Fastpass return time enforcement

Monday, February 13, 2012 10:57 AM

ADA bull**** or not.

On that we agree 100%. I've made it clear that I do not agree with the level of control the ADA gives government over the policies of private businesses like Disney. And I specifically do not agree with all the different phenomenons that fall under the ADA. You will never convince me that alcoholism is a legitimate disease worthy of forcing private companies to provide "accommodations"...for example.

I'm just pointing out that this is the law of the land and Disney must have policies to comply with the law of the land. They cannot just say..."be here by noon or this ticket is void" and expect that this simple policy will comply with the law. They SHOULD be able to say and do that in my opinion, but they can't. There is a difference.

I'm just delivering the message. It is not as simple as make a policy that "appears" fair for everybody and expect that it is enough. There is way more that goes into these decisions that what you, I, or Joe Q Public might believe is fair and reasonable.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 12:32 PM

Aamilj said:
Explain to me this. Why would Disney put out this memo if they were comfortable with current levels of gamesmanship? It is rhetorical. We know they are not happy with current levels...or we would not have the memo.

Correct.

However, I still think your reasoning as to why the gsmership exists is incorrect. People don't game the system to be underhanded, they game the system because Disney has been allowing it.

- Yes, Disney wants to tighten up the system.

- Yes, "personal emergencies" will let you beat the system.

- No, everyone isn't suddenly going to claim personal emergency and make things worse....or even arguably keep things the same. If anything a vast majority of those "more do" will easily become "most don't" with a minimum of enforcement.

Which goes back to what I've been saying practically from the start - Most people could game the system, but I think you're WAY overestimating the number of people that will game the system.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 1:18 PM

The system is being gamed right now not so that people can be underhanded. The system is being gamed right now because that's how people have learned to make it work. By now it is well known that if you want a FastPass for Indiana Jones, Toy Story Mania, Soarin' over California, Soarin', Kilimanjaro Safaris, or Winnie the Pooh, you have to race to the attraction and get your FastPass before they "sell out" before lunchtime. You don't care when that FastPass comes due, you just need to get your hands on it as quickly as possible, so that once it becomes valid, you can visit that attraction at your leisure and not have to wait so long in line.

And if you choose not to participate in the opening-bell rat race, then when you make it back to the attraction in question, the FastPasses will all be gone and you'll have to wait in line. If you have the misfortune of being in that line during the hours that the FastPass holders return en-masse, you'll have to wait a very long time. That's just how the system has evolved, and right now you either participate or you don't.

It will be interesting to see if enforcement of return times causes any change in the morning stampede patterns, particularly at Studios and Animal Kingdom, and if it changes the availability pattern for FastPass tickets. I also wonder if Disney has considered, is considering, or might try doing something like what Cedar Point did with the Freeway system...not the ridiculous handstamps, but rather regulating the pass availability so that they don't all "sell out" before lunchtime on a busy day...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 6:10 PM

People don't game the system to be underhanded, they game the system because Disney has been allowing it.

or

The system is being gamed right now because that's how people have learned to make it work.

So the question remains...how many people will still find a way to make the system work for their desires? Or will people act like sheep?

I respect Gonech et al's opinion that..."Most people could game the system, but I think you're WAY overestimating the number of people that will game the system."

I just happen to believe that their faith in human behavior (or is it faith in human stupidity?) is way overestimated. It is just so simple (too easy) for a person to say "I had a personal emergency." Disney will have to make the hurdle a little more inconvenient...if they can.

Question...what is easier? Renting a wheelchair or saying "I had an emergency?" Didn't Disney have a wheelchair policy abuse situation back before Fastpass where otherwise capable individuals were gaming the system to cut the line? I don't recall the frequency and scope of that problem...but I recall the park was aware their policy was being abused.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 6:16 PM

RideMan said:
I also wonder if Disney has considered, is considering, or might try doing something like what Cedar Point did with the Freeway system...not the ridiculous handstamps, but rather regulating the pass availability so that they don't all "sell out" before lunchtime on a busy day...

