Walt Disney World (FL)

Increases In Legacy FASTPASS Distribution Rates

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According to reports from our staff in the parks and our collection of return times, Walt Disney World legacy FASTPASS (the paper tickets) distribution rates have drastically increased for some attractions.

Historically, on an average day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the rate of FASTPASS distribution will be around 3:1. That is, for every 1 minute of time that passes, the FASTPASS return time will increment by 3 minutes. On a busy day, that ratio will increase to about 6.5:1. Recently, we have seen distribution rates that far exceed those on even the busiest historical days. We are examining the distribution rates and considering alterations to our predictions of FASTPASS return rates in our optimizer. We hope to have some results to report soon.

In the meantime, when you are in the parks, make sure to click “Optimize” on your Touring Plan in the Lines app. During the day, if the rates are higher than predicted, the optimizer will adjust accordingly.

Incidentally, we have seen this before, way back in October 2010. Check out this blog post from the archives. As it was then, this may be a temporary phenomenon.

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Fred Hazelton

Fred Hazelton maintains the crowd calendar, theme park wait time models and does hotel rate analysis for the Unofficial Guides. He's also done the models for the new mobile wait times product Lines. Fred Hazelton is a professional statistician living in Ontario, Canada. His email address is fred@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

21 thoughts on “Increases In Legacy FASTPASS Distribution Rates

  • Jennifer

    Do you think people could be collecting them since they will be going away?

  • I want to use your “personalized” time scheduler, where I can add our dining reservations, but you have no way for me to put in our fast pass+ rides and times that I’ve schedule for our days. Will this be added soon? We are leaving for our trip in 31 days!!!! Thanks!

    • screamlikeagirl

      Look under the walking speed/waiting bars and you’ll see ‘Fastpass+ options (skip if not using)’ other is a green + sign. Click it and put in your fastpass + selections. Hope this helps.

  • Terri Torrez

    How do you know it’s an increase in the rate of distribution and not a decrease in the number being distributed (i.e. Due to FP+ testing)?

    • carrabus

      My question exactly. Are all the times being used up by Fastpass +, so that there are fewer available (and therefore further apart) for legacy Fastpass users?

    • The increase in the rate of distribution is due to the lower total number of paper FASTPASS available.

  • We were just at WDW at the Fastpass situation was ridiculous. We arrived at HS 20 minutes prior to opening on Wednesday October 23 and walked straight to Toy Story Mania. The standby line was outside and around the block and Fastpass times were already up to 5:30, but with the line by the time we have gotten one it would have been much later. Same thing happened with Soarin at Epcot. Interesting there was little or no lines at other big attractions early in the morning: Test Track, Rockin Roller Coaster, and tower of Terror, but at other lesser attractions like Nemo and Figment we had actual waits for the first time ever in October. We also tried a touring plan at Magic Kingdom and ended up way off after a few rides. We won’t be going back until they fix the Fastpass system.

    • Cindi

      We had the same experience at Epcot on 21 Oct 13. At 9:20am (Park Opened at 9:00am)Husband and older son went to Test Trac and waited 10 minutes while I went to get Fast Passes at Soarin with younger son. Stand-by was 20 minutes and Fast Pass return was 3:20pm!!! We waited the 20 minutes!

  • Mauler40

    Why is Disney playing with a good thing that works? We are planning to return in late Aug 2014 and all this talk about long line lack of FPs is starting me to reconsider going. We always used lines and touring plans and were able to do everything we wanted with little wait time. Maybe its time to start looking into staying longer at Universal and their express pass for their hotel guests?

  • Rhonda

    I think it is a decrease in the number available due to FP+ testing. This is the first test that includes all of the resorts. I just think this is getting folks ready for the disappearance of FP. (paper)

  • Chuck

    I am sure this is due to increased Fastpass+ use. We went in late August and over Columbus Day weekend. Crowds at DHS were similar on the days we went. Both days we arrived at DHS by 8:20, and both days we were among the first people in the park. In August, our party of 12 obtained fastpasses with return times at 9:55. In October, the return time ranged from 10:55 to 11:30! All 12 were obtained in order. Had the same thing happen at Test Track. As more Magic Bands are in testing, the Fastpass+ reservations must be taking up availability for legacy Fastpass.

    And the lines to get in the Fastpass entrance were crazy some days – Fastpass+ seems to slow that process significantly.

    I’m glad our Annual Passes expire in November – we won’t be headed back for a few years until this mess is sorted out.

  • I am also of the view that they should not have messed with a system that was working just fine. I hear all the reasoning that Disney spent over a billion $ on this system but that was spent on the My Magic+ of which FastPass is only a small part. By all means, go with the RFID system for FP, let guests scan a band or a card and get rid of paper, but let’s use the previous system with the new infrastructure. I can see no reason why guests can’t leg it over to the attraction and scan a band to get their return time and tap again to enter. Old style on the new system would work fine for me.

