Thursday, November 21, 2013

Will the Tier System come to the Animal Kingdom?

In a word, yes. Unfortunately.

For those that don't know here is how it works. You get one fast pass from Tier 1 which at Epcot means Soarin', Test Track, Maelstrom, the Character Spot and Illuminations. Then you get 2 from the Tier 2, which is essentially any ride that you would never need a fast pass for. At Hollywood Studios, Tier 1 includes Toy Story Mania, Rock N Roller Coaster, Fantasmic and, oddly, the Beauty and the Beast Stage show. Tier 2 is a little better here since it includes the Tower of Terror, Great Movie Ride (which can get lines) and Star Tours.

So now that testing has moved to a second park, we can assume this may be a thing for all the parks. I would guess at a minimum this will include the Animal Kingdom. Like those other parks, there are not a lot of attractions that need fast passes. Everyone will grab the Safari and Everest and then, well, something else. I suspect that we will be getting the tiered system soon. Here are my thoughts on what will be Tier 1: Everest and the Safaris obviously since they are the big draws. I am going to guess Festival of the Lion King will be there too since they seem to be putting in things suitable for the whole family. Finally, I will assume the Adventurers' Outpost or perhaps Kali will be the last of the four.

Of course, this completely changes how one approaches fast passes. It essentially, at least at Epcot, puts you in the position of getting one fast pass only. You need to pick the one biggie you want and rope drop the rest. I will assume due to its incredible lines, most savvy Disney visitors will pick Toy Story at DHS and rope drop Sunset Boulevard. We shall see what's in store for the Animal Kingdom. And then, of course, we are left to wonder what will happen when the Avatar stuff opens.

To me, this is all a huge joke. Disney has said two things to make the guest feel like Fast Pass Plus is a good thing. They have said it will reduce your waiting in lines. I have severe doubts that this will be the case. First of all, now you will only get one "good" fast pass meaning you will HAVE to stand by any of the other E ticker attractions. Secondly, the fast passes have created bigger waits at attractions that traditionally have not had fast passes like the Haunted Mansion, Small World and the Great Movie Ride. Secondly, Disney has said that the Fast Pass Plus system will allow you to customize your vacation the way you want to. Also, a lie apparently.

The tier system means you will be able to customize your vacation the way Disney wants you to not the way you want to. Let's face it. Instead of building better rides, Disney is creating more traffic to lesser attractions by forcing you to make reservations there. If Captain EO is a ghost town, why sink money into a better show when you can just forces 1/3 of the guests to fast pass it. You say the Backlot tour is shadow of its former self, no worries more people with reservations in hand will be hopping on board the tram soon enough.

Personally, I liked the idea of the fast pass plus. Booking my fast passes ahead of time appealed to the uber planner in me. But this tier system leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. Mostly, I think its the bold faced lies Disney execs were spewing prior to this. Even the idea of reducing your time waiting in line will simply be untrue. I suspect wait times will be as bad if not worse then before. And for what? Seems to me if people will be spending more time in line, not getting on as many E-tickets as they used to, will perhaps not be as happy. Of course, the cynic in me wonders when you will be able to purchase additional tier 1 fast passes.

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)


  1. I can't see a situation where they don't set up tiers in every park. It's the only way to prevent everyone from taking the FP+ reservations at the top attractions. My expectation is they'll split the tiers with Everest in Tier 1 and the Safari in Tier 2. That would match the way they did it at EPCOT. Then they'll add something like Festival of the Lion King and maybe Kali River Rapids to Tier 1 and put Finding Nemo and Dinosaur in Tier 2. This is such a mess and is making the experience worse for everyone but Disney executives.

  2. We plan, but FASTPASS+ has scared me...I can't pick a ride or day in park 6 months out! We like to go with the flow some too. I feel REALLY bad for Disney Vacation planners as it sets THEM up to be disliked by clients by stuff out of their control.

  3. This is sad, sadder yet Disney seems to forget there are other parks near by. Our next trip will be the first in a decade with no Disney parks.