FASTPASS Return Time Enforcement Begins March 7, 2012

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Cast Members at the Walt Disney World Resort have been informed that enforcement of the FASTPASS return time window will begin on March 7, 2012. This means guests will be allowed to return to an attraction with a FASTPASS during the time frame indicated on the FASTPASS – not anytime after the window as with the previous policy until now.

Some leeway is being built into the new policy – guests can now return 5 minutes prior to the window (ending the backlog of guests who arrive a few minutes early), and Cast Members are being told to accept the FASTPASS up to 15 minutes after the window as a courtesy.

Currently this new policy is anticipated to roll out on Wednesday, March 7, at the Walt Disney World Resort, though there is still time for Disney to change the exact date and time this goes into effect. There is no word of a similar policy for the Disneyland Resort at this time.

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R. A. Pedersen

R. A. Pedersen is the author of The Epcot Explorers Encyclopedia and runs the blog. He has been a research contributor to the Blog since 2006 and functions as sort of an all-around news desk and project-tracker.

145 thoughts on “FASTPASS Return Time Enforcement Begins March 7, 2012

  • I was just at WDW during the Easter Weekend and they are enforcing the Fast Pass time windows. There is a way to get around it though as long as more Fast Passes for a ride are available (see if you can figure it out!)

  • This has the potential to improve line flow at WDW. I see it as an experiment that might, or might not work. First, I would hope that the Touring Plan experts are working feverishly on updating their algorithms, getting ready to gather data, etc. I suspect that the 2012 version of the book and this web site will be requiring substantial work. Get ready to earn your money! A simple update of last year’s book won’t cut it ; ). I do have faith that they will come up with workable plans that take into account the new rules. Remember, there was a time when there were Touring Plans from before the days of Fast Pass that worked pretty well. Second, I would like to see Disney offer an option at the FastPass machine that lets you choose which time slot you want your return hour to be in, not the first available slot. This would retain the fixed number of fastpasses for a particular time, but let you choose the block that works best in your schedule. For example, I go to the Splash Fastpass machine at 10 am, and it gives me a 12:30-1:30 return option. I plan on the parade or lunch then. Instead, I get to choose the 2:30 to 3:30 option (right after lunch) as it fits into my schedule. I would still be allowed to get a FP for any other unused time (if I want, and if still available, for other rides), but I would be locked out of any other FastPasses for the same return window. I would also be locked out of any additional FP for that ride for that day. Using this strategy, within an hour of being at the park, I could walk around, get FPs for throughout the day that are within the preferred hours I want, and the system still keeps the fixed number of FP’s for each window. Advantages? I spend more time shopping and eating, and less time in line. I get to schedule my day better. So, basically, I’m all for an enforced FP return window, if I can have just a bit of flexibility for choosing my return window times (subject to availability). Plus, the system would need to allow me to keep my group together. In a group of six, we all need the same return window, or else the system doesn’t work. So I need the option of finding the time slot where there are six FP’s still available for the time I want, I can’t have four in one slot and two in another (perhaps there need to be some overlapping windows for the blocks e.g. 1000-1030, 1030 to 1130, 1100 to 1200 etc) so that if one doesn’t get consecutive FP’s, they are still able to have a common window (plus the five before,15 after exceptions will help).
    As long as Disney makes significant effort to inform people in advance (website, daily handouts, press releases), no one can claim they didn’t know when they start to enforce.

  • It would be really great if there could be an addition to the Lines App where you
    could find other people you could trade/swap FP’s with.
    On the wdwtoday podcast someone mentioned there was already an app for this. I found it yesterday, but today it doesn’t show up at all. Poof, gone!?? It was called Ride Swap – for Disney’s Fastpass.
    Any chance you will consider tinkering with Lines?

  • Will Touring Plans be updating their plans to go with the new Fast Pass window being enforced? I use these plans like Gold, and this could really change things!

  • The funny thing about what the guest said above me is that I will actually go to the parks more at night because I know the fast pass line will not be as crowded. So for me I will spend more. I a say “Happy for Disney”
    I’m glad they are finally correcting this long over due problem!

  • Not a big fan of the new policy. I hope Disney understands in some regards they’re working against themselves. With a couple small children, we would tour in the morning, save some FPs for use later, nap back at our off-property hotel, then return later for a small window of time 5 – 8 pm for some dinner and a couple rides. W/o the lure of Soarin, TSMM, or our other FPs, I’m MUCH more likely to eat dinner off property and not return to the parks at night. We can just swim in our pool and the kids won’t actually care one way or another. Disney just lost dinner revenue, any gift shop revenue, and my MANDATORY stop at Casey’s on the way out of the MK at night. Oh well, sad for them!

  • (Sorry, I’m a bit late to the party, so forgive me if this point has already been brought up…)
    I’m glad that WDW is taking action to close some of the loopholes that keep the fastpass system from running efficiently.
    My question is, though, why is it still an issue of what a CM will or won’t enforce? Why isn’t this all automated by now? Wouldn’t some sort of barcode printed on the ticket would solve the problem once and for all? The fastpass is scanned at the ride, and if you’re within the return window, you’re let into the queue. No ambiguity, no arguments.

    • There actually are barcodes on FASTPASSes so they can be scanned and accounted for. When they’re doing that level of “accounting” they have the CM’s box them in 15 min or 1 hr increments depending on the level of accuracy they want.

      That just counts though and tells Disney when FP is used for return, not to actually let anyone return.

      Disney internal rationale up until now has very much been on the side of the argument that there’s many reasons someone could be late. The same could be said for service recovery items like free items from stores, free food, tickets, etc.. that were used heavily for guest service recovery in the late 90’s and early 00’s.

      The food, parade viewing, child of the day, etc.. started to be abused by guests – at least in Disney’s opinion – and guidebooks mentioned the ways to get these perks and how to “make your case” to get an upgrade, etc.. Now management must approve any such service recovery item when in the past a frontline CM literally had a voucher for anything in the park in their pocket. Things change and Disney reacts.

      It looks like the tide is changing against the mentality of valid reasons and more toward abuse and trying to reestablish order.

