The Walt Disney World parks have been in the process of implementing the new FastPass+/RFID technologies throughout their parks over the last year or so. While i’m sure the process was in the works long before that, its effects have been noticed by guests over the last year or so and have been addressed by the Walt Disney Company.
So what is RFID and how are the changes to the FastPass system going to effect your visit? Let’s break it down:
- What is it? Think of this new technology as the next step in the Fast Pass system. When the FastPass ticketing system was originally introduced it was the best thing since sliced bread. Now we could obtain a ticket for the most popular attractions that would tell us when to return to the ride for a much shorter (if any) wait time. Brilliant! The new RFID is based on that same idea but is taken to the next level. Instead of issuing paper tickets when you are at the park guests will be able to select a time to experience a certain number of attractions in each park before they even leave home.
- Where is it? RFID technology will be used throughout throughout each of the parks. Free Wi-Fi began creeping into the Disney parks shortly after resort wide wi-fi was announced. The Magic Kingdom was first on the agenda for the technology and the other parks followed suit. Downtown Disney has also been included in the free wi-fi initiative (it’s not really an initiative but I like that word…makes me think of The Avengers). Aside from pre-selecting rides this technology will also be part of a “touch-to-pay” system that is being used at certain resort counter service and shopping locations. Guests will be able to simply tap their card (presumably the Key to the World Card) on the adorable little Mickey head device and be on their way.
- Why do we need it? The goal of the new technology is to allow guests to select a time frame to experience a certain number of attractions in each park before they even leave home. This will eliminate the need for families to break up and create “FastPass runners” to spread out and gather tickets for the various attractions they want to experience during the day. Allowing families to stay together and have a pre-plan already set in place should make for a more relaxing park going experience for everyone. The RFID reader will transmit data to the Cast Member at the attraction, who will have an i-Pad that will give them information about each guests including names of everyone in the party as well as any special celebrations, etc.
- How does it work? The process is supposed to be very simple and will make your Key to the World Card literally your key to the kingdom. Aside from being your room key and having charging privileges you’ll also be able to use the card as your Fast Pass and for touch-to-pay at certain locations. No more keeping track of various paper Fast Passes, etc.
- When will it start? Testing on the new technology has been ongoing with the latest test December 11th to December 15th. Guests checking in during that time were randomly selected to participate in the test and were notified in their travel documents. They could then select their attractions from home and implement the technology when they arrived at the park. Testing is ongoing and during that time the traditional FastPass paper tickets (now referred to as “FastPass Legacy”) will still be available, in a slightly smaller quantity.
There are pro’s and con’s to this concept and there has been heated debate on both sides since rumors of this new system began to leak. It was rumored Disney was going to charge for the service, much like Universal’s xPass so only those who paid for the privilege of shorter lines would benefit. There has been complaints that no one wants to choose their rides from home, it’s too much “over planning” and they didn’t want to be forced into a plan they wouldn’t want to follow later. The complaints and compliments keep coming as the system is in testing and rolling out in each of the parks. What do you think of this new system?
Michele is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations. For more information about her no-fee concierge level services or for a free quote email her: Michele@PixieVacations.com. For more tips and news on Disney Destinations you can follow her on her blog www.ThePracticalPlanner.blogspot.com or on Facebook.