Problem With FastPass+ and Character Meets?


Over the weekend, some of the wonderful TMSM members passed along information in regards to the Magic Kingdom on May 10, 2014.  What they stated was shortly after rope drop, most of the crowd headed back to the meet and greet for Frozen’s Anna and Elsa.  It’s been no secret that the wait times for this meet have been long. Very long. On this particular day, probably 10-15 minutes after the park opened, the wait time was already at 300 minutes to meet Anna and Elsa.  I was in shock to hear that 5 hours of waiting was required to see these characters, unless you had a coveted FastPass for the meet up.

I need to make a statement about this before I go much further.  I’m not questioning anyone’s judgement if you choose to wait 5 hours to meet these characters.  That is your choice and your time.  I also rarely ever voice my opinion that differs from something Disney chooses to do.  Bottom line is that Disney is a business.  Business is built on supply and demand.  If people demand to meet Anna and Elsa or any character, Disney will supply a way for this to happen.  Still, I have no problem with that.  My problem lies with the fact that Disney allows people with FastPass+ to reserve a spot to meet the characters 60 days prior to arriving at the park.  From a customer service angle, that’s awesome that Disney allows you to do that.  This allows someone who makes a reservation ahead of time to only have to wait roughly 5-10 minutes on average from what we have heard.  The person this doesn’t benefit is the one that doesn’t realize they would need a reservation to meet a character, and is left disappointed at the stand by wait time. That’s a LONG time to wait!

I completely and totally understand the FastPass+ system for rides and attractions.  It can really allow you to do more during a day of enjoying the park to the fullest if you plan correctly.  I don’t think that you should be able to make a reservation though for a character meet.  I’m sure people will disagree with me, that’s fine, we are all entitled to our opinion.  I understand why some parents would wait in a line that long, I really do.  No parent wants to tell their kids no to meeting someone they are entranced by.

My big reason I would never wait 5 hours to meet any of the characters is that I want to enjoy more of the park. I’m going to break this down with a particular scenario.  A family of 4 (2 Adults and 2 Children (10 or under) go to Disney World once a year and they are only able to go for 5 days with 4 day park tickets.  Some people coming from another country may only get there once every 3 years.  So my scenario is one park a day for 4 days.   Ticket prices for the 2 adults would be $199 each and for 2 children $187 each for a total of $772 plus tax.  That comes down to $49.75 a day for the adults and $46.75 a day for each child.  Now that doesn’t seem bad at all when you buy multiple days.  I’m going to break it down a little further.  The Magic Kingdom is open from 9 am – 11pm most days this week, so 14 hours is all this family is going to get in the Magic Kingdom for this year.  For adults that is $3.55 an hour for entertainment and $3.34 an hour for children.  This family of four didn’t make a reservation for the day at Magic Kingdom for a character meet and greet, but arrives there and the kids want to meet the characters they have been watching over and over in the movie Frozen.  So the parents make the decision and wait the 5 hours.  That breaks down to $13.78 an hour for the family and $68.90 to wait the five hours to meet Anna and Elsa.  They will only get mere minutes to meet them, take a picture, get an autograph and go on.  What did this family miss while waiting?  Did they miss a parade?  Did they miss other character meets?  Did they even miss a dining reservation because the kids wanted to meet Anna and Elsa more than say, Cinderella?

FastPass+ was created to save guests time.  To be able to get more out of their short time in the park and enjoy all Disney has to offer.  Before you could make a reservation to meet a character, had you ever heard of a 5 hour wait time?  Granted the wait is not usually that long, but even a 3 or 4 hour wait, which is the normal, seems like a lot of time to wait.  Would you have waited that long to meet Mickey?  I thought about it, if Johnny Depp was at the Magic Kingdom dressed as Captain Jack and doing meets, then I would probably wait.  But I can’t see any character that I would do that for.  Like I said before, what someone else does is their choice and their time.  I just look at it this way, a lot of the guests who come to Disney aren’t able to go but maybe once a year or maybe even once every 2 years.  Their time is very limited.  Most people can probably relate to what I’m saying.  When you take that trip to Disney and you live far enough away and aren’t able to get back that often, you cram as much as you can into a day.  How often do you get back from Disney and you need a few days to recoup because you are so tired?

Now common sense says the reason you don’t wait as long for Mickey or any others really is they are in multiple places to meet them.  If you don’t get to see Mickey at the Magic Kingdom, you will have a chance at Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.  Anna and Elsa currently are only in the Magic Kingdom.  I believe they should have kept them in Norway in Epcot in addition to the Magic Kingdom.  This would have lessened the wait times some.

FastPass+ has many benefits that will make the day at Disney better, my opinion, you should not be able to reserve a character meet and greet.  If you eliminated all the people who have a reservation and everyone equally had to wait in line, the wait time could possibly go down.  I know there are people thinking, well if not all the parents waited in the line at 2-3 hours it wouldn’t get to 5 and to a point it’s true.  You would be able to push through more people waiting since all are coming from 1 line rather than 2.   With one line, I believe more would not just get in line when they pass by, they would check back throughout the day hoping for the time to be shorter.  This would spread the crowd out over the day and more should be able to get in to see Anna and Elsa.

As stated above, this is my opinion.  Again, if people want to wait 5 hours, it’s their choice and honestly that means less crowds on other attractions and rides.  My one question is, at the end of your 1 day you get to spend in the Magic Kingdom for the year…  Will you have a whole list of things you got to see and do, or will the list be much smaller because you spent 5 hours waiting to meet characters? Something to think about! Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments as well, we always enjoy hearing feedback from our readers!

