The change could point to a larger pay-to-play trend at the parks.
Disney diehards know it’s not uncommon to see an astronomical 240-minute wait time posted for Animal Kingdom’s new Flight of Passage attraction, or even a substantial hour-long wait at the classic Peter Pan’s Flight. Luckily, Disney’s FastPass+ system has, for years, helped guests ride these attractions without the wait, allowing them to reserve ride times well in advance and enter through a special FastPass+ line, away from the crowds.
Now, however, thanks to a few recent updates to the FastPass+ system that Disney plans to implement, things in the land where dreams come true might be changing.
Beginning January 12, Disney World will allow some resort guests to purchase three extra FastPass+ selections per day for $50 per person, a Disney spokesperson confirmed to Spectrum News 13. The option, now in its pilot stages, will only be available to those guests staying in club level rooms and suites on property.
Club-level rooms can be found in many Disney deluxe resorts, like the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Contemporary Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, and Yacht Club Resort, and also encompasses cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, bungalows at the Polynesian Village, and various suites at the Swan and Dolphin Hotels.
According to The Kingdom Insider, guests must participate in the program for a three-day minimum ($150 per person) and can only purchase one Fastpass+ per ride, but will be able to use FastPasses in more than one park per day, as well as book FastPasses 90 days in advance, as opposed to the traditional 60 days for resort guests.
While there are already claims that these extra FastPasses will NOT affect other guests’ ability to book their regular selections in the future, many Disney fans are worried about the consequences of the seemingly small change. The pilot program introduces Disney’s first foray into a “pay-to-play” system for FastPasses, offering those families who have the means to stay in Disney’s most expensive rooms to spend additional money to skip some of Disney’s lines. Many argue that now that a price has been applied to FastPass+, it can only point to a larger trend in the future, especially if the pilot program is rolled out to more guests.
Others maintain that, for now, the number of people taking advantage of the program will not cause a noticeable difference in the number of FastPasses available, especially while the program is in the pilot stages.
The idea of paying to skip the lines isn’t altogether new, though. Disney neighbor Universal Orlando Resort has been offering an Express Pass system for years, allowing guests to skip every line in the park for about $90 a day. The pass is also included with your room at some of Universal’s on-property resorts. While the option to skip the line over and over again can be well worth the money, the price is still steep, causing many fans to look at Disney’s FastPass+ as a more “fair” system.
Some Twitter users point out that Disney’s increasing hotel prices, ticket costs and (now) FastPass+ upcharges are making it less and less affordable to take an enjoyable Disney vacation. Disney day guests who do not have the luxury of booking FastPasses months in advance are also at a loss, especially if the system continues to allow for more purchasable FastPasses.
Another notable change is Disney’s recent decision to allow some neighboring hotel guests to book FastPasses and participate in Extra Magic Hours (a change from the usual system that only allows Disney resort guests to do so.) While this could allow for a more affordable trip for families who do not stay on property, it does not benefit the annual passholders who already live in the area, and could make FastPasses even more scarce.
Of course, much of this is merely conjecture for now, and only time will tell how these new policies affect Disney’s overall wait times, costs and crowds.