FastPass like a Pro
More than once I’ve have been standing in the FastPass line for a ride and overheard the group in front of me be told that they are in the wrong line. That they don’t have a FastPass. GASP! This means the’ll be sent to the much longer stand by line. Having seen this happen again and again and again I’ve decided to write this in hopes of saving others from the terrible fate of long lines and waiting!
Whats a FastPass?
If you know this feel free to skip ahead, if not then please - gather round. Because this will change your world!
Walt Disney World offers FREE FastPasses to anyone who has purchased a Walt Disney World ticket! This is your ticket to skip the lines. That’s right, no waiting in lines for you and your kids! It’s an absolutely amazing perk that, if used right, can help you have the best day ever. Which leads to the important question of how, exactly, do you use them? First, you will need a login for your Disney account. If you don’t have one they’re easy to create. You can either download the My Disney Experience app for your mobile device (iOS / Android) or use the website here. I use both the app and site regularly, depending on convenience.
Ideally you want to set up your account online before you even leave for your vacation. Go to the site and, after you are all signed in, link your tickets to your account. Once linked, you will be able to access all of your information. The app will have your FastPass information, ride wait times, the ability to book or alter dining reservations, and your FastPasses. It even has a map that will help give you walking directions to the rides or nearest bathrooms! I cannot stress enough how valuable this app is for you. It is amazing. I have it on every device I own.
Booking a FastPass
So, once your account is setup you can start booking FastPasses for everyone in your group. Remember that anyone who is too young for a park ticket is also not going to need a FastPass, so don’t worry about the baby. When you sit down to book the FastPasses you will want to know which days you will be at which park. Disney only allows you to book FastPasses in advance for one park per day. This means that if you plan on Park Hopping, you will need to choose which one of the parks to book your FastPasses in advance for. I recommend the first park you’re going to because schedules matter!
You’re limited to three FastPasses at a time, per person. But, once all of them are used, you can book a new one every hour after. This means that you are going to want to book your FastPasses to be as early as possible. Because the sooner you finish the ones you have, the sooner you can book more. Remember, once you’ve gone through your initial three you can book a new one every hour. So, if you schedule your time wisely you can move from one FastPass line to another. Keeping the number of standby lines, which is just time entertaining your children in the heat, to a minimum. And you can use the downtime between FastPasses to eat, see the sights, use the restroom, or nap on the People Mover. The more FastPasses you can book, the less time you waste waiting in lines. So book early. Unless, of course, you can snag a Top Tier ride…
Yep, rides have Tiers! Each ride has a Tier it belongs to. For simplicity I usually call them Top Tier and Normal Tier. Top Tier rides are usually the ones that, without a FastPass, you will be stuck waiting a long time in the standby line to ride. So when booking your FastPasses you’ll want to prioritize these Top Tier rides, especially if you haven’t ridden them. There’s only a handful of them at each park:
Magic Kingdom (*): Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain
Epcot: Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, Test Track
Animal Kingdom: Avatar Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey
Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Mania!, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Alien Swirling Saucers, Slinky Dog Dash
Now Magic Kingdom has that giant asterisk (*) next to it because there aren’t, technically, ride Tiers at Magic Kingdom. Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom actually have official Tiers for their rides and limit you to book only 1 FastPass in advance for the Top Tier rides listed above. Magic Kingdom doesn’t. Moving on!
Choosing what to FastPass
When trying to snag one of these Top Tier rides you need to choose carefully. Unless you possess insane amounts of luck it is very unlikely you’ll be able to magic up FastPasses for all of them. Which means prioritizing off of line wait times. The goal is to spend the least amount of time waiting in line. So if forced to choose between two, go for the one that’s underlined above. Those are the rides with the longest wait times, which usually means they’re the hardest to snag. Luckily, if you’re staying on property you get a head start over us locals. You can select FastPasses 60 days before your ticket date. Otherwise it’s 30 days. That extra time gives you a huge advantage when snatching FastPasses for Top Tier rides. Just be sure to book them as quickly as possible, even at 60 days out they can still disappear fast.
If you end up unable to book a FastPass you want you still have options. Just keep checking the site throughout the day. People drop and pick up new FastPasses all the time. So there is always the chance that some poor unfortunate soul dropped their Flight of Passage FastPass because their child was too tired to continue and they went back to the hotel. So check, check and check some more.
How to use the FastPass
Now that you know how to get them, let’s talk about how to use them. When you go to the park during your designated FastPass time you’ll want to go to the FastPass line instead of the standby line. These are usually right next to each other, but not always. Feel free to ask a cast member if you aren’t sure. To enter the FastPass line everyone will need to scan their plastic park ticket, or their Magic Band. For young families I recommend magic bands. These are wearable tickets, and if you are staying on property you’ll be given one, per person, with your regular plastic tickets. If not on property you can buy them at almost any store inside the parks, at Disney Springs, on the Disney Parks App, or even beforehand on Amazon with everything else you’re panic buying two days before your vacation. Just check that the seller is Disney Parks. You will need to go to the My Disney Experience website to link the band to your tickets, and the bands last for 5 years. I like the Magic Bands because you don’t have to be constantly taking tickets out of your pocket while holding children. It is much harder to lose a Magic Band since it is secured to your wrists. Also, if you have young children you can just wear all of their Magic Bands to ensure no one loses theirs. I keep Abigail’s Magic Band on my backpack at all times.
Do I need a FastPass for everyone in my group? The quick answer is yes, however there’s sometimes an exception in the form of Disney Magic. You don’t always need enough FastPasses for everyone in your group. This is strictly a gamble. If you go to a normal tier ride when the standby line is short and you are missing a FastPass or two they may still let you all in the FastPass line. Not always, but regularly. You have to ask, and you need to be friendly about it, but you can sometimes get away with it.
When do people drop their Fastpasses? Vacationers drop them all the time for a myriad of reason. Locals usually drop them late afternoon; before dinner and after dinner. Just like everyone out in the real world our plans change when our spouse is running late from work, or we’ve had a long day. Also keep an eye on the weather, and recheck for any new FastPasses when it starts to rain. People often change their plans if it is raining, or if it gets cold, or if it gets too hot. This usually causes them to cancel all of their FastPasses and book new ones elsewhere, freeing up all their Fastpasses for you to snatch.
What are MultiPasses and how do they work? If a ride you have a FastPass for is down (not rideable due to rain or maintenance) during your FastPass return time Disney will give you a special FastPass that works on ANY ride of the same Tier. The MultiPass will show up on your app and you can just walk to any ride you would rather go on by scanning your ticket or Magic Band like normal. A great tip if you missed booking a FastPass for a ride you wanted is to grab a FastPass for a ride that goes down frequently, or shuts down during rain. So go ahead and grab that outdoor roller coaster on a rainy day, you’ll either have a thrilling ride or snag a MultiPass to skip any standby line you want.
Can I be late or early for my Fastpass? The short answer is yes, you can be late. And you can also be too early. The general rule is 10 minutes early, or 15 minutes late. But it’s up to the Cast Member. We were 4 hours late once and they still let us on. Disney doesn’t like you to be this late, which is understandable. However, with a good reason and a great attitude they will sometimes use some Disney Magic (stretch the rules for you). They have no obligation to do so, so please be respectful if they refuse. But if you are running late you should definitely ask. So please don’t panic and run through the entire park because your FastPass is about to expire. You have time.
I hope that what I’ve learned through trial and error – so so much error – will be of great use to you and your family. Good luck, and have fun dodging lines and riding rides!
Revised from my original post here.