No More Stand-By Line for Toy Story Mania

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Ok, so it's a short-term test, but it's coming.

The fully prebooked Disney Vacay that I've been wonking about for a decade now just took another step closer to reality.

James Whitmore's avatar

OCD is the new normal. Must. Plan. Everything.

slithernoggin's avatar

"Disney guests have been instructed that if they want to bring their kids to a Character Breakfast or have dinner at one of the nicer park establishments, they should reserve weeks if not months before arrival."

That's hardly specific to dining at Disney. If you're planning to dine at The French Laundry, you make reservations in advance to make sure you have a table.

Anyways, I'm having trouble buying into the death of spontaneity business. Disney's offering an array of options. You want to schedule everything in advance? You want to make sure you get Fastpass for a couple of favorite rides and dinner at Victoria & Albert's? You just want to show up, hit the queue for a couple of rides and see if there is any day of availability at Le Cellier? The choice is yours.

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

Soundstage 1, just next door, was handed over from Park Ops to Imagineering for construction. One potential use of that building is for another track or two of TSMM. If they do that, the obvious way to split Standby and FP+ is to use the new building for one, and the current building for the other. The problem with that idea is that you can no longer use the Standby line as the "spring" to soak up excess capacity if you under-shoot your FP+ capacity for some reason, because they now feed completely separate stations. So, one explanation for this test is whether they can figure out how to do rolling day-of FP+ releases to keep that from happening without over-subscribing the FP+ line and backing it up.

That sounds like it should be easy, and it would be if capacity were constant throughout the day. But, it's not---due to a run of bad luck with idiots trying to load/unload, short breakdowns, etc.

Not sure if this is the direction they are going to go---Soundstage 1 could be something entirely new. But, it's a thing to think about.

Jrrullo's avatar

I expected this one coming. Lines for this ride were really long. I wouldn't be surprised if this happens with Space Mountain, Rockn Roller Coaster, or Tower of Terror.

It needs it.

We were just at WDW and Universal for 5 days, and did two partial days at DHS. During this trip, we arrived about 5 minutes after opening, and according to the board it was already 40 minutes. We didn't wanna use FP+ on it so we skipped it. Meanwhile, we got 3 straight laps on Rock n Roller Coaster and two on Tower of Terror in the hour Toy Story Mania (which we've done more than once) would have taken. We came back for Extra Magic Hours and it was immediately 45. NOT WORTH IT.

If they're not gonna double or triple the capacity, they should close the standby because it's ridiculous.

The only ride in town with a more unbearable line is Gringotts, because it's less reliable than Deja Vu. Less fun too but that's a topic for another day.

rollergator's avatar

Somewhere around 6-7 years ago I remember saying that DHS needed to have a second TSMM due to capacity and demand. Maybe they've finally come around? ;~)

Jeff's avatar

It's the absolute worst ride at all of WDW to try this on. DHS only has a few bona fide Fastpass attractions to begin with, and this one is difficult to get passes for. We've been on it once in the last year, and only because some random CM gave us a paper pass good for anything. This doesn't fix anything, it just pisses people off more. The standby line is long because it's already a heavy mix toward FP. Worse, they've significantly reduced park capacity by closing the tram ride.

They'll never go to 100% reservation for everything. Anyone who has ever been to Magic Kingdom when it rains knows why.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

LostKause's avatar

I thought that low capacity was not a bad thing because it raises overall capacity of the park by more than if the attraction wasn't there in the first place, or something.

I haven't been to Florida since TSM was installed, but when I do go, which may be this spring, I want to ride it. If installing another two or more tracks helps me to achieve this goal, then I say go for it.

Reserved riders or standby riders, if 20,000 visitors want to ride Dark Ride 1 throughout the day, but Dark Ride 1 can only give 12,000 rides per day, some people are going to be disappointed no matter how the park gets people on the ride. Improving capacity on an already low capacity ride may be expensive, but it is necessary, in my opinion. Reservation only is a really stupid idea, in my opinion. It is not going to help the situation at all. Some people are not going to get to ride anyways.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

They'll never go to 100% reservation for everything. Anyone who has ever been to Magic Kingdom when it rains knows why.

Apparently Disney thinks they can.

Honestly, variables just aren't as hard to deal with as we like to make it seem when this comes up. Anything that operates on a reservation system has to deal with variables.

The simplest solution I can think of off the top of my head is that you account for the margin of error with 'on the fly' fastpasses that become available throughout the day.

Maybe not all attractions will get to 100% pre-reserved (meaning before the day of use), but there's no reason the stand-by can't get to 100% reservation (including day of 'on the fly' reservations) to ride.

