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

Monday, September 10, 2007 12:33 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
I still don't get the problem - so f'n what? The establishment (in both cases) changed their business plan.

Still sounds to me like the argument isn't that the higher price is bad, but rather the sudden change in price is what makes it bad. I've been maintaining the 'change is scary' thing for quite a while - and it still sounds like the same old, same old.


I think most people are reasonable enough to understand that prices will increase, or maybe you don't get as much for the same amount of money as you once did.

And if a business thinks they can get away with huge price increases or major cuts in service "just because they can" I suppose that is their option. But I think a lot of people won't look favorably on a business that does that.

People on both sides of the issue can probably point out episodes where a company was either amazingly successful or horribly unsuccessful when they did. People hate oil companies and believed they're being gouged, but they need oil, so there's little they can do about it but accept it. People don't need amusement parks. If they feel a park or chain or parks is gouging them, they simply won't go.

BTW, I think politicians would find it much easier to take on the amusement industry than the oil industry if they wanted to showboat and show their constituents how much they care about them.



But it doesn't get you to the front of the line. None of the systems do. Not a single one. FastPass gives a time to come back later. Regular bot tells you to come back later. Gold bot tells you to come back later minus 75%.

OK, so let me rephrase that. How are the VQ systems marketed to people-- eliminate waiting in line? Go do other things and come back when it's your turn to ride?

Under my scenario when everyone is paying $80, there is none of this, everybody will have to wait in line, not off doing something else. So even in that situation, there will be a loss of benefits for the same cost. The $80 that people paid for their Purple-Polka-Dot-Bot will then only get them a physical spot in line with everybody else.

That is, until the new "super premium Tartan-Bot comes along for $120," which will piss off both those paying $80 to stand in line, and those who remember when they only paid $80 to VQ.



But that's not how it works. No one is walking right to the front of the line with a VQ system in place. They might be reducing their wait in various ways, but they're still waiting.

And that's exactly why the $80 thing would work. Assuming the higher gate cuts attendance to the right level (that's that price/attendence balance thing again) then the end result is exactly the same...

Reduced waits for people willing to pay $80.


Now you're just plain contradicting yourself. In one sentence you say VQers don't step to the front of the line, now you say they have reduced waits. What other way can you reduce your wait time in line without moving closer to the front?

To everyone waiting in a regular line, they perceive the VQers as line-cutters. If the people here who are knowledgeable about parks call it line-cutting, does the average park guest perceive it any differently? Gonch, you have have to give up the "I don't talk to people in line" attitude and start explaining how the VQ system at that park actually works.:)



Money beats karma everytime. ;)

Seriously, the pulling the heartstrings angle isn't enough. The parks have no obligation to any of those groups. No more obligation than the proprietors of countless other activities that are already priced out of their range.


My response to that is, parks can say f*** the community if they want, BUT... sooner or later they have to stand in front of that community and ask for a building permit, or a variance to build a coaster higher than the current zoning allows, or want to pave over another 20 acres. The people most likely to be sitting on these boards giving those approvals are from those groups to whom you say the parks have no obligation. Not many people who can afford to pay $300 per ticket at an amusement park spend their time volunteering to serve on a local planning commission.

I've seen some of these local officials in action. If they don't like you, they can suck the money out of your pocket like a Hoover vacuum. They'll make you do studies you never heard of. If the plan is "legal" eventually it has to be approved, but it will cost you (review fees, legal fees, plan revisions, etc.)

Parks can't have it both ways. They can't market themselves as family-friendly, providing jobs and other benefits to the commmunity, etc., then turn around and try to screw that community. That's exactly how huge price increases will be perceived. I'm just saying they better watch who they piss off because it may come back to bite them in the ass.

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Monday, September 10, 2007 1:22 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

RatherGoodBear said:
OK, so let me rephrase that. How are the VQ systems marketed to people-- eliminate waiting in line? Go do other things and come back when it's your turn to ride?

