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More Disneyland Rides to Get Shortcut System

Innovation: FastPass, used for 3 attractions and soon perhaps 10, tells users what time to show up.

May 26, 2000|E. SCOTT RECKARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Disneyland visitors helping to celebrate the Anaheim park's 45th birthday this summer can get a break amid the crowds and heat.

The Magic Kingdom plans to expand its use of the FastPass ride-reservation system throughout the summer and fall, eventually covering up to 10 popular attractions, insiders say.

FastPass, inaugurated last summer and now used on Splash Mountain, Space Mountain and Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, gives patrons free cuts in line so long as they show up at an assigned time.

The idea is simple: Instead of getting in the regular line, users feed their admission tickets or passes into a machine, which returns the ticket along with a voucher stating when to show up at a second, shorter line. Patrons must use their first voucher before getting another from one of the machines.

Disneyland is California's most popular amusement park for local residents and tourists alike, exceeding 13 million visits a year. But with so many people pouring through the turnstiles, the most common gripe by far, park officials say, is the long lines.

In recent calls to analysts, Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner has stressed FastPass' success in Anaheim and at Disney's four Florida amusement parks, where it is used at 13 attractions, with two more to be added this summer.

Discussing corporate earnings this month, Eisner credited FastPass, along with a millennium-themed program at the Epcot park in Florida, for a strong performance in the company's parks division, even though no major new attractions have been introduced recently.

FastPass users go home happier and use the time previously spent in line to spend more money shopping, eating or engaging in other activities until their assigned time comes up, Eisner said. He considers the FastPass system a winning formula as he engineers major cost cuts to bolster Disney's stock price.

Disney shares gained 15 cents Thursday to close at $39.81 a share on the New York Stock Exchange, up 69% from a low last November and in the same range it was trading two years ago.

Ray Gomez, a spokesman for Disney's Anaheim operations, said Thursday that park officials aren't ready to announce anything yet about a FastPass expansion.

But a ride expert at the park said the $100-million Indiana Jones Adventure ride, along with the Autopia attraction, which is being renovated for $3 million, according to building permits, top a list of seven more attractions that officials hope to add to the system.

"The idea is to have 10 FastPass rides by October," the expert said.

Other attractions reportedly targeted for likely FastPass access are: Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Star Tours and Peter Pan's Flight.

FastPass is expected to be widely used as well at California Adventure, the new Disney park scheduled to open in Anaheim next year.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Fast Track for FastPass

Disneyland's FastPass program, which cuts waiting time for rides, is quickly spreading beyond the three attractions now using the ride-reservation system. By fall, the park hopes to have 10 atractions on the system, insiders say.

Rides now using FastPass:

Space Mountain

Splash Mountain

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin

*

Rides that may get FastPass:

Indiana Jones Adventure

Autopia

Pirates of the Caribbean

Haunted Mansion

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Star Tours

Peter Pan's Flight

Source: Park and Walt Disney Imagineering workers

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