We highly recommend everyone making a trip to Disney World use FastPass+. This service that allows guests to pre-book rides, shows and other experiences in the parks is key, especially during the busiest times of year. Used strategically, you and your family can save hours in line by getting FastPass+ reservations for the most popular rides. While we've got a whole post devoted to the basics of how FastPass+ works, today we're talking about using FastPass+ for shows at Disney World. More specifically, we are outlining the different scenarios for when it makes sense to use FastPass+ for IllumiNations, Rivers of Light and Fantasmic! and when it doesn't, so you can make a good decision for your family. Let's hop right in!
Using Fastpass+ for Shows at Disney World
While we generally don't think it's the best decision to use FastPass+ for shows, it always comes down to what is most important to you and your family. For example, if Rivers of Light is a must-see and you don't want to worry about whether you'll get a spot for the tadpoles after traipsing around the park, then it might make sense to select it for one of your FastPass+ reservations. 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 IllumiNations, while Fantasmic! has spots that are better than others. The bottom line is that it all depends on you and your family.
Factors to Consider Before Using FastPass+ at Disney World for Shows:
- How crowded are the parks? This is a primary consideration. During the busiest times, you may find you get more benefit from using your FastPass+ selections on top attractions, such as Soarin' in Epcot, which can see wait times in excess of 2 hours. That said, there are bigger crowds to contend with for nighttime shows during busier times.
- 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 IllumiNations and Fantasmic! 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 shows.
- 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 a show in a particular park, using the FP+ reservations for shows makes more sense.
- How many days will you spend at each theme park? If you are spending two or more days in a park, then we think it makes sense to use FastPass+ for shows at least one day.
How do you get FastPass+ for Shows at Disney World?
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+ for IllumiNations, Fantasmic! and Rivers of Light
- 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 new tiered FastPass+ structure in place at Disney's Hollywood Studios for Toy Story Land rides, using FastPass+ for Fantasmic! makes more sense, although our top picks for Tier 2 rides would be Tower of Terror, Star Tours and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. During the very busiest times of the year, it might be worth it to FP+ Fantasmic, but generally, there are two showings during these times, and the second showing is much less crowded than the first.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
- Rivers of Light - Reserved Seating Area. The FP+ seating area for Rivers of Light is the entire Asia section of the seating bowl. It's still a good idea to arrive early to get a really good seat, just not as early as you would without the FP+. Fastpass+ reservations for Rivers of Light have been going fast, so it's worth considering reserving a spot. However, with only three FP+ advance reservations available per day, and with the first show usually starting at 9:00 p.m., you're losing a lot of prime FP+ time. If there is a second showing, we recommend sitting in the standby section located in Dinoland U.S.A. and arriving 45 minutes before showtime. Another consideration is the Rivers of Light Dining Package, which gives you a reserved seat for the show and dinner at either Tusker House or Tiffin's.
Whether you use FastPass+ for shows is really a decision based on your priorities. Now it's your turn. For those of you who have already experienced the FP+ viewing locations, we'd like to hear what fireworks shows and parades you used FP+ for and whether you thought it was worth it.