March 18, 2014

Disney Recap: What is FastPass+ and How to Use It

Ten years ago, for our last visit to Disneyworld, we made use of Disney’s FastPass system. FastPass was an inability to skipped long waits in line. You would receive a FastPass for your ride of choice (rides considered major headliners and headliners) and you’d be given a return time allowing you to continue to tour the park until your printed wait time. Once your return window was active, you went back to the ride and rode with very minimal waiting. It was a nice system, but as with all things, technology and times changed and Disney made some upgrades to their system resulting in the new FastPass+ system.

FastPass+ operates a little differently than traditional FastPass. It still allows you to skip the wait and return at a stated time. The difference now, is that you can make your reservations in advance (and, really, you must make it in advance) and that FastPass+ is currently limited to three per person, per day. If you were a frequent visitor and made good use of FastPass, FastPass+ might seem like a bit of a drag to you, but if you’re new to the idea of the system, you may like it. Here’s my tips for what FastPass+ to choose for each park to maximize your touring and which ones wouldn’t be a good use of your limited FastPass+.

We did not tour Animal Kingdom, so I don’t have any recommendations for that park. Maybe next time.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) features the most rides for thrill seekers at the four Orlando parks. This isn’t really saying much as thrill rides, up to this point, hasn’t been what Disney does. If you’re a thrill seeker and would be disappointed to not have extreme coasters and the like, a full Disney trip probably wouldn’t make you very happy.

DHS is one of two of Disney’s Orlando parks that featuring FastPass+ tiering. This means, selecting one item from a list of “major headliners” and two more from other more minor attractions. Of course, this can be a difficult decision because of course you want to pick all the best rides.

My Three FastPass+ Suggestions for a Mixed Age Crowd
Toy Story Midway Mania-Lines for this attractions rarely fall under the 1 hour mark, even during slow times. It’s a slow loading ride, which means less people can funnel through in an hour. I pick this one over Rock’n’Roller Coaster (a true thrill ride) for two reasons. First, if you pay attention to your My Disney Experience app, lines for Rock’n’Roller coaster usually become acceptable (around the 30 minute mark) at points throughout the day and second, if you’re touring with mixed ages and heights, like we were, all of your group will be able to ride and most of your group should enjoy it. Rock’n’Roller coaster is a height restricted ride.

Tower of Terror- Yes, Tower of Terror is a height restricted ride, too. But, it’s also another headlining ride (and, really, easy to spot as your near DHS. It towers over the entire park!) Wait times stay fairly high over the course of a day (between 40 minutes and an hour on average days). If your Big Kid has been patiently meeting characters and sitting through the Playhouse Disney show, making a Tower of Terror FastPass will throw him or her a bone. If you don’t want a parent to wait along with smaller/frightened children, you could opt to make a FastPass+ selection for the other members of your group.

Disney Junior Live on Stage  I’m not entirely sure a FastPass+ is needed to actually get into this show.  We walked up and in within 10 minutes of showtime and had no problem entering.  However, priority/better seating is likely given to people holding FastPass+.  We were happy with side of the stage seats which were about 1/3 of the way back, but if being in the center is important to you, FastPass+ this attraction.


What Not to Waste a FastPass+ on at DHS

The Great Movie Ride.  Fast loading and lines stay reasonably short.  Add to the fact that I think this ride is a must skip instead of a must do, I wouldn’t recommend wasting a FastPass+ slot on this ride.

Muppet Vision 3-D This is a must-do attraction, in my opinion, especially if you have Muppet fans, but like similar rides throughout the park, seating capacity is high and you probably won’t ever have to wait more than 20 minutes to ride except at very busy times.

What About Fantasmic!?

