Fastpass+ and the Tiered Fastpass System.

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fastpass-spaceship-earth

Disney is currently trying out a “tiered” Fastpass+ system at Epcot. The idea behind it is simple, in that you’re limited as to how many major attractions you can choose a Fastpass for.  It works like this:

Choose one Fastpass from the following:

  • Character Spot
  • IllumiNations
  • Maelstrom
  • Soarin
  • Test Track

And then two Fastpasses from the rest:

  • Captain EO
  • Journey into Imagination
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission:  SPACE
  • Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

This is clearly a response to guests choosing all “e-ticket” rides for their three Fastpass selections and none being available for off-site guests.  It’s rumored (key word) that it will be implemented resort-wide during Christmas week, at the very least.  The good news is that if you already have Fastpasses chosen, you won’t be effected by this new change, at least during this initial period of testing.

If you have any information, please let us know in the comments. This new system is changing all the time, so real-time input is especially helpful.

Editor’s Note: I hope Chris doesn’t mind me chiming in with some additional details. Disney did test a system like they rolled out at EPCOT during Fastpass+ initial cast member testing. So, system managers have had some idea that yield management would be necessary since the beginning.

Chris is an amazing vacation planner and travel agent, and her perspective is from the occasional guest, especially one who likes to have things planned out a bit. Disney will even allow travel agents to go as far as making those initial FP+ reservations for their clients.

But my perspective is from someone who lives near the parks and visits on more of a whim. Admittedly, we’re fewer in number than those who are staying on property, but our money is just as good. According to Disney’s own numbers we even spend a little more, on average, over a year that the typical guest who stays on property for five nights. So it would not make fiscal sense for Disney to design a system that pushes away the day guest with a system that gives too many advantages to resort guests.

I think Disney realizes this and is working on adding things like yield management into the Fastpass+ equation that will make it a more equitable and enjoyable experience for all who use the system.

What do you think? Am I being too optimistic? What have your experiences been with the system so far?


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About Christina Wood

For more travel planning articles by Chris, check out her Disney travel blog, Everything Walt Disney World. Chris is also a member of the Mouse Chat podcast team and an authorized Disney travel planner with Pixie Vacations, and visits the parks about 55 days each year. To get free planning and assistance with your next Disney vacation, please call her at 919-889-5281 or email at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com. You may also fill out a quick Disney Vacation Quote form here.
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19 Responses to Fastpass+ and the Tiered Fastpass System.

  1. Dan Heaton says:

    It’s so hard to know what will happen. My initial reaction was about the silliness of some of the “tier 2″ FP options, but I do see your point about helping off-site guests. The question is what will happen if they get rid of paper fastpasses, which is the rumor. Then the tiers make no sense.

    I’m trying not to be skeptical, but to me this feels like patchwork over a bigger problem. The system doesn’t work in distributing crowds and has some serious issues. I really hope they figure out a way to make it succeed before it’s rolled out completely.

    • Michael Caracciolo says:

      Fastpass + is terrible. I am at parks right now and even though they’re calling it a”test” – they’ve ripped out a bunch of fastpass kiosks already.
      It takes away freedom of choice to bounce through park and focus on particular rides for what in return exactly? I have been a Disney fanatic since my first trip in 1974- but they have taken the one innovation that worked and seriously impacted customer experience negatively. I will not be renewing my annual passes for me and family to come up from Miami and hear that at 9am the first available fastpass for the 3 attractions is 8:45pm….I would love to know who thought this up?

  2. Mike Conrad says:

    Although on paper this might have looked like a great idea, the “pre-selected” fast-pass system looks to be a nightmare. I did hear that fastpasses for soaring at the ride during the 9:00am hour was for past 6:00pm that night. If you are not staying on property park hopping will not be an option as you will be locked into a park to use your fastpasses, unless you want to wait 60 minutes plus in line.

    The best thing they could do would be to split the fastpasses 50/50. So if 300 fastpasses are available for an hour slot, 150 can be booked in advance, 150 can be booked at the ride.

  3. Maegan says:

    This is totally the opposite of the experience I had on Halloween day, I am curious if other people experienced this as well. I posted this on an earlier post but think it is an interesting contrast to this new system. All of our fastpast+ option were made that day, we did not get any traditional FP’s but did notice that most of the kiosk’s were closed – here is the post : I was in the parks yesterday and got 3 FP early in the day for Hollywood studios. Tower, rocking and midway mania. We ended up leaving there and taking a boat to Epcot. I logged into my account from my phone and was surprised to see I could add 3 more fp’s for Epcot that night! Maelstrom, test track and soarin’. There were 3 in our party and I was able to add them for all of us. We did notice a few glitches at test track our time mysteriously changed. I had to pull up our reservation and show the cast member on my phone ( a bit of a pain). Also at Midway the reservation said the time but the ride name was gone… Its annoying that again we held up the line while I tried to pull up the reservation. Different cast members were more lenient with letting us pass through if one of the bands wasn’t working. Overall I think everything worked well. Also as a side note I have really small wrists and was able to pull out the middle of the band and use that and it fit a lot better!

