The History of FastPass

Did you know that FastPass was developed to enhance guest satisfaction, not to decrease lines? Neither did I till I did some research and heard how FastPasses came about.

 

In the mid 1990’s, Disney realized that guest satisfaction was declining because lines were getting too long. No one is very happy when you spend your entire day waiting in line and only get to go on a few rides. After discussing different ideas they started testing in the late 1990’s. It started in Animal Kingdom with 2 different groups. Each group was given a diary to write down everything they did that day (what time they got in line, what time they got on the ride, what shops they went into, etc.) One lucky group was given a special card to show the cast member at any attraction they wanted to ride. The cast member would look at the current wait time, let’s take 45 minutes for example, and then tell the group to return to the ride in 45 minutes. When the group returned they would be directed through the exit and be seated on the attraction as quickly as possible. After 4 weeks, Disney contacted these two groups and did a survey; what they found was no surprise. The people who got the special card said they enjoyed the trip much more and couldn’t wait to visit the resort again. That increased satisfaction is exactly what Disney wanted,  and FastPass was born.

 

It took a few more years for the kinks to get worked out, and in 1999 the system was rolled out for Walt Disney World. Later that year FastPass was offered for the Indiana Jones attraction in Disneyland Paris and It’s a Small World in Disneyland. Of course, when implementing a completely new concept there are some hiccups. When they were introduced, no one understood how to use the FastPasses. Disney gave an informational handout with the park maps explaining what a FastPass was and how to use it, but not everyone took the time to read it. There were a lot of people angry about the line-cutters.

 

With time, things got better: queues were built to accommodate FastPass, and Disney fans started figuring out all the “secrets” (*cough* loopholes) to work the system. These loopholes have been fixed and are no longer usable.

 

  • Originally, any Disneyland or Disney World ticket would get you a FastPass. People brought old tickets to get a lot more FastPasses. It didn’t take long to fix this, and now the ticket must be used for park admission that day to grant a FastPass. Some people even got magnetic strips from credit cards to work.
  • The FastPasses give a return-time window. For years, cast members didn’t enforce it, so you could use the FastPass anytime after the start of the return window. Lots of people, my family included, would stock up on FastPasses all morning and use them during the afternoon when the parks got really busy. Here’s a photo of all the FastPasses I collected on a single trip. A few years ago Disney instructed cast members to only allow FastPasses to be used during their window, but there is still a small grace period before and after.
  • Each park used to be on a different FastPass system. Which meant if you got a FastPass for 11:00 am – 12:00 pm for Space Mountain, you could park hop over to California Adventure and get a FastPass for Soarin’ for 11:30 am-12:30 pm. The two systems were recently merged in preparation for the MaxPass release.
  • There were some attractions that weren’t connected to the rest of the FastPass system, allowing you to get a FastPass for those attractions, even if you weren’t allowed to get other FastPasses yet. For example, when Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin wasn’t connected, you could get a Space Mountain FastPass, and then get a Roger Rabbit FastPass immediately afterwards. You didn’t have to wait until the Space Mountain FastPass was usable. For those that knew, it was great to always get a FastPass for particular rides, regardless of whether you had another FastPass. All attractions at Disneyland Resort are now on the same system.

 

Keep watching the website for more information about the changes coming to FastPass.

 

 

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