The Walt Disney Travel Company has always been at the forefront of guest services as well as with the latest technological advancement. The new FastPass Plus system certainly fits the bill on both of those categories. Disney prides itself on working to create the most memorable vacation experiences for their guests, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that helping to reduce the amount of time that visitors wait in line to experience the parks’ headlining attractions is a priority. But how does FastPass+ work? How can Disney newbies – as well as veterans of the Most Magical Place on Earth – make the system work to their advantage? This guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney World will answer that question and many more.
Rolled out in 2014, FastPass+ is part of Disney’s next-gen My Magic Plus program. Using RFID technology, FastPass+ is very similar to the now obsolete paper FastPass system and offers many of the advantages of the old system. I find it somewhat ironic that the unplugged travel girl is writing this post, but I’m also an obsessive Disney planner, so I’ve got to surrender to the electronic aspect of all of this in order to remain true to my type-a Mouse habit!
For those readers unfamiliar with FastPass, here’s a brief explanation. FastPass+, like the old paper FastPasses, allows Disney guests to make reservations for rides and attractions. You book a ride reservation for a particular time slot and are permitted to enter the ride’s FastPass+ queue during your reservation window. The benefit is that the FastPass+ line offers a much shorter wait time than an attraction’s Standby queue.
There is no charge to use FastPass+, but it does require some advance planning. That said, the benefits a bit of pre-planning will provide cannot be stressed enough. For whatever reason, the majority of Walt Disney World visitors don’t know about this system. I can’t tell you how many times during our recent trip that we saw people waiting at the FastPass+ return entrance only to be turned away by the Cast Member, exclaiming in dismay, “You have to sign up for these?!”
So How Does Disney’s FastPass+ System Work?
Disney ticket holders are entitled to three advance FastPass+ reservations per day of park tickets purchased. FastPass+ reservations can be made for any time during normal operating hours, but not during Disney’s Extra Magic Hours. Your first three FastPass+ reservations must be made in the same park – meaning you can’t make two reservations for the Magic Kingdom and a third in Epcot on the same day. After those first three FastPass+ reservations have been used, however, visitors may reserve additional FastPass+ attractions one at a time, depending on availability, in whichever park you’d like. So if you park hop, you can make reservations in a second or even a third park after you’ve used your first three. Additional selections can be made using FastPass+ kiosks scattered throughout the Disney theme parks or via the My Disney Experience app on a smartphone.
Every visitor to Walt Disney World is entitled to use FastPass+; however, how far in advance you can make your reservations depends on your trip. Staying onsite at a Disney owned resort comes with the perk of making your FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance of your arrival. Offsite guests can make reservations 30 days ahead. If you are not staying at a Disney hotel, don’t wait to purchase your park tickets. The sooner you have your tickets (within that 30 day window), the sooner you can make your FastPass+ reservations and the more availability there will be for coveted attractions.
The system is very intuitive; still, it’s always helpful to have a visual. In that vein, here’s a step-by-step guide to making FastPass+ reservations.
Getting Started with FastPass+ Reservations
Before you can make advance FastPass+ reservations, you must first create a My Disney Experience account by visiting the official Walt Disney World website. After you’ve done that, sign into your account and scroll through the My Disney Experience pulldown menu to FastPass+.
Clicking on FastPass+ brings you to this screen. Click “Get Started.”
Step 1: Select the Guests in Your Party
When making your FastPass+ reservations the first thing you’ll do is select which people in your travel party you’re booking the reservations for.
Step 2: Choose Your Date and Park
The next thing you’ll do is choose the date for which you’d like to reserve your FastPass+ selections. Once you click on a date on the calendar – May 20, for example – the four Disney theme parks will appear. You only see two here because that’s the biggest screenshot I could get. Rest assured that Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom are just underneath. Select the park in which you’d like to make your FastPass+ reservations by clicking on that park.
One thing that’s important to note is that, as I mentioned earlier, guests are entitled to make FastPass+ reservations based on the number of ticket days they’ve purchased. If you have a weeklong vacation planned and have a four-day park hopper pass, you can book four days worth of advance FastPass+ reservations for whichever days you plan to enter the parks.
Step 3: Make Your FastPass+ Selections
After you select your date and park, you’ll arrive at a screen that lists all of the attractions in that particular park that offer FastPass+. Select by time. Select one at a time. You’ll be able to choose a total of three and all three must be in the same park.
If you’re not happy with the three times offered, click on the blue “View Details and More Times” link. Doing so will bring you to a screen that is unique to that one attraction and will list all the possible FastPass+ times you may choose for the whole day.
