I love my Disney vacations but I don’t love watching the time tick away while standing in a line. I want to race through the queue, enjoy my ride, and move on to the next! The best way to do that is by understanding and utilizing the new Fastpass + system. Before we get into the details of today’s system let’s go back to 1999 and talk about the original Fastpass.
Even if this will be your first trip you probably already know Walt Disney World is a VERY popular vacation destination. That means a LOT of people go to the magical realm every day of every year. As a result visiting during peak periods means there will be very long lines on the most popular rides and even considerable lines on those same rides during non-peak season. Wanting to deliver more time on rides and less time in lines Disney created the Fastpass system. All park guests had the ability to visit their favorite ride and find a ticket dispenser at the entrance to that ride. By inserting your park pass a paper ticket would then be dispensed with a return time window. This return time would vary depending on how early in the day the Fastpass was obtained. Once you had your Fastpass return window you were then free to go visit other rides, hopefully those without long waits. Then when it was time to return you simply went back to your Fastpass ride and handed over your ticket. Now the best part, like a Disney VIP you were allowed down a secondary line for Fastpass holders only. Depending on the day you could walk right by over a hundred or more people standing there in the standby line. You wouldn’t always walk right onto the ride but in most cases the wait would be less than 10 minutes. Soon you would have experienced the ride and be outside walking past the same folks in the standby line as they continued to wait. Of course, you did have to wait for your Fastpass window, but rather than wait in line you were able to visit other rides in the meantime. When your Fastpass return time came around you could also then go secure another Fastpass for your next ride.
Now, I used this system 4 years ago when I visited and had great success. A little preparation before entering the park and a plan of action meant you could utilize Fastpass and experience a lot of rides without a lot of waiting. Of course there were limits to the system and visiting during peak season could mean a ride had dispensed all of its aloted Fastpass tickets for the day before the clock struck 10 am. Also, it was a bit of a hastle to walk to a ride, obtain a Fastpass and then walk back to another ride while you waited for your window. Two steps forward one step back kind of thing. However, one thing I love about Disney is that they are constantly looking to improve and the Fastpass system is no different.
Enter the My Disney Experience App, Magic Bands and Fastpass +. We do not have the time today to really cover the app and the Magic Bands, but we will touch on how they relate to your Fastpass + experience.
For all the planners out there, which if you are listening I’m assuming that’s you. The beauty of Fastpass + is that you no longer have to wait till you get to the park to secure a Fastpass. Now you can make your selections 30 days in advance, or 60 days in advance if staying on property. No more running to a Fastpass kiosk as the park opens. Instead you can lounge on your couch at home and tinker with your Fastpass + options to your hearts content. In fact as a planner I find it a little addictive!
The process has undergone constant revision since first being released. Originally the list of rides only allowed for one big headliner and two more minor attractions. Now the list of rides you can choose from includes is more comprehensive and for some parks does not limit the list of headliners to 1 Fastpass +. That means I could get a Fastpass + for Test Track, Mission Space and Spaceship Earth all at the same time. Once you have selected your favorite 3 rides you are given time windows. There will be a screen with Option A, Option B, Option C and Best Match. You pick the time windows you want and then your Fastpass + rides and times are finalized.
Keep in mind that your selections will affect where you are in each park. For example, if you make selections in the Magic Kingdom for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Pirates of the Caribbean within a couple hours of each other you will do some significant walking. For 1st time visitors these 3 rides are all in different lands, Tomorrowland, New Fantasy Land and Adventure Land. Now your Disney app will tell you that the length of ride and location within the park play a factor in the options and times given so as not to overwork you on vacation. Still, you can find yourself bouncing around more than you expect if you aren’t careful when making Fastpass + reservations. My family found this especially true at Epcot, which leads me to my tips for utilizing Fastpass +.
#1– Fastpass + is a blessing, not a burden. As I said before with a little forethought and some planning you can really use Fastpass + to help you experience more rides in the same amount of time. However, it can also become a burden when things get a little off track and you are racing to make your next Fastpass + before it expires. Don’t sweat. First of all, there is a generous 1-hour arrival window and even if you are a few minutes early or late the cast members will usually let you through within reason. If you can’t make it in time, no big deal. Relax, and remember you are on vacation! Sometimes pushing your family to the max is not worth one more ride. Wow, I can’t believe I said that? Seriously though all Disney vacations require a lot of flexibility. Which leads me to tip #2.
#2– Fastpass + is Flexible. After you make the initial 3 selections and choose the time options that work best you can still make changes. Maybe you decide someone in your party isn’t ready for Dinosaur. Or maybe 1of the 3 ride times just doesn’t fit well or conflicts with meal times. Or maybe you are like me and just really indecisive in your quest for the perfect touring plan. You can actually go in and choose a new ride or new time for a ride after making the intial selections. You can do this with one ride at a time without affecting the other two rides. You are still limited, you can’t select any old time that you want and you have to select a ride in the same park as the other two rides. When you go to make a change in time you are given other time windows that are still available for that day. This helps you fine-tune your plan. I did this a lot.
#3– Fastpass + is for everyone. You may have a large group that doesn’t want to do every ride together and that’s is o.k. You can select 3 completely different Fastpass + rides for each member of your group or you can all opt for the exact same ride and experience them together. On my last big family trip my brother-in-law and I rode Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster while the rest of the family opted for another go on Toy Story Mania. We all had a Fastpass +, enjoyed our rides separately and then reunited after riding to enjoy the rest of our evening together.
#4– Fastpass + is best at peak times. When you are given time windows remember that lines for rides are longest during the peak time of the day, late morning to early afternoon. So, you will save the most time by selecting Fastpass + rides during this peak window. If you are visiting in the off-season you won’t need a Fastpass + for most rides during the early morning or late evening. Of course there are many other factors to your schedule. You may plan a break in the mid afternoon for some rest or relaxation back at your resort. If that is the case you obviously don’t want to select Fastpass+ during that time. If you are going to be in the park during the middle of the day though you will get the most out of your time by using Fastpass +while you are there.
So, that is the history of Fastpass, an introduction to the new Fastpass + system and a few tips to help you plan your itinerary of rides. Before I go today I want to leave you with a quick sample walk through on using Fastpass +:
* Log on to your My Disney Experience App
* From the Menu select Fastpass+ under Plan & Manage
* Touch the FP+ icon, with the Choose New Fastpass+ Experiences
* Under Choose My Party select the Guests you want to manage
* Next, Choose a Park and Date
* Let’s Pick Magic Kingdom and an upcoming date
* Click- Next, Choose My Fastpass+ Experiences
* Scroll through the list of available rides and choose your top 3
* I am selecting Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and Tomorrowland Speed
* Choose Option A, B, C or Best Match for your times
* Now click- Get These Fastpass+ Experiences
You’re All Set!
Fastpass + really is simple and a fun way to get even more excited about your upcoming rides. Best of all it means less time standing in lines and more time enjoying the ride. I hope this has helped you get excited about using Fastpass +.