Disney World fan sites have been abuzz today about rumored upcoming changes to the Fast Pass system. If you are unfamiliar, the Fast Pass is Disney's attempt to control ride lines. You may walk up to certain attractions with a longer wait than you'd like, and instead of getting in line for the ride or show, get a Fast Pass, with a scheduled return time. The pass will give you a one hour window in which to return and by-pass the "stand-by" line for the Fast Pass line, which is supposed to be little or no wait.
The problem seems to be that Fast Pass wait times are growing, especially later in the day. Disney cast members have not been enforcing the time window printed on the ticket, so folks have been using them whenever they please, usually at the end of the day. Reportedly, it is no longer unusual to wait for 20 or 30 minutes in the Fast pass line, which sort of defeats the purpose.
The solution that is rumored is simply to have cast members manning the Fast Pass queue start enforcing the return time windows printed on the passes. They will reportedly allow you in up to 15 minutes after your scheduled window closes, but no more than that. This has many panties thoroughly in wads. The number of people upset by this speaks to me of the need for the change. If all those folks were not "playing by the rules," then its no surprise that longer lines than are desired appeared at Fast Pass entrances. This is really a good thing, and I believe everyone will adjust their own plans accordingly and the system will work as it was intended.
I have to say, though, that I was really surprised by the amount of interest and concern this change to Fast Pass policy brought out. We've been to Disney World four times since the Fast Pass system was rolled out in 1999, and we have yet to use it. Now we did actually get ourselves a Fast Pass, we like new gadgets and wanted to see how it worked, but we never actually used it. That was during a trip in September and the lines were so low there was no need. It was busier the other three trips, one was in the summer, but we never bothered to use Fast Pass. Thinking back, I'm not sure why. Most likely it's because I'm not a fan of change and "that's not the way WE always did it." Also, our family is about as far from Type-A as you can get. I do plan, and I really enjoy planning our meals and which day we're going to which park and so forth, but Disney is the ONLY thing I plan out like that. It amuses my wife to no end. Once we get to the parks, aside from making our scheduled ADRs, we aren't very plan-oriented. We wander about riding what we like and skipping anything that we don't deem worth the wait.
We aren't opposed to waiting in line, though, for something we all really want to do. Two hours is a bit much, but even for an hour and a half we have been known to suck it up and wait. It's really not the end of the world. There's lots to do in line. Disney has spent a tremendous amount of time and imagination and money making even the queuing areas of its attractions interesting. That's not even to mention the people watching opportunities. I pity the people who never wait in line and as a result miss out on mocking the other Disney guests' dress, hairstyle, accent, mannerisms and child-rearing skills. What do you people talk about at dinner? Even if you are sickeningly nice and don't get snarky and mean about strangers, you could spend time in line talking to your family. Imagine that! You are on vacation and the children, if not the adults, are probably close to sensory over-load. Talking about what you've done and seen and what adventures are yet to come make passing the time in line rather enjoyable.
So, I'm glad Disney is fixing the Fast Pass system, it sounds like it needed it. I also hope everyone can get along and make it run smoothly going forward. Just remember as you bustle by me in the stand-by queue, I'm making fun of your hat and how stressed you look and we are going to talk about it over dinner.