Disney passholders feeling left out with program changes

Posted Monday, August 29, 2016 8:16 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Many Floridians' love affair with Disney has been soured by increasing prices and restrictions. Some have downgraded their passes to cheaper ones. Others are giving them up altogether. Financial results might be reflecting the trend. From April through June, 4 percent fewer visitors passed through the turnstiles of domestic Disney theme parks — while the resort's hotel occupancy rose 3 percent.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016 2:42 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

We all know my take on Disney and where I think their future is as far as scheduling your vacation. Honestly, this is nowhere near where I'd expect it to end up (you gotta walk people there a step at a time - change is scary and confusing).

I just think it's interesting that we're starting to see pushback from people that feel like they're being forced to schedule too much.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2016 3:10 PM

Or you can go in February, when the Disney livin' is easy, like I do.

On our last visit FP+, Magic Bands, etc was brand new. I thought at first it was very restrictive, I put my best efforts to the scheduling challenge, but then we were able to snag day-of extras along the way which was a nice surprise. The desk at Grand Floridian fixed up some stuff for us too.
But once again, it was February.

EPCOT was indeed the tough one. We're EPCOT-in-the-evening types so it would've been great to have a FP or two at AK or Studios then pick up an EPCOT e-ticket at night. We wasted a top tier on "preferred viewing" for IllumiNations and learned to never, ever do that again. So I guess the solution is to just make an EPCOT day for rides then use the evenings over there for dining and drinking. (Which I don't have a problem with. As long as I can stumble up the monorail ramp and find the resort train at the TTC I'm good.)

Last edited by RCMAC, Tuesday, August 30, 2016 3:11 PM
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Tuesday, August 30, 2016 3:45 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

super7* said:

The new system forces you to pick where you are going to be days ahead on more popular rides. Vacation for me is not about reservations.

No, it doesn't. It gives you the option of securing Fastpasses in advance. Some people like to plan their vacations. If you don't want to do that, just go wait on line like people have been doing for the better part of four decades in Florida, or go in the park and get a Fastpass. As Jeff notes, many rides don't have long lines to begin with, and if you don't want to wait "that" long, come back later. I'm on my third year of not riding Goliath at SFGAm because I'm not willing to wait in such long lines, and I've somehow managed to survive.

It's a Small World, Haunted Mansion, Living with the Land, etc. All this did was make the stand by times longer for rides that never really had a very long stand by time.

Call me a fanboy, but ... I put more faith in the Disney company crunching numbers daily than in someone that visits occasionally to determine what rides need to be on Fastpass.

The biggest advantage is that you can get one with your phone without walking across the park I guess, for people that cannot walk well or people that think walking is a terrible thing.

Or people who want to take advantage of technology to enhance their time in a park....

Last edited by slithernoggin, Tuesday, August 30, 2016 3:45 PM

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016 4:21 PM

I've been to WDW and DLR in the past 11 months and I would gladly take the convenience of Fastpass+ over the hustling of the old style system any day. (I'll qualify that by saying that I had no problem doing a little running around to game the system at DLR. It was actually fun, especially when our plan worked beautifully at DCA.) The mistake we made with Fastpass+ was letting our vacation planner book some of our passes for us. Once I went in and monkeyed with the system myself, it worked out great. I'm not sure how anyone is forced into using passes for rides where they aren't needed. That never happened to us on our trip when it was reasonably busy in early October.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2016 10:40 PM
kpjb's avatar

I think you're definitely forced in to using FP+ for rides that aren't needed at Epcot (and Hollywood Studios, but to a lesser extent.) You can book three fastpasses ahead of time, and you can't get an additional one until those three are used. When combined with the tier system, if you want to get a fastpass for both Soarin' and Test Track, for example, you need to force in two lower tier passes before you can get the other worthwhile one. On our recent trip, that meant getting fastpasses for stuff like Spaceship Earth and Nemo (which rarely have a line more than five minutes) just so we could get them out of the way to try to add an additional pass to an attraction where it was actually needed.


