Disney likely to keep reservations in place for foreseeable future

Posted Friday, June 18, 2021 2:07 PM | Contributed by Jeff

From the article:

“The reservation system has performed exceptionally well, not only for us as a business, as it relates to the situation we found ourselves in from a capacity-restrained perspective, but from a guest experience point of view as well,” says D’Amaro. “We’ve been able to throttle guest demand and ensure that guests in the park are having a great experience, and that that booking process is simple, clear, and as friction-free as possible. We had started with a lot of this work at Walt Disney World with dynamic pricing and ticketing strategies, which got closer to a reservation system. As we entered into this situation, we put a full-on reservation system into place, something we’ve contemplated for a long time, and here it is.”

Read more from Fortune.

Friday, June 18, 2021 2:16 PM
Jeff's avatar

I get why they're doing this in California, but I don't imagine that they'll keep doing it in Florida indefinitely. Everything I hear is that the staffing is the reason to control guest counts. With the other hotels opening and stealth sales of annual passes, they're not going to leave money on the table. The super weird thing is that the availability calendar seems to give dibs to passholders, for which there aren't that many yet (passholder gates are consistently empty in the morning).

That said, the cost for a Gold Pass to WDW (blocks two weeks each around Christmas and spring break) is now $800 with tax, which to an extent tests the limits of value for a lot of people. I know a fair number of people not interested.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, June 18, 2021 3:10 PM

They should move to Sandusky - I hear the passes there are dirt cheap!

I get the shock value of paying $800 for a pass, but it gets you into all of the Florida Disney parks for the equivalent of 11 out of 12 months. That seems pretty underpriced to me for what the $800 gets you.

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Friday, June 18, 2021 4:05 PM
Jeff's avatar

I guess it depends on how you use it. I did an analysis for the 12 months ending at our renewal in 2019, and our cost-per-visit came out to about $25 per person (about 30 visits), typically for half-day visits, and no way to realistically get certain Fastpasses for three people (Flight of Passage, Seven Dwarfs, Test Track a lot of the time, and toward the end, Smuggler's Run). Like, if I think about giving them $75 at the gate for the three of us each time, that doesn't feel good. Then pile on the hundreds we drop on Food & Wine on top of that. I mean, first world problems, obviously, but a lot of that is rooted in the familiarity and proximity for us.

Diana and Simon are at 9 visits in about 8 weeks this time around, I'm 3 behind, so pushing the value much harder this year.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, June 18, 2021 4:10 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

A season pass is worth it to just not have the pressure of needing to get a full day out of your visit.


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Friday, June 18, 2021 4:22 PM

I like the idea of capacity control in Disney if it means a better experience. Every time I've been the queues have been horrendous.


I develop Retro Games for macOS, iPhone, and iPad when not riding coasters.

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Friday, June 18, 2021 4:32 PM

Does a reservation system automatically assume capacity limits?

On the back end it's possible to set the reservation system to no practical limit, or to whatever the arbitrary maximum capacity of the park is, then use that for planning purposes.

The problem, of course, is no-shows. I have two reservations for $PARK for this weekend that I am not going to use because my plans have changed...but I had to make those reservations a few days in advance so that I didn't get frozen out like I did last weekend. I'm kind of hating the whole reservation system, personally.

Oh, and Disneyland could eliminate their most horrific queueing problems with one simple (but probably impossible) step: eliminate FastPass. Without it their queues are long, but at least they are moving.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Last edited by RideMan, Friday, June 18, 2021 4:34 PM

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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Friday, June 18, 2021 4:49 PM
Jeff's avatar

Disney literally has actuaries working this stuff out. I can't imagine any real scenario where they need reservations at WDW unless it's to limit traffic. Until this year, I've never observed the parks as understaffed, and even then, I'm mostly implying this because of closed food, retail and attractions, and some double-duty of ride cast members (i.e., counting people in as well as dispatching, when they used to be separate posts).


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, June 18, 2021 5:50 PM

I would like to see Fastpass scaled back and limited to a paid option. I think that's far more likely than it going away completely. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a full return. Not having it didn't bother me at all. I was there at the beginning of May before the relaxing of restrictions started to accelerate and the only line we waited in over an hour was Tower of Terror and that was only because of a malfunction. Most lines were less than 30 minutes and the ones that were longer were less than 40.


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Friday, June 18, 2021 7:32 PM
Jeff's avatar

I know Disney has clearly thought about it and experimented and it's on their mind, but they seem to believe that the core experience should include very little waiting in line. As much as I complain about not being able to get certain FP's, for the four-hour visit, I would much rather have quick access to everything else than wait in lines that favor standby over FP.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Saturday, June 19, 2021 8:23 AM

They’re not the only ones that have it on their minds. I belong to several FB fan pages- some that focus either on general amusement park news and tips and some that are specific to a certain park. (I don’t really recommend any of them.) But it blows my mind how concerned members are with line length. Every single day, on each page, people ask how long the lines are, for the coasters, the food, the kiddie rides, the parking lot, you name it- they’ve gotta know. The weirdest are those that aren’t even planning a trip. They’ll start a new topic with something like “Anyone in the park today? I was wondering how long the lines are”. Or often you see “We were at the park over the 4th of July and were sad to see a 20-30 minute wait for most of the rides”. (Knoebels “fans” are best at that… 🙄)
We’ve discussed Modern Queue Culture a zillion times here as well. (It’s no secret Buzzers see the value of a short wait). It makes me wonder who’s influencing who? Is it the parks that have trained the customers to care so much or the other way around?

