Potential Changes To Disney's FastPass ($$$)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007 11:34 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Jim Hill has a new article up covering some interesting patent applications that Disney recently filed in regards to their FastPass system. (you know - the one that's good because it's free ;) )

Items of interest from the article:

"Spending per guest at hotels can (be used to determine) different hierarchies (for) access to Fastpass. Thus, the more that is spent by a patron, the higher the priority (they will receive) for Fastpass...Different levels and hierarchies can (then) be applicable at different hotels. Thus, (guests who stay at Disney's) more luxurious hotels can have higher priorities (to the resort's virtual queuing system)."

and

" ... those visitors staying in a (Disney) resort hotel planning a visit for the next day may be granted a higher priority than those patrons (who are just) visiting the park for the day. Translation: Disney really is planning on cutting back on the number of FASTPASSES that they'll be distributing daily inside the parks. In the future, look for the Mouse to increasingly reserve this perk for those guests who are willing pay big bucks to stay in Disney's on-property and/or partner resorts."

There's also some interesting tidbits about booking your Fastpasses 24 hours in advance in your hotel room and a move to electronics -including Fastpasses your cell phone- and away from paper tickets. (and putting things a step closer to my prior predicitions of a time when we book our entire day at Disney in advance)

The entire article is HERE.

Harmless changes or the beginning of the end (of the free system)?


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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 12:31 PM
Bring on the changes!
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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 12:32 PM
Well, as you love to point out, it's not free, it's included with admission, so there is no free system to be displaced.

Perks for hotel guests are nothing new and Vegas has already gone the route of tying comps to spending.

"advertisement distribution via wireless media" is part of it too. The thought of thousands of people who already turn their brains off at the turnstiles now having added distraction doesn't sound at all attractive to me as a patron.

The privacy arguments given about tracking individuals are inconsequential. Those wishing to remain anonymous can either opt not to use Fastpass or simply skip Disney altogether if it's that big an issue.

Just imagine how many cell phones will be ringing during shows and how many people will be trying to answer them while on rides. I think there are some operational issues that need to be worked out.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 12:48 PM
eightdotthree's avatar FastPass is the thing that makes a day at Disney actually tolerable. I just don't think I will go back until I am staying on the resort again, and thats what they want. Glad I like the resort.
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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 12:56 PM
While I haven't yet read the article, I recall reading years ago about all kinds of patents for fastpass that were in some way tied to money or resorts. The thought at the time was that they patented anything and everything they could concieve of so that competitors wouldn't do it, and if they wanted to in the future, they could impliment it. I for one hope that we do not see any of these things in place.

For now, I'm pro-fastpass because I think it's the most fair system. (though I'd prefer nothing) but, Disney is boardering on things I don't care for, like being almost necessary to book a restaraunt2-3 months in advance. I don't think one should walk into Epcot at 9am opening and find all 10 or so sit down joints completely booked for dinner and extremely slim pickings for lunch options.


Real Cbuzz quote of the day - "The classes i take in collage are so mor adcanced then u could imagen. Dont talk about my emglihs" - Adamforce
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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 1:06 PM

eightdotthree said:
FastPass is the thing that makes a day at Disney actually tolerable.

I will actually disagree with this. I have visited FL, CA and Tokyo prior and after the implimentation of fastpass and on similarly busy days the waits were not much different with or without fastpass. Today I really know how to almost exploit fastpass, and it can make a difference for me, but that's not how 99% of visitors use it.

Without it, I've had busy days where I could still ride everything I wanted to. And, IMO overall lines were shorter without fastpass.

Besides, some pretty strong rumors have been floating that fastpass will be slowly phased out in the next few years. Many attractions in both resorts that have had FP have had the machines removed. I will be pleased if this comes to fruition. *** Edited 9/5/2007 5:07:32 PM UTC by Peabody***


Real Cbuzz quote of the day - "The classes i take in collage are so mor adcanced then u could imagen. Dont talk about my emglihs" - Adamforce
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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 1:09 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

BogeyMon said:
Well, as you love to point out, it's not free, it's included with admission, so there is no free system to be displaced.

