NOVEMBER 2013: Two weeks during the initial FP+ rollout. We decided to spend both Thanksgiving week and the first week of December at WDW, thinking that would provide the experience of a busy week and a not so busy week. Clearly, the first week of December "felt" just as busy as Thanksgiving week to us. But that isn't the point of this thread - it is a multifaceted analysis of our experiences with MB and FP+ Dates of stay: 11/21 - 12/7 Resort: CSR Package: 10 day park hoppers with water parks & more FP+ Reservations made: 90 Total Cumulative Park Entries: 80 As we did a split stay (first two nights were room only), we were provided with two sets of MB's and two sets of KTTW cards. While both sets of cards were able to pull legacy FP's during the duration of our visit, we made limited use of them. MB's for ROOM ACCESS: We had no issues with the MB's opening our resort room door. MB's for POS PURCHASES: We had no issues with the MB's making POS purchases. MB's for DINING TRANSACTIONS: There were often issues with dining being able to complete the transaction and the server often blamed a weak wifi signal as the cause. MB's for PARK ENTRY: We visited no less than 2 parks each day, DQ and BB several times for a total of 80 individual access requests. We encountered a 50% probability that at least one of us could not complete the access request on the first try, and had to make several attempts before getting the "Green Swirl". Our 8 year old had the highest rate of success as his fingerprint read was not required. MB's for FASTPASS PLUS: This use of MB's was much more reliable than park access requests. Failures requiring multiple reads were minimal, and all reservations were recognized. PARK ENTRY EXPERIENCE: MB's have a visible impact on queuing, being much slower than the previous card insertion/fingerprint read process. The MB read is the slower component of the two as the fingerprint read takes the same amount of time as before. Furthermore, the multiple reader stations physically setup in a one-behind-the-other are not queue efficient and compound the delay. Often, the line stops behind the person at the first reader while the next reader is vacant. This requires CM's to constantly prod the line. The design team clearly felt it would be more efficient to have 4 readers to 1 CM in much the same fashion 4 self-checkout stations are monitored by 1 cashier at the grocery store. But in practical use the process is much slower because there is now 1/4 the resource available at a time for assistance. Yes, it's cheaper in terms of labor - but it does increase the cycle time. And since there is now only one CM per four possibly simultaneous access requests, that labor savings is destroyed because the high percentage of failed reads requires a second group of escalation CM's manned with iPads who divert failures from the queue for a more time consuming process of troubleshooting. This would be extremely concerning as a static number of troubleshooters are always required even if there are no errors for a period of time (wasted resources). The entire process is visibly much less efficient than the legacy turnstyle stations and requires much more administrative overhead. An unintended consequence is now the lack of a physical barrier to entry; while not currently a huge issue now, I did on more than one occasion see individuals walk right past the readers and into the park (out of frustration, not fraud) while the CM was busy asking another guest if that was the same finger they've been using. THE MDE PHONE APP: I won't waste much time on this - it's buggy, it's slow, it suffers from tactile latency, and it's a battery drainer. But I consider it peripheral to everything else - suffice it to say if McDonald's offered an app that let me order from my phone and then seemed primarily concerned with my ordering experience and less so with my impression of the actual meal, I'd be disappointed. FP+ EXPERIENCE: Okay, this is where it is going to get deep. Let's start with an observation I made in two different parks with two different headliners, Expedition Everest and Tower of Terror. EE had 6 legacy FP machines and 1 FP+ machine. ToT had 5 legacy FP machines and 1 FP+ machine. At both attractions, there was one CM stationed behind the legacy FP machines in the event a guest needed assistance - which was rare. But behind the single FP+ machine at each attraction, there were SIX iPad-armed CM's working, troubleshooting, explaining, and ultimately providing paper FP's to guests. Yes, you read that correctly they were providing paper FP's to guests because the FP+ system was "down". I spent several hours watching these two FP Distribution nodes, to the point the CM's were speaking freely with me. More often than not, they would lose the wifi connection or the system would freeze in the middle of guiding a guest thru their "experience". The one-half of the team that was obviousy IT would then take over running their quiet little diagnostic buzz while the other half of the team would provide the guest with a paper FP. And this is where the biggest fault of the entire project became most evident to me - it is a project being spearheaded primarily