Under my scenario when everyone is paying $80, there is none of this, everybody will have to wait in line, not off doing something else. So even in that situation, there will be a loss of benefits for the same cost. The $80 that people paid for their Purple-Polka-Dot-Bot will then only get them a physical spot in line with everybody else.


Well, for those who buy it simply for the fact that they don't have to stand in a line - yes. But I think the selling point is more of a time management thing.

Do more by being in two places at once. While your little virtual self is wasting all that time in line you can sit on a bench, get something to eat - hell, even stand in another line. The point is stadning around doing nothing for an hour isn't the best time management. Eliminate that hour of standing around and the Q-bot is no longer needed.

It's not a loss of benefit because the benefit still exists by nature of the new business model. (higher prices = less guests = less waiting)


Now you're just plain contradicting yourself. In one sentence you say VQers don't step to the front of the line, now you say they have reduced waits. What other way can you reduce your wait time in line without moving closer to the front?

By being in two places at once. :)

Those who are virtually queued have an assigned spot in line- virtually. They get to ride when their number comes up. However, while their virtual self is in one place, they're free to do whatever else they desire with their physical self. If that means standing in a line for another ride, then so be it. Neither the physical or virtual self is given precedence in terms of the line. They each get their spot based on when they enter the line and both get to ride when they reach the station.


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Monday, September 10, 2007 1:57 AM

eightdotthree said:

How do you feel about parent swap?


You got me. You really got me.

Parent swap is a very nice solution to the problem of how parents of a small child/children can be able to ride some of the big rides without waiting in line twice. I would call it a service to those people.

Technically, I would call it cutting because of obvious reasons, but it really doesn't negatively affect the lines as much as Q-Bot, which has many more users.

Remember, I worked at Cedar Point. Parent Swaps were more rare than you would think (at least on the few thrill rides I worked on in my 3 seasons. Power Tower, Magnum, Mantis, TDD, and Wicked Twister; just a few days each though.) I'll say those rides got about 1 Parent Swap every hour or so, except for TDD which maybe got 3 or 4 per hour.

Parent swap is a very limited system too. One parent has to wait in line, possibly with other potential riders in their party. When they are finished riding, they find the rest of their party (Mom and the little ones, for example) near the exit, and the other parent can walk up the exit and ride. This second parent is allowed to only bring one person with them if they desire, even if it is someone who already rode once. This is allowed mostly because of the high chance that the parent would be riding next to an empty seat anyways.

You probably knew how it works. I just wanted to inform readers who may not know.

Parent Swap has the chance to cause the line to artificially grow very slightly, but I believe it is a necessary evil. The other option would be to make parents wait twice, once for each parent, thus splitting the family more than necessary throughout the day.

That's a good one though...

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Monday, September 10, 2007 2:14 AM
Sorry for the double post. ...Different topic within the same topic. Let me quickly comment about that survey stuff up there.

Does anyone remember the Toothpaste commercial that stated, "3 out of 4 dentist recommend our toothpaste over the leading brand."?

How many Dentist did they ask and which ones are they including in the outcome? If they asked 40 dentists and 37 recommended the leading brand, and 3 recommended their brand, then that statement is true.

I've got more than a dozen examples like that that I would love to share, but my beliefs make me sound crazy because I don't except the so called "truth" like everyone else.

People? ...Or SHEEPle? lol

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Monday, September 10, 2007 3:00 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I've got more than a dozen examples like that that I would love to share, but my beliefs make me sound crazy because I don't except the so called "truth" like everyone else.

That's a fine line.

I don't think anyone here expects absolute truth every time.

We just don't think everyone's out to get us every time.

You're not crazy, you're just paranoid. ;)


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Monday, September 10, 2007 9:14 AM

RatherGoodBear said:


My response to that is, parks can say f*** the community if they want, BUT... sooner or later they have to stand in front of that community and ask for a building permit, or a variance to build a coaster higher than the current zoning allows, or want to pave over another 20 acres. The people most likely to be sitting on these boards giving those approvals are from those groups to whom you say the parks have no obligation. Not many people who can afford to pay $300 per ticket at an amusement park spend their time volunteering to serve on a local planning commission.


