Top 5 Reasons MyMagic+ / Fastpass+ is Nothing to Worry About

The New York Times ran a story yesterday that has caused all kinds of uproar among Disney fans in general, and DISDads in particular. The article provided the most detail yet of the MyMagic+ RFID wristbands that are the core of the long-developing NextGen project at Walt Disney World. Ultimately, the project will make fundamental changes in the way guests interact with Walt Disney World. But, as fundamental as those physical changes will be, the uproar and stress over the change is being blown way out of proportion in some corners of the Disney fan community. Here are 5 reasons why this is nothing to worry about:

1) The most common complaint I hear is that 180-day advance attraction and show reservations will “kill the spontaneity” of a Disney vacation. But there’s no reason to believe that’s true. Just like dining reservations, attraction reservations are not set in stone. You’ll be able to make changes – including while you’re in the theme parks. The 180-day advance reservations just give you some anchors to plan around, and even those anchors can be relocated later.

2) Another complaint I hear is from people concerned about the “Big Brother” feeling of using RFID transmissions to share unique guest data in the parks – so Ariel can greet a child by name with a birthday greeting, for instance. I just don’t see the big deal. The browser data collected as you surf the Internet probably reveals almost as much information about you. And Disney has repeatedly stated – there’s no data stored in the RFID bracelet or card itself. The data is on Disney’s servers. RFID is the key. If you lose a ticket or bracelet, its “key” can be instantly revoked. There’s no more risk involved here than in the use of a Key to the World Card or even a Credit Card.

3) Related to number 1, I hear a concern that people who aren’t staying on-property won’t have access to Fastpasses after this shift kicks in. Relax. Tom Staggs followed up on the initial announcement and addressed this issue. Day-of Fastpasses are not going away. The only change is the way you access them. You’ll use a smartphone or an in-park kiosk that is activated by your RFID-equipped ticket or a MyMagic+ wristband to access them. And, in some ways, they’ll be better – because they’ll be changeable. You’ll be able to swap them out for a different attraction or a different time if the spontaneity of the day alters your plans. Staggs explained that newly-purchased tickets will be RFID-equipped, and guests will have the option of purchasing a wristband. If you’re using an older paper ticket, you can exchange for an RFID-enabled ticket or a purchase a wristband.

4) I heard AP holders concerned that they’d be excluded from Fastpasses. Nope. Staggs stated that AP holders will get a “free” MyMagic+ wristband with their AP.

5) DVC folks were afraid that they wouldn’t be treated as “resort guests” for this program. Nope, again, DVCers will have access to MyMagic+. In fact, the resort that is slated to get the first test run is BoardWalk Inn, making BoardWalk Vilas the likely first DVC test site for MyMagic+. The BoardWalk Inn test should start some time in February, according to Jim Hill. I’d guess it would hit the DVC side about a month later – probably by Spring Break.

So there it is folks. Five quick reasons not to be freaked out about MyMagic+. Ultimately, I think this is going to end up being a boon for those of us who are planners. And we’ll learn to appreciate the opportunity to have a Fastpass+ reservation for Toy Story Midway Mania in place, and not have to worry about the mad dash from the gates at Hollywood Studios!

6 thoughts to “Top 5 Reasons MyMagic+ / Fastpass+ is Nothing to Worry About”

  1. Ok, I agree with you on most points, except for number 1.

    I personally, hate the ADR system we have as it is. I hate having to know what park I want to be in on a certain day 180 days out, and having to plan this with attractions will make it even worse. I understand you can change things, and that is all well and good as long as you can make the changes you want to make. It seems that whenever I have a change in plans come up, I end up just canceling and missing that particular ADR as I can’t change to the day or time that works better for the rest of the schedule. A couple of times I’ve had some changes work out, but I’d say at least 50% of the time if I have to change a park day or something, I end up just canceling an ADR. My fear is that this will be the problem with FP+.

    Let’s say 180 days out, I want to be in DHS on Tuesday, but when we arrive the forecast shows heavy rains all day Tuesday and we want to see Fantasmic so it makes more sense to go to DHS on Wednesday. My concern is will I still be able to get FP+ for attractions TSMM and Rock n Rollercoaster, or will I only be able to get Star Tours and Great Movie Ride?

