Recently I visited Walt Disney World for a week. My primary purpose was to participate in the events of Marathon Weekend. Of course I had a pass to go to the theme parks, but my highest priority was conserving my energy for the races. As such, my theme park visits were very spontaneous; I would go to whichever of the four parks I felt like, depending on my energy level and the next day’s event. The last two days of my visit were devoted exclusively to the parks, but even then, my plans depended on how I felt.
In approaching the trip this way, I’ve decided such a strategy now has a cost — it’s become really hard to do anything without advance planning. The reason is technology. Walt Disney World has implemented a system called FastPass+, which lets you plan your visit in advance. An improvement over the original FastPass, which let you go to the front of the line for one attraction, with FastPass+ you can obtain three front-of-the-line passes and make dining reservations before you even arrive, courtesy of your computer or smartphone. Virtually every major attraction and many shows offer FastPass+. It’s a great time-saver — if you know what you want to do in the first place.
This is not a complaint — my visit went well. As a Disney veteran, I didn’t have to do everything, and when I did wait in a long line, including four hours and ten minutes for one of the newest attractions, “Avatar Flight of Passage”, it was because I didn’t have anything better to do (and I had the foresight to bring my Kindle). But there were several unfortunately long waits and my dining choices were limited because the popular restaurants were usually full.
I’m old enough to have learned there are always trade-offs. Technology has given us some marvelous tools. But part of the cost of progress is it’s getting harder to act on the spur of the moment, to follow your instincts, or to even change your mind.
It looks like technology is definitely winning this one.