This new system allows guests to reserve ride times in advance — before leaving home — for up to three attractions per day. Advance ride reservations can also be made using Disney’s own app, called “My Disney Experience” (MDE). Guests participating in the new system receive special wrist bracelets containing an RFID chip.
These bracelets are called “Magic Bands,” and they allow these guests entrance to the park, as well as admission to the attractions where they’ve made FP+ reservations. Guests touch the Magic Band to the RFID readers, located at the special FP+ entrances, to access these attractions. (Note the reader, emblazoned with a light-up Mickey head, lights up “green” when a valid reservation-holding guest holds his or her Magic Band up to the reader, a shown in the image below.)
Eventually, this new system will replace the traditional paper-ticket-based FastPass system, which has been in use for more than a decade now at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. (It’s important to note that the new FP+ system is not being implemented at Disneyland, at least for now.)
Officially FP+ is still just in testing mode, so most guests using the new system will also have use of the traditional, paper-based FastPass system, at least for the next few weeks. (For brevity, I’ll refer to the traditional FastPass system as “FP-” from here on out — note the “minus” sign).
I say “most” guests will still have access to FP-, but there are some guests who have already been moved exclusively to FP+, and who can’t use FP- now. The move to “exclusively” using FP+ appears to be moving from resort to resort, beginning with guests staying at Pop Century.
So for now, there are three categories of guests:
1. Those who don’t have access to the new FP+ system, but who can still use the old, paper-based FP- system.
2. Those who can use BOTH the new FP+ system as well as the old FP- system.
3. Those who have access to the new FP+ system, but not FP-.
So, what does this mean for RideMax?
We’ve added a new option in the web- and mobile web-based versions of RideMax to allow you to tell RideMax if you are using the new FP+ system, as well as which specific attractions you wish to use the FP+ system for. You can also tell RideMax to either include or not include use of “traditional” FP- when it creates your itinerary.
So, what do plans using these various options look like? I thought you’d never ask! :-)
Just for fun, I’ve created four Magic Kingdom plans for use TODAY — a busy fall Saturday in November — each with the same set of attractions, but with different FastPass settings. The list of 13 attractions I’ve chosen to visit are:
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- it’s a small world
- Jungle Cruise
- People Mover
- Peter Pan’s Flight (twice)
- Pirates of the Caribbean (twice)
- Splash Mountain
- Tomorrowland Speedway (twice)
- Winnie the Pooh
And, here is the screen shot showing my list of plans, taken from RideMax:
Let’s now take a look at each of these plans in detail, starting at the bottom and working our way up!
First, here’s the plan at the bottom, which just has us visiting EVERYTHING standby. No FP+, no FP-. No FastPass at all, of any kind:
And sure enough, with NO FASTPASS at all, this plan looks pretty lousy. There is one really long wait — for Enchanted Tales with Belle, as well as some painful waits at the Tomorrowland Speedway. Our total estimated wait is 193 minutes, or just under 15 minutes per attraction, on average. (This average may not seem too bad, but we can do MUCH better, as you’ll soon see.)
Next, let’s take a look at the plan which ONLY uses the new FP+ system. I told RideMax I wanted to use FP+ to visit Peter Pan, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and the Tomorrowland Speedway. (Note that I’m restricted from using FP+ to visit the same attraction twice, so I can use FP+ for one of the visits to Peter Pan and the Speedway, but not for both visits to each of these rides. Since my plan includes each of these attractions twice, RideMax will use FP+ for one ride, and standby for the other, for each of them.)
As you can see, just using FP+ has cut down our estimated wait almost in half, to 100 minutes total. There is still a long-ish wait for Jungle Cruise on the plan, but we’ve eliminated that long wait for Enchanted Tales with Belle by using FP+ to visit it. Note also that the plan has us strategically visiting both Peter Pan and the Tomorrowland Speedway using the standby line early in the morning, but using FP+ for our second visit later in the early afternoon, while still respecting the fact that Disney won’t typically let us use FP+ for two attractions during the same hour of the day.
Our average estimated wait, using just FP+ for these three attractions, is now down to just under 8 minutes for each attraction in the plan.
Now, let’s take a look at the plan which ONLY uses the “traditional” FP- system, but with “aggressive” use of FastPass. In other words, we’re using the “FastPass Runner” setting in RideMax, as well as the setting that tells RideMax that our FastPass runner is willing to skip *any* attraction while off gathering FastPasses for our group. (For those unfamiliar with RideMax, we could have also told it which specific subset of attractions the runner was willing to skip, if any. For this test, we’re being aggressive and telling RideMax that our runner can skip anything if it might help our overall wait.)
As you can see, this plan isn’t quite as good as the FP+ plan, with our overall estimated wait bumping back up to 125 minutes, or just under ten minutes per attraction. This is mostly due to the fact that we’re back to being stuck in the long standby line for Enchanted Tales with Belle, which doesn’t offer FP-.
And as a side note, you may be wondering why RideMax didn’t just have us visit Enchanted Tales with Belle first thing, rather than waiting for later in the day when the line is so long? It’s simple, really. If we had visited Enchanted Tales with Belle right when the park opened, we’d have spent our first 30-35 minutes on just that one attraction. And while the wait there certainly would have been shorter, we’d have sacrificed some of the other Fantasyland attractions and the Speedway, which also doesn’t offer FP-, but which takes less time to ride. We’re essentially trading one long wait for several really short ones. If I were using these plans “for real,” of course, I may make some adjustments to the plan to see if I could reduce this crazy-long wait. Maybe by visiting the Tomorrowland Speedway and Peter Pan only once each for example, the software might have me visiting Belle earlier in the day, and reducing the estimated wait as a result. Experimenting is key to arriving at a good game plan!
OK, finally let’s use BOTH FP+ and the traditional FastPass system — still very aggressively — and see what RideMax comes up with:
As you can see, we’ve really cleaned up here, with a total overall estimated wait of just 66 minutes, or just five minutes per attraction! This is basically one-third of our estimated wait using NO FastPasses at all, which is pretty amazing.
I guess the bottom line for me is that as long as you have access to at least ONE or BOTH of the FastPass systems during the FP+ rollout, you should be able to do pretty well.
If you’re using the new FP+ system, my suggestion is to experiment with the various settings in RideMax until you arrive at a plan you’re happy with.