This is absolutely Disney's first try at a working proof of concept.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar,
Jeff's avatar

Disney doesn't think they can. Experimenting with one ride for a week does not imply a desire or will to do it for everything.

They already release a limited number of passes at configurable intervals (day before, morning, midday, or not at all... it's not obvious that there has been a specific pattern yet. Regardless, that may fill the seats, but it doesn't serve the guests at all. What good does it do anyone if they release passes and you don't know it? These discussions tend to focus on what's possible and not at all on what's good for the guest.

And my point stands... Fastpass completely falls apart when it rains. If rides close, you can't get that time back. The indoor attractions get more crowded, and the closed rides (and their alternates) get more crowded.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Lord Gonchar's avatar

I'm not entirely familiar with how the wrstbands work or what is possible or how it ties to your phone and whatnot, but there's tons of ways (and yes, including random discovery - not really much different than checking the old kiosks in front of the rides) to get Fastpasses to guests. It's really not hard to find people in the park who want to ride and pair them with ride times. They've been doing it for 15 years.

Also, Fastpass may run into issues with weather and such, but it hasn't stopped the park from implementing it and pushing forward with assigned ride times for those same 15 years. So it can't be that broken.

I personally see little difference in what is possible and what is best for the guest...or Disney. In fact, I think this aligns all three interests quite nicely.

They're not doing this test just for poops and giggles. Clearly they're interested. Granted, that doesn't translate to preplanned vacations tomorrow or next week or next year. But the trendline is pretty easy to follow. Assuming this works as expected, there's no reason to think a good chunk of the major attractions won't go this route...eventually.

I'm not saying this happens overnight. It took 15 years to go from nothing to here, but the Disney experience has changed markedly in that time. It could very well take another 15 to work our way to there. And it will change at least as much in that time too.

slithernoggin's avatar

I'm not sure it will take another fifteen years. As the tech evolves, the public's acceptance and embrace of that evolving tech seems to be keeping pace.

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

sirloindude's avatar

Maybe it's just me, but the notion of a fully pre-planned Disney vacation is horribly unappealing. I can live with pre-planning dining a bit, but if I have to plan out my entire day, ride-by-ride, I'll find something else to do. I find that many times at Disney, I'll have a rough idea of what I want to do only to have it change halfway through the vacation. Perhaps I suddenly want to catch more of a live entertainment act, or maybe I want to go back to a certain ride. While I doubt that this would become universal to every attraction, it still concerns me a bit.

Honestly, though, I don't get its enormous popularity. It isn't much of an improvement over Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and I'm sure many would argue that the Magic Kingdom attraction is even better.

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

slithernoggin's avatar

Admittedly my take is skewed, since I don't have to pay to get into the WDW parks, thanks to Disney-employed friends...

... but a thoroughly pre-planned Disney vacation has little appeal to me. Part of the charm of any park is taking it as it comes.

As for TSM -- I did it once. It was fun. If I'm at DHS, I'm much more interested in riding Tower of Terror or Rock 'n' Roller Coaster than TSM.

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

Jeff's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

It's really not hard to find people in the park who want to ride and pair them with ride times. They've been doing it for 15 years.

You're making my point for me. I already said filling the ride is a non-issue. Of course it's not hard to find people, and that serves the park, not the guests. If I'm Johnny Tourist and I want to ride, my only option is to dick around with my phone or stand at a kiosk all day in the hopes I can get a slot, which ceases to be a vacation.

Also, Fastpass may run into issues with weather and such, but it hasn't stopped the park from implementing it and pushing forward with assigned ride times for those same 15 years. So it can't be that broken.

You're making straw man arguments. You were arguing for 100% reservations, which they haven't been doing for 15 days, let alone 15 years. Go to Magic Kingdom any day it rains and watch the Fastpass lines become the standby queues of the old days. DHS is a more intense problem because so few attractions have Fastpass in the first place, and some of them are shows that can't take extra people because there physically aren't enough seats. This has nothing to do with what they did for 15 years... this is the reality today that makes your 100% planning day, which people don't want anyway, impossible.

I personally see little difference in what is possible and what is best for the guest...or Disney. In fact, I think this aligns all three interests quite nicely.

Wait, you've seen the things people complain about here, right?

Assuming this works as expected, there's no reason to think a good chunk of the major attractions won't go this route...eventually.

