updated 03:00 am EDT, Wed May 2, 2012
Tests underway involve new RFID system
An unofficial Disney blogger has reported that iPads are beginning to show up at the company's Walt Disney World attractions in Orlando in order to facilitate testing of a new radio-frequency ID (RFID) based "FastPass" system that may replace the current ticket-based system. The testing is said to be going on for the next couple of weeks at Disney's central Florida parks and could allow guests to schedule "FastPass" times well in advance of their visit.
Under the current system, some attractions offer a "FastPass" ticket distribution center where visitors can receive a printed pass with a future time stamped on it. They return to the attraction within the scheduled time window and can then get into the ride or show with minimal wait times, increasing their chances of getting around to all the attractions they want to see.
The new system could allow visitors to schedule times to visit certain popular rides and shows even before they arrive at the park, where they would receive and RFID-enabled band or card with all of their FastPass information already available. RFID readers stationed near the entrance to the attraction can be used to "scan" the band and the information will appear on a nearby cast member's (weather-proofed) iPad so that they can either select guests for the FastPass entrance or direct them to a kiosk for further information.
Selected guests who are booking Disney visits in the near future may be selected at random to help test the feature and allowed to set up their FastPass choices well in advance of their actual arrival (currently, guests can only choose FastPass tickets at the parks in pre-selected slots, with a limit to how many they are allowed to get at one time). While no timetable for a full implementation has been announced, the company has installed RFID readers at many of its most popular attractions already, making some form of the system a likely inevitability.
The introduction of iPads into some parts of the Disney parks will remind some veteran employees of the company's long use of Newton MessagePad devices, which were often assigned to managers and other employees during the Newton's heyday in the 90s. [via DisneyProjects]