This post is inspired by my sweet friend Heather- hi Heather!
A lot of people, including those that go to Disney often, get confused by the digital FastPass+ system in place at Disney World (not yet in Disneyland). And to be fair, it can be very confusing. There is a lot of preparation involved, as well as a lot of stress when it comes to booking Fast Passes for popular rides, and making sure everyone in your party is linked in MyDisneyExperience.
For those totally out of the loop, a Fast Pass is like a virtual “skip the line” ticket- it gives you a shorter wait time for an attraction, and you get a certain time to come back and ride the ride once you book one. The Fast Pass lets you wander the park and ride other rides, until it’s your turn to come back. And now, the Disney World Resort lets you book them ahead of your trip, or at designated kiosks once inside the parks. However, I strongly advise booking in advance.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Download the “MyDisneyExperience” App and Make a Profile
This app is your key for planning a Disney World vacation- you can view park hours, show times, block out dates for Passholders, make dining reservations, view PhotoPass photos, and, of course, view attraction wait times and book Fast Passes. The app is free, and Disney is equipped with free WiFi in the parks for you to use the app always. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can also access the “My Disney Experience” section of Disney’s main website, or have a Cast Member at Guest Relations (in front of any of the parks) assist you.
You can make a profile by giving the app your basic information, and then you get to pick a Disney character as your avatar (mine, of course, is Ariel). Then, you can send an invite to others in your vacation party by inserting their email, allowing them to make their own profiles and “link” with yours (they must accept your email invitation). Usually, the person who sends the invite oversees making the Fast Passes, but I think anyone in your party can make changes- the important thing to know is that, to do anything on the app, you must have a valid park ticket, an annual pass, or a dining/Disney resort reservation. Without a reservation or ticket, you will be unable to book Fast Passes. This goes for everyone in your party.
- Check Your Vacation Dates and Plan Park Days
If you’re a Passholder, make sure your pass isn’t blocked out during the times you want to go. There is a feature on the app that allows you to view a “block out” calendar. For those with a regular ticket, check if your vacation falls on any major holidays and plan accordingly. Check if another country will be on holiday for that time as well- usually, whenever school is out for children in any part of the world, it will be busy. There are also things to look out for like Brazilian Tour Group season and Cheerleader season. Google is your friend.
A good page for planning trips is https://touringplans.com. This site will tell you the best park to visit on certain days of your trip, and crowd calendar levels depending on how crowded that day was last year. For example, if Epcot is listed as a level “10” crowd level on one of the days you plan to visit Disney World, try avoiding Epcot on that day and do a lower level park instead. Also, take advantage of things like “Extra Magic Hours” if you stay onsite- these are hours where certain parks stay open later or open earlier just for Disney World Resort guests. During these times, crowds can lessen, and most rides have shorter wait times.
- Find Out the Most Popular Attraction for Each Park
Fast Passes for the newest and most popular attractions usually go fast. If you are staying at a Disney hotel, you can book Fast Passes 60 days before the first day of your trip. If you are staying offsite and have tickets, or are a local/are Passholders, you can book Fast Passes 30 days before the first day of your trip. This makes it a little harder to get exactly what you want, as those staying onsite usually get first pick of the rides.
Fast Passes become available at 7 am EST on the app and the website. If there is an attraction you simply MUST do, make sure you have the app up and ready to go before 7 am rolls around. Make sure everyone in your party is linked to your account and has a valid ticket. If, for some reason, you find that the attraction you want says “No Fast Passes Available,” this can mean that all Fast Passes for that ride are currently gone, or that the ride will be down for refurbishment during the time you’re visiting. Check the Disney website for attraction refurbishments.
Remember, if you can’t get a Fast Pass, it’s not the end of the world. Just plan to get to the park early and stand in line, or take advantage of park Extra Magic Hours. You can always keep trying, but more on that later. Here are the most popular attractions for each park, and Fast Passes for these usually disappear quick:
Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the Mountains (Space, Big Thunder, and Splash), and Peter Pan’s Flight are all major Fast Pass scores.
Epcot: Epcot has a tiered system, meaning you can pick only one of their most popular attractions at a time. You have a choice between Frozen Ever After, Soarin’ Around the World, and Test Track. My advice is to choose Frozen Ever After if you can, and then choose another of the two once you’d ridden it. The other attractions in the park usually have minimal waits, so it’s up to you on which ones to get.
Hollywood Studios: With most of this park currently under construction, it’s important to get Fast Passes now more than ever, as ride times skyrocket (there are only a few rides that remain open at Hollywood Studios now). This park also has a tiered system; you can only choose one of the following Fast Passes at a time- Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Fantasmic!, The Great Movie Ride, Tower of Terror or Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage. I would do Toy Story Mania, unless you’re a thrill junkie.