LOL! Touche. :)

However, the basic point remains - those who spend more get more...at the expense of those spending less. Suddenly, you get less of those 'included' FastPasses for the same gate price while others get more for paying more.

It's the crux of the argument against pay-to-virtually-queue systems and Disney's FastPass is often cited as the way to "do it right."

They're looking to change that and offer the dreaded 'class system' based on how much you're willing to spend with them.


Perks for hotel guests are nothing new and Vegas has already gone the route of tying comps to spending.

No arguement here. I agree - those that pay more should get more. It happens everywhere.

But what Disney's proposing is cleverly wrapping the costs of pay-to-play into other areas as to distract the 'regular' guests from the fact that they're being passed over in favor of guests who pay up. Add the elctronic element to the equation and it's the Q-bot in FastPass clothing.


Peabody said:
Disney is boardering on things I don't care for, like being almost necessary to book a restaraunt 2-3 months in advance. I don't think one should walk into Epcot at 9am opening and find all 10 or so sit down joints completely booked for dinner and extremely slim pickings for lunch options.

Getting to the point where you have to book your entire day in advance to even remotely enjoy anything. I'm telling you guys, the day of the "Disney Park Visit Itinerary" is coming.

And I have to ask (because I honestly don't know) - is there a priority given in any way as to who can book a restaraunt time? Like do resort guests get preference or can anybody planning on visiting the park for any amount of time, just call up and make a reservation?


Besides, some pretty strong rumors have been floating that fastpass will be slowly phased out in the next few years. Many attractions in both resorts that have had FP have had the machines removed. I will be pleased if this comes to fruition.

Phased out entirely or phased out for the average schlub plodding his way through the park? Given the nature of patent filings like the one in the article, I say the latter. Bye-bye freebies for all, here come the "pay for FOL access" days.


eightdotthree said:
I just don't think I will go back until I am staying on the resort again, and thats what they want.

Exactly.

And they're making so that if you choose anything less than the full Disney experience, your day will be much tougher to enjoy.

Them there Disney guys is good. :)

.

*** Edited 9/5/2007 5:12:38 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***


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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 1:17 PM
Interesting, but old news. There have been some patent apps with similar disclosures for at least a year or more. Nothing has happened. Yet.

However, I'm personally surprised that fastpass is still revenue neutral. Disney is the last holdout, as far as I can tell.


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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 1:51 PM
If only CP adopted ANY of these strategies...sigh...
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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:04 PM
rollergator's avatar LG said: It's the crux of the argument against pay-to-virtually-queue systems and Disney's FastPass is often cited as the way to "do it right."

MY arguments for Disney's implementation have less to do with price, and more to do with HOW it works (and it DOES). At Disney, there's good SIGNAGE at the FP stations and at the queues, excellent awareness of FP and how it works, the queues and stations are properly designed to help with the "merge points" that so often cause problems at other parks, and finally (and MOST importantly) there's enough STAFF on hand to make everything run *seamlessly*. To me, the above reasons are why I always applauded Disney's implementation....and the lack of the above are the very reasons I find others' usage to fall short of the mark.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:16 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Understood. :)
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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:28 PM

Brian Noble said:
However, I'm personally surprised that fastpass is still revenue neutral. Disney is the last holdout, as far as I can tell.

That is the thing that everyone is missing: Disney isn't holding out. They offer very pricey VIP tours of the parks. They start at roughly $125 per hour. FastPass is something to please the average guest. Guests who want true priority line access can go as a VIP.

I think Disney would be foolish to get rid of the FastPass system... it does make them money. If you are Disney would you rather have guests tied up in line or spending money in the park?


Andrew

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:30 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Might be a good place to also mention that Disney raised their parking to $11 over the weekend.

(might as well just keep kicking them, huh? ;) )


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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:30 PM
Anyone can book a Disney restaurant in advance... The only guests that get an advantage are those that shell out huge money for Concierge level deluxe rooms and then, the concierge can pull strings to get hard to book restaurants.

When I worked at Epcot in 2002-2003, only restaurants that started the day mostly booked were the overrated, american food "Le Cellier" steakhouse and the Teppanyaki Dining Room in the japanese pavilion. Beside that, you could still find tables around the magic hour: 7pm. Why 7pm? Cause people want to eat and then walk out and view Illuminations. What changed all that was the massive push of the Disney Dining plans. Now, with people having to eat at table service restaurants to get their money's worth, they book a lot faster, since some restaurants not operated by Disney removed themselves from the Dining Plan.

