regularly stay at (on points, not own). So that needs clarification.

If it's (eventually) open to anyone, then it's no different than other "special" offerings like firework cruises, VIP tours, firework dessert reception, etc. We used to watch the fireworks for free at Tomorrowland Terrace. Now we decide from trip to trip if we want to pay for the reception to have those seats or not.

Another example is the 3D Dessert Reception (w/ VIP Illuminations viewing) during Food & Wine. I would never do this with my mom, but have done it twice with BFF. Last year we even upgraded to the Sweet Seats.

But perhaps the best example is the Dining Reservations. This costs nothing, but it is a regular occurrence for a table service restaurant to be booked with reservations, and not available to walk-ups. Some would say this is unfair; that there should be no reservations.

As long as Disney maintains a high visitor count, high demand for resort hotel rooms, etc., they can "afford" to put these kinds of measures in place. Why? Because Disney people like us, even though we gripe about it, determine the offerings are worth it (based on want or need) and find a way to fork out the $.

Everyone has their own wants and limitations. Do I want a private cabana on Castaway Cay. You bet, but $500/day is too rich for me, so I'm satisfied with getting up a bit earlier for a good seat on the beach.

Frankly, I feel my time is very valuable, as is effortlessly traveling with my elderly mother. If I have the OPTION of paying more for a more relaxing/less taxing vacation, it is most likely worth it for me and my family. And as much as we initially hate these types of changes with Disney, in the end we know they create incredible experiences for us.

Mackenzie:

I'm clearly in the minority on both these issues, but on my last trip to Disney World, I found that fast passes were not particularly helpful at the more popular rides at certain times of day. I always just get my fast pass and use it in the allotted hour. I didn't even know until my last trip that they would honor it after the time window. Part of the joy of a fast pass for me is knowing when I'll be riding a ride. It helps me decide when to see shows, get food, or even just take a break from touring. On my last trip, I missed two shows because I waited over 20 minutes for rides I had fast passes for. I look forward to fast passes being enforced so this doesn't happen in the future. If it means that I occasionally throw out a fast pass, so be it.

As far as the XPass goes, I agree that it appears that they're just rolling it out at the Deluxe resorts, not that it will be permanently limited to those resorts. I also think that a service like XPass allows Disney to make the experience more magical for more types of people. While many posters seem to value spontaneity in their vacations, I prefer a well-planned vacation with few surprises. I don't have much money, but I would be happy to pay for predictability in the way I tour the parks. I also think this will alleviate lines by pulling people out of standby lines, and letting crowd engineers essentially determine which rides can take more riders at which times. I actually think a system like this will improve wait times and experiences for everyone, whether or not they shell out the dough for the XPass. Will I be jealous until I can afford it? Yes. Do I still think it's a good idea? Yes.

Sandy Ednie:

I'm not happy about the enforcement of the FP return time, but it's something I would learn to live with and plan accordingly. However, the possibility of the Xpass actually makes me feel--for lack of a better word--just icky. It just disappoints me that my place that can-do-no-wrong-in-my-eyes place would go that route. The idea of having to plan everything down to the character meets at specific times on specific days honestly makes my head hurt, and I love planning! I do! So I can only imagine how overwhelming the idea would be to others who currently aren't even crazy about having to make ADR's 6 months in advance. But the biggest offense would be paying money for the ability to cut in line. Or even if it doesn't cost extra for the specific pass, if it's only offered to deluxe resort guests, you're still paying for the ability to cut in line. That's not Disney at all. And Disney will really be re-defining itself if it goes down that road.

TJ Mahan:

Bad idea, as a 'non planning' Florida resident passholder, it creates an unfair advantage to those 'regulars' who will probably show up to find out all the fastpasses have been reserved, and wait in stand-by. Also as with the ADRs, what is going to be the penalty for no shows? It also irks me when I hear the word 'premium.' I hate to say it, but a 'perfect' Disney visit will only now be available to those with larger disposable incomes, something uncle Walt would disaprove of!

Kris:

We are not a wealthy family but we do pretty OK for ourselves ... yet we cannot really afford a week at a deluxe resort, on top of the airfare, park tickets, dining plan, etc.

We did a moderate (POFQ) in 2009 and this time around (just returned) we did a value (POP).

