Using Disney’s FastPass+ Like a Pro

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One of the biggest fears people have about their Walt Disney World vacations is that they will waste all of their time waiting in lines. That’s where FastPass+ comes in. It's an advanced reservation system that lets you skip the standby line for select Walt Disney World attractions. When used correctly, FastPass+ can save you hours in line and help you spend more time riding and less time waiting. I can sometimes use 10 or more FastPasses in a single day if I play my cards right. But the system is complicated and can be confusing for those new to the process. Let’s take a look at Disney’s FastPass+ so you can take advantage of all it has to offer.

Fast Facts About FastPass+

  • FastPass+ is included with every Walt Disney World theme park admission.
  • Disney allows you to pre-book up to three FastPass+ selections at a single park for each day of your ticket.
  • For guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort or select off-site resorts, these reservations can be made starting at 7 a.m. 60 days prior to check-in for the length of stay. All other guests can make FastPass+ selections 30 days in advance of their park days, one day at a time.
  • Each FastPass+ experience gives you a one-hour time frame for arrival. When you pre-book your three FastPasses, these time frames cannot overlap.
  • Every park except Magic Kingdom has a tiered FastPass+ system. This means that you can only select one attraction from the first tier, which includes high priority attractions like Slinky Dog Dash or Flight of Passage. Your other two FastPasses must be from the second tier.
  • Once you use your three pre-scheduled FastPass+ experiences, you can use the My Disney Experience app or in-park kiosks to book a fourth FastPass+ at any park. Once you use the fourth one, you can continue to book additional FastPasses as many times as you want until the park closes.

Photo by Lauren Carnes

Suggestions for Pre-Booking FastPass+ Experiences

Be Ready: Before your booking window opens, you should link your resort package or tickets to your My Disney Experience account. On booking day, log in a few minutes prior to 7 a.m. so that you will be ready to go when the time comes. I prefer to use the website for my initial bookings and the My Disney Experience app to modify existing selections. If you are booking 60 days in advance, your window will open automatically at exactly 7 a.m. Don’t be late, or you might miss out on the most popular attractions!

Start with the Highest Priority Attractions: It should come as no surprise that not all FastPasses are created equal. Among the most coveted and hardest to come by are Flight of Passage (Animal Kingdom), Slinky Dog Dash (Hollywood Studios), Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Magic Kingdom), and Frozen Ever After (Epcot). Start by booking these attractions first. It’s even better if you can schedule Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios later in your trip to increase your chances of getting these tier-one FastPasses. Remember, even though your booking window just opened, guests checking in a few days before you have already had access to this same pool of FastPasses. Your FastPass+ options will be better for the later days of your trip.

Don’t book too early. Don’t book too late: One of the keys to a great park strategy is scheduling your FastPasses for the right times during your park days. Crowds tend to be lower during the first hours of park opening, so save your first FastPass+ for mid-morning.  Use that first hour or two to ride other attractions through the standby line with little to no wait.

Remember that you cannot book additional FastPasses until you have used your first three pre-scheduled ones.  So, if you book your selections for too late in the day, you may not have time to take advantage of booking more FastPasses after you use your third reservation. Shoot for the time of day when the parks are busiest, while still leaving time for more experiences in the afternoon. I almost always try to book my FastPasses from 10-11 a.m., 11 a.m.-Noon, and Noon-1:00 p.m. I will usually head to my first FastPass+ ride when standby lines start getting long around mid-morning. I try to make it to my third FastPass+ ride at the beginning of the window so I can start looking for a fourth FastPass+ as soon as possible. As soon as you scan you MagicBand or card for your third FastPass+ experience, you can immediately start looking for your fourth attraction.

Can’t get the FastPass+ you want?

Often times, guests staying off Disney property and guests with shorter trips have a hard time getting the FastPasses they want, even if they book as soon as their window opens. Guests also have trouble finding additional priority FastPasses during their park days. I have a few tips for handling these situations.

