Winnie the Pooh FP Distribution

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wait A Sec, Fastpasses for Fireworks and Parades?!

We've all seen them...and some of us who are fortunate enough to live close to the parks can set our watches to them.  They are the nightly fireworks displays.  At Disney World, each one of the parks (minus DAK for obvious reasons) has a nightly viewing of fireworks entertainment.  Carefully orchestrated to a finely tuned melody, each ka-boom and ka-blaam ends up with the unmistakable roar from thousands of ooh's and aah's that follow.  The finale typically climaxes into a spectacular array of never ending explosions of color and light, followed by thunderous applause and cheers.  Each night, we are awarded with such marvelous displays as if Disney were to tell us 'we are here, loud and proud'.  After spending a day at one of their parks, you as a guest, feel entitled to such an ambiance.  There seems to be no better way to end the day.  Viewing the evening's fireworks is to some as important of a tradition as it is to Disney.  I have seen spectators line up for the event, two hours prior to showtime.  At Magic Kingdom, the best viewing is likely to be the place where most people tend to flock to which is right in front of the castle.  Of course, people want to take photographs of the castle back lit with fireworks.  To make it more as an incentive, the event kicks off with a very photogenic and vivid display of color that bring Cinderella Castle to life.  I have watched nearby spectators gaze at the display and actually see themselves on the castle projection.  I had wondered how they had managed to have their picture taken and placed on the castle and thought 'now I knew where all those (the PhotoPass) pictures went.'  I know how incredible it is to experience that moment, and for an instant, that family had a magical moment.  Yes, it truly was a moment they would cherish.  Luckily for them, one of my friends had been videotaping the show and just so happened to have capture on his film the moment their photograph was propped on the castle, animated to a musical repertoire.  He e-mailed the video to them.  There is no doubt how great the area in front (and some who say the display from the back of the castle is just as marvelous) is to observe Wishes.  MK knows how good they have it, so it appears they decided to try a little experiment, a FP experiment.

(thank you Chip and Company for the lovely photograph of the FP)

It started out in several blogs and then soon in tweets.  MK was testing a Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fast pass.  The return time suggested to come back between 9:20pm and 9:45pm.  I figured this was just about enough time for them to figure out who goes where.  The viewing location is in front of the castle right at the end of Main Street and in front of the sculpture of Walt and Mickey.  They posted signage indicating the location of the FP return.

(Photo: Amanda Tinney,

Not only was I surprised that they were testing a Wishes FP, the Electrical Parade received the same treatment.  This area was reserved for both viewing events.

The viewing location was carefully and consistently monitored by cast members.  These patrols ensured that no one passed the ropes.  Believe.  I saw a toddles wander into one of these areas and within seconds several cast members were already on it.  They were really serious about this.  Dare you pass the ropes? Off with their heads!

So how did I get my hands on one of these FP?  It took a bit of observation.  Normally someone knows something about where you could find a FP being distributed.  But one thing was for certain, the system was likely to be tested for one month (March 2012) and at random.  The complication was that they alternated and at random had selected specific days for their trials.  After asking several guest relation cast members about the days they would conduct their FP experiment, they had no knowledge on the matter.  In fact, no cast member I spoke to (nor manager CM) knew any details whatsoever.  Getting one of these was sure to be a difficult endeavor indeed.  Of course, I work a full-time job and so on my days off and when I got out early I had planned many trips to MK.  I decided that they would likely trial the FP on days that were non-peak.  For something to go wrong, it would be better if not that many people were watching right.  Persistence paid off the moment I walked through the main gates, in the middle of the week with nearly an empty MK parking lot across the lake.  I noticed several cast members speaking to families right as they were entering the park.  I never see this, sad to say.  I usually notice these cast members only after I walk near the city hall on Main Street.  I overheard the cast members tell them to return for the parade viewing in front of the castle and watched each family member receive their own special FP.  I wanted one.  After walking past these cast members several times and observing who was getting selected, it dawned on me they were really only seeking families or groups with many children.  This seemed like an impossible feat, knowing it was just me and all I wanted was one just one for my collection.  I wished I had my family there because for that one moment I felt cheated out of what could have been a very magical moment for me.  I know how important it was to them to randomly select individuals, and as gloomy as my situation seemed I was struck with a thought.  It would not hurt to ask them for one.  One little question led to my victory!

I found my parade viewing fast pass that day.  I returned at the designated time, but found the area to have already been too crowded to have enjoyed the parade I had already seen numerous times before.  I kept it.  I spoke with several cast members including a few managers running the event and they had informed me how ordinarily the FP would be disposed of but in this case they were conducting an inventory of how many guests had returned of those FP that had been distributed earlier in the day.  I noticed the CM place the passes in envelopes, seal them, and off they went to be counted.

I wonder how many people had returned.  It was certainly busy when I had returned for the parade.  I don't know if this somehow affected the viewing experience, but what I do know is that there were likely many more guests who were frustrated, if not angry, at the CM's who would not let them view the parade (and likely Wishes) from this area.  If you ever visited this area, you'd see how small it is in comparison to other places where the fireworks could be viewed (such as Illuminations at EPCOT).  I don't know how this worked to their advantage, but I hope that if they decide to do FP that they let everyone be eligible to obtain one if they so desired.  This should be available to anyone just like FP are currently available to anyone in the parks, first come first served.

Regardless of the outcome, I am really excited to have a piece of history in my collection.  I only wish I was fortunate enough to have a Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fast pass!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment