For those of you who read my post about booking FastPasses, you’ll remember I was less than thrilled with the process. Well, having now used them I can’t say I feel any better about it.
The only positive about FastPasses is that you do have a few rides per day where you don’t have to wait in line. And, these are usually the more popular rides with longer lines. And, as I said in my previous post, if everyone is doing the same things every day the system works fine. BUT, I suspect most families/groups at Disney do not want everyone to do the same thing all the time, but much of the time.
I won’t reiterate what I wrote earlier, just update based on my experiences in the park.
First, nothing that happened at the parks improved my opinion of the FastPass system. It is definitely my least favorite part of the Disney experience. First, it locks you into certain parks/rides at certain days/times which reduces flexibility (with the advantage of shorter lines). But, more importantly its implemented horribly.
We used what we wanted of the FastPasses we had booked. Then, similar to what I experienced when I originally set them up, I had basic issues that just shouldn’t have been when trying to sign up for the 4th FastPass at a kiosk. Specifically, because it is such a pain to break into groups (and we weren’t sure what big kid rides the 4y would want to go on) I often had a few FastPasses go unused. As would be expected, there were never any top rides available by the time we booked the 4th FastPass. But, there was no way at the kiosks to regroup everyone to go on the group friendly rides that were available. Even though the time slots had passed it wanted me to rebook FastPasses for the random leftovers that hadn’t been used and the 4th for others separately. So, I had to stand there and cancel the unused FastPasses on my phone which then allowed me to book a ride for all of us together. First, the kiosk should let you do this (and, in one case the attendant insisted it just wasn’t possible, was shocked that I could do it using the phone, and insisted he’d never seen anyone trade Test Track for Spaceship Earth). Second, once the time slot has passed, the system shouldn’t have you locked in anymore.
Also, I saw/heard a bunch of folks swapping bands in the parks. I don’t think anyone had issues, but it made us wonder why the Fast Passes aren’t for the group, vs the individual, like the meals. I suspect Disney would express concern that the thrill rides would book up first. But, at least in the Magic Kingdom Peter Pan, princesses, and other kid rides have some of the longest wait times. And, I’d far prefer to wait 60 minutes with my 10y than my 2y.
Finally, in between these two posts I tried using the phone number to book a few FastPasses for our group (we had four join us for a few days making a total group of 11). Apart from their being more familiar with the system than the average user, there is really no benefit to this. They can’t do anything you can’t do on the regular system. So, if there aren’t any more FastPasses available at whatever timeslot you booked first, they still can’t add the new folks. Frankly, the only advantage of the “Add” capability is that it does try to put them in the exact same timeslot vs being off by 15 minutes, but this is a weak benefit when compared to all one would assume it can do, but can’t. And, if you do add them, they’re in your group meaning you now have even more people to group/regroup depending on attraction. I do not recommend adding friends and family to you fast pass. Similarly, there’s no point in calling the phone number unless you’re actually having trouble with the system. Its advertised as a help for large groups, but since their capabilities are similarly limited there isn’t much benefit to trying to get in touch with them.
I’ve copied my recommendations from before below (1-5), and added new ones based on the in-park experience.
The Way I’d Like to See the Fast Passes Work
- Keep the current system, because if everyone wants the same thing it is great.
- But, allow people to book one Fast Pass at a time. That way, you could book everyone in your group into The Mine Train without having to grab the same number of Anna/Elsa tickets (for example). Then let people add Fast Passes, up to three total per person.
- This option would also let folks grab the critical (to them) Fast Passes and then think about how to flesh out their schedule later.
- Similarly, if you copy a Fast Pass over to another member of your group, you should be able to copy only one ride vs the entire set. And, you should be able to choose which one of their Fast Passes is being replaced, rather than losing the whole set. As it stands, if subgroup 1 books critical attraction A and subgroup 2 books attraction B, there is no way to regroup them and switch one of their Fast Passes to a shared attraction without attempting to get overlapping Fast Pass time slots (or losing the critical attractions already reserved).
- If you find later that you need to split the group, you should be able to switch attractions before switching time slots. Ie, your tall preschooler refuses to ride The Mine Train at the last minute – the app should let you quickly see what other Fast Passes you can get for the current timeslot, or slightly later. Families often want to spend time together so being able to ride in parallel is highly beneficial.
- Once a FastPass timeslot passes without use, it should automatically be marked as used in the system and freed to be booked again.
- If you can do it on the phone ap, you should be able to do it at a kiosk. Deleting remaining FastPasses to enable regrouping is the obvious one here, but I bet there are some other features that don’t exist in both places.
- Finally, make the FastPasses good for the group, not the individual. This would make life a lot simpler for everyone involved.