January 13th was the last day of paper fast passes at the magic kingdom. The following day, I was able to go to the parks and run through the new FP+ for regular day guests and annual passholders (those of us without a magic band or disney hotel stay.) At first, the thought of no more fastpass machines at the attraction and no more spontaneous paper fastpasses was not a pleasant one. But, after running through the day with fastpass picks I was pretty happy with the overall experience. The cast members would polite and pleasant to deal with, the selection of times available were nice and easy (easy because it was a light and easy off season cloudy day at the magic kingdom.)
I got off the monorail and exited towards the park entrance like a normal Magic kingdom park day, passed the back age check and then arriving though the RFID enabled non turnstile entrance. As soon as I walked under the train station I was greeted by cast member who had asked me if I made my fastpass+ selections yet! I replied, "no, I have not." I was then directed to the town square cinema.
There was also lots of cast members around the kiosks directing you where to go.
Once inside I was then directed towards the back left of the building (where the blue cm's are), past the Mickey meet and greet.
Once in there, a queue of about 6 other guests wait to make their selections. As I approached the front of the line, a cast member asked if I had any questions and directed me to an open ipad ready cast member. The iPad was equipped with a RFID scanner and proprietary fastpass+ app. The cast member asked me what attractions I desired to go on. So, the choices were Peter Pan, space mountain and big thunder mountain. So after selecting those options she asked if I had a preference such as times around a dinner/lunch or if I wanted next possible. I chose as soon as possible, choosing this selects the next available fast pass in order, i.e. 1 hour after the next if available. Upon making a reservation or space mountain, the cast member stated the attraction was not functioning so we could not get a fastpass for it, BUMMER. I decided to make the Haunted Mansion selection at 2:15pm.
I apologize for terrible photo quality.
There seems to be a few rules to the system, Only 3 per day, You cannot have 2 within the same hour unless you have gone on one first then received another fastpass+ reservation, the ride has to be in operation at the time of booking (not down due to operational difficulties). What I personally liked about this system is that you can go back to the kiosk if you want to change or edit a fastpass+ reservation, so if a fastpass wasn't available at first, then you could go back and edit a selection with another choice. It was only about 20 minutes until my fastpass for thunder at 12:15pm was ready, so I walked over there. Standby was posted at 10 minutes, yet I clocked the wait with a fastpass and it took 14 minutes from entrance to boarding.
Not 10 minutes for standby. I don't feel they have a good grasp of the fastpass+ system yet because the queue times were off.
The system seemed seamless, I just walked up with my annual pass, scanned it, the green light and away I went. The system does require 2 check-ins, one at the entrance and the other right before the line merges with the regular at the next cast member.
After getting off Big Thunder, I walked over to Haunted Mansion and noticed only 10 minutes. I decided to go on right then instead of using my fastpass+ for 2:15pm.
The line was legitimately 10 minutes in this case, and I had a great time.
In a staring contest with Leota, I always Win!
Next, I headed over to small word. It was only 5 minutes and I asked myself, why not.
It seemed no one cared for a fastpass+ for this ride, there was never anyone checking in for it.
After these two uncrowded attractions, it was time for my reservation at Peter Pan, which was for 1:15pm, quite easy.
The line for this one was a little longer, roughly 5-7 minutes before getting through the first check-in station, I believe that it was because there was a lot of people who did not know what they were doing and may have not had a fastpass in the first place.
After exiting Peter Pan, I noticed there was a FP+ kiosk next to the exit of Peter Pan.
There was quite a few different FP+ stations
Not busy at all at this kiosk.
There seems to be several different FP+ kiosks around the park to help create and/or edit fastpass reservations. I decided to try and edit my fp+ reservation hoping to change my 2:15 Haunted Mansion to something different. I spoke with a Cast member there who asked me what attraction I would like to go on, wanting to go on Space Mountain I ask if it was available. To my surprise, Space had just reopened so I could get a reservation for 1:30pm, since I had already used my 1:15 for Peter Pan.
Surprised and delighted I hurried over and checked in for Space Mountain.
The wait time was 30 minutes for stand-by
Second check-in station inside space mountain.
Lastly I hit my ritualistic people mover ride along and called it a day.
My Overall Experience:
My thoughts for this new system are quite positive. I like it better than having to pre-plan all my fastpass selections on the computer at home before vacation. It is very stressful trying to plan which parks and which dinner reservations and which times months before the actual. This system for day guests allows a little spontaneity and knowledge of what the day looks like. Some guests from what I have been told do not like the system. They feel it does not allow for park hopping. I definitely think individual experiences will vary, based on crowds, weather and other factors. I did not have a downtime during any of my FP+ reservations so I do not understand that portion. During a non busy off season time, I really enjoyed the ease of use and experience I enjoyed not waiting for some of the more crowded attractions.
Other news in Magic Kingdom:
Construction workers are hard at work for the seven dwarfs mine train, Splash Mountain refurbishment, and some sort of Castle repairs.
The seven dwarfs is opening this year and you can already see construction workers really pushing themselves to get this thing opened on time, which should be hopefully spring of 2014.
There were also a few lounging around .
And some, who could come to work when they wanted. Looks like an imagineer hat.
The splash mountain refurb does not look like much is being done during the day.
The scaffolds are up and ready but no one seemed to be working while visiting the parks. I had visited previously in the evening and saw them working at night. The refurb appears to be minor with some repaints and repairs.
The Big Giant Crane:
The crane was present this afternoon next to the castle which carried a giant box at the end of it that held a few construction works, appearing to be looking at the spires.
construction crane with spire
I originally thought it was to remove the christmas lights, however I did not see any lights removed while observing the crew this afternoon.
Looking at the spire pretty intensely
It looks like some day guests dressed up for the new FP+ occasion.
Any thoughts about the FP+ system or other items would be well appreciated.