Posted Friday, October 15, 2021 9:11 AM | Contributed by Jeff
From the article:
Disney guests clearly aren’t happy about the change — Disney’s announcement video for the Genie service has a telling 12,000 dislikes compared to 956 likes. The outrage mainly comes from the fact that the FastPass and FastPass Plus, Disney’s line-skipping services that will be imminently phased out, were free to use. Although you didn’t have much control over the specifics of your ride schedule, it still helped you avoid standing in a queue for hours, free of charge.
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I do feel like Universal will not let this go unnoticed. I see lots of "look how easy it is to visit our parks" ad campaigns as we head into 2022.
Yeah, I'm cheering for them, but they've gotta get better at some things. I mean, even now, 7pm closings? Really? If you have a day job, that pretty much excludes all the weekdays. That's why I didn't renew last time, because every night I wanted to go, I'd get at best an hour. We even had the most expensive passes. And I desperately want better non-Potter counter service.
This is the same reason I don't have a USH pass even though I live 10 minutes away and even work for NBC Universal which gets me free parking. The vast majority of the year they close at 5 or 6. If I could pop over on a weeknight after work and have a beer at Hogshead Pub before a few rounds on the Mummy I'd be all over it. Though I'll probably re-up after Nintendo land opens. Because Nintendo.
As a local with a random Wednesday off, last night I decided I wanted to ride a few rides and see some park holiday decorations today.
Two of the four WDW parks were unavailable in what is typically a slow week. Looking at the app right now, all four parks show 45-90 minute waits for any of the rides I would have wanted to do. I didn't even bother going through the steps to see if there were day-of park reservations available.
This morning on my way to Islands of Adventure I noticed on Queue Times that Velocicoaster was down. I stayed on I4 an extra exit and just got four Mako rides without getting out of my seat. Velocicoaster looks to be open, so I think I'll head there next.
The spur of the moment "I think i want to do this now" is why being an Orlando local is great when it comes to the parks and you have a pass. That's so far removed from the WDW experience now, I just can't imagine renewing.
Double post. I stopped to see the sharks first.
That's odd. We were contemplating another Epcot lunch today (we went yesterday), and I can confirm even now that all parks are available. Tomorrow all parks are available, and Epcot is listed as "bonus" so it doesn't count toward your allocation. The only limitations I have between now and the holiday blackout (12/17) is MK tomorrow and the next two Mondays, and DHS on 12/13. I've yet to see any of the parks truly "crowded" compared to the pre-pandemic, and measuring by way of parking lots and eyeballing the crowd. That makes the stop in pass sales even more strange.
I recently visited Orlando from Pennsylvania. Planned on three days at Universal plus an after hours event at Magic Kingdom. Bought a Universal seasonal pass, which I think was $60 more than the three day pass but saved me more than $500 on the on-site hotel.
Quickly realized that three days at Universal was too much for me. To add to what Jeff said about every other ride being a screen ride, I counted ten of them that told essentially the same story: your ride gets interrupted by a bad guy or other force, you are uncomfortably shaken and spun until you end up on top of something, which either collapses or is incomplete and you fall. You land and think the ride is over but it isn’t quite and then your friends show up, all is well, and they tell you you can ride with them whenever you want. I called them Christmas Movie Rides because they were like watching Hallmark Christmas movies over and over.
I ended up buying a Disney park hopper for the third day instead of going back to Universal. Started at Studios, which was somewhat crowded and had longer lines because Slinky and Rise were both down for most of the time I was there. Snagged Genie+ for Aerosmith and Toy Story, waited in line for TOT and Runaway Railway, and did single rider for Smugglers Run.
Hopped to Epcot where I had a G+ for Soarin and an ILL$ for Remy. Walked on the Land, Figment, Mexico boats, Dopey Turtle Show, and Spaceship Earth. Was able to get a G+ for Splash Mountain so I then headed to MK for that with a couple of hours to spare before the after hours event officially began.
I found Genie plus easy to use but I couldn’t be picky with what rides I chose. Probably best value at MK and some value at DHS or Epcot depending on what you really wanted to ride. I did not even look at the free Genie stuff.
I don’t get to Orlando often, but I’d like to try a full week at WDW sometime after the 50th celebration ends. It had been about fifteen years since I had been to Universal and I’m assuming it will probably be at least another ten more before I go back.
Last night it was Studios and Magic Kingdom not showing availability. Now I see the same as you, but I also see Magic Kingdom as full on Thursday 12/16.
Is it like the pre-pandemic Fastpass+ days where you just need to keep refreshing to get park availability if it's full? I honestly have no idea.
It does seem kind of like a FP algorithm applied to the entire park. If you and I were seeing different results, that would have been even more interesting, because it would mean that they qualify us differently as customers, which would be a new kind of scary/interesting.
I know you have a higher level AP since I have the weekday only. I forget if you have what used the the silver pass or the gold pass, but I know it's different than mine. Could it be that each pass type has its own allotments?
For funsies, I just tried (and failed) to get to the Annual Pass park reservation calendar without logging into my personal account. As of 4:43pm this afternoon I have full availability for all parks on weekdays (I can't see weekends to begin with) with the exception of Magic Kingdom on Thursday 12/16, which was also the case around four hours ago when I checked last.
Magic Kingdom and Studios were not available last night around 7:30. But they were around 11am today for immediate day-of reservations. I'm not sure if those are cancellations or if lower in-park attendance numbers in relation to reservation bookings open it up automatically.
Mine will still be gold until I renew, at which point I have to convert to one of the others.
I think what might be going on is not overcommiting to keep things flexible for resort guests, but I would think their actuaries pretty much know what to expect on any given day. I dunno, whatever they're trying to manage is not objectively making for a "better" experience compared to Universal (ignoring for a moment the quality of attractions).
I have always thought a reservation based system like what we see would be a perfect way to handle crowd control on New Year's week, Easter week, Food & Wine Saturdays, and Halloween events like Halloween Horror Nights and Halloweekends at Cedar Point. The tough thing there is how to implement it so that guests understand it's only required for a handful of days a year.
It's tough to justify the need for advance reservations when you're not getting any sort of VIP-like experience and paying passholders are being denied days that are hardly hitting capacity. It made sense for all parks when they were truly limiting capacity when they reopened in 2020, but that's not really a thing anymore.
Do you still show availability for MK on Thursday 12/16?
I do not, so it seems to be consistent across pass types.
I was kind of hoping you would show different availability just so we could start to speculate on some wild conspiracy theories for fun.
It occurred to me, one of the reasons I think they're requiring reservations still is that it forces you to check a box accepting the Covid liability waiver. Hard to say what the capacity targets are, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's part of the reason they do it, in Florida at least.
It's possible that this is actually true, but if the author just looked at the reservation calendar and saw all greyed out days, then it's probably far from correct. Since the park reopened in April, reservations have been metered out over time and days that used to be unavailable have suddenly become available. I suspect with the AP's getting all pissy, that there will be some release of dates. That's not to say that it's not annoying, it certainly is. But I doubt that anybody without a reservation will be totally out of luck for the holidays.Last edited by ApolloAndy, Thursday, December 2, 2021 11:28 AM
Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."
I wonder if those additions are due to continued (but slow) increases in hiring and staffing, rather than an intentional strategy to meter reservations.
^This. I think labor is more of the reason than anything else. The parks still are not back to 100% staffing and are continuously hiring to try and get there. With reservations you know the max amount of guests that will be in the park on any given day and can plan accordingly with staffing.
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