Okay. The first field test of xPass / FASTPASS+ officially
wrapped yesterday. And while Disney correlates all of that data which they
collected from those 4200 individuals, groups and families who agreed to take
part in this pilot program at the Magic Kingdom, the Company's already reaching
out -- via e-mail -- to those Disney's Magical Express passengers who were recruited at Orlando International Airport to take part in this two
week-long trial run, asking them questions like ...
Photo by David Roark. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Andrew Zimmern, the host of the Travel Channel series"Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern," enjoys a turkeyleg with Goofy. Photo by Gene Duncan. CopyrightDisney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
That last question is of particular concern to the
Imagineers. Given that the next xPass / FASTPASS+ field test will supposedly
involve the Magic Kingdom's quick-service restaurants. To be specific, they
want to see how Guests will feel about being able to use their smart phones to ...
... all while they're wandering around the Magic Kingdom
and/or standing in line for some ride, show or attraction at that theme park.
Imagine being able to get a quick-service meal at the Magic
Kingdom without standing in a single line. All via your smart phone. So what
the downside? As Michael J Schmeltzer pointed out in a comment to one of my
original xPass / FASTPASS+ articles ...
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
... I'm sure Disney
knows this, but I have yet to make it thru 12 hrs at a park and still have any
juice left in my phone. Are they gonna put chargers on the rides?
Just like Michael J, the Imagineers are very concerned about
these power-related issues. Especially given how heavily the xPass /FASTPASS+
program relies on smart phones and other internet-enabled devices. Which is why
the full roll-out of all aspects of this new Guest Experience package may take far
longer than some theme park fans would really prefer.
But those power-related concerns aside ... How would you
feel about being about to order a quick-service meal at the Magic Kingdom while
you were waiting in line to experience a ride, show or attraction somewhere
else at that theme park?
I would feel like a king should I received "instant" food while in line for an attraction or ride. I would also feel slightly Maleficent for indirectly making my poor peasants aka other park guests suffer with the mouth-watering smells of my delicious turkey leg they can't have...begging to eat while waiting for the queue to move inch by inch in-front of them so they can then complete the ride and eat their own turkey leg about an hour later. I see this feature pissing a lot of people off and again creating a caste system of disgruntled park guests, but on the other hand...a turkey leg while waiting in line; that's sounds great and too good to be true.
Because, It will be!
Tyler, I am assuming that you will have the ability to order, and pay for your food while waiting in line, and then go pick it up at an express type window at the quick service restaurant you orded from. As fun as it may sound, I dont think they will be hand delivering food orders to people in line at attractions.
So what happens when you order your food and don't get to it fast enough? Will they be putting the meal together expecting you to be there at 6:30 and putting it under heat lamps until you arrive? If something happens and I don't get there fast enough, I don't want my food to get cold.
Sheer isanity, IMHO. I have never waited longer than a few minutes for a quick-service meal. No problem, thus no high tech solution needed, it´s as simple as that. And what if I "lose" a few minutes while waiting in line? Does that ruin my vacation? Certainly not - it´s the running from attraction to attraction, the constant worries that you might not get the most out of your money that ruins vacations. "my God, we have just stood in line for 6 minutes - we could have ridden Space Mountain, 2.3 times in that 6 minutes - my day has been ruined!" ...
I hate the food lines at the park way more than the lines for the attractions. If you could say, schedule a fast pass for an attraction and then get food nearby right after you got off the ride, that would be heaven.
I'm an annual passholder for the Disneyland resort, and enjoy starting my day with breakfast at the River Belle Terrace. If I could pre-book that and bypass the line it would be fabulous.
I live in Indy and during the Super Bowl this year they had stations where you could leave your phone, get a ticket and then return later on to pick it up and it would be charged and ready to go. Seemed to work really well for my friend that tried it.
Interesting article, as always, Jim. I see another potential problem with the reliance on Internet-enabled toys for xPass - namely, getting an Internet connection and getting it to work well enough for xPass to be effective.