Umm, I'm gonna have to go oppo with you inthis one. I think it is precisely the ppl who can afford to pay $300 a ticket who are *more* likely to be on planning boards, etc. Doing stuff like that takes time. If you are struggling to make ends meet, you are more likely to be doing *other* things rather than sitting on some board.

Take a look at area PTAs. I would submit that most parents care about their kids and decisions that affect them. But it is way more likely that the affluent parents, with more flexible jobs, are going to be able to participate in the meetings and activities than any single parent working "hourly" jobs. I've often noticed that many of these 'planning' meetings are placed at inconvient times, and are poorly advertised. To jump into dexter's "conspiracy corner", I think they are *purposely* planned that way....
lata, jeremy
--just because you're paranoid doesn't mean everyone's not out to get you....

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Monday, September 10, 2007 9:19 AM
What Gonch said. I'm rather cynical, but I don't see a conspiracy EVERY time I turn around. If I did, I'd never leave the house. (But you can be sure when I renew my passport in 2009 I'm getting an RFID-shielded wallet :) )

--Greg
"You seem healthy. So much for voodoo."

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Monday, September 10, 2007 9:25 AM
I don't mean to skip over any responses here... I was busy all weekend and would love you get involved in this topic again. It's all I was thinking about since I left work on Friday ;)


Lord Gonchar said:


Those who are virtually queued have an assigned spot in line- virtually. They get to ride when their number comes up. However, while their virtual self is in one place, they're free to do whatever else they desire with their physical self. If that means standing in a line for another ride, then so be it. Neither the physical or virtual self is given precedence in terms of the line. They each get their spot based on when they enter the line and both get to ride when they reach the station.


I get what you're saying, but being virtually queued is bullsh**. This isn't about parks having a genuine concern for their guests... some kind of attempt to help them get them most out of their amusement park experience for a small price. In my eyes, being virtually queued in a line for a ride is the same thing as being a virtual fighter pilot in a video game. It's all make-believe. There is no way any person can be in two places at once. You're either in line for a ride or you're not. I wish that parks would just call these systems what they really are- accepted line-jumping.

I understand the need for companies to make profit but I think this is either greed, or the people running parks realizing they no longer know how to make money the way they did in the past and now have to resort to something else. Maybe today's park execs aren't as talented as the ones that operated parks in the past? After all, many parks thrived without virtual queueing and VIP passes.

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Monday, September 10, 2007 10:18 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Rob A:
I understand the need for companies to make profit but I think this is either greed, or the people running parks realizing they no longer know how to make money the way they did in the past and now have to resort to something else. Maybe today's park execs aren't as talented as the ones that operated parks in the past? After all, many parks thrived without virtual queueing and VIP passes.

You know why I don't like that? Because it seems to hold businesses to a different set of rules compared to individuals.

If your boss offered you a raise, would you turn it down?

Why should the business as a whole ignore the opportunity to make more money?


Greg:
(But you can be sure when I renew my passport in 2009 I'm getting an RFID-shielded wallet :) )

Did you happen to catch Mythbusters this past week?

Kari had an RFID implanted in her arm to re-test a past MRI myth.

According to the show there are already a couple of hundred people with embedded RFID's in this country. Right now the idea is that it contains your medical records so that they can be accessed at any time, from anywhere - like if you are unconscious or unable to respond, medical workers will know your medical history with a quick scan.

Crazy stuff. If people get 'iffy' about the chips in credit cards and passports and things like that, then what about inside the body?


