FASTPASS Return Windows Enforced at Disney World
Due to the rollout of NextGen and XPass, Walt Disney World Resort FASTPASS return time windows will begin being enforced on March 7, 2012. This means guests will be allowed to return to an attraction with a FASTPASS during the time frame indicated on the FASTPASS (and five minutes before the window starts and fifteen minutes after the window ends), but not anytime after the window on the same-day as was the unofficial policy up until now.
As of right now, this only applies to Walt Disney World Resort and not Disneyland Resort.
The internet community is all abuzz over this news. Our response is (cue SNL Weekend Update voices): REALLY?!
People are presenting a litany of excuses as to why FASTPASS return windows should not be enforced. These excuses include, but are not limited to, the following: longer-than-expected wait times on another attraction, long meals, restroom breaks, naps, kid meltdowns, becoming distracted in a gift shop, and navigational challenges due to crowds.
Most, if not all, of these excuses are a bit overly-dramatic. These are mostly things that can be planned around. If guests are spending two hours in the restroom, they have bigger problems than missing a FASTPASS return window. In most cases, they have a pretty good idea of how long these types of activities will take prior to engaging in them. If they have reservations for the Hollywood Brown Derby at 7pm and their Toy Story Mania FASTPASS window closes at 7:30pm, they might want to take that ride before they eat. All the system requires is the use of a little common sense.
Beyond that, even if there are legitimate excuses for missing a FASTPASS window, asserting that any excuse is “valid” assumes that using a FASTPASS is some sort of right. Missing a FASTPASS is not the end of the world. If a guest spends too much time in a gift shop or at a meal and misses the window, c’est la vie. We forget to use countless FASTPASSes each trip we take, and (speaking from experience) it’s no big deal.
As mentioned above, the new system is necessary for XPass. While we have benefited from lax return times many times in the past (even exploiting it to our advantage), enforcing the current windows is undoubtedly more fair for all guests (as the majority of guests don’t know about the lax enforcement policies, so now everyone will be on an even playing field). This will also hopefully lead to a more efficient FASTPASS system for all.
I do understand that, to some extent, Disney has no one to blame but itself for the backlash about this system. It did create the policy allowing the lax enforcement in the first place. However, I hope front of the line Cast Members don’t suffer from guest backlash over this new policy as they simply try to enforce a policy with which guests don’t agree. These Cast Members don’t write the policy, and while some guests may not agree with it, these Cast Members are not to blame.
Missing a FASTPASS isn’t the end of the world. The sun will still rise the next morning, and guests will still have a great time at Walt Disney World.
I am one of the small percentage, as most say, that knows about the extended time. Most everyone saying that this is needed and good and it is the rules of the fast pass, I will give you that. But if it is truely just a small percentage of people who know about the extended time then just how much is this affecting the system. Now if everyone knows about it then I can see the issue but if only a few know then there really isn’t that much slow down or inability to run the system the way it is intended. I only get to visit Disney one a year maybe once every two years. And, if I only get to be there a very short amount of time, I would like to have the ability to get in as much as I can when I am there. I don’t quite see the issue with that.
If you have an ADR during the time period that is available, you simply do not get the Fastpass. I agree I am all for the enforcement and the new changes.
When I saw all the (sometimes fervent) discussion on this topic happening on various blogs and message boards, I couldn’t help but wonder why all the fuss. I wouldn’t even notice that the policy had changed if not for people reporting on it because I always used FASTPASS as I *thought* it was intended to be used. So, no skin off my nose. Then again, our touring style is a lot more slow-paced than most. We have days where we spend the majority of the day wandering, and may only go on three rides. *shrugs*
We usually use FastPasses after the window, but on our recent trip, we made a point of not doing that. It wasn’t difficult at all. I think we ended up *not* using one FastPass, which is actually much, much less than how many we pitch when we hoard them. It always *seems* like we’ll have a lot more time at the end of the day than we actually do!
Can you explain what NextGen and XPasses are?!
I really don’t think its a big deal. I would bet that the daily percentage of people in the parks who know you can come back after the time window is pretty small. Heck, the percentage of people who still think you have to pay for fastpass shocks me! So I don’t think it will make a dramatic difference from the normal day to day. Now, times when there are lots of ‘hardcore’ disney fans in the parks; anniversaries, Star Wars weekends, fan meets, etc. etc. it could make a larger difference. I’ll admit we have ‘abused’ this freedom before but mostly just because we stuffed the passes in pockets and forgot about them until later. We have never got a fastpass with the intent on using it later than the window.
If this starts too much of an uproar I can see them extending the time window to compensate a little.
This by its self isn’t a huge deal, but I think this added to the list of things being slowly taken away or changed adds up to more of an issue.
