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Will Disney Parks Get Rid of FastPass and Park Hoppers?

With FastPass not currently operational and no Park Hopper ticket option at Walt Disney World, it's worth looking at the future of those options once capacity restrictions are lifted.


Will they return? In a word...YES (and here's why).


Park Hopper

The park hopper add-on to admission tickets is an important source of revenue for Walt Disney World and will be missed financially by the company if it is eliminated.


Having a park hopper option helps to make admission to the parks seem lower than it actually is (similar to super-sizing a meal) and helps to manage park crowds in its own way, especially when combined with extra magic hours and MyDisney Experience when crowds are at normal capacity, as guests can choose to move from one park to another if crowd sizes are larger at one park than another.


On top of the ability to move from one park to another, it allows for last minute dining reservations, FastPass availability, and for guests to rope drop/Dumbo or die their days.


For instance, on my last trip in September 2019, I spent each morning at Disney's Hollywood Studios riding Smuggler's Run and Slinky Dog Dash before heading to EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, or Animal Kingdom for the next part of the day. On some days, I spent at least part of a day in one of three parks (usually Hollywood Studios, then Magic Kingdom, then EPCOT...sometimes even back to Hollywood Studios for a last minute Tower of Terror run) as I followed park operating hours to maximize my time there.


Park hoppers currently can't work for public health reasons as it would be impossible to manage lower capacity and you'd have upset guests spending their limited park time travelling between parks that may or may not be at capacity. That said, once the parks are able to return to full capacity, expect Park Hopper options to return as well. Any attempt to retain the reservation system would likely result in poor customer satisfaction scores, especially if you were trapped in a park and wanted to hop over to another one.


FastPass

Similar to park hopping, the FastPass system will not be replaced by boarding groups or anything like that in the forseeable future. Having people reserve attraction times up to 60 days in advance helps with managing staffing levels, since they know roughly how many non-walk-up guests will be in each park that day. Combining hours of operation (including extra magic hours and special ticketed events), these reservations can help to determine shifts and staffing for attractions, food, and merchandise, since they know how many people are in a park at any given time.


As well, Disney management knows that offering FastPasses pushed through MyDisney Experience or even opening them up for people in the park looking for any open ones can help manage crowd levels and literally direct them from busier to less busier areas so that it is safe for all guests (avoiding crowding in some areas) and maintains guest traffic flow.


Boarding groups, on the other hand, are not effective. The need to have geo-fencing and high WiFi bandwidth available at the times boarding groups open up taxes resources, drives dissatisfaction and more visits to Guest Relations to sort out, and hasn't proved to be any more effective at managing crowds than FastPass. In reality, Disney's IT insfrastructure cannot handle the high volumes of web traffic it gets when boarding groups open up, much in the same way it struggles on ShopDisney.com when new limited edition products release.

So why is Disney using boarding groups? They have no choice. New attractions are opening at unexpected times (remember the delays in opening Mickey's Runaway Railway and early opening of Galaxy's Edge) so there isn't enough time to get them into FastPass tiers before guests are booking them, attraction breakdowns, learning guest flow and actual wait times makes FastPass unrealistic to use at first. Finally, imagine the redesign of switchbacks and other crowd management queues that would need to occur if FastPass disappears.


So, that's why they need boarding groups as a bridging option between attraction opening and why FastPass will stay.



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