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Ride More, Wait Less: Our Comprehensive FastPass Advice

FastPasses

Not long ago we promised to give you park by Park advice to help you make the best use of your coveted FastPasses. It’s no secret that the parks are becoming busier by the year. While it used to be pretty easy to avoid long waits by going during the “off-season”, ask anyone who was there this September and they will tell you there really isn’t an offseason anymore. That means knowing how to be smart with your FastPass selections is even more important than ever. Since you can only book 3 in advance we are often asked which rides we recommend.  So without further ado here are our suggestions to make the best use of your FastPass options! (If you need general FastPass info check out part 1 here.)

Magic kingdom

The Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom can be one of the most daunting when it comes to FastPass selection simply due to the sheer number of attractions. Add to that the fact that unlike the other 3 parks, Magic Kingdom doesn’t have a tier system in place and the options can seem overwhelming. But the bright side to this is that it also make Magic Kingdom one of the best for minimizing wait times!

Book in Advance:
Splash Mountain (highly sought after and you’ll have trouble snagging one on the day of, so if you plan to ride, I highly suggest this one.)
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ( A FastPass here is an absolute must! You will have a very difficult time finding a day of FastPasses for this ride, and you may even encounter difficulty even booking 60 days in advance. This remains one of the most popular rides at Disney. Booking this one is very strongly recommended.)
Peter Pans Flight (there is always a lengthy wait here. The time spent waiting to time spent riding ratio isn’t worth the wait in my book. You’ll want to book this one in advance, it almost always “sells” out. Worth noting though, if you’re a huge Peter Pan fan you may want to opt for the stand-by line. It is one of the most immersive and interactive queues on property).
The Haunted Mansion (There always seems to be a sizable wait here. Though this one is a ride I think is worth waiting for, it’s always better not to wait right?)
Enchanted Tales With Belle (this one by no means tops my list for ‘must-haves’ but it is hard to get a same-day FastPass here so if you’d like to do it and don’t want to wait 45 minutes or so go ahead and snag it if you can).
Grab the Day-of:
The Jungle Cruise ( this one also tends to have a decent wait throughout much of the day. It doesn’t often “sell out” though so for a same day FastPass this is certainly a decent choice).
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (You usually can’t go wrong getting a FastPass here either as it is also a popular ride. Don’t stress about booking this one in advance. You’ll likely be able to score a same-day FastPass for Pooh).
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (this is a favorite of ours and must do on every trip! We don’t pre-book our FastPass here though because there are almost ALWAYS fast passes to be had on the day of).
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (waits here are pretty hit or miss. It isn’t consistently crowded enough to warrant booking in advance but on busy days those wait time can climb up around the hour mark so check wait times before grabbing a FastPass. It may or may not be needed).
Princess Fairytale Hall (we strongly recommend grabbing a day of Fastpass here if you intend to visit with all 4 Princesses in residence. As it is currently set up there are two different lines. One line gets a meet and greets with only two princesses so without a FastPass you end up waiting double for one attraction.)
Barnstormer (we recommend this FastPass if and only if you are traveling with a preschooler or young elementary aged child)
Not recommended:
Pirates of the Caribbean (there is often a wait shorter than 20 minutes here and if not, same day FastPasses are typically readily available)
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (this is a theater type attraction, so a Fastpass doesn’t really save you any time here.)
it’s a small world (this is my absolute favorite ride so believe me when I say you simply don’t FastPass here.)
Dumbo (a classic attraction that is not to be missed for sure. This was my very first ride at Disney, and when my son went for the first time it was his as well. There is almost ever a wait here and when there is we have just four words for you: air-conditioned seating area! This attraction has pioneered new territory with its queue. Instead of standing in a line, you’re given a pager, similar to the kind restaurants give. Your little one’s go play in a play area and you sit down and take a load off. When it’s time for you to enter the rides staging area you are paged! Genius! This is the only ride at Disney where we are ever a little disappointed not to encounter a wait!!!)

