If you’ve been to my blog a time or two you are well aware of how much my family LOVES Disney World. We used to go 3-4 times a year but lately, we’ve been scaling back to 2 times a year. Even though we don’t spend every vacation at Disney World anymore I would still say that we are very well versed in Disney. No kidding, you could plop anyone in my family -with no map- in the middle of Disney World and they could get you from point A to point B so fast you’d swear they were a cast member! Since we know so much about the interworkings of Disney World, I thought I would take the time to explain something I get asked a lot about: Fast Passes.
Before we get started, I want to clarify a few things about Disney World, just in case this is your first trip.
Disney world is comprised of four separate parks: Magic Kingdom (where the big castle is), Animal Kingdom (similar to a zoo), Epcot (the big silver ball), and Hollywood Studios (the home of all things Toy Story and Star Wars). Disney provides free transportation to get you anywhere on the property. To learn more before your first trip to Disney World take a look at these posts:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Disney World
- 21 Ways to do Disney World on the Cheap
- 52 Disney World Hacks for a Magical Vacation
So what is a Fastpass?
Fastpass or Fastpass+ (which are the exact same thing) is like placeholders for you in line for just about any ride at Disney World. They are a quicker way to get on a ride and are a great way to ensure you actually get to ride some of the more popular rides at Disney World.
At every park, except the Magic Kingdom, you will choose from rides from two categories. Think of them as column A and B. They are broken up that way so that the most popular rides are in one category, and the less popular rides are in the other. The general rule of thumb is that you can pick one ride from the group of “popular rides” and two from the other. Disney World has it broken up this way so that overbooking doesn’t occur at the popular rides, which would lead to the FastPasses being ineffective.
How do you buy a Fastpass?
Everyone who buys a ticket, package, or annual pass gets 3 free complimentary Walt Disney World Fast Passes a day. They can be scheduled up to 60 days before your visit and can be canceled and re-booked to suit you and your family’s needs.
How do they work?
As I said before, you can schedule your fast passes up to 60 days before your visit. They can be canceled and re-schedule either on the Walt Disney World app or online. Once you are in the park you can use the Walt Disney World app or kiosk at the park where they have cast member to assist you. They are connected to your ticket or wrist band depending on how your ticket system is set up.
Are there FastPass tiers?
No. Disney World only has one level of FastPass+ but Disneyland in California has an upcharge that gives you unlimited FastPasses.
So now that you know the basics of Fast Pass+ it’s time for my best tips and tricks!
- It’s best to use your three fast passes for the day early and close together but not so close that you feel rushed. Once you’ve used all your passes for the day you can book more rides one at a time.
- Pay attention when you’re booking rides at other parks other than the Magic Kingdom. Some rides can’t be booked at the same time, for example, you can’t book Cali River Rapids and Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the same time.
- You can earn an extra Fastpasses if you perform the Pirate’s quest at the Magic Kingdom, located in Adventure Land. Once you’ve completed it and turned in your map, you will be gifted with an open-ended FastPass that you can use anytime the rest of the day, for Pirates of the Carribean.
- If something goes wrong on your trip, tell someone. If you have a rude cast member experience or terrible service, in general, let them know you’re dissatisfied. I don’t condone nitpicking and looking for a problem but if there is a legitimate problem let someone know, more likely than not they will give you a free FastPass to make up for your negative experience. Again, don’t just look for a problem and please don’t create one.
- When you’re in a park with fewer rides and a family that doesn’t always wanna ride the same things, take the opportunity to get on a ride back to back. For example, my oldest daughter and I LOVE the Hollywood Tower of Terror but my husband and youngest daughter HATE it. So we book one for everyone and after my oldest daughter and I ride we swap our band out and ride again using my husband and younger daughter’s passes.
- You don’t all have to ride the same thing! You can assign certain rides for certain people so no one feels like they are being forced to ride something. It’s also an easy way to deal with having an older child and younger child or if you have a large group of people.
- Not every ride will be available so choose carefully.
- There are only a certain number of FastPasses for each ride, each day. Once they are gone, they’re gone.
- Bonus tip – kids under three do not need a FastPass. They walk right on with an adult.
How to choose what to FastPass+
Choose carefully when you’re booking your FastPass+ because some rides don’t really require a FastPass. The Barnstormer in the Magic Kingdom is a good example of this. The ride itself is rather short and it’s for younger kids so the wait never really exceeds an hour at the most. Also, some rides, in my opinion, are not worth wasting a fast pass on, like the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train. It’s fun but way too short and if you watch it closely on the Walt Disney World Resort App you can usually find it within a reasonable waiting period. I would also say the same for It’s a Small World. It’s a continuous ride that holds a lot of people at a time, so waiting is never really an issue.
I will say that if you have a fan of Peter Pan in your group you should definitely book Peter Pan’s Flight. It always has a long wait and it’s a great ride even if you’re not a die-hard Peter Pan fan. If you have little ones or someone that REALLY wants to meet a certain character you can book some Character meets, I would say the only one in the Magic Kingdom you would actually need to book is Princess Hall.
If you’re in Epcot you really only have a few options to FastPass. I always suggest Soarin’ it’s one of the best rides there. If you have a speed demon or a car junkie in your bunch I say that the Test Track is something to consider booking. But beware because you can’t book The Test Track and Soarin’ together! Don’t waste a FastPass on The Finding Nemo Ride, it’s almost never a long wait as it’s also a ride that moves continuously.
Animal Kingdom has a lot to offer since they opened up Pandora. The worst part about Pandora is that it’s so new that sometimes it’s too crowded. You also can’t book both Pandora rides at the same time. Animal Kingdom doesn’t have very long wait times usually but I would suggest booking Expedition Everest because it’s one of the more popular rides there.
Hollywood Studios is still the smallest park even though they just opened Toy Story Land. It’s hard to choose what to FastPass since they have so many great rides. We always book the Tower of Terror because it’s so popular, and we book Toy Story Mania. You can’t book the Rockin’ Rollercoaster and Toy Story Mania at the same time. You can only book one or the other. So we always book something else and when our FastPasses are done we book the Rockin’ Rollercoaster.
For our third FastPass, we always choose Fantasmic, because the amphitheater fills up to capacity fast and you don’t want to miss it.
Hope these tips help you navigate the waters of Walt Disney World’s FastPass+