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Monday, September 10, 2007 11:23 AM
You might want to take a look at this article concerning RFID implants and cancer. :)

Also, this whole virtual queue discussion about parks and money isn't quite that simple. They're not just making more money. They're offering a service that creates at least the perception of a large group of people having a poor time at their park. At least to me, that's the biggest issue. If the parks make billions of dollars, I don't care. But, the parks should have some conscience about their guests and the quality of experience offered to everyone. I don't buy into the whole, "screw you because you didn't pay me enough" theory a lot of you on here have.

Even when we did VIP at Cedar Point, we were respectful of others waiting in the queue. We tried not to "abuse" the system by choosing different rows, waiting between each ride, moving around the park, etc... We could have easily rubbed VIP in everyone's faces, but we didn't. There's this thing called respect that a lot of people have forgotten about in the era of money and greed.

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Monday, September 10, 2007 11:32 AM
I'm not saying a business has no right to make more money if the potential exists, I just have an issue with the things that some businesses do. In this case, it's just as it has always been with me- it's selling someone else's place in line.

Let's look at things from a different perspective, like the one where I say that virtual queueing is a load of b.s. because no one can be in two places at once. You have a line that's filled with 1000 people. One person gets in line with his/her Q-bot and ends up being #40 in line, when all is said and done (like people already getting into a train, etc.) That person that ended up being #40 in line means the person that was previously #40 is now #41, the previous #41 is now #42, and so on. The park didn't spend a dime that day to take the #40 spot and give it to another person, but they charged that person for the right to do that. They also didn't give a portion of that money to the old #40 person that had to surrender his/her place in line. See where I'm going with this? Once the virtual queueing system is paid for, the park spends no money on this, yet charges for it. While taking something away from someone else... a someone else that is receiving nothing as compensation. This is why I think this is different from concert venue seating, sports stadiums PSLs and all the other stuff that we've compared this to.

And about those implant chips, I know they've been adding tracking chips to pets for years, kinda like a critter Lo Jack. My mother had one put in her cat years and years ago. I heard a company wants to offer the same to parents so they can track their kids if they get lost or taken. Isn't that kinda like having all your personal information on a chip embedded in your neck? Weird stuff.

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Monday, September 10, 2007 1:01 PM

Lord Gonchar said:


Those who are virtually queued have an assigned spot in line- virtually. They get to ride when their number comes up. However, while their virtual self is in one place, they're free to do whatever else they desire with their physical self. If that means standing in a line for another ride, then so be it. Neither the physical or virtual self is given precedence in terms of the line. They each get their spot based on when they enter the line and both get to ride when they reach the station.


So you're telling us that the ride ops can tell (or should be able to tell) just by looking at the people in both lines whether the person in the "virtual" queue or the "physical" queue got in line first? Obviously, this isn't the case from the many TRs I've read where a whole train is filled with VQers, a few rows, etc. Exactly how do I know that I'm #400 in line, and the people hopping on the train from the virtual queue aren't #441-464?

How is the wait time calculated for VQers? Say someone gets in a virtual queue and is told he has an hour wait. A person gets in the actual queue at the same time. Based on a dispatch time of about 3 minutes (to make the math easy), there should be a 20 train wait for each.

But what if for some reason, dispatches are delayed to 5-minute intervals? After that hour, only 12 trains have been dispatched, but Mr. VQer shows up at his appointed time, and is put on train #13. Surely, he's not told he has to wait for 8 more trains. Meanwhile, Mr. regular queue has at least another 8 train wait-- which might get even longer as more VQers show up within the next 40 minutes for their given times. Where's the fairness in that? Is that just the "cost of doing business?"

Let me make a suggestion that I think would make things more equitable. Place two kiosks or whatevers at the entrance to each VQed ride. One accessible only by those who paid the premium, the other accessible by anyone. Each spits out consecutively numbered tickets, but in addition, the VQ machine gives an estimated boarding time.

The VQ people can go off and manage their premium time more effectively, while the regular people have to get in line. Then in the station, employees would ensure that consectively number people get served-- just like the deli counter in your local supermarket.

