FastPass at Disney World: How much is too much?

Monday, June 1, 2009 4:22 PM

I've generally been an advocate of FastPass at Disney World. If you plan your day appropriately, it allows you to hit all the major attractions while only waiting in a few long lines. I've also been to Disney in 2007 and 2004 in the past, so I have a decent idea of how Fast Pass used to work. During those trips, the only complaints with the express lines were in the evening, as people with expired passes would crowd the rides and slow down the standby line.

I got back from a Disney trip last night, and my experience with Fast Pass was completely different. Overall, my trip was still nice, but Fast Pass was was exceedingly more frustrating than in previous trips. It seemed like they were giving away many more passes than I remember, to the point that the number of express riders exceeded the number of standby riders at any given time. Mind you, all of my bad experiences happened in the afternoon, so this was before the evening rush of expired passes. A few examples:

- At Splash Mountain, they removed the merge point near the train station, choosing to maintain two of the loading platforms for Fast Pass guests only. The FP line was also consistently full, meaning that half of the riders were FPers. Mind you, this 50/50 ratio was generous for some of the rides at the Magic Kingdom. The standby line was an hour with less than half of the outside queues filled.

- On the Jungle Cruise, the cast member at the merge point was filling the majority of every boat with guests from the FP line. Only 6 to 8 people from the standby line got on any particular boat. A few boats were FP riders only. This line was 50 minutes long, with the largest queue house completely empty.

- Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom was the worst offender. Less than 10 people from the standby line were permitted in each preshow room; the remainder were FP riders. This wait was 45 minutes with none of the ouside queues occupied.

Like I mentioned before, I NEVER remember having issues with Fast Pass except for the end of the night. This trip, however, was different. It was excrutiatingly painful to see the standby line crawl along, sometimes stopping completely for 10 minutes, while watching Fast Pass riders go through without waiting a second. I applaud Disney for keeping Fast Pass free, but it's gotten to the point where the standby line is truly standby -- sometimes you feel like you'll get on a ride only if there's room. I've always been fine with waiting a little longer in the standby line, as I know that we have that opportunity as well. However, it's impossible to ride everything without waiting in a few lines, and these lines have become extremely frustrating to wait in. Has Disney gone too far with the number of passes they allocate?

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Monday, June 1, 2009 4:37 PM

I remember hearing somewhere that it's a 70:30 ratio leaning towards Fastpass.

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Monday, June 1, 2009 4:40 PM

I am sorry that you had this experience. We were at WDW for 9 days in March and had no problems with the FP system. The longest FP wait we had was about 10 minutes for Toy Story Mania.

I used software called RideMax to plan out the day. You put in the rides you want to do and what time your going to get to the park and it spits out an incredibly accurate plan.

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Monday, June 1, 2009 5:03 PM

DaveStroem said:
The longest FP wait we had was about 10 minutes for Toy Story Mania.

I think that's his point.

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Monday, June 1, 2009 5:09 PM

Too much is never enough. :)

PhantomTails said:
...it's gotten to the point where the standby line is truly standby -- sometimes you feel like you'll get on a ride only if there's room.

I've always suspected (and said as much) that this is the ultimate goal. Disney will be the first park where all rides are on a reservation basis.

(or at least as much capacity on as many rides as is realistically possible)

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Monday, June 1, 2009 5:13 PM

Well, with our plan we did not wait in a single line more than 20 minutes over the entire 9 days. This was during Spring Break so the Crowds were not exactly light. Knowing which attractions to hit at certain times made all the difference in the world.

There were times when we nearly walked on from the standby line only to see it have close to 60 minute wait just 1 hour later.

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Monday, June 1, 2009 5:47 PM

We were there in November and had no issues. Of course, we used FP every chance we could. We had to do some minor planning, but even then, there were chance instances where we could get on a popular ride via standby in ten minutes (like Soarin').