There are plenty of good reasons, and I've already given you some. Do you really think they're testing whether or not they can fill the seats? Of course they can. They aren't testing that. If anything, I suspect they're testing how pissed off people are that they can't ride Toy Story. Don't believe me? Get an annual pass and see how often you're cornered by Disney Research people. I've talked more about my experiences there with those cats than I have on the Internet. Sometimes they're just asking for a zip code, other times they're asking about your satisfaction, waits or food experience.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Oh my gosh, in regard to Toy Story Mania I couldnt disagree with you guys more. On my list, TSM is a top five Disney ride of all time. I would put it right up there with Tower of Terror and well ahead of Rock 'n' Rollercoaster.
I scheduled our FP+ for that ride and wished I could've done another one. (In pre-bracelet days I would do the old trick of running, well sprinting, really, for the ride at opening, getting a FP for later and then getting in the standby line so I could get two rides.) On my last visit it meant I would have to forgo R&R, the standby line for it was very long but I had been on it so many times I was ok with that. ToT was available on FP and the line was short anyway, so there, along with Star Tours, went my FP selections for the day.

Anyway, I think the ride is genius. I was disappointed in Buzz Lightyear at MK in so many ways. Not only did it reuse an old ride system, but the guns and targets seemed outdated, and the spinning thing sucked. (it's better for the person in the car controlling the joy stick, but the other person doesn't stand a chance trying to aim.) The last time we rode it it seemed kind of worn out, too- the queue was kind of well handled and dirty looking. It is a very busy ride, especially with kids.

TSM, to me, is the superior ride. The vehicles are speedy, adding to the fun, the 3D is well done, and the shooting gallery concept is awesome. The total stop in front of the targets, making each scene it's own separate game, is a great idea and gives everyone in the car an equal chance to score. With this concept a lot of ride can be packed into a smaller space, the track basically switch-backs, and I like that as you spin to the next scene you can see other trains following their route. It makes it rather disorienting.

As for the reservation-only idea, I can see plusses and minuses. I buy into the fact that Disney will eventually be extremely reservation oriented and that's fine. We've learned how to use it and hopefully for our next trip we'll be in the mood to plan these things out months and months in advance. (doubt it...) As far as TSM goes, I wonder a couple of things. The queue is fabulous, with plenty of cute and clever things to see, but will the entire thing be filled all day with FP+ visitors? We waited through the entire indoor queue once and I think the total wait was about 45, maybe longer. So... Customers are trained to think that a reservation FP-style is a guarantee that the wait time will be minimal. When they arrive at the ride only to find out their reserved time guarantees a wait as long as the old standby, then what's the point?
Will Disney offer two types of wait experiences? FP and FP+ that gives a quick in and out avoiding lines, then reservation-only attractions that guarantee a ride but say nothing about how long you still have to wait? The article states the ride will be 100% FP+, and that this new concept will allow them to pass out more FP reservations as the day goes, but what in the end will that do for wait times?

We are already, in real life, accustomed to the reservation system. If a show or ball game that we want to see is sold out, it's sold out. The early bird gets the worm in those cases. Disney already knows how many people fit into those theatres and on those rides per day, so....

I see a possible scenario where if Disney eventually goes to total reservations on all rides and shows as Gonch suggests that the shift will eventually be to where the lines will become just as long as when we all went standby everyday, all day. (Just like Jeff's rainy days at MK, if I'm understanding that correctly) And the park has the only real advantage as they can monitor and control crowds at the attractions better by opening and closing reservations as the day goes depending on the crowd size, weather, etc. Maybe I'm not embracing enough, but in the end I don't see that as a win for the customer.

I really don't understand all the rage for this ride. It's just a ride along video game. Video games can be played at home. It's definitely not worth any kind of wait IMO.

rollergator's avatar

Go back thru the archives...RCMAC hit it squarely, my opinion hasn't changed one bit despite not having ridden in over 2, maybe even 3 years.

TSMM may not be the most "thrilling" Disney ride, but it IS the most fun!

DHS could double TSMM, put in another "E-ticket" attraction, and then they'd be much closer to being able to spread the crowds....

Jeff's avatar

The only way it works out is if you can increase capacity or limit entry into the park. If they can double Toy Story into two rides, that would help. They don't want to limit people into the park, because there's a lot of "float" capacity in people just roaming the midways, as not everyone will be at an attraction at all times. Heck, the Christmas season is entirely predicated on this. You limit entry by closing the gate, or jacking up the price more, which I suspect they can still do.

Related anecdote from a friend who contracted at Disney (so take that for what it's worth)... apparently one of the things that has soured people on eating at WDW is the fact that it's so difficult to get a reservation at table service restaurants without booking months in advance. The culprit apparently is partially identified internally as the dining plan, and that perhaps it isn't priced high enough. At the same time, there's some dissatisfaction with the plan because a lot of people feel it's too much food, or it ultimately forces people to use it when they may not even be that hungry. I guess my point is that there comes a point where all of the planning doesn't serve the guest at all, and the dining plan already flirts with that problem.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

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