For years, Disney has been looking at how to adequately address the issues deeply embedded within the FastPass+ system the company spent nearly $2 billion on at Walt Disney World. Now, thanks to the pandemic, it looks like they may have found their solution.
After a fourteen-year run with the paper FastPass system, FastPass+ was introduced in 2013 as part of a more extensive MyMagic+ system at Walt Disney World that encouraged more planning ahead of a trip and more usage of personal cellphones or MagicBands while at the resort. From the very beginning, there were issues with the new system with certain attractions seeing all reservations booked within minutes, and many guests, especially foreigners who may not have readily available data on their phones, left confused. The push to install RFID readers into every single cash register kiosk, hotel room door, and ride entrance took years to complete with the system outdated by the time it was fully rolled out. Since then, the resort has continued to play catchup being one of the last significant resorts to accept contactless payment options, such as Apple Pay and tap-to-pay.
Within four years of the new system’s rollout, there were already indications that a major fix was in the works. Multiple other Disney resorts began rolling out a paid FastPass style upcharge to rave reviews. Meanwhile, WDW’s system, which is free-for-all guests, continued to confuse and disappoint.
Multiple attempts to address the various issues with the FastPass+ system have been instituted over the years, with each adding another level of complexity to the system. Now, all but one of the Orlando theme parks have multiple tiers, and for many planning a trip to WDW requires spreadsheets, planning reservations months in advance, and figuring out where and when you want to dine half a year in advance. A sure guarantee of disappointment was a common theme throughout the past seven years as some of the most popular attractions see their FastPasses fill up in a matter of minutes.On May 28, Disney issued a news release and Disney Parks Blog post explaining all FastPass+ reservations, dining reservations, experience bookings, Disney Dining Plan, and Extra Magic Hours are now on hold as the resort looks to slow begin reopening in mid-July.
Now Disney has canceled all FastPass+ reservations, opting to use the queue space for allow for easier social distancing when the parks reopen. The move is a temporary one but FastPass may not return in its current form. The lower crowd levels will allow Disney to test different variations of queue management.Beginning May 28, 2020, all dining reservations, experience bookings, Disney dining plan and FastPass+ selections will be canceled. Guests with existing Resort reservations will have priority access to the new park reservation system when it becomes available. Additionally, when reservations for dining and other experiences resume, Guests who had existing reservations will receive priority access to rebook. Keep in mind, for dining locations within our parks, Guests will need a park reservation and valid admission before they can rebook dining and experiences.
Guests who purchase a Disney dining plan and tickets for dates between May 28, 2000 and September 26, 2021 will receive an automatic cancellation and refund of their Disney dining plan.
Guests who booked Resort hotel reservations with a Free Dining package for dates between May 28, 2020 and September 26, 2021 will receive an automatic cancellation of their Disney dining plan and are invited to rebook their vacation for later date with a 35% room discount.
Plans to support required physical distancing as well as enhanced cleaning measures, along with a number of other safety and cleanliness protocols, will be implemented as part of the planned phased reopening.
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