The Beauty of FastPass+

If you’re a frequent Disney World visitor or follower, you know exactly what FastPass+ is and all of the benefits associated with it. However, I’m still mind blown by the amount of people who still don’t know FastPass+ exists OR how to use it to the best of their ability. FastPass+ is a tool that can make your vacation that much more perfect by avoiding some of those unnecessary long lines we all know and (don’t) love. Below are my favorite tips and tricks to make FastPass+ your best friend on your next Disney World vacation.

First and foremost, it’s important to know how FastPass works and when you’re able to book yours. FastPass is a way for you to schedule a time to ride a certain ride at a park, check in during your scheduled time, and skip the majority of the long line rather than wait in stand by. You are able to book up to 3 FastPasses at one park per day you have a ticket for. Whether you’re setting aside one park per day or park hopping your way around Disney World, it’s important to remember that you CANNOT combine your 3 rides into different parks to begin with. My first bit of advice for you is to schedule your FastPasses at the park that you are starting your day at.

How far in advance are you able to book FastPasses? If you’re staying on Disney World property, you will be able to book your FastPasses 60 days before the first night of your trip. If you are not staying on Disney World property, you will be able to book your FastPasses 30 days before. I have heard rumors that certain Deluxe hotels have offered 90 days in advance for staying at Club Level, but I have not personally done so to comment on that. Comment below if you have! On the day of your FastPass booking, you will be allowed to book at 7:00 AM EST (Disney World time) so make sure you know how that time converts to your own time zone!

Planning 101: You should start planning your FastPasses as soon as you land on which parks you plan to visit which days of your trip. It doesn’t ever hurt to start planning sooner rather than later. The only way it might affect you is getting you really excited and then having to wait another month before you can even start your booking (aka if you’re me.) Once you’ve settled on the parks you plan to visit each day, go ahead and start planning out your FastPass choices per day. Like I said before, I would recommend booking at the park you are going to start your day at. Even if you are only spending half a day at a park, book there. Why? Well, once you have used your 3 pre-booked FastPasses for the day, you can move on a book one at a time for the rest of the day at ANY park. For example, if you are splitting a day between Hollywood Studios in the morning and Epcot in the evening, book your 3 FastPasses for Hollywood Studios. Once you’ve used those 3, you can book a 4th for a ride at Epcot that evening. Once you use your 4th, you can book a 5th, and so on and so forth.

In your planning process, try not to worry about booking any FastPasses until at least 1.5 hours after the park opens. This first 1.5 hours the park is open will be a lot lighter as far as crowds and lines go. Don’t waste your “skip the line” pass when there is hardly any line to skip! However, keep in mind the 3 FastPass rules as well. While you shouldn’t book super early in the morning, don’t wait to have your first FastPass start in the afternoon. If you do that, you won’t be able to book your 4th FastPass until the evening, and you will have much less to choose from. Keep in mind that when booking a FastPass, it will always give you a one hour “window” rather that a specific time. Since this is the case, you will not be able to schedule FastPasses any less than one hour apart.

My advice here? Plan to have your first FastPass about 1.5-2 hours before park opening. Then, schedule each of the following FastPasses immediately after the others window ends. For example, if you have Space Mountain at 10:45, plan to book Peter Pan at 11:45 and Jungle Cruise at 12:45. Come 12:45, you will be done with your 3 FastPasses and able to book one at a time from there. Throughout your planning, as well, keep in mind the layout of the park. In the above example, we started in Tomorrowland, followed the map around to Fantasy Land then went to the other side of the park to Adventure Land. This is a lot smoother of a plan than if we has flipped Peter Pan and Jungle Cruise. We would have to start in Tomorrowland, hike to the other side of the park to Adventure Land, then come back to the Fantasy Land side of the park. This won’t always work out perfectly, because it will depend on what is available and at what times, but having it planned and prepared beforehand is key.