Keep Checking: There are all sorts of reasons why FastPasses may become available before your travel dates. People change plans constantly. Some switch park days and some cancel their trips altogether. Sometimes Disney will extend park hours and release more FastPass+ experiences for those time frames. Occasionally, Disney will release additional FastPasses for no apparent reason. Checking the website or app frequently leading up to your stay is your best bet for grabbing a FastPass+ you really want.

Check the app the night before: If you’ve been checking the website and app but still haven’t been able to snag the FastPass+ you want, spend some additional time checking the night before and the morning of your planned park day. Plans change at the last minute, and this is the best time to take advantage of FastPasses others are releasing. The most efficient way to do this is by clicking “modify” on an existing FastPass+ reservation and selecting the different times at the top of the screen until you see availability for the ride you want. Don’t take no for an answer. Sometimes this can take 10 minutes, other times it can take an hour, but I almost always find some sort of availability for the FastPass+ I’m looking for.

It’s worth noting that you will have to modify an existing tier one attraction for another tier one attraction to appear. For example, if you have FastPasses for Toy Story Mania (tier one), Tower of Terror (tier two), and Rock ‘n' Roller Coaster (tier two), a Slinky Dog Dash (tier one) FastPass+ will only appear if you are modifying the Toy Story Mania FastPass+. It will not appear if you are modifying Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n Roller Coaster.

In anticipation of this post, I spent some time refreshing the app for a hypothetical day at Magic Kingdom. Within 10 minutes of refreshing for FastPass+ reservations the following day, I had bookings for Splash Mountain (10:00 – 11:00 a.m.), Space Mountain (2:00 – 3:00 p.m.), and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (4:00 – 5:00 p.m.). I was pleased with these ride selections, but I wasn't very excited about the timing or the fact that this plan would have me traveling back and forth across the park. The following morning, I started checking to see if I could modify the times of my existing FastPass+ reservations. Within 15 minutes, I was able to create a new FastPass+ plan that looked like this:

Ideally, I would spend the early morning riding other attractions with minimal standby wait times and then head to Space Mountain at the end of the FastPass+ window. After Space Mountain, I would get in the standby line for one or a couple more attraction(s) en route to Splash Mountain. Then, I would ride Splash Mountain toward the end of the FastPass+ arrival window, followed by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at the beginning of the arrival window. I would immediately start looking for my next FastPass+ once I had scanned my MagicBand or card and entered the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad queue.

Booking Additional FastPass+ Experiences at the Park: After you’ve used your first three FastPasses, you are going to want to log into the mobile app and start looking for a fourth one. (Pro Tip: Bring a portable phone charger. This process will kill your battery quickly.) On a normal day, you probably aren’t going to see much availability for higher priority attractions; and, if you do, the times will probably be for late in the evening. If you don’t see the ride you want at all, keep refreshing the app by clicking the different times, similar to the process mentioned above.

If you still don’t see availability, search for smaller parties and try to book overlapping time frames. It’s easier to find availability for a party of two than it is for a party of four or six. And since each FastPass+ has an hour return window, separating a party of four into two parties of two, one with a return window of 3-4 p.m. and one with a return window of 3:30-4:30 p.m., would give you a 30-minute window to visit the attraction together.

Finally, if you see availability for the ride you want, but not at a time you want, go ahead and grab it and use the same process to modify it to a different time.

Using this process, I spent about 10 minutes refreshing the app on the same date as the FastPasses I booked above. Using this process, I spent about 10 minutes refreshing the app on the same date as the FastPasses I booked above. I began at 1 p.m., assuming I would have used the three pre-booked FastPasses by that time. Below is a small sample of the FastPass+ experiences that I could have booked and used within the next hour. Each of these attractions had a current posted standby wait time of 45 minutes or longer.

With tens of thousands of people visiting a park on any given day, FastPasses are being dropped and modified constantly. Spending a few minutes refreshing on your phone could save you an hour or more in line.

