Disney World’s always trying to improve, and one of the big complaints many guests have, at least at certain times of year, is the long lines for rides. That’s why the FastPass system exists: it allows Disney World to offer interested guests shorter wait times while making money off the idea. As part of their constant quest for improvement Disney World is trying to upgrade their FastPass system, according to The Disney Blog. They’re currently testing the next generation of the queue-jumping arrangement in the Magic Kingdom, and it involves RFID.
RFID stands for radio-frequency identification, the process of using radio-frequency electromagnetic waves to transfer data. I’m sure my electric engineer husband would cringe at my description, but it serves for us common folk. I might have it wrong, but examples of RFID (or something similar) are having a fob to wave in front of a pad to get into a building, or having a fob as the key to cars like the Prius, that you just need to have on your person to activate the car.
Disney World’s RFID works by allowing guests to schedule ride times onto their card (presumably by showing them available times). As the system was being tested select Disney World Hotel guests were allowed to schedule four rides, but I don’t know if that will be a set number in the future. Each guest’s card contains personal information about them, like their name and their birthday. When guests arrive at the ride they swipe their cards against the FastPass sensor (a ball with a Mickey shape on it).
The sensor glows green if the guest may proceed to the ride, or blue if it’s not quite time yet/there’s another problem. Guests can summon cast members for assistance if needed. Cast members working for the new FastPass system carry tablets that hold the guests’ aforementioned information, which will allow them to personalize the experience (like wishing someone a happy birthday). Or, if the FastPass is for a restaurant, it can contain any food allergy or other relevant information for the guest.
The Disney Blog thinks that the idea can be extended to allow guests a personalized ride experience as well, if the transponders are also put up by the ride. Does that mean the ride might speak to guests by name or something? I don’t know, but that kind of personalization wouldn’t be very high on my Disney World priority list.
Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not entirely sure how the RFID FastPass is all that different from the system currently in place. The way it is now guests show up to their ride, or meet-and-greet, or restaurant (something I didn’t know Disney did but makes a lot of sense, it’s basically just making a reservation, though I really hope people don’t have to pay extra to do so like with other FastPasses) at their scheduled time. They can then go on the ride, or maybe they have to wait a bit if they’re early or there are a lot of other people also scheduled for that time.
All the RFID seems to do is allow the cast members to have extra information about the FastPass holders, something that only seems that relevant for dining. However, we’ll have to wait to see it properly in action at Disney World to determine whether or not it’s a worthwhile upgrade.