Would Disney Really Charge $100 or More for a FastPass Replacement?
Last week, I asked a question. How much would you be willing to pay for FastPass?
I know from the responses that this is a hot-button issue where people feel passionately.
Some happily embraced the notion of a super-expensive FastPass option, while others maintained that it should always remain free.
Since then, other Disney insiders have chimed in with rumors they’ve heard, including this viral video from MickeyViews:
The possibilities mentioned here merit further evaluation. Would Disney really charge $100 or more for FastPass? Well…
The Rumor Several People Have Heard
The rumor is simple. Disney officials have held internal discussions about altering the service we’ve historically known as FastPass.
In this scenario, Disney would introduce a new form of digital virtual queue system that’s pay-to-play.
Disneyland has already adopted this approach with MaxPass, which started at $10 per person per day but has quickly doubled to $20 each.
At Walt Disney World, the possibility exists that park officials will do something more daring.
Disney may introduce a high-end version of FastPass that would cost a lot more. We’re talking $100 or more per person per day.
No, that price wouldn’t include the cost of a ticket, either. You’d effectively pay almost double for the right to use FastPass all day.
Before the pandemic, park guests could book up to three FastPasses in advance. Then, they could add one after they’d used the rest.
Under this new system, someone who paid for FastPass would enjoy something akin to unlimited usage of FastPass lines.
This style of virtual queueing isn’t unprecedented. In fact, Universal Orlando Resort already employs it with the Universal Express Pass.
For a set fee, guests can skip the line on most park attractions. Universal doesn’t include some rides, but the participating ones are virtually walk-on.
Disney officials have assuredly researched the success of Universal’s pay-to-play option. Now, Disney is allegedly thinking about doing the same.
The Pros and Cons for Disney
Obviously, this would be a bold move for Disney, one that comes with benefits and concerns.
We already know that Disney theme parks receive a brighter spotlight than Universal. After all, the latter park reopened well ahead of Disney during the pandemic.
Still, when Disney parks reopened, negative memes populated the internet, lambasting Disney for its choice. It made no sense, but that’s the internet for you.
Suppose Disney announced a $100 or more version of FastPass. In that case, it’d garner hostile hot takes and even more claims that working families could no longer visit.
Are those takes accurate? Of course not. Disney operates reasonably priced hotels and theme park ticket packages that virtually everyone can afford.
Still, Disney is headline-conscious as a rule. It also knows that some guests may grade lower on park surveys if they notice others getting FastPasses.
Nobody likes special treatment when they’re not the beneficiary of it.
However, the plan does have two massive pros. The obvious one is money.
If Disney sold 1,000 of these plans daily at $100 each, that’s $3 million more in revenue each month. For an entire year, that’s $36.5 million.
Realistically, Disney would probably sell 1,000 per park, which brings the potential revenue up to roughly $150 million.
Remember that Disney would add this much money to the bottom line without increasing park attendance by a single person. It’s pure profit.
This leads to the second pro. Park officials know that crowds cause lower guest satisfaction surveys.
Disney could feasibly decrease attendance while increasing revenue.
The semi-permanent Park Pass system in place gives management more control over attendance.
The Pros and Cons for Park Guests
Implementing the expensive paid FastPass system could be part of a two-pronged strategy with reduced attendance as the other half.
Disney parks would feel less crowded, pleasing the guests who aren’t paying extra for FastPasses.
Meanwhile, the ones who purchase the lofty upsell…well, let’s explore that thought.
Many guests visit Disney for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, and weddings.
On such dates, don’t you want the best possible park experience? What’s better than skipping the lines at your favorite attractions?
Yes, $100 or more a day is extremely expensive. I won’t diminish that argument.
However, I’ve paid for ticketed events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Disney After Hours. I mean, I’ve done this MANY times.
I’ll happily splurge a little to get the parks to myself. I love the low attendance of a few thousand guests because it guarantees more rides for me.
A pricey paid FastPass system would codify that premise. Guests could do that on any date and during regular park hours.
Let’s say that it’s your birthday, and you want to do something special. Wouldn’t you pay $100 to ride 20+ attractions at Walt Disney World?
I’m not saying you would do this regularly. You might not even do it more than once every few years. You would remember those days, though.
South Park once did an episode where Cartman bought a theme park so that he could ride everything whenever he wanted.
With a super-expensive paid FastPass system in place, you could do that whenever you wanted…at Walt Disney World!
That’s an enticing proposition, isn’t it?
Would Disney Really Charge $100 or More for FastPass?
Of course! I mean, they already have. It was just subtle. A couple of years ago, Disney introduced perks for club-level guests at official resorts.
For $50 per person, these tourists could book three extra FastPasses per day. If we extrapolate to double digits in FastPasses, it’s more than $150 each.
Similarly, Club 33 members and residents in the Golden Oak neighborhoods receive 10+ daily FastPasses. All it costs them is…thousands to millions of dollars.
Along those lines, guests spend hundreds of dollars per hour to skip the lines every day. Disney offers VIP Tours, whose prices start at $425 per hour.
For this amount, a Disney cast member will guide you across all four parks, driving you between destinations.
You get to enter the FastPass queue on most attractions. On some, you skip the line entirely thanks to special entrances.
In other words, pay-to-play has existed at Disney theme parks for ages now.
Also, Disney wouldn’t need to worry about the move proving controversial.
The company could simply point to Universal Studios, which has offered the same package for years now.
So, the real question isn’t whether Disney would charge guests $100 or more. It already does with Disney After Hours and other after-hours ticketed events.
The better question is, “Will Disney add a daily option for a super-expensive but (mostly?) unlimited FastPass?”
Right now, we’re all hearing the same rumors that the idea is at least under consideration.
I don’t think that Disney is ready to commit to such a dramatic escalation in pricing. However, I also wouldn’t feel shocked if it happened.
The super-expensive FastPass would generate millions of dollars in annual revenue without altering much from an operational perspective.
Rare business opportunities like that are difficult to ignore.