Part 2: Choosing Fastpass Times
In our first article on Beating the Crowds, we laid out the importance of getting to the parks early. That remains the most important way to avoid lines. The second way to avoid lines is by using the fastpass system. This article will focus on setting up your fastpasses in a way that complements our earlier strategy of arriving early. For a comprehensive overview of the fastpass system, click here.
Which Fastpass times to choose
Today we are going to discuss two strategies for fastpass times. There are pros and cons to both strategies. We'll also give you use-cases for these strategies that may help you make a decision. In order to decide what to do, it's a good idea to know what you'll be doing each day, where you'll be eating, how long you'll be at the parks. This may seem a bit intimidating, but having a well-planned week can be very helpful. If planning to this level of detail is too much for you, let us help!
It goes without saying that you need to choose fastpasses for the rides with the longest wait times. The popular rides are what you want, not the rides with small waits. The goal is not to choose the rides you like the best, it's to choose the rides you'll wait on the longest.
Fastpasses in the Morning
I love scheduling fastpasses in the morning. In our previous article, we showed you how you can ride 7-8 rides in the first two hours of the park being open. If fastpasses are a part of those 7-8 rides, then by the time lunchtime arrives, you can begin getting fastpass 4, fastpass 5, fastpass 6, etc. That keeps you ahead of the crowds all day long.
If you're doing this, make sure and create some sort of touring plan or general strategy. If you're bouncing from one side of the park to the other to get to fastpasses, you're wasting a lot of time. So you can use our touring plans to give you a general idea of where you'll be, and fill in the gaps with fastpasses.
The downside to this strategy is that you're using fastpasses at a time when the park isn't very crowded. That may not seem smart! In fact, during the busiest of days, this can be a poor strategy. When you go to book that 4th fastpass, all the good ones might be gone! Usually you can keep refreshing and get a decent one, but much will depend on the park. Magic Kingdom is the best park to get a lot of fastpasses and the strategy usually works very well at the Magic Kingdom. It doesn't work very well at the other three parks, unless it's slow.
Another downside is that it's easier to miss morning fastpasses. All it takes is sleeping in an extra hour or two and you've lost your awesome Flight of Passage fastpass! That's always disappointing.
I usually book morning fastpasses at the Magic Kingdom unless it's absolutely slammed. At the other parks, I prefer afternoon fastpasses, unless it's a very slow time of the year. The reason is that the Magic Kingdom has a lot of rides. So I know when I go for my 4th fastpass, I will get a pretty good one. If you try this fastpass at Epcot, you are probably going to be left with a bunch of bad options. Ditto with Animal Kingdom (good luck getting a 4th fastpass for Flight of Passage…just not going to happen)
The other use-case for morning fastpasses is if you know you're going to be leaving the parks midday (maybe a dining reservation around 3-4 pm). In this scenario, you'll want to use your fastpasses early, then you can get a 4th fastpass (in any park) for the evening.
Fastpasses in the Afternoon
Afternoon fastpasses are a great thing. While lines are low in the morning, you can spend the entire morning bouncing around the park and riding attractions with low wait times. Then when the crowds arrive, you won't care beccause you'll have your three fastpasses. If you do things this way, you'll be able to really knock out the entire park by 3pm, even riding some rides 2-3 times.
If you get to the parks early, you and your family may be tired by the time the afternoon rolls around. You may want to go take naps or relax in the pool, yet you've got these fastpasses. Personally, I hate being at the parks from 1-5 in the summer. It's just so unbelievably hot. So even though you may have fastpasses for that time, there's a decent chance your family will be miserable if you've already been there since rope drop.
During the slow season at the Magic Kingdom, I despise afternoon fastpasses. If I have fastpasses in the afternoon I won't get my 4th fastpass until 3-5PM. With morning fastpasses, I may be on my 7th or 8th fastpass at that point!
If it's busy, try to get afternoon fastpasses and use the morning hours for non-fastpass touring. If you are at the Animal Kingdom, Epcot or Hollywood Studios, afternoon fastpasses will always work well and are a safe choice for all 3 of those parks.
When you combine these first two articles, you have everything you need for a great day of touring. But there's one thing you're missing. That's choosing the right dates! Sometimes no matter what you do, the crowds are out of control and you're going to be in lines most of the day. Choosing your dates properly is the third piece of the puzzle. Let's dive into it.