My Bet for the Go-Live Date for Fastpass+: October 1 or Later
By Dave Shute
WHAT IS FASTPASS+ AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Disney’s MyMagic+ program has multiple elements, most tied to an RF communicator reader in either a printed plastic card or, in the works, a wristband.
Of the elements of the program, the one with the highest likely impact on first-time visitors will be Fastpass+, the ability to reserve three or so experiences per day at a park—such as major “headliner” rides, minor rides, fireworks- and parade-viewing spots, and even counter-service restaurants—months before from home.
Most people think, based on Disney World’s tests to date, on simple capacity math, and on the published terms of service, that Fastpass+ will restrict you to the ability to reserve just one or two “headliners” rides per park day, with only one ride on each of them per day.
Depending how this unfolds, it may mean that people will be able to see fewer headliners per day without major waits, especially at the Magic Kingdom, than is the case right now with a good plan and the use of the traditional FASTPASS system.
However, according to the terms of service, once Fastpass+ is operational, if you convert a paper ticket to RF, the paper ticket will be void, and neither it nor the RF device can be used in the traditional FASTPASS system.
This makes me think the traditional FASTPASS system will remain (at least for a while) for those who don’t or won’t use the new RF based MyMagic+ program.
If this is true, then the value of my crazy idea of buying two park tickets per day—in this case, one regular, and one MyMagic+–will SKYROCKET.
This is because you’ll have two shots at the headliners—one from Fastpass+, and one from traditional Fastpass—that is, one on each ticket. (However, very little capacity likely will be reserved on the headliners for traditional Fastpasses…which is why relying just on a paper ticket is not a good strategy either.)
Especially at the Magic Kingdom, buying a second, paper, ticket may be in effect Disney’s backdoor way of introducing a version of Universal Express—a means to buy your way out of difficulties the parks otherwise present you.
But regardless, Fastpass+ will make major changes to the best ways to experience the parks, especially for those relying only on it for the services that have been provided by the traditional Fastpass program.
WHEN WILL FASTPASS+ BECOME OPERATIONAL?
For one big and a couple of minor reasons, I think we’ll see the first major sets of park experiences governed by Fastpass+ start October 1 or later.
First, I don’t think the systems are ready. I’ve stayed in Disney resorts multiple times so far this year, and have had comic systems issues interfere with my experience. This makes me think the IT behind MyMagic+ is still pretty buggy.
Second, Fastpass+ is unlikely to launch in the busy summer season. You don’t want to do something this different and new when the infrastructure of the parks is already taxed by summer crowds.
Third, I doubt the launch date will even be announced during the peak of the summer season—e.g. earlier than August 1.
This is because if the operational launch date is announced, many summer visitors will think it applies to them, even if the announcements are about a go-live date much later. Anyone who runs a site like this gets a sense of how confusing Disney World is, and how many people will interpret an announcement of a future launch as an announcement of a launch right now. Putting the announcement of launch off until August misses confusing the bulk of the summer crowds.
An August 1 announcement means an “operational in the parks” launch date no earlier than October 1. This is because there will be at least 60 days notice before Fastpass+ is operational in the parks (you can infer this from the terms of service, which mention 60 days of time to reserve experiences for certain classes of ticket holders).
Finally, there’s something else special about October 1—it’s the effective date of Florida House Bill 1353—and this bill, or a variant of it, matters quite a bit…
Disney World ticket prices make the first few days of a ticket much more expensive than later days. This means there’s a market for illegal sales of partially-used multi-day tickets, since there’s an opportunity to arbitrage the low cost of the last days to a new buyer who otherwise would have to pay much higher early day prices.
Now Disney’s terms of service make it clear that all MyMagic+ tickets in whatever form are non-transferable, so if you show up with a ticket partially used by someone else, you will be refused admission. But Florida’s laws against resellers don’t cover non-printed tickets. Moreover, they have “printing” requirements to signify non-transferability. HB 1353 would resolve these issues. And it has an effective date, if passed, of October 1…
(See the red-boxed part of the image, which is from the staff analysis.)
It’s hard for me to see Disney launching a major new ticketing program for which there are no legal penalties for resale of a partially used pass…
…so October 1, 2013 is my bet for the basic operational launch date of Fastpass+, and August 1, 60-ish days before, my bet for the announcement date.
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