FastPass at each park is a little bit different. At Magic Kindgom, you can choose any 3 attractions and plan to book those. Magic Kingdom has the easiest system because it is the park with the most attractions, and people’s preferences will absolutely vary depending on your parties age range and interests. Each of the other three parks now has a tiered FastPass system. Animal Kingdom is the most straightforward of them all. The Avatar rides are tier 1 and the rest of the rides at tier 2. You can only pick one Tier 1 FastPass and the other two will be tier 2. So, basically, you’re picking one Avatar ride and two of anything else. Or, of course, if you’re not interested, you can pick all three as tier 2. The same will go for the other two parks as well. At Epcot, the tier 1 attractions are Frozen Ever After, Test Track, and Soarin’. The rest of the rides are considered tier 2. The same booking applies as Animal Kingdom. Hollywood Studios is the most recent change and, let me tell you, it’s a killer. Tier 1 attractions are all of the Toy Story Land rides, Rock n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Tier 2 is Star Tours and all of the other shows. Therefore, you can only book one of the rides between Toy Story, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror and two of the other options. This is all important to keep in mind, and an extra reason why you should really plan out your strategy.

Now you’re at the morning of booking. You login to My Disney Experience at 7:00 AM Disney World time and you’re ready to go. Do not be alarmed if some of the more popular attractions are no longer available when you book. Even at 60 days out, we could not find FastPasses for Slinky Dog Dash or Flight of Passage. Also be warned that there are a lot of people booking FastPasses at the same time as you. We logged on before 6:00 AM (cst) and refreshed the page every minute as we got closer to 6:00 AM. Even being that diligent, we were frozen on the loading screen for a good 10 minutes before we were able to get on to book our FastPasses. That’s going to happen, but you just can’t let it ruin your planning process. There are still ways to snag those holy grail FastPasses, and I’ll go over that later.

Start with the most difficult rides first. My list of the rides to book ASAP goes as follows: Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog, Seven Dwarfs. After that, most rides should be pretty attainable. Start with your tier 1 attractions first. Most, if not all, of your tier 2 should be really easy to snag. This is why it’s important to not just go in order of your trip when it comes to booking. Get those difficult, tier 1 attractions done first and then go back to book the rest. Prepare yourself to have it not go perfectly. I can almost guarantee you will not find every single ride you want at the exact time you want it, but going in with a plan, with backup options, and with the general knowledge you’ll gain from planning will greatly help you when you have to make changes.

Now, your FastPasses are booked, your pretty happy, but there’s just one ride you really wish you would’ve gotten. Don’t be alarmed! If you booked 60 days out, here’s a little tip for you. Check the FastPass availability every day, but especially around the 30-35 days out mark. 30 days in advance is the last time people are able to cancel or change their vacation without financial penalty. That being said, you may have families canceling last minute or changing last minute, and those FastPasses will become available to the public! Also, I can’t guarantee that this is true, but a little part of me believes that Disney may hold out some FastPass times for those super popular rides to release around the 30 day out mark for those 30 day in advance people. I may just be speculating, but I have read a lot of posts and blogs who say that they’re still able to snag Slinky Dog or Flight of Passage at 30 days out, even when it was completely booked up after 10 minutes on our 60 days out day. Anyway, just keep a close eye on this as much as you can! About 30 days before our trip in January, I found a FastPass for Flight of Passage at the EXACT time we had already booked for Navi River Journey. It was super easy to just make the switch to Flight of Passage online.

You’re there. You’ve officially arrived in Disney World for your vacation. Day one, you’re hitting Hollywood Studios. You just scanned your magic band for your third FastPass of the day. Get out your phone! If there is any sort of line that you have to wait in before you ride your FastPass ride or watch your FastPass show, get to booking that fourth FastPass! If there is anything available in a nearby time slot for a ride you’re interested in, go ahead and book it. The sooner you book, the more likely you are to have some options. It may seem silly, but even waiting until you’re off the ride or the show ends could limit the available options. While I’m not a super big fan of the tiered FastPass system, I will say it seems to be doing it’s job, especially at Hollywood Studios. I’m a frequent checker of the “available FastPass+” tab on my TouringPlans app. Today, September 23 at 11:45 am Disney time, Hollywood Studios has quite a few FastPasses available for Alien Swirling Saucers, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and more! With the former tiered system, I can tell you there were not this many day of FastPasses available. Forcing people to choose one options between Slinky Dog, Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Roller Coaster does leave a lot of time slots available day of.

FastPass+ involves a decent amount of planning, being prepared for disappointment, and some getting used to. But I’m not kidding when I say that it can and will become your best friend if you use it properly. It still amazes me that people are either unaware or unsure of the FastPass process. As much as it would benefit me not to share my tips and tricks with you all (and leave more FastPasses for myself) I wouldn’t feel right not sharing it with others. Get that FastPass+ planning started!

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