The Magic Kingdom is testing FASTPASS+ for parades. You know those prime spots at The Hub in the Magic Kingdom that people occupy hours before each parade to get a good view? Now Disney says “Not for you!”
Walt Disney World is testing FASTPASS+ reservations for prime viewing locations on The Hub facing Cinderella Castle. Instead of being able to claim your own spot by showing up before anyone else, you must be one of those fortunate few who can grab a FASTPASS in order to use that space.
At present, the only way to get a FASTPASS+ for the parade viewing area is to be a resort guest using the new wristbands. Walt Disney World castmembers are randomly passing them out in the resorts. According to the castmember who shared this info, there is no way for Annual Passholders to get a FASTPASS+ for this area right now. That may change in the future.
Another castmember told me there is nothing preventing Annual Passholders from staying at a resort. That's true, but it seems to conflict with the requirement to use the wristband. Annual Passholders get a card, which doesn't have as many capabilities as the wristband. Extending that logic, it seems that you would not only have to pay for the resort, but also pay for another park entrance fee instead of using your Annual Pass.
Magic Kingdom Testing FASTPASS+ Area
Here's a few of the Magic Kingdom Testing FASTPASS+ area, shown by the roped area in front of Cinderella Castle.
Parade FASTPASS+ Not Ready for Prime Time
There are apparently a number of problems for the Magic Kingdom testing FASTPASS+. As I already mentioned, distribution of the FASTPASS+ hasn't been worked out to provide a fair opportunity for all guests to have a prime spot. It's not surprising that Walt Disney World would make this change, though. They've taken other prime fireworks viewing spots away from the masses and charged an additional fee for entry under the guise of having chocolates and desserts. The Hub has always been a prime spot and Disney undoubtedly wants to capitalize that experience for select guests.
As with all FASTPASS experiences, there are some guests who will claim a reservation and then fail to appear. What should Disney do in those circumstances for one-time only events like the Main Street Electrical Parade or Wishes Fireworks? Should Disney allow other guests in the available space, or just let it go to waste? Will there be standby FASTPASS+ options for people to claim?
As a local Annual Passholder, I find this a very disturbing trend for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. The Hub has always been a gathering place for any and every person with a valid admission. Segregating it into haves and have nots will have a negative impact on the overall guest experience. Sure, it's great if you get the FASTPASS+, but then many thousands more who never had the chance to get a prime viewing spot are relegated to second-class status – after paying more than $100 (with tax) to enter the same park.
There's a reason some people line up hours early to claim these spots, particularly for photographers. The angle of view matters when you're trying to capture a scene. Photographers pay attention to leading lines and other features for their composition. Even with a FASTPASS+ to get into the reserved area, there's no guarantee you'll be able to get the right position other than getting there before everyone else. If Disney won't even let you in until a specified time, you've lost the opportunity to plan for your experience.
Waiting for the Main Street Electrical Parade
Sometimes photographers get shut out of their plans, as I was yesterday. With so much attention on the front side of The Hub facing Cinderella Castle, I decided to try the other end and wait for the Main Street Electrical Parade to begin.