Animal Kingdom: Pandora- World of Avatar is the big-ticket item this summer for Fast Passes. No matter how early you are, Fast Passes will be hard to come by for the two rides in this land- Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. You can only pick one of these at a time, so I would do Flight of Passage (good luck), and then do the other Fast Passes for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest or Dinosaur.
- 3 Fast Passes Per Park/Tiered Systems
It would be great if you could book as many Fast Passes as you wanted each day, and especially great if you could book them for multiple parks in one day. However, to keep wait times down for those utilizing the Fast Pass system, you are limited to 3 Fast Passes at a time, for one park at a time.
For example, say you’re spending the morning at Epcot and then going to Magic Kingdom at night. You can’t book one Fast Pass for Epcot, and the other two for Magic Kingdom. The first three must all be at Epcot. Once you use up those first three, you can then choose one more at a different park. After each ride, you can keep picking one more. However, Fast Passes go quickly, so my advice is to book your first 3 early, and then your extra Fast Passes later in the day. As soon as I scan my Fast Pass and enter a ride queue, I immediately load the app and select another Fast Pass.
I touched upon this a bit in the last section, but every park aside from Magic Kingdom has a tier system for its most popular attractions. You can only select one out of the three or four attractions for your initial Fast Pass. For example, you can select a Fast Pass for Frozen Ever After, and then once you’ve ridden it, you can then try for Test Track or Soarin’. Sometimes these Fast Passes will be gone, so you’ll just have to go with the attraction you want to ride the most. Frozen is the newest, so Fast Passes for that ride are the most desirable.
- Modify, Change Your Party, or Cancel Fast Passes
Before and during your trip, you have the option to change your party for your Fast Pass reservation. Say you have a party of 7, and one person doesn’t want to ride Tower of Terror (I don’t blame them). You can change your Fast Pass and remove them, thus freeing them up to do a solo Fast Pass for another ride of their choice (or just letting the poor soul wait outside with the bags).
You can also modify the time of your Fast Pass. If you decide you want to visit Animal Kingdom at night instead of during the day, you can check whether your same selected Fast Pass is available for a different time. If you don’t see the time you want, book the Fast Pass anyway, and just keep checking the app- usually, you’ll find a time that’s pretty close to when you want to ride.
The most important, I think, is cancelling a Fast Pass. If you know you aren’t going to make a Fast Pass time, cancel it or change it. This frees up the Fast Pass and lets another guest have the opportunity to book it. A lot of guests miss out on Fast Passes because others simply forget to cancel Fast Passes that they aren’t going to use.
Remember, once you’ve used a Fast Pass, it will disappear from your home page and you won’t be able to change or modify it any longer.
- Keep Refreshing and Take a Screenshot
Whenever a Fast Pass selection claims there are no more available, KEEP REFRESHING THE APP. Seriously. It may take a while, but I’ve found, eight times out of ten, the Fast Pass that I want, and the time that I want, eventually becomes available. The same goes for hard to get dining reservations.
Except for Avatar Fast Passes. Flight of Passage won’t become available for another two years.
Also, I advise you to take a screenshot of your MyDisneyExperience app. All your Fast Pass return times and dining reservations for the day show up on your home page. If you take a screenshot, this saves you time loading up your app whenever you need to check a Fast Pass return time (this is helpful for me, as I constantly forget the times I booked).
- 15-Minute Grace Period
You have a 15-minute grace period after your “official” Fast Pass return time ends to still ride the ride. For instance, if your Haunted Mansion Fast Pass ends at 1:30 pm, you actually have until 1:45 pm to ride the attraction. I was told this by a Cast Member when I was running late for my Spaceship Earth Fast Pass. You usually get a 1 hour window to come back and ride. For shows, such as Rivers of Light, the return time may only be 30 minutes (i.e., come back at 7-7:30 pm for an 8 pm show).
I don’t know if this works by letting you in 15 minutes early, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. I think, as long as you’re within five minutes of your Fast Pass time starting, you should be good to ride.
- Remember- It’s Free!
FastPass+ is one of the few free services Disney offers! Take advantage, and make the most out of your trip.
However, keep in mind that waiting in a queue is not that bad. Just be patient, and enjoy your time at the most magical place on earth. FastPass+ is there to enhance your experience, and oftentimes it can cause more stress than convenience. Take a deep breath, and go with the flow no matter what happens.
Are there any tips you all have?
Hugs and Fishes,