Those waiting in the "regular" queue would have no right to grumble, because they would know exactly where they stand in relation to who's currently riding, and the VQers would have physical proof that they actually were in line first, albeit virtually. It would be up to the parks to provide the necessary equipment and manpower to make this work. Chalk it up to the "cost of doing business."

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Monday, September 10, 2007 1:27 PM
rollergator's avatar ^You're not going to sell many VQs by making the "premium" customers wait 8 more trains, RGB... ;)

LOL, kinda reminds me of the deli-counter ticket I got at Ka...the op taking those tickets didn't look down at the numbers even once... ;)

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Monday, September 10, 2007 1:36 PM
How about we eliminate rides altogether and just install a bunch of kiosks where people can reserve ride times? Pay more money, you get more reservations. We'll eliminate the spontaneous nature of a day at an amusement park and create a model that endorses perfect time management ;)
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Monday, September 10, 2007 1:48 PM
^^^ Nothing like making an already complex system even more confusing. :rolleyes:
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Monday, September 10, 2007 2:06 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar *Note: lots of numbers and crap that I can understand anyone not wating to read. Skip down to the "*new argument*" section below to save some time :)


RatherGoodBear said:
So you're telling us that the ride ops can tell (or should be able to tell) just by looking at the people in both lines whether the person in the "virtual" queue or the "physical" queue got in line first?

Not at all. The system does all the work. And no, it's not precise, but 'in the ballpark' enough to be of little-to-no concern.


Obviously, this isn't the case from the many TRs I've read where a whole train is filled with VQers, a few rows, etc. Exactly how do I know that I'm #400 in line, and the people hopping on the train from the virtual queue aren't #441-464?

Again, because the system does the work. And yes, those riders might be #441-464 (although that might even be stretching the numbers too far depending on the ride), if fact that's exactly how it works...but they also might be #340-380. In which case people physically in line 'cut' in front of them - in theory, of course. :)


How is the wait time calculated for VQers? Say someone gets in a virtual queue and is told he has an hour wait. A person gets in the actual queue at the same time. Based on a dispatch time of about 3 minutes (to make the math easy), there should be a 20 train wait for each.

Yeah, pretty much.

Go back to that fictional line scenario I've been using all through this thread. The line is 1000 people long and the ride moves 1000pph. The wait from the end of the line is an hour.

It depends on the system as to how it works.

With Q-bot I scan my device and the system gives me an hour wait. (the same as assigning me spot number 1001 in line). I do think Q-bot has a 5 minute window in either direction.

For reference, on this fictional ride, they'd be moving 83 people per 5 minute increment. (1000/12=83)

So depending on when I can back to ride I could actually get on as anything from #918-1084. If I come sooner than that, I'll be told to wait. If I come later, my reservation is lost.

In this case, it is accurate within 83 people in either direction. The more people the ride moves per hour, the more variance.

So how does this affect the people wanting to ride our fictional ride?

We've established that it moves 83 people per five minute increment. That works out to 16 people per minute. (I rounding down in fairness - lower numbers help your side of the argument)

So for ease of visualization let say it's a ride that seats 16 people at a time and dispatches every minute.

The only way any given person in that line is going to be significantly impacted (in the sense of fairness, line cutting and increased waits) is if 16 people all enter the VQ line within a minute and all do so in the first half of their 10-minute window of availability on the Q-bot. If that happened, then a certain range of people in line (83 of them) might have to wait an extra minute (or one ride cycle) under a worst case scenario.

Of course, this could be sustained for a potentially unlimited number of minutes and every 16 people-per-minute that enter the VQ line sets those 83 people back a minute - but if that many people are using the Q-bot, then it's much more ingrained into the park-goers mindset that anyone here wants to admit.


But what if for some reason, dispatches are delayed to 5-minute intervals? After that hour, only 12 trains have been dispatched, but Mr. VQer shows up at his appointed time, and is put on train #13. Surely, he's not told he has to wait for 8 more trains. Meanwhile, Mr. regular queue has at least another 8 train wait-- which might get even longer as more VQers show up within the next 40 minutes for their given times. Where's the fairness in that? Is that just the "cost of doing business?"