Hi

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016 11:38 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

Or, instead of feeling "forced" to sign up for a Fastpass, you can just wait on line for a ride at an amusement park, like thousands of people do each day. Sorry. I have no sympathy for people who feel they're being deprived of something by having to wait for an amusement park ride.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016 5:54 AM

On our recent trip to WDW I enjoyed the fastpass+ system more. We were able to change our fastpass reservations the day of changing our plans and still being able to get decent rides and return times. I don't understand why everyone is upset about this.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016 5:59 AM

FP+ levels the playing field for families that either can't or won't get to the park at 8 or 9 am for the running of the bulls. I know the odds my wife and daughter making it to a park before opening are non-existent. Knowing that, we can get FP+ for the times we are likely going to make it there. As for Epcot, we can usually work it out to have SpaceShip Earth be our first one as we walk in the door. 10 minutes into the park, and the troublesome fast pass used and out of the way.

We are also aggressive about using the system to its fullest. At MK, we will sometimes end up using 8 or more in a day, because they are still available for rides in the evening long after we used our first three. Very typical for us would be to exit an attraction, go straight to a kiosk to see what is available, while using the app to monitor wait times. Buzz Lightyear having a 20 minute wait but fast passes available to use in 5 minutes is pretty common when we've been there. Same for other attractions.

If I wish they would change anything, it is being locked out of getting more passes all day because you used one for IllumiNations or the parade. Maybe if they had a special category for those, I suppose tied to length of stay or something. Stay on property 4 days, get two night shows/parades, 5 nights gets 3, etc.

The one time we made it work for us was where we had planned to lounge during the day. Headed to MK maybe 6-ish or so, and had fast passes for the parade and fireworks. That new area they built in front of Casey's Corner is pretty comfortable for fireworks viewing. I think the park had EMH until 1:00 am, and we ended up with two rides on 7 dwarfs with 20-30 minute wait each.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016 8:43 AM
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, that's what I keep coming back to, that if you arrived in the afternoon or later, the odds of you ever getting a FP for Toy Story, Test Track and some days even Space Mountain were non-existent. I don't miss those days.


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

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016 12:17 PM

slithernoggin said:

No, it doesn't. It gives you the option of securing Fastpasses in advance. Some people like to plan their vacations. If you don't want to do that, just go wait on line like people have been doing for the better part of four decades in Florida,

That's BS and you know it. That's like the gay marriage argument that Homosexuals could already get married, just to someone of the opposite sex.

Yes you could wait on line like people have been doing for the better part of four decades, and further add salt to the wound by not scheduling in advance. However, you're consigning yourself to significantly longer waits than would be necessary if there weren't FastPass+ people (and a LOT of them) getting in front of you, because they booked months before you walked into the park.

I"m not arguing the merits of FastPass, but in this day and age, for a typical visit to WDW, you have to reserve in advance or you're screwed. The fact that most of the park's attendees can lock up 3 FastPasses 30 days (or more for resort guests) before you walk into the park does not make for a level playing field. Fastpasses for the big rides just won't be available when we walk in the gates. We might be able to snag one, but I've not heard of reports of reliably being able to navigate Magic Kingdom, while getting only Day Of FastPasses, and being able to hit the the big rides. If my fears are overblown, please correct me.

Case in point, I'm trying to take 8 people to the Magic Kingdom for a single day (not my idea, but i'm trying to salvage it). I'm trying to juggle wants and desires to make sure that we at least have 3 big things locked in, and I will most certainly be up before 4 am Pacific Time, to be first through the system to try and scrounge FastPasses for the big rides, and praying that resort guests haven't snagged them all already. Future doesn't look good as ALL of the sit down lunch reservations were booked more than 5 months ago, when my not so good at planning family decided on this debacle. So yes, since we didn't choooooose to book months in advance, I'm stuck trying to maneuver 8 people, 3 generations, with various dietary needs (who would be perfectly served at any of the sit down table service restaurants) through some counter service sh*tshow. I'm not inflexible, not looking for only Be Our Guest, I'm looking for anything with table service. No dice, as they were gone a long time ago.

