Fastpass return time enforcement

Thursday, February 9, 2012 8:52 AM

kpjb submitted this as news, but it's probably more like water cooler talk:

http://attractionsmagazine.com/blog/2012/02/08/walt-disney-world-th...urn-times/

The summary is that Disney sent a memo to enforce the Fastpass return time window, though typically they haven't cared if you came back later. But then, note how they still give employees discretion. So basically, it's like nothing has changed.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 9:15 AM

So, it'll go something like this?:

Ride Op - Sorry, but your pass has expired

Guest - Can I please ride anyway?

Ride Op - Sure, go ahead

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 9:18 AM

The article says the rule does define certain conditions as allowable for missing the return time. Guess it depends on how well they want to hold to the rules. If they are not going to enforce them then why would Disney make this announcement?

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 9:26 AM

But then, note how they still give employees discretion. So basically, it's like nothing has changed

I think it will be a substantive change. Here's the quip from WDWMagic (and these guys are usually pretty plugged in).

http://www.wdwmagic.com/Other/FASTPASS/News/06Feb2012-Big-changes-c...-March.htm

We'll know soon enough, but some of the "insiders" there with good track records say that this is real.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Thursday, February 9, 2012 9:27 AM
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Thursday, February 9, 2012 9:53 AM

I don't think Disney made an announcement, I think someone just got a hold of the memo. But yeah, if the new crowd management stuff depends on precision, then you can't give the wiggle room.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 10:03 AM

Yes, this has all been leaked internal stuff. That's probably at least in part because the old policy of "no end time" was 'as an unwritten courtesy to our guests...' that appeared only in training materials.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:32 PM

Having watched FastPass crash and burn on multiple occasions, this is a long overdue change.

FastPass is designed to have a minimal effect on non-users, but that requires FastPass users to return to the attraction at a controlled rate. That way the FastPass users don't arrive faster than the ride can take them away, and there is still some reserve capacity for everybody else. In practice, people ignoring return times results in floods at the return gate that cause the entire queue to come to a screeching halt for long periods of time.

They should start by rolling this change out on Toy Story Mania...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:34 PM

FastPass is designed to have a minimal effect on non-users

Given that many attractions distribute half or more (in some cases, much more) of their capacity via FP, I can't see how you think this was a design criterion. The high FP/SB ratio has a lot more to do with screeching-halt standby lines than late returns. In practice, the fraction of guests in the park on any given day who are aware of the late return rule is small.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:37 PM

But that low percentage of people who know they can come back whenever just happen to carry the flags for the Brazilian kids' tour groups.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:51 PM

This is great. Makes me excited to see what exactly the NextGen FASTPASS details are. Looks like Disney is taking it to the next level.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 1:24 PM

RideMan said:
Having watched FastPass crash and burn on multiple occasions, this is a long overdue change.

You say something like this every chance you get, and I still don't see it. It almost always feels like you say this because you're not participating in its use.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 1:28 PM

The other part of the screeching halt problem has to do with who is running the merge point. When I had my bad experience with Toy Story Mania, we sat for more than 40 minutes not moving at all as a continuous flow of FastPass people came in from a nearby show. That flow continued, but what made the standby queue start moving again was a crew rotation: once the merge point was operated by someone who would enforce the 80/20 split (that's 80% fastpass, 20% standby, which is what it was on Rock 'n Roller Coaster; not sure what it is on Toy Story) instead of trying to clean out the Fastpass queue, the line started moving again. It moved slowly, but at least it moved.

Incidentally, the reason I was in that standby queue is that (a) the fastpass tickets were all "sold out" by the time I got to that park, and (b), the billboarded wait time was 30 minutes. Disney's RFID-based line measurement system is a clever idea, but it has its own fatal flaws that make it surprisingly inaccurate...because by the time they collect the data, it's already obsolete.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 1:31 PM

Is it only clear to me why they are 'starting' to enforce the end times? The money quote is from the article Brian linked to:

The new validity windows will be required for the future roll-out of more advanced NextGen FASTPASS systems, which will require much tighter control of FASTPASS entry than what the current system offers.

They want to start "training" guests to get used to the more strict window because in the future, the entire FASTPASS will be automated. Instead of handing a Cast Member your FP, you'll scan in a barcode at a turnstile. The barcode, *may* be printed on a piece of paper, but (for your "convienience") you can just have the barcode sent to your phone (there's an app for that).

They at least are showing a little foresight by closing the window now while they still have people there who can let a latecommer "slide". But I bet they'll be a slight admonishment like "I'll do it this time, but next time..." that they hope will shape behavior without pissing too many people off.

