Don’t get me wrong. My past visit to Disney World was a great time. I had a lot of fun. But I’ve never been a fan of the FastPasss Plus system, and I started to realize exactly why on this trip. That’s not to say that it’s not for everyone – I know it works really well for some people and they love it. But I’m not crazy about it, and here’s why.
FastPass Plus makes the stand-by lines longer.
This seems to be generally true. I don’t remember Pirates of the Caribbean ever having over a hour wait time except in extremely busy seasons. And especially in Epcot and Hollywood Studios, people are getting fastpasses for things they wouldn’t ordinarily because of the tier system, so they either ride them when they wouldn’t otherwise or they “waste” that fastpass by making it but not using it.
I can’t get fastpasses for all of my favorite rides because of the tier system.
In Hollywood Studios, I have to choose between Toy Story Mania and Rockin’ Roller Coaster. In Epcot, it’s between Soarin’ and Test Track. The only way I can ride both without super long waits is to get a fastpass for one, and go to the other first thing in the morning when the lines are short. I understand that Toy Story is so popular you used to have to get there in the morning anyway if you even wanted a fastpass, but most of the other major rides had fastpasses available at least until the afternoon.
There are limitations to where and how many fastpasses you can have.
You are only allowed three fastpasses a day and only in one park (annoying if you want to park hop). After you’ve used up your three you can book more. But only one at a time, and only from a kiosk (not your phone). So you can make all of your fastpasses early in an attempt to get more, or you can spread them out but only have three. I used up all 3 by 2:30 when I was in Magic Kingdom and went to book more, but of course by that time your options are somewhat limited.
I can’t find a good spot to watch Wishes.
This is in conjunction with the above issue. You can get a fastpass to view Wishes from a decent area. But of course if you book that fastpass, you can’t make any others because you won’t have “used up” your fastpasses. So in addition to Wishes you only get two other rides. With all of the construction around the hub at Magic Kingdom, there are not a lot of decent places to watch Wishes. The spot I used to go to every time is now behind the fastpass viewing, and they actually wouldn’t even let us be there even though it wasn’t roped off or anything. We crowded onto Main Street which I don’t love because there are so many people, and they put their kids up on their shoulders and you can’t see anything. Does anyone have a better suggestion from where to watch Wishes? I don’t like it from behind the castle because you don’t get the full effect. Otherwise I might suck it up and get the fastpass.
The app still has issues.
Stuff would take forever to load on the MyDisney Experience app while I was in the park, and many times I got a message about technical difficulties. Plus, once you use all three of your fastpasses and you’re ready to make a new one, you can’t do it from the app. I’m hoping that’s something that will change in the future, because right now it’s a pain to have to get to a kiosk and wait in line there just to use the kiosk.
I have to use the kiosks to make new fastpasses.
I just mentioned this above, but let me expand on the issue. All of the kiosk stations that I saw had a line. As my husband pointed out, “we’re waiting on a line so we don’t wait in a line?” It seems a pain for something you should be able to do from your phone. Plus, a lot of people are still having issues with their magic bands or figuring out how all of this works, and it can really hold up the line. Not all of their family members are linked to the account and have the same fastpasses, their ticket isn’t linked to the magic band, they aren’t familiar with Disney and take a lot of time to figure out what they want to ride and when, etc.
I have to plan out what I want to do ahead of time.
Why do I have to know what I want to do two months ahead of time? During this trip I had a fastpass plus for Mission: Space, a ride I enjoy. But on the actual day my stomach was a little unsettled, so I tried to switch it to Spaceship Earth. Unfortunately, there weren’t any times left until late in the evening (and I had to get to bed early for the half marathon!). Back in the olden days, it seemed like I could get fastpasses that day for whatever I felt like doing. I like to plan things, but this is just a bit much for me.