So I guess I'm not sure what the core of your complaint is. Is it that the rides over-use FastPass? That seems to me like a plus, not a negative.

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Monday, June 1, 2009 6:44 PM

I have two main issues with the system as it's set up now. First, it favors guests who enter the parks early in the day. My family likes to visit the water parks in the morning before they get too busy, and then go to the "dry" parks later in the day. Even arriving at the parks around 1 or 2, many of the attractions were either out of passes or had times at 6 or 7 in the evening. Considering that there was a 4 or 5 hour window some days between when we arrived to when our first FastPass was valid, we had no choice but to use the standby lines if we wanted to ride any of the major attractions. I'm well aware that we miss the smaller lines that occur just after opening; however, guests who get there early also have the advantage of snapping up two or three passes before we even get there, setting themselves up for riding all day whereas we're stuck with long lines until early evening.

Second, I suppose it's simply psychological. Except for Animal Kingdom, it's impossible to get on all the major attractions without standby waiting a number of times. It doesn't matter that I just walked on Splash Mountain--it's still frustrating that I'm now baking in the heat of the Jungle Cruise queue moving at a snail's pace at best. I'd much rather wait for 20 minutes for both Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise than walk on Splash Mountain and then wait 50 minutes for Jungle Cruise.

I suppose that my arguments expose a fatal flaw in FastPass. However, I still believe that simply reducing the number of passes given out each day would alleviate some of these complaints. In my opinion, FastPass should be a bonus for guests every day, not the driving factor in how one plans their day. If less passes are given out per day, we'd probably miss them by arriving in the afternoon, but we'd feel less penalized for not arriving at the park as soon as it opened.

Last edited by PhantomTails, Monday, June 1, 2009 6:45 PM
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Monday, June 1, 2009 7:09 PM

I miss the good ol' days, when you had to wait in line for every ride throughout your day. It allowed for some excitement to build, and the climax of riding was much more appreciated. Nowadays, we stand in line twice as long for one, and then hop right on another, which feels pretty silly. The "standby" lines seem too long sometimes, and boredom sets in. On the other hand, we miss out on the theming and the excitment of watching a ride to prepair when we use the fastpass lines. The amusement industry has killed the experience in the name of profit. Welcome to the future.

That's why I like to visit CF parks so much.

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Monday, June 1, 2009 7:26 PM

Well, I certainly don't mean to negate your experience, but it sounds like you make some choices that don't work out to your favor. If you want to do the water park first in the day and arrive to the parks later, then longer waits for rides is the outcome.

It's not a punishment, per se. That tends to hold true at many parks, with or without FastPass. If you show up to a park early to mid-afternoon you will find the crowds at their heaviest. Then things thin out again late in the evening (not unlike the 6 or 7 o'clock FastPass times you would still have access to at Disney.)

The same is true for the uneven wait times. Whether FastPass existed or not, it seems that parks have varying wait times for different attractions. It's the nature of popularity.

Your issue may in fact not be with FastPass. It may be with all the other people who attend the park earlier in the day. ;)

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Friday, June 5, 2009 10:03 AM

My question is why does Jungle Cruise have the Fastpass option?


Disneyland doesn't offer Fastpass for it and the line for it is never more than 15mins long.

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Friday, June 5, 2009 11:07 AM

LostKause said:
The amusement industry has killed the experience in the name of profit. Welcome to the future.

An amusement park experience to me is not waiting in lines all day long. At Disney you can take in more of the park with the Fast Pass system, you don't HAVE to use it, and you don't HAVE to wait in line for another ride while virtually queueing. You can sit on a bench, grab a soda, explore the park more, take a bathroom break.

Six Flags is another story, but without profit they would not be around anymore.

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Friday, June 5, 2009 10:28 PM

eightdotthree said:


An amusement park experience to me is not waiting in lines all day long.

Standing in lines all day is precisely what happens because of fastpass. Attendance is virtually expanded, making the waits, both fastpass and standby, that much longer.


