You have undoubtedly already heard all of the news coming
out of last week's big blogger event at Walt Disney World. With all sorts of
Web-based tastemakers getting treated to construction site tours of the Magic
Kingdom's Fantasyland expansion area as well as Disney's Art of Animation
Resort. Not to mention getting interviews with the key creatives on the Agent P's
World Showcase Adventure, the reimagined Test Track as well as the Splitsville
Photo by Matt Stroshane. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Well, that's all well & good. But I'm hoping that a few
of those folks are still in Orlando. Because -- as usually happens -- the really
big Walt Disney World-related news winds up
breaking right AFTER the press event wraps.
To explain: Starting
on Tuesday, May 1st and then continuing through Tuesday, May 15th, the
Imagineers are going to be doing onsite / in park testing of WDW's new xPass / FASTPASS
Plus system at the Magic Kingdom.
"So how is this supposed to work?," you ask.
"More importantly, how do I get selected to take part in this test?" Sadly,
all of the Guests who'll be taking part in this xPass / FASTPASS Plus field
test will be selected prior to their arrival on property. Those who Disney is
hoping to recruit will be notified in advance via e-mail and will then be
offered a xPass / FASTPASS Plus card as well as the opportunity to customize an
itinerary for the Magic Kingdom (i.e. lock in ride times for popular
attractions at that theme park days in advance of their actual visit) .
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
If all goes according to plan, this xPass / FASTPASS Plus
card will grant these test subjects speedy
access to a select group of Magic Kingdom attractions (Not to mention giving
them special experiences while they move through those particular rides, shows or
attractions). The only downside is (because this is a field test after all) that
the Guests taking part in this pilot program MUST use their xPass / FASTPASS
Plus cards for the ride times that they have locked in in advance on their Magic
Kingdom itineraries. And should they ever accidentally misplace those
itineraries ... Well, this info can then be retrieved at City Hall,
accessed by e-mail or at participating FASTPASS machines.
Now what's kind of intriguing about this week's xPass /
FASTPASS Plus field test is how rigid Disney will be about the itineraries which these Guests will be selecting. Meaning that -- once the test subject decides in advance
which Magic Kingdom attractions they're going to visit & in what order and then locks
in those choices into their itineraries -- Disney's not going to allow any deviation. You must then go
to those rides, shows and attractions in that precise, previously arranged order.
But the upside is ... The xPass / FASTPASS Plus that Guests
will be using as part of this field test will still allow people to book
other FASTPASSES while they're visiting the Magic Kingdom. So once the previously
arranged / already-locked-in portion of their time in that theme park is
complete, these Guests will then be free to visit any & all attractions in
whatever order they choose.
Photo by Kent Phillips. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
So like I said already, I hope that all of those Disney Moms
/ prominent webmasters haven't already flown back home. Because I'd imagine
that -- if they were to start hanging around those xPass / FASTPASS Plus
machines that were recently installed in front of The Haunted Mansion &
Stitch's Great Escape -- that there's a really terrific story to be had
starting on Tuesday morning.
But you didn't hear this from me.
Jim, I appreciate that you are a reasonable, sane person regarding xPass, as opposed to the doomsdayers all over the Disney fan community. I'm with you in looking forward to seeing how this turns out.
And also- not really on topic, but that stock photo of SGE is hilarious...guests of all ages enjoying the oncoming Chili Burp Aroma with the comfy toilet seats around the neck...
Hi Jim! Nice story, and excited to see what comes of all this XPass business. What is the photo of the projection on the castle in this article? Did WDW announce some sort of continuation of The Magic, The Memories and You? It looks to be themed to Little Mermaid.... do tell!
It will be interesting to see how this new system affects all of the locals that visit Disney World weekly. I know it will be great for our yearly guests!
I just completed a trip to WDW, and was luckily chosen at the airport to participate in the new Fastpass program. While checking in for the Magical Express, I was asked if I wanted to participate. The cast member asked what day I wanted to visit the Magic Kingdom, and would I prefer Morning, Afternoon, or Evening. (I learned from another couple I met on the bus that they were only given choices for Afternoon or Evening, as the Morning had apparently filled up.) Then I was presented with a double-sided laminated card, from which I could choose any four attractions. The cast member asked for my email address, and I received my itinerary by the time I arrived at my hotel.
My itinerary broke down like this:
Space Mountain 920am-1020am
Haunted Mansion 1115am-1215pm
Splash Mountain 1255pm-155pm
Jungle Cruise 225pm-325pm
Using the card was simple--as described above--but what I really liked about the card was that I didn't have to run around getting the Fastpasses in the first place!
Having pre-assigned times let me use the Magic Hour to ride Dumbo, the teacups, the Speedway and the Astro Orbiter, before making my way to Space Mountain. The time were spaced out enough to give me plenty of time to experience everything else in each land before moving on to the next one. I ate a quiet early lunch at Columbia Harbour House before my fastpass time for Haunted Mansion, which also let me avoid the crazy lunch lines.
I had quite a few people in the park ask me about the card--which was in my lanyard--and what I knew about it. The entire experience was incredibly pleasant. The preassigned times create a natural flow through the park, and I imagine that Disney mixes up the order of the rides, in order to more effectively control the crowds. There was also plenty of time to ride the Jungle Cruise, and still watch the parade at 3pm.
As for the rumor regarding the Deluxe resorts, the cast members I spoke with at the Fastpass kiosks said that they are testing the program to replace the old Fastpass system. They said that one of their biggest complaints comes from not being able to hold multiple Fastpasses at once, and this will allow guests to hold up to four, without the hassle of running around the park to go get them.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'd be happy to share my experience in more detail. :)
Worldwide Travel Agent