A reader wrote in to the TPU mailbox to ask, “Since Toy Story Midway Mania is adding a third track at Walt Disney World, doesn’t that mean the standby line will be even longer than before? This new FastPass Plus is getting out of hand….”
In short, no. This is actually a win for everyone who is a fan of this attraction (and Soarin’ at Epcot, which is adding a third theater), even if you’re a fan of FastPass Plus or you despise it, everybody wins. Let me explain.
The FastPasses are often snatched up at TSMM far in advance (or early in the day) and rarely do standby lines dip below the 60 minute mark even on the slowest of days. This is due to two factors: popularity and low capacity. You could also toss in the occasional technical difficulties breakdown, but we are going to leave that out of the equation for the time being.
Every attraction on the planet has an hourly ride capacity. This number is basically how many people you can get through the attraction an hour based on how quickly you can dispatch a ride vehicle combined with the capacity of said vehicle. Throw in a contingency for possible ride stops and the fact that you can’t fill every single seat and you get a number that attraction’s employees should be aiming for every hour.
In the case of Toy Story Midway Mania, let’s say that number is 1,000 riders per hour. Easy math and I don’t think it’s too far off from the real capacity. Let’s also assume that FastPasses are handed out at a 90% capacity ratio. Meaning for any given hour in the day, 900 FastPasses are handed out and 100 people will go through the standby line. Results may vary considering that some people don’t end up using their FastPass and then you’ve also got the cards for Guests with disabilities, but for easy math? Let’s stick to the 1,000 per hour scenario.
Currently, Toy Story Midway Mania loads from one station, but once the ride vehicles enter the show building, it splits off into two identical tracks. As two ride vehicles are dispatched, just beyond the practice round, one car goes on Track A and the other on Track B. Considering each scene/game is timed, this means that the attraction in its current form gets that magical 1,000 people an hour using that two-track system.
When Soundstage One opens in 2016, a one-track version will be located in this former empty shell and will be exclusive to standby guests. This means two things: the current building will be home to a FastPass only reservation system and the new one-track version will be stand by only.
The standby return test Walt Disney World did last year is, no doubt, a way to gauge how the flow of guests coming into the building would look when this goes into effect. Factors like rain and major show releases (like Fantasmic ending) determine how many people return at a given time. Too many and the line is no longer “fast” and too few, you end up dispatching empty seats, which is counter intuitive. Considering there will be no standby line to pull from, this makes the five-minute distribution increments crucial in the system if that entire building will be FastPass only.
This also means that 1,000 people an hour will be distributed FastPasses, as opposed to the previous 900. A 10% increase! On a 10-hour operating day, this means that there will be an extra 1,000 people a day who can now obtain a FastPass who couldn’t previously. A win for the FastPass lovers!
On the flip side, if you think FastPass Plus is the work of the devil, Soundstage One will feature a line that never stops to let FastPass guests in. A novelty in today’s modern Walt Disney World, to be certain. Also, the previous 100 people per hour who were let through the standby line will now increase to roughly 500 per hour in the new one-track system. This means standby will move roughly five times as fast starting in 2016.
Hopefully this helps a bit and you can certainly apply this same logic for the new Soarin’ theater and the new Anna and Elsa meet and greet, which will be opening at Epcot in 2016 as well. In short: everybody wins.