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?
I visit Disney anywhere from 2-4 times a year and am an AP holder. If I have to schedule all my ride times ahead of time and then of course double checking them from my iphone (which I don't like having to rely on while on vacation) I will find another vacation stop for myself and my family.
The amount of extra waiting in line is about what we'd estimated from our computer simulations of the Magic Kingdom, when FASTPASS return times begin enforcement. We were saying 4 to 7 minutes, so 6 to 8 is ballpark. It may be lower for headliners at other parks, I think.
I think this is a horrible idea, another example of the suits trying to justify Nex Gen as opposed to adding new attractions. This is a joke ... whats next Disney, planing our potty breaks too??? The whole point of a vacation is to relax, this just is not for me. Whoever thought this was a good idea should rethink careers.
From the people who brought you the incredibly popular and succesful ADR system.....
I wish they would just scrap the whole Fastpass thing altogether - they are traveling down a dangerous path of creating a "Class system" among the guests at the parks, which was NOT part of Walt's vision. Everyone was a guest and should be treated equally ...
In addition, with no one actually standing in line, the parks are feeling more crowded when there are only 35-45k in park guests. Previously, on days when there was no Fastpass, the parks could easily handle this crowd and the day was still enjoyable. All this planning of times ... no spontanaety, also risks loosing repete visitation. There is no - "oh, we didn't have time for that one, well next time", because everything is planned down to the last minute. Sorry, for me that is just not fun anymore. And it certainly is not "Magical".
Well I will go ahead and throw my minority opinion in since it seems most are not too thrilled with this idea. I love this idea. We are DVC and don't do rope drop and we are not park commandos either. When we are on vacation, we sleep in, take our time and mostly do not get to the parks until dinner time. This helps us deal with the crowds and heat when we visit over the summer. Now when we get to the parks, most fast passes are or close to being gone. With XPass, this will no longer be the case. As far as coat goes, I suspect deluxe resort guests will be included. I see no problem with Disney offering perks to those that spend more and we spend tons.
I don't think it will be that bad if it is included with a stay at a disney resort. We already plan our vacations out to the smallest detail at disneyworld so that we don't have to ever wait in a long line...it makes it more enjoyable. I in fact enjoy the ADR system and get irritated with those that show up at the restaurant expecting to get in when they did ZERO planning. Spontaneity can sometimes be confused with failure to plan.
I'm pretty uncomfortable with this.
Number 1 - I have no interest in advance-scheduling my visits to attractions. A visit to WDW already takes planning, and we already minimize our ADRs because, you know, a vacation needs to be somewhat spontaneous! I get the potential benefits to managing crowds, but I can only believe it'll lead to stressful vacation-times for some of us.
Number 2 - The comments about increasing Stand-By waits for just a few minutes are speculative. Sure, Disney has done simulations to come up with these numbers, but they are simply guesses based on a bunch of current-state observations and future-state assumptions (with a dollop of queuing theory). I'd like to believe their numbers, but I have to discount them for now because we really don't know how large numbers of Guests are going use xPass.
As for investigating xPass on Disney Cruises - Having cruised on the Magic and Wonder, I cannot imagine how it would apply in any practical sense. But maybe it makes sense for some activities on the Dream and Fantasy.
I see our friend's children and their overscheduled lives and refuse to do that to to our children. This is just another example of the overscheduled, "crackberry" type of lives that people want to live at all times. Disney has destroyed the dining experience with all of the reservations clogging up the system and ability to stroll in and try a new dining venue. Plus, what should we expect in this classed based system that they're basically implementing? I assume that plenty of great places to view Illuminations are now history unless you pay. It's not enough that they have a rather large sum of money per day to visit.
They don't do it for the betterment of the guest, rather the bottom line for the company's operations. I'm sick of the new Disney and their utter milking of every last cent. This is our first time in nearly 25 years of not visiting Walt Disney World and we'll return when they care about quality once again, not gimmicks and marketing campaigns.
All companies seem to fall apart once they grow too large. I hope Disney hasn't reached that point yet, but I think this is a step in the wrong direction.
So, some new youngster needs to start their own company, and eventually open an innovative yet magical theme park.
I was under the impression that this service was only going to be available to guests staying at Disney's Deluxe resorts.....
I am a College Program alumin and I visited the Magic Kingdom this past Thanksgiving. Well, the Saturday before.
I was surprised on how crowded it was, it didn't remember it being this crowded back in '04.
I waited over an 70 minutes for the Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder. The sign warned me and I even timed it. I was amazed to see brisk the fastpass line moved. It seemed no one had stopped until hitting the station. When they stopped, the unfortuanate stand-by line trickled in. A taste of my own medicine as I recall working the Pan Merge (Peter Pan merge) and letting fastpass bearers fly through. The ratio of fastpass riders to stand-by was ridiculous, both for Big Thunder and for Peter Pan. Thus begs the question, is the Fast Pass system out- of- balance? Would reducing the number of passes available help out? We all love having a Fast Pass but loathe waiting in line.
As we criticize the Fast Pass system, keep in mind that.....it's free. The only ticket reservation system in the industry that is....free. Not at Six Flags, Cedar Faire, or Universal.
I can't get excited about xPass, but I'm not ready to declare it a sign of the Disney Apocalypse, either.
I can't see myself ever using the system, even if I stay at a Deluxe (which in itself ain't all that bloody likely), because when I'm vacation I'm on VACATION, and I don't see any reason to have a schedule that rivals one that I have when I'm at work. I'm sure it'll have some appeal to the uber-planners out there, and it'll also appeal to someone who can't fathom spending all that money on a Disney vacation and having to spend time waiting in line with the common folk. But I can't imagine that everyone who's eligible to use xPass will fully take advantage of it, just like many people who visit now don't take advantage of FASTPASS. I think I'd rather wait and see how the system actually impacts the guest experience at the parks before I start complaining.
As far as Disney vilating the egalitarian spirit of the theme parks by singling out people who are willing to spend extra bucks for special treatment, allow me to play devil's advocate here. Perhaps you've heard of a little place called Club 33? Ever seen people in the parks with VIP tour guides? Ever heard of people staying in suites at the Disney resorts? It's always been possible to get a little better treatment by slipping a few bucks into Mickey's gloved hand - they're just expanding what they're offering to the people who are willing to do so.
To those complaining about this development... SHUT UP!!! You're completely wrong as usual! Don't judge things and don't assume any appocalypses until it actually becomes a reality!
Until then, you naysayers would be wise to withhold your opinions and reserve judgement!
I think we have to see how this will play out in practice. If I am correct (and Jim and Len, let me know if I am not), there was a similar amount of concern in some parts about fast pass when it was first introduced, but over time, it came to be an accepted part of the Disney experience. This may well work out the same way.