In recent days, Walt Disney World has quietly installed colorful posts in front of many major attractions around the Magic Kingdom as part of a test of new Fastpass technology. Similar to the theme park entry tests that took place at Epcot in November 2011, these new posts each feature a familiar three circle Mickey Mouse icon, a scanning area used to read RFID (radio-frequency identification) equipped Fastpass tickets.
Disney’s ultimate goal with the new system is twofold. The RFID-based system would replace the existing (and rather clunky) system of distributing paper Fastpass tickets to guests eager to bypass standby lines with a digital format that electronically stores all the necessary timing information, indicating when guests can enter a ride or show. But more importantly, this test is a first step in the previously-announced “NextGen” theme park experience that will include making ride reservations from outside the parks, often dubbed X-Pass or Fastpass+.
The test is currently limited to a select group of Magic Kingdom guests and there is no way to sign up. But reports indicate that those who are involved were chosen in advance of their trips to the park and were asked to choose ride times that would fit their schedule. Special RFID-equipped cards would then store that information, granting access to rides at the scheduled times.
UPDATE (5/2/12): Upon checking in at Walt Disney World, Twitter user @TOCPE82 discovered he has been included in the Fastpass test, given two hard plastic Fastpass cards and an hourly schedule of attractions to visit the following day, listing one-hour windows in which his party can access those attractions, essentially a pre-scheduled set of four Fastpasses.
(Photo by @TOCPE82)
Thursday, May 3, 2012
12:25pm to 1:25pm, Splash Mountain, Frontierland
1:55pm to 2:55pm, Jungle Cruise, Adventureland
3:30pm to 4:30pm, Peter Pan’s Flight, Fantasyland
5:15pm to 6:15pm, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Tomorrowland
Attractions currently featuring the new multi-colored Fastpass posts include The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Mickey’s Philharmagic, among others.
(Haunted Mansion photo submitted by @jmccrae)
The Haunted Mansion is the standout attraction in the group, as it has not offered Fastpass tickets in several years, as it generally has a short wait time. But with the “NextGen” system currently in testing, guests may not have to wait at all, even a short time, by simply setting up a time to ride in advance, scanning their RFID-eqipped ticket against the new Mickey head scanner, and advancing directly into the ride.