Final Thoughts

The FastPass+ system can seem complicated and confusing at first. But practice makes perfect and persistence pays off. With these tips and a little hands-on experience, you’ll be a FastPass+ expert after your first park day. On your way home, you will be surprised at how much of your vacation you spent on your favorite rides and how little you actually spent waiting in line!

Using Disney’s FastPass+ Like a Pro
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Comments

  • Great for families with young kids. Really helps keep them happy!

  • Marlin Seevers says:

    Good insights on designing a system with let’s wait times. I’m glad to see that everyone has opportunity to the fast-passes. Using them only gives an advantage by disadvantaging the other people who are waiting in line.

  • Shakeidra Davis says:

    Thanks. I’m definitely looking forward to trying this in December.

  • Maryjane says:

    What a great article! I imagine many people who get Fast pass are still frustrated in using it. This article will definitely help.

  • I miss the days when everyone got a free fast pass to use at a time without paying for it. It made it possible to enjoy the park on the cheap. Now you have to stay at the park to get extra time to actually enjoy the experience.

    • I guess it also costs Disney so much more to run the parks these days.

    • I suppose if they hand out too many it undermines the purpose though.

    • Grace Jones says:

      anyone with a ticket to enter the park can book fastpasses, you dont have to stay at a disney resort. If you use the strategies above you can literally grab a fastpass for any ride.

      • karen zynger says:

        Agreed. These strategies are perfect for getting a fastpass at the Disney parks in Orlando. With the summer heat in Florida and the long, long wait times (sometimes over an hour in line) at some of the Disney attractions – with kids under 10 years old – this MUSt be used.

  • At least it’s something that can be done electronically. I went to Disneyland when they had the paper fast pass. It was great to not have to stand in line! I don’t want to really sit and look too long for new fast passes. Do you usually look when you’re eating or standing in line for another ride?

    • Mary Helen Law says:

      I usually look while standing in line for another ride, sometimes while eating, too. It just depends how our day is going, but I always start the search as soon as I scan my MagicBand for the last attraction.

  • Went to Shanghai Disney and the line for the FastPass was over an hour long!

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    Even with a fast pass, lines are atrocious. I’m so glad my kids are too old to want to go.

  • If you’re looking for a Fast Pass while in the park but not finding anything, keep refreshing the screen and eventually you will find something better. My tip for this is just toggle between two times near the top of the window, just toggle back and forth and the list of available options should eventually change and something will open up. I’ve done this for ~5 mins at a time in the past, and caught some top tier options like Space Mountain or Seven Dwarfs.

    • Thanks, Joe. I personally nominate this post for the most added value! Not that my nomination is worth a thing. 🙂 Hope everyone reads it.

  • The complexity involved with how a family is to properly enjoy Disney World is mind-blowing to me. Seems like this fastpass process is a must do too.

    • lenin1991 says:

      Yeah, anything that’s both as hard AND as expensive as “enjoying” Disney makes me want to stay far away as long as I can…

  • Fast Pass will save the day in the hot summertime!

  • Jason C Daubenspeck says:

    Some great tips to help out, thanks!

  • Michaelj1 says:

    This is unbelievably valuable information that will make a Disney visit much more enjoyable. Thanks ever so much!

  • Might as well be all in for the Fast Pass too. Disney sure knows how to grab every opportunity.

  • RoseMarie says:

    Planning ahead can definitely save time. Fastpass is a definite improvement, but patience is still required.

  • Don’t book too early. Don’t book too late……such a balance.

  • Reminds me of why I do not like theme parks.

  • Hane Rosenberg says:

    Must reserve Fast Pass in advance otherwise expect to wait in long lines.

  • Thrilled that we have no kids hankering for all of this complexity.

  • Good article!

  • Great info indeed. The best way to maximize any visit is planning. And I find the planning is part of the Disney experience, starting the magic well before arriving at the park. Definitely keep checking availability regularly. Take whatever FP you can and then change if the ones yo want become available. We found the best value for FP is if you can book early and get a time when the park is busiest, then plan the day around the FP locations.

