By: Jennifer Retzlaff
Over the past few months, the changes to the FastPass+ system have dominated the Disney media sites. From blogs to Facebook pages, Twitter to Disney-related websites, all are full of information regarding this major switch in the way people experience Walt Disney World. With my own trip coming up this summer, I have been frantically searching these sites, learning all I could about this new system.
I will be honest, my initial opinion wasn’t a happy one. This conclusion stemmed from the fact that during our past Disney vacations, my family usually used anywhere from seven to ten FastPasses in a day. The idea of originally being limited to three a day seemed awful. (Editors Note: This has since changed and guests will now be able make additional FastPass+ reservations, one at a time, after they’ve used their first three.) However, as I read more about the new system and the Disney logic behind it, I felt better about the change to the FastPass+ system. In my research, I’ve discovered that if you enjoy planning ahead you’ll likely appreciate the new system; however, if you like to tour on the fly you might find it a little less magical.
Here is a breakdown of my personal experience with preparing to make my FastPass+ reservations through My Disney Experience, as well as how the reservation making process works. These four quick steps made the process a little less overwhelming.
Step One: Educate
If you read my previous article “Five Quick Planning Tips to Make Your Disney Vacation Magical”, you know that I am a big believer in educating yourself before making any decisions. So that is exactly what I did. I read as much as I could about the new FastPass+ system from Disney themselves and also unofficial Disney sites. I read all the positives and negatives that people had to say about the new system. I also looked into which rides were listed as FastPass+ attractions and out of these, which attractions the experts were suggesting guests actually needed to make FastPass+ reservations for. Educating myself on the overall system made it seem less overwhelming and made me feel more confident as I moved forward.
Step Two: Prioritize Rides
Once I had a better understanding of how the system itself was meant to work, I prioritize which rides I thought we’d want FastPass+ reservations for in each of the four theme parks. I used some of the information I learned from the experts, but I also relied on my knowledge of which rides my husband and I would want to guarantee with a FastPass. I knew that each day we were at Magic Kingdom we’d need a FastPass+ for Splash Mountain. I also knew that not riding Peter Pan’s Flight wouldn’t break our trip. Having a good understanding of what rides I wanted FastPass for gave a me a strong game plan.
Step Three: Days/Times
Now that I knew which rides I wanted FastPass for, I needed to plug them into days and times of our vacation. I already knew what days we’d be in specific parks, as we had already books our dining reservations, but now it was narrowing down times that would be the most beneficial for our touring. I created a quick FastPass+ reference sheet (fancy name for a spreadsheet) where I blocked out times I didn’t feel FastPass would be useful to us due to dining reservations, travel times, or because I didn’t feel lines would be long. Some might find this very limiting, but for me it helped, as I wouldn’t have to stop and think about times when actually making the FastPass+ reservations. It was already laid out for me.
Step Four: Book Them
It was now time to book our FastPass+ reservations. I was up at 5:00 am ready to book. This is what the process currently looks like for booking FastPass+.
The first step to making your FastPass+ selections is to log into your My Disney Experience account on the Disney website or app. Once logged in, you can use the quick links to find the FastPass+ section. From there you can select the day you’d like to start making reservations for. (Editor’s Note: Guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel may make their FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance. Those who are staying off-site or are Annual Passholders may make FastPass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance). Following your date selection, you select which park you’d like to visit that day. This page helped as it stated which parks have extra magic hours, in addition to the park’s regular hours.
Once a park has been selected, you are ready to choose the attractions you want to make reservations for. At the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, when you start your planning process, you can select any three rides from any of the FastPass+ choices; however, with Epcot and Hollywood Studios rides are tiered so you must choose one attraction from tier A and two attractions from tier B.
After you select the three attractions, you will then be prompted to prioritize your ride selections. I am not sure what this exactly does as I didn’t see a major connection between this and times but that could be because I was booking 60 days in advance.
The next screen is the big deal because this is where Disney prompts you with four different options of different FastPass+ times to choose from. Each option provides a variety of times, from early morning times to late evenings. The key here is to just choose one that, in general, you like as you are able to make specific changes in the next step.
After you have selected an option, you are then moved to a page where you are able to make changes to each individual ride and time. This was one of my frustrations with the system. I felt like I was wasting a lot of time as I had to choose one of Disney’s options, but then for the majority of my rides I had to go back in and change my times to be more of what I wanted. I am wondering if it would be better if Disney would just give you a list of times available for that ride and allow you to choose a time for each ride individually instead of an overall option. Again, that was just my opinion.
Finally once all of your changes are made, you are ready to click done and start the process all over again for another day.
1. You can easily move through the website without issues.
2. You are prompted without any overlaps of other reservations.
3. You can easily make changes at any time through the My Disney Experience website, app or kiosk.
4. Disney’s initial options provided a nice variety from early morning, mid afternoon and evening making it easy to select one as a starting point.
5. If you have a large party, not everyone has to choose the same FastPass+ selection.
6. Unlike the old system where you were stuck with whatever time was posted when you arrived, FastPass+ gives a lot more choices and flexibility
1. At Hollywood Studios and Epcot it was hard to pick a third selection with the tiered system whereas at Magic Kingdom I felt like I had so many I wanted to use my choices for.
2. I didn’t like that I had to choose an option that Disney had created and then go in and change times.
My overall experience with booking my FastPass+ reservations was actually magical. I realize that I am in the minority by booking right at 6:00 am EST so my options for times were wide open. I could easily navigate through the Disney website as they made it clear what I was supposed to do. Like I stated before, having a plan or at least an idea of what you want to book, makes this process a lot easier. I was able to quickly move through the process as I had specific rides and times in mind. Even with this in place, it still took me around 40 minutes to book eight days of FastPass+ reservations. I can see how this can become extremely overwhelming to people if they don’t know what rides they need to make FastPass+ reservations for at each park.
Once again, I refer back to my original article, make sure you educate yourself, know your restaurants and know your plan of attack for each park. By having this extra information, it will allow you to have a more relaxing and magical experience as you use the new FastPass+ system.