Fantasmic is DHS’ nighttime show.  Mickey battles evil, you get to see tons of characaters (including some lesser featured ones like John Smith and Pochahontas).  You can use a FastPass+ for this show, but my understanding is that there are no reserved seats and while you do get priority to enter the theater, you’re on your own for seating. On busy times when Fantastmic! is only shown once, you may need to arrive more than an hour in advance to secure a good spot.  If good seats for Fantasmic! is a must-do for you, I’d encourage you to spring for the Fantasmic! dining package.  Three DHS restaurants offer tickets in exchange for eating with them at certain times.  And, hey!  You had to eat anyhow, right?  Tickets for the Fantasmic! dining package offer you center seating and don’t require you to arrive at the theater so early.  I think we checked in around 30 minutes prior.  By the time we hiked up into the theater (it is a long, uphill walk) and found seats, we didn’t have too long to wait for the show.


The thing everyone wants a FastPass+ for the most at EPCOT doesn’t exist.  Yes, folks, Elsa and Anna appear in Norway, just across from the Akershus restuarant.  Wait times as long as FIVE HOURS have been reported as devotees line up to meet their new favorite ladies.  There is the hope that now that Elsa and Anna are appearing in the new Festival of Fantasy parade at the Magic Kingdom that demand my die down a little, but I’mdoubtful as there was a 90 minute wait to meet Merida during our Magic Kingdom days and, by some accounts, Merida isn’t even that popular.  It’s currently okay for one person to hold a group’s spot in line and then others may join them as their time to meet Elsa and Anna draws near.  In talking to a friend Cast Member, the Cast Member’s don’t LOVE this, but you won’t get out of line or anything.  Your fellow park goers are probably doing the same thing.  The best tip I can give you, if you don’t have an early reservation at Akershus (we did) is to get to  Norway as quickly as possible after rope drop.  Do not enter through the International Gateway, but through the main entrance that opens earlier.  Send your fastest person.  I won’t tell you to run, but people are.

My Three FastPass+ suggestions for a Mixed Age Crowd

Soarin’  Littlebit’s favorite ride, Soarin’ gives you the sensation of flying over California.  EPCOT is another parked with tiered attraction and Soarin’ is a Tier One. Despite that fact that I didn’t like Soarin’ all that much, I think it’s a good use of your FastPass+.  Lines for Soarin’ rarely drop under an hour.  If you or anyone in your party is prone to motion sickness, Soarin’ may worth skipping.  I powdered through by closing my eyes in a few places.

Test Track, in my opinion, is a better ride, but as wait times dip down under 40 minutes throughout the day (check your app!), Soarin’ is the better use of your Tier 1 FastPass+


Most of the rest of EPCOT’s Tier 2 rides and attractions just don’t require FastPass+ to enjoy them.  Mission: Space tends to be the busiest of the bunch, but even on the busiest day, lines for the most intense orange track don’t top 40 minutes.  Turtle Talk with Crush would be good choice as the room is smaller and the wait may be slightly long for young kiddos.


What Not to Waste a FastPass+ on

Well, Maelstrom, I guess.  This is a Tier 1 attraction, but lines aren’t predicted to top 30 minutes even at the park’s busiest.

Nearly all of the other EPCOT attractions should have manageable lines even in the busy season.  Of course, your app will force you to make three FastPass+ selections, so pick what you want after you chose your Tier 1 ride.


Magic Kingdom

The problem with the Magic Kingdom is that there are way more than three “must ride” attractions.  If you only plan on having one day at the Magic Kingdom, you and your family will have to select carefully from what, in my opinion, are the best rides in the park. The Magic Kingdom has rides for everyone from thrill seekers, to little ones looking for gentle, character rides.  This is the big kahuna of your Disney Vacation


My Three FastPass+ Suggestions for a Mixed Age Crowd

Peter Pan Peter Pan is a classic Disney ride.  It’s timeless, it’s beautiful, it’s slow loading and the waits are long.  Even on the least busy days in a park (a level 0) wait times for Peter Pan are 40 minutes and up.  If you want to experience this ride and not wait all day, a FastPass+ is a must.

