Editor’s Note: We frogs loving nothing more than helping you all have the very best theme park vacation, so we're very excited to introduce our downloadable Guide to FastPass+. We've written extensively on this topic, and we've taken all of that advice and boiled it down into one easy-to-read, take-it-with-you-anywhere format. The Frog Family Guide to FastPass+ covers all of the basics, including instructions for making reservations, FastPass+ priorities by park, kiosk locations and our very best tips!
For those of you planning your first trip to Disney World or your first trip since the new FastPass+ system has full gone into effect, we wanted to share some FastPass+ tips and strategies before you hit the parks. FastPass+ has some definite advantages over the legacy FastPass system. Chief among them is not having to trudge across the park to collect your FastPasses! But for those of you used to collecting more than three FastPasses a day, the new system may prove to be more challenging.
Before we get into the FastPass+ tips and touring plan strategies, we recommend you read our Guide to FastPass+ as it outlines the ins and outs of the system and includes frequently asked questions.
As a reminder, guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can make FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance of check-in for their entire length of stay, while guests staying offsite can make reservations up to 30 days in advance of each day of their theme park visit. The system works by having guests select three preferences from a list of attractions and entertainment options per day. After you make your selections, you are given a choice of hour-long blocks of time to experience those attractions. For those of you who haven't yet experienced FastPass+, check out our step-by-step guide for using the in-park kiosks.
It hasn't changed all that much with the integration of FastPass+, but one thing that is very important: You should use FastPass+ no matter how empty you think the parks will be when you visit. (The parks are never empty.) You will still see the very lowest waits of the day in the first few hours of the day when the park opens. We recommend riding the highest priority attractions with the lowest durations when crowds are lowest and saving FastPass+ until late morning and early afternoon when crowds are at their peak. If you arrive before park opening, you'll be in prime position to ride most of the major attractions before lunch time and maybe have used one of your FastPasses. We'll discuss this more below, but once you've used your three pre-booked selections, you have the option to obtain a fourth FastPass+ reservation from the in-park kiosks. We highly recommend taking advantage of this for rides that see medium waits (most of the high-wait rides will not have availability the day of).
For families with younger children, it may make more sense to split your FastPass+ times with one or two in the morning and then the remaining in the evenings. This allows you to take a break in the afternoon, go back to the hotel for a nap or a swim, and then come back to the park for a few more rides, the parade and fireworks.
Use FastPass+ as part of your general touring plan strategy just not your entire strategy.
Attention, park hoppers! You'll need to pick a park for your advance FastPass+ reservations.
You can only make advance FastPass+ reservations in one park per day. So if you’re planning on starting the day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and hopping over to Magic Kingdom in the afternoon, know that you can only make advance FastPass+ reservations at one park. We recommend you use FastPass+ at the second park you’re headed to since you're more than likely starting at the first one when crowd levels are at their lowest.
Make use of extra FastPass+ reservations after you have used your first three.
All park-goers have the option of obtaining additional FastPasses. Once you've used your first three (or the reservation windows have passed), you can visit an in-park kiosk and make an additional reservation for that park only. After you use that reservation, you are free to make another. The selections don't have to be in the park that you made your first reservations in, which makes it good for park hoppers, and it doesn't matter if you've already made a FastPass+ reservation for that ride. While this is still a good way to save time, you will want to make your first three reservations your highest priority attractions. Often FastPass+ availability for these popular attractions will be gone or limited for day-of reservations.
Once you've made an additional FastPass+ reservation from the kiosk, you can modify that reservation, including changing the time or replacing the attraction with something else, via the app. Not everyone in the party must be present to add the FP+ selection, but the person making the reservation does need all of the tickets or MagicBands at the kiosk in order to load the selection onto the guests' media. If you are park hopping, you can only book Fastpass+ selections at the kiosk for the park you are currently in. So, if you are at Disney's Hollywood Studios and have used all three of your FP+ allotments, and are now hopping over to Magic Kingdom and want an additional selection, you must go to a kiosk at Magic Kingdom. Your reservation cannot be made at Disney's Hollywood Studios for a different park.
