Disney's FastPass+ Changes Everything

Disney's new ride reservation system seems to be working in a way that no one else can match.

Apr 21, 2014 at 5:45PM

If you haven't been to Disney's (NYSE:DIS) massive theme-park resort in Florida in recent months, you may not recognize the place. The old FastPass kiosks that used to spit out ride reservation times have been replaced with a centralized FastPass+ system where guests can reserve as many as three rides or experiences in advance.

It's not perfect. There's a learning curve to master and the high-tech upgrade will take some getting used to for tourists, particularly international visitors who may not be up to speed on the process or have smartphone access to change reservations on the fly.

But Disney is clearly raising the bar in the realm of ride reservations in ways that nearby rivals SeaWorld (NYSE:SEAS) and Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSK) Universal Orlando may not be able to match. Over the next few days I will detail some of the game-changing advantages behind the new platform. As a longtime charter annual passholder and more recently a part-time resident of Celebration, Fla., I have been able to kick the tires of the new system several times in recent weeks. 

The high-tech makeover replaces the slips of paper offering 60-minute return windows with RFID-backed admission media that finds guests tapping wristbands or passes against Mickey Mouse-shaped scanners that light up to validate access to expedited queues for rides and attractions. It's pretty neat, and it seems to be working right most of the time. Disney has spent a reported $1 billion on this technology upgrade, and thankfully months of testing with resort guests have worked out the kinks.

The MagicBand bracelets and FastPass+ technology takes visiting a theme park to an entirely new level. Guests can reserve expedited access to three rides a day, and they can do so days and even weeks ahead of their arrival. Regional amusement-park operators will never be able to afford this kind of investment, and rival theme-park operators that could bankroll decent upgrades just don't have the justification. 

Neighboring theme parks -- SeaWorld's SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa and Comcast's Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure -- have no problem drawing millions of guests a year, but tourists aren't planning daily itineraries the way they do for weeklong treks at Disney World. Universal Orlando has been making major strides since the 2009 addition of its Harry Potter attraction, but you won't find too many visitors planning the exact day that they will be visiting select parks as much as 60 days in advance. 

In short, Disney is doing this because only Disney can. There are information, merchandising, and strategic advantages that we'll dive into later this week, but at the end of the day it's Disney flexing an experience-enhancing platform that incorporates dedicated website and smartphone applications that raise the bar too high for anyone else to reach. Disney knows what it's doing, and it's going to prove it by drawing record attendance numbers this summer despite its recent price hike.

It's not just MagicBands making the push for wearable computing
If you thought the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad were amazing, just wait until you see this. One hundred of Apple's top engineers are busy building one in a secret lab. And an ABI Research report predicts 485 million of them could be sold over the next decade. But you can invest in it right now... for just a fraction of the price of AAPL stock. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening new report.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information