If you look around the Web, you can see that the reaction
(among Disney theme park fans, anyway) to the xPASS-related articles that I've written so far seem to
have been pretty negative. With the gist of their comments being that "I
would never ever pay for a service like this" and "booking ride times
for attractions weeks in advance would rob my WDW vacation of
Addressing the latter complaint first ... Let me blunt here:
A Walt Disney World vacation is hardly an
exercise in spontaneity. For most people, just in order to get to Orlando
involves buying a plane ticket and/or driving for hundreds of miles. Then -- if
they're planning on staying in the area for a couple of days in order to
actually experience the Parks -- these people are going to need to find a hotel
room as well as purchase some theme park tickets.
More to the point, if
you're planning on visiting a Disney theme park, these places have definite
operating hours. So if you show up at Disney's Hollywood Studios at 10 p.m. on
a night when that park closes at 9 and then say "I wanna go ride Twilight
Zone Tower of Terror" ... Well, that's just too bad.
Photo by Garth Vaughan. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
You get what I'm saying here? The people who are now griping
about how xPASS will possibly rob them of the opportunity to have a truly
spontaneous WDW vacation are -- at best -- being insincere. I mean, if the vacation spot that you love to take your family to has a parade scheduled to step off every
day right at 3 p.m. and/or requires you to make dinner reservations 6 months in
advance in order to guarantee seating at that Resort's most popular eateries
... We're not exactly talking about the spontaneity capital of the world, now
More to the point, how is being able to have the ability to
book (at most) four xPASSES per day per park weeks in advance going to ruin
your Disney World vacation?
You see, that's how this NextGen system is really supposed
to work. How far in advance you book your WDW vacation and/or buy your Disney
World theme park tickets will then determine the number of xPASSES that you'll
be able to reserve for yourself and your family. A typical scenario: If you book at least six weeks out, you
should then be able to go on the xPASS website and reserve four experiences
(EX: two attraction ride times, an exclusive meet-n-greet with a Disney
character as well as a viewing spot for the nightly fireworks).
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Now multiply that by the four WDW theme parks and you've
then got 16 different instances where people vacationing at Walt Disney World
can actually avoid a line. That's a huge Guest satisfier. Not to mention being
able to use the xPASS system to avoid lines at the Parks' Quick Service Dining
locations by ordering your meals in advance using your iPhone & Smart
Phones (That's another aspect of xPASS that we'll get to in an upcoming JHM
article. So hang in there, folks. There's lots more info to share yet about
this NextGen project).
And given that Disney Parks & Resorts now no longer
plans on making people pay for xPASS (That's right. This newly enhanced version
of the Company's virtual queuing system -- just like FastPASS before it -- will
be a freebie. Available to all WDW Guests in some way, shape or form) ... Well,
how can Disney theme park fans (who -- let's be honest here -- have a tendency
to initially be negative about anything
new that's proposed for the Parks. Invariably trotting out that same old tired
"Walt wouldn't have done it that way" argument that they always use.
As if anyone could actually accurately predict what
Disney would have done in any one situation more than 35 years after the
company's founder has passed away) now find fault with that?
That said ... It is worth noting here that -- under the
current plans for the xPASS system (which now looks to be rolled out during the
first quarter of 2013. After more of the in-park infrastructure that is needed to
support this radically enhanced version of Disney's virtual queuing system is
actually in place) -- the further in advance you book your vacation package /
buy your theme park tickets, the more xPASSES you'll then be able to book. So
six weeks out, you should be able to book 4 experiences per day. Two weeks out,
we're talking two or three. Day of? The way I hear, we're now back in typical
FastPASS country. Where -- depending on how many people are in the Park that
day / Guest demand -- we're now talking one, maybe two ... depending on
Beyond that ... Let me toss one final little tidbit of news
out there. Which is that -- when xPASS debuts in 2013 -- it's unlikely that
this NextGen version of Disney's virtual queuing system will still be called
Why For? Because according to the survey work that Disney's
marketing staff has done, the xPASS name has been testing poorly. So as of
right now, Disney's looking for a better handle for this
And now -- to get to the particular sticky question of where
annual passholders, DVC members as well as Disney World cast members fit into
all this, what sort of xPASS privileges can these folks expect to have access
to ... And the answer is: Disney doesn't know yet. Even though this NextGen
virtual queuing system project has actively been in development for over 5
years now, they still don't know quite what to do with the Company's own
employees and/or its most loyal & dedicated customers.