Choose your FastPass+ selections wisely
Disney more than doubled the number of attractions that accept FastPass+ over the previous FastPass system. We're all in favor of more choices, but all attractions aren't created equally. You want to make sure you use your FastPass+ selections on your favorite rides and those priority attractions with the longest wait times. To help you out, we made a list of priority attractions by park.
Here are the Top 3 FastPass+ priorities by park
Magic Kingdom Park
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Want to see the full list? Check out our Touring Plans page. It also lists the suggested sequence of lands or areas to visit by park. Each of these is among the most popular attractions within the park that see the highest wait times. In some of the parks, it's an easier decision because of the abundance of high-priority attractions. At Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s a more difficult decision, which brings me to my next point.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again
If you see that distribution has ended for one of your chosen attractions such as Elsa and Anna at Princess Fairytale Hall or Toy Story Mania!, you should keep trying. Go ahead and book three choices, but periodically leading up to your visit, attempt to modify your reservations with the really in-demand attractions. Another trick is to try to obtain the in-demand reservation for just one party member, and then copy over your selections to your other party members.
Mind the tier system at Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios
Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios have a tiered structure in place for FastPass+ selections. You can make only one selection from the Tier 1 list of attractions and two selections from the Tier 2 list. The Tier 1 attractions include your main headliners, those attractions that you not want to miss. Not uncoincidentally, these are the same attractions with the longest waits.
Epcot Tier 1 Attractions and Entertainment
Disney's Hollywood Studios Tier 1 Attractions and Entertainment
We've bolded what we think are the best choices from the Tier 1 lists.
We chose Soarin' because we know that if we hit Epcot at park opening, we can ride Test Track with a short wait and experience the full pre-show. Tad loves to design his own concept car, and for first-timers it's really part of the full Test Track experience. We can continue to visit the other Future World attractions in the morning and then either schedule Soarin’ for the late morning before heading to World Showcase or later in the afternoon after spending time in World Showcase.
Those of you who have lined up outside of Disney's Hollywood Studios for park opening and made the (very fast) walk to Pixar Place so you could grab one of the first FastPasses for Toy Story Midway Mania! can now rest a little easier. Thanks to FastPass+, you can make this your Tier 1 selection and select a reasonable time to ride. That's what we would do. But we'd still arrive at park opening, hop over to Toy Story Midway Mania! and ride it first thing as well. If lines aren't too long, we might even ride a second time. Then we'd head to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. But that's just what we would do.
Choose the rides that are important to YOU and YOUR FAMILY
If you're traveling with young children who aren’t 40 inches tall, character experiences might be your priority or some of the family friendly Disney classics that don't necessarily have the highest wait times. Maybe you really love the parades and shows and would rather be guaranteed entry to them without waiting to get a seat or a dedicated viewing location. It's really up to you. Decide what works best for your family.
Use FastPass+ in combination with child swap
If you'll have a little one with you who isn't tall enough for all the rides, you can do a child swap so that no one has to miss out. The benefit of this too is that only your first party riders would need FastPass+. Let's say you're a party of four and three of you want to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Your youngest child can't or doesn't want to ride. You would all go to the FastPass+ entrance and tell the cast member you want to do a child swap. Your husband and older child would use their FastPass to ride while you waited with your youngest. You would get a child swap pass, and you could wait for your husband and then ride along with your older child again while he waited. Or you could come back with your pass later and ride. The child swap pass is good for up to three people.
Using FastPass+ for parades and fireworks
We've devoted a whole post to the topic. Again, we think this is largely a personal choice about what's important to you, but there are some important factors to consider.
Book FastPass+ reservations early
Resort guests have the ability to book up to 60 days in advance, while non-resort guests can book up to 30 days in advance. We recommend booking as soon as your window opens, so that you can secure a reservation for the most in-demand attractions.
Don't wait in line for a FastPass+ kiosk if you can help it
Generally at the beginning of the day, the kiosks closest to the park entrances can get quite crowded, while those toward the back of the park sit empty. Alternately, later in the day, the kiosks in the back of the park may be more crowded than those toward the entrances. Look for the signs or ask a cast member for a less-crowded location.
Whew! I know that was a ton of information. We hope that these FastPass+ tips will help you on your next trip! Have more questions about FastPass+? Have FastPass+ tips to share? Leave them in the comments.
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