    To me the biggest problem I see is that Disney is adding too many little extras to the testing before they have cleaned up the previous stage, so all that is happening is that issues and glitches are stacking in a compounded manner and it’s become difficult to actually isolate what the problem is.

    They launched MDE. Great. Let’s get that sorted and resolve the linking of tickets to that first. Once that is all sorted out, then go with the Magic Bands. Magic bands are not required for FP+ There is an option to use RFID room keys for those who do not wish to wear the bands. Why could they not do one or the other. I don’t really care what they want to test first or in which order things follow, but for goodness sake, one thing at a time!

    They have now added Photopass to the bands which is reportedly causing even more problems for those not using the cards. It’s easy to sit here and say “Oh that sucks, sorry about your pictures” for those who have fallen victim to the glitches of this new, amazing and wonderful system but for that family who saved for years for one magical trip and whose photos are ‘gone’ it is a big deal; and it should be!

    Incredibly, I am actually not against the new MyMagic concept at all. I think it has a lot of great potential and Disney would eventually have had to move with the times so why not now?! What I do take issue with is the way they are stacking test components without perfecting them in a stage by stage basis before adding the next step. SO much harder to pinpoint the actual problems when you have so many and so frustrating when it could have been avoided. If they could get this right, they would pretty much be perfect, save for the need of a massive overhaul of their IT system 😉

  • Please update touring plans so we can optimize before November 23-30 trip. Packed crowds and new Fastpass distribution rates – ugh!

  • I’ve just returned from a week at the Parks and I can only re-iterate all the previous comments about legacy Fastpass distribution.
    At Epcot & Hollywood Studios paper Fastpasses to the big ticket attractions were disappearing at an incredibly rapid rate.
    At Toy Story Mania on Thursday for example (at a crowd level day of only 4 for the Park) all Fast Passes were gone by 9.30am!

    I can’t imagine therefore what it’s going to be like on busier days in the season.
    And it goes without saying that this is really screwing up any personalised Touring Plans you may have!

    I guess once everyone is on FP+ it may get better, but it’s certainly going to be make forward planning even more important than now.

    (I would also add that in MK & AK the system seemed to be working as planned and that FPs were available all day until late afternoon, so maybe Disney are only tweaking a park at a time?)

  • Shelley

    Just a thought – there can only be so many fastpasses available for a ride regardless of whether they are reserved ahead of time with fastpass+ or old-style fastpass. The more fastpass+ reservations, the less old style fastpasses available. Only makes sense.

    • Michelle

      Very true…the stampede to get Toy Story Mania and Soarin fastpasses will not go away. It will just change from running to the FP kiosk at rope drop to setting your alarm clock to 11:55 PM EST, logging on your computer and being ready to snag those FP+ reservations at 12:00 AM 60 days before your trip. What fun!!!

    • Actually, Disney could have up to 100% of a rides capacity assigned to FPs. Even before FP+ we have seen Disney change the percentage of capacity reserved for FPs. We can only assume that Disney will keep adjusting the percentage of FPs during the test of My Magic+.

  • I agree the old system worked just fine–for us guests. But unfortunately, FP+ isn’t for our benefit, but for Disney’s. They’ll be able to use this to mine an incredible amount of data from us guests, which will help them maximize their profit.

  • Brooke

    Just got back with a large group get together at Disney and used the bands. NIGHTMARE! If you have military tickets, don’t bother. If you have a large group staying in multiple rooms (ours was a group in 5 rooms), don’t bother. If you happen to be unlucky, don’t bother. We had every possible problem I’ve heard of with the bands. Some didn’t open doors, some didn’t work as tickets, some didn’t recognize us as guests, half wouldn’t get Fastpasses together, one never got Fastpasses, on and on. We spent hours getting new bands, having them try to link up, blah, blah, blah. We NEVER got our Fastpasses situated. After multiple cast members and days, they finally handed us a stack of Fastpasses for the group and an “I’m sorry.” If you are alone and in one room, good luck, it might work. The fastpass lines were often longer than the regular lines. The cast members, less than magical. My least favorite “Disney” experience.

    • See this bugs me. I do understand that the various problems mean it is working for some and not for others. But a lot of folk seem to be missing the point that for those who it is not working, they don’t get a re-do of that vacation. “I’m sorry” is appreciated and in all fairness, the poor people doing the apologizing are never the ones who had anything to do with causing the problems; they just have to face them. But how do you fix a vacation after the fact? I really feel bad for all the people affected this way. 6 months ago I was lamenting a canceled trip for this month. Now I’m shocked at my own relief that we didn’t get to go just yet. Crazy!

  • It seems that the wait times have settled down this past week. Is that right? Do you think Disney has done some tweaking of the fastpass allotment to make that happen?


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