The FastPass System, a skip the line service at Walt Disney World resort which let you book attractions ahead of time for free literally saved my trips. We hate waiting in line, and using the interactive FastPass system, coupled with the excellent TouringPlans app, helped us maximize our time. So much so in fact, we never waited more than 20 minutes for any given attraction. Is this even possible with the new line system? Let’s find out.
To first find out what the TouringPlans system would do for me I created a dummy trip for November 2021. This system uses real time and predictive data based on historic trends to maximize your time in the parks. It allows you to add and subtract any attraction, reservation or pit stop, and arranges your schedule to reduce wait times. This system even reacts in real time while you are in the parks, and has seriously saved us so much time and headache over our last few trips. I can’t recommend it enough.
Putting in a number of things, the system spit out a decent itinerary, but included several attractions with waits upwards of an hour, with a half dozen or so in the half hour range on a day when lower crowds are expected. This is exactly what I want to avoid. In addition, many attractions and parades remain closed indefinitely due to Covid-19. It’s one of the reasons I am planning a trip in late 2022, in hopes that most of that will be resolved by then.
To manage crowds, Disney World has put in place a park reservation system. What does that mean? In order to enter a park you must reserve the park ahead of time. For planners like me, this is a minor inconvenience, but it’s something to take note of as it is in effect until at least the beginning of 2023. Guests report that unless you are going during peak travel times, you are unlikely to run into a park that is fully booked. You can check park availability here. It’s important to book these reservations as early as possible, as the entire system including dining reservations depends on whether you are reserved in the park that day.
It seems that the first and last hours in the parks remain the least crowded and the best times to squeeze in some of those signature attractions. Extra Magic Hours are sadly, gone, but those who stay on property will enjoy an extra half hour in the morning for entry in all four parks. Those in Deluxe resorts or higher will enjoy an additional two hours on select evenings. How valuable this is remains to be seen.
Guests report that lines tend to equalize by mid-day, and indeed that is what the TouringPlans system indicated as well. Problem is, even in these circumstances some lines remain long at a half hour or more. Weekends are noticeably more crowded now and most trip planners suggest avoiding them altogether, in addition to holidays.
To solve some lines, Disney is offering their new Genie system, that seems to work similarly to the interactive TouringPlans system that I know and love. However, the line estimations provided by Disney Parks are notoriously off, and that system seems to not have been improved, leading to inaccurate planning. Still, you can pay a premium for what they are calling Genie+ and skip the lines similar to the original free FastPass System. Is this worth it? I’m not sure. But I intend to find out.
As of writing the new Genie system is still not launched, though the official word is “fall 2021.” For a full updated discussion on the system check out this post on the Disney Tourist Blog.