Disneyland Paris has just launched a new way to skip the queue for the most popular rides and attractions. The Premier Access Pass has created controversy as this system is a pay per ride option where the costs can quickly spiral.
When Disney World reopened their parks in July 2020 the free FastPass+ system was suspended and is yet to return. With rumours swirling that it will be replaced by a paid for system is it possible the Premier Access Pass at Disneyland Paris is testing the waters for this new procedure of queue skipping and that it may travel across the pond to the US parks in the future?
Disney World FastPass+ System
Just what is the FastPass+ system? Disney World used to give everyone visiting the parks the ability to select up to three attractions a day where they could skip the main queue and join a much shorter FastPass+ queue. Once you had used up all three FastPasses you could then use the My Disney Experience app to book more.
This was a really great perk that helped you get the most out of your park days. Less queuing equals more shopping, more dining and fitting in even more rides!
It was also a bonus for people staying at a Disney World hotel as resort guests could book their FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance of their trip. People staying off-site, not in a Disney Resort, could still book FastPass+ reservations but 30 days before their trip. This allowed everyone the chance to make the most out of their day but gave people paying a premium rate to stay at a Disney World Resort an advantage to score the harder to get reservations first.
Disneyland Paris Premier Access Pass
Disneyland Paris has just launched a new service called Premier Access Pass. This is an alternative to the Fastpass+ system where you can now pay to skip the queue for a ride of your choosing. Prices range from €8 to €15 per person, per ride. This works out around $9.50 / £7 to $18 / £13 per person, per ride so the costs can add up quickly!
Disneyland Paris does offer a free Standby Pass where you select an attraction and get a designated timeslot to return. This is essentially a virtual queue system, similar to StarWars: Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios at Disney World. These can only be booked on the day of your visit once you are inside the park.
Rides available to purchase Premier Access Passes for are:
Autopia €8 per person
Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast €15 per person
Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain €9 per person
Star Tours: The Adventure Continues €8 per person
Peter Pan's Flight €15 per person
Big Thunder Mountain €12 per person
Walt Disney Studios Park
Ratatouille: The Adventure €12 per person
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror €15 per person
Universal Orlando Express Pass
Universal Orlando already offers the Universal Express Pass, which costs between $70 to over $300 per person, per day to skip the queues! The price changes depending on the date you visit, so at busy times of year this can add a huge amount of cost on top of your park ticket.
The Universal Express Pass has two different levels available to purchase. The Universal Express Pass lets you skip the queue once per participating attraction a day. The Universal Express Pass Unlimited lets you skip the queue for any of the participating attractions an unlimited number of times throughout the day. There is also an option to pay to skip the queues at the Universal water park, Volcano Bay.
Rides included in the Universal Express Pass are:
The Bourne Stuntacular
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
Fast & Furious – Supercharged
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Hogwarts Express (Park-to-Park admission ticket required)
Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
MEN IN BLACK™ Alien Attack
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
Revenge of the Mummy
The Simpsons Ride
TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
Islands of Adventure
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
Flight of the Hippogriff
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
Hogwarts Express (Park-to-Park admission ticket required)
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Jurassic Park River Adventure
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Storm Force Accelatron
Note that some of the biggest attractions, like Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and the brand new VelociCoaster, are not included.
If you are staying at a premier category resort at Universal Orlando then you get free Express Passes for every day of your trip, including check in and check out day, included as part of your stay. If the Express Pass is something you are considering then staying at premier resort can sometimes save you money by getting your Universal Express Passes for free.
Do You Need To Skip The Queue?
One of the biggest questions people will ponder when planning their Orlando trip is do I really need to pay to skip the queue? This comes down to personal preference, the time of year you visit and what you like to experience in the theme parks.
During busy times of the year the most popular attractions can draw queues of multiple hours. If you are doing a lot of the popular rides you can spend most of your day queuing rather than enjoying the parks.
The FastPass+ system, Express Pass and Premier Access Pass are all there to help cut down queuing time so you can get the most out of your visit to the parks and fit in as much as possible.
In low season, when there are smaller crowd levels, it is not always necessary to use a queue jumping system.
If you are only visiting Orlando for a few days and have just one day in each park then skipping the queues can be really beneficial. If you are visiting for an extended period and you can visit the parks multiple times there is less need to use this type of system.
