If you are planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, you have likely heard of big changes to the fastpass system. The old paper fastpass kiosks have been removed, and the new Fastpass Plus system has been implemented at the Magic Kingdom, as well as the other three resorts. Many long-time Disney guests are worried about the changes. This article will explain what has changed, and how you can use the changes to your advantage.
Current Rules for Fastpass Plus
Currently, there are a few rules for this new system. (Editor’s Note: A few changes have been announced, which are discussed here. Once these changes take effect, we’ll incorporate them into this article.
- Fastpass Plus can only be used at one park per day
- You receive three “Fastpasses” per day
- There are kiosks in the parks for those that don’t have smartphones
- You may book your fastpass times up to 60 days in advance.
- Currently there is a tiering system at Epcot and Hollywood Studios, which will be explained later on.
Booking rides 60 days in advance? This option scares those that procrastinate, annual pass holders, and local Florida residents. After all, not everyone plans their Disney vacation that far in advance. However, the good news is that Disney is holding back a number of fastpasses until the day you arrive, and not allowing them to sell out beforehand.
If you are planning a trip, and the 60 day booking scares you, stop and read our article on Creating a Disney Schedule. It’s important to know which park you will be attending on each day. Likely you will already know this, if you have booked dinner reservations. If you know what park you are in, then choosing fastpasses will be easy. If you aren’t sure where you’ll be, just create fastpasses for each day, and you can easily change them later.
At this time, you will be able to book up to 3 FP’s per guest, and they all 3 must be on different rides. Also, all 3 must be used in the same theme park. Now that we’ve gone over a few of the ground rules, lets see what benefits this new system might bring us.
Potential Benefits of Fastpass Plus
We see many potential benefits for Disney planners. As an example of how this can help, let’s focus on how this new system might affect our Hollywood Studios Plan.
At Hollywood Studios, we are going to use the new system to pre-book Toy Story Mania or Aerosmith, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours. (If we are at the Magic Kingdom, you’d likely want to use them on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain). I’d probably advise guests to book those FP times for the afternoon. Why? Because typically Hollywood Studios is not crowded in the mornings and very crowded after lunch. Being able to go ahead and grab those FP’s enables us to do one of two things:
1. We can focus our early-morning on shows and events that aren’t crowded
2. We can ride the three popular rides in the early-morning with little to no lines, and then catch them with FP’s after lunch.
At this time, the smart strategy is to use your fastpass plus selections for the busiest part of the day. This brings major benefits to many tourists. Why?
Let’s think back to how we’ve always toured in the past. We’ve always had issues in the late afternoon and early evening, when things get busy. Some attractions, like Toy Story Mania, Everest and Space Mountain, used to run out of fastpasses by the middle of the afternoon.
However, with the new system, we can go ahead and book fastpasses on these rides for the afternoon and evening! When you combine this with an early arrival, you can ride the headliners more often, and you can also have a full schedule at times that traditionally were too busy to tour.
Questions regarding Fastpass Plus
There are a number of questions about this new system. We’ll try to answer them to the best of our current knowledge.
- Can Fastpass Plus users get more than 3 FP’s during the day? At this time, it looks like FP+ users will be limited to 3 a day. There are rumors of a “pay” system that eventually could allow us to pay for additional FP’s. But initially this won’t be the case. There are reports in early testing of Disney giving out BONUS fastpasses for particular rides to guests. Disney really has a lot of options with this, and we should expect this to change.
- How long will the new system coincide with the old system? The old Fastpass machines are being pulled away. Over the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, some guest were able to use both systems, but this is no longer the case.
- Are lines longer or shorter now? Until peak season hits, this won’t be known. Disney is hoping everyone uses their fastpasses. Many attractions that haven’t traditionally been fastpass eligible, are now eligible with the new system. The idea is to spread guests around the parks. Also, the new system has opened up a new set of lines…the lines in front of the kiosks!
What is the Future of Fastpass Plus?
I’m very excited about the long-term possibilities of this system. One of the biggest problems with the old FP system is the need to have someone run across the entire park to grab FP’s for different rides. Now this can be done with your cellphone. That has the potential to save you a lot of time in the park.
The tiering system will likely continue to be enhanced, which will be a source of frustration to many users. However, rumors are strong that in the future, you will be able to purchase additional fastpasses.
The key to using the new system is proper planning. If you have made a daily schedule, you likely will be able to use this system to your advantage. But why are so many people frustrated with this system? (as evidenced in the comments on this page and those all over the web)
Likely it is a result of improper planning. To get the most out of the new system, you need to set things up correctly. It requires more work ahead of time, but the results are a much smoother vacation.
How To Make Fastpass Plus Selections
Now that you’ve learned what this system entails, let’s go over the nuts and bolts of how you make fastpass plus selections.
First of all, Disney has instituted a tiering plan for Hollywood Studios and Epcot. This means that you can’t book all the top rides at those two parks. For instance, Epcot doesn’t allow you to get fastpasses at Test Track AND at Soarin. You have to choose one or the other. The way to overcome this is to get there early and head to whichever attraction you don’t have a fastpass for. If you do this, you’ll have no need to get a fastpass.
For details of exactly how to make the selections, as well as how you make changes and deletions, head to our page on How To Make Fastpass Plus Reservations.
But first, I recommend learning about the backbone of the Fastpass plus system. You will see how to set your online account up correctly, using the My Disney Experience website.
By: Ryan Shade