Last edited by RCMAC, Saturday, June 19, 2021 8:24 AM
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Saturday, June 19, 2021 8:32 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I don’t get the hate for FastPass, whether the DL or WDW version. In either case, some baseline of money, waking up early, and/or planning can make it really easy to avoid standby lines for headliners. Unless, you’re intent on power riding Flight of Passage or Radiator Springs Racers, I think you generally come out ahead. Once you stack on loopholes and shenanigans, you can go a whole week without waiting more than 10 minutes for almost anything.


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."

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Saturday, June 19, 2021 8:44 AM

My only gripe with WDW was the fact that nearly every attraction participated in Fastpass+ (in contrast to the old paper tickets) which caused standby lines for second and third tier rides (and people eating headliners like Pirates and Haunted Mansion) to go from reliable 10-30 minute waits even on a relatively busy day to 45-80 minute waits as the rule rather than the exception. The system created artificial demand for B and C ticket rides.

If you knew how to play the app game it guaranteed you could get at least one ride on pretty much anything you wanted. But it also greatly limited the ability to get multiple rides in a day/trip if you try and do the park with the "more rides are better" enthusiast mindset.

Last edited by BrettV, Saturday, June 19, 2021 8:45 AM
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Saturday, June 19, 2021 10:04 AM
Jeff's avatar

I'm not convinced that standby lines got longer. The capacity of the rides didn't change, so the aggregate wait of FP and standby only gets longer if there are just more people. I've noticed the change from when I moved here in 2013 to now, and MK in particular is just more crowded. I see it in the transportation and park entry.

But you're right that the system creates "artificial demand," I think that was always the point, to spread people around. We can see the antithesis of this right now with no FP. Waits in the morning for the "best" rides are long, while others go empty. By late afternoon, lines for the best are significantly shorter.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Saturday, June 19, 2021 10:13 AM

Maybe that's what I miss. Having that 9am-Noon time to essentially have the run of whatever park I'm in. Or having a chance at a 10-20 minute wait for Tower of Terror or Rockin' Roller Coaster after 4 or 5pm.

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Saturday, June 19, 2021 10:20 AM

BrettV said:

If you knew how to play the app game it guaranteed you could get at least one ride on pretty much anything you wanted. But it also greatly limited the ability to get multiple rides in a day/trip if you try and do the park with the "more rides are better" enthusiast mindset.

If I were Disney, I think I would see this as a win - prioritizing the "once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime, want to do everything" customers over the ride warriors. I think the brand and the status of Disney World as a must-do experience depend much more on the former. (But that is total Saturday morning speculation, not based in anything like data or even thinking about it very hard.)

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Saturday, June 19, 2021 11:58 AM
eightdotthree's avatar

BrettV said:

Maybe that's what I miss. Having that 9am-Noon time to essentially have the run of whatever park I'm in. Or having a chance at a 10-20 minute wait for Tower of Terror or Rockin' Roller Coaster after 4 or 5pm.


I think that’s exactly it for me. You used to be rewarded for getting up early and staying late but now-a-days your standby wait is the same no matter what time of day it is outside of the first ride you run to.

The difference between Anaheim and Orlando is noticeable. For tourists like me at least


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Saturday, June 19, 2021 12:03 PM
Jeff's avatar

While not like California, I think locals are still kind of just "tolerated" here, as pass perks have dwindled over the years. I miss the discount on counter service especially. But I think the tolerance is there because boy do we spend, especially at the festivals. That's why the after-4 Epcot pass exists, which I'm sure is a head scratcher if you're a tourist.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Saturday, June 19, 2021 1:01 PM
TheMillenniumRider's avatar

Magic bands, it goes back to this, Disney has mined data on traffic in the parks and traffic patterns and has used fast pass and other events, marathons/f&w/arts/flower garden/etc to spread out the demand throughout the year and keep it very flat. Before all of this you planned a visit and showed up, now you can plan a visit and plan your day and if it’s a busy time and nothing is available you will move to a less busy time.

All of these systems have taken the parks from having really busy times and relatively slow times, to being busy all of the time, and occasionally really busy during the biggest peak times.

Disney is a data driven company, they have used pricing/fast pass/events/promos you name it to create demand where it was previously sagging, because of this there are no longer good times to visit and it is just always busy. Unless you are pending a hurricane or tropical storm to hit.

Maybe Disney should do hurricane parties to button up these last few dead days.

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Saturday, June 19, 2021 2:29 PM

eightdotthree said:

t’s exactly it for me. You used to be rewarded for getting up early and staying late but now-a-days your standby wait is the same no matter what time of day it is outside of the first ride you run to.

Yep. And I know that most people don't do parks like many of us on here do. I know if I get to Cedar Point for early entry (excluding 2020 and 2021 modified operations) I can potentially get a few Millennium Force rides through the magic gate if it's a weekday and a Maverick ride if it's not having an #intaminbestday by 10 or 10:30. Then I can ride Magnum as much as I want in half empty trains from 10:30-Noon. And even in the peak of the day, rides like Magnum, Gemini and Corkscrew have relatively reasonable waits.

Under the Disney Fastpass+ model the morning rides on MF and Maverick likely wouldn't happen (or the window to make them happen would be insanely short) and Magnum and Gemini would have 45 minute standby lines to accommodate everyone that has a FP+ for them because they either couldn't get Steel Vengeance or they had to pick a third.

I know when I worked at Animal Kingdom when MyMagic first was rolling out, the "goal" Disney set out to achieve for that particular park was for each guest to have the opportunity to experience 5.2 attractions a day. As someone that is an admitted "ride warrior" at parks, that just doesn't cut it for me.

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