When Walt Disney World implemented its FastPass+ system, it fundamentally changed the way guests could tour Disney parks. Visiting Walt Disney World requires much more planning than you might think. Fastpass+ is a big part of that. If you know how the system works, you can ride more and wait much less. Or, if your child isn’t interested in rides, you can use it to see more characters. Here are some of my favorite Disney World FastPass+ tips and tricks. The last one is a real favorite of mine; it can be really powerful if you use it, as I can attest. I made a visual guide for that one that hopefully can help you.
Note: I recognize not everyone loves planning and maximizing. Still, if you use one or two of these tips you might make your Disney vacation just a little bit more magical!
Quick Primer on Disney World FastPass+
FastPass+ doesn’t cost any extra money. As long as you have a Disney ticket, you can make FastPass+ reservations. For Disney guests staying on site at a Disney hotel, you can start making FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance of the first night of your reservations. For all other guests, you can make FastPass+ reservations 30 days in advance. Fastpass+ reservations are for one hour time windows, usually with a 15 minute grace period. After you’ve used your initial 3 FastPass+ reservations you can make additional FastPass+ reservations, more on that later.
Every Disney guest receives an allotment of 3 initial FastPass+ reservations per theme park day. At the Magic Kingdom, these 3 FastPass+ reservations can be used for any attraction. Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom (and the new, awesome Pandora: World of Avatar) have a “tiered” FastPass+ system. That means you can only make one reservation on the most popular transactions. Your other two fast passes can be used for any attraction. The top tier attractions at Epcot are Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track. Animal Kingdom puts the Pandora attractions (Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey) in the top tier. The top tier attractions at Hollywood Studios that matter the most to the majority of guests are Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and Toy Story Mania.
Take advantage of your Disney World Fastpass+ early booking window, especially if you stay on site at a Disney Hotel
One major benefit to staying on site is the ability to make FastPass+ reservations for the length of your vacation. Let’s say you have a 5 night stay on Disney property. 60 days before the first night of your reservation, you can make FastPass+ reservations for your entire stay plus the day you check out. So if you’re staying on site at a Disney hotel, you can book FastPass+ reservations way ahead of everyone else.
There are lots of benefits to staying off site but this is one of the best benefits of staying at a Disney hotel. Regular guests and annual pass holders can only book 30 days in advance, but you have to book day by day. In other words, you can’t do multiple days at once if they’re beyond your 30 day window.
Regardless of your personal window, one of the most important FastPass+ tips is book as early as you can. This will give you the best chance to get those hard to get rides like Frozen Ever After, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, or the Pandora rides with the least amount of stress.
Book your FastPass+ reservations for early in the day
When you book your initial three fast passes, you want to book them for as early in the day as possible. Since each FastPass+ reservation window is an hour long, booking early in the day basically takes up your entire morning (9-10, 10-11, 11-12).
The reason to book early in the day isn’t the obvious one. When you get to Disney parks early, the lines are much shorter than later in the day, so it’s actually one of the best times to wait in line. Fast passes help make your waits even shorter, but the real reason why you want to use up your FastPass+ reservations early in the day is to utilize the extra FastPass+ reservation you get after using your initial three. We’ll talk more about this “rolling fourth fast pass” later, but basically, after the first three you can keep booking and using FastPass+ reservations one at time.
Prioritize the busiest rides
If you want to minimize time in line, you’ll want to prioritize getting Fastpass+ reservations for the busiest rides. A list of the busiest ride in each park is below. Unless there’s something you MUST do, try to get most of your Fastpass+ reservations for these attractions. Generally, common sense will tell you which attractions you need to book.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Frozen Ever After
- Test Track
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Toy Story Mania!
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Flight of Passage
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Expedition Everest
Utilize your extra FastPass reservations early and often
After you’ve used your initial three Fastpass+ reservations, you get a fourth Fastpass+ reservation to use. This reservation can be used for any attraction in any park. In other words, once you get to this point you don’t need to worry about “tiered” attractions. Of course, it’s likely that many of the most coveted reservations are gone. Use these “rolling fourth” Fastpass+ reservations to book attractions that have lines but aren’t the most popular. Each time you use one, you can reserve another, so once you’ve gone through your initial three you can make Fastpass+ reservations for the rest of the day. That’s why you want to get the initial three done ASAP.
Use the My Disney Experience app and this technique for hard to get FastPass+ reservations
I learned a simple technique for hard to get Fastpass+ reservations from the Backside of Magic podcast. The basic premise is this. For hard to get reservations, you can often get lucky on the day of using your My Disney Experience app. First, make a reservation for a non-popular attraction. Then, go into your Disney app on your phone and choose to “Modify” that reservation. At that point you can quickly keep searching for Fastpass+ availability. I personally just jumped back and forth between “Afternoon” and “4:00 PM” until I found availability for Frozen Ever After.
My best guess as to why this works? This is the equivalent of furiously refreshing your browser trying to buy concert tickets or something. People switch Fastpass+ reservations all the time, this “refreshing” gives you the best chance to hop onto them when they open up. Best of all, you can do this in line in another attraction. I had no trouble securing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Frozen Ever After for 3 people when I messed around with it last week.
The downside is, your spouse and children might get annoyed that your face is buried in a phone the entire time. But think of how happy they will be not to wait in line!
The Disney Fastpass+ reservation system can be a real asset when you tour the parks. Follow these guidelines if they help minimize your stress when entering the parks. You can really use them to your advantage to cut down your wait times!
Any other tips I missed? Hit me up with any questions or comments down below.
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