After selecting your time, the system will show you your selection and ask you to confirm it. There’s a green “confirm” button on the lower right hand corner of this screen, but I couldn’t grab it in my screenshot. Click confirm to finalize your choice.
You’re all set with your first reservation! To make the other two you are allowed to make, click on the “Continue on same day” button. Remember, you can choose up to three FastPass+ reservations on any given day but they have to be in the same park. You can also continue on to choosing FastPass+ reservations for another day of your trip, as long as you have days remaining on your park ticket.
Step 4: View Your FastPass+ Reservations
When you’ve made all three FastPass+ reservations for a particular day, click the “No Thanks, I’m Done” button at the bottom of the confirmation screen. Doing so will bring you to this screen that shows you all of the reservations you just made.
You can also view all of your FastPass+ reservations by clicking on the My Disney Experience pulldown menu on the homepage and scrolling down to “My Reservations and Tickets.” You can also just click on the My Disney Experience icon on the homepage to go to your personal planning page. All of your reservations will be listed there as well.
Step 5: Modifying or Canceling FastPass+ Reservations
As your planning progresses, you may realize that you want to shift your FastPass+ selections or park plans around a bit. My Disney Experience offers several ways to make changes. Again, editing your selections is pretty intuitive.
One option is to click on the My Disney Experience icon on the home page to visit your personal planning page. When you get there, click the “Edit my plans” link for whichever date you’d like to modify. From there you’ll see all of your FastPass+ reservations. Click on whichever one you’d like to modify and click “View Details,” which will lead you to the screen shown below. Note: You can also access this screen using the pulldown menu and selecting either “My Reservations and Tickets” or “FastPass+.”
Clicking ‘Modify” will bring you to a screen that asks you to select the guests’ plans you’d like to modify and then delivers you to another screen where you can either choose a new time for that same attraction or else change that FastPass+ reservation to an entirely different attraction and FastPass+ return time.
Choose and confirm your new FastPass+ reservation.
Doing so will then show you an updated list of your FastPass+ reservations for that day.
Canceling a Fastpass+ reservation works the same way. Click on the FastPass+ you’d like to cancel and then click “Cancel.” The system will then ask you if you’re sure you want to cancel the reservation. After you do, you’re free to go ahead and make another reservation.
Which Rides are Best for FastPass+ Reservations?
This is a subjective question as the Disney attractions people want to experience depends on many factors. That said, there are certainly rides that see big time lines in each park. Here is my list of the Disney attractions for which FastPass+ reservations are a must. You get three – use them wisely.
- Meet Anna and Elsa, Frozen Meet & Greet
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Splash Mountain
- Space Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain
Things work a bit differently at Epcot in that FastPass+ selections are split into two groups, Tier One and Tier Two. Guests may select one attraction only from the Tier One list. Also, when the new Frozen Ever After ride opens in the Norway pavilion in summer 2016, that’s going to be a FastPass+ priority.
- Soarin’ (Tier One)
- Test Track (Tier One)
- Mission Space (Tier Two)
- Spaceship Earth (Tier Two)
- Meet Disney Pals (Tier Two)
If you have two days to spend at Epcot, you can book Soarin’ on one day and Test Track on the other. Otherwise, make a FastPass+ reservation for one and get to the park for rope drop to ride the other as soon as the park opens.
Like at Epcot, Hollywood Studios has a Tier system. If you’d like to experience both of the headlining Tier One attractions (listed below), choose one for your FastPass+ reservation and head to the other as soon as the park opens in the morning. FastPass+ isn’t as essential for the other Tier One attractions.
- Toy Story Midway Mania (Tier One)
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Tier One)
- Tower of Terror (Tier Two)
- Star Tours (Tier Two)
- Kilamanjaro Safaris
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids
Strategies and Tips
- Rope drop, i.e., getting to the park before it opens, is still essential. Doing so gives you a solid chunk of time to hit the most popular attractions with minimal waiting. I suggest making your FastPass+ reservations beginning around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. and making them as close together as possible.
- Your FastPass+ return window is an hour long. This means that if you have a FastPass+ reservation for 10:45-11:45, you can arrive any time during that window.
- Disney offers FastPass+ reservations for nighttime spectaculars like Wishes and Illuminations Fireworks, the Main Street Electrical Parade, and Fantasmic! Remember, you are only allowed to make additional FastPass+ reservations AFTER you’ve used your first three. Booking a reservation for one of these nighttime events means that you won’t be able to make more than three reservations on that day. Choose wisely. I don’t think it’s worth it.
- If you are planning to park hop, you are better off arriving at your first park at rope drop and capitalizing on the lower crowds and booking your FastPass+ reservations for the afternoon in the second park. Otherwise you’ll be arriving at your second park at peak crowd time with higher wait times.