  • After reading all the rants, and Passholder slams and back biting and flamebate, remember once you get comfortable doing something, it’s hard to change. We all get use to things, but as a Passholder for 8years I can tell you that park strategies come and go. The fun is in finding new ways to your the parks. This is gonna throw a monkey wrench into my park strategy, but I remember when the dates weren’t printed large on the FP and we would bring out unused FP’s from one visit with us on the next. 🙂 now we always find an entering party to hand our unused FP’s to when we leave. Now the game is changing, great! Time to play.

  • Will this also take effect the same day (or at all) in Disney Land????

  • We’ve always planned on returning during our FP window. Once we gave Test Track FPs away when an ADR conflicted. Once I stood outside Toy Story Mania for ten minutes waiting for a FP window that wouldn’t conflict with an ADR. And once I encountered a longer-than-expected Splash Mountain FP line caused by a bunch of folks who missed their designated FP window so they could see the afternoon parade. If I can play by the rules, everyone can.

    • I absolutely agree! You know what time your ADR is for, and you also know what the FASTPASS return window is before you take one. If you don’t think you’ll be able to come back during the return time window, then don’t take the FASTPASS. On a recent trip to Disneyland, my husband and I encountered a FASTPASS line that was twice as long as the standby line – 2 hours!! We figured that a lot of people must have come back after their designated window. We didn’t pitch a fit, we just chose to do something else.

  • Count me in the disappointed column. I would be ok with the change if I felt it was done to improve standby times. Unfortunately I feel that this was done to shift ride capacity away from the general public who uses the fastpass and standby lines toward the xpass premium. Disney needs to make up capacity somewhere in order to charge for the ride reservations system that they want to implement. This is most likely where it is going to come from. If this is the case it is just one other example of the WDW making changes that increase the cost of visiting while providing a little worse experience.

  • This change is apparently in preparation for the next step where guests staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort can pre-book fastpasses online.

    The main issue with this policy is going to be ADR’s. Will CMs accept proof of a clashing ADR as a reason to waive the return time?

  • Am I too cynical if I think this has nothing to do with upcoming RFID wristbands or evening out the lines to improve the guest experience on standby? The logic behind offering FP included in the price of everyone’s ticket was twofold: people who are in line for a ride are not in the stores shopping, and people are happier when given what at least appears to be an advantage for “free.” An RFID wristband which can be programmed to allow a guest entry during a preset time window can also be programmed with the current return policy. So the technology is not dictating a rule change.

    But guests who have to budget their time more carefully to ensure returning within the allowed window are more likely to spend more time in gift shops, increasing sales without significantly damaging guest perception of the advantages of FP. For example, you have a FP for BTM whose window opens at 2:10. It’s 1:55. You COULD go to HM etc, but the crowds are thick and your feet hurt. If you walk all the way over there and then the line is just a little too long or there are technical difficulties and you’re stuck just a little too long, you could wind up missing your FP window. You COULD wait outside in the FL heat…or you could just pop into an omni-present air conditioned gift shop until the window opens. The more time you spend in a gift shop, the more likely you are to spend more money. Will this happen to every guest with every FP? No, but often enough for the bean counters, I’m guessing.

  • I think that this is a great idea and I hope that Disneyland does the same thing! My family has always abided by the times on the FASTPASS. We didn’t even know until recently that not playing by the rules was an option. I think that everything will go much more smoothly when the system starts working the way it was originally designed to work.

  • I’m definitely in the FP hoarding group, but I agree this is good for the masses. Yes, it was great to get a Soarin FP and then head for a walk around World Showcase without worrying about being gone past the return time, but now I’ll just alter my touring strategy a bit. Instead of always being mindful of when I can get my next FP, I’ll probably follow the touring plan more closely so that I way I hit the headliners early instead of a more meandering pace while I college FPs in the morning hours.

    But can you really complain about them enforcing something that it says right there on the ticket? No.

    • I totally agree. We were not FP hoarders; I was aware that people do it but with our touring strategy, we never made much use of FPs generally, and would always end up using them within the return window. But it’s just like any other touring strategy — you adapt to the reality today. When FPs have no practical ending time, people will use them that way. When parks regularly open prior to published opening time, people will show up early. You just use whatever strategies you have available, and when you don’t have one anymore, you just use other strategies in your arsenal. (Viva Touring Plans!)

      And agree, just because they were willing to look the other way on the FP window for some time doesn’t mean they’re obligated to in perpetuity.

  • Boy that really will make it so that you can’t go and do much during the time you wait for your FP time window. You’ll basically have to go sit on a bench for an hour, then go use the FP. It will make it so that many FP’s end up just being wasted and not even used when you end up on the other side of the park, in a restaurant, or at another attraction when your FP window comes. Guess I won’t get to ride much in the evening hours anymore. I’m so disappointed in this.

  • Resolution to Dining Reservations that conflict with your Fast Pass…
    … have Restaurants validate the FP for those who have Reservations, gracing them an additional hour to use their FP. This would only apply to people who have “Reservations”.

    • Good idea. Maybe eventually, they will adopt something like that. Or even simply “validated” if the restaurant is running behind.

      I don’t agree that it’s unreasonable to grab a fastpass right before an ADR. In fact, I still think an educated guest should do exactly that. After all, lines are the longest right after lunch — 1-2pm. So grabbing a FP right before your ADR still makes sense. I don’t think guests should be soooooo beholden to their fastpass times that they can’t go about their day while reasonably waiting for their return time.

  • It really comes down to common sense reasonableness in enforcement.
    I don’t think Disney has any malicious motives here. They are trying to enhance the guest experience, while also enhancing their bottom line.
    But look what happened with the ADR no-show penalties. It’s completely reasonable — 99% of the time — to expect guests to show up for their reservation or cancel 24 hours in advance. But I’ve seen stories of guests’ credit cards being charged where the guest was simply 5 minutes late (which can happen despite the best reasonable efforts by the guest). I saw 1 story recently of a guest who showed up early for their ADR — but the restaurant was over an hour behind in seating guests. As the kids grew restless, sleepy, and cranky — an hour past the reservation time, the family was told that if they didn’t keep waiting, they would be charged the no-show penalty. Obviously, these are examples of unreasonable enforcement. And these are kinks that will need to be worked out.

