It used to be, when a potential client called about booking an off site room, I had to try pretty hard to put them into a hotel on Disney property. The reason for this is pretty obvious to anyone who’s ever booked a hotel room in Orlando: Disney rooms are, for the most part, more expensive per square foot than off-site hotels. Sure, you can talk about tangible benefits, like transportation and extra park hours, as well as intangibles like “being in the magic,” but I’ve found that if a visitor is intent on paying a set amount for a certain type of room, it’s next to impossible to talk him into staying on property.
What’s changed? Fastpass+ and the MagicBands. And much as I’ve fussed about having to pick my own fastpasses 60 days in advance, the truth is that the MagicBands have become a huge selling point for guests. Briefly, off site guests are currently required to make their fastpass selections when they enter the park. Often, this means standing in long lines and a limited selection. More often than not, that selection becomes more and more limited as the morning passes, with few if any fastpass options available by mid-day. In short, having the ability to choose your fastpasses ahead of time, in the comfort of your own home, has become a game-changer.
I’m not going to argue whether or not the new fastpass system is fair. After all, Disney is a business, not some benevolent uncle sent to make all your dreams come true, although it can sometimes feel that way. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from those who stay off site, particularly those who own local timeshares, that Disney is marginalizing off site guests. I can see some validity in this argument, but in the end, Fastpass+ is just good business. And why shouldn’t a company maximize their profits?
For all its bumps and hiccups, Fastpass+ just made your theme park experience run a lot more smoothly. It also, in some respects, evened the playing field. It used to be, many guests didn’t even bother with fastpasses–they simply didn’t know they needed them. Now, more guests than ever are using fastpasses, and more importantly, they’re using them them correctly. This probably means better crowd control in the long run, although I’m not sure that statement has been proven correct just yet. What we do know is that right now, it’s giving an advantage to on-site guests.
Will Disney eventually extend the ability to book fastpasses in advance to off-site guests? That remains to be seen. So far, Disney has only stated that it will happen “in the future.” What do you think? Does Fastpass+make you more inclined to stay on site? And if you stay off site, how do you feel about this? I’d love to hear.