My Qualms with FastPass

I’ve indicated that our March trip to Walt Disney World was probably the most crowded I have ever seen the park, in almost 15 years of visiting. We had spring breakers, locals on break, guests spending a long Easter vacation in the parks. It was really overwhelming, and even with all the “tricks” James and I know, there were so many times where I felt myself really forcing myself to say: “We are here. It’s fine. It’s great. This is fun.”

Obviously, I had a fabulous trip and I’m appreciative of the time I spend there. Of course. James and I still made some fantastic memories on this trip but I can’t remember ever having to remind myself so much… to enjoy the atmosphere, who cares if you don’t get on that attraction, who cares if you are constantly waiting in line to use the restroom.

You are on VACATION.

Right. I am on vacation with a billion other people. Some of who proved themselves to be the snottiest guests on the planet. (One woman accused James and I of cutting the FastPass receiving line at Expedition Everest when we hadn’t. We didn’t even know she was talking to us. But I almost (almost) don’t blame her because the cast member who was manning the FP line was terrible. Shuffling people out of line to other lines, making them shorter, sure, but with absolutely no rhyme or reason. Anyway, I wish this mean lady knew what we of ALL PEOPLE would not be cutting to get a FastPass. But she would not let it go, and it really started my day at Animal Kingdom on a sour note.

Anyway. The FastPass. For those of who you may not know, the Fast Pass is a free service that Disney provides in their theme parks for certain attractions. You stand on a line, insert your park ticket, and out pops a FastPass with a time for you to return to the attraction. You may not be late. You may not be early. You have an hour window to get back to the attraction and you get to “skip” the line, and hopefully got to use some free time to try another attraction.

I never thought the FastPass was a nuisance until I was listening to a podcast probably a year ago. They talked about how FastPass can slow the loading on attractions and make the regular wait time skyrocket. I could totally see that now. Especially if the bracket of time for each Pass is distributed so close together.

FastPass Toy Story Midway Mania

This actually leads to my biggest question/area of frustration is wondering whether Disney does not pace themselves when it comes to distributing the tickets. For example, James and I normally score FastPasses for Toy Story Midway Mania, Soarin, and Expedition Everest. Our goal is to get to the park early, get one initial spin on the ride, and then pick up a FastPass on the way out to ensure two opportunities on the attraction. Most of the time this works. But only when we arrive for Early Morning Hours (specific parks have this specific days, and it is for resort guests only) or attend Rope Drop (when the park first opens).

During this trip, I was most peeved with the situation at The Land. It was crowded. Like almost dangerous crowded. And within 15 minutes of the park opening, there was already a 50-minute wait for Soarin. Naturally, everyone wanted to get FastPass tickets. At 9:15 in the morning, they were already marked for one in the afternoon. We decided to take the Behind the Seeds tour at 10:30, finished at 11:30, and at 11:45 a.m., the cast members were already putting up a sign that the Fas tasses were gone for the day.

  1. If the wait time was correct at the beginning of the day, would the FastPasses been gone so soon?
  2. Is it really fair that people who arrive at the park later (but are paying for a full day’s ticket) do not have an opportunity to get a FastPass? That their only option is to stand on a line that boasted an almost 200-minute wait for most of that day?

I know it doesn’t say anywhere that guests are guaranteed to experience everything in the park on their day of visitation. But when the most illustrious attractions have such high wait times, and there is no opportunity to get a FastPass, where is the fun? Where is the fairness there? (For the record, same day… James tried to get FastPasses for Test Track at noon. By the time he got up there, there were none left the day either.)

It pains me to think that the only way families will get a full opportunity to experience attractions will be when MyMagic+ is rolled out, and people are planning what they will do in the park months and months in advance. I haven’t been blatantly spreading my opinion about this experiment on THP but I’m the kind of person who hates to be asked what I will want for dinner when I’m just about to dive into my breakfast. I’m guessing you can figure out my reaction to the whole thing.

A few days later, on that same Animal Kingdom trip where that guest yelled at us, I felt myself increasingly annoyed with how the FastPass was handled at Kilimanjaro Safaris. With our Everest passes, we decided to deal with the proposed 75-minute line for the safari (I guessed it would probably take 45 tops which was okay) but I was way off because we waited a whopping 85 minutes. The people behind me started to get fidgety the closer we got to the front of the line because the Fast Pass people were getting on so quickly. I know that’s how it usually works. The FPers have the ticket, they get to go in front of some people who are waiting on the stand-by line. But after 70 minutes? You would think they could hold up the FP line a little bit and allow the standby people to get on the ride at a faster rate.