    FP enforcement will have similar issues. 99% of the time, there may not really be problems. If you are 4 hours later for your FP return time, you’ll get turned away with no real right to object.
    But if you were tied up with terrible service at an ADR, and you show up 17 minutes late for your FP, I would hope that your FP is still honored. If a ride closes for a couple of hours, hopefully they work out what to do with people who had FPs during that time. Not simply, “oh well, you wasted a FP opportunity.”

    Guests have responsibilities towards the other guests and to Disney, and vice versa. Policies should be honored, so that one guest doesn’t trample over the enjoyment of another guest. At the same time, Disney needs to remember that people are there on a relaxing vacation, and therefore guests should be given every reasonable accommodation. Rules shouldn’t be blindly and strictly enforced where there is absolutely no harm in flexibility.

  • This hits right in the middle of our vacation too. But I am a nut about planning park strategy, actually enjoy it. IMHO, those of us who are, will do just fine 🙂

    I do have an idea though (If someone already said this, I apologize).

    Knowing that there are numerous fast pass machines at the applicable rides, would be great if Disney programed different ‘return times’ so guests can pick the time that works best for them. When a time is “all sold out” the machine will offer up another time.

    Assume there are 8 fast pass machines, each can be programed something like this:

    4 with a 11a-12p return
    2 with a 2p-3p return
    2 with a 6p-7p return

    Would also be great if each machine displayed the next time slot it will have available once the current time runs out.

    The machines will continue to evolve throughout the day as time advances and time slots ‘sell out’.

    • I think this is a great idea. Allowing park guests even two or three return windows to select from would allow them to accommodate ADRs or show times. Those who believe in mid-day napping could select a later return window, without having to loiter near the attraction until the single, monolithic FP return window becomes late enough in the day for them.

      • Yes, that would work perfect!

  • It would be nice if they extended the return period from 1 to 2 hours. The majority of people will still arrive at the start of the window, and it also allows for more freedom in planning your day. It seems like the main reason for this is to cut back on Fastpass lines at peak times (park close, after dinner, etc), so this would solve the problem nicely.

    • or split this difference and make it an hour and a half. One hour is most certainly not enough time during traditional times to eat. People may try to eat at odd times, but lets face it, we get hungry about the same time each day.

  • Well, I feel stupid. I never knew that you could use a FP after it expired. As annual pass holders, I’ve thrown away many over the years after they had expired. Darn it! Well, I guess the policy change doesn’t affect me.

  • Okay, so here’s my thought on all of this… I am actually getting excited to think how this all could work out eventually. Let’s say they set it up so you can reserve fastpasses online while planning your vacation. Then you don’t have to worry about getting to the parks super early to ride Toy Story Mania. Wouldn’t it be great if all of your fastpasses were right there programed into you park ticket? And let’s say one of the rides goes down for a couple of hours so you can’t use your pre-programmed fastpass. Then the wonderful ‘magic’ of Disney kicks in. Maybe they could set it up so you scan your fastpass at the return, and since you can’t ride it automatically gives you a ‘free’ fastpass to use at any time. THAT would be awesome. Okay, so Disney has NEVER said that’s what they’re going to do, but wouldn’t it be great if they did? Imagine being able to plan more of your day accurately. Not having to hope you get a fastpass for Soarin’ where you’ll be done in time for your dinner reservation at Garden Grill. Oh the possibilities. 🙂 Here’s hoping this all turns into something we’ll think is awesome in the future!!

    • Taking a toddler on vacation takes away so much flexibilty, the unenforced FP windows was a nice touch. I would have prefered a new “reservation” system to be rolled out. For example, if I was obtaining Space Mtn Fastpass at 11am, then I want ability to pick my return time (5-6pm) from available windows, not be forced into a return window during nap time. And if say the answer is to simply not obtain a fastpass with return window that doesn’t work for our nap schedule, then I am now being penalized for bringing my toddler to WDW.

  • Man are there a lot of selfish people posting!

    • I wouldn’t call having concerns over a policy change being selfish, which I think is the case with most people who’ve posted. I probably won’t make it to back to Disney World for 2-3 years, so it doesn’t really affect me directly. Also, we go during slow times, when FPs are less crucial.

      However, as a fan of the parks, I do see this as reflective of a trend. I think Disney has made some positive moves in other areas. For example, I like that Disney is working to stop multiple ADRs, which were being abused. This is a different situation where a change actually negatively affects the guest experience, with little benefit to Disney. I do think that possible widening the return times might make this change work out. Leaving them at their current width raises some issues that could create issues. Maybe it will work out perfectly, but the short-term effect won’t be pretty, especially on busy days.

    • Alot of know-it-alls… Sorry but no matter what park you attend, DLR, WDW or whatever you should try to have fun! That’s why it was built! I don’t think Disney would want you to navigate the park so planned out and uptight!

  • It won’t affect most people — because most people never even realize that you were allowed to use fast passes late. So most people won’t even notice the change.
    As to people complaining about perceived abuse creating bottlenecks— I don’t think late fast passes were responsible in the first place. Again, the overwhelming majority of guests didn’t know late FPs were acceptable. You’re still going to have bunchings of people, using their valid FPs right after a parade, etc.

    As to the 1 activity that can easily take over 80 minutes — dining. That’s the hard thing to plan around.

    At 11:30, grab a Splash Mountain fp, intending to use it after lunch. You get a 12:15-1:15 return time.
    You have 11:45 ADR at Crystal Palace. You check in early, right after getting your Splash fp.
    Backups to be seated at Crystal Palace are common. So you don’t get seated until 12:05. Now lunch could easily take you past your 1:15 return time.

    So the most common complaint I do expect to see made to the fp CMs, “but I was stuck in a slow restaurant.”

    • Well that’s just it, getting a FP for 12:15-1:15 with an 11:45 ADR is reckless.