As of right now, it looks like -- due to the anticipated
increased Guest demand for FastPASSES / xPASS experiences -- anyone using comp
tickets will allegedly not be eligible to use this virtual queuing system to
book anything in advance. Which means that WDW cast members and their friends
& family will only be able to book their experiences on the days that they
actually visit the Parks.
Whereas annual passholders & DVC members ... Recognizing
that these people are among Disney's most passionate customers ... Well, the
Company's obviously got to come through for them in a large sort of way, at
least as far as xPASS is concerned. But that said, there's still a delicate
balance that needs to be struck here between servicing the day Guests at WDW's
theme parks, sending them home satisfied as well as making annual passholders
& DVC members feel like they're special.
And then there's the whole issue of which attractions should
actually be included in the FastPASS / xPASS inventory. (EX: The Magic Carpets
of Aladdin. For 9/10th of the year, this Adventureland spinner has absolutely
no problem meeting Guests' expectations.
Every person who comes to the Magic Kingdom and then wants to experience
the Magic Carpets will have the opportunity to ride this spinner. It's only
during those extremely busy times of year at this theme park [EX: The week
between Christmas and New Years, February school vacation, Easter week, the height
of summer] that Guest demand exceeds this ride's capacity. So is it really
worth it to make the Magic Carpets of Aladdin a FastPASS / xPASS ride for those
four weeks out of every year? Or would it be wiser in the long run to make some
other, more-in-demand attraction at the Magic Kingdom part of this virtual
Photo by Matt Stroshane. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Long story short, folks:
At this point, we're still at least 10 months out from xPASS (or
whatever new name the Company eventually hangs on this
NextGen version of Parks & Resorts' virtual queuing system) debuting. And
given how fluid this situation still is,
it's entirely possible that other significant changes will be made between now
and the first quarter of 2013.
So my advice here is to be a bit patient. More importantly,
don't listen to the doom-and-gloomers who are calling xPASS the death of
spontaneity (at least when it comes to WDW vacations). Because based on Disney
World's own internal survey work, Guests who make use of the FastPASS system
during their vacations come away from that experience with a far more positive
impression of the time that they spent in Orlando. These people love anything
that then gets them out of a line / allows them to board a ride and/or
experience an attraction ahead of the other Guests.
So with xPASS potentially allowing these people to walk into
a Disney theme park knowing that -- even before they push through those
turnstiles -- that they get to jump the line for four different experiences
over the course of their day in the Park ... That's a huge Guest satisfier.
Something that these people are sure to talk up once they get back home.
Which is just what the Company was looking to do when they
initially put xPASS into development back in 2006 or thereabouts.
So now that you have a somewhat better understanding of what
xPASS is / how this NextGen virtual queuing system is supposed to work, what
other questions do you have? Based on the info that I have in hand / the
sources that I have within the Disney Company, I'll do my best to answer your
questions in the coming weeks. So fire away.
Disney just keeps finding new ways to make money. They will make a ton of money on Hopper pass because of this. Xpass at one 1 park an ADR at another. More money for Disney! This whole XPASS thing is just a scam to make more money.
What I dont like about it (and I didnt read all the posts so sorry if this has already been said) Disney does not have a great handle on their online services. At my 180 day mark, I should have have able to make my ADR's for the next 10 days of my vacation but the system could not retrieve my reservation. This was true for the entire 10 days. Still got what I needed, but had to call. Have you tried the photopass site? It is possibly the slowest website that I use EVER. So, when I book more than 6 weeks out but the system doesnt "recognize" my reservation, then what? I think they need to put a bit more money into the system before overloading it with something like this.
Seems like a brazen way to make money....all this will do is incentivize people to buy Park Hoppers and then hit 2-3 parks a day. And although I'm not a huge environmentalist, this is going to ramp up even further the sky high carbon footprint of WDW by incentivizing all of their guests to go to 2-3 parks a day....running around to hit their rides, rather than spending time to appreciate all the craftsmanship & details the Imagineers have put into various parks & rides.