    • Mike Conrad says:

      That would be cool but looking at illuminations, test track or soaring and can only pick one is not a very good option. The breakout above really doesn’t make sense, there are very few rides in the “B” column that typically have a long line.

  4. Don says:

    I was at Tokyo Disney for the first time last week. The fans in Japan are so avid they line up to get into the park well before park opening, then run to their favorite attractions for fastpasses and queue. Many fastpasses were gone for the most popular rides within 2-3 hours, and the queues for those rides were long the entire day. This certainly discourages park-hopping in Japan and developing a game plan, or having endless patience – especially if waits are 120+ minutes. Because it was Halloween, many fans were fully dressed in costumes from head to toe the entire day (no special Halloween ticketed parties). I can’t imagine wearing an entire princess gown, villains costume, or be as creative as dress up with friends from the same movie or the same character in the rain for an entire day. And they still claimed parade spots well in advance, and had long queues for their favorite snack carts. At the end of the day, I still felt the experience worth the expense, but I understand many other Disney fans may be priced and gamed out of the system. Having a similar experience in the US parks will be frustrating, but we will have to adjust and develop new coping mechanisms like the Japanese Disney fans.

  5. Disney Mike says:

    We haven’t used the FP+ system in the parks yet, but we’ve made some FP+ reservations for our trip next month. The system is HEAVILY flawed and very difficult to use.

    Unlike dining reservations, where you can select what time of day you’d like, the FP+ reservation system only lets you choose which rides you want FP+ for. Then it selects times for you, giving you a couple of options. The funny thing was that one option seemed to ALWAYS overlap with one of our existing dining reservations, and it would tell us that. If it knows enough to tell us that, then why does it “recommend” FP+ times that overlap with dining reservations?

    You can go in and manually change the times for your FP+ reservations, but only after you’ve made them. We ended up just picking the three rides we wanted and not worrying about the times it assigned us; we then went in and changed every single reservation. It took a really long time to do this, and it was definitely NOT a magical experience.

    As for the Epcot “tiered” system, it is just ridiculous. Who will ever need a FP+ for Journey Into Imagination, Captain EO or Turtle Talk with Crush? We made some FP+ reservations for rides like those, but we’re not really concerned with using them, because the crowds will be small at the beginning of December.

    Honestly, the system is good in theory, but the practicality of it so far is just awful.

  6. Steve says:

    The new system favors the inexperienced Disney guest, and seriously hurts the frequent visitors. We are AP holders, and sometimes use 3+ Fast Passes on a single ride in a day. Since we are there a lot, we have no interest in a Fast Pass for most rides (Maelstrom- seriously?). If the line is long, we will skip until next time. We typically only use Fast Passes on E Ticket rides. Most days we park hop. Not being able to use Fast Passes in both parks is strange. Hopefully it is a technical issue at this point. We will give it a shot, but there is a chance we don’t renew our AP’s and head to Universal more often.

  7. Kristi says:

    We aren’t annual ticket holders but go often from out of state. At first I loved the FP+ because I love to plan ahead. I HATE this Epcot system. We are going without the kids after the first of the year and why would we want FP for some of the second group rides? So if I used a FP for something good like Soarin’ I’m stuck without one for Test Track and don’t want one for something like Turtle Talk or Figment. I am really hoping they extend the testing like they say they are and we can still use our key cards also. What a waste of FP.

  8. Amanda Moore says:

    We just left Disney after traveling with a group of 7. We seriously dislike the tiered system. We got to Epcot at rope drop and decided to split up. My husband ran to get Soarin fast passes with our APs and I went to the fastpass plus kiosk to add our three rides. Test Track was only available at times we had dinner or candelight processional show booked. It was 9:05! Like the other poster, I thought we’d just avoid that system altogether and use our APs to get the old fast passes. Well, those were gone for Test Track by 10am. Now it’s harder to get the old fast passes and you probably can’t get more than one for e tickets because on busy days all passes will be gone before your next window is open.

  9. Mike says:

    We were at WDW during the first week of Dec the unpleasant part we found with the tiered system was that you couldn’t Fastpass a 2nd top tier ride at all. This is a step backward from the old system. WDW should at least allow you to get a 2nd Fastpass in person on the day of. Where as if you are using the old system you are able to Fastpass two top tier rides on the same day (ie. Toy Story Mania and Rock’n Roller Coaster). Overall the Fastpass+ system was great except for this one limiting factor.

  10. Anne says:

    Went to Animal Kingdom today and was very disappointed with our traditional visit to Animal Kingdom on Christmas Eve due to the new Fast Pass + System. It was very difficult to book the day in advance and we could no longer get more than one fast pass for the same ride. Having a family member in a wheel chair made it difficult as we had fast passes for rides that she couldn’t even transfer from her wheel chair on and she would have preferred to split the party so she and another none ride going could have a fast pass at somewhere else. Line ups were 30 minutes to complete the fast pass process which was frustrating…especially because one of the major purposes is to avoid long wait times in line ups. The restriction also prevented us from using more than 3 fast passes…and with the older system we would be able to use more fast passes.

