Fastpass For the First-Time or Infrequent Visitor
A Look at the Benefits and Drawbacks of Disney's New Fastpass System for guests making their first visit to Disneyland
If there is one thing that almost every first time or infrequent visitor to Disneyland complains and worries about when visiting the park, it is the horribly long lines. Whether it be a hot summer day in July where the sweltering heat makes it unbearable to be outside for longer than a minute, or a cold rainy day in February that makes everyone want to stay indoors, guests can only handle so much "in line" stress at a major theme park, even if it is for one of their favorite attractions. Yet on the other hand, after traveling from various locations all the way around the globe to make a rare visit to the Happiest Place on Earth, one of the main things guests want is to get on the main attractions, and enjoy as much of Disneyland as they possibly can. Most likely they are only visiting the park for a limited time, and may not be able return anytime in the near future. Finally Disney has come up with a seemingly brilliant solution to the problem - Disney's Fastpass.
Disney's Fastpass guarantees its users a maximum wait in line of fifteen minutes for nearly all of the park's major attractions, and better yet, Fastpass users can ride other attractions or do other things that they'd like to see to make more efficient use of their limited time at the park! Fastpass users are essentially given absolute freedom to do whatever they'd like while a "reserved" spot in line is kept for them, whether it be to enjoy some of the other "classical" attractions, grab a bite to eat, or even take a break from the crowds by relaxing at their nearby hotel. What more could a first time guest ask for? They can now enjoy all of the great things that Disneyland has to offer without suffering through the torturous lines that they dread the most.
With the use of Disney's Fastpass, first time guests have the park at their fingertips. No longer do they have to put off some attractions until their next visit, but instead they can actually find the time to "do it all". For example, while a family holds a Fastpass for Splash Mountain, they can be off pillaging the seas on Pirates of the Caribbean, making friends with a ghost on Haunted Mansion, searching for the lost crew on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, or running a bobsled race and avoiding the Abominable Snowman on the icy slopes of Matterhorn Mountain. The family might decide to devote that time to some of the smaller attractions that they wouldn't normally get to enjoy, such as Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, or the Enchanted Tiki Room. Better yet, it is a great time to ride attractions in Fantasyland that are favorites of some of the younger family members (no guest can ever take too many trips on Dumbo!). It is also a great chance to taste some of the fine Disneyland dining, enjoy some classy Main Street window shopping, or visit one of the luxurious Disneyland Hotels that are a must see for first-time or infrequent visitors to Disneyland. Finally, it is an excellent time for the family to see some of the can't-miss Disneyland shows, such as Fantasmic!, Animazement, or the Believe, There's Magic In the Stars fireworks spectacular. Disney's Fastpass definitely has an abundance of advantages for the first time guest, allowing them to experience the park in a way that was never possible before.
It is true, however, that those advantages do have their limits. For example, one thing the sample family could not be doing while they hold a Fastpass for Splash Mountain is holding another Fastpass for any of the other attractions that offer this feature, as guests can only hold a Fastpass ticket for one attraction at a time. Families thus must wait in the Standby line if they wish to ride that attraction. This regulation set on the Fastpass system is meant to control the number of guests using Fastpass at one time, and to prevent the "monopolizing" of Fastpass time slots so that all guests may obtain at least one Fastpass reservation.
The new Fastpass is a very popular system, and thus it is used often, making it difficult for the first-time guest not familiar with how exactly to use the system to get the best use out of the Fastpass system. Back to the family example, it is possible that in all the hustle and bustle of guests in the park, as well as working through the sometimes confusing signs reading "Standby Time" and "Distribution Center", the family would not be able to use the Fastpass system in the best manner.
Finally, the new Fastpass system may decrease the wait time for Fastpass users immensely, but consequently all of that "saved time" is put into the Standby wait times for non-Fastpass users. Standby line wait times are significantly longer with the institution of the Fastpass system, and as mentioned above, the first time guest might not always be able to use the Fastpass on an attraction of their choice, or they might not understand how to use it for that matter. Subsequently they might end up spending hours on end in a very slow moving Standby line that they could have been putting elsewhere. Fastpass also largely increases the amount of traffic flow throughout the park because of the increased numbers of guests not waiting in line for attractions, and thus the park can be even more crowded and overwhelming for the first time visitor who is simply trying to find their way to "it's a small world."
Disney's new Fastpass system has brought about a huge number of changes for the first time and infrequent visitors to the park. While there are some draw backs to the new system that do not always work in the best interest of the first time guest, the Fastpass system is a revolutionary innovation that takes the "suffer in line" segment out of the Disneyland equation and allows first time guests to enjoy all of the aspects of the park. It will definitely make a lot of first time visits to the park the very happy and rewarding ones that they should be.