FASTPASS plus is a revolutionary new system designed by Disney. In the past year, Disney has gone from their old Fastpass system that included paper tickets, to this new system that includes Magic Bands and online Fastpass booking using the My Disney Experience app. Both on our website and in the parks, we have met many people who are very frustrated with the new system. Our goal is to give you the advantage by sharing fastpass tips that will help you avoid long lines and stay ahead of the crowd.
In short, the Fastpass Plus system works like this: Each day, you receive 3 Fastpasses to use in ONE park. But the better news is that you can book these fastpasses up to 60 days ahead of time. No longer will you need to run around the park using the fastpass machine. You can do this ahead of time on the app, or do it in real-time on your smart phone. They also have kiosks that you can use in the theme parks, if you don’t happen to have a smart phone. Please note that the technical details of HOW to book fastpasses and use the app are covered in our article on How to Make Fastpass Plus Reservations.
Now we are going to show you how to combine your Fastpass Plus Reservations with our earlier tips on getting there early, and give you a headstart on the competition.
When to Book Fastpass Plus Times
When you are deciding your Fastpass times, much will depend on your plan for the day. If you plan to be at a park all day long, your plan might be different than if you are going to park hop or leave a park early. We will break it down into a simple format that should be easy to understand.
FastPasses in the Morning:
Previously on this page, we said that it was a terrible idea to book fastpasses in the morning. This used to be true! But as we noted in our article on When to Book Fastpasses, things have changed! Recently Disney has made some alterations to the fastpass system. Now, after you have used your first three fastpasses, you can get a 4th. Then when you use this, you can get a 5th.
Due to this change, we highly recommend booking fastpasses for as early in the day as possible. The original point we made was that it’s silly to use a fastpass when the park is empty. While this was true, it makes much more sense now due to the changes. Why? Because now you want to use your first three fastpasses so that you can get more!
The downside to this strategy comes when the parks are busy. Some of the more popular attractions may not be available later in the day. Also, this strategy may not work as well for parks with fewer attractions, like Hollywood Studios. At Hollywood Studios, you might be better off to book afternoon fastpasses and use standby in the mornings, due to the fact that there are only four bigtime attractions. In our next two sections, we’ll go over some additional reasons why you may delay fastpasses.
Fastpasses in the Midday/Evening
The 12pm-6pm time period is traditionally the busiest at most parks. It’s hot, crowded and there are long lines. This is a great time to use fastpasses. If you are at the Magic Kingdom, there will always be fastpasses available. Our hope is that you have already used three fastpasses in the morning, and you can use the kiosks to get your additional fastpasses.
If you don’t have any fastpasses, the midday is the worst time to be at the park, especially in the summer. The heat and crowds can make things miserable.
Fastpasses at Night
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to pre-book fastpasses at night. Why? Because then you are basically assuring yourself of only having 3 fastpasses all day. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Those exceptions are Wishes, the Electrical Parade, and Fantasmic. The fastpasses for the two events in the Magic Kingdom are AMAZING fastpasses. They do a great job of keeping the seating limited, which gives you plenty of room to watch the festivities, right in front of the castle. Yes, you give up the ability to get a large number of fastpasses. But if you’ve never seen the fireworks or the parade, it’s WELL WORTH IT!
If you only care about rides, do not prebook fastpasses at night. Book them in the mornings and then at night you should still be able to pick up fastpasses using the kiosks. We got 7 fastpasses in a day just playing around. We’ve heard of others getting as many as 10!
Best Fastpasses by Park
We will expand on this in future articles, but for now we will briefly give you some basic fastpass tips for each park.
Currently, the Magic Kingdom does not have a tiering system. This means you can choose any ride. The problem with giving advice on the MK is that much depends on what you want to do. There are so many different activities to choose from. Meet and greets are very busy and a fastpass can save a ton of time. Many of them stay busy from morning until night, so a fastpass is a great choice. But you do have to understand that Meet and Greet fastpasses are a little slower than traditional fastpasses, as meet and greets move slowly due to pictures, small children, etc.
It’s also encouraged to use Fastpasses for popular rides such as Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan and the Mine Train. These rides carry long waits, and are excellent choices.
As we mentioned, our favorite fastpass to use in all of Disney World is the fastpass to see Disney’s Electrical Parade. You get a spot right out in front of the castle, your kids can see everything, and you aren’t crowded, as they don’t allow a large number of people in. It’s an amazing fastpass!
Epcot currently has a horrible fastpass system. It’s a tiered system. You basically can choose Soarin’, Test Track or Illuminations, as all three of these are in the first tier. Once you have used your first-tier fastpass, there are not a lot of good rides left. Being forced to use a Fastpass for Nemo or Spaceship Earth is not a productive way to use Fastpasses. Whether this is a flaw of the tiering system or just a result of Epcot having a lower number of high-end attractions is unknown. But we try to avoid using our Fastpasses at Epcot if we can.
Like Epcot, Hollywood Studios has a tiering system. Fortunately there are some good choices in the 2nd tier. Tower of Terror and Star Tours are both good choices for the 2nd tier, and we highly recommend those, as they offer the greatest time-saving benefits (and are great rides too!). The upper tier is loaded with three great fastpasses: Toy Story Mania, Rock N Roller Coaster, and Fantasmic! Toy Story Mania in the early afternoon is our top recommendation. We also recommend getting there at rope drop, and riding Toy Story Mania first, as it’s a ride you will want to experience twice.
If you do plan on seeing Fantasmic, than a fastpass is a wise choice during the busy season. Otherwise, you could miss the show altogether, or get a terrible seat. If you have a large group or if you want to be down low close to the water, you’ll need to use a Fastpass to ensure your spot.
Animal Kingdom currently has no tiering and so Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris make the most sense. Kali River Rapids should only be chosen on hot summer days when it is most popular. The rest of the year, the stand-by line will be your best choice. The Festival of the Lion King, when it re-opens, will be another great selection, as a great viewing location can get your kids involved in the show.
Animal Kingdom fastpasses should not be used in the 2 hours prior to closing. This park empties out quickly, and stand-by times become very low in the late evening for all attractions. This may change when Pandora opens.
Hopefully these fastpass tips can help you to make the best use of your time at Disney!
Next, we are going to look at another key decision that you’ll make in your trip planning. Choosing which day to attend each park.
Let’s take a look at the next article in our series: Part 3: Disney Park Schedule
By: Ryan Shade