FastPass+Epcot

Epcot
Epcot is tough. Here, the rides are divided into two categories and you have the option to choose only 1 ride in Tier 1 and 2 rides in Tier 2. The problem is most everything you’ll want to FastPass here is in Tier 1. Never fear though, because we have a plan!
Tier 1-
Book in Advance:
Frozen Ever After (if you’ve let go of Frozen fever then Test Track is recommended. Both Frozen and Test Track rarely have same day availability).
Grab the Day-of: 
Soarin (Soarin is an absolutely breathtaking ride, but you can find same-day FastPasses here pretty regularly, except during busy days. After you use your original 3 prebooked Fastpasses you are free to choose additional tier 1 attraction so grab this one up if you see it.)
To see the rest:
Rope Drop Test Track or if your family is ok with riding separately, hit up the single rider line.
For the other two Tier 1 attractions, I do not recommend Illuminations. There is plenty prime viewing spot available for this nighttime show without a FastPass. For Mickey and Friends, I don’t recommend using a Tier 1 FastPass here. It was a solid choice when it was a Tier 2 attraction but you can meet Mickey in every single park so save that coveted Tier 1 FastPass for something else. See him if the wait is manageable, wait until another day in another Park if not.
Tier 2-
Book in Advance:
Spaceship Earth (depending on the time of day you want to ride this one can have a bit of a crowd so this is a good one to book for late morning/early afternoon.
Mission: Space Orange (If you are of the strong stomach variety then I recommend using your third Epcot FastPass here. This one usually doesn’t have much of a wait but a FastPass enables you to ride it twice in a short amount of time–which I highly recommend if you, like me, are an adrenaline junkie! I’ve had dreams about this ride I love it so much!)
Grab the Day-of:
The Seas With Nemo and Friends (this one recently jumped off my hot recommend and became a surprisingly good choice for a same-day FastPass. In years past I have never waited for this ride but this past September- during a supposedly slow time- I encountered a 20-minute wait here. It’s a cute ride but it isn’t that cute.)
Living With the Land (this is an endearing favorite in our home but it’s seen a drop in popularity over the years. The wait here is usually minimal, but sometimes it will see a spike in wait times. If the wait is more than 10 minutes, see if you can grab a FastPass).
Not Recommended:
Turtle Talk With Crush (this is a timed attraction. FastPass doesn’t get you in any faster).
Journey Into Your Imagination (this is a walk-on ride. You’ll almost never encounter a wait here).
Pixar Short Film Festival (same reason as Turtle Talk).
Mission: Space Green (again, there is almost never a wait).

Fastpass

Hollywood Studios 29 Birthday

Hollywood Studios
FastPass is simple and straightforward here. You can choose one ride in Toy Story Land and 2 in the rest of the park which is a welcome change. In years past I agonized over having to choose between Toy Story Midway Mania and Rocking Roller Coaster. Not so anymore!
Tier 1-
Book in Advance :
The hot commodity right now is Slinky Dog Dash, and (at least until Star Wars: Galaxies Edge opens) that is why I would recommend as your Tier 1 pick. Slinky Dog Dash is a family-friendly coaster that delivers a moderate level thrill. To put it in more tangible terms- Splash Mountain was too much for my 3-year-old but he loved Slinky Dig Dash). If that isn’t your cup of tea a great alternate choice is Alien Swirling Saucers.
Not Recommended:
I don’t recommend Toy Story Midway Mania anymore for two simple reasons: 1. the queue here really adds to the storyline of the ride and 2. it is the only air-conditioned queue in Toy Story Land.
Tier 2
Book in Advance:
Rockin Roller Coaster (if you plan to ride I strongly recommend a FastPass here. The ride is fantastic- one of my favorites and waits often exceed an hour. There is a single rider option here but it is notoriously slow. In fact, we timed it and found the single rider line actually went slower here than the standby line!)
Tower of Terror ( highly popular and there is no single rider option available. Though this one can be a bit scary and given the relatively low height requirement, you may want to consider how your travel companions will fare in almost pitch black settings before booking).
Fantasmic (a solid choice – only if – thrill rides aren’t your thing or your traveling companions don’t meet height requirements. While it offers no real time-saving advantage, you do get a better seat and you don’t have to arrive nearly as early for the seat).
Grab the Day-of:
Star Tours (another favorite attraction in our house but same-day passes are typically readily available).
Not Recommended:
Frozen Sing-Along CelebrationThe Voyage of the Little Mermaid,Disney Jr Dance Party (opening December 22, 2018), Muppet Vision 3D & Beauty Beast-Live on Stage (In addition to no time-saving advantage due to being a theater based attraction, neither of these shows have special seating areas for FastPass so we personally do not see the advantage)