Fast passes? Ugh... how to turn people eating rides in rides that have stand-by lines that just crawls!

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:31 PM
What would really make this system fly would be an end to single-day admissions. Think we'll see them go that route in the near future?
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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:35 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
Might be a good place to also mention that Disney raised their parking to $11 over the weekend.

(might as well just keep kicking them, huh? ;) )


Ahh but if you stay at a Disney hotel then you wouldn't have to worry about parking prices. ;)


Andrew

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:42 PM

That is the thing that everyone is missing: Disney isn't holding out. They offer very pricey VIP tours of the parks. They start at roughly $125 per hour.

Except that those tours DO NOT give you any line skipping privileges. All it does is buy you a guide for that time. True, the guide knows how to tour the park so that you can miss lines, and will pull fastpasses for you, but you don't have any wait-time advantage unavailable to any similarly-knowledgeable guest.

So, they do not offer pay-to-cut by any reasonable definition of the term.

The one exception: a celebrity will be back-doored if they are high-profile enough to attract a big crowd.


I think Disney would be foolish to get rid of the FastPass system... it does make them money. If you are Disney would you rather have guests tied up in line or spending money in the park?

That's how fastpass was sold to the powers that be---after all, it is relatively expensive. And, not just in capital equipment. A fastpass attraction generally requires three extra CMs to staff it.

From all that I've read, though, there was *no* measurable increase in in-park spending due to fastpass. Those guests who were all supposed to be shopping or eating waiting for their return time to roll around just went and got in line for another attraction instead.

The best laid plans...


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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 2:55 PM

Brian Noble said:Except that those tours DO NOT give you any line skipping privileges. All it does is buy you a guide for that time. True, the guide knows how to tour the park so that you can miss lines, and will pull fastpasses for you, but you don't have any wait-time advantage unavailable to any similarly-knowledgeable guest.

The tour guide can secure FastPasses alittle better than the average guest and can sometimes pull strings (I've seen it happen). Your right though, I jumped to quickly and got it wrong, you can't get entry with VIP tours but on the other hand I have personally seen them get away with some VIPish things with lines and FastPasses - guess it depends on how busy the park is.


Brian Noble said:
From all that I've read, though, there was *no* measurable increase in in-park spending due to fastpass. Those guests who were all supposed to be shopping or eating waiting for their return time to roll around just went and got in line for another attraction instead.

Of course they are since in the operating manual it says "While at distribution please recommend guests visit _ & _ attractions after they secure their FastPass." Cast members fill in the blanks with whatever two attractions in the area generally arn't busy. If Disney really wants guests to go shopping or eat then they shouldn't have cast members recommend other attractions.

While I too have "read" the reports where it claims people arn't spending money when not in line its hard not to when the park is busy. Sure if the FastPass return window is an hour or two away you arn't probably going to be spending money but when the park is busy and instead of waiting 120 minutes for Tower of Tower you can come back in four hours chances are guests are spending money. So my guess is where the problem with FastPass not earning the money back is when the park is not as crowded and the FastPass system isn't needed. The other day the line was five minutes of Space Mountain most of the day - what is the point of running the FastPass system? *** Edited 9/5/2007 7:10:00 PM UTC by Andrew***


Andrew

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 3:00 PM
rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:Understood.

Somebody understands me! ;)


Might be a good place to also mention that Disney raised their parking to $11 over the weekend.

So true! Keep working the "bargain pricing" up toward the level of "prestige pricing", and gradually the guests will go where you lead them... ;)

I also noticed on Monday that Universal is also at $11 for regular parking now...Snyder's $15 may be high, but it is by NO means "out of the range of ordinary".

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Wednesday, September 5, 2007 3:03 PM
Universal's parking is free after 6pm. Granted 70% or so of the year the parks close by 6pm or at 7pm but for anyone going to CityWalk it is quite nice.

*** Edited 9/5/2007 7:03:55 PM UTC by Andrew***


Andrew

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