Same will undoubtedly apply to the FastPasses: Younger generation are going to want to do Space and Splash, "Why else are we going there since everyone is too old to meet Princesses?". If I choooooose not to get FastPasses in advance, then I'm intentionally adding an additional 30-45 minutes to wait times (or more), which leaves the older generation separated from the tweens for too long to have enjoyed a "family" trip to Disney.

Again, not arguing fastpass. We're pretty good at using the prior system. Get there early, have a general plan, and be aggressive about FP windows, etc. Now, getting there early doesn't help, as you're already behind most of the park, and most of the desirable FP's are already gone. To say that you could choose not to schedule in advance is just being obstinate in the face of reality.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Wednesday, August 31, 2016 1:06 PM
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Wednesday, August 31, 2016 1:29 PM
Jeff's avatar

Pro tip: Don't try to book everyone for the same attraction at the same time. For whatever reason, the system isn't cool about doing that. In fact, I've been able to book two people for stuff where I couldn't do three. And Magic Kingdom table service is wholly inadequate in the first place.

The only things routinely difficult to book day-of at MK is Seven Dwarfs and Peter Pan. I can't explain the latter except to assume it's a high pass-standby ratio. 7D you can get on in a half-hour if you go directly there, first. Right now, on a Wednesday, at 1:30 in the afternoon, the only thing I can't book are the two above rides and the Mickey character meet, and that's even with Big Thunder down for rehab. Wait times are 50 minutes for Pan, 80 for Dwarfs right now.


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

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016 1:38 PM

Thanks Jeff.

Have to admit this is my first time through the MK FastPass+ hunger game, so I'm woefully unprepared for it. I'm a pro at Disneyland, but MK is stressing me out.

How do you handle a group of 8 where at least 6 of them do want to do Space at the same time? (I understand not booking the two old people). However, how do you handle the six. Break it up as two attempts at 3 people?

Or, do you break up a large group into two "accounts", and then manage them that way?

I agree totally on the table service being inadequate. I'm only doing it because I know that I can't wrangle 8 of my family, with a 65 year age spread, 1vegetarian, 1 diabetic, two slow people, one in a foot cast, etc., all into some form of counter service place that will satisfy. I'm definitely in need of 'we are eating here, at this time, with this menu, each of you make it work", as opposed to a "well ,what do you want to eat...... and have 8 choices at 4 corners of the park, which will leave no one happy.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Wednesday, August 31, 2016 1:50 PM
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Wednesday, August 31, 2016 2:30 PM
Jeff's avatar

You can group individuals anyway you want to. From the app or the web (they're both similar at this point), you do the whole process start to finish. Assuming that you can manage your entire group, select just the people you want, the date, the park, the attraction. Then repeat. If, for example, you try to book someone who already has three FP's, or has a time conflict on subsequent bookings, it will warn you.

For example, I can book my wife and son right now for Barnstormer at 6, and when complete, go back and book myself for Dumbo at the same time.

We never do table service at MK. The places there are aren't big enough, and the food sucks. We've busted out to the Poly a few times for Kona, but that's as close to dining at MK as we get. For counter service, you can get a fairly wide variety of options at Cosmic Ray's. Columbia Harbor House and Pecos Bill's have an OK selection as well, with plenty of seating. Pinnochio's is a little hit and miss, but if it's not super hot, you can sit outside. I haven't been to the new places in the east end of Adventureland.


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

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Thursday, September 1, 2016 5:36 AM

When we visited Epcot we did it in the evening. Ate dinner and stayed for the extra magic hours for resort guests. We got to ride as much as we wanted and didn'the have to use fastpasses.

We used our fast passes that day at the magic kingdom, and went back to our room to swim and take a nap before heading to Epcot. I prefer the evening extra magic hours. In my experience it isn't as crowded as the morning ones. I am a morning person and have to change my sleep schedule for the week when visiting Disney. ;-)

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Thursday, September 1, 2016 8:01 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

Yes to Kona. We almost always leave MK for a meal there. It's a break from the park and the food is good.