      The same could be said for getting in line at attraction with a 30min wait when your FP window has just begun. Policy says evacuation must be started after 45mins if the ride system fails and cannot be restarted – that means after your 30min wait you could easily go over your FP return window.

      However, you shouldn’t have gotten into that 30min line in the first place.

      You should not plan to do anything that overlaps your FP window. The window is an allowance – you should be attempting to return at the start. If for any reason you don’t “attempt to return” at the start of the window then that’s your own decision.

      Even in the lunch ADR example, if FP is only at 1h15m for return it’s only 30mins above the standard 45min gap. There’s essentially no risk of not being able to get a FP after lunch.

      • I’m taking a solid middle ground here. The whole point of fp is defeated, if you can’t do other things while waiting for your fp window.
        I see nothing “reckless” with grabbing a fp right before lunch.
        Just as many guests didn’t know the exact fp policy, many guests would have no idea that there could easily be a 30 minute wait to be seated, past your reservation time.
        I don’t think it’s reckless to say to yourself, “I have a 11:30 ADR.. So I should have no problem making a 12:15-1:15 fp return… Since I should be out of the restaurant by 12:45-1:00″… Only to find the restaurant 30 or minutes behind.

        Sure, most of the time — I agree that guests should be able to fairly easily plan around fp return times. Just may ruin the ability to leave the park for a break.
        And truthfully — even dining wouldn’t be an issue ——- if the restaurants themselves ran smoothly. After all, if you grab a fp that is 40 minutes out… And then get a 80 minute window, that’s 2 hours to squeeze a meal in, in between. That should be plenty of time, IF the restaurant itself was running smoothly.
        If thing go wrong in that scenario — it’s Disney’s negligence, not a reckless guest.

      • Perhaps not reckless for a first-timer, under-prepared maybe, but for you or me it’d be a bone headed thing for us to do – we know better.

        It’s similar to getting in line at the front of a resort for a bus at 8:45 thinking you’ll make the park’s 9am opening. Not gonna happen and anyone with experience at Disney should know better.

        I should point out though that Crystal Palace is a buffet – if you’re seated at 12:05 and unable to leave in under an hour you’re just not watching the clock and making an effort to do so.

        And i’ve certainly seen people mention to a waiter they need to be leaving for a FP, appointment, tour, etc.. in XX minutes. So there’s that as well.

  • Just a thought – having logged a bazillion hours in WDW, DLR, and even DLP – how is an 80 minute window not flexible enough?

    The general statistic is that 80% of guests return within the first 10 minutes that their window is open. Fastpass windows advance in 5 minute increments. 40% is a fairly common number given for the Fastpass to standby ratio.

    Say an attraction has a capacity of about 1200 guests an hour (a little low, but not uncommon) – there will be 12 FP windows in an hour, so every 5 mins 100 guests will be put on the ride.

    40% of those guests are Fastpass guests – and since the math is simple, 40 of them.

    80% of those people arrive in the first 10mins of their window. That’s 32 people arriving in the first 10mins of the window. That leaves 8 people unaccounted for every 5 minutes.

    I’ve no idea the percentage who return after their window, but those 8 people have an additional 70 minutes to return to the attraction. I’ve logged plenty of hours in the parks – there are no crowds, parades, or general tom foolery that is going to keep you physically incapable of reaching any point in any of the parks – assuming you didn’t leave the park – within those 70 minutes. Parades are simply not that long.

    The only real problem is a possible ride breakdown and being stuck in a vehicle. At that point it’s merely a matter of talking to a Cast Member.

    Even if those 8 people all end up stuck somewhere because a nebulous void appears in the middle of the park and transports them to an alternate dimension and said void continued to suck people up at the same rate all day that’s only 1,152 people in a 12 hour operational day.

    Just shy of one hour of the ride’s hourly capacity.

    The worst case scenario inconveniences the same number of guests as the average ride breakdown. The actual number impacted – seriously, who can’t walk across the park in under an hour? – will be far less.

    • “The only real problem is a possible ride breakdown and being stuck in a vehicle. At that point it’s merely a matter of talking to a Cast Member.”

      …and, most likely, the Cast Member on the 101’d attraction will have given you a Re-Entry anyway if you are stuck for more than just a few minutes.

  • Don’t really care much for the new “rule” only because I like the freedom to plan my day as I go… For those of you concerned about “planning” your day out before you get there, doesn’t that take away from the experience!? It’s the happiest place on earth!

    • Well, FASTPASS itself forces some level of planning. However, the distribution to window gap begins at 45 minutes and goes up from there if needed. Most attractions don’t go over an hour for the gap and plenty don’t even exceed the 45 minute mark. It’s the major headliners that do.

      I’d rather get to ride a headliner eventually and budget my time around that than to have to wait in line for upwards of an hour right then and there.

      And for the record, Disneyland is the happiest place on earth – the Magic Kingdom is the “most magical place on earth.”

      • Oh I’m sorry, did someone not put pixie dust in your Cheerios today? Geez, I was referring to Disneyland just like the article referred to Disneyland as the possible next step. And for the record, they have the same fast pass concepts, people try to plan out their days based on fast passes at both parks.

    • You know I remember going to WDW too many times before FP rolled out, and like you said part of the experience was planning the day as it went by. This meant choosing which rides I really wanted to go on, and realizing which ones I might not get to go on. Did it ruin my trip? Not one bit.

  • Using expired Fastpasses doesn’t use up any more space than using them in the window. Either way, one Fastpass takes up one seat on an attraction, and there’s nothing “unfair” about that, is there?

    That being said, I agree there’s still a problem with using expired Fastpasses – the bunching effect. At some points the standby line will be much longer than anticipated (when hundreds of people come to use Fastpasses at once), and it’s offset by lines being much shorter than anticipated at other times (when people aren’t using the Fastpasses they are saving for later). I can see how that can cause an issue, especially after parades and other bottlenecks, and it also makes line times much harder to predict.

