Sunday, April 19, 2015

Another Disney Day - Disaster Edition aka The Rule of 3 OR How Suits ruined my fun

Disney and disaster shouldn't go together in my world.

But I fear they do.

The disaster I'm referencing is the highly advertised My Magic + and Fast Pass +.

If you've missed the massive marketing campaign Fast pass+ is the next generation of Fast Pass.

If you've missed Disney for twenty years Fast pass is a system in which a guest would put in their park ticket at a ride they didn't want to wait in line for. In return they would receive a paper ticket with the ride name and a return time to come back and bypass the line.

There was a one hour time frame on that ticket but up until 2 years ago when they began preparing for the new system it wasn't enforced.

You could only get one ticket per 2 hours or if your fast pass return time was sooner than 2 hours you could grab another. Also if you were really in the know there were a few rides that weren't connected to the system and you could grab those in addition to the others.

And since return time was never enforced if you did a tiny bit of research before your trip you knew you could grab fast passes with abandon and ride whenever you darn pleased by passing stand by lines altogether.

Ah, but all good things must come to an end.

Enter Disney executives who think they know what the guests want.

This system is working perfectly well, they said, let us tinker.

Only Tinker fairies should be allowed to tinker.

Some execs realized that not all guests realized that fast pass was included and wanted a system that included all. It was seen as an unfair advantage that those of us who did some research not only knew about the fast pass system *which was talked about frequently at disney parks it was no secret* but also knew how to work it to get many fast passes. Totally within the accepted framework and rules mind you.

So they spent billions. Yes billions and we got Fast Pass +

Now we have a system that looks shiny and new and exciting on the outside but is broken on the inside. 

There are points that I love.

aka Magic bands.
 Because Disney.

I lose things so its nice to have my room key/park ticket/credit card fastened to my wrist and linked to my very own fingerprint.
Score one Disney suits.

Plus you can pick the names that are engraved on them. I wanted to change  mine to Lady and Tony's to Tramp but they processed faster than Pooh eats a pot of honey. 

Plus you can  play super hereoes.

In theory magic bands are fabtastic.

We were there during testing and the blasted things didn't work. We had all kinds of issues - with Tony's anyway.

When they worked. Amaze.

When they didn't - I wanted to be very undisneylike.

They caused lots of stress the first two days and I even had my crew up for park opening for the first time EVA and we missed it because I was at the front desk 5 times after Tony had already been there once. Cast members kept daggone chasing me and forcing me back to the hotel lobby. I am not lying.

It sucked.

A bus stop worker boy took pity and gave me a super secret fastpass because I just looked like I was going to cry. He was all on the down low about because our stop had a bunch of Grumpy dwarves and he didn't want to be bum rushed.

They tell me the bugs that kept knocking us out of the system causing our bands to cause angry sad frustrated feelings are mostly worked out. So you're welcome.

On one call with a particularly unhelpful hotel worker as i waited in line for a late Sofia the first  on Layla's birthday as tony was stuck at the restaurant because it wouldn't scan our dining plan I told them I was done helping them test. The park workers were brilliant. They knew how to fix things with pixie dust. The hotel workers were so over the system they didn't even try to figure things out and so I decided to stop playing too. We used our bands in park and didn't use them at the hotel anymore. Because they didn't work there.

So. not so magical these bands.

They're also a bit sweaty but I am weird about wearing accessories. I like to rip them off as soon as I'm home. I'm  not a big fan of the feel of accessories so it may be me.

Also you have to line up mickey heads which is harder than it sounds apparently because it causes lines like this :

I don't buy that people are having THIS much trouble lining up Mickey heads but Fast Pass Plus fans are claiming these super long lines are due to just that and that when you get past the first Mickey head match point theres no line. Still. There used to be NO line for Fast pass you just walked on after flashing passes real quick at a person.

Back to the good:

You can switch around your fast passes using the My Magic + app.

Bad news the blasted app crashes all the times and is all kinds of buggy.

Disney is awesome at just about everything - but their sites are always clunky and buggy as are the apps.

