FastPass+ is having a minimal effect – so far – on lines at Walt Disney World. That’s according to our initial analysis of 330,000 standby wait times collected at Walt Disney World since FastPass+ went into effect in January. We compared those to 3.9 million standby wait times collected across Walt Disney World since 2009.
This is good news to families concerned that they’ll wait in line longer because of FastPass+’s various restrictions, and even better news to those who hoped standby lines would be shorter because of better guest distribution throughout the parks.
The results indicate FastPass+ is not causing significant changes to standby wait times:
- Wait times are increasing less than 1 minute, on average, across all attractions at all parks
- Super-headliner attractions have seen a small drop (under 1 minute) in standby waits
This indicates FastPass+’s impact on wait times is at the low end of Disney’s original estimates. Here’s the breakdown by park and ride type:
And Now, The Math
The challenge in doing this analysis is in attributing an increase or decrease that you observe, to a particular change in circumstances. If standby times go up, can we be sure that the increase is due to the new system? In reality, it may just be due to a general increase in attendance. So we must work some statistical magic to find the partial dependence of the new FastPass+ system as it relates to standby waits. That is, holding all other factors constant, we want to find the level of increase or decrease on the standby waits due only to FastPass+.
The most popular attractions that were part of the legacy FASTPASS system (the old one) experienced a small decrease in standby times when the new system took over. Meanwhile, the other attractions experienced a small increase in standby times. And we know that the changes are not due to fluctuations in attendance, weather or the economy, because we held those factors constant during this analysis.
This could indicate something about the new system. Here are a couple of theories as to why headliner standby waits are lower:
- Fewer Repeat Riders Legacy FASTPASS made it easy for savvy guests to ride headliner attractions several times a day without waiting in the standby line. With FastPass+ the rules don’t allow it. So, it may be that FastPass+ is drawing a few hundred guests a day to the less popular attractions that might have otherwise experienced a second or third ride on a Super-Headliner. With less Fastpass users later in the day, that means that the Standby lines get a little bit shorter.
- Better Crowd Distribution Guests have more attractions to choose from with FastPass+, and these attractions are spread throughout the parks. It’s possible that by moving guests to these other attractions, FastPass+ is more evenly spreading guests around attractions. This would explain the move of guests from headliner attraction lines, which are getting shorter, to lines at secondary attractions, which are increasing.
Again, this is a first look. Also, we’ve not yet studied how long the waits are to redeem FastPass+ reservations. Some folks are reporting very long lines here, sometimes exceeding the averages we saw with FASTPASS returns. We’re still working on measuring this.
The next big FastPass+ event will be when off-site guests can make FastPass+ reservations prior to entering the park sometime this spring. We’ll continue to monitor changes in standby waits during that time and provide updates along the way.