So You Want to Go to Disney – Part 6: FastPass+

Ah yes, the FastPass. For nearly 20 years, Disney has tinkered with this system to allow guests to avoid the legendary lines at its parks. While Disneyland Resort still (for the time being) primarily uses paper FastPasses, Walt Disney World is continuing to roll out and enhance the paperless FastPass+ system through Magic Bands and smart card park tickets.

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ARCHAIC!!

So, what IS FastPass+?

In short, it’s a system that allows you to pre-select participating attractions so you can skip the Stand-by lines and maximize your time in the parks. You are given a one-hour window in which to show up, tap in and enjoy your experience.

In long, it’s slightly more detailed than that.

If you are staying on-property, you are able to make up to THREE initial FastPass+ reservations at a single park for a single day…60 days prior to your check-in date. If you aren’t staying on-property, you are able to make the your selections 30 days in advance. Once you are in the park, and your three advanced FP+ reservations have all been claimed (or the final one-hour window has passed) you can make ONE additional FP+ reservation for any available attraction at any park (often colloquially referred to as a “Rolling FastPass”) via the My Disney Experience app or FastPass+ kiosks in the parks. Once that one is claimed, you can make another. And then another. And so on and so on – one at a time – until the park closes or there’s nothing available.

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Photo Credit: Kent Phillips/Disney

Advanced FastPass+ reservations can be made for your party (as a whole or individually, if different people want to do different things) via the My Disney Experience app or website once your reservation window opens (7am EST either 60 or 30 days out). The process is constantly being updated, but remains fairly user-friendly and intuitive in all forms. Rolling FastPass reservations can be made once your daily 3 have been claimed via the mobile app or the many in-park kiosks.

Seems easy enough, until you realize that Magic Kingdom alone has more than 25 FP+ eligible attractions – the most of any of the parks, btw – so, managing your selections is crucial. What we have listed below is a general guide to which attractions you should try and secure a FP+ reservation for…and which ones you shouldn’t bother with.

For clarity, we’ve color coded the attractions. Green attractions are high-demand attractions that typically have heavy-to-extreme Stand-by wait times. It is HIGHLY recommended that, if you want to experience these attractions, you secure a FastPass+ reservation in advance for them. They will fill up and are not always available the day of.

Blue attractions are popular attractions that can have moderate-to-heavy Stand-by times, but high enough capacity that the lines move quickly. These attractions are good attractions on which to use your Rolling FastPass selections once your initial three have passed as they are often available later in the day. But, only use your initial advanced selections for these attractions if it’s an absolute must for you or your party and you feel you need to lock it down. These are also good attractions to hit Stand-by early or late in the day when the crowds are lower.

Attractions listed as Red either have low-to-moderate Stand-by times or the line/nature of the attraction is such that a FastPass+ reservation doesn’t give enough of an advantage over Stand-by to warrant using a FP+ for it. In short, there is generally no reason to use an initial advanced FP+ reservation for these attractions. And, rarely a need to use any FastPass+ at all.

*list updated 8/31/2017*

MAGIC KINGDOM
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Peter Pan’s Flight
Space Mountain
Enchanted Tales with Belle

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Splash Mountain 
Princess Fairytale Hall
Tomorrowland Speedway
Jungle Cruise
Pirates of the Caribbean
Haunted Mansion
Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Barnstormer

Ariel at her Grotto
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Tinker Bell at Town Square Theater

Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
Mad Tea Party

Dumbo the Flying Elephant
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

“it’s a small world”
Mickey’s PhilharMagic
Prince Charming’s Carousel
Fireworks or Parade

EPCOT
Frozen Ever After (1)
Test Track (1)
Soarin’ (1)

Mission: Space
Spaceship Earth
Living with the Land
EPCOT Character Spot
The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Turtle Talk with Crush
Journey Into Imagination with Figment
Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival

IllumiNations (1)

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Toy Story Mania! (1)
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (1)
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
The Music of Pixar Live
Fantasmic! (1)
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage (1)

Muppet*Vision 3D
Disney Jr. Live on Stage

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
A Frozen Sing-a-Long
Voyage of the Little Mermaid

ANIMAL KINGDOM
Avatar Flight of Passage
Na’vi River Journey
Kilimanjaro Safaris
Expedition Everest

Kali River Rapids
DINOSAUR
Minnie and Mickey at Adventurers Outpost
Primeval Whirl
Rivers of Light
Finding Nemo – The Musical
It’s Tough to be a Bug!
Festival of the Lion King

Attractions listed above with a “(1)” next to them are “Tier 1” attractions. What that means is that – at EPCOT or Hollywood Studios – you may only choose a FastPass+ reservation for ONE “Tier 1” attraction per day. So, if you want to ride Toy Story Mania! and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster on the same day, you can only FastPass ONE of them. You have to wait Stand-by (or Single Rider, if it’s available) for the other. This becomes incredibly problematic at EPCOT considering the three longest Stand-by lines are ALWAYS at Frozen Ever After, Test Track and Soarin’…which are all Tier 1 attractions. So, you can only make a FastPass+ reservation for ONE of them. Even after your initial three reservations are claimed, you still cannot book another Tier 1 attraction that day. Your best bet if you want to ride all three in a single day is to FP+ one, rope drop the second, then immediately wait Stand-by for the third. Or, just tough it out and brave a later, likely longer Stand-by queue for the third. C’est la vie.

SIDENOTE: There are rumors that Animal Kingdom may move to a sort of modified tier system with Pandora: World of Avatar opening. It’s said that, in this instance, you might be required to select one of the two marquee Avatar attractions in your initial FP+ reservations. I have not, however, seen this in action yet. 

All this to say, if there is something that your family MUST do…get an advanced FastPass+ reservation for it. The lists above are based on wait times, capacity and popularity…not on your (or our) personal preferences.

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So, now that you fully understand the FastPass+ system (right?) here are a few tips that we like to use when making our selections:

A) Try and wedge all of your Magic Kingdom FP+ reservations in as early in the day as possible. This leaves plenty of time in the afternoon and evening to use rolling FastPass reservations and take in as many rides as you can.

B) For other parks, there might not be as many FP+ options that you are interested in and rolling FastPasses might not be important, so a good strategy might be to book your FP+ reservations for the afternoon when the crowds are heaviest. This allows you to knock out some other attractions early in the day when the lines are shorter and take advantage of the FP when the Stand-by lines go up.

C) Use geography to your advantage. Reserve your initial FP+ reservations in an order/timing that makes sense and doesn’t have you sprinting from one part of a park to another and then back again just to make them. Try to group attractions together that are in close proximity to each other or line up with your intended walking plan.

D) As soon as you tap in to your last FP+ reservation attraction, you can IMMEDIATELY start booking your next one. You don’t even have to wait until you’ve ridden your current attraction. You can book your next one while waiting in line for your last one.

Though it could be thought of as a point of stress to some, the FastPass+ system can make your trip so much easier in the long run. You can still reserve the things you know you want to do without losing the fun of a day at a theme park. It’s a tool that can help create space for spontaneity and it’s all in how you utilize it and take advantage of it.

<<Part 5: How to Get Around

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