Mark Hickson writes:
Thanks Jim for the great article. I have shared it with my
readers via facebook. Please stay on top of the NextGen story for all of us!
Will do. In fact, let me share something that a certain
Godfather fan pass was nice enough to pass along to me. Which is the definitive
list of the 70 experiences which will be available to WDW Guests are part of
the xPASS program.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Now note that word "experience." For while there
are 28 attractions that are currently wired into Disney World's FastPASS system
... When xPASS finally comes fully online (and -- from what I've now been
hearing -- we could be well in 2013 before that actually happens), the number
of rides, shows and attractions that Guests will now be able to make advance
ride reservations for will have basically doubled.
Not only that, but these same people will be able to book
times for exclusive meet & greets
with the Disney characters as well as claiming primo viewing spots for parades
in the Parks & nighttime spectaculars like Illuminations and Wishes.
But in order to fold those meet & greets as well as
those parade viewing spots into this ride reservation system ... Well, Disney
had to come up a new way to describe what these Guests will be booking. So when
xPASS does finally & fully roll out in 2013, look for the Mouse's merry
marketeers to start talking up experiences(As in: "Look at all of the magical
adventures and experiences you can book ahead of time as part of your Walt
Disney World Vacation") rather than rides, shows and attractions.
Anyway ... You wanna know which parts of WDW's entertainment
inventory we're specifically talking about here? The list goes as follows:
The Magic Kingdom currently has the following rides, shows
and attractions available for advance booking through that theme park's
Once xPASS is up & running, WDW visitors will also have
the chance to book in advance:
Not to mention exclusive meet & greets with the Disney
characters as well as primo viewing spots for such Magic Kingdom favorites as:
Meanwhile, over at EPCOT, Guests can currently use that
theme park's FastPASS system to enter the virtual queue for:
Once xPASS comes online, WDW visitors will be able to book
advance reservations for:
These Guests will also have the opportunity to experience
exclusive meet & greets with the Disney characters as well as claim a spot
for the nightly presentation of:
Meanwhile, over at Disney's Hollywood Studios ... Nowadays,
Guests can use FastPASS to book advance ride times on:
But in the not-so-distant future ... Thanks to xPASS,
visitors to this studio theme park will also be able to take advantage of
Disney's virtual queuing system to cut the line / their wait time for:
Plus those exclusive meet & greets with the Disney characters.
Not to mention special reserved-in-advance viewing areas for:
Meanwhile over at Disney's Animal Kingdom ... Where once WDW Guests were only
able to use their FastPASSes for:
Once xPASS officially comes online next year, these same
Disney World visitors will be able to use this virtual queuing system to book
Not to mention those exclusive meet & greet
opportunities with the Disney characters as well as primo viewing spot for:
Now, I know that there are those Disneyana fans who are
going to squawk about Disney World bumping out the number of rides, shows and
attractions in its FastPASS / xPASS inventory from 28 to 50. They're going to
insist that -- by doing this -- the typical day visitor to these theme parks
who doesn't have access to this new book-in-advance virtual queue is now doomed
to spend their days waiting in the stand-by line.
But according to the Mouse's own research, basically
doubling the number of FastPASS / xPASS-based attractions actually has a hidden
benefit in that it will spread people out around the Parks. Which means that
the crowds will no longer be clustered around a handful of super-popular
attractions like Splash Mountain and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
More to the point, software safety guards are reportedly
being put in place which will then prevent those Guests who are actually using
the xPASS system from booking up in advance all of the available ride times for
the theme park's most popular attractions (EX: While booked their day at the
Magic Kingdom, these WDW visitors will only be able to reserved in advance
their ride times on two of that theme park's "Mountains" [i.e. Space
Mountain, Splash Mountain and/or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad] rather than all
Also -- to mitigate that teeny bit of extra time in line
which Guests who have not taken advantage of WDW's new xPASS to book their ride
times in advance will be experiencing (The way I hear it, the full roll-out of
this NextGen virtual queuing system will add 1 - 3 minutes of wait time for WDW
visitors standing in the stand-by line for most attractions, while people
standing in line to experience the top three attractions at each park will then
see their wait time increase by just 6 - 8 minutes) ... Well, that's why you've
seen the Imagineers adding Scene Ones (EX: That interactive graveyard which
Guests now have the option of exploring when they visit The Haunted Mansion at
the Magic Kingdom), play areas (EX: The front-most part of the queue for The
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which features all sorts of hands-on
activities for preschoolers & their families) as well as interactive group
games (EX: Those Wii-like games that Guests can play as a group on overhead
screens while waiting in line to experience Soarin'). To make that extra little
bit of time that people will soon be spending in line seem that much more
There are lots of other intriguing aspects about the xPASS
system that I'll soon be getting to in future JHM stories. But here's one that
will be sure to make West Coast-based Disneyana fans smile: There are already
plans in place to roll out xPASS at the Disneyland Resort in 2015, just in time
for Disneyland Park's 60th anniversary. And there are also discussions underway
as to how to properly implement this NextGen virtual queuing system onboard the Disney Cruise Line.