I can't speak to how well cell phones work at WDW, but I know that at Disneyland, just about any time I try to post to Facebook or access a wait-times program like Disney Parks Mobile Magic or MouseWait, it takes several minutes to connect to the Internet from my 4G phone, if I can connect at all. That's because there are already a lot of people doing the same thing I'm doing. Now imagine that you have a couple thousand guests trying to access xPass to do whatever they need to do in addition to all those people playing with their phones.
Admittedly, Disney could remedy the potential problems by improving cell phone network coverage in the parks and/or providing a decent Wi-Fi network for guests , but I have to wonder if Disney and the cellular companies are really going to want to spend the money it'll take, and how long it'll be before those networks are clogged up again once coverage is improved.
What is Disney going to do for AP holders? Are we going to see offers for Passplus?
Here is what makes me most sad about this. Kids already see their parents on their Smartphones WAY too much, handling business, surfing the net, texting, making hone calls, etc. As a parent of two young kids I know that I have caught myself doing this too much and I make a point on vacation to try and limit that use. I just picture families in the Magic Kingdom all holding their smart phones and not being engaged with their kids on what is to be a Magical Memory making vacation- it just makes me sad. Why can't we just put the Smartphones away and enjoy our time with one another, Come on Disney!!
You still can. You are not obligated to use a feature Disney offers if it doesn't suit YOUR family's vacation. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be offered for those who want it. Like you, my family tries to lay off the phone while at WDW. But look at the bright side, if a bunch of people are staring at their phones and picking up their meals at a pickup window, the lines the rest of us use should be shorter.
We don't any meals at the quick-service places. We tend to eat a large breakfast, maybe some snacks, have a nice dinner and go back to the parks (WDW). Lines aren't an issue for snacks.
I would say that I am happy to see that Disney is being creative about the use of technology to gather more information to input into their models to try to reduce lines, employ more effective crowd control and make our experience that much better. It is also better business for Disney, effective modeling makes operations of the parks a bit easier, everything from food to staffing.
Disney put cell phone charging lockers at Disneyland. Maybe they will do the same in Disney World. $2/hour and they even have the cords installed for iPhones, Androids, and Blackberries.
My biggest concern is the one people keep coming back to, and that's the end of spontaneity. I love the idea of being able to reserve fastpasses and dining DAY OF on my phone, but scheduling out which attractions you want to do ahead of time is really tough.
I put together a model for this given the rumored Fastpass attractions, current hourly capacity and an average day at the parks. If every guest is given access to 4 MK Fastpass+es on an average day, we're looking at over 80% of Fastpasses distributed ahead of time.
I know very few aspects of a Disney vacation are spontaneous, but it's really difficult to predict what you're going to want to do days, weeks, or months in advance. Dining is one thing, but scheduling out multiple attractions in advance is a tough pill to swallow. I understand the value of knowing you have a guaranteed short line for Toy Story Mania, but I would be far more satisfied if I could check into the park at 10 AM, and get a Toy Story Mania fastpass for later in the day on my iPhone while I make my walk down Hollywood Boulevard.
This bring us to the greater issue. Disney hasn't mastered the integration of technology that they have now. A new offer comes out for a discounted room rate and suddenly all phone lines are busy, or at best you're on hold for an hour. You try to make your dining reservations for 180+9 days out but one area of DisneyWorld.com isn't talking to the other area and you have to call WDW DINE to straighten everything out. What happens now when everyone but the 5 year old has their tickets attached to your Fastpass+ reservations? The number of questions attached to this are countless. I understand we don't have the full level of information on this, but right now I see advanced booking of attractions as solving a problem that didn't exist.
WDW Fan Boys Podcast
Given the horrid cell phone service (and more specifically mobile Internet service) I've gotten this week in Disney World, I would be LOATHE to even think about how poor this experience would be. Can you see 25,000 Magic Kingdom-goers trying to hit their iPhones at the same time to order lunch? Disaster. It would never work.
Decent sounding idea that will fail epicly in execution.
And what about the thousands of us who do not own smart phones? Are we to be left out in the cold in terms of Fast Pass? Disney had really better think long and hard about this. If it is tied into owning a smart phone, then Disney can kiss any future business from me goodbye. I've been to Disney 6 times, but I won't go back if Fast Passes are readily available to me as they are now.