Could Toy Story’s 3rd Track Improve FastPass?
With a new track in Toy Story Midway Mania and a new theater for Soaring opening in the near future, I am optimistic that there could be some unseen improvements to FastPass+. While many wish for more FastPasses or for the removal of tiers, those changes will come slowly, if at all. Whatever improvements might be made to the system are likely to be so subtle that guests will no even notice. These changes would occur in tweaks and improvements to the efficiency of the system.
When designing an efficient system, it helps to have data. The initial FastPass+ system was based on the previous FastPass system with refinements to try and find a sweet spot between stand by and FastPast. There is one case that Disney does not have sufficient data on, a 100% FastPass solution.
Disney has attempted to run two public tests, since the launch of the FastPass+ system, to gather this data. They tried a test at Toy Story Midway Mania. During a week-long test, they they only allowed FastPass+ riders with no standby riders allowed. Some early reports were that the ride ran under capacity during the first few days of the test. Honestly, this is to be expected since it is best to start at less than 100% when conducting a test of this type. It is easier to add more riders than it is to take away capacity or deal with overflow. During the testing days that followed, they they were probably dialing up the numbers to get a better metric of arrival times and no-shows. While I am certain this test gave Disney useful data; the limited duration and the seemingly short notice of the test may have skewed the results slightly. Disney, no doubt, has a very good idea of how to deal with a 100 percent FastPass attraction and I expect we will see these in some way in Toy Story Midway Mania and Soaring tracks. After the system is further tuned to maximize efficiency, Disney could start trying some other improvements using what they learned from these two attractions .
A few months after the new tacks open on these rides, I think the changes most likely to be tested with FP+ are Reserved FP+ and Time Gated Same-Day Passes. One of the criticisms of the FP+ system is that it is disadvantageous to local and spur-of-the-moment visitors. This is where I think reserved passes could help. Disney could initially hold back a certain number of passes for each day and make them available one week prior prior, to Seasonal/Annual Passholders, in order to counter the criticism of Season/Annual Passholders,
I doubt that the percentage reserved would be large, perhaps 5% at most. Doing this would not alter the system significantly as any unclaimed FastPasses would be either filled by standby riders of could be release to same day guests. This leads to the next possible change to the FastPass+ system.
You can create more FastPasses after your initial 3, however, many guest have complained that by the time you get through the first three, all the good options have been taken. Creating a group of Time-Gated Same-Day FastPasses could help alleviate this complaint. For this change, Disney would reserve a small amount of FastPasses and release them throughout the day. The trick here would be that Disney couldn’t release the time the FastPassses would become available since doing so would create crowds at stations or traffic spikes on their servers.
One visible attempt to test changes to the FastPass+ system took place at Soaring. In this test Disney attempted to combine FastPass+ with the older paper FastPass system. During the trial, Disney gave standby riders paper passes with return times printed on them. This limited how many people were in the standby queue at any given time. Reports stated that this test ended poorly and by the end of the first day it was abandoned.