Why the original FastPass felt so much better than Genie or Lightning Lane

The old ticket FastPass system had a charm and ease that today's apps can never quite match.
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When I visited Disneyland in March, it was my first trip to a Disney park in quite a long time. That meant having to adjust to changes, not the least of which was accepting the old FastPass system was gone, and I had to rely on Genie and Lightning Lane for rides. That was a shift and one I wasn’t quite happy with. 

I still remember my first time with FastPass back in 1999. I had read of it in guidebooks but still not quite sure of what it was about before first using it for Rock n Roller Coaster as soon as MGM Studios opened. I inserted my park pass, got a ticket for an hour ahead, and then boarded for my first time on the ride. Once it was over, I did Tower of Terror, and by the time I was done, my Fast Pass window was open to ride Rock n Roller and thus avoid the already large line. 

My first thought was likely the same as so many others: Why had Disney not done this before? The system was genius, letting you skip lines but also save time, which meant more time around the park, spending money in shops and restaurants, etc. It took a while for me to get the hang of it and realize I couldn’t load up so many Fast Passes at once, but by the end of the trip, I had it down. 

So, for the next few WDW visits (and a 2003 one to Disneyland), I could figure out how to mix it up, get the passes for big ones, and be able to others in the time period. Somehow, having that little ticket in your pocket letting you know to plan another ride in an hour or two helped you form your plans and be a fun way to enjoy the parks. 

The changes

My mom actually visited WDW during the Magic Band FastPass period when I didn’t, and the way she described using it sounded a lot more complex. Granted, Fast Pass wasn’t perfect as too many times, the tickets were way too far off in the day, and some folks found ways to cheat to get more. Plus, I did feel for the park workers having to pick up those discarded tickets tossed around. 

Yet using my phone for Genie and LL just didn’t have the same appeal. Granted, I’m not really an app guy in the first place, but it still felt a hassle having to go through times to find the right window for a ride rather than picking up a ticket by one ride, doing another in the same land, and coming back. 

Obviously, there’s the cost factor, as Fast Pass was free rather than the fees LL and Genie+ can have. It also seems to rob you of some of the spontaneity of Disney and a bit too much tension trying to match these windows. It also just lacks the personal touch of getting your own little ticket, and it is easier carrying that in your pocket than unloading the phone all the time. 

Some will still enjoy LL and Genie+, and that’s fine. Yet, to me, the classic Fast Pass was always the best, those tickets paving the way for a quick journey through the best Disney rides and a magical touch that today’s apps can never truly replicate.