I don't like it, but I do understand that Disney has the right to enforce the FastPass return timeframe. We all knew we were on borrowed time with that. I mean, the pass says right on it that there is an expiration. It's like being mad when a speed camera catches you speeding ... it totally sucks, but technically you were speeding, right? I'm totally guilty of planning my entire day around maximizing my FP's so I will need a new strategy if and when we go back.

I have a problem with this XPass, though, as it is being explained. I agree with the PPs who said that it just makes Disney that much more expensive. And it's already pretty darn expensive!

Yes, there are plenty of people who will pay for it. But there's something to be said for societal reputation and the cost of losing that trust from your loyal base. Look at what happened to Netflix, one of the most beloved companies, when they decided to get greedy. It backfired. Even Disney is not immune.


Ruth Woodhouse:

I thought Walt Disney wanted the park for everyone and everyone to be treated the same. What would Walt have thought of this idea?

LIsa:

I can only hope they allow Passholders to purchase the XPass. We pay a lot of money each year for our WDW passes and I would like to be able to get more out of them.

Changes are coming soon!!! And I think all for the better.

Peg F:

I agree with the majority of those who have commented on this new XPass system and also don't like the sound of it and I will let Disney know by writing the company. I suggest everyone reading this blog do the same. Disney listens to their guests and respond to their concerns. The cost of a Disney vacation has gotten astronomical and in some areas quality has gone down, in particular dining. Disney has been the one and only vacation destination for my husband and I for the last 12 years but if these changes do come to be and they change our vacation experience for the negative well I hate to say it but we may not be visiting again.

Jim:

What happens when the deluxe resorts are all full and the rich people have to use a moderate in order to stay and they dont get their fancy elite bracelets?

Plus one of the reasons the lines are so long is becasue of fast pass already adding another elite pass will make the regular lines longer.

Janet:

I agree with everyone above and the thing that bothers me the most is the only available to Deluxe hotel guests. The perks these people pay for is the hotel. Not the parks. Those of of that do save for our vacations are being left out. We must plan our vacations out enough already. i.e. times to go, getting dinign reservations 180 days out. Now telling us to schedule what time we want to ride? I am pretty sure there are not millions of people that play the collect fast pass game, certainly not enough to warrant this across the board change. As I have said many times before, we can all complain on our Disney freindly blogs and sites, but if eveyone would take the time to voice their opinions to WDW Company via a actual letter and an email. Then mayber the CEO's will listen. It worth a try.

Steve Smith:

I don't really have a problem with enforcing the designated fast pass times, but the XPass system does sound more than a bit elitist. Walt Disney was a man of modest origins who made his way up through a combination of inspiration and hard work. Let's hope the powers-that-be at Disney Enterprises, Inc. stay true to their roots.

The 'World' is after all the crown jewel of D. E. Inc. and, you must admit, they have a pretty good track record. Maintaining that level of quality, paying the cast members a decent wage, and providing the imagineers with the R & D support for new developments requires a healthy cash flow. Businesses need to make money to continue to exist and thrive, but when that becomes the sole goal of a company, it losses its way.

I don't begrudge those with the means to stay at the deluxe resorts and I hope they enjoy the amenities that they pay for. However, the parks themselves are places where, as Walt originally conceived the idea, all members of a family can have fun together in a safe, clean, but still exciting environment. The all-inclusive park entrance fee, with an understandable reduction for youngsters, is a fine example of equalization over the prior system of buying ride tickets. Yes, the entrance fee is not inexpensive, but when you look at what individual tickets for inferior rides at traveling carnivals and state fairs cost these days, it seems entirely reasonable. Going to a two-tier system is a step backwards.

Carrie Kenney:

I actually was unaware there was any flexibility in the FastPass return windows and our family has visited Disney several times. I just assumed the pass had a time posted so you return by that time. For those who follow the rules, it's really disappointing to hear you're being affected negatively by those who aren't.

As for the XPass, I don't think I'm stating anything new by saying it will make me feel like a "have not" in the midst of a $5,000 vacation. Our family has been blessed to stay on property 4 out of 8 trips. But there have been times we stayed at a Travelodge and packed a cooler in the car with our lunches. It was the only way we could afford the trip but at least we could go and enjoy the magic in the parks. If I saved my money, made sacrifices, DROVE 24 hours and then was told I'd have to watch the parades by peeking over the shoulders of the rich people...well, I'm thinking it would feel less magical. Who wants to put all of that effort in just to feel second best on their vacation?