At Disney you can take in more of the park with the Fast Pass system, you don't HAVE to use it...

I like to admitt that I agree with the points that I truely agree with. It's true that you *could* take it easy while at the park by using fastpass. A lot of people don't understand that or desire to use it that way though. Most people, and I am guilty of it as well, choose to overuse virtuial queue systems by "standing in two lines at one time".


In reality, the time that you stand in line if you piggybacked (get fastpasses between your standby waits), you probably would break just about even on average if the park had fastpass or not. They can only give so many rides in a day. They aren't offering flashpass as a "goodwill" gesture. They are offering it because it get's a few more people out of lines and into the shops, which is very understandable nonetheless.

I think that if they could somehow elimate "standing in two lines at one time", fastpass would be flawless. Same with the SF system.



Six Flags is another story, but without profit they would not be around anymore.

I wish I could peek into the alternative universe where Lo-Q failed before they took off. I'd like to think that SF would have been no better and no worse without it.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009 1:45 AM

You are incorrect. FastPass lines don't get longer because they don't give out more tickets than they have available capacity. With 20 minute windows, or whatever they are, they only give out enough to fill whatever that ratio is.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009 2:01 AM

The issue is that because capacity is limited, all the FastPass system does is to add a second queue to the ride, which, so far as the people waiting in the old-fashioned line are concerned, reduces the ride's capacity to take people from the main line by as much as 80%. If you truly look critically at the system you will notice that as a result of the system, EVERYONE has to wait *longer*. The difference is that the FastPass people (whose waits are often significantly longer than the people waiting in line) don't have to stand in the queue while they wait.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009 2:52 AM

RideMan said:
The issue is that because capacity is limited, all the FastPass system does is to add a second queue to the ride, which, so far as the people waiting in the old-fashioned line are concerned, reduces the ride's capacity to take people from the main line by as much as 80%.

But, presumably, it has taken that 80% out the the main line at the same time.

And yeah, I get the idea that people double-up in lines and make them longer for everyone, but that technically can't be true either - it's been said a million times already, but any given ride has a fixed capacity. The same number of people get on in the same amount of time. (in that any given ride gives X number of rides in Y number of hours - no matter how you decide who's filling those spots on the ride)

I don't think the way to look at it is that people have to wait longer, I think the way to look at it is that some people don't get as many rides during their day.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009 12:25 PM

That just ain't true, Dave. I don't wait in line longer. I assume you're making the case that everyone "waits" longer, in the queue or not, but as Gonch pointed out, the capacity of a ride is fixed, so that can't be true.

The distinction of waiting in the queue and "waiting" elsewhere is important, because in the latter case, you can be doing virtually anything else. People don't get a FastPass and then camp out picking their noses in front of that ride, they go to other rides or eat or take pictures with Goofy or whatever. When you're waiting in the queue, you're likely not doing much other than getting a lesson in German or counting the freckles on the back of someone's neck.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009 4:10 PM

Standing in lines all day is precisely what happens because of fastpass.

Not if you actually use it.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009 5:34 PM

The more people standing in lines, the longer the waits are. So far am I correct?

If some people are standing in two lines at the same time, they are taking up the same amount of line as two people would take up (let's call that the doppelganger effect). Am I still right?

The more people created by this doppelganger effect, the longer the wait times will get. Can I get an Amen? lol

The winners are those who piggyback. They get a lot more done in the course of a day. They are also the ones causing wait times to be longer than they should in the first place.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009 5:40 PM

Brian Noble said:

Standing in lines all day is precisely what happens because of fastpass.

Not if you actually use it.

I see what you mean. I'm not only talking about "standby" lines though. I'm including virtual lines as well. Those who piggyback are still waiting longer in the standby line than if fastpass didn't exist. Yes they are going to get to ride two rides in the amount of time that it would take to ride one, but if their were no fastpass to begin with, they would be waiting for their turn much less.

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