I’m definitely in the FP hoarding group, but I agree this is good for the masses. Yes, it was great to get a Soarin FP and then head for a walk around World Showcase without worrying about being gone past the return time, but now I’ll just alter my touring strategy a bit. Instead of always being mindful of when I can get my next FP, I’ll probably follow the touring plan more closely so that I way I hit the headliners early instead of a more meandering pace while I college FPs in the morning hours.
But can you really complain about them enforcing something that it says right there on the ticket? No.
“If guests are spending two hours in the restroom, they have bigger problems than missing a FASTPASS return window.”
Hilarious. I mentioned this on Facebook as well, but I don’t see this as a huge deal. When I thought back to my last trip, this change would have meant a little more walking/backtracking and the necessity of a watch or cell phone in the parks. I frequently leave my cell phone in the room when I’m at Disney to disconnect, but with this change I’ll just need to keep better track of time. No biggie. I have two short trips planned this spring and I can’t wait – this change will in no way impact my excitement nor my enjoyment of the parks!
Once again, I appreciate your rational thoughts on the matter. I feel like most people are forgetting that this still gives you an hour and a half window to get to the attraction, not to mention the fact you know when the return time will be before you even get the Fast Pass ticket. Sure it will take some additional thought and planning to your day, but some people are acting as though this will completely ruin their trips to Disney.
I agree with enforcing the time, FASTPASS will work like it should now
If it’s after the time who cares, things happen. I’d rather have someone with an expired Fast Pass in front of me than some rich kid with a guide line jumping.
I say good for Disney. It’s about time that they start enforcing the FASTPASS return times. FP isn’t a God given right or constitutional right. They shouldn’t be allowed to use their FP anytime that suits them.
So glad this is being enforced, along with the ADRs. I think that the next gen will completely transform the flow of traffic in a positive way. These information systems can do unreal things with the right information and processing power. Can not wait.
My disappointment with this is that at the end of the day this is going to cause many, many hassles for guests.
Let’s say I come up to Toy Story Mania and the FP return time is 11:50 -12:45. But I have a ADR for Noon on the same day across the park. I really can’t go to the ride at 11:45 (5 mins early) and expect to make my ADR on time. Nor can I expect to make it to the ride at 1:00 (just an hour after my ADR starts, assuming I get seated on time).
And, thanks to Disney’s latest $$ grabbing scheme, I can’t skip out on my ADR because they will charge my credit card.
So, what do I do (besides the obvious – not ride)? I could return to the attraction later in the day but the FPs will surely be gone then. So, instead, I sit at the FastPass machine for a while for the return window to advance to a time that I know I can make. This could take a long time… and it isn’t a magical time while I’m waiting either.
As noted, FP isn’t a God given right. I guess I’m just saying that this new system is going to add more stress and friction to the Disney vacationer’s experience. Which doesn’t seem to me like a good change.
The thing is, you can’t please everyone all the time.
Beyond those who visit regularly and read online forums (a very small percentage of all guests), I’d hazard a guess that the vast majority of guests didn’t know about this unofficial policy in the first place. The change to enforce it is good for these people, as it doesn’t give the ‘in the know’ crowd an advantage (and there definitely *is* an advantage to hoarding FPs to use later in the day when lines are longer). The majority has been adhering to the window stated on the FPs for years, without reports of “many, many hassles.”
I think the stated problems this will cause are being dramatically overblown by those whose touring styles this will impact. I number myself among this crowd. We have ALWAYS used FPs outside the return window. However, just because something negatively impacts me personally doesn’t mean I’m going to call it a bad policy. It’s not.
It might mean me calling the Brown Derby to let them know I’ll be a bit late for a meal (something that would not cause a charge to my credit card), or it might cause me to skip using a FP. But it’s certainly not going to cause more stress and friction to my vacation.
With as quickly as FP’s go for Toy Story, if you see the return time conflicts with an ADR, why not just wait an extra 5-10 minutes until the return time moves to the next available window?
Huh… I didn’t realize that there was an unofficial policy. I just showed up at my time, like the FASTPASS said to!
Oh thank goodness! I thought I was the only one who didn’t know about the “relaxed” policy of the FASTPASS!
Haha I was with you guys!
I generally agree, but I would hope Disney is flexible if one of their rides goes down. Then it’s not our fault for missing a FP window, it’s their fault.
The other question is — how close are they to rolling out nextgen? I really do not want to see it (tiered FPs especially) before my April trip.
I totally agree. In fact the whole issue of the FP return times not being enforced never made sense to me. I welcome the possibilities that the Next Gen brings.
Liked your Super Bowl week posts. I’m from Nashville and visited Indy once for a Titans/Colts game – great city!