    I enjoy planning our trips, but I really do despise the idea of having to plan each park day in detail.

  2. Andy, the point I was trying to make is that day-of Fastpasses continue to be part of the plan. With dining, Disney would be thrilled to book every restaurant solid 180-days in advance. But with Fastpass+, only a portion of the available Fastpasses will be set aside for advance reservations. So while you might not be able to reschedule your advance-booked Fastpasses exactly as you wanted, you can still use day-of Fastpasses as an alternative.

    Using your example, you might have to settle for Fastpass+ for Great Movie Ride and Star Tours. But you’ll still be able to make the old-fashioned Fastpass dash for TSMM – the mechanics may work a little differently, touching your MyMagic+ bracelets to the kiosk, instead of poking tickets into a slot, but the process should be about the same. The point is that when it DOES work, it will make for more relaxed-pace touring (no need for mad dashes at rope drop, or across the park and back). Even when it doesn’t work out perfectly, it shouldn’t be measurably worse.

  3. Aaron, I think it’s not a guarantee that FastPass as we know it today will stick around permanently. I think Disney would like nothing better than to drop this system when it is feasibly possible. My understanding is that there will be FP+ kiosks in the parks for those who want to obtain/change their passes in cases where they don’t have smartphones.

  4. My take is based on these follow-up comments from Tom Staggs himself, published by Attractions Magazine:
    • Disney FastPass+ service is included with theme park admission.
    • The MagicBand is initially available to select Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests and guests who purchase other specific products.
    • Other guests will be able to use their standard ticket to access the benefits of MyMagic+, such as making FastPass+ selections on the My Disney Experience website and app.

    UPDATE – 3 p,m, Jan. 7, 2012 – Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs has provided a few more details on how the experience will work for annual passholders and guests staying at off Disney property:
    • Our Annual Passholders are very important to us and we’re taking extra care to provide access to all the features and benefits of MyMagic+.
    • Guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels, and Annual Passholders will receive a band, as well as those guests who purchase a photography package. Guests who stay at non-Disney hotels will receive a ticket with features of touch to enter the park, touch to redeem FastPass+ and touch to pay. These guests can participate in My Disney Experience and purchase a MagicBand if they wish.

    Those comments both clearly anticipate day-of-entry guests utilizing the Fastpass+ system.

  5. I think the Standard FP will almost have to stay in place for those guest staying off site or on a trip just planned within a shorter time than 180 days.

    While in the MK I noticed that the Pooh and Mermaid FP kiosk were located at Philharmagic… this got me thinking.

    WARNING THE FOLLOWING IS both ON and OFF TOPIC!!!
    Why doesn’t Disney place Fast Pass kiosk in a centarl location in each land. For example Tomorrowland could outside of Buzz… Fantasyland …Philharmagic is good… etc… Even put some in Main Street somewhere… but these are not youe standard FP Machine I’m thinking of. These guys have Touch Screens.

    So you find a open terminal… you walk up and put in your card…or log in your RFID card… the screen displays all available FP’s for that Park… you select attraction X. Now here is the Difference… this Machine knows your Party size and ask how many FP’s you want. Say you only want 2 out of 4… then it prints your FP’s for Ride X… then Seeing you stil have to members that did not want FP’s it brings you back to the Attraction screen and you select Attraction Y… and from there you select the othe rmembers of your party… it prints the FPs… and logs you out.

  6. Nate, you really hit on my biggest concern. That’s kind of what I meant, I’d been picking up on the sentiment that the FP as we know it might be going away. If it is all FP+, I can see it being just like the ADR system. If you get to it in advance and have all the FP+ experiences you want when you want them, then great, if not, it will be a headache. True you will still be able to change them the day of, but same goes for ADRs. Good luck finding the attraction/time that work for you though. That is what I’m afraid we’ll run into if they do phase in the FP+ and don’t keep the old FP system in place as is to complement it.

    As for your idea about FP machines, I think that is a fantastic idea and it makes way too much sense for Disney to ever implement it.

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