by a technical department. And when too much autonomy is given to a technical department, that is when budgets are over-run, expensive equipment and software is purchased that requires maintenance and additional overhead, and the technical geeks are often plagued with a binary sense of success. Meaning, it either works or it doesn't. If it doesn't, we'll fix it - and if it works, well then - it works! "My Disney Experience" is just that - it's like spending a day in the cube of a techno geek. Remember the Saturday Night Live skit about the company computer guy? The technical CM's at Disney are much the same characters. "What do you mean you don't like the app? It let you make a reservation for the People Mover, didn't it?" That is the problem - this whole FP+ thing is not guest-centric, it's process-centric. So as long as the wifi signal is strong enough or the Mickey goes Green on the first attempt, it's deemed a success. So I struck up several conversations with the CM's who couldn't help but notice how long I had been standing around and seemed a little defensive when my response was "I'm just watching" when they asked me if I needed any help. When I made a comment to one of them how it took six CM's for one FP+ station when six legacy FP stations only needed one CM and that seemed terribly inefficient to me, he was quick to point out how much better the FP+ system is. "Really?" I asked. "But these guests who the six of you are trying to assist seem really frustrated with the process". Oh no, he replied. He then proceeded to tell me about the elderly, somewhat disabled guest who expressed to him how extremely grateful she was for FP+ because she had been coming for years and had never been able to ride Toy Story Mania until this last visit when the wonders of FP+ came thru for her and she was able to reserve her spot on the ride..... And as I wiped the tears from my eyes, I asked him...... "why not just increase the capacity of the popular attractions?" That was when another CM jumped in and told me that she has heard nothing but positive things about FP+ from....well, corporate. I explained how it seemed to be three groups of guests forming. Those who like FP+, those who are confused by FP+, and those who hate FP+. And that there seemed to be a lot more people in the last two groups than the first. She made the comment to me that those who didn't like FP+ are the ones who are confused, and that is when I realized that they just aren't listening. The CM's charged with pulling off FP+ have been given a completely different batch of Kool-Aid than the rest of the CM's. They are almost defensive in nature when someone criticizes FP+, and quick to give a speech on how wonderful it is by giving everyone the opportunity to experience their favorite attraction once during their visit to WDW. Then why not just build more favorite attractions? Ahhhhh........but FP+ is now too big to fail. That's right. Too much money has been invested, too many promises made, too many careers dependent. FP+ cannot fail. It is a sunk cost. Aside from the rest of the posts debating whether you like it or not or whether it makes lines longer or shorter, the fact is the entire NexGen/MDE/FP+ endeavor requires such a great deal of ongoing marketing, guest education, administrative overhead and upkeep that I believe Robo's theoretical post about the end of FP+ may just have a chance at reality. Because it is NOT a new guest experience. It is a process, an infrastructure, an additional liability that attempts to leverage existing experiences, attractions that are reaching the end of their nostalgic capital and are not being replaced. It is a concept born of and driven by an objective to squeeze more money out of park guests. When a company invests in RFID's on the bottom of every drink cup, metered beverage dispensers that require a connection to the corporate database, and additional hi-tech manpower to now maintain what used to be a relatively low-maintenance process to dispense a beverage in order to squeeze another point or two on the margin, do you honestly believe they would spend a billion dollars on magic bracelets to enhance YOUR experience? SO WHAT GOOD IS FP+ ????? Okay, here's how I think it's best to take advantage of this beast while it is still around: Be at park opening and pick one headliner to ride in the first 30 minutes while the Standby line is still short. Save your FP+ reservations for the afternoon or evening. And try not to feel like you wasted a FP+ on Figment when the Standby line was only 5 minutes. Because the global effect of FP+ is that the harder WDW tries to make it work, the more it WILL increase the Standby line time for all attractions for the greatest portion of the day. And that is what yield management is all about. So yeah, that's it. The only benefit to FP+ is you can reserve your spot on your favorite 90 second experience later in the day when the Standby line is an hour or more. Pick another two less desirable experiences and you're done. Now, what do you do with the other 11 hours, 57 minutes and 30 seconds you have left over now that you've had a chance to "experience" your favorite attractions? Spend money!