That would be nice.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 6:40 PM

Aamilj said:
So the question remains...how many people will still find a way to make the system work for their desires? Or will people act like sheep?

I'd argue they already are acting like sheep. They operate entirely within Disney's limits. As Disney reigns in those limits, the masses will conform. Quite easily. They always do.

I only quoted that one bit, but your repeated argument keeps resting on the idea that a significant number of people are trying to game the system. And that seems to be based on the idea that a large number of people return outside their assigned window now...but they do that because Disney allows it.

There's no doubt you'll always have assholes that pull crap. There's a segment of society that sucks at life. But those people are the exception.

Question...what is easier? Renting a wheelchair or saying "I had an emergency?"

I vote for C. Showing up during your assigned time. That's the path of least resistance.

Disney will have to make the hurdle a little more inconvenient...if they can.

And they are. Going back to what I posted a page earlier (verabtim, even) :

"...except for the minority of people who miss their assigned time by a decent chunk who will probably have to sell their case a smidgen harder...and there's no reasonable excuse for using that 11am Fastpass at 9pm."

With resistance (even light, easy-to-beat, almost non-existant resistance) a segment of the true gamers will be discouraged.

So now you've immediately reigned in all the non-gamers and a small percentage of the casual gamers. That alone is probably enough to make a more advanced, time-sensitive system run effectively. And if 1-out-of-100 people still feel the need to be sleazy about it, then so be it. That's a low enough number to be in the margin of error range.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 8:51 PM

You might end up being right.

I still think the best system is the Universal type system where you pay extra to cut. No times, etc... Seems to cut out all the BS. I understand that Disney wants to "appear" to have their system free and available to all people. It just seems their compliance efforts and costs are a bit more than needed to meet demand.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 9:43 PM

but rather regulating the pass availability so that they don't all "sell out" before lunchtime on a busy day...

Early to bed, early to rise...

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 9:30 AM

Actually, Brian, the problem is park-hopping. When you spend the morning at Animal Kingdom, there are no Toy Story Mania fastpasses left when you get over to Studios for the afternoon. Granted, Disney have been downplaying that option of late, charging significantly more for it, not promoting it so much...but that does not change the fact that Animal Kingdom and Studios are basically half-day parks for some of us.

Aamilj, the problem with a pay-to-cut-anytime scheme is that it does not do what FastPass is intended to do. FastPass is NOT supposed to be a line cutting scheme. It is a queue management scheme. If Disney thought they could get consumer acceptance, they would run the whole thing like Ticket to Ride, where *EVERYBODY* rides on a timed ticket (that was a disaster when Cedar Point tried it, by the way). The point is that queues are a necessary evil, brought on by the fact that there are more people trying to get on board a ride than the ride can handle. Nobody likes waiting in line, and FastPass was an attempt to dramatically reduce the number of people who actually had to do so. Hence the insane ratios (Rockin' Roller Coaster was supposed to run at 80% FastPass last time I was there, if the "cheat sheet" on the console at the merge point is to be believed).

A pay-to-cut scheme is nothing more than a cash-grab for the park and an upcharge perk that lets a few people delay access to the ride to everybody else. It can only function if a very small percentage of the park population participates. If you get widespread participation in such a program, the program will break down, because the rate at which you can provide immediate entry is limited by the ride capacity. FastPass is an attempt to *match* demand to ride capacity, which is something that can be made to work for a large number of people, provided you can get those people to cooperate. In reality, getting people to come back to the ride on time is actually critical to the success of a FastPass program. Because the system "knows" when it needs bodies to show up for the ride...and when it doesn't. The whole idea is to get the right balance between available seats and butts with which to fill them.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:27 AM

Surprisingly (or, perhaps not so surprisingly) people with the hopper option rarely use it. Likewise (and again, perhaps not so surprisingly) people who get the no-expire option often do not ever use the leftover days.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 11:16 AM

I'm grow weary of hearing that just because Toy Story Mania is wildly popular, all of Fastpass is broken. As a park-hopping, week-long visitor (which I thought was pretty typical), I've never had any issues with it.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 6:22 PM

Good stuff Rideman. I'll give you some of my theories/analysis based upon your well-stated piece.

