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Fastpass+ having interesting affect on popular attraction wait times

Fastpass has come to Pirates of the Caribbean.

MyMagic+ and Fastpass+ has been turned on for everyone at Walt Disney World since February 2014. It has certainly changed the way we experience the parks as a local and I’ve noticed a subtle shift in attraction patterns for the larger group of visiting tourists as well. Rides that never had waits before are now experiencing longer times and some of the park’s more popular rides are actually posting shorter wait times on average. As time goes on and more families become aware of Fastpass+ prior to arriving at the park, I expect this to change even further.

But you don’t have to rely solely on my powers of observation, the fine folks at broke out the spreadsheets and crunched the numbers to find out, with a 95% certainty, exactly which attractions went up in wait time and when went down.

Attractions with high capacity, like Pirates of the Caribbean, Spaceship Earth, and Haunted Mansion have their waits extended by up to 10 minutes due to the way Fastpass+ distributes guests by creating artificial scarcity. Attractions that previously were very popular must-ride attractions, like Space Mountain, Test Track, and Toy Story Mania are seeing shorter waits, some nearly 15 minutes less on average. The difficulty in getting repeat Fastpasses for these E-Ticket rides means people are riding them less.

We discussed before how Fastpass+ is like the return of the ticket book system. You an only get so many E-Ticket rides in, and Fastpass+ pushes you to experience more of the lower tier attractions. Effectively spreading out the demand for each attraction. I think this will eventually benefit the park overall because it will be easier to justify the budget for an upgrade or new C or D ticket ride if Fastpass+ will ensure it gets seen by more guests.

There is some speculation that the switch to Guest Access Cards has also helped reduce waits at some of the more popular attractions. Disney could also be playing games with capacity, running the attractions at close to full capacity for more hours of the day. It costs them more in labor, but makes Fastpass+ seem like a success. I’d love to have a look at Disney’s own numbers.

See the whole chart at Touring Plans.

1 thought on “Fastpass+ having interesting affect on popular attraction wait times”

  1. This seems to be an example of exactly what FastPass+ was designed to do — manipulate traffic flow and regulate wait times. Everyone seems to think FastPass+ is about improving a guest’s ability to plan their vacation, and that’s really not it at all. It’s about traffic flow. It does improve the guest’s overall experience by cutting down on wait times in Standby lines, but that’s a subtle thing that you don’t overtly see.

    As Disney collects more and more data from this system, I think they’ll be able to manipulate traffic flow even better, thereby reducing standby wait times for almost everything.

    Yes, it does come as a bit of shock to regular park-goers that there are now waits for rides like Spaceship Earth and Journey Into Imagination, when generally there were no waits in the past. But, in the grand scheme of things, that’s a good thing. That means people are distributed more evenly throughout the parks, rather than 80% of the people in the parks being concentrated in Standby queues for only four or five attractions. Having to wait in line for five minutes to ride Spaceship Earth is a net gain when your wait time for Test Track is reduced by ten minutes.

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