    Scanning park cards was convenient… it would be great if we could use the older system but use our park cards to scan into the rides instead of the paper printed tickets. At the fast pass stations it would be easy if you could scan your card to get your time on a computer monitor by selecting only the one ride at a time. And as soon as the time slot is up you can go get another fast pass at any ride throughout the day.

  11. Anonymous kid says:

    I honestly want to know who came up with this idea and why? I am a 14 year old boy and an annual visitor to Disney World with my family. Even I am smart enough to realize that this idea is not only a total waste of time but it also ruins the whole experience of the quote on quote “Magical Disney World”. If I really wanted to wait in a five hour line I would just go to Universal. To put it into a simple statement Disney is basically getting rid of their system of fast and easy going lines and basically replacing them with their rival Universals slow dull moving lines. Keep in mind my family is NOT a planning family and we just go with the flow. I am almost positive that any logical person\family does not want to book all of their rides and restaurant reservations six months before they even go on their trip. I mean come on this whole idea is just not smart at all I mean obviously Disney is not using common sense. I get where they are coming from on how they want to get rid of paper but why not just replace that with fast pass on the bands instead. I am not a fan of this new system at all and I know that all other annual visitors will realize this aswell.

    • Chal says:

      You see this is what I like to see before I go to my favorite place in the world… A critique from a kids perspective his critique and the others above has helped me away my decision a bit. Great job anonymous kid!

  12. DisneyGuest123 says:

    I’ve booked a quick weekend (3 day) trip at the end of February, staying at the Grand Floridian — just a fly-in, fly-out sort of thing. Disney automatically enrolled us both the magicband and the fastpass+ system and I’m completely confused — and this is coming from someone who is a pretty frequent visitor to the parks. I feel like I’m being forced to use something I don’t have an interest in using — I spend enough of my working life managing precise schedules; I don’t want to have to have an exact schedule in mind when I come down to the parks. I always thought the paper fastpass system was a nice balance between complete chaos (unplanned) and fastpass+. Why are they doing away with that? Also, is it true that when you use fastpass+, you are unable to get regular paper fastpasses on the day-of when you’re in the park? Very concerned.

  13. Arp says:

    Well – this explains our last experience at Epcot. We’re a local family with an annual resident pass and we were sorely disappointed that all the Fastpasses for the Test Track were gone when we arrived at 11am back in October. One of the cast members informed us that they were testing the wristbands and allowed resort guests to reserve fastpasses the day before. I certainly felt that our money was valued less by Disney than resort guests, despite the fact that we go between 15-18x a year. I surmised that we must spend more than vacationers over the coarse of the year so what the editor says makes sense to me.

  14. Don says:

    We have been DVC members who have visit Disney World at least 3 times per year for the past 15 years in a row. We loved everything Disney…
    That changed with the implementation of this highly restrictive new FP+ system.
    Families are now restricted to a maximum of 3 Fast Passes per day in ONE PARK only when with the old system as could manage our way around 1 or two parks by utilizing 6-7 Fast Passes per day. What this really is folks, is a high tech price increase.
    By limiting guests to only 3 Fast Passes in only one park per day, the net effect will be that guests will have to extend their stay if they want to do the quantity of attractions they’ve done in the past.
    We are also Premium Annual Passholders and just recently renewed our passes. After experiencing the new restrictive program along with the “Tiered” attraction nonsense, we now question the need for “Premium” AP’s as the system negates the sense to “park hop” like we used to do. I guess Disney should be planning on refunding lots of Premium AP’s because the extra expense make no sense now.
    We are terribly disappointed in this new FP program and we are now considering cancelling our summer plans to go back.

  15. Suzanne says:

    The tiered system is awful! I have no intention of spending my money at Disney if the parks can’t meet the needs of family memebers who love different rides and want to share each other’s experiences. I am an annual passholder and have been for years. I have no intention of renewing my pass if this tiered system continues. When I drive over an hour to the parks with my kids in tow, I expect to get on rides. The rides which my family enjoys. Soarin vs Test Track – really? Toy Story Mania or Rock and Roller Coaster – those are not even for the same patron. What was Disney thinking. Who came up with that? Who approved it? Then who gave the final OK? Wasn’t there one person in this process to say, “hey this can’t meet a families many needs.” Clearly there are too many people running Disney who do not love it as I do and do not have kids with a variety of needs at the parks. I have never been so disappointed in Disney. I feel like the magic is over and I am thinking about getting a divorce from the mouse. I hope this can be rectified before my passes expire. It simply costs too much to not get on the rides we all love.

    • John Frost says:

      I know this is not the answer that you’re looking for… however, I think it’s useful to think of FP+ as bonus ride coupons and plan your day to hit the big rides either early or late in the day. Your family still gets to enjoy some rides together and some apart.

Comments are closed.