    So why not this compromise – no expired Fastpasses may be used starting one hour before closing or at the start of the evening parade – whichever comes first? That stops the end-of-day and post-parade bottlenecks, but maintains most of the flexibility so you don’t have the “sprint from Frontierland to Tomorrowland to make your window” problem, or the “I can’t get a Fastpass and keep my dining reservation” problem, which makes nobody happy.

    One other thought – many of the Fastpass collectors follow a simple plan – gather Fastpasses in the morning, skip the busy middle part of the day, and use them in the evening. Isn’t this a standard thing for Touring Plans followers, who like to take a break in the mid-day? Now, these sorts of people will be stuck using them in the middle of the day. It’ll ADD crowds and INCREASE lines in the busy middle of the day, rather than spreading these sorts of folks out during the less-crowded times.

    • Will rider swap passes have enforced return windows?

    • It’s sounding like people may stop using fast passes all together if that’s the case…

    • Hey! You are using logic! Stop that. There are people on here who are opposed to anything that isn’t in the rules!

    • Fastpass is designed to even out line waiting times and the windowed time on the FP keeps the stand-by line from having a much longer wait at any given point in time.

      As far as your example with people using them in the middle of the day instead of at night, good. If I have a FP at night and am in my window, I don’t want the “collectors” in front of me in line and I am sure the SB guest don’t either. I seriously doubt FP window enforcement will keep people from taking an afternoon break from the parks.

  • I’m interested in what this means for the NexGen project and how quickly it will be rolling out, maybe with the opening of new fantasyland? Wonder how much it will be tied to staying onsite.

    • Disney has several permits out from late last year and early this year for queue modification that are probably linked to NextGen changes. Those all have expiration dates of October 2012 – so that’s the most likely timeframe. It also coincides with a new fiscal year and Test Track’s relaunch which is supposed to include a NextGen queue.

      • Oh, I’m going in October. AWESOME! Do you know if the NextGen will be tied to Disney resort guests only (as I’ve heard rumors) or will those staying off site also have use? I thought the reason Disney didn’t have the FP dedicated to hotel guests like Universal was to keep everyone coming. I would hate to see the NextGen reservation system be only for those staying onsite. (especially since my October visit I will be staying off site for the first time EVER on a Disney trip.)

  • I’m surprised at how fast so many people turn on Disney when they decide to enforce a rule that was always there but they were nice enough not to enforce until it became an issue. So many are admitting to abusing the system and now complaining about enforcement! Doesn’t anyone see the connnection? I should think most people would desire fairness to all. It’s not fair when before the end of fireworks you get into a line for Peter Pan that states 10min standby and then the fireworks end and the whole line gets jammed up so badly with expired fast passes that the standby turns into a 45min or more mid- wait (and you’re trapped after a certain point in PP) so you have to endure. Guests who always followed the rules will not have their experience ruined. I’m thrilled that they’re asking people to play by the rules- just as I was happy to see wristbanding at the Poly last July. It’s not about money, it’s about being fair and respectful to everyone. Bravo Disney.

    • Actually all of the reports indicate that the change in policy has NOTHING to do with the current system (or your perceived “abuses”) but instead is just an initial step toward implementing the NextGen FP system.

      • sorry but it is a correction and not just a step towards nextgen

      • Thank you Steve 🙂

      • The feelings you expressed and the example were great in explaining this on a level guests can understand. Be this a step towards any grander ideas for NextGen or not we must take into count it is happen now not when NextGen rolls out. So to say that this decision was made because of things that MAY come further down the road is false.

      • There’s been no indication that the system was broken, just a lot of Internet conjuncture arguing to that effect. What has been stated is that this is simply the start of a transition from one system to another.

      • Your correct the system wasn’t broken those using it twisted and misused it. The reason I can only assume that it hasn’t been corrected for so long is the retaliation the company would get by those who think its unfair to go by what it was intended for. However, the complaints of it being abused outweigh the benefits it created without correction and thus here we are. Sadly though one can go on complaining, but to put it simple if this is what the company chooses then so be it.

      • I also should say I’m speaking not from just what I have read on the internet. Where it shows that you do have interest in NextGen I would advise that conclusions are not jumped too because of what has been posted on the internet.

  • Since I try to follow the rules when possible and have always returned within the window, I think the change will benefit me in the long run since the idea behind FP is to even out the wait lines and ride capacity. When someone is abusing the window and shows up in someone else’s window then they are queue up in a later FP line and making the ride slower for the later window and the stand-by people.

    Yeah, you could do it and get away with it but you can read what’s on the FP and are just choosing to ignore it for your own benefit at the expense of others.

  • Seriously? This is no big deal. I remember having to budget my D and E tickets! I had “If you had wings” memorized cuz that sucker was free. I’m thinking the Fast Pass lines will actually be faster… guess we’ll find out soon.

    • As fast pass collectors (yeah, we do the run into the park at opening and stash as many as we can to use later in the day), this is really going to change our approach to touring. I hate it only because it messes with a strategy that has worked so well for us for years 🙁

  • It would be nice if Disney would increase the size of the window. That would reduce the number of valid excuses from guests and allow for some flexibility.

    • they could but in the long wrong it would not have an effect on what they are trying to solve. If they were to expand the size of the window one can come back, then they would have to decrease the number of tickets given out.

  • While I can understand how many guests will feel bitter about this choice; one still should have consideration for the cast members that work for Disney attractions. Has anyone taken into thought the complaints cast members already get because of how long one waits in line only to see FP guests pass by. Even worst if there is a wait for FP. This has potential of making stand by lines move more steadily and the FP lines shorter. This choice wasn’t to make the guests visit unpleasant but try to streamline some items that have been overlooked for many years.

    • To the other concerns I have seen on here there are already many solutions that can correct them. For one I saw there was concern if i parade was blocking the way; I’m sorry but who’s fault is this? Disney posts all parade times and routes leaving it up to the guest to plan their day. The other concerns I feel are grabbing at straws. These are changes in the FP system not guests service. If an attraction goes 101 or there was slow service it will be taken care of.