  • If you’re gonna pay up and go you may as well get the fast-pass and enjoy it to the max

  • Fast pass is great, but I still refuse the high price to get in. Let’s go back to the day where fun was affordable.

  • Thanks! Wish we had studied up more before our trip this past year. Next time!

  • How does one get FastPass? Do they cost anything? If so, how much? I did not see this in the post.

  • Thanks for that infos. helps planning a trip 🙂

  • Great article! I booked a trip to Disney very last minute (a week in advance!! After finding a great deal using my reward points). I was able to get fast passes to most of the rides we wanted. For those that were unavailable, we checked the app throughout the day and were able to pick up cancellations and switch the order of some of our fast passes. It can be done!

  • Thomas Hanrahan says:

    Great post, first time ive heard about the fast pass, will definately try it out when we visit!

  • Rodrigo lima says:

    Nice tips. I will be useful for my family in busy periods.
    Can’t wait to plan a next trip in Disney world with my daughter.

  • Thanks for the tips! I preferred the fastpass old system as it made my trips more flexible.

  • IGOR TYMOFEYEV says:

    Yes, everything is perfectly written. Planning is also necessary for calculating the time .. Of course, this planning has nothing to do with the so-called “Planned Economy” in the former USSR!

  • I can confirm getting these as early as possible. We had to book ours just a few weeks before our trip last fall and missed out on the bigger avatar ride because it would have been a 3 hour wait.

  • ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    Wow. This is all so complicated. I had to read the comments to know FP is free.

  • I need to study this more… I want to go but refuse to due to the lines…

  • John-Paul says:

    I am visiting a Disney park later this year for the first time in decades – and it is incredible how much all of this has changed with technology. Thank you for making this all so much more accessible!

  • Seems good in principle. Maybe one way to avoid the queues is to visit at a less busy time especially when school children are not on vacation.

  • I had no idea about all of this. Thanks for the information

  • Always amazed at how many people do not use fastpass

  • Many thanks for the tips how to best use Fast Pass. They will help us save time and make the best out or our Disney vacation. Very useful,

  • Great advice. Fastpass refresh is a really powerful tool that is totally underutilized by most guests. I just wish WDW had Disneyland’s version of Fastpass – Maxpass on the West Coast is just SO superior and totally worth the extra cost to get to ride so much more.

  • Thank you very much. I have no idea how to use fast track

  • cintia janjar says:

    The last time we have to disneyworld, AVATAR (Animal Kingdom) was ( and i believe it still is) the most wanted atraction for fastpass, as the queu would get around 6 hours!!! We tried from the first day (we were staying at disney resort, so we had a few days before than the rest) but it was already full…I dont know why but a few days earlier to our visit, it was avaiable for everyone so we took it.

    Get to the park early in the morning, as it opens the door for everyone, and they start to built the queue.

    Fastpass is quite confusing, i believe, but it woks pretty well for those who are experienced visitors. You can see that the majority of people has no idea how it works.

  • I lived in the Orlando area, if you just want to ride rides, the best time to go to Disney is the week after Thanksgiving. The weather’s not as hot, the parks are not busy, we literally would get off of a ride and walk right back on with no wait. We rode space mountain 4 times in a row and never stood in line.
    The park is in between setups at that time, taking Thanksgiving stuff down and getting ready for Christmas.

  • A good strategy in scheduling fastpass + can help you a lot in a visit to Disney parks. I agree with all the tips given here. I did not see in the matter anything about the extra magic hour, which can greatly influence the strategy as well. Congratulations on the very clear material with excellent tips.

  • At the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, they say none of the attractions will initially be on FastPass. However one of the shops, Savi’s Workshop, and one of the restaurants, Oga’s Cantina, may end up taking (prepaid) advanced reservations through their app, if crowded.

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