Among the possibilities:
- They issue MORE FP tickets in the new era than was previously the case, counting both advance FP+ and day-of FP tickets.
- They issue the SAME number of FP tickets in the new era
- They issue FEWER FP tickets.
Option 3 was always a wildcard, despite being my personal favorite. Option 1 seemed likely, especially since they added FP+ capability to things that didn't need it, such as Pirates or American Idol.
Well, the first data is coming back this week, during expanded and enhanced tests of FP+. And while we don't know if the answer was #1 or #2, we do know something pretty definitively: FP+ is having an outsized effect.
Day-of FastPasses, which in theory are possible in the era of FP+, might "run out" by mid-afternoon for the highly-coveted rides as of a few years ago. In the new system, we might expect something similar. Didn't they add capacity by folding in more rides with FP+?
Alas, that's not what is happening. This week, the FP+ system has been ramping up, with more and more hotels taking part, and what's happening on the street is... drumroll... a very fast "sellout" of paper FastPasses.
That means either they didn't issue MORE FP per day, or perhaps those making online FP+ reservations aren't biting at the bait of lame FP+ reservations like American Idol. Either way, what it translates to is longer Standby lines for E-Ticket rides and no day-of FastPass available.
I've heard from two separate sources that DHS had a major case of FastPass burnout today, with all paper FastPasses sold out for the day by 10am for Tower, Rock 'n Roller, and Toy Story Mania. One source told me the Mania day-of paper tickets were gone within twenty minutes.
Is this the new normal?
Will ride reservations work the same way as restaurant reservations, sold out months in advance? With people plotting to go online at just the right time to reserve said coveted spot?
EDIT 10/17: I have heard that the crazy-fast running out of paper FastPasses at Studios on Wednesday was not, after all, related to more hotels coming online with the FP+ system, but due to a computer glitch. Which means, alas, we might NOT have our answer yet about the effect of FP+.
I still have hope that they can (and will) tweak the system so that it "works". I think working would mean standby lines are tolerable, and not longer than present. I would like them even shorter. But for that to happen, they'd have to give fewer FPs out. My solution would be ONE FastPass reservation for everyone, but two for those staying at a Disney hotel.
Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.