      • I hear you. But then I understand this as I know the drill. Parade times are one thing, but knowing that access from one side of the park to the other can be virtually impossible for easily an hour before or after (even more in heavily crowded season) I can quite understand a first timer running into problems with this.

      • Agreed for those who are first timers it can be confusing, but Disney has also built the reputation that you can ask any cast member for help. Also Disney never closes off one side of the park from the other for its parades. There are always different routes that can be taken (yes, most of the time longer). I would like to point out even during the holiday weeks Disney opens routes through backstage areas so that guests are able to get from one location to another. All I say is have faith in the company and understanding that they know what they are doing, By far this is not to you Lee but for many others I see on here. DO NOT TAKE THIS OUT ON THE CAST MEMBERS that have to enforce this.

  • There are rules for a reason, people. Just because you were using the bended rules in your favor is no reason to say these rules are bad. If you can’t make the time the fp is for…..guess what? You don’t get to ride! Who says that you are entitled to ride…whenever you get around to it??? Follow the time or don’t ride.

  • Not upset about this at all, but I feel for the CM’s that are having more and more responsibilities to enforce rules. One of the best things about working there when I did was the flexibility to do little things to keep guests happy. This puts them all in a tough spot.

    As David mentioned though, maybe it’s tied to the new system they’re working on. I’ve only seen rumors, but if it’s more electronic and not paper tickets, it won’t be as bad for CM’s as it’ll be some computer scanner that lets you pass or not (like ticket scanners), and not the actual CM.

  • I guess i understand the reason for it, but there goes my strategy. Guess i will have to adapt and find a new one.

  • My guess is that it all has to do with the eventual use of RFID in the parks. There have been rumors of being able to reserve fast passes online when planning your vacation in the future. Now THAT would be helpful when planning your day.

  • This is a change in the rules. The “official” stand has always been – No earlier, but later is OK. It was even a training point. Once again, the suits are doing thing to devalue the guest experience. Really, really, bad move!

  • I suppose you can always go to universal instead and stay onsite!

  • Can’t understand why everyone is so upset. Rules are rules for a reason. If the fast pass window is open for a time you’ll be unable to return, then don’t get the FP. People who stock up on FP early in the am ruin the opportunity for those who use them properly to enjoy a time they should be entitled to.  It’s like people who stock up on ADRs only to cancel them (or not) when they’re more certain of their dining plans. It’s only common courtesy to follow the rules, that way someone who gets a FP for an 8pm window doesn’t have to wait in a 20 min line because your kids are done napping or you’ve finished your leisurely dinner at one of the 4 ADRs you had that night. Disney only appears to be tightening up the rules because so many people keep “bending” them. 

    • I see what you mean about the rules, but people aren’t “bending” them. I’ve regularly heard Disney cast members tell people that they can return at any time after the opening window. Also, this is entirely different from ADRs, which are modeled around the concept of dining reservations everyone uses at local restaurants. Fastpasses should be designed to improve the guest experience, and having flexibility with them does just that. Restricting the time just goes along with other Disney rollbacks that detract from the guest experience. We used many FPs on our trip last week and only waited longer than five minutes once in the FP line. Even that one was only like 15 minutes for Toy Story Mania. This change just adds to guest confusion and creates more problems than it solves.

    • FP is not a perk. Disney does better when their guests are happy. People buy more food, buy more toys and stay longer when they are generally happy. The FP system is as much about Disney shifting the crowds around the park as it is about reducing weight times. Anyone who has gotten that “bonus” philharmagic Fastpass knows this. Of rumors of Nex Gen Park are true they will have to manage FP better. Add this to the rumors of FP reservations for deluxe guests and you can see that Disney can use the FP as a value add product.

  • It will be interesting to see how this pans out. For example, what will happen if a ride is down for a couple of hours? Will Cast Members need to keep track of when a ride was down so that they can accept FASTPASS tickets from that time? Or will people with those FASTPASS tickets be able to trade them in for different ones if they visit during their initial windows?

    Disney has all sorts of rules that are seldom enforced, and WDW often shies away from enforcing blatant rule abuses with pool hopping, parking at resorts to head to parks, use of refillable mugs obtained on past vacations, etc. Enforcing such rules is a pain, and it does not lead to happy cast members or happy guests.

    If changes are coming to FASTPASS window enforcement, there’s a reason for it. I’ve read that this change may be related to the scheduled FASTPASS (X-PASS) system that is reportedly coming soon. I guess the change should ensure that wait times in the FASTPASS queue are more regular throughout the day. Maybe this indicates something (although I’m not sure what) about how X-PASS will function.

    • This is my concern. More than once I have had a FP for Big Thunder Mountain, but due to weather couldn’t ride until well past my FP window. I really hope they have a plan in place for those types of issues.

    • When an attraction is down what happens? Cast members are staffed at the entrance to inform approaching guests of this fact. The way I’ve heard they will handle this is that they will exchange your valid FP (good in tha hour window) for another one that is valid for that same attraction anytime for the rest of the day. In other words, you’ll get one that has no return window, so long as you made the attempt to return at the correct time. It’s really simple.

      Use of refillable mugs from past vacations is theft of goods and should result in your arrest. It’s a totally different kind of abuse.

      • My guess is they will CMs some latitude on making exceptions. If the rule is enforced 90% of the time it will have the intended effect (i.e., getting FP holders to have the expectation that they need to come back at the appropriate time.)

        Also, FP are free. If you can’t or don’t want to use them, give them to somebody as you leave the park. I’ve had people give us FP for TSM long after FP had run out and it was like our own little “Magical Moment”.

  • This has major implications for the current touring plans, which seem to take a return-whenever approach. When might we see updates / will this variable be added to the optimized touring plans?

    • It’s a very, very simple change with the touring plans and software. We’ll add it around March 7, if we see signs that Disney is actually enforcing it.

      • Doesn’t help me since we arrive on March 7th.. so I have no idea if my plans are going to work or not!

      • We can enable it a day or two in advance, Kelly. Let’s see whether Disney announces anything formal about this. If so, we’ll make the change sooner.