FastPassis NOT supposed to be a line cutting scheme. It is a queue management scheme. If Disney thought they could get consumer acceptance, they would run the whole thing like Ticket to Ride

Which might be the reason I have a difficult time believing that this is "good" long term. In a simple supply and demand sense...there is demand for a "line cutting scheme." I'm not sure that there is much demand for a "queue management scheme." The latter seems purely for the park's benefit...not a response to demand. Some people MAY enjoy their entire day pre-planned. Some people MAY enjoy spending 12 hours at the park. But I'm going to guess that the demand for this type of system/product is much less than the demand for a system that lets you go at your own pace AND cut down the line times.

From a strict practical standpoint...kids and elderly simply cannot tolerate an entire day at one park without a break. Disney is treading dangerously close to pissing off the core audience. They want people leaving the park happy. Exhausted people are not too happy. Neither are people who can't ride some of the major attractions because Disney has forced them to stay all day to have that opportunity.

FastPass is an attempt to *match* demand to ride capacity, which is something that can be made to work for a large number of people, provided you can get those people to cooperate.

I again go back to "demand." How many people like to spend a lot of money to be "forced to cooperate?" There is already a decent portion of the population that do not like Disney because of that very reason. They feel like cattle to the slaughter. I would think the smart evolution of their line management process would be to find methods to make the pace a bit more relaxed, so as to attract a larger percentage of the audience, and to incentivise repeat visits. They are doing the opposite... While I rarely question Disney's genius...I am doubting the direction they are heading here. Seems like they care more about outsmarting the room than they do about identifying what their customers want and providing it.

Look...I'm a DVC member who goes to Orlando at least once a year and California 5-10 times. I buy the $700 passes for 4 that are good at ALL the parks on both coasts. I spend my money freely, stay on site, etc. I know/abuse the Fastpass system...not because I want to. I do it because I've figured out how to best maximize the "fun" for my family in the manner that we enjoy visiting parks. This almost always includes a large mid day nap/break...pool time...food at the hotels, etc.

Am I typical? Probably not. But I'm a big spender that stays on site for a week plus at a time. They have been adding DVC capacity the entire recession while stopping construction on planned "regular" hotel invetory until recently. The point is that there is good DEMAND for lengthy stays done "my way." Wasn't that their theme? Disney "my way?"

Now if Disney wants to start forcing me to go to only ONE park a day...AND spend my entire DAY at that ONE park...OR wait 2 hours for every major attraction when I return in the evening...their product seizes being "fun" for me. I know not everybody is like me. But there are tons who are.

I can sell the time share. Invest the money in the $300/$400 on-site hotels at Universal and RIDE what I want...when I want. My kids are still young, but we have already started doing this for a couple days each trip because we LOVE Universal's line-skip policy...and the much more relaxed pace of a Universal trip versus the Disney shuffle. If Disney offered a similar experience...it could be them collecting that money. It has always been a pain in the ass to go around collecting Fastpasses, but I do it because we are willing to take a lot of crap to experience world class attractions. If Disney insists on having me experience their parks "their way"...I have a choice to go 15 minutes away and do it "my way."

So the REAL question is...how much crap is a typical Disney Guest willing to tolerate in order to experience their World Class Attractions? That is where the demand is. People do want to experience their rides/attractions...

There is no demand to stay all day. There is no demand to wait around for an open ride time window. There is no demand for a guest to send one person in their party around the park to collect Fastpasses while the others experience something else. That is all part of the Disney process forced upon US to experience their attractions. Or you can choose to go and accept that you probably will not ride much of the good stuff. My neighbors just got back from such a trip and they hated the whole experience. They are not the type who prepare. They just go and do. When I started asking about rides, their kids were still PISSED that they missed a good 40% of the main rides. They did not know how to play the game, nor did they want to. I warned them...and they did not care. And now it sounds like Disney wants to force even more restrictions down our throats.

