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 brand-new, 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!
Update on concerning Magic Kingdom hub construction near Cinderella Castle:
Starting Jan. 12, 2015, the FastPass+ viewing location for Magic Kingdom parades was relocated from the Central Plaza Viewing Area to the Town Square Viewing Area, near the flagpole, for both day-time and night-time parades. Starting Feb. 27, 2015, the viewing location for Magic Kingdom fireworks was relocated to the Main Street Plaza Gardens, adjacent to Casey's Corner and the Plaza Restaurant. Guests with FastPass+ reservations can choose either side, based on availability.
This question has come up a few times in our discussions of MyMagic+ and FastPass+. Today, we wanted to spend some time addressing whether it makes sense to use a coveted FastPass+ for fireworks and shows.
The very best answer I can give is that it is truly up to you and should be based on what is a priority for you and your family. If IllumiNations is one of your favorite fireworks shows and you don't want to worry about having to find a good spot in advance, then it might make sense to select it for one of your FastPass+ reservations. There are still others of you who wouldn't dream of giving up your Tier 1 FastPass+ selection to IllumiNations when you could be using it for Soarin' or TestTrack. For those of you who are headed to the Walt Disney World Resort for the first time, it's important to know that not having a FastPass+ reservation won't prevent you from seeing a parade or show, you just will have to arrive early to get a good viewing location. It's also good to know that there are multiple viewing areas for fireworks and parades (Fantasmic! being the exception). The bottom line is that it all depends on you and your family.
All that said, we wanted to spend some time today discussing the different scenarios for when it makes sense to use FastPass+ for fireworks and parades and when it doesn't, so you can make a good decision for your family. Plus, we wanted to outline where each of the viewing locations are located in the park.
Factors to consider before you use FastPass+ for fireworks or parades:
- How crowded are the parks? This is a primary consideration because during the busiest times, you may find you get more benefit from using your FastPass+ selections on top attractions, such as Peter Pan's Flight in Magic Kingdom or Soarin' in Epcot, which can see wait times in excess of 2 hours. That said, there are bigger crowds to contend with for fireworks shows and parades during busier times (although guests will find the second showing of Main Street Electrical Parade and Fantasmic! to be much less crowded than the first).
- What time of day are you touring? If you follow our advice and tour in the morning hours when crowds are at their lowest and then take a break in the afternoon when crowds are at their highest, you might not need FastPass+ until the evening anyway. So using FastPass+ for fireworks and parades makes more sense.
- Do you want the option of getting extra FastPasses? Guests can obtain additional FastPasses in the parks via kiosks after they have used their first three. If you want to obtain more than the three advance reservations, then we recommend not booking fireworks and parades. The exception to this is Disney Festival of Fantasy, which is a daytime parade.
- Are you park hopping? If you are, we suggest making your FastPass+ reservations for the second park. Depending on your arrival time in the afternoon or evening, or if you are park hopping just to experience the fireworks in a particular park, using the FP+ reservations for fireworks or parades makes more sense.
- How many days will you spend at each theme park? If you are spending two or more days in a park, especially Magic Kingdom, then we think it makes sense to use FastPass+ for fireworks and parades at least one day.
How do you get FastPass+ for Fireworks Shows and Parades:
Originally these would only appear as FastPass+ options a few days before your arrival. Now they are available a full 60 days in advance. We definitely recommend making these reservations as earlier as possible if they are a priority, because there is very limited availability for these viewing locations.
Here are recommendations for using FastPass+ Fireworks Shows and Parades (plus locations):
- Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade - Central Plaza Viewing Area. The location is a crescent at the top of the hub in front of Cinderella Castle. It is a great spot for viewing the parade, with plenty of room to sit and stretch out. Is it worth it for Disney Festival of Fantasy parade? In our opinion, there are plenty of good viewing areas along the parade route that you can find a half hour or so early. That said, there is peace of mind in knowing that you've got a guaranteed excellent viewing location and you don't have to get in place too early to have a front-row view of the parade. You'll have to weigh it against the numerous other FP+ options in Magic Kingdom.
- Main Street Electrical Parade - Central Plaza Viewing Area. This is the same location as the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade and our feelings about it are generally the same: You get a great viewing location that isn't too crowded. All of the above information holds true, just know that once the parade ends, there is massive congestion in this area as people scramble to get in place for Celebrate the Magic and Wishes.
- Wishes nighttime spectacular - Main Street Plaza Gardens Area. The location is in front of Casey's Corner or in front of The Plaza Restaurant. Both sides look to offer great views of the castle, slightly to either side. With few trees in the gardens, guests utilizing these FastPass+ areas will be getting a very good view with much fewer heads and children on shoulders blocking their view. The Plaza side, like the Rose Garden, will experience Tinker Bell flying directly overhead, while the Casey’s side will have a better view of her entire flight. Based on availability, guests with FastPass+ reservations will have the option to choose either side.the rose garden southeast of the castle with the entrance just before the bridge to Tomorrowland.
- IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth - World Showcase Plaza Viewing Area. The location is between the tower gifts shops at World Showcase. This is a prime viewing spot for IllumiNations, making it a good choice for FastPass+ if you plan to ride Soarin' first thing in the morning. If you'll be traveling with children under 40 inches at Epcot, then using FastPass+ for IllumiNations makes sense since your party won't meet the minimum height requirement Soarin'. (We recommend Soarin' over Test Track because the latter has a single-rider line that is even shorter than FP+.) Keep in mind that there are many, many good viewing locations around World Showcase, and you should be able to find one about 20-30 minutes in advance of the show.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Fantasmic! - Reserved Seating Area. The FP+ seating area for Fantasmic! is a section of the seating just left of center of the stage, extending all the way down to the front row. You still have to arrive early to get a really good seat, just not as early as you would without the FP+. With the tiered FastPass+ structure in place at Disney's Hollywood Studios, we overall would not recommend Fantasmic! over Toy Story Midway Mania! since the latter sees 120+ minute waits every day of the year. You might consider Fantasmic! if you are at Disney's Hollywood Studios before opening and ride Midway Mania first thing OR you don't want to ride Midway Mania. (Because Rock 'n' Roller Coaster has a single rider line, we don't recommend using FP+ for this attraction.) During the very busiest times of year, it might be worth it to FP+ Fantasmic, but generally the second showing is much less crowded than the first.
As I mentioned at the start whether you use FastPass+ for fireworks and parades is really a personal choice based on your priorities. Now it's your turn. I know many of you have already experienced the FP+ viewing locations, and I'd really like to hear what fireworks shows and parades you used FP+ for and whether you thought it was worth it.
Related: Disney World FastPass+ Tips and Touring Plan Strategies
Related: How To Use FastPass+ at Disney World in the Parks – Step By Step