One of the most frequent questions I get about a Walt Disney World vacation is about the FastPass+ system. It can be a bit confusing. In fact, during one of my trips to Disney World, when MyMagic+ was still in the testing phase, we utilized FastPass+, but we ended up not using it to the fullest potential. This guide will show you the best ways to maximize your FastPasses & time in the parks. Hit the jump for all the details.
FastPass+ is the newly modified version of the FastPass system at Walt Disney World in Florida. Disneyland still uses the original system, so this guide is strictly for Walt Disney World. FastPass+ allows you to book a “reservation” for an attraction ahead of time. This “reservation allows you to enter the attraction through a different queue and skip the bulk of the line. This is a huge time saving perk and, if used properly, can add a lot to your vacation.
FastPasses can be booked up to 60 days in advance if you’re staying on property, or 30 days if you’re staying elsewhere but have your tickets linked to your MyDisney Experience account. You can book using the Disney website or MyDisney Experience mobile app. My personal preference is to use the website to book everything originally, then use the app if I need to make modifications. The app is great for making last minute changes in the park!
You can book three FastPasses ahead of time then once you’ve used them, or the last one is expired, you can book a new one. In the past you had to visit an in park kiosk to book these additional ones, but as of April 2016 Disney has made this available on the app & website. You have to book these additional FastPasses one at a time. so if you book one for Haunted Mansion you have to use it before booking another. Another big rule is that you can only book FastPasses for one park a day. That means that if you book a FastPass for Hollywood Studios then park hop to Epcot you’ll just have to deal with the stand-by queues at Epcot.
Let’s give an example. Let’s say you’re staying on property and book three Magic Kingdom FastPasses 60 days out. Since you’re booking as soon as possible this gives the widest range of selections. Some attractions are so popular that they’ll “sell out” and you won’t be able to book a FastPass if you miss that 60 day mark (I’m looking at you Anna & Elsa meet & greet). Once you get to the park and use all three of your passes you use the MDX app and book a FastPass for Pirates. After you ride Pirates you can then book another pass with the app, website or kiosk, let’s say Jungle Cruise. You can keep this cycle going all day. Just keep in mind that since these are last minute FastPasses you might not see the availability that you’re looking for.
The most popular strategy for leveraging FastPasses involves getting to the park as soon as it opens. Since the park will be less crowded at this time you can jump on popular attractions without a FastPass. This means that you can save your FastPasses for a time when the park will be busier. So if you’re rope dropping Magic Kingdom you can head over to the Mine Train immediately and not have to worry about a FastPass. Getting to the parks early also means that your FastPasses will be early (in theory). So you can use the three that are pre-booked and then book more throughout the day.
The downside with this strategy is the fact that not everyone is able, or willing, to get up early and make it to the parks at rope drop. During my last trip it wasn’t uncommon for us to wake up until after 9AM. Not everyone is used to the Eastern time zone and getting sleep is just as important as booking FastPasses! Having a hotel can make getting to the parks in the morning easier since you can always head back for an afternoon nap.
Having said that, my personal strategy is to book FastPasses for the attractions that I MUST ride. This means that even if I get a FastPass for the afternoon I’m completely okay with that as long as it’s for an attraction I really want. To me, checking off those important attractions is my main priority. If I have to wait in line for Peter Pan I’ll just deal with it (go during Wishes if possible to avoid that Peter Pan queue). I won’t book a FastPass for a theater show since they’re usually high enough capacity that you’ll get in and the FastPass seats aren’t much better than the stand-by queue’s. Also, make sure you’re not wasting a FastPass on an attraction. You definitely don’t need a FastPass for something like Captain EO. You’ll feel horrible if you show up to an attraction with your FastPass and the stand-by wait time is only five minutes! So, make sure to choose your three FastPasses carefully. While booking in the park the cast members are usually pretty good about letting you know which attractions don’t need a FastPass. You can also ask me and I’d be glad to help out!
One area that I really must touch on is FastPasses for nighttime shows. These FastPasses grant you access to “preferred” viewing areas and allow you to show up closer to the show start time. I would not recommend booking these at all! First of all, if you book a FastPass for Illuminations or Fantasmic this means you won’t be able to book more than three for the whole day since your last FastPass is at night. Second, you’re essentially giving up a FastPass in favor of this show. This means you might have to wait in a really long line (in the case of Soarin’ during the day) or you might be forced to skip an attraction entirely. if you’re really that concerned with your view for Fantasmic then I would suggest booking a Fantasmic dining package. This is where you eat at certain restaurants and you’re given tickets to the preferred seating area. This is what I did last time I saw Fantasmic and it worked out perfectly. It didn’t cost us anything extra and we were already planning to eat at one of the participating restaurants.
Here are my recommendations for the top attractions at each park. FastPasses for these attractions will most likely save you a ton of time unless you’re able to ride them first thing in the morning.
Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train
Epcot: Soarin’ or Test Track (These are the most popular attractions in the park)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Midway Mania
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest or Dinosaur
So there’s my guide for using the FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World in Florida. I’m not going to give you step-by-step guides for booking a FastPass since Disney is really good about giving instructions. If you do have any questions about FastPass+ or certain attractions at Walt Disney World feel free to post in the comments or get in touch with me on Twitter!