|Calm Before the Storm...|
Disney will be changing their FastPass policy starting in early March.
To demonstrate what exactly is changing, let's start with the assumption that you obtained a FastPass for Toy Story Midway Mania with a return time of 11:00 AM-12:00 PM.
The front end of a FastPass window has always been actively enforced by the cast members. If you tried to use your FastPass at 10:55 AM you were asked to wait. This will in essence remain the same under the new rules.
However, the back end of the window has always pretty much followed "come when you please"policy. If you returned at 7 PM, you were virtually guaranteed entry even though your allotted window has past. This will no longer be the case.
Under the new rules, Disney will only allow you to arrive up to 15 minutes after your FastPass window. So, if you showed up to Toy Story as 12:30 PM, you may be turned away. Obviously, there are many factors that could make someone late, including getting delayed from an ADR that was fulfilled late, another ride breaking down, or even simply not knowing how long it takes to get from point A to point B. The implications are also abound for those obsessive planners (like myself) who use the current system to improve their park experience.
So why is this being done? The best guess is that this is all a primer for the "Next Generation" xpass system that will allow you to book your attraction ride times at home prior to your trip.
To me, the lack of enforcement of the back end of the FastPass window created a great chance to use planning and strategy to maximize your fun and minimize your waiting in the parks. In essence, you were planning now to gain spontaneity later. One of my better park touring experiences came when I was able to hoard a few fast passes during a morning at DHS. I got on all the major attractions and breezed through my touring plan by around 1 PM. Throughout the day, I not only rode but nabbed FastPasses for Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock N' Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror.
I had a seven hour period in the middle of the day for swimming, lunch, napping, and dinner (really whatever I wanted to do) and then returned to take in my favorite attractions prior to the park closing. This was obviously only possible because I got on all the rides well past my designated FastPass window when I returned later that evening.
Potentially losing this flexibility will really change the way I budget my time in the parks.
Dutch, Kip and Russ have a lot of additional thoughts about the changes and the death of any spontaneity at Disney. Download Episode 40 on Thursday on ITunes to hear what we think, and let us know your thoughts by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or commenting below.