Our good friends at Touringplans are reporting that cast members at Walt Disney World Resort have been informed that beginning March 7, 2012, return times on Fastpasses will be enforced for all guests. Whereas in the pasts, guests could get a Fastpass for a scheduled return time and then save it for later in the day (so long as it was used the same day), guests using a Fastpass will reportedly be given only a small window in which to use the pass. Guests will be allowed to present the Fastpass 5 minutes prior to or up to 15 minutes after, the return time printed on the ticket. Guests presenting Fastpasses after this time will be denied admittance.
Why the change in policy? That is unknown to us at this time. Perhaps it is due to the fact that because people often save Fastpasses for later in the day or evening, the result being that Fastpass lines can have 20-30 minute waits, thereby defeating the purpose of the system itself. Alternatively, this may have something to do with the rumored introduction of X-Pass coming to the parks later this year, with Disney looking to streamline the process so as to guarantee X-Pass holders immediate entry onto attractions.
I suspect this isn't going to go over well with park guests, many of whom are used to saving up Fastpasses during the day and then using them all at once. I would hate to be a cast member at the parks when this rolls out. Hopefully, Disney starts to publicize this change immeditely to give people time to adjust to the new policy.
Whatever the reason for the change, I do think it's interesting that the policy is currently only going in effect for Walt Disney World, and not Disneyland Resort at this time.
What do you think? Is this change long overdue? Or should Disney let park guests use Fastpasses however they choose?