However, when it works its so awesome to be able to use your smart phone to grab a fast pass or change it.

While we were there we were able to jump on rides we had fast passes scheduled for because the standby wait was low. Now mind you, we were in a very small group of people using the system so we were able to get what we wanted. Now that everyone is using it don't expect to be able to switch your ride reservations so easily.

So if you book Splash Mt. at 1 and get there and standby is 15 minutes which is basically walk on and you think hey lets change this fast pass to something else- you may not be able to .

So the positive of not running around grabbing paper fast passes becomes a negative because there don't seem to be enough to go around now.

Add to that:


Its bad enough I have to know what I want to eat 180 days out which then dictates what park I am in- now i have to not only schedule my dumb rides but also schedule them around my dining reservations.

Spreadsheets are not magical Disney.

How are you supposed to know what ride is going to need a fast pass at three thirty 10 saturdays from now.

You cant.

And that is what I found out in testing.

I changed almost ALL my fast passes in Magic Kingdom everyday.

I had to change many in Hollywood Studios because of a rain storm that last for hours.

Yes now your fast passes can be rained out because you picked your ride time weeks in advance.

I hate this.

Another thing touched on above - it seems like to park goers that way more people are using fast pass which is making fast  pass lines look like stand by lines very often.

So the massive marketing campaign is working and more people are aware of the fast pass system.

The bad news- its making fast pass much less fasty passy.

One more plus- they made everything or darn near everything fast pass able. So its nice that rides that used to be stand by only can  be fast passed but typically those rides only had a couple busy times a day  you could always catch them later and do you really want to use a fast pass on a lesser ride when: wait for it...


I can't even type my sadness, frustration and disgust at that number.

And can you believe they have the nerve to send you a survey that asks if three is enough.

No Disney no its not. Of course its not. What the heck.

Of course if you're Joe Schmoe who previously bumbled about Disney World thinking you couldn't use fast pass and glared at all of us smarty pants who listened to the girl at check in and the girl on the disney inoformation channel that comes on everytime you turn your tv on (hey stacey) or the people at the turnstiles or wording on the ticket, or wording on the signs by the big metal machines labelled fast pass...

then yes I guess you would be darn tootin thrilled about 3 whole rides fast passed.

Joe Schmoe- go to six flags.

But for the rest of us who knew how to use fast pass *read above* we are now having to rethink our whole Disney vacation just to ride a fraction of what we used to.

Now if you made it this far, I'm going to give you some tips.

Go follow Kenny the Pirate on facebook.

He's had a blog for a long time on Disney world and recently moved to Orlando (lucky pirate) and goes often and is writing out strategies for Disney world in general and fast pass so you can tour like a boss.

A boss with giant circular black ears.


If you can't get all of your people a ride reservation at the same time try
 booking one or two at a time at a staggered rate.
 (via Kenny the Pirate)

The fast pass has a window of return of an hour so

If Mickey gets a Splash return time of
Minnie and Pluto get one at 1:10
Goofy gets one at 1:20
and Daisy and Donald get one at 1:25

The entire group can still ride together.

Their window to ride together however is 1:25 (the latest starting time) and 2 Pm (the earliest ending time which was mickeys)
pluto fell out

A bit of organizing (spreadsheets aren't magical Disney suits) and much less window of opportunity

But look they're happy

and dry. They mustve worn ponchos on Splash.

So that is a big tip right there because it can be hard to find times for popular rides for your whole fam. That one will be a life saver.

Another tip:

Skip extra magic hour parks.

Boo hiss I love extra magic hour days. But fast pass + is killing them.


Because those parks are naturally busy on those days.

Now that we have 3 THREE 3 measly fast passes to use our best bet is to go to a less crowded park - which will NEVER be the extra magic hour park.

Consolation - they keep cutting the hours back so its not so great now anyway.

Hit rope drop. (disney nerd speak for get up early and get there for park opening)

I always balked at the rope drop crowd.

We are on vacation we want to sleep in after walking miles and magical miles in oppressive heat .

