My Bet for the Go-Live Date for Fastpass+: October 1 or Later



By Dave Shute

WHAT IS FASTPASS+ AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

nextgenDisney’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.

March 28 TOS Excerpt(See the red-boxed area of the image, which is a screenshot from the March 28 version of the terms of service. Click it to enlarge it.)

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…

Staff Analysis HB 1353(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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10 comments

1 Michael { 04.03.13 at 10:02 am }

This does not bode well for those visiting from October 1 to December … there will be a huge lineup of online/phone reservations being made all at once… but we don’t have the details just yet.

2 Dave { 04.03.13 at 4:29 pm }

Yeah…especially right after the announcement, and 60 days before Christmas week starts! It is just a forecast, tho….

3 RazIsland { 04.03.13 at 11:36 pm }

So effectively a Disney “Express Pass” for the Magic Kingdom costs $89. Universal charges $30 for one day at their current premier park. You are right, a Fastpass+ single or double cap on headliners at MK guts what FP was. A 2nd ticket is enticing until you look at the price, especially for a shorter trip where you may only go to MK once.

The prediction I want to hear is, do offsite guest get FP+ at a reduced level in terms of lead time, cost or quantity? Do they get it at all?

4 Dave { 04.04.13 at 9:02 am }

Hey RazIsland…yes, but the Universal Express pricing is variable–they cap the amount they’ll sell a day, and vary pricing based on demand to sell them out. I don’t think it often hits $89 though!

On your great off-site point–I’ve been convinced from the beginning of the NextGen conversation that on-site will get something in Fastpass+ “better” than off-site, but that off-site will get something.

How much better, and how much it matters–I don’t have a clue…it could be as simple as getting 10 extra days to book once you hit the 60 day mark, just like it works for on-site ADRS at the 180 day mark now…the biz problem for Disney is that the bigger the value difference, the more the offsite visitors–who are way the vast majority of WDW park visitors–will be alienated.

The minor biz problem Disney faces is resort occupancy and, more important, prices; the big biz problem is keeping people away from Harry Potter, especially after Potter 2 opens at Universal Studios. The best way to keep everyone away is to have them book lotsa FP+ days at WDW months ahead…on site or off-site…

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5 Shannie { 04.07.13 at 8:46 pm }

So, love this site, but I guess I am out of luck for free dining week of 8/18/13? Also was wondering if crowds really are much higher this week vs the week after, 8/25? Thank you.

6 Dave { 04.08.13 at 7:07 am }

Hi Shannie, and thanks! First crowds are higher, because of when kids go back to school. This varies more than I’d ever suspected befroe I started tracking it for this site’s crowd calendar–I track 175 school districts. On free dining, I still think that’s quite possible–see this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/02/bounce-back-offer-hints-2013-free-dining-dates/

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7 Shannie { 04.08.13 at 7:31 pm }

Thank you for such a prompt response! I will call and see if I am eligible for free dining. If yes, I will let you know so you can update. We are arriving on 8/18, according to that snapshot, free dining begins that day…

8 Dave { 04.09.13 at 7:41 am }

Shannie, there’s no free dining out yet! That deal only applied to reservations made during a stay last summer. So don’t call–they won’t have anything to offer you. I sent you to that page so you could see the start date…

9 Pat { 09.08.13 at 12:49 pm }

Your info is soooo valuable – Thanks. I have a question. We have planned a vacation at CBR arriving Nov 30 to Dec 7. I am hoping we can participate. If not, I am concerned the wait lies for those who cannot participate in the program are longer since so many more will have reserved spots. During your next visit I am hoping you will gain some insight on this point. Thanks again for your info. Disney should pay you!!! Have a great time!!!

10 Dave { 09.09.13 at 8:46 am }

Hi Pat and thsanks!!

I would not be concerned about this, as there just aren’t enough people in the WDW hotels to make that much of a difference in general FastPass availability–though I will note any weirdness I see when I’m down there later this month…

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