FastPasses don’t guarantee immediate access. Instead, it promises “little to no wait”. So when the standby line is 85 minutes? Wouldn’t it be okay for the people with FP to wait for 10? Wouldn’t they still feel like they got their FP worth? To me, on a crowded day like that one, I totally think so.

I’m not sure if MyMagic+ is going to wipe out FastPasses entirely someday. Perhaps that is the direction that Disney is going. While I’m not a fan of that at all, the FastPass system is the lesser of the two evils (when it comes to having no other option, of course). I just get the impression that as years have gone on the process behind the FastPass “solution” have waned and their efficiency isn’t what was initially planned for.

I would absolutely love to hear about your thoughts about FastPasses and your own experiences. Am I being a grump or do you see the same things happening when you are visiting the parks?

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A book publicist who loves writing about Disney and books, and sometimes Disney books.

9 thoughts on “My Qualms with FastPass

  1. Sometimes, I wish we could just go back to the days when there wasn’t such a thing as FastPass. You either waited in line or you didn’t. And if you came back in the evening, chances are the lines were shorter. That isn’t usually so with FastPass now.

    I am also concerned that MyMagic+ will make things even worse. Especially for those who aren’t staying at a Disney resort, and my family usually falls into that category. If all the passes (FastPass, MyMagic+, whatever) are gone before the park even opens, that leaves the rest of us out in the cold. Or relaxing on the beach and not giving Disney our money.

    That last sentence makes me think that Disney will try to find a way to work it all out for everyone in some way, because you know they don’t want a bunch of people saying, “Well I’m just not going to Disney any more!” Money is what they are after, after all.

  2. My year as a CP was one of the 1st for FP, before they had special CMs who only worked FP (do they still exist? God I’m old). You can just imagine the fun that was when even the CMs couldn’t get it to work right and most of the guests had no idea what it was and yelled at you for letting people cut. Yikes!

    Now, it is very disheartening to get to a park and have the Fastpasses gone. The last time we went, I told the fiance we needed to run to TSM. She looked at me like I was insane. . .but once we were there and it happened, it made sense. I hate that I have to wake up so early to do things like that on my vacation.

  3. FastPasses really emphasize and push open the divide between people who want to go on vacation to relax and have fun…and the people who have fun by running around, strategizing, competing. And really, that’s what gettings FastPasses is all about: competing with others, seeing who’s more savvy, who’s faster, etc.)

    I’m usually in the later–I get a high off of knowing the ins and outs of a system, of working the rules to my advantage, etc.

    …BUT…if MyMagic+ makes obtaining FastPasses that much more difficult, or continues to give preference to people who can afford to stay on property (and, really, Value resorts are getting not so affordable for most people anymore), at some point that’s going to even press the limits even competing people have when on vacation.

  4. I agree with Steve: I wish we could just eliminate Fastpasses and go back to simply having one faster-moving regular line (with single rider options!)

  5. Oh, the fast pass is a MUST for Midway Mania! The Toy Story attraction is THE BEST. My sister and I got fast passes and then went back and stood in line two more times haha. Totally worth it!
    True though, there are some really snotty snotty people there, and some people who totally did not understand what Fast Passes were. Eek!

    I definitely think that 10 minutes is a totally acceptable Fast Pass waiting time if the ride has an 85 minute wait! That shows how popular it is and that’s still really fast!

    I just love visiting your Disney posts 🙂 So many fond memories!

  6. I guess I like the fastpass system but to be honest I very rarely use it. At Epcot for example, I will grab one for Soarin but then thats about it. At MK, I might grab one for a mountain if I’m there later in the day, but again, thats about it.

    The idea of making appoints for lines does intrigue me though. The one big drawback for the current system is the constant doubling back to go use the fastpass. I am a planner and knowing what the three rides I will be riding at certain times can make it easier to map out the day.

  7. We rarely get fastpasses when we go to Disney. My family and I don’t really plan out our trips, preferring to experience the park more spontaneously. We’ll get ones for the rides we ABSOLUTELY must ride, but even then that’s only about one or two. I guess we realize that if we’re going to Disney, we’re going to be waiting in line a long time and we accept that. I hate how pushy people get in the FP lines. Like really, calm down, you’re on vacation.

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