Everybody with young kids tries to go to Disney once. Some of us "get" the magic...some don't. You would think Disney would want to attract repeat visitors from the latter, and even more patronage from the former. I fail to see how micromanaging the experience is a healthy choice for members of BOTH groups.

I fail to see how this is smart strategy. Especially since they are turning away profit to implement a "free" system. It would make a lot more sense to implement a system for which there is a real demand.

Last edited by Aamilj, Tuesday, February 14, 2012 6:23 PM
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 8:15 PM

Brian Noble said:
Surprisingly (or, perhaps not so surprisingly) people with the hopper option rarely use it. Likewise (and again, perhaps not so surprisingly) people who get the no-expire option often do not ever use the leftover days.

Meanwhile, with my last ticket I used both. Go figure. Also, if you visit in November as I do, when the crowds are light and (more important) the operating hours are short, the park hopper lets you make better use of the evenings.the day I did Animal Kingdom/Studios I was actually in all four parks: when Studios closed, I went to Epcot for the nighttime show, then over to Magic Kingdom to take advantage of the insanely late close there and an unexpected Space Mountain ride. Beats laying around in a hotel room! Turned out to be a good move since Space Mountain spent half the following day "Signal 101".

And I freely admit to being the atypical customer. I spent five days in the parks over the course of two years, visiting the parks when I was in the area for other reasons.

Jeff said:
(something about being tired of hearing my rants about Toy Story as an indictment of FastPass; sorry, the iPad has suddenly decided not to let me select text...)

Sorry, Jeff, that was just the most egregious example. I have a lot more examples now if you'd like, with Disneyland's Space Mountain and Roger Rabbit being among the worst offenders. Star Tours II gets a little bit of a pass because it was (a) new and (b) broken, but that's another one where FastPass kind of broke down just because there were more passes issued than they could handle, not because of hoarding. Then there is the Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion example where, yes, we saved ourselves an hour of waiting but had a return time that was wildly inconvenient (when the appointed hour arrived we could not physically get to the attraction because of fireworks prep except by openly defying the Flashlight Gestapo). It is worth noting that FastPass has rather more problems in California than it does in Florida, and the size of the park has a lot to do with that. All those people have to be *somewhere*! Accordingly, it is offered on a smaller percentage of the attractions at Disneyland.

Aamilj, I find your basic premise a bit hard to swallow. Do people REALLY want to spend more on their park visits? That they are WILLING to pay extra for some benefit doesn't mean they really WANT to. Disney is going after what their customers REALLY want, which is to
NOT spend their whole vacation waiting in line. They are trying to extend that benefit to as many customers as they can, which is what most parks used to do, back when they cared about such things. Thing is, Disney still cares, because even the little details that don't have an immediate impact on the balance sheet are important, and because getting people to come back for another vacation is more important than figuring out how to get another $50 out of them this time.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 8:22 PM

Go figure.

Once again, you are not representative of the average theme park guest.

Shocking, I know.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:15 PM

I give up, I have to comment... this will only annoy the "Pass-hol(d)e(r)s" as many call them. The real issue are the expired Fast Pass cards that are sold on various auction websites and the counterfeit ones that are sold as well.

This new, old, policy will help to clean that up.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012 6:21 AM

That did used to be a problem, but that got solved a couple years ago when they clamped down on anything that wasn't a same-day return. That's also the same time they switched from undated or two-week-fuse Rider Switch passes to same-day-only ones, and for the same reason.

Fools still buy them on ebay, but they are useless after the day they were printed unless a Cast Member is feeling very generous.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012 11:55 AM

So why can't we all just hide behind the ADA to use fastpasses the next day? ;)

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012 2:27 PM

"If you require an accommodation, you are welcome to visit Guest Services, where they will help you."

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012 2:33 PM

Personal emergency!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012 2:35 PM

"In that case, you will find the rest rooms in that direction <Disney Point>."

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