With the announcement of new FastPass+ changes yesterday (see Walt Disney World FastPass+ Changes), it is time to look at the strategy of making your FastPass+ reservations. Here are some basics about FastPass you should understand before we proceed:
- FastPasses give you access to “bypass” the line at certain attractions. While you still have to wait in line, the fastpass line is typically only a few minutes long.
- FastPasses are available in all four Walt Disney Wold theme parks, and reservations can be made in advance or while in the theme parks.
- FastPasses are free to everyone in who has a ticket to a Walt Disney World theme park, there is never a charge to get a fastpass.
- To access FastPass+ service before you arrive, you must have either:
- A valid Walt Disney World Ticket or Walt Disney World annual pass linked to your Disney account. If this is you, then you can make fastpass selections up to 30 days in advance of the day for which you are making reservations.
- A reservation at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel that also includes your theme park tickets. Then you can start making fastpass selections as early as 60 days prior to your check-in date. You may make fastpass reservations for your entire stay at that time.
- You are allowed to make up to three fastpass reservations per day in advance. With the changes announced yesterday, you can now make just one reservation at a time, or two or three, up to you.
- Currently, your three initial reservations are limited to just one theme park, you are not allowed to spread your three between multiple parks if you plan on hopping.
- Once you have used your three initial reservations in your park, you can now book one additional reservation via the My Disney Experience app or in-park kiosks. Once that additional fastpass is used, you can then make one additional reservation, and so on.
- Both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios have “tiers”, where you are limited to just one of your three initial selections from the first “tier”, while your second and third choices will be from the second tier. Currently, here are the first tier choices in each park:
- Epcot: Illuminations, Living with the Land, Mission: SPACE, Soarin’ and Test Track.
- Hollywood Studios: Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, Fantasmic!, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, The Great Movie Ride and Toy Story Mania!.
- Once you have used your first three reservations, the tier system is no longer involved, any additional reservations can be made from any available attraction.
- FastPass reservations can be changed or cancelled at anytime from the My Disney Experience app.
- While fastpasses for rides such as Space Mountain are not going away anytime soon, Disney does toy with availability at parades and fireworks show. Sometimes they are available, sometimes they are not.
So, what is my strategy to get the most out of FastPass?
Plan well in advance. Whether you can make your reservations for your entire stay 60 days in advance, or just one day at a time 30 days in advance, make a calendar of where you plan on being each day. This calendar really should have been made when you made your dining reservations several months before. Have this calendar handy well in advance of your reservation date.
Pick your attractions. Decide with your family your top four attractions that you want to get a reservation for for each day of your stay, an extra one so you have an alternate option. Make sure to have a list for each day, so if you happen to be in the Magic Kingdom three days during your stay, have three separate lists. This also allows you to swap attractions from one list to another if there isn’t any availability. Everyone wants to see Anna and Elsa, it may be sold out already once it comes your booking date.
Know your wait times. Don’t waste your tier one choice in Epcot on Living with the Land. Wait times for that ride most of the year are under 15 minutes, while Test Track and Soarin’ can reach an hour on really quiet days. While your family may really, really want to ride Living with the Land (and who can blame them, it is my favorite!), realize that you can walk on that with minimal wait just about anytime, while you will never just walk on Test Track. This goes for other attractions that historically have shorter wait times.
Book as early as possible. Know your 60 day date, and have your phone remind you every few days just so you don’t forget. Check out our Important Dates to know about Walt Disney World post to find a date calculator. Some days you may be able to access the fastpass system just after midnight, other times you may need to wait until about 5AM. Now, there probably isn’t any need to set your alarm for 5AM, but do get up early and get it done first thing. Anna and Elsa are really, really hard to get, and the longer you wait, the more likely it will be that you will be standing in line for several hours rather than going through the fastpass line.
Book all three reservations before you arrive at the park. While you can now book just one or two reservations in advance, get all three done. Again, once you use all three, you can start booking more, so pick the three attractions you want to see and get them booked.
Book your reservations for early in the day. Since you can book more once you have used your initial three reservations, don’t wait to start the fastpass process until later in the day. I usually book my three reservations before noon, and then start working on other ones before I have even headed to lunch. On crowded days, this gives you the ability to see more attractions than any other way.
Don’t waste your fastpasses on fireworks or parades. It is kind of silly to use one of your three times on a 10PM fireworks show. That just means that you will not be able to make any additional reservations at all. You are much better off using your fastpasses on attractions that have lines, not one things you can walk up to 5 minutes before and find a decent spot.
You can always make changes. If you aren’t 100% sure of where you are going to be one morning, or maybe you aren’t sure about the third fastpass you want, just make your reservations now, don’t wait. You can always make changes to your existing fastpasses later on if needed, but it is always harder to find the times and attractions you want the longer you wait.
Download the My Disney Experience app now! Walt Disney World has a great My Disney Experience app available for both iphone and android devices. Not only can you make and change your fastpass reservations directly from the app, it also shows you all of your existing fastpass and dining reservations, and the ability to change them in an instance right from your phone. Plus, you can even check out existing wait times in the parks to get an idea of what to expect on your trip, and which fastpasses to avoid (I am looking at you Living with the Land). The app is free, go get it.
Do you have any hints that you use with FastPass?