Thursday, March 1, 2012

FASTPASS: The Next Generation

At the beginning of February, the word came out: some big changes are expected to be implemented at all FASTPASS attractions.  Starting March 7, 2012, it is expected that the FASTPASS return windows will now be actively enforced, with a five minute early arrival and fifteen minute late arrival to be permitted.  Anyone arriving outside of those times will not be allowed entry to the FASTPASS queue. 
What is FASTPASS? I’m guessing you’re not seriously asking that question if you are reading this blog. But just in case, Disney says FASTPASSis a complimentary benefit to all park Guests that allows you to enjoy the rest of the Walt Disney World Resort while your place in line is saved.”

Here’s an example of what we’re talking about:

It used to be that as long as you arrived after the first time listed on your FASTPASS (in this case, 12:55), you could enter the FASTPASS queue, even if the second time (1:55) had come and gone. Why is Disney going to start this stricter adherence to the rules? Speculation abounds that some big changes to the FASTPASS system may be in the works.

The scuttlebutt is that Disney may soon announce the arrival of xPASS. Or NextGen FASTPASS. Or My Disney Experience. Or FASTPASS Platinum (okay, I made that last one up.) Which is cool, because in the words of Barney Stinson, “new is always better”, right?  Not necessarily. You see, FASTPASS:TNG (that one’s mine, copyright pending) will – for a price – offer WDW Guests the opportunity to pre-book an entire vacation's worth of rides on the most popular attractions, as well as guaranteeing these particular customers prime reserved viewing spots for parades and shows like "Illuminations" “Festival of the Lion King”, and "Fantasmic!" And there’s more. According to Jim Hill, on "it's a small world" people who have booked the FASTPASS:TNG vacation package will - prior to their arrival in Orlando - be able to go online and build their very own customized Mary Blair-style doll. This doll will appear on a flat screen in the final sequence of "it's a small world’ and dance for and wave to the guest who actually created the doll. Nice!  And finally, the most recent advancement that I’ve heard of will be the option to use the FASTPASS:TNG system to avoid lines at the parks' Quick Service Dining locations by ordering your meals in advance using your iPhone & Smart Phones. (I think I actually like this one the best. After all, some of the attraction queues are cool. The food lines at Flame Tree Barbeque? Not so much.) Now, I don’t know about you, but my main thought here is: How much will the FASTPASS:TNG vacation package cost?

Now as we all know, Disney plans are written in Jell-O. They can and will change. For example, the word now is that this upcoming service may not cost extra after all. (Apparently, Disney is getting a little sensitive to the “Wallet Disney World” jokes.) And while it was first speculated that the official announcement of this new system would happen at the company’s meeting for shareholders this month in preparation for an early 2013 roll-out, that time frame is now appearing to be a little optimistic.  As always, time will tell. But what enhancements would you like to have made to Disney’s FASTPASS? Speak your piece over at!

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