Fastpass For the Park Regular
An Inquiry Into The Benefits and Drawbacks of Disneyland's New Ride Reservation System For Frequent Guests
The word Fastpass has been echoing in the halls for every guest traveling to Disneyland recently, and it has meant very large changes in the way many guests visit attractions throughout the day. This is definitely true for park regulars and Annual Passholders who had become accustomed to the regular flow of traffic into and out of different areas of the park and attractions. Fastpass has introduced a completely new dynamic into getting the most out of visits to the park.
Original concepts for Disney's Fastpass system were not only to have a great market concept to bring people to the park by heralding the introduction of reservations for a spot line, but also to get guests out of the long lines and into shops, restaurants and lesser known attractions. While the system has definitely helped to take many people out of line, visits to other portions of the park have not increased as dramatically as first anticipated. Most guests are left milling about while they try to figure out what they are going to do in the allotted time period they are given. This leaves many areas of the park with larger numbers of people than the park regular often expects. Sometimes these areas, such as Adventureland, the Autopia / Hatmosphere area and the heart of Critter Country can become almost impossible to walk through with the large number of people. The Fastpass Distribution areas tend to be the most crowded, as not only are guests trying to figure out what to do after they have obtained their Fastpass, but they are also trying to figure out what all the different signs mean, and where they should go to get done what they want to get done.
Another difficulty that appears for many park regulars is that of getting onto Fastpass Attractions with a short wait without first obtaining a Fastpass Ticket. In pre-Fastpass years the flow of people and the length of lines were very predictable. If you wished to ride Indy without a long wait, simply wait until late at night on a summer evening and the attraction would have a much shorter line. Now with Fastpass though these normal flows of people have changed dramatically, as Standby Lines are much longer and the dramatic increase and decrease of line lengths are not as large as before. Park regulars, who only have a limited amount of time to visit the park, may not always be able to obtain a Fastpass Ticket that will allow them to return before they need to head out. Long Standby lines also mean that often this short visit will turn into a wait for only one attraction. The popularity of an attraction and its Fastpass system can also mean that Fastpass' disappear early in the evening, often before many regulars can find their way into the park. So if they wish to ride the attraction they will be forced to use the Standby Line or wait until their next visit to the park.
Park regulars, who are visiting the park for more than just a few hours, can definitely find some very large benefits to the Fastpass system. Just as with infrequent guests, the Fastpass system can be used for exactly what it was designed to be used for: getting out of long lines. Fastpass gives regulars an opportunity to ride the attraction with no wait at times during the day when they would have waited for hours. For example it would have been almost impossible to ride Splash Mountain on a hot, crowded summer day, without waiting in a line that would easily have topped an hour and a half. With Fastpass the park regular can plan out their day using the Fastpass system and easily get onto Splash Mountain right in the heat of the day, without the long wait. Not only is it possible to get onto the attraction during the middle of the day, but the time that would have been spent waiting in line can be spent enjoying other areas of the park and other attractions.
Fastpass also gives the benefit of almost guaranteeing getting onto that attraction during a longer trip, with a minimal wait. In the past even though lines for attractions would increase and decrease throughout the day, regulars would have to plan pretty carefully or have intense knowledge of these changes to be able to take advantage of them. It is definitely true that for shorter trips Fastpass makes it more difficult to get onto certain attractions, but even without it regulars could not get onto every attraction they wanted to on every trip. And one of the benefits of being an Annual Passholder or park regular is the ability to return to the park at any time, and enjoy all it has to offer. Now getting onto a given attraction becomes as simple as making sure you are going to be in the park long enough, getting a Fastpass Ticket and then returning at the time given. All the time in-between can be used to do whatever you wish. Previously this would have been more difficult to do.
With the addition of Fastpass to many attractions in Disneyland there are some major changes that park regulars must take into account on their next visit to the park. And though there are difficulties associated with the system, park regulars should still be able to find benefits to the system that can help improve their trips to the park.