      • Would it be possible to add an option to the optimizing page that says “Use FP within window Y/N” or something like that? My trip straddles the change-over, so I’d love to have plans prepared for both possibilities…

      • The touring plans and software NEVER should have been promoting this fact. That alone is one of the problems. You all FAIL in my opinion when you designed your tours in a manner that really didn’t adhere to the way FP was supposed to be used. Just because they would accept FP after the expiration doesn’t mean you should promote it, write about it or design software to follow that loophole. Now that you’ve abused it to this point they’ll shut you down.

      • I think there are plenty of WDW visitors who know about the fact that FP end times aren’t enforced who aren’t Lines users. Lines and the Touring Plans blog aren’t the only source of info on the web, you know.

      • Exactly! Several other websites and Disney books discussed the non-enforced end times on the FP.

      • I wouldn’t totally blame touring plans. 🙂 We actually had the cast member at the FastPass distribution tell us that we could use them any time after the return time. I think it’s one of those things they’ve just been letting go. I’m sure it does mess the regular queue up when more people than are supposed to be in the FastPass line show up. I’m glad they’re making the change. I think it will all work out once people get used to using them the right way again.

      • We also have been told by cast members that they don’t enforce the FastPass’s end-time–they only looked at the beginning of the return window to make sure that we weren’t coming back to early.

        More often than not, we ended up using our FP within the designated return window anyway.

      • Forget to take your medication today, Eric?

      • LOL Len! I was wondering what bug got stuck up his rear end.

    • It’s right in the middle of our trip too. I guess all a person can do is deal with it. After the time and moey we have invested, we’ll have a blast no matter what!

  • I know this topic gets everyone excited but in general I support it. My only complaint is that there are interruptions outside of your control. How mad with a customer be if they can’t return because a parade is blocking their path and they are unable to cross, or if they have a slow service at a sit-down restaurant while on the Dining Plan, or if they get stuck on a ride due to an operational issue? And I still feel bad for the cast member who turns someone away–do they allow someone in at 16 minutes? 17 minutes? I’ve certainly stood at the FastPass return window for several minutes due to a large crowd. If a guest is at the front of the line discussing their FastPass return time my window could close while I waiting to have my passes accepted. I’m curious how strict Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was enforced when the corrals were being used; were people turned away with strict grace periods or did guests return with reasons why they were late? It’s going to be an interesting transition.

  • Any danger of them starting the strict enforcement early?
    We are there next week… And was planning on some late fast passes.

    • Actually we were there in January and we had two CM’s refuse to let us use our FP during EMHE. We have never had this issue before and have been to WDW many, many times. We had to argue with them. It was very frustrating since we knew this was bogus. However, it seems some CM’s have got wind of this and have started to enforce it. I am sure that it will not be enforced during normal operating hours until March but expect it during EMH.

      • It has been told to cast members, but it was also mention that it was yet to be enforced due to the fact that front of park, hotels and even booking agents needed to be updated. There could have been other reason as to why they enforced the time when you came and I do apologies it happen. There are reasons that are not shared with the guests not because of some insane reason that many like to come up with but for reasons that wouldn’t make sense like DS 1 not responding. This in turn causes lines to back up and in order to maintain the wait time for FP they would then need to be strict with window times.

      • It’s interesting that they wouldn’t allow you to use your FP during EMHE. When we were there they laughed when we tried to use FP during that time frame and said that the wait didn’t warrant the use of them, and they were right.

  • Well, I didn’t even KNOW you could go back after the time on a FP. Heh. So no water off my back. I have to say I’m glad they are enforcing a rule I thought was already enforced.

    • I agres with you. In my visits to WDW I folowed the rules stated in th FP. We didn’t knew you can come back anytime after th FP’s hours indicated!!For me is a no brainer and do not affect our plans for the day.

  • I actually like this. I think it will help keep the lines moving in the Fast Pass line. We have twin boys who are five and keeping them occupied in lie for even ten or fifteen minutes can be hard enough, waiting in the FP lines for that length of time or longer because people came back way past their printed time was just really annoying. What’s the point of FP then?

  • I can’t say this is unexpected. I think I read about this six months ago on this blog. I can say its disappointing. As a passholder I tend to linger in the parks longer knowing I can go back and use my FP at some point. I wonder if Disney factored that into the decision? Shorter fastpass lines at the end of the day, but less people around to buy merchandise at the end of the day as well.

    • Love this argument that so many pass-holders like to toss out there. There will still be guests by the end of the day if not more, this is one main reason why the belt is being tighten. If its not one complaint its another; and here is some shocking truth . . . pass-holders are no where near the main income of money to WDW.

    • Typical- another passholder admitting that they take advantage of the system. Way to go Neil.

      • I bet you’re a blast at parties.

  • This is going to be very hard with young children. As one has no control on what time the Fastpass is for you could be required to come back at a time when your child is sleeping, having a melt down or engaged in another activity. I really hope this is not enforced.

  • I think this is one more example of bean counters over fun counters. Something we’ve all seen recently in the parks. The emphasis is on making money, not the guest experience. We’ll all just grumble and complain, but go back anyway because we love the World. But it’s a shame that the difference in customer experience between Disney and everywhere else is shrinking. Pretty soon it will just be a really nice Six Flags.

    • Actually, Six Flags charges a ridiculous amount of money for their version of Fast Pass. As far as I am concerned, FP is a “free” perk for guests of the Walt Disney Resort and free is always good. They could start charging like Six Flags or Universal and than we will all have something to complain about, so I’ll follow the new rules and be happy about it!

      • A point often missed (forgotten) by many.
        thank you maria

      • Well said!

      • When you compare a Six Flags year-long season ticket ($56.99 right now) vs the cost of Disney tickets the Fast Pass is hardly “free”.

      • Actually, I don’t compre Disney and Six Flags, because there is “no” comparison. Disney is by far a much better “product” than Six Flags and therefor, in my opinion, worth the difference in price. As I said earlier, FP is a perk and could be taken away at any time. I cant believe all the complaining about actually following the rules when we should all just be happy that this “perk” exists at all! Ticket price increases over the years have nothing to do with FP. I am not saying that ticket prices aren’t high, but you do get what you pay for and I only live 45 minutes from Six Flags in Jersey, but you couldnt get me to go there even if the tickets were free.