Anyway ... That's an early, early look at which rides, shows
and attractions will be included as part of WDW's xPASS experience. Do you
think the Mouse made the right choices? If not, which rides, shows and
attractions would you have preferred to see as part of Disney World's NextGen
virtual queuing system?
Will Xpass only be available to people staying on property? What about Annual passholders and Florida residents?
EDITOR'S NOTE: Hang in there, Allison. I'll be discussing those parts of the xPASS program (plus lesser known aspects like the Food & Beverage component) in upcoming JHM articles. But -- for now -- I thought that it was important just to get the word out about which rides, shows and attractions will be featured as part of this NextGen Guest experience.
I am not a fan of this at all. I go to Disney to shutoff and get away from my "crackberry" not to fill it full of xPass reservations. Hopefully its executed well and its a non-issue.
I'm confused. Is this xPass system replacing Fastpass? Or will Fastpass still exist?
Andy: I was wondering the same thing.
It doesn't seem like a big deal to me. I don't think x-pass will have any noticeable effect on my WDW vacation experience. I like to visit during slow seasons. Last time I was at the Magic Kingdom, I did every e-ticket ride in the park before lunch.
This will, without a doubt, put an end to our family vacations in WDW. I don't know what IDIOT in charge thought this was a good idea, but the notion that I'll have to schedule our vacation down to the minute just to ensure I'll be able to watch a dang parade, see fireworks, or have my kids meet freakin' Mickey Mouse is the death knell of my fascination with WDW. We'll be selling our DVC points, turning in our AP's, and spending our vacation dollars someplace else.
This idea SUCKS!
Disney just doesn't seem to be what it used to be.. I'm 18 and have come to Disney World every year since I was 8. It seems as though in the past few years disney seems to be getting more technical and moving away from the fantasy part of disney, the main reason you go there being to escape reality. To me this technology is taking away from the carefree and spontaneous magic aspect of the parks and making it more "worldly". Or maye it's just me..
When is this officially starting at WDW resort? We are planning a trip for early 2013 and would like to avoid it if possible!
For the complainers (especially on the previous xPass post) about how Universal (and others) are SOOOOOOOOO much better, Universal and Cedar Fair have offered this UPCHARGE for years. At least at Knott's (a Cedar Fair park) that is the ONLY way to avoid the standby lines.
Bottom line this for me, how much extra is Disney planning on charging for this service, or will it be adjusted into the price of a park pass?
"Bottom line this for me, how much extra is Disney planning on charging for this service, or will it be adjusted into the price of a park pass?"
I doubt it will be available to everyone for "free." My assumption is that they will either charge a fee for Xpass access and/or it will be available exclusively to Disney resort guests.
I'm not terribly concerned about it. If it is an add-on and Disney puts a high price tag on it, not many people will buy and there will be a negligible impact on my own experience without it. FASTPASS isn't going anywhere.
If it's modestly priced, I'll bite the bullet and join the herd.
As for planning, I'll put as much or as little effort as necessary into my trip to make it what I want it to be. Some planning is already necessary for ADRs, planning around certain show schedules, golf tee times, parasailing reservations, and so on. If I know that selecting my night at Epcot a couple months out will help me get great viewing for Illuminations (via Xpass), so be it.
I don't like this. Disney is moving down a slippery slope with this one. The next step is to auction off to the highest bidder the first place in line. Ticket prices are expensive enough as it is. Now only those that can afford it will be able to reap this added 'benefit.' Disney needs to keep a level playing field. VERY DISAPPOINTED in Disney on this move.
Shows and parades do NOT need Fastpasses. They were testing something at Fant the other night and had the WHOLE middle section blocked off. Unacceptable.
This is a waste of time and money. Build rides, not lines!!!
My money is on this - If Iger wasn't leaving, nextgen would cost him his job. I'll be curious to see if it costs Staggs a promotion.
WDW is becoming all about the schedule... and it's why we don't eat in many table service restaurants. We refuse to lock ourselves in months in advance. Remember when you could go to EPCOT and schedule your dinner that same day at the kiosks behind Spaceship Earth? And even THAT felt like you were "locking yourself in"!
So now, while I bemoan the changes and the loss of spontaneity, my question is: When does it begin to take effect? I am open-minded enough to want to see how well it will work - or not - before I declare it evil incarnate!