Disney Considering Charging For Free FastPass Service

Word on the street which has leaked out of the ‘Mouse House’ is that sweeping changes could come to the current Disney FastPass fee-free ‘perk’ that Park guests utilize.

The Operations folks at Walt Disney World are putting together plans to do one of two things (or both) regarding their free FastPass service. One planned option is to turn the current FastPass service with a “VIP” FastPass service where only Resort guests (and possibly at only ‘deluxe’ or ‘suite’ resort guests) will be able to get the option at no charge. The other option would be to offer the current FastPass service as a paid ‘perk’ and include it as part of the ticket prices/packages. Or, the Disney executives could approve both options to be put in place.

When the FastPass concept first started, other parks tried to offer fee-free ‘front of the line’ type of access (Cedar Point, Universal Studios, etc) because executives all around the theme park industry believed that the ability to set a particular time to ride the attractions would free up the guests to do additional shopping and, in turn, bring more revenue to the parks. Although, most park goers take that additional time and do something else with it. Guests, for the most part, go into another queue to ride another attraction and actually get to experience more of the attractions than what they originally intended to. So, a ‘service’ that was intended to bring additional revenue to the theme park owners was actually providing a better service to the guests! Well, when the dollar signs didn’t follow (even though the guest experience was better) parks such as Universal Studios changed the option to only give this ‘VIP’ access to resort guests staying at their own hotels and Cedar Point scrapped the option altogether.

While the changes for Walt Disney World in Florida are being discussed, some of the process is already in effect in France. The first planned option is available at the Disneyland Resort in Paris (see here: Disneyland Resort Paris) where “Suites” guests get ‘front of the line’ access. And, Disney Hotel guests pick the time to use the FastPass. So, at the Disneyland Resort in Paris there are three levels of FastPass service.

The second planned option that the WDW brass is consdering would be to offer this ‘service’ as a paid option on the Magic Your Way option tickets. Similar to the ‘hopper’ option, this could be a paid option to add to your ticket at a flat rate. For example, you could pay $20 and add the FastPass ‘option’ to your tickets.

With the varying levels of approval that the new options would need to obtain, it should take a little time before we see this new FastPass option available. But, you can be certain that if the executives feel that Disney can bring in additional revenue from this, then the approval process will certainly be expedited. But this brings up a couple of questions….

  • If Walt Disney World adopts these multiple levels of FastPasses, how will they affect Stand-by lines? Well, if you thought that you got dirty looks while zooming by using your normal FastPasses….imagine zooming past the stand-by line AND the ‘regular’ Fastpass guests as well.
  • If the ‘VIP’ option (front of the line) goes into effect, how will it affect the queues? Will FastPass guests see an increase in their wait times in order to accommodate the guests with ‘VIP’ FastPasses? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the FastPass? Will stand-by lines be unbearable?
  • And, what about the logistics in trying to fit three different queues into two? I mean, how do you get the ‘VIP’ guests past the ‘regular’ FastPass holders?

Well, if there were complaints before about cast members not doing their job by not paying attention to the dates and times on the FastPasses… well, let’s just say that the queues most affected might be at City Hall when this new ‘service’ goes into effect.

So, is this a good thing or a bad thing? What are your thoughts?

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