One of the best perks for both on-site and off-site guests at Walt Disney World is Disney’s Fastpass+ system. Under the system visitors to a Walt Disney World theme park can choose up to 3 FastPasses a day that will allow you to move to the front of the line at some of your favorite attractions. The system can really cut down on the time that your family will spend toughing it out in line, particularly during when crowds are at their peak. However, for a lot of first-time Disney visitors, organizing and getting the most of your FastPasses can be a bit tricky. With that in mind, we here at Disney Addicts thought we’d share with you some FastPass DOs and DONTs to help ease you into the planning process.
1.DO Pay Attention to Booking Windows – Planning a Disney vacation is no longer a simple as booking a room, purchasing park tickets and showing up on the day. Now visitors are encouraged to figure out their plans well in advance in order to take full advantage of the system. One of the most important dates that goes into planning your Disney vacation is your FastPasses booking window. For guest staying onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort you can do this 60 days out starting at 7 am EST. Those staying offsite need to wait until the 30-day mark before making their bookings. Is it necessary to make your selections that far out? Absolutely. FastPasses for the most popular attractions can actually fill up well in advance so if there are rides on your must-do list, the earlier you book the better.
2. DON’T Worry About Booking FastPasses for Children Under the Age of 3 – This is something that can really confuse first-time bookers. When it comes to booking your FastPasses via My Disney Experience, leave any children under the age of 3 out of the mix. Because 1 and 2-year olds don’t require a theme park ticket, they also don’t require FastPasses. To try to book with them included will pull up an error message. Leave them out and you’ll be able to start making those bookings.
3. DO Split up Fastpasses To Please the Whole Family –If you’re travelling with kids of different ages and interests, it isn’t necessary for every member of your family to make the same FastPass selections. So if you have one child who is a thrill ride lover, one parent can book Fastpasses to go off and enjoy the coasters with them while another parent uses FastPasses to enjoy some of the milder attractions with the other children. For parents with small children, you can also take advantage of Rider Switch which gives you the advantage of being able to make a few extra selections. Find out more here.
4. DON’T Book FastPasses for First Thing in the Morning – A common mistake a lot of first time FastPassers make is booking their first FastPass right at park opening at 9am. This is generally not a good idea. The reason being is that when you arrive at the parks first thing in the morning, chances are that the lines will be the shortest that they will be all day. This means that the better option would be to simply get into the Stand-by line of rides with shorter lines and save your FastPasses for when crowds reach their peak around lunchtime.
5. DON’T Try to Book FastPasses at More Than 1 Park Per Day – I’ve lost count of how many first-time Disney planners have reached out to me saying that they weren’t able to book all 3 FastPasses on a particular day. Typically the reason for this is that guests will try to book FastPasses across more than one theme park. The current FastPass system does not allow you to park hop with your first 3 FastPasses. So you must use all 3 at the SAME park. If you’re planning to park hop, my suggestion is to use your FastPasses for the second park you visit. Hitting the first park in the morning (as above) means lines should be shorter. However, by the time you arrive at your second park, it should be peak crowd levels. Scheduling in those FastPasses during this time will drastically cut down on your wait times when you do hop.
6. DO Book FastPasses for the Most Popular Attractions First – The My Disney Experience FastPass booking system does not require you to book Fastpasses in chronological order. You can move back and forth on the calendar. With this in mind, my suggestion is book the hardest to get Fastpasses first. At the moment top of the list should be the newly opened attractions Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios like Slinky Dog Dash or at Animal Kingdom’s Pandora-The World of Avatar: like Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey. Make getting a FastPass for one of these hotly anticipated rides a priority. Jump to your Animal Kingdom day and lock one of these babies in!
As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to book FastPasses for attractions that have the longest lines. For instance, Splash Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are much better choices that Haunted Mansion or Under the Sea. If you’re planning a Disney vacation for the first time and aren’t sure what rides have the longest lines check out this article.
7. DO Plan Out Your Route – As you prepare to make your FastPass bookings it pays to familiarize yourself with the parks and to plan out your routes for each day. This will help you avoid first-timer mistakes like zigzagging across the park to get from one FastPass location to another. There’s a wide range of options available at each park and you can select the times that you want to use your FastPasses for at each attraction. With a little bit of careful planning, you can avoid situations like running from Tomorrowland to Frontierland and then back to Tomorrowland. Your feet will thank you!
8. DON’T use your Fastpass if the Stand-by Lines are Reasonable –Let’s say you have a FastPass for Space Mountain, you arrive there with your family and find that the Stand-by line is only 20 minutes long. Then get in the Stand-By line and don’t use your FastPass! The FastPass system works best when you’re using it for rides with lengthy wait times. If an attraction that you have a FastPass for doesn’t have a long line then change your FastPass selection (using the My Disney Experience phone app or at a FastPass kiosk) to something with longer lines. There is a Wait Time feature on the app which can help you make a more appropriate selection. You can make changes to an existing FastPass right up until your booking window is set to expire. After that, you’ve lost that FastPass.
9. DON’T Use FastPasses for Nighttime Shows like IllumiNations – Disney does offer FastPasses for evening fireworks displays like IllumiNations at Epcot. Unless this show is absolute tops on your must-do list and you don’t feel like scouting in advance for a viewing location than I usually say avoid the fireworks FastPasses. The reason being is that it automatically eliminates your ability to book a 4th or 5th FastPass because you aren’t using your 3rd FastPass until later in the evening.
10. DON’T Get your Hopes Up for That 4th and 5th Fastpass – One of the FastPass perks that people tend to get the most excited about is the ability to book additional FastPasses after you’ve used up your initial 3. However, it’s important to manage expectations. By the time you’ve used you 3 Fastpasses and are ready to go to the 4th, you will likely be approaching late afternoon. By this point, it is not uncommon to see many of the headlining attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, or Expedition Everest, completely sold out of FastPasses for the day. This means that more than likely, you’ll be using your additional options on non-headlining attractions. If there’s a ride you really want to enjoy ALWAYS include it in your original three.
One final tip before we leave you to your Disney planning. If at first, you don’t get the FastPass that you want, keep trying. Like dining reservations, FastPass availability is constantly changing right up until your day at the park. If you’ve tried to book your favorite attraction only to find that it isn’t available keep checking back. It’s not uncommon for availability to open up when you least expect it.
Questions about FastPasses or making the most out of your visit to Disney? Feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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