So why will all of this make me less likely to visit Disney World? Because we don’t always want to spend our vacation waiting on hour long lines. Because we’ve done things a number of times before, and know we’ll be back soon, we can’t bring ourselves to wait over an hour for a ride. But then our options are rather limited, and we end up actually running out of stuff to do. It’s not as bad for me because I enjoy doing things like the PeopleMover and meeting characters, but for my husband who really likes the big rides, he seemed frustrated. I will still be going to Disney more than the average person, but if it’s only once or twice a year we’ll be more likely to wait an hour for Test Track because we know it will be awhile before we do it again.
Maybe a lot of this is a mental thing for me. People will disagree, but all of these things make me feel like I’ll enjoy Disney more if it’s more of a rare opportunity to do things. Plus there are other things I want to do and places I want to see… a lot of them Disney (Disney cruise and Disneyland Paris, anyone?)
I will also say that I do think there are good things about the system. I like the idea of booking from an app and not having to run around the park to machines to get the fastpasses. And if you’re arriving to the park later in the day it allows you to get fastpasses when otherwise they might all have run out. But overall I felt like the old fastpass system created a more enjoyable experience for me.
What do you think of fastpass plus?
On our last trip, we had an issue with rides being shut down during our FP+ window. If I have had to go to the trouble of planning out exactly how we are going to tour each park a month or two ahead of time because of this system then it is going to make me a little less understanding when rides keep breaking down during those times. When a ride is closed during your window, you have two options…wait for it to open back up to use your FP or go use your FP at another attraction from a list during the window…(not every attraction is on the list). Now I understand that rides break down but the problem is the rate at which attractions are breaking down. Toy Story Mania was reportedly shut down multiple times on the day we were there…including during our FP window. The spontaneity is gone so it is a lot harder to accommodate unexpected changes. When Big Thunder Mountain was closed during our window, we didn’t make it back over there because of dinner plans and a FP+ for parade viewing. In the old days I wouldn’t worry about missing an attraction or two but when we had to decide a month earlier which attractions were going to be priorities for that day then you can expect me to be annoyed by it. Did it ruin our trip? No, but it did make it a little less magical.
I’m lucky I didn’t encounter any rides down when I had FP+, but I can just imagine how frustrating that would be. When Disney forces you to plan out your entire day ahead of time, it totally ruins things when it doesn’t work.
Jenn F says
I think it’s definitely a YMMV kind of thing – we only had one instance of park hopping and wanting additional FPs in our second park and the cast member actually gave us 3 experiences (we went to a CM with an iPad versus a kisok). Perhaps it was because of our Just Married & Birthday/1st Visit buttons? He also changed Great Movie Ride to Rockin Roller Coaster when I mentioned that the GMR was a throwaway for us.
Again, maybe it was the plethora of buttons in our group, maybe we just got the right CM who wanted to make things work for us, but who knows. I certainly don’t want to cry he said she said, just thought it might be interesting to share our experience.
My favorite part of FP+ is the fact that I don’t need to wake up at 7:00am to have a hope of riding Toy Story at some point during the day, but otherwise I definitely agree with you, it’s far from an all-around improvement.
That’s awesome that you had such a nice CM! I haven’t been as lucky. One time Jason’s FP+ weren’t showing up (turns out because we switched resorts it created two Jasons, and only one of them had the FPs), and it took us over an hour of our day in Magic Kingdom to get it straightened out. They did give us one “freebie” fastpass to use on any ride, but it seemed a small gift for all the frustration – I wish we’d had a CM like yours! In fact we went to the kiosks first before guest services when we didn’t know what was going on, and the CM flat out told us they weren’t allowed to give any extra FP’s or change the times for us. Maybe things changed since last year or maybe your CM was okay with breaking the rules, or maybe the “iPad” CMs have more privileges lol.
I was so worried about my last trip because of everyone talking about insane queues and I found nothing of the sort. Pirates was 15 minutes as usual. I waited 20 for BTMRR. 15 for Splash. Sounds like you need a new touring plan.
Well that’s good! When were you there? Time of year has a lot to do with it too. I’ve experimented with lots of different touring plans. Do you have a tactic you suggest?