Are Premium Fastpasses a good idea?

19 09 2009

Recently Disneyland Resort Paris have been testing the idea of a premium Fastpass, a Fastpass which a guest pays for and gets unlimited access to Fastpass lines for the whole day. So, could this system work?

To answer the question you have to look at it from two different points of view. Firstly the point of view of The Walt Disney Company and secondly the point of view of the park visitors.

So, let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks for the company. One major advantage is that this kind of system is nothing new to the theme and amusement park industry, many parks operate a premium front of the line/ quick queue system, most notably Universal, Busch and Six Flags. All of these parks and resorts have seen this system work, with these premium tickets bringing in substantial revenues.

The main drawbacks of such a system are that Disney already has the free Fastpass system in place and would have to make a major decision on what to do with it. If they continue to run the free Fastpass system whilst also offering the premium Fastpass they may see such an increase in the size of the Fastpass line that it’s not worth buying a premium Fastpass and guest may as well go in the stand-by line. By removing the free Fastpass distribution Disney may see stand-by lines at their parks spiral out of control with even higher wait times than at current. Let’s just say those in the finance section of the company may think it’s an attractive prospect, but those in-charge of operations will be left with a headache.

Now let’s look at it from a customers point of view. The main advantage is that it makes visiting the parks a lot easier, and removes the need to really have a set trip plan when visiting the park as you won’t have to worry too much about how long you’ll be waiting for attractions. It also means you don’t have to get to the parks as early to Fastpass your favourite attractions before the Fastpasses run out (a common problem with Toy Story Mania).

However, guest will have to take into consideration if it’s really worth the price. Universal’s Express Plus is very costly, the same price, if not more expensive than the cost of admission, it’s likely Disney’s prices would be similar. For me, if you plan a trip well, get to the park early and follow a tried and tested touring plan you can get round most parks easily without any substantial wait. So for me a premium pass isn’t worth it for the customer, at least not in most cases.

I do expect to see more of the Premium Fastpass system over the next couple of years, maybe one day it may be properly implemented at a park. If it’s commercially successful and doesn’t have to much of an impact on wait times I’m sure Disney will give it the go ahead, even if guests don’t really need it.

M. Owen

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