Surely, he is told that. Well, he should be. That's also a secondary point of the electronic systems like fast pass. They easily can (and do) vary the wait time as the length of line varies throughout the day. I'm pretty sure any extended downtime also affects the time reported by the Q-bot.

With that said:

With FastPass it's a totally different story - and I'm not 100% on my FastPass facts, so everyone is free to correct anything I get wrong.

FastPasses are distributed on a pre-determined ration of VQers to non-VQ'ers. Disney essentially decides a certain percentage of rides will be given to VQers.

Again, fo the sake of simlicity, we'll use our fictional 1000 people-long line and a ride moving 1000pph. In this case the ratio Disney decides on is a variable, but to keep it simple we'll go with 50/50.

In the case of a 50/50 split for this fictional ride, that means Disney is handing out 500 FastPasses per hour for it. I believe they use 10 minute windows and I believe the windows overlap in something like 5 minute increments. (example: First passes out are for 12:00-12:10, next passes 12:05-12:15, next passes 12:10-12:20...and so on)

Let me point out again that I haven't been to Disney in 6 years and I was never much of a FastPass buff, so that might be totally wrong. It's simply my interpretation of the system as I last saw it in 2001.

It essentially works out the same as the window on the Q-bot except with a pre-determined number of people using the VQ line. The other catch is that it's not based on anything except the capacity of the ride and how many VQ rides they want to give in a day. You're not assigned a place in line as much as you're assigned a seat on the ride.

*new argument follows*

In fact, that's a terrific way of looking at it - VQers are reserving a seat on the ride, not a spot in line. Now it becomes very comparable to real-world situations.

It's the equivalent of Customer A making a reservation at a restaurant while Customer B decides to just show up and wait for an available table.

It's the same as Customer A buying a seat at a concert and Customer B lining up for general admission.

It's the same as Customer A buying a plane ticket and Customer B deciding to fly 'stand-by'

It's called the 'stand-by' line for a reason. You're 'standing by' to fill seats (at a reduced cost) not taken by those who paid more to guarantee a ride.

Making a ride reservation guarantees you a spot on that ride at a certain time. Waiting in stand-by guarantees you'll get on the ride when there's availability.

Is that a better way of explaining it?


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Monday, September 10, 2007 2:20 PM
rollergator's avatar ^That's a better explanation than you'd ever get from a park... ;)

BTW, no VQ system that I'm aware of has ever told a customer "we were broken down (or delayed by slow dispatches) for 20 minutes, so you need to add 20 minutes to your reservation time".

As far as *should*? I'm not EVEN going there...

*** Edited 9/10/2007 6:22:09 PM UTC by rollergator***

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Monday, September 10, 2007 2:28 PM
Actually, Disney is the only park I know of that calls the "regular" line a standby line. Does Universal do this too? Six Flags just has a regular queue and a "special" q-bot line. So, Disney is once again marketing FastPass correctly.

I've never used the Q-bot before, but doesn't it change your "reservation time" if the ride goes down? I thought I saw this on their introduction video.

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Monday, September 10, 2007 2:30 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

halltd said:
I've never used the Q-bot before, but doesn't it change your "reservation time" if the ride goes down? I thought I saw this on their introduction video.

I thought so too.


Gator:
BTW, no VQ system that I'm aware of has ever told a customer "we were broken down (or delayed by slow dispatches) for 20 minutes, so you need to add 20 minutes to your reservation time".

Well, the electronic ones should do it. That's half the point of the electronic communication if you ask me. It can be updated on the fly.


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Monday, September 10, 2007 2:42 PM
By the way, it's interesting to note Disney has been testing this new system (the original topic of discussion) in the parks with actual guests since 2000. They've been testing it with another device similar to something I brought up a while back.
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