This week, Walt Disney World is trying a new system to accommodate extra-long wait times for certain experiences. In addition to the free FastPass+ that is already available, guests who wish to visit Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland will be handed a standby return time card instead. This return time card will give a window of time for the guests to come back and re-enter the standby queue where they will experience around a 30-minute wait instead of the two-to-four hour wait often to see the stars of Frozen at the Magic Kingdom.
Keep in mind, this is only a test and we may never hear of it again. However, it does help somewhat solve a problem of the line extending outside in the Florida heat, which for guests not hydrating or using proper protection from the sun, can be grueling if not dangerous. Also, it’s important to know the standby return card is included with park admission and does not replace FastPass+ in any way. Guests who book a FastPass can still arrive at their scheduled time and their visit will be expedited, just as with all FastPass bookings.
Before you go ripping Disney apart for not adding more Ana and Elsa meet and greets or getting rid of FastPass+ altogether, keep in mind that this is Operations trying to deal with the circumstances they are given in the best way they can. Their job is to keep the guests safe and keep the line moving. So this seemed like a smarter alternative than letting guests wait around for four hours in one spot where children often have to go to the bathroom and the sun is relentless.
Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this same process of handing out standby return time cards is now being used for the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. Again, guests are given a return window for a specific show time. In this case, there is no FastPass+ offering; only a package to guests who want to pay an upcharge for reserved seating (as well as other goodies). In addition, a similar process of giving guests return time cards is used for young Padowans at the Jedi Training Academy as well as The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Now some guests don’t see this new system as convenient at all. In a friend of mine’s case who recently visited Hollywood Studios, he first had to enter the park and wait in a line to get his FastPass+ options sorted out for the day. Then he went to reserve a spot for the Jedi Training Academy and darted over to get a return time card for the Frozen Sing-Along. Convenient? Hardly. Instead of being able to show up with what he wanted when he wanted (without FastPass+ or return time cards), he had to strategize and dart around from the front or back of the park before he could actually do anything.
In addition, once the standby return time passes are handed out for these attractions are gone… they’re gone. In essence, similar to “Legacy FastPass,” you now need to actually go and visit these certain attractions that offer these standby return times and you can’t reserve it via the kiosk or a mobile app. Now guests have to know not only how to maneuver the new FastPass+ system, but also which attractions need a standby return card in order to gain admission. Confusing? Absolutely. However, is it a better alternative than waiting potentially hours in the sun? I personally think so, but I am merely a blogger. What do you think?
Want to try this new standby system out for yourself? Sources tell me that Soarin‘ at Epcot will be handing out standby return cards from July 29th through July 31st. Keep in mind, my information is coming from an unofficial source and these things, as always, are subject to change. Don’t go to Epcot next week saying some blogger sent you. Expect to be laughed at. However, assuming the test does run, I would love to hear your feedback if you do happen to use it.
So does this mean we will see the return of paper FastPasses? Extremely doubtful considering how much money Disney has sunk into My Magic Plus. Will these new standby passes become a part of the future of waiting in line at Walt Disney World? It honestly depends on how well they work and the feedback they receive from the tests they are currently conducting. What are your thoughts?