I have read some but not all of the posts on this site and I know that this will be difficult for some of you to believe but Disney is not a non for profit organization. They are in buisness to make money and with the prices that they charge for rooms, meals and park entry they make alot of it. This is a reality of life. Some people drive used cars and some people drive new bmw's. If you can afford to stay at a delux resort good for you. If you can't then you have to live within your means and do the best you can at the parks with the time you have. Going to disney is not a contest to see if you can go on more rides then the next guest. Its about spending quality time with your family.
Great, so you go to Disney and you cannot ride anything because everyone reserved the rides months in advance.....what a great experience. As it is, the news Space Tours causes people gridlock by buzz light year, lines are huge for crappy rids because you cannot get on good ones, there are too many strollers and I am tired of getting my heels run over by them, Then there is the go to the front of the line green pass which no one talks about. but one person in a wheelchair uses to get their entire group of 20 to the front. Glad my annual pass expires this month. Time to find somewhere new to go.
I'm not really a fan of booking restaurants 180 days early, so I'm not really a fan of this system. I don't think it will change how I vacation, but we will see as more information is revealed by Disney.
a few things that doesn't sit well with me.
1). We often don't decide which park to visit until the night before at the hotel. Pending if we had a long day, the kids' feet are tired or the weather looks gloomy. We don't like to go to MK in the rain because most rides are closed, however Epcot is great in the rain because the only ride that closes is test track. will xpass deter our flexibility.
2). I'd hate to say to my 6 year old daughter. yes honey, I see Winnie and Tigger but we can't get autographs now because we have to run to Buzz Lightyear, our fastpass expires in ten minutes.
3). I'd hate to say to my 10 year old son.....well this haunted mansion ride broke down again and we're stuck, to make things worse, we'll never make it back to Space Mountain, our fast pass expired.
4). Hey kids, we have ten minutes till the runaway train fast pass expires but how are we going to hop over this parade to make it
5). Fastpass helps our middle class family get the most out of our vacation dollar. With hotel, car rental, airfare, airport parking and food, we're already spending $4,000-6,000.
6). On the other hand, I want to be optimistic. Disney is always better each time we go. perhaps xpass will be a blessing once all of the rules and regulations are released.
I was in Orlando over the weekend (April 21-22-23) and we did Universal and Disney. Doing Universal first really showed how inferior the Fast Pass system at Disney is. Yes, you have to pay for it, but any and all talk of losing the "spontaneity" goes out the window when all you have to do is go to the attraction and get in a short line.
I'm not sure what Xpass will do or be but here is my suggestion: Every Kiosks should have every ride. You tap the ride you want a pass for and choose from all available times. This circumvents THE most annoying attribute of the current system: Racing from one side of the park to the other to get to the kiosk.
While I'm at it---- Epcot is no longer the "future". It is the "past." I had a better quality screen in my hotel room than I did on more than a few of the rides. The building that Soarin' is in is depressing, smells, and has no circulation.
Soarin' still stands up but it's been 7 years now and we're still flying over California.
My suggestion: Tear down that forsaken building and build a new Soarin' station where you can choose to fly over Cali OR Europe OR Australia OR Asia OR South America. Oh, yeah. in H - D people!
Epcot is like visiting an antiquated idea of what the future will look like cira 1979. It's a dis-service.
The World Showcase is fine as it is, I guess.
Honestly, the idea that I have to start standing in line for my rides months in advance is not that appealing.
thank you for the details. I know there will be changes and we'll have to roll with them. I'm a DVC member/annual passholder, and I had a system for using Fast Passes that worked great for several years. I dread a learning curve, but I am sure Disney will do what is best for the customer. They always do.
I am currently planning a trip to Disney in December and find it EXTREMELY stressful that I am not able to get a reservation at the places I want to eat...in 6 months! Now every morning I have to check and see if a spot has opened up. It's ridiculous that I have to be stressed out over a vacation that is 6 months away. I cant imagine adding rides to this equation!! This is a horrible idea!
So I'm confused, when will this take affect? Is it in place right now?