Magic Kingdom Testing FASTPASS+ for Prime Spots for Parade and Fireworks
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.
Guest picked to test out the MyMagic+ system were picked based on there check-in dates (June 20-23) at two resorts (Contempory and Animal Kingdom Lodge). Invites we’re sent out to these Guests before the test was announced to the public (well, in this case affected Cast Members) until after the invites were sent so the system could be seen in use with the average families and not people who may be just staying for these items. These two resorts were chosen because they had the most experience with the new technology and had been through several weeks of Cast Members as Guests of testing (mostly Cast Members who’s roles were related to each part of the project).
In the future you will not need a MagicBand to take part in the FastPass+ system, you will just need an RFiD enabled ticket (Key to the World Card, new Green park tickets/Annual passes). The reason why all the Guests in this test are using the MagicBands are that there has been only limited internal testing on the new systems with the MagicBands. Although the MagicBands and the new ticket cards are pretty close to the same thing, the readers seem to pick up on them differently (sometimes where a card will work, a band won’t, or will take longer). Also placement of some readers may need to be moved based on how hard it may be to touch the MagicBand, while cards are a non-issue at the same spot.
Thanks for sharing some insight. I think that FASTPASS is a great idea for rides, where there are multiple opportunities per day to venture through. Why stand in line when you can determine a time to be there
Events like the Main Street Electrical Parade and the fireworks shows are different, though. There’s only one chance. If you have to be a selected guest or show up extremely early in the day to get the FASTPASS, then Disney has greatly shifted the opportunity to have a prime viewing location – for what purpose?
This change is disruptive and benefits a select few, where historically anyone with a ticket had a chance to get a good spot. I think it’s a horrible abuse of the old-fashioned notion of getting to a place early to claim a good spot. If Main Street can’t honor historical traditions and fairness, what silly idea will Disney force upon its guests next time?