Part 2 — Fastpass Tips

Thunder Mountain Faspass Tips

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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.

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A great fastpass makes EVERYONE happy!

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!

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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.

Magic Kingdom

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

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.
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Hollywood Studios

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.

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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

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.

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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

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Comments

Part 2 — Fastpass Tips — 19 Comments

  1. The fastpass system where you can reserve it 6o days ahead and that too online can help organize your trip much better I think . And getting the 4th/5th/6th passes after using up the first 3 all seem a reasonable move. These tips are very useful and will come in handy on our next family trip.

  2. Do you know if the fastpasses book up fast? For example if you are at your 60 day window to book fastpasses, in 10 days from now will most of the good passes be taken? We are going in October and I have not purchased park tickets yet, therefore we can’t reserve fastpasses yet. Also, after you have used your first 3 fastpasses for the day, are you allowed to get fast passes for tier one rides multiple times if available?

    • Shelly,

      It all depends on the time of the year, and the park. October is a month in which the crowds are not at peak levels. So I would imagine that you will be just fine with MOST attractions. However, there are a few attractions that I would highly recommend trying to get ASAP. The Frozen Meet and Greet and the Mine Train should both be booked as early as possible, as they fill up extremely fast.

  3. Do we have to use all 3 fp up to get a 4th??? So, if we get fp for electrical parade, then we would only have 2 for rest of the day?

      • Thank you!!! I recently asked a disney agent on the phone and she told me if it’s a late fp, such as parades or fireworks, then we could get a 4th after our 2nd is used. I found that very hard to believe, never reading that elsewhere!!

        • Holly, I will look into that. A quick google search, along with my personal experiences tells me that the particular agent you were talking to may have erred, but I’ll do some double-checking.

  4. When i click on fp+ on my disney experience, none of my family and friends show up. Will they automatically show up on there at my 60 day window, which is jan 28th?????

  5. Does everyone in your reservation group have to use the same Fast Passes? For example, I am the only one to enjoy roller coasters so I can book one Fast Pass for the Dwarf Mine Ride and let my other family members uses theirs at the same time for a different ride?

    • Stacey, everyone does not have to use the same fast passes. When you book a fastpass, you will pick exactly who you want to get that fastpass. You can select all, or you can break it up. This can be quite helpful in situations where you have small kids, who are below height requirements, but also have teenagers, who want to focus on the roller coasters.

  6. We are FL residents and booked a last minute trip. When we go online everything is booked. It says all the fast passes are full. Is there a way to get around this or are we completely out of luck? I didn’t think about that when booking our trip 5 days before. :(

    • Laura,

      I’m so sorry to hear that!! I’m kind of surprised it’s all booked up because we are still in January, which should be a bit of a dead period. Keep checking though. People continue to make changes to their fastpasses as while it may be full one day, it can open up some the next day as people alter their plans.

      Also, make sure and get there REALLY early, and try to make some additional fastpass selections as soon as the park opens. People will quickly change their plans once the day starts, and you can usually find good fastpasses throughout the day. It’s a great thing to do while you wait in line!

  7. Hi! I am trying to decide whether or not to make a change in my fastpass choices for a Mondy morning at MK for spring break 2015. I currently have passes for Mermaid 10 to 11, Mine Train 11 to 12 and then Peter Pan from 12 to 1. Should I change this to Peter Pan at 9 to 10 and so on?? That would make Peter Pan my 1st ride of the day. It might make more sense in terms of where the rides are located. I chose the 10 to 11 time initially, thinking we could take our time getting into the park, getting autographs at the entrance etc. Now I am tempted to speed things up a bit and ge to the park prior to opening, see the good morning show and then head to Peter Pan. The park opens at 9 that morning. What are everyone’s thoughts on this? Keeping in mind, getting up earlier, breakfast, bus to park from Pop Century, etc. Have two teens on board. Or should I just leave the first pass for 10 and have a little more wiggle room. Would one hour on starting our passes make that much difference? I think the last pass is thru 1:25 as it currently stands.

    • Ann,

      Peter Pan is a good fastpass. Personally, I like to head there first in the morning while the line is long and save my fastpass for something good. Especially if you have two teens..they aren’t likely to want to waste a fastpass on Peter Pan.

      My recommendation: Head straight to Peter Pan and you’ll walk on with no wait. Change the Peter Pan fastpass to something like splash Mountain or thunder mountain. Also, ditch the little mermaid fastpasses too…I think your teenagers would prefer something different and you can usually ride that at some point during the day with very little wait.

  8. What would be your top three passes for each park for preschool age? We will visit Epcot, Hollywood, and Animal for one full day each. We will get to Magic for two full days. I also have a Downtown/pool day reserved so we can use three passes on our way to dinner if needed. Top suggestions?

    • Magic Kingdom — Peter Pan, Mine Train, Tales with Belle
      Magic Kingdom 2nd day — Get parades and character meet-n-greets
      Animal Kingdom — Safari, Festival of the Lion King, Dinosaur/Kali River Rapids (depending on their height)
      Hollywood — Toy Story Mania, then pick two shows that you like (unless they are tall enough to ride Star Tours or Tower of Terror)
      Epcot — Without knowing their heights, it’s tough to say. Epcot has pretty bad FP selections anyway. If they aren’t tall enough to ride Test Track or Soarin, you probably won’t need fastpasses. But just in case, go ahead and book Spaceship Earth, Nemo and Character Spot.

  9. I will be visiting magic kingdom with a 8 year old and 4 year old. Do we have to use the same fast passes or can I sign the kids up for meet and greets and use the adult for rides?

    • Casey, unfortunately you have to use them, even if you are an adult. To get into the fastpass line, you have to use your fastpass.

      Now if you want to get around that, you can let one parent take the kids and preserve the other fastpasses…but that isn’t a great option as they won’t let you go back there and see the kids without using a fastpass!

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