Your family is headed to Disney World. You have put time into planning dining arrangements and hotel accommodations. However, there is one more task to tackle at home before the big trip– planning FastPasses!
FastPass+ is Disney’s ride reservation system. It comes free with your tickets to the park, and you are able to access the reservations on your My Disney Experience app and website. For example, you can make an appointment to ride “it’s a small world” at 1:10PM on May 25. While this system can be super exciting for folks who love planning, it can be daunting for others.
The purpose of this article is to share some FastPass+ strategies for each park, for different times of day, and for different types of families. We have chosen to describe specifics rather than generalities in hopes that you can take bits and pieces of this article to help plan your next trip!
There is no right or wrong way to plan your FastPasses and there is no one-size-fits all! Depending on your touring style, you’ll want to think through your own strategy accordingly? Are you early risers or night owls? Do you like to park hop? Do you leave the park in the middle of the day for a break but come back?
Jocelyn and Missy are both seasoned Disney World planners. Check out our planning strategies below as they both enjoy touring the parks differently. We both have slightly different approaches as to how we go about planning our FastPasses!
Missy: For Magic Kingdom, I like to go in the mornings and the evening. Ideally, getting to Magic Kingdom at park opening avoids the need to FastPasses in the morning. Trust me, it is early, but it is definitely worth it. You can generally walk on to the Fantasyland attractions and lines are short for the headliners. I like to plan FastPass+ for this park starting around 5 or 6 p.m. This is after we have taken a nap or a swim back at the hotel pool.
For those of you traveling with small children (too short to ride the coasters), I think the best choices for FastPass+ are a character meet & greet (we like Mickey Mouse), Peter Pan’s Flight, and Enchanted Tales with Belle. We were able to get these starting at 5 p.m. and ending around 8 p.m. These three choices are all either in Fantasyland or on the way to Fantasyland from the front of the park. Since the locations are close to each other, it is easy to get a spot for the fireworks afterward. You can also get a quick counter service dinner in between rides at Columbia Harbor House or Pinnochio’s Village Haus.
If you are traveling with older and taller children (or adults who love the thrills), I would use the FastPass+ on the Magic Kingdom mountain range– Space, Big Thunder, and Splash. I would try to get on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at park opening or park closing. Personally, I love Seven Dwarfs, but my crew are not fans. They think the carts are too small for their legs and the ride is too quick to waste a FastPass on it.
Jocelyn: I, like Missy, like to get to the MK early! Unless it’s our arrival day, we almost always rope-drop Magic Kingdom. My three children are young, but my oldest two (7 & 6) are tall enough to do all of the Magic Kingdom attractions, and my youngest (3), can with the exception of Space, Splash, & Thunder. Our typical touring style is to spend the day in the parks, but we eat an early dinner, say between 4 & 5 o’clock. So we don’t usually leave the parks midday. For us, we will schedule our advance FastPass+ reservations for midday. We will get as much done early in the morning, typically in Fantasyland and New Fantasyland and use our FastPass+ passes for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, and Thunder Mountain. Since my little one isn’t tall enough for the last two mountains, I will reserve different FastPass+ for her and my husband (who isn’t a fan of any of the mountains). I’ll start scheduling these around noon after the park has been open for a few hours. If we are still in the park after we use our initial three passes, we will book more for whatever is available. The reason I select these three is that 7DMT always still has a very long wait, and Splash & Thunder are not in Fantasyland where we spend most of the morning. This strategy also works well when my youngest needs a nap – they may get one of their alternate FastPass+ done, then she’ll nap in her stroller for 1-1.5 hours and then they’ll get the last FastPass+ in.
Missy: FastPass is tricky at this park. Because of the tiered system, you cannot get both headliners (Soarin’ and Test Track) for one day. However, right now, Soarin’ is under refurbishment which means that Test Track can be your headliner attraction. I would try to get this FastPass early in the morning and hit all of the attractions in Future World before 11a.m. Then, at 11 a.m., you can head to World Showcase for some snacks and touring!