They're going to start enforcing the Fastpasses Now...? What do you mean "Now?"
In the past 10 years I've never once...Not Even Once! received any leniency on the return times on our Fastpasses. I've lost count how many times a castmember made us stand there and wait until it was exactly right on the nose because it was 2 or 3 lousy mins. early.
If Disney had been enforcing the rules from the beginning then maybe MY vacations wouldn't have been ruined.
To snatch up as many Fastpasses as one can for the purpose of using them all at once is just plain RUDE!

I am with Johnny who posted in February. I have been going to Disney since I was very little. My family used to live near Disney, so we had the annual passes. Once the Fastpass system came into play, my family and I always obeyed the times on our passes. We had to because cast members wouldn't let us on rides except at the EXACT time. In fact, we were made to stand and wait the extra little bit of time (two to five minutes) before our fastpasses came up!

The cast members everywhere have NEVER let us in except at the exact time the ticket said. We once arrived at Test Track fifteen minutes late for our tickets and they wouldn't let us on. I just thought that they always enforced the times! If I had known that people were stocking up on fastpasses, then I would have been more upset. (I guess it is better that I didn't know. haha). I guess it doesn't bother me if they enforce the times now, since that is what I thought the times were for.

I have had to waste or give away several fastpasses over the years because the times interfered with a meal or plan. How silly to now find out that a bunch of individuals were allowed to use them no matter what time they said.

As far as the new pass goes, it sounds very Disney to me. I am a HUGE Disney lover, but I am also a realist. Disney is all about bleeding us dry. In fact, I have to get smarter and smarter each year to figure out how I can still be relatively comfortable and feel in luxury, while still working on a budget. I would hate to see more places becoming reserved for the wealthy just like everyone else. I would hate it if parades, shows, etc. had all their best viewing areas reserved.

I also realize, however, that Disney is trying to see how much they can make off of people. I do wonder if they realize that the majority of their audience are younger, less wealthy families with children. Hmmmm. Perhaps, in the end, we will see that it just becomes another regular thing and it won't get in the way of the magic.

Janet:

Agree 100% with all that has been said, I just feel like the wealthy will benefit most and that Disney as stated above is looking at a money making opportunity. It is also so true when you stepped through those gates everyone had been pretty much equal. I feel so sorry for those people that dont read AE or do research. They save for that one big trip for their children and get to Disney and do not get to experience it like us seasoned WDW travelers. I can actually say from the first time I went 25 years ago till now, I sure do see and do a ton more than my first trip when I walked down Main street mesmerized by the overload.....Disney stop trying to make the almighty buck you already do make billions. Walt would say shame on you and would not be happy. I wonder we all complain but does Disney management ever listen? I would like to know of an instance that they listened to guests and made a change back based on guests comments. a instance where MONEY was involved in their pocket. I know recently a new attraction about being healthy was re-tooled after guests complaints about singly out heavy people, but that was not a money issue. Hmmm.....

John kuehn:

Well we just went through many of the scenarios described. Rides delayed, late dinner reservations and unforeseen stops. Bottom line we could not get on our fast pass ride because we were late. Disappointing? Of course.

Now it sounds like they are heading towards rides to the highest bidder. Where will it end? The bottom line is since Eisner left the parks have not kept pace with guest growth. Now they have a new resort coming that will hold twelve thousand people. What do you think that will do to any pass system? Until they build a new park, not reuse of existing space, they are just fooling themselves and of course the consumer.

Cheri Palmisano:

Like many, I am not too worried about the new fastpass reinforcements, since they have always had an end time--just were never enforced. I do, however, think if they are going to be so strict about the times now, that the window should be opened up to 2 hours instead of 1. At least that ensures that if you have an ADR in the park at the time your FP window begins, since it typically doesn't take 2 hours to eat, it will allow for those people to utilize their FP after their meal. Like others have said, I have never had an issue with the FP line being backed up because of people using their FP after the window. So I don't think it's a necessary change -- BUT if the REASON for the change is this new system, which scares the living daylights out of me....then I think it's sad!

I agree with the vast majority. Once entering the parks, we are equals. Like others have said, I wanted to crawl back to Disney when we were visiting Universal. I was SICKENED by their $60 version of fastpass. No way could we afford this, there is no justification at all. Walt would NOT be happy about this proposed change, and I really hope Disney pays attention to this post and posts like it and nixes the XPass idea all-together! Let's forget the elitist attitude!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 14, 2012 5:00 AM.

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