Next Generation FastPass
“Hang onto your hats and glasses, folks, cause this here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness!”
I predicted back in December, that part of Disney’s Next Gen plans would include the ability to log on to a computer from your hotel room and make Fast Pass reservations in advance of hitting the parks. Well, that prediction is now closer to reality via a pending patent number 7720718, filed May 18, 2010, and oddly titled “Management of the flow of persons in relation to centers of crowd concentration via television control”. (Update: The patent is actually not new, it was filed in October 2003, and appears to have been awarded/granted in May 2010. Sorry if there was any confusion.)
A method of managing the loading of patrons to an attraction having a predetermined attraction capacity in an entertainment environment wherein patrons are permitted access to the attraction on at least two bases, the first being a first-in first-out basis, and the second being a priority basis established by a prior allocation of a return time, comprising: receiving from a patron a priority request for an allocation of a return time, the priority request being entered on a television unit located at a resort facility, the priority request being received at a central computer that regulates the number of patrons allowed to enter the attraction, wherein the resort facility is related to the entertainment environment and is located remotely from the entertainment environment; transmitting to the patron an allocated return time via the television unit; and filling the attraction to its predetermined attraction capacity with patrons on a first-in first-out basis, without reserving space for a patron having the allocated return time who is not present at the attraction during the allocated return time, and if a patron having the allocated return time is present at the attraction during the allocated return time then preferentially loading the patron having the allocated return time.
But wait, it gets better. How about making Fast Pass reservations from your phone or mobile device?
The method and system further permits a patron of an attraction to use a wireless device in order to gain access to an attraction. The wireless device may for example, be a mobile telephone.
Here’s where it might get ugly for the non-resort guests and day visitors.
In another aspect of the present invention there is a hierarchy for patrons using the priority basis. Different patrons in the hierarchy are permitted access to a first attraction. A request for an allocation of a space on the first attraction includes the steps of: i. receiving an input from a remote location. The input is communicated to a central computer for requesting a reservation for an attraction; ii. allocating available return times in relation to a level of a patron in the hierarchy;
Different hierarchal models can be established for the ability and right to obtain and use the Fastpass according to different priorities. 1. Guest a. Spending per guest at hotels can determine different hierarchies of access to Fastpass. Thus, the more that is spent by a patron, the higher the priority can be for Fastpass. b. Hotel accommodation in related resorts and environments associated with the entertainment center are allocated different priorities. Where a patron is in a related hotel, a higher priority can be given. c. Different levels and hierarchies can be applicable at different hotels. Thus, more luxurious hotels can have higher priorities. 2. Seasonal differences can be factored into the grant of different privileges. Accordingly, special promotions for Fastpass can be provided according to the season.
I say it “might get ugly” because if you read the whole thing, it allows room for this reservation system to be made available to off-property locations, as a “service”.
In another embodiment, the entertainment venue may offer a service to hotels or other surrounding venues whereby a person may make priority requests prior to their visit to the entertainment venue. For example, a person would use the television and remote control in their hotel room to make reservations for one or more attractions the day before their visit to the venue.
The stated goal pretty much says it all.
A goal of this invention is to improve the desired functionality needed to derive increased guest satisfaction, additional revenue opportunities and resort differentiation
Although, toward the end, they also make reference to a few other uses for the invention, which I found interesting.
Additionally, the system can be used for planning exit strategies from events in theaters, stadiums and the like.
Also, the system can be used for guiding and controlling masses of people in the use of limited transportation systems, such as in public transport systems including rail, air, marine and bus transportation.
It sounds like they envision the algorithms developed for Fastpass queuing being applied to other areas where there might have large crowd issues, and effectively managing movement of these crowds more efficiently. This makes me wonder if they’re looking at the possibility of using it for their transportation systems as well.
Now, before anybody gets too excited or worked up by this patent, you should know that Disney holds a lot of patents, some of which never get implemented. So, why create a patent and not use it? Many reasons, mostly to prevent other people from using the idea, or sometimes even to sell to others for their use.
If you want to see the full details of this pending patent, here’s the link.