Over the last several years I have noticed a few things and kept reminding myself to mention them to friends and colleagues who also frequent both Walt Disney world and Disneyland.
I'm speaking about the FastPass system that has been in existence for sometime now. You know how it works...you bring your admission media to an attraction FastPass Distribution Box and after inserting it, you are then rewarded with a FastPass that tells you when you can report to the attraction later on that day, and not have to wait in line.
The funny thing about this system, now that I think about it, is that as the years have gone by and the crowds have grown, that the system is not so fast.
In fact, I am hear to suggest that for 2012 we rename FastPass to a more appropriate name, similar to the Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) system and name it the Advanced Attraction Reservation System or the AAR.
Why? Well, in many of the most popular headliner attractions, it has gotten to the point that getting a FastPass that has a return time that works with your schedule is like getting a winning Publisher's Clearinghouse number....it never happens.
Okay, maybe I'm overstating it a bit, but when guests find themselves getting to the Toy Story Mania FastPass distribution boxes mid day and find that all the FastPasses are gone for the day, they aren't happy.
I myself have grabbed a FastPass around 10:30 am or so for that attraction and was surprised to see that my return time was 4:15 pm. Well that doesn't work if I have a 4:00 pm ADR at Le Cellier in EPCOT.
I recall one time flying into Orlando around 10:30 in the morning and after getting off the plane, grabbing my luggage, picking up my rental car, driving to my resort, checking in, unpacking, eating lunch, and then finally heading over to EPCOT for a few hours, and was kind of shocked to see a 70 minute wait for Soarin' and, at 1:45 in the afternoon mind you, would have to settle for a 7:35-7:45 pm return time on a FastPass.
That's not going to work when I have a 7:00 pm ADR at Kona in the Polynesian before heading to Magic Kingdom to see Wishes.
Have you noticed this problem lately? Have you figured out what to do?
The obvious response is, "Well Mike we both know that once you start getting into the late morning and early afternoon hours that it becomes more of a challenge to find those favorite attractions with short queues and decent FastPass return times."
Good. You're paying attention.
This all goes back to healthy park touring habits, especially during those crowded times during the year.
Keep the following points in mind:
- Even though you're on vacation , if you want to get the most out of your theme park visits then be there when the turnstiles open. The first two hours following theme park opening are the best two hours of the day...use them wisely.
- FastPasses can work well if you know how to use them. When you get into the park early think about which attraction you would like to secure a FastPass to and get that FastPass before doing anything else. If you can, get in the stand-by line and squeeze in an extra ride.
- Regarding Extra Magic hours, it still holds true that Extra Magic Hour mornings will always be your best friend. Note that parks which have Extra Magic Hour mornings will draw a lot of resort guests and so you can expect that theme park to perhaps be a little more busy during late and early afternoon.
- Extra Magic Hour evenings can be your friend too, but not how you think. I'm not telling you to be sure and go to a park that has Extra Magic Evening Hours. I'm telling you to AVOID that park because the crowds will be somewhat heavy because of EMH evenings. More people sleep in than get up with the chickens. But what you can do is take note of which park is conducting EMH evenings and make it a point to hit that park's turnstiles early on the morning afterwards. You see, the night before will have high crowds...guests who won't be looking to go to that park early the next morning. Trust me. this works.
- I'm a little hesitant to give you this last piece of advice so it comes with a caveat that it may not work. I have tried it and it has worked for me in the past. One day I made it a point to arrive at one of the theme parks just before park opening. During the day I loaded up on Fast Passes. I would grab a FP and not use it, visit some of the less popular attractions, and then when I was allowed, grabbed another FP. On this particular day I think I had accumulated four or five FPs and used them when I wanted to. Sure, the return times on the ticket may have passed but they were honored. Came the afternoon when crowds were high, I found myself using my FastPass at my convenience and....here's the best part....in many cases the FP line was quite short. Will that work today? Don't know....but if it's worth mentioning then it's worth a try.
There is rumbling that sometime over the next year or two we may, and I emphasize the word "may," see an adjustment in the FastPass system. It may involve some perks for those guests staying in certain, read that Deluxe resorts. We'll see.
The previous post in this blog was Beauty and the Beast in 3D: A Review.
The next post in this blog is One More Disney Day: A Preview.