There has been lots reported about the Next Gen FastPass system. Recently, Walt Disney World performed a test for approximately 2 weeks to see how things were progressing.
In addition to our Report on AllEars, guest blogger John Leary writes in with his experience!
My family had an unexpected bit of magic added to our recent trip to Walt Disney World. Shortly after landing at MCO, we were greeted by a hostess at the front of the Disney Magical Express queue. She asked if we had a few minutes to take a brief survey and try out in a new Fastpass service. We hastily agreed, grinning ear-to-ear, and followed her over to one of the small tables in the nearby sitting area.
There, two cast members explained the testing process. They asked for our email address, and the best day and time bracket for us to use the new Fastpass system. We then picked four Magic Kingdom attractions we wanted to visit, two from each side of a survey card. The cast members explained that we'd receive an email confirming our schedule of selected attractions, spread throughout the day and time range we selected. Each attraction on the schedule had the typical one-hour window in which to use the Fastpass. Finally, each member of our party received their own Fastpass card, and we were off to our Resort.
Being Disney Park veterans, we were familiar with the current Fastpass process. We arrived at the start to an attraction's Fastpass line, a cast member would place our card next to the new Fastpass reader (which look like a ball on a pole), and make sure we were scheduled for that attraction at that date and time. We noticed our Fastpass cards did not have a magnetic strip or bar code, so we assumed it used RFID (radio frequency) technology to identify each of us. Each cast member was also equipped with an iPad in a case, which displayed our first names when our card was scanned, or other information if needed.
If the Fastpass card was valid at that time and location, the Mickey icon on the card scanner glowed a bright green. If you arrived at the wrong date/time, the icon glows blue, and alerts the cast member via their iPad to your correct Fastpass schedule. We also witnessed the icon glow red, when it seemed the cast member was having technical issues scanning another guest's card.
Continuing down the Fastpass line, the second cast member (who typically takes your paper Fastpass ticket) also scanned our card, and we joined the main ride queue as usual.
Throughout our day, we noticed different card reader devices. The most typical Fastpass card reader was the "ball on a pole" version. But at our visit with Mickey at the Town Square Theatre, the cast member read our cards through a sensor on the back of her iPad. And when passing Stitch's Great Escape, we noticed a card reader that looked more like the current Fastpass ticket distribution kiosks.
Admittedly, we had the most fun using both our paper ticket Fastpasses and our Fastpass card at the same time throughout the day. Between Fastpasses and short morning lines, we rode Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin to our heart's content. We unfortunately missed one of our scheduled Fastpass card reservations due to an unexpected nap for our toddler, but the cards worked without any problems throughout our testing experience.
Imagining how Disney could use this new system for our future visits, I have mixed feelings. The organizer in me loves the idea that we can potentially plan a day's worth of Fastpasses before our vacation begins. But part of my disappointment has to do with their need to now enforce valid return times on Fastpass tickets because of this new system. I know, I know - this was always their policy - I just got used to the convenience of the rule being bent.
Being an avid ParkHopper ticket user, I would find less value in park hopping if we were locked to one or multiple day's Fastpass schedule if we were restricted to one park. Being near-obsessive with planning table-service meals, I'd be worried that the Fastpass system would assign us a Fastpass attraction that conflicts with a previously-booked restaurant reservation. And though it's of little consequence, having cast members scan my card twice at each attraction felt a little redundant to me.
As a whole, we found the new Fastpass system as easy to use as it was fun, and we have great hopes for how Disney uses this new technology to make our future trip planning that much more enjoyable.
The previous post in this blog was Disney’s Newsies, The Musical.
The next post in this blog is A mom's tips for finding Disney Crocs for all sizes.