Next Generation Experiences?
It was announced yesterday, December 17th, that Jim MacPhee has been promoted to a new position for “next generation experiences” and Walt Disney World parks. Interesting and vague. They’re not really saying what this new position is about, only “we are constantly exploring new ways to deliver high-quality immersive experiences to new and existing audiences. Our goal is to take every element of the vacation experience to a new level.” All I can say is “COOL!” Hopefully this will mean more interactive features and attractions like I talked about in Disney Theme Parks 2.0 and hopefully more. More interaction with cell phones, iPhones, smart phones, more Living Character initiatives, more in-queue games, etc. Perhaps we’ll see another phone-based type of adventure similar to the Kim Possible “missions” at Epcot.
I’m not sure, but something I found interesting that could be considered part of this “next gen” project was announced at D23 as “queueless waiting” which was slated as being used when the new (super, dueling) Dumbo opens. However, it doesn’t look like they’re going to wait until the new Dumbo opens before they debut this new innovation. I’ve heard that just last week they began testing this queueless waiting concept on the Rock N’ Rollercoaster queue. Apparently, it works very similar to the current version of Fastpass, and some are even calling it Fastpass 2.0. Details are still emerging but from what I’ve heard, the way it works is everyone is given a time slot usually in 10-15 minute increments and a code (A1, B2, C3, etc) which corresponds to a group of so many people who will all ride in the same time window. When that time window is reached, or more specifically, when the code is up/called, you would enter the (shorter) queue and then proceed almost directly to ride the attraction. The big difference between this and “traditional” fastpass is that you only have a small window in which you can use your pass. From what I’ve seen/heard, if you miss your time slot, too bad, you’ll just have to get another one and not miss your time slot. It sounds pretty neat, and should help clear up some of the problems with long stand-by lines where there is a Fastpass queue. Now everyone will essentially have a Fastpass.
Prediction: Part of Disney’s “Next Gen” plans will be to implement queueless waiting on all of the major attractions across the resort. Then they will provide a means by which a guest can schedule their activities in the parks ahead of time. So, you might log on to the scheduler from your hotel the night before or morning you’re visiting Magic Kingdom and select the attractions you want to go on for the day. The system would then generate all of your group codes/time slots and you would get a list. I could foresee them putting a tiered system in place for this as well where guests staying at the higher dollar resorts (deluxe & DVC) might get to schedule more attractions than those staying at moderate and values. For example:
Guests staying at a deluxe or DVC might be able to schedule 8-10 attractions for a given day, versus a moderate guest might only be able to schedule 6 and a value guest might only be allowed to schedule up to 4 attractions. I could see them placing time limits on how close the attractions could be schedule together as well, maybe no more than 1 per hour, or based on the class of property where Deluxe and Moderates could do 1 every hour, and values only 1 every 2 hours.
The tricky part comes with guests missing their scheduled time/window. Would Disney allow them to re-schedule or request a new time, or if the system is electronic/computer-driven, would it automatically attempt to re-assign them a new time slot, if available? Yet another problem would be following an attraction breakdown. Again, if it’s electronic, then the system would be able to attempt a re-scheduling for all guests holding a scheduled time/reservation.
I should add that my prediction here is loosely based on patents that Disney applied for more than 2 years ago as enhancements to Fastpass. I’m just speculating here, but I can see where the groundwork for this is being laid.
For Disney, queueless waiting should be a win-win scenario, at least on paper. No longer will 70-90% of their guests be spending 80% or more of their time while in the parks standing in line. Depending on how many rides get upgraded to use this new queueing concept, guests’ wait time in line could be throretically reduced to under 50%. I’m not a fortune teller, but I’m guessing that Disney is hoping that something like this will encourage guests to shop, eat and spend more money. However, I have to wonder if it will. When we visit WDW, we usually go with a set amount that we intend to spend on food and merchandise. We plan carefully how much we’ll spend on food, and the the rest is for souvenirs. Sure we occasionally spend more than what we planned, but it’s not a significant amount, maybe 10-20%. So, I have to wonder how many other guests are like us and plan their spending similarly. If they are, then Disney won’t see a huge jump in spending from queueless waiting, and it may even cause them to lose money after all is said and done to add this technology and then additional technology and features to entertain guests waiting for their number/slot.