8 thoughts on “Problem With FastPass+ and Character Meets?”
  1. I know this post is nearly a year old, but after visiting WDW earlier this year, I thought I might be able to put in a comment. I know this is just a forum and the Disney people are not waiting with baited breath to hear from us on how to resolve this problem. But first of all, I disagree with your stance on eliminating the FastPass for character meet and greets. I was a young mother back in the the 90s before FastPass. Believe me, it is MUCH better than having no option but to wait in line for countless hours to see characters. Secondly, I agree with you on having the characters appear in more places. Obviously, there are many cast members who appear as Anna and Elsa. Small children will never know it the characters are appearing in more than one section of WDW or of Fairy Tale Hall for that matter. It seems obvious to me that they should set up many “rooms” where the most popular characters can meet guests. Because if parents are waiting in line for 4-5 hours so that their little ones can meet their favorite characters, then that is 4-5 hours that they are not SPENDING MONEY somewhere else. Gee Disney, seems like a no brainer to me.

  2. I think the characters should be included in the past pass system. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. If you don’t want to wait 5 hours then get a fast pass for it. We did, and we only waited 5 minutes. Problem solved.

  3. I don’t think the problem is the FastPass+ system. I agree with what a few others have said – there needs to be more Frozen attractions. This would “spread out” the crowd and lessen the lines at each. Retuning Ana and Elsa to EPCOT (as a second location) would be a start and making them a part of a character meal would be a wonderful addition. I have heard a rumor that Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Hollywood Studios may be replaced as a Frozen show. Anyone else heard that?

    We just got back from our most recent WDW trip about two weeks ago – we utilized the MagicBands and the FastPass+. While it did require some additional pre-planning, I didn’t mind it at all. The few times during the trip that we wanted to modify our FastPass+ selections, I was able to do so easily from my iPad in the room or even from my iPhone on the monorail en route to the park. LOL! No system is perfect ~ but we enjoyed it. It beat having to run all over the park to get the passes. But, we are quite seasoned at WDW vacationing – I imagine it could all be a bit overwhelming for first timers.

    Looking forward to our next trip in August! We were bummed to miss the Seven Dwarfs mine ride opening by just a few weeks last month. 🙂

  4. I have said this before, I cannot believe how Disney has not been prepared for this movie. It took off the minute it was released so why can’t you get the merchandise & why can’t you see these two without waiting forever in line?
    Disney needs to refocus & slow down production on some other items & push forward with the money maker. My opinion of course.
    I love Disney & thanks to our daughter & son-in-law we have been able to visit with their Disney Vacation benefits. My daughter is experienced at Fast Pass & had done a great job. We had reservations for the Beast Castle lunch & dinner but I felt so bad for the families that came just wanting to see the inside or the Beast but couldn’t because they didn’t make their reservation 6 months in advance.
    I don’t know how to fix theses issues but surely their is someone at Disney that does.

  5. On some points, I agree. For example, I agree that Disney made an error in taking them out of Epcot rather than keeping the two locations. I also agree that standing in line for 5 hours is a false economy on the guests time. However, I disagree that FP+ is worsening the problem. When the meet and greet was in Epcot, without FP+, waiting times regularly exceeded 6 hours. So adding FP+ has lowered the wait time for the most part.

    This is not an issue of FP+ being the problem. The problem is the lack of other locations. The popularity of these characters is far greater than other characters, they are in effect the “hot attraction” right now. This will wain and dwindle with time but the problem is too many people wanting to see them not FP+. The solution is a simple one, have the other meet and greet location in Norway continue.

    Having FP+ for character meet and greets is vital. It’s worked well with all of the other characters, which suggests it works and is a positive thing. The only “problem” is with Anna & Elsa, so to say that FP+ shouldn’t be allowed for characters is throwing the baby out with the bath water. The problem is limited to Frozen, it’s not a problem at the other character locations. So, I guess my point here is that what is being suggested — to stop FP+ for character meet and greets — is something of an overreaction to a single and isolated meet and greet problem. A problem that was much worse before FP+ came in for Anna & Elsa.

  6. As awful as this feels to admit, I don’t think I will ever return to WDW. I’m a huge fan. I’ve been going multiple times since the age of 12 and I even did the International Program at Epcot for a year. However, as an international visitor (I’m a Brit) it costs thousands to go to WDW and is a holiday we have to spend five years saving for. I can no longer justify paying so much to stand in queues. There’s no value for money anymore. Now my Disney fix will have to come from what we jokingly call “diet Disney” (ie. Disneyland Paris).It’s not the same but there we are lpoking at hundreds instead of thousands.

  7. I can shed a little light on why it’s so crazy to meet Anna & Elsa. There are only two of each who are friends with Anna & Elsa at this time. Hence why they are only at PFH until 5pm daily. They are quickly trying to fix that issue, but until then there’s the crazy wait times. Hopefully it will get better soon.

  8. I completely agree. We only get to go to Disney every couple years, so we are constantly thinking about “is that wait time worht it” or “maybe it will get shorter later”. Personally, I think the whole FastPass+ system requires over planning. My family and I consider ourselves “Disney Pros”….my sister even worked on Main Street when she was in college. We don’t mind having to plan call and make reservations for dining 6 months in advance, but having to plan out which rides, etc. you want to be on 2 months out is a bit much. So is FastPassing parades and fireworks. That’s just ridiculous. If you want a good spot for a parade or a fireworks show, you should be allowed to camp out an hour before. There was nothing wrong with that system. I understand Disney’s want to go paperless and they have something with the bracelets, the kiosks, and the app. But I don’t think they should have scrapped the entire old system. Use the kiosks that are in place (maybe add some more) and the app and don’t allow FastPass claims until the day of. Only involve popular rides. You go to a kiosk (or your app) and you can book 2 FastPasses per person. After the window for one closes, you can go get another one. I think that would simplify the whole system. Oh, and Ana and Elsa should be in every park until the hype dies down.

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