New seasonal ticket pricing, extra ticketed events, and big changes to the parks have been all the talk the past couple of weeks. Today, we are going to review the latest stories, and talk about the biggest bombshell out today, the addition of Fastpass+ Unlimited.
First, we learned about a change to the pricing in tickets at Walt Disney World. Here is the reasoning and explanation behind the change according to the Disney Parks Blog:
As you may have read in the news, the demand for Disney Parks continues to grow, particularly during peak periods. At the same time, we have an unwavering commitment to exceeding the expectations of all our guests. That is why we continue to expand our parks with new attractions like those noted above, as well as entire new themed lands based on AVATAR, Star Wars and “Toy Story.”
It is also why we continue to look for ways to help spread out visitation. So, beginning tomorrow, we are shifting to seasonal pricing for 1-Day tickets. It’s an approach that you are probably familiar with from many other areas, including sports, entertainment and travel.
These pricing changes went into effect Feb. 28th. Many Disney fans were less than pleased with this news, but as the quote above says, attendance continues to grow and Disney is looking for ways to spread these large crowds around. It will probably help Disney’s case that Universal announced this week they too are increasing ticket prices.
In addition to the regular ticket price change, Disney also announced a new ticketed event called, “Disney After Hours.” According to Disney’s website:
By purchasing a ticket to Disney After Hours, you can make the most of a truly magical occasion when Magic Kingdom park lets you in for the last few hours of the day… and then stays open for 3 extra hours at night, just for Guests of the event!
Currently, there are only a few nights scheduled for this event. In other words, Disney is testing out the response to such an idea. Here are the dates:
- April 28 and May 5, 2016 from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM
- April 14 and 21, and May 8, 12 and 19, 2016 from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM
The nice thing here is that you can get into the park starting at 7:00 pm. That is a full 6-7 hours of Magic Kingdom time, with 3 hours closed to the rest of the park going pubic. Some have balked at this idea, but personally I see no problem with giving interested parties the opportunity to enjoy the park with fewer crowds. Of course you have to pay for that privilege, $149 plus tax to be exact. Still, the Magic Kingdom is not closing early to the rest of the guests that day. This again is a way for Disney fans to enjoy what they love most without fighting as big a crowd. Do you see a theme developing? Growing attendance means finding creative ways to deliver the same magical experience.
Well, it’s no secret that Disney and Universal are in a turf war with the rise of the Harry Potter theme park empire. Let me take a moment to say I have experienced both Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure. Also, I am a Harry Potter fan, I have read all the books and own all the movies. With that said, I’m not that impressed with Harry Potter world . Call it my Disney bias, but ironically I find the “magic” to be missing from the Universal parks. I give the team at Universal full credit for “recreating” Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Oh, and Frozen Butter Beer may be the best sweet drink this muggle has ever laid lips on! The problem is the rides make me nauseous and the shops are so small you can’t move around to enjoy the souvenirs inside.
The one thing Universal does have that Disney doesn’t is their Express Pass Unlimited. Of course this started as a response to Fastpass at Walt Disney World. Instead of being FREE for all guests, Universal came up with a way to charge for this perk. I have heard many visitors exclaim the superiority of Universal’s Express Pass over Disney’s Fastpass because it works on every ride and you never have to wait. Well, you can’t argue with that, except to say Disney don’t charge for theirs. Once again, this is a privilege you pay for at Universal, and with not many forking over the cash it stands to reason there are very few visitors using the system.
Well, the one thing I love about the addition of Harry Potter is that it has forced the Disney Imagineers to respond in kind. We should all be thanking the kid wizard, for without him who knows if we would have Star Wars Land and an expanded Pixar Place coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Plus, I think we are all going to be blown away by Pandora: The World of Avatar once it is open. Universal has a smash success in Harry Potter, and Disney is looking to answer the bell with multiple franchises now. The competition doesn’t stop there though.
In response to Universal’s Express Pass Unlimited, Disney is announcing today the addition of Fastpass+ Unlimited. So, what does “unlimited” mean? Well, this is the release from Disney:
Disney FastPass+ Unlimited service lets you reserve access to all attractions, entertainment and more. Imagine having the freedom to choose from over 300 of your favorite Walt Disney World experiences―with the flexibility to change your plans at any time―from anywhere!
With Fastpass+ Unlimited you can secure all your Fastpass+ selections in advance either online or using the mobile app, or for the same day at an in-park FastPass+ kiosk. Your dream of never waiting in a line again has come true!
Of course this new addition to the current Fastpass+ system comes with a price tag. While the current Fastpass+ will continue to be FREE to all park guests, the “unlimited” option will cost $199, regardless of length of stay. The pricing is set, much in the same way Disney’s Memory Maker at $149. Still, for an extra $200/person you could experience every ride at Walt Disney World without a wait! The new Fastpass+ Unlimited will be available starting April 1, 2016.
So, what do you think? Will you upgrade your tickets to the Fastpass+ Unlimited on your next Disney vacation? Is this too much to pay? Is Disney out of control, or is the spirit of competition bringing about good changes? Leave us a comment below and let us know!
Oh, and one more thing….. April Fools!!
Fastpass+ Unlimited is NOT a real thing. All the other events and changes in this article are true. However, Fastpass+ is still limited to 3 rides initially. That makes your 3 selections very important! This Sunday we will share with you the TOP 5 Fastpass+ Rides for Summer 2016. Be sure and come back to check it out!