  • In my opinion which will not be liked by many liners… is about time.

  • I think enforcing the return times is a great idea. I love it!!! There’s a reason they print a return time on the ticket and I’m glad they are attempting to end the abuse. It should make for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

  • I actually like the new policy. Have you ever gotten in the fastpass line in your window and had a 30 minute wait? Try planning around that.

  • Very sad about this. It will make touring even more difficult during the busy times of year.

    • We’ve been there during one of the busy weeks a few years ago (Christmas-NYE) and they did enforce the return times (at least for Space Mountain). They also had a cast member at the FP stations telling us that return times would be enforced. Having been there on another trip when the FP line was almost as bad as standby due to “late return” FPs I think the new policy will help–as long as everyone knows about it in advance.

  • Same here, hurts my touring plan strategy for when I am going in end of June(high crowds). I was going to try to arrive for my window time as much as possible but if I was across the park trying to catch a show or eat while waiting for the time, I knew I didn’t have to rush back, now that will not be an option. My guess is too many people were abusing the no expiration window and it was not as beneficial to the fastpass users who actually came at their time of say 3-4 and then someone coming with a time of 11-12 which is going to make the fastpass lines longer, so if they do actually enforce the expiration time window it means only a certain number will be admitted at that hr window and should keep fastpass window running smooth(in theory). Hoping it flops and they change back to no expiration by time I go, looks like they are testing it right in time for spring break/easter crowds.

  • I know this is a hot button topic, but I’m really bummed they’re changing the policy. And I’m even more bummed the new policy will start in the middle of my next trip! It’s going to be chaos.

    • It is in the middle of my next trip, too! I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. I know Len has always explained that it really doesn’t matter when people use their fastpasses because the system works anyway. I have no clue why they would want to change this. It works FINE the way it is now! Ugh.

      Also, if they are giving you 5 minutes before and 15 after, why not just print those times on the fastpasses? Why add that ambiguity? Seems like a ticket right back to the “old” way of not enforcing the times. Dumb move Disney.

      • Because lots of guests arrive just a few minutes before their window. It’s part of our culture – we’d rather be early than late. Compare that to say the French where things running absurdly late is pretty much the norm.

        This allows Disney to just admit them and move on and stop the crowds that gather. Using the example below based on the percentages.. imagine 32 people who arrive eearly plus the people who are “on time” and how each window overlaps and it suddenly makes a lot of sense to just admit them and move on.

        If you announce the window is 5 mins earlier, they’ll still show up 5 mins prior to that.

        Same thing with the 15 mins after – keep pushing it back and you’ll have people showing up 15 mints after that wanting to still get in.

        The length of the window doesn’t really change people’s habits. Working around those habits will keep things functional.

        I know i’ve certainly lied to certain friends/family about the time an event started because they were habitually late.

      • On the other side,although the French are less accurate,Disney Paris does not give you a moment leeway. Either you use the time frame or you are out of luck. Whining about late running dinners or disabled persons does not work there. I hope WDW finally adopts this system. It has been abused for years and WDW is finally pulling the strings.

  • Can…open…worms…all over the place!!

  • Do not like. While I understand how Disney would want to do this to get more accurate queue management, it is going to lead to something Disney should do their best to avoid: disappointed guests.

    Also, given the new ADR cancellation guidelines for some restaurants, this is going to cause some tough choices and resentment on the part of some visitors.

    I really don’t see how this could benefit Disney enough to counteract the inevitable negatives.

    • Great point about ADR cancellation fees. : (

      • It’s not a good point. Picking up a FastPass is not a gamble, the return time is known before you decide to get one. If the return time conflicts with your dining reservation then you’ll opt to get one for a different attraction or wait until the return time fits your schedule.

        What you people don’t realize is that while you’ll loose the ability to abuse the system, you’ll also reap benefits from when the abuse stops.

      • UM, apparently you’ve never been seated 45 minutes past your ADR time and haven’t had the first character come by until you’ve completely finished your meal. Try explaining to a 7, 5, and 2 year old why you can’t see the characters or ride the ride.

        I can understand this during certain weeks of the year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, week prior to and after Easter), but not on an every day basis. Next step is charging.

      • I also should add that we were stuck on the safari ride for 40 minutes due to an animal blocking the road that refused to move. There are lots of things that can make you late that you have zero control over.

      • CM’s have a lot of leeway when it comes to guest satisfaction, I’m sure if any of the problems that you mentioned Misty and you kindly explained that to the FastPass return CM I have a hard time believing that you would be turned away.

        As Eric pointed out, this is meant to go back and control the situation that they in fact created themselves by not enforcing it. You know the return time when you get the pass issued, if it doesn’t fit within your touring at that time – come back later.

      • There is no abuse Eric, it is allowed.

    • I understand both sides. I don’t like the idea that they won’t let you in after your “scheduled” time but a much better option would be to let You choose the time you want to come back. Since the FastPass is set by Disney and you have other things you want to do and you don’t know the schedules around the park(s) you can only schedule based on your own knowledge. If you have a reservation and it doesn’t match the posted FastPass time are you supposed to keep coming back to check if the time you need is available? What if you get caught on the wrong side of the 25 minute parade? I think this is going to cause some upset people. On the Disney side, there are a lot of people that get FastPasses to just have the opportunity to get on he ride. Then they don’t show up at all. This is the same problem that ADR has had. It’ll be interesting.

  • This is totally bogus. So much for grabbing FP’s for the evening hours, going back for a rest, and then coming back to ride FP’s in hand. I HATE This!! So now when you try for your 3rd FP of the day and it says 2:30 return time you’re either forced to stay in the park all afternoon or just pass everything up. ARRGGGH!! We’ve live through the golden age people…. some day we’ll talk about the days before they enforced the FP return.

  • Wow. I was desperately hoping that it was April 1st today. Well, there goes much of my touring plan strategy. Really sucks to be a cast member having to enforce that. Yikes.


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