Thursday, January 2, 2014

Disney Fast Pass+ Too Much Leash?

Disney World is  too big to attack without some kind of plan. We do but we leave ourselves open to adjustments based on weather or crowds. For example, much as we wanted to try Be Our Guest, standing in the hot sun for an hour was not at all appealing so we ate elsewhere. It was quite cool one evening so we went to Downtown Disney and saved Illuminations for another night. However, we did book some meal reservations and Fast Passes before we left home.  A Disney mobile app allowed us to keep track of our schedule so that we arrived at an attraction during our Fast Pass-assigned time window and it reminded us of show times for those we wanted to see. We saw a lot of people glued to their smart phones, trying to decide how to be in two places at one time.

A family standing next to us at Spaceship Earth could see they would not finish the Spaceship Earth ride before their chance evaporated to get Fast Passes for Soarin' . The solution was for Dad to go over to Soarin' and get Fast Passes for the family to use later in the day. However that meant that he would not be riding Spaceship Earth.  His comment was "Why do we have to do everything at a set time? This is the worst vacation ever."

Too many of those reactions and attendance at WDW will drop like a stone. In trying to manage the guests in order to control expenses, Disney has successfully taken all the fun out of the experience.  By forcing the guest to schedule every moment, the company implies that the schedule will guarantee a wonderful vacation. Consequently the guest is dissatisfied or angry when their schedule falls apart.  Disney failed to include fallibility in its calculations. Rides break down, humans make mistakes, weather changes.

There have been numerous blogs and postings on the Fast Pass+ program. We have no issue with Magic Band; ours worked just fine. However, being forced to plan for every ride, every parade, and every meal doesn't sound like a vacation. Our regular lives are controlled by the calendar. Is it a vacation if we have to book everything in advance in order to experience it?

There is no doubt that the corporate plan is to give Fast Pass+ to guests staying at Disney resorts and "outsiders" will have to stand in line. Disney guests will be able to book optimum seating for parades, fireworks and shows. We get that. But heavy-handed control only works for a while. Eventually people rebel.  As we did. By the last two days of our trip, we blew off our Fast Passes and didn't use the mobile app once. We returned to the WDW of our memories and just enjoyed the parks. If a ride was too busy, we went on a different one. If one restaurant couldn't take us, we tried something new. Obviously not everyone will react the same way. If Dad foots the bill and thinks WDW is the worst vacation ever, the family won't be back.

So, Mr. Iger, be careful about what your Fast Pass+ system is telling your customers. Some guests might rebel as we did and simply opt for alternatives. And some guests may pass on WDW altogether. 

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