Changes coming to the unofficial FastPass policy

Disney diehards have long been aware of Disney's official unofficial FastPass policy, namely to honor a guest FastPass anytime after the return time printed on the ticket.  This policy would allow guests to squirrel away FastPasses during the less crowded morning hours and then ride them whenever it was convenient (or crowded) later in the day.

As of March 7, 2012, a new FastPass policy will go into effect.  The new policy will more strictly enforce return times.  The new policy will allow guests to ride as early as 5 minutes before their window opens, which will hopefully alleviate some of the milling around in front of attractions for those that arrive a little early.  The policy will also allow a 15 minute grace period for the stragglers.

As you can imagine the Disney-geek universe is buzzing about the changes.  The strict rule followers feel are either neutral to the changes or even happy to have a level playing field.  Those that have always taken advantage of the never closing window feel slighted.  After all, the current policy for the most part works and people are happy.  Why mess with it?

No, really.  Why mess with it?  Most think the answer lies with the rumored Next Gen / X-Pass initiatives.  While much of the NextGen stuff sounds SUPER cool (read more here), the X-Pass concept (think premium FastPass) is getting a much more luke warm reception.  Theme Park Tourist has a harsh, though not unfair critique here.   I am anxious to see how the X-Pass is actually implemented.  I am not a fan of creating a class based Disney park experience based on how much you are willing to spend.  Although I have no problems creating a "class" based system between folks who are willing to do a little research for their trip before they go.  I always am amazed at the people willing to wait in line 90 minutes for an attraction that has FastPass open and available.  If they had done even 30 minutes of reading they would know that FastPass (in it's current incarnation) is free and fantastic!

But I digress...back to the implications of the anticipated policy change.  So here are some issues that are bound to come up.
  • ADR's - If you get held up waiting for Pooh to visit your table, or if you have an unusually long time to wait to be seated you could miss your window.  So make sure you pay attention to the return times before you grab the FastPass....any allow for things to go wrong.
  • Unexpected Delays - What happens if you get stuck on Splash Mountain for 45 minutes?  By the time they get you off, your window may have closed.  Will there be some sort of grace period?
  • Unexpected Downtime - What happens when the ride that you are holding a FastPass goes down?  I can only assume that they will give you a open pass to return anytime later in the day?
  • The Meltdown / Or Planned Afternoon Break - I must admit that I was most likely to take advantage of the late return when I had to leave the park in the afternoon.  Sometimes, it was for a planned break and others it was because someone in my party (child or adult - ahem - me) hit the meltdown point.  So if now parents are in the position of pushing an exhausted toddler an extra 15 minutes so they can use their FastPass, or they have to give it up.  That is not good for anyone in the parks! :)
  • Grace Period - With a 15 minute "grace period" being offered what happens if I show up 16 minutes late?  Am I out of luck?  What if my watch says 14 minutes?   What if the reason for the delay is that there was only one poor security guy checking bags at 5pm when I tried to re-enter the park.  (Yes, I am still bitter about almost missing my Le Cellier reservation over that!)
  • Bad Manners will abound - Can you imagine the poor cast members that are going to have to explain the policy.  "I know that you have arrived late for every FastPass you ever had, but now you can't.  Now you must wait 95 minutes to ride Toy Story Mania standby or you are out of luck."  As badly as I feel for the verbal assault that that castmember is going to take, I will feel equally as bad for the FastPass holder immediately behind that guest who just wants to get on the darn ride!
Whether or not you favor the changes or not...whether you are a fan of NextGen / XPass or not....there are sure to be some growing pains.  It will be interesting to see exactly how the new policy is implemented and if it will "stick".  Stay tuned....

    No comments:

    Post a Comment