But now....
 I can't do extra magic hour parks to make up for our late start so we have to get up early.

We actually had a lot of breakfasts this year because we had a late start scheduling (by like 2 weeks) and lunch and dinners were all booked up at our favorite spots. This forced us to rise early.

But I have to say, its nice in the morning . Crowds are low. Heat is manageable.

Mornings are nice.

Now you have no choice.

Go in the morning.
                                                They're so happy to see you so early.
                                                    There is a little opening show to 
                                                                   reward your early birdyness.

If your crowd gets sleepy head back for a swim and a rest and come back around 4 or 5. We aren't big break fans - and I do recommend driving the days you plan on taking a break because otherwise so much time is eaten up with the busses -  but it is nice to take a little rest and go back refreshed. Open to close at disney for 8 days isn't possible with little ones. At least not pleasantly possible!

If you got up early and take a short break you'll still get in just as much time as if you'd slept in and stayed til close.

The other option is have a lunch or late lunch at a sit down restaurant. Explore the resort its at ride the monorail, those things will rest and refresh without heading to your hotel. Not as much but a few die hard days won't ruin your vacation.

Don't park hop.

If you aren't an Annual Pass holder, you're paying $70 a day to park hop. You aren't saving much at all you're nearly paying for 2 tickets . Plus you're spending extra time travelling between parks.

Now Disney wants to take all your fast pass rights away at the second and subsequent parks you visit in a day.

That's right currently (may change) you can only use fast pass + at one park per day.

So no you cannot book splash at 10 am and Soarin at 5 pm.

That stinks and really takes the incentive of park hopping away.

Who wants to leave a park, ride a bus and then go stand in stand by lines all evening?


Of course if you use all your fast pass + in the morning and remember you get 3 THREE 3 paltry fp now so its entirely possible you'd blow your whole allotment in the morning then you'd be standing in stand by lines all day anyway no matter what park youre in so go ahead and hop.

Oh and btw, you wouldn't be able to book Splash and Soarin ANYWAY because they now have tiers (didn'twhile I tested).

These tiers mean you not only get only 3THREE3 stingy fast passes they are now going to tell you how to use those fast passes. YES. Disney wants to micro manage your life.

You can get one tier one* read good * ride. Splash, soarin, big thunder, toy store mania...

Any ride you really really like. Pick one thats all.

Then you get a tier 2 ride. Still good rides but meh. I rode it once already on this visit I'm good.

Then you have to pick a tier 3 ride - which is a ride you'd never fast pass before because there were no standby lines to begin with.


Because Disney is forcing people to pick tier three rides things like The Great Movie Ride, Muppets 3d, and Star tours (all things my kids like to ride) are no longer walk ons.

This is just like Snow White's poison apple. It kills all the magic.

 I hate it.
 boo. hiss.
Never had to boo nor hiss Disney before.
Dark Days folks.

I don't like fast pass as it is.

At all.

It seems they tried to reinvent a perfectly good wheel and made it square instead.

But it is Disney so I hold out hope that what we see now is not the final product. PLEASE.

A solution that would make me happy right off the bat would be more fast passes per guest.

Not sure if the higher load of people using the system allows for this but it would go a long way to soothe my sore feelings over this.

Make the app better.

There's no reason for it not to work.

Disney really had something if they had kept the frame work in place from old fast pass and just made it all digital.

Keep it exactly the same and instead of running around grabbing paper fast passes you just check your app or the kiosk to see whats available and book it. One every two hours.


Happy Disney Veterans and clueless visitors alike.

I'm hoping that once all this testing is done that is the system we will have and this micro managing system with fast passes doled out by Scrooge McDuck will cease.

Dont be a fast pass miser Disney.

And FOR.THE.LOVE. get rid of tiering.

Its not nice.
Certainly not magical.

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1 comment:

  1. I completely agree! The new system has ruined Disney. We just went on our 6th trip and it was nothing like before!! Lines for The Haunted Mansion and Small World were unheard of on our previous trips. Sooooo disappointing!! I also think the visitors(including us) and the staff were grumpy! Not the same Disney at all