It also depends on what attractions and rides you like to enjoy. If you aren't looking to do all of the big attractions then there may be no need to take advantage of shorter queuing times.
It is good to bear in mind that these passes let you skip the regular queue, but you still end up in a queue, albeit a shorter one. These extra tickets don't enable you to walk straight onto the rides.
The ability to skip the regular line with the Disney World FastPass+ system was a great benefit to everyone visiting as no matter how long your visit was, what time of year you visited or what rides you enjoy everybody was able to maximise their day by using the FastPass+ system for free.
One of the assets with Universal Express Pass and Premier Access Pass is that you don't have to buy them until you are in the park. The Universal Express Pass you can buy in advance but can also be purchased on the day. It is a good idea to visit the park first to get a sense of the queue times and how busy the park is before committing big money.
Will Disney World Switch To A Paid For FastPass+ System?
I feel that in the future Disney will switch to a paid for Fastpass+ system, it is just a matter of time.
I think that currently they are deciding which type of queue skipping system to use. One like the Universal Express Pass at Universal Orlando which is an expensive upfront cost but gives you access to skip the queue at most of the rides in the parks or the Disneyland Paris Premier Access Pass option where people pay just for the rides they want to skip the queues for.
Essentially both of these options cost a lot of additional money on top of people's trips. The Universal Express Pass is a big lump sum to pay but gives guests the most flexibility and lots of rides to enjoy.
If people just want to ride one or two of the busiest attractions then the Premier Access Pass option is more affordable. But once you work out the cost for multiple people and multiple rides then it adds up very quickly. For example a family of four wanting to jump the queue for Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast would end up costing €60 just for one attraction! So although this can seem like a more budget-friendly option, as people only pay for the rides they are interested in, the costs can accumulate quickly.
No matter which system Disney World chooses the guests will be losing out on one of the biggest benefits to visiting the Disney Parks, the free FastPass+ reservations.
Which System Should Disney Choose?
Both the Express Pass and Premier Access Pass have their pros and cons.
I always make sure I visit the Universal Parks first to see what the wait times are and if an Express Pass would benefit me. I like that you have the ability to purchase the Express Pass when you are in the park so you don't have to pay a big sum in advance and then not really get the benefit out of it. This is a big plus.
The big downside to the Universal Express Pass is the price fluctuates depending on the when you visit. For example the prices for an Express Pass in August 2021 fluctuate between $139.99 to $269.99 per person!
The Disneyland Paris Premier Access Pass is a good option if there is just one or two attractions you want to skip the queue for or if you are a solo traveller or visiting with friends so are just paying for yourself. For families the cost automatically becomes expensive, even for just one ride.
If people wanted to skip the queue on every ride that has the Premier Access Pass it would cost €94 per person, which is cheaper than the Universal Express Pass but include far fewer rides. As Disney World has many more attractions this cost would be significantly higher.
Another thing Disney will need to consider is if will they do like Universal and offer Disney Resort guests FastPasses included as part of their stay. I feel like Disney will need to bring back more incentives to stay at Disney Resorts, as the costs are high and the benefits are low at the moment, and including FastPass+ reservations as part of your hotel cost would be a big benefit.
We are already seeing Disney World change the level of benefits on offer to their resort guest with Deluxe Resort and DVC guests getting Extra Magic Hours after the parks close in the future, whereas other Disney Resort guests will get 30 minutes extra in the parks before the parks open. The extra half an hour won't enable people to do much in the parks so the perk of Extra Magic Hours included in the top tier resorts is a bonus.
I feel like a paid-for system is almost inevitable but will not be popular as it could end up creating a two-tier system for people visiting Disney World. One of the best things about the old FastPass system was that everybody visiting Disney World would have the ability to maximise their day by spending less time in queues, no matter what their budget was.
Would you pay to skip the queue whilst at Disney World?
Do you think the Express Pass or Premier Access Pass option is a better idea?
Will Disney World offer value for money if they add more paid for services?
If you are excited to start planning your next Disney World trip be sure to check out my Budget Planner to know just how much your trip will could cost you! You can also see my full range of planning templates to help you plan your next Orlando theme park trip!