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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.
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!
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