CreditWh0re said:

However, you're consigning yourself to significantly longer waits than would be necessary if there weren't FastPass+ people (and a LOT of them) getting in front of you, because they booked months before you walked into the park.

Maybe, maybe not. No matter how they're waiting -- physically on line or virtually by Fastpass -- if there are 100 people waiting in front of you, there are 100 people ahead of you. If there were no such thing as Fastpass and everybody were waiting in person, there would still be 100 people ahead of you.

... for a typical visit to WDW, you have to reserve in advance or you're screwed.

No, you've just chosen to have an experience that doesn't include pre-planning. I've had trips to Disney parks where we've worked the hell out of Fastpass, and trips where we rode rides if the lines weren't too long, enjoyed the park and the people and gorged ourselves on Dole Whips. Fun trips either way.

... before you walk into the park does not make for a level playing field.

To quote Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, "Nobody ever said that life was fair."

Disney parks aren't there to create a level playing field. They're there to take as much money out of your pocket as possible.

Younger generation are going to want to do Space and Splash, . If I choooooose not to get FastPasses in advance, then I'm intentionally adding an additional 30-45 minutes to wait times (or more), which leaves the older generation separated from the tweens for too long to have enjoyed a "family" trip to Disney.

Waiting an additional 60-90 minutes out of many hours in the park = not able to enjoy a family trip to Disney? And what about spending time together as a family outside of the parks?

To say that you could choose not to schedule in advance is just being obstinate in the face of reality.

I'd say it's recognizing that not everyone vacations in the same way. Can signing up for Fastpasses in advance allow people who want the security of knowing they'll ride Space Mountain without having to physically wait in line that security? Sure. Are others perfectly content to show up, ride what they can, and go back to the hotel happy. Yes.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Friday, September 2, 2016 7:12 AM

Slither, to say you missed every single point I was making would be charitable.

Update: Online at exactly 7:00 am EDT, 30 days out for the one day we are planning to go:

Absolutely no fastpasses available for:

Peter Pan

7 Dwarfs Mine Train

To say I'm shocked would be an understatement.

Within 5 minutes, Space and Splash were both only available for later in the day (4:00 or later).

After 17 minutes, Space and Splash gone for the day.

If this is what is coming to Disneyland, I'm done,

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Friday, September 2, 2016 7:49 AM
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Friday, September 2, 2016 8:02 AM
Jeff's avatar

Are you trying to book the whole party? I just checked for my kid and I, and Splash and Space both have virtually any time we want, starting at 9:20 a.m.


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

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Friday, September 2, 2016 9:11 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

CreditWh0re said:

Slither, to say you missed every single point I was making would be charitable.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree....

Absolutely no fastpasses available for:

Peter Pan

7 Dwarfs Mine Train

To say I'm shocked would be an understatement,

Oh no! Two rides, out of all the rides available at WDW's four parks, which have always had issues with throughput, have issues with throughput! How does that happen? Why not take the time, as a family, to wait on line for together as a family for these two rides if it's important to your family to ride these rides?

If this is what is coming to Disneyland, I'm done,

It must be terrible to live in California, where you only have Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Knott's, Discovery Kingdom, California's Great America, Universal Studios and Adventure City to choose from. I'm so lucky to live in Chicago, where I have Six Flags Great America, Six Flags Great America and Six Flags Great America to choose from.

Last edited by slithernoggin, Friday, September 2, 2016 9:29 AM

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Friday, September 2, 2016 9:17 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

Sorry, I've tried to edit that post to correct the quote issues multiple times and they don't save.

EDIT Fixed them.

Last edited by slithernoggin, Friday, September 2, 2016 9:31 AM

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Friday, September 2, 2016 9:42 AM
Jeff's avatar

I'm not sure how your sarcasm really makes an argument against what his expectations are.

I do suggest trying again for the mountains... plenty of openings, all day, when I tried.


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

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