Enchanted Tales with Belle If your party is all boys with no interest in having an awesome interaction with Belle, you could skip this, but for the rest of us, this is a must do.  This ride “sells out” of FastPass+, so you should book your experience as soon as possible.  It’s really worth it, from the themeing of the waiting areas to the interaction with Belle.  One of my absolute favorites of the trip.

Elsa and Anna at Fairytale Hall This was not an option on our trip, but I highly suspect that FastPass+ to meet this duo will sell out as well and the wait times will be huge.  If you have a Frozen fan who must meet the sisters, this FastPass+ is a must do.


Alternate suggestion if you don’t care to meet Princesses

The mountain of your choice or the Seven Drawfs Mine Train, a new attraction that i’ve not experienced that will be opening soon and will boast long lines, for sure.  Of the mountain rides,  Space Mountain seems to have the longest waits overall, but consider your family’s needs and pick what sounds the best.  Since we spent 3 days at the Magic Kingdom, we had a FastPass+ for both Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain.


What Not to Waste a FastPass+ on

It’s a Small World This ride is high capacity and fast loading.  I do think it’s a must ride, but you can find short waits by watching your app.  Since families make catching the evening entertainment a priority, you can ride these rides with little wait in the evening when Fantasyland drains onto Main Street to see the parade and fireworks.

Mickey’s Philharmagic  Please don’t think I don’t love this attraction.  I do. It’s an absolute favorite, but it holds a large capacity and waits will never be very long.


Tied Up 4 Replies to “Disney Recap: What is FastPass+ and How to Use It”


4 thoughts on “Disney Recap: What is FastPass+ and How to Use It

    Author’s gravatar

    This is very helpful, thank you. We go to WDW every year – year and a half, but when we were there last August, they were just testing this system in a few hotels (not ours). I just booked (I wait to get a PIN), and we are headed back again this summer! I was somewhat intimidated by such a major change, but I think I get the process now.

    Our FastPasses will be for different things, given our lack of household princesses, haha, but one question: did you make your reservations for FastPasses way ahead of time? Or did you wait until closer to your trip? And a follow-up if you waited: did you find some rides “booked”? and so hard to get good times for them?

    Glad y’all had so much fun! We adore Disney.

      Author’s gravatar

      You can make your selections 60 days in advance. I had a good idea what I wanted to use FastPass+ for, so I went ahead. 60
      Days +10 is available to resort guests at this time. From what I’m currently reading, Annual Passholders are coming on-line at 30 days out. Day guests can’t book in advance, yet, so you have that advantage. Staying in a Disney resort is a big advantage right now based simply on not having to waste time in the FastPass+ kiosk lines!

      Whether I think you’ll have a problem getting a FastPass+ within a few days or the day before/ day of your visit depends. If you hope to ride the new Mine Train ride or see Elsa and Anna, I’d book those at your 60 days +10. I think they will “gray out” early due to demand. I was going to arrange another FastPass+ for Enchanted Tales with Belle for our last day (a Friday). It was “grayed out” the night before. However, I was able to get one for Space Mountain the night before with no issues.

      I think as the system stands now, you shouldn’t have problems getting a FastPass+ during the day for “minor” attractions. Mission: Space, for example, or Space Ranger Spin. But headliner attractions, the Mountains, Toy Story Midway Mania, Soarin’, Test Track, will have limited day of availability especially if you’re visiting in a busy season. Rides where traditional FastPass would sell out, will still sell out.

      Hope that helps. I’m jealous!

    Author’s gravatar

    That is so helpful, thank you.

    Yeah, since we have no family left, we visit “Uncle Mickey” pretty often. It’s also a relatively easy drive for us — about 11 hours.

    I wish we didn’t have to pick so far in advance. We like to wake up in the morning and decide which park we feel like, and all this preplanning will put a bit of a damper on our spontaneity.

      Author’s gravatar

      I’d probably schedule in the major headliners, particularly the Mine Train, if you’re interested, but I do think unless it’s super busy that you should be able to just schedule in the morning.

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