Fastpadd

5 Spots Animal Kingdom

The Animal Kingdom-
When Pandora-The World of Avatar opened, Animal Kingdom was added to the list of parks with a Tier system. Just like at Hollywood Studios, the new and is all Tier 1 while everything else is Tier 2. This makes it much easier than Epcot to narrow down!
Tier 1-
Book in Advance:
Flights of Passage (I don’t like to speak in absolute’s but I feel confident Flights of Passage will never have same day FastPasses. They are unicorns, so if you do find one grab it, and brag about it.)
If you get motion sick, have little ones with you, or do not like the feeling of being restrained skip Flights of Passage and opt for Na’vi River Journey instead.
Tier 2-
Kilimanjaro Safari (while same-day FastPasses are often available here, this is a quintessential ride at Animal Kingdom so pre-book your FastPass to make sure you’ll have one).
Meet Disney Pals (if you skipped Mickey at Epcot, this is a great chance to meet him- and he and Minnie are all dressed up in his Safari gear! How cute is that?!)
Kali River Rapids (this ride has waits that go beyond what I’m willing to stand by for most of the time and I have never had luck finding a same-day FastPass for this one.

Grab the Day- of:

Exhibition Everest (I actually love the queue here but it is such a favorite that we ride it more than once usually so that FastPass comes in handy. They can USUALLY be found on the day of, but if this ride is a priority for you, you may consider pre-booking it).

Dinosaur (while I love this ride, I’ve never had trouble finding a FastPass on the day-of. Also, if you do not opt to try to Rope Drop either of the Pandora rides, this is an excellent choice first thing in the morning)
Primeval Whirl (this one is sort of a sleeper on the list. It’s fun but never makes anyone “favorites” list but it can attract a bit of a crowd)
Not Recommended:
It’s Tough to Be a Bug, The Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo the Musical & Rivers of Light (Shows and theater based attractions just never amount to a good use of a FastPass to me. There is no time savings and usually no reserved seating so it really just seems like a waste in my book).

Fastpass

Some Final Advice:
You’ll notice I’ve got more than three suggestions for book ahead in most parks. It’s impossible to simply say “book this, this, and this” because what you choose ultimately depends on many different factors- heights, ride preferences, and propensity for motion sickness being chief among them. You’ll want to tailor your reservations to what works best for you and your travel party. The screenshots I’ve included are my actual FastPass reservations for an upcoming trip, tailored to a mother/toddler trip. Since no other adult will be with us, we are skipping the rides he doesn’t meet height requirements for making this trip (and subsequently the FastPasses I booked) very different from my last trip in September. Hopefully, you now feel prepared to make your FastPass reservations with confidence! The planning is part of the fun!





Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins is a lifelong Disney fan and mom to a precocious three year old son. Her first visit to Walt Disney World was in 1987 (when she was two) and she has made well over a dozen trips since. When Jill isn't at Disney, she's eitherplanning her next trip or scheming up ways to convince her husband to agree to go to Disney.

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