BTW: Their WDW attraction wait time app works great.
EDIT: @RideMan, when I went to WDW (including Studios) I thought the wait times on the app were surprisingly accurate. We passed on TSM so maybe that's a special case, but the rides we used if for were spot on, especially in MK & AK)

Did I ever say I love Disney (I do, just wanted to put that out there ;)

Last edited by 2Hostyl, Thursday, February 9, 2012 1:34 PM
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Thursday, February 9, 2012 1:44 PM

2Hostyl said:
They want to start "training" guests to get used to the more strict window because in the future, the entire FASTPASS will be automated. Instead of handing a Cast Member your FP, you'll scan in a barcode at a turnstile. The barcode, *may* be printed on a piece of paper, but (for your "convienience") you can just have the barcode sent to your phone (there's an app for that).

This thread suddenly becomes quite the collection of startingly accurate prophecy 4 1/2 years later if you can stomach reading through it all

Tip: find the posts by Lord Gonchar ;)

(and yes, I plan to keep cashing in my "I told you so" credits as they mature)

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Thursday, February 9, 2012 1:47 PM
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Thursday, February 9, 2012 2:24 PM

2Hostyl said:
Is it only clear to me why they are 'starting' to enforce the end times?

Not really.

Jeff said:
But yeah, if the new crowd management stuff depends on precision, then you can't give the wiggle room.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 2:29 PM

@Lord Gonch

Congrats You Did It! (skip to 0:35).

But if you notice, I was right there with you. ;)

(This is Lord Gonch from 06/30/2009)

Now imagine that same concept - your phone's GPS, compass and camera to determine location - and then have the overlay information provided by the park. You get show times, ride waits, directions, restaurant menus, ride/meal/show reservations, character appearances, etc

It is interesting, though, that you talked about the using your phone's GPS/camera-compass for giving location based info and that is *exactly* how the WDW-Verizon app works. You can manually select a park (from anywhere you have service) and get general information, but if you let it "find" you, it can give you specific information, including, of course, ride wait times, but also lets you make restaurant reservations (though only for times 2hrs or later *boo*).

It had a park map (including your current location) parade/show times, meet-n-greets. Yeah, you were spot on there! Bravo!

@Jeff: heh-heh I missed that, mea culpa

Last edited by 2Hostyl, Thursday, February 9, 2012 3:39 PM
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Thursday, February 9, 2012 3:23 PM

I have used (and even potentially abused) the late-arrivals on FP. If you get to the park in the AM, you can "stock up on FPs", then go back to the hotel for a disco nap. You come back when the weather is cooler, the lights are beautiful, and you've got a few FPs to get major attractions with minimal waits.

I'm not going to complain too much, but this is (would be) a bummer for me personally.

Lastly, it's not frequent, but I have experienced what Dave described. We waited for BTMRR with a posted 30min wait that turned out well over an hour because the ride had broken for a couple hours earlier in the day and there were HORDES of people with FPs getting into the line an hour or so before closing time. Not sure exactly how the "new" system will handle ride breakdowns. "So sorry, your ride interval passed while we were repairing it" doesn't seem so awfully customer-friendly.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 3:32 PM

Their wait time estimates are accurate when the queue condition is fairly stable...that is, people are arriving at the ride at a reasonably constant rate, at both the standby and fastpass entrances. It's when the condition is changing rapidly that the system can't, by design, keep up. By the time the RFID tag goes through to indicate that the wait time for that tag was 30 minutes, the actual wait time is now 50 minutes because the tag only had to wait for 30...but that was the actual wait time a half hour ago. They sample at a high enough frequency that if the changes in wait time are not too sudden, the accuracy can be somewhat reasonable, but there will still tend to be a lag between the actual length of the line and the reported length of the line.

I'm surprised that nobody has yet implemented the kind of system that I believe someone at Birket Engineering proposed: Put turnstiles (or people counters) at the entrance to the queue and at the ride platform. That way it's dead easy to get an approximate count of how many people are actually waiting in line. Compare that to the ride's dispatch interval, and at any given moment you can have a *creepily accurate* waiting time figure.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012 4:17 PM

rollergator said:
"So sorry, your ride interval passed while we were repairing it" doesn't seem so awfully customer-friendly.

Which is exactly why Disney would never do it.

If the system is high-tech enough, couldn't return times be automatically adjusted to compensate for the exact amount of down time?

Or in a low-tech situation, the attendant knows to allow an additional X amount of time to the window.

Doesn't exactly seem like a difficult issue and it's really just another perk of using the system. Basically when a ride goes down, no one can ride it. Once it comes back up, those using the system get priority to some degree.

Not only does it reserve a ride time and keep you out of line, but it's essentially an insurance policy against breakdowns affecting your day.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Thursday, February 9, 2012 4:18 PM
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Thursday, February 9, 2012 4:37 PM

They want to start "training" guests to get used to the more strict window

I don't see this as the primary reason. After all, the vast majority of Florida guests already think the window is strict. It's quite different in California where more of the guests are regulars.

"So sorry, your ride interval passed while we were repairing it" doesn't seem so awfully customer-friendly.

A few CMs over at WDW Magic have started to chime in about the training for this (which has already started). 101s are an "approved exception", as are sit-down meal delays and "personal emergencies."

So, there will still be some wiggle room, but the days of using a 9:40A-10:40A Space fast pass at 10:30 that night are probably over.

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