(thank you Chip and Company http://pics.chipandco.com/ for the lovely photograph of the FP)
(Photo: Amanda Tinney, http://www.disneyeveryday.com/)
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!!!