Reserve Rides From Home: Coming soon to Disney parks

Today Tom Staggs, the chief of Disney’s Parks and Resorts, told investors that one feature of the coming “Next Gen” technology (reportedly costing $1B in sum) will be the ability to reserve ride times, show times, and meetings with characters from home, the way you can do it now for restaurants.

This will go a long way toward addressing the top complaints (long lines, missing ‘key’ attractions), but it will come at a cost. The entire vacation will have to be planned out in exacting detail – this will change the entire tenor of the experience.

(John here…) I am more impressed with the capability of NextGen technology to enhance a guest’s in-park experience (personalization, on the spot recommendations (Ex. I want to be notified when the queue for Space Mountain drops below 20 minutes), gamification, etc) than the ability to make reservations for rides or shows months in advance. Technically you can do that now with QR codes and a scanner at the attraction. I wonder why Staggs chose not to emphasize the really cool parts of NextGen Tech.

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13 Responses to Reserve Rides From Home: Coming soon to Disney parks

  1. Nancy N. says:

    The stuff about making ride reservations is kind of concerning, actually. It reminds me of the problems we have now with the really great restaurants. Since we are locals who plan our trips at the last minute, we never get to go to places like CInderella’s Royal Table or the Crystal Palace because they are booked months in advance.

    Applying this sort of system to rides will take all of the spontaneity out of the park experience and make it difficult for locals to experience the parks.

  2. Cindy says:

    I’m from the Tampa area & I was thinking the exact same thing as Nancy.

  3. j says:

    Nancy said it perfectly. Spontaneity plays a huge role in the enjoyment of the parks. Running into a character or spontaneously deciding to ride Buzz Lightyear a 2nd or 3rd time after just exiting the ride. If all these situations are controlled by specific times and reservations the true excitement of what Disney Parks are about will be lost. Dining reservations are one thing, but I don’t want to decide 3 months before my trip that I’ll be heading towards Splash Mountain first thing in the morning when I’ve suddenly decided I’d rather go into Tomorrowland.

    I think Disney is losing sight of the DREAMS and MEMORIES that are created and where they actually come from. Each and every trip I plan a dining reservation or behind the scenes tour. However the things I remember most, the Let The Memories Begin that Disney is trying so hard to push into our wallets, those are spontaneous. Those random encounters with a character I wasn’t expecting to see or a pleasant experience with a cast member making me feel like a truly appreciated guest.The unexpected most often accounts for my most treasured moments in life. And while some “planned” experiences can make for great memories. There is no greater feeling then a pleasant surprise.

    So Disney please understand. I’m not cattle or a sheep. Please don’t let me lose my ability to choose for myself and be spontaneous. I appreciate the thought of ease and comfort, but don’t take away my ability to choose. If I had to book a spot on Soarin’ prior to my arrival at the park, then I may just have to look somewhere else to vacation.

  4. Are you impressed of disappointed with today's announcement from Tom Staggs describing Next-Gen for Disney parks – http://bit.ly/gSASab

  5. Kelly says:

    I think the technology would be neat, but I’ll parrot what was said above. I’m a planner, I admit I’m one of the crazies up 180 days prior to my vacation booking my reservations. BUT when I’m at the park, I don’t use a plan, I go to what rides I want. I don’t want to have to plan that out of necessity. It would take all the fun out of it!

  6. Mith says:

    When announcements are made I suppose it is natural to overreact and assume the worst. But does it really say anywhere that we’ll have to plan out our days ride by ride and not have any spontaneous moments? I’m not reading it that way. What I’m reading is that if I know I am going to be in a certain park on a certain day(for example we always visit MK the morning of our first day), then I can reserve a fastpass for Space Mountatin or whatever. What’s wrong with that? It doesn’t mean the locals can’t ride Space Mountain too.

  7. JulFromMD says:

    I think that for those who don’t want to plan way in advance, things won’t change all that much. If you arrive at the Studios at 11 AM, you’ll still have a 2 hour wait for TSMM, just like you do now. What it does mean is that for folks that I take down for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, we’ll be able to actually get them on some rides that are otherwise very challenging to fit in over the length of a week-long trip. I wager we’re probably talking about dozen rides that will see any sort of impact: Soarin’, Test Track, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, the Speedway, Peter Pan, Everest, TSMM, Rock’n’Roller Coaster, ToT, and Star Tours. Other than that, no change.

  8. NT3 says:

    I’m sure it will be more like a supplement to the Fastpass system and probably be limited to a set number per guest.

    I can’t imagine Disney really thinks it’s a good idea to make people plan months in advance to ride Tower of Terror at 10am, Rockin Roller Coaster at 11am, see the 1:30 Lights Motors Action, etc.

  9. Chris Wade says:

    The only way to make sure that these concerns are addressed is to make sure that Disney knows about them. I would recommend sending an email directly to Tom Staggs, consumerist.com lists his email address as tom.staggs@disney.com

    I have just sent a lengthy email explaining my concerns to him. I recommend writing directly to him, since he is the one that gave out the information and so that the comments do not get lost in the shuffle. In my opinion it is too important to just contact Guest Relations about it.

  10. PEB says:

    Sad… If it works like preferred dinning those of us who visit frequently, sometime at the last moment will potentially miss out on the best options. Those of us who are DVC don’t get the special offers and are often the ones taken for granted paying the long Disney buck.

    Don’t get me wrong we love Disney and visit from out of state several times a year. It would be nice to see them recognize and reward the people who are spending thousands of dollars with them each year.

  11. leighann says:

    Will this void FastPass?

  12. Disney Girl says:

    This made me and my fellow cast members groan in dread. We can only imagine what this will do to the Fastpass lines, which are long enough as they are now because of people abusing the Guest with Disability Access Cards. If they insist with going ahead with ride reservations, they’ll have to limit the number of Fastpasses they give out during the day–which will do what the others above have already mentioned and ruin the spontaneity of the guests who didn’t or couldn’t plan ahead.

  13. Josh says:

    I imagine that you will be able to use this as a hybrid thing, kind of like with the restaurants. When my family goes to Disney, we will make (usually) one nice reservation each day, and play the rest by ear. Sometimes we’ll end up going to a great restaurant without ever having a long wait or a reservation (World Showcase at lunch, anyone?).

    With rides, now it’ll just be easier to set up, say, for example, a spot on Toy Story Mania for the day, a spot on the Tower of Terror, and a spot on Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Then, you can peruse the rest of the park at a more leisurely pace, taking in the other, less crowded rides, the shops, etc.

    Does anyone know if this will replace/be similar to/engage in mortal combat with Fastpasses?

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