As a theme park fan I own annual passes to about a dozen parks. I’ve seen crowds, I know to plan for a trip, and I know how to avoid lines. The park that I avoid like the plague, however, is the one that is held at the highest standard for theme parks. Walt Disney World is one of the top theme park (and vacation) destinations in the world. It shows it with the insane wait times that develop around most of their attractions.
For me a trip to Disney is like a jungle expedition in a third world country through hostile enemy territory. You have to carefully map out your way, do everything on a tight schedule, and hope that you don’t get caught by the stroller mom death squad, or held at flag point by the Brazilian Tour Group Regime. For me and my family, the Happiest Place on Earth is a training exercise in patience and resilience. Too over the top of a comparison? Perhaps so, but it is the one major fault I find in the Magic of Disney.
According to this article in the Orlando Sentinel, Disney is looking to change that by investing $1 Billion in new technology that will be a “fastpass for your entire vacation.”
“In the coming years, we’ll introduce a broad set of systems and tools that will help us create a more seamless and personalized experience and help guests get more out of their visit with us,” said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Skaggs in a conference in Anaheim “to welcome more and more people, while making their experience more satisfying, more personal and more immersive.”
Wrap your head around that for a minute. You get your family to agree on going to Disney, you sit down in front of the computer, schedule out your entire trip, print out your hotel room keys, your itinerary and everything. This allows you to go right to your room without stopping at a front desk, go right to your ride, get on and walk off leaving more time for everything else! Sounds amazing! Right?
Sounds tedious and boring. Having to plan every aspect of your trip right down to the times you get to stop and tinkle. And what if your family is like mine and tends to lag behind in the morning? Does that mean you can’t ride Dumbo if you’re running late? And what does that do to the entire rest of the day? I’m sure they might be able to squeeze you in, or make you wait in standby, but that in effect makes you late for everything else.
Plus let’s look at it this way. Have you been out to eat at a busy restaurant? Or even better, a Disney restaurant? While the food and service are truly top notch at all that I’ve attended, getting in goes like this. Make a reservation, get there five minutes early. Wait for ten minutes or more for them to get your table ready. Then sit down and wait for the server to catch up with you.
The same could hold true on an attraction. You get there five minutes early, wait for your time then have to wait for ten minutes to board. That’s a 15 minute wait on a wait less system.
I applaud Disney for recognizing the problem, though, and trying to remedy it by using the best and newest technology. In that aspect it seems like Old School Imagineering. It’s motivated by greed and trying to get more people in to buy more, but that’s the reality of business. However, Jurassic Park echoes here “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”
Already it’s proving unpopular with fans, (but who cares, fans are going to go regardless and you know it Disneyphiles) and it could ending up doing more harm than good. People line up dinner reservations, cruise reservations and more for YEARS in advance. The same could be said about the rides now. Even @ParkThoughts joked about it on Twitter by saying “Sorry Space Mountain is booked until 2015”. At which the official Knotts Berry Farm Twitter replied “We can seat you at your table…errr ride immediately”. It’s a competitive market and technology could make this a whole new thorn in the side of theme park goers. Many fans of Disneyland have already complained when that park announced they were going to put the characters in stationary areas so that guests could find them easier, and in effect giving more chances to sell the Photopass option. This is something that the park here in Florida has done for years! Can you imagine if the entire park went to that type of uniformity? Where’s the magic in that?
Plus you put all that information out there, including your credit card info, where you’re going to be etc. You give control to the computers to control your rides, and have everything automated…you’re just asking for a robot apocalypse! Instead of the Pirates of the Caribbean coming out to kill you, they can do the next best thing..steal your identity. At least when the system becomes self-aware it will hum “It’s a small world” in 8-bit Midi while it enslaves you. Let’s see that on a postcard!
“Dear Mom, Having fun serving the robot overlord Mickey Mouse, please run! Love Erik”
What do you think about it all? Let us know in the comments below!