Jocelyn: When we plan our Epcot FastPasses, we generally have more than one day planned at the park as it’s one of our favorites! This eliminates the need to choose between Soarin’ and Test Track – we select one on each day we’ll be there! While you didn’t need a FastPass for many other attractions, the new system has spread out the crowds so sometimes it’s good to have your Tier 2 choices be Spaceship Earth & Journey Into Imagination. Once we see where the Anna & Elsa meet and the Frozen Ever After attractions fall in terms of which Tier (guessing they’ll both be Tier 1), we’ll have to re-strategize!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Missy: Grab a FastPass+ for Toy Story at whatever time you can get!!! Then, you can plan the rest of your day accordingly. Toy Story is super tough to grab since it is one of the few attractions at the park that ANYONE can ride. (Although, I did take my 9 month old son on it and there might have been some vomit after we got off the ride… it’s a little swervy! ;0) I would use single riders for Rockin’ Roller Coaster. For the other two FastPass+, I would pick Star Tours and Tower of Terror. I would try to keep my FastPass+ times close together.
Jocelyn: What Missy says… grab a FastPass for Toy Story Midway Mania ASAP! Since Hollywood Studio also uses a tiered system, you have to really prioritize what attractions you want to grab a FastPass for. Our must-do’s in the park (besides TSMM), are Tower of Terror, The Great Movie Ride, the Frozen Sing-along, Beauty and the Beast Live, and the Disney Jr. show, therefor our Tier 2s are usually Tower or Terror and the Frozen sing-along for now.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Jocelyn: Our go to plan for Animal Kingdom is to book an early ADR at Tusker House for breakfast – as close to or before 8:00 a.m. as we can. We enjoy a delicious breakfast and hopefully exit by about 8:45 a.m., and are positioned extremely close to the Kilimanjaro Safari queue. The Cast Members will keep you in this area until the guests start coming over the hill into Africa from the front of the park, but we’ve ended up on the first Safari Jeep many times doing this. This frees up a FastPass unless we choose to ride again later in the day. While the Festival of the Lion King is my all-time favorite attraction, we don’t ever need a FastPass for it. We would use them for Kali River Rapids, Everest Expedition, and depending on what else we want to do for the third, it may vary.
Missy: We like doing the Animal Kingdom in the afternoon, right before the park closes, around 3 or 4. Sometimes, we don’t even make Fast Passes for our Animal Kingdom day! However, with the new nighttime experiences coming to Animal Kingdom, we are definitely going to make FastPass+ reservations for our upcoming trip. Our FastPass+ choices in this park would be Kilamanjaro Safari, Kali River Rapids, and Dinosaur. We often use the single rider for those who like to do Expedition Everest. For the shows, we just make a plan to get in line about 15 minutes in advance of the show. Finding Nemo the Musical is our favorite show in the whole resort!!
Overall, if I were planning a park hopping day, I would likely plan my FastPasses for my second park. But my best piece of advice, is to book a FastPass for the attraction(s) you have to do, the one(s) you’d be really disappointed if you didn’t. Then you’ll secure that you can experience them, and have a minimal wait to boot! Don’t book three FastPasses for things you think will have long lines hoping your favorite attraction won’t. Especially at the Magic Kingdom where there are the most options. If you or your child must ride It’s a Small World, book that FastPass!
Good luck everyone! May the FastPass+ Force be with you!
What are your tips for utilizing FastPass+? What strategies work best for you? Share in the comments section.
3 thoughts on “FastPass+ Strategies for Walt Disney World”
I would love to share my ideas and philosophy on using fastpass+ as well as getting the most out of your time to get to as many attractions as possible. Keep in mind my family took one week trip to Fort Wilderness in October 2013 but now we live in FL and just bought an annual pass with trips lined up for days in January, March, May, September and October 2017. My approach may not work in summer or spring break for the north when its very very busy at DW. If you are on a trip from the North, you can only do so much so pick and choose what parks you really want to do. On our trip 2013 we spent 2.5 days at Magic Kingdom (it needs that much time) and 1 day at animal kingdom (stayed the entire day 8-5), and 1 day at Hollywood Studios (staying all day), skipping Epcot because our kids were young and didn’t seem to fit. and one day in the middle of the week was spent sleeping in and swimming at campground pool, relaxing that day to catch up on energy.
First, philosophy: I never get in a line that is more than 20 minutes. I divide a park into sections and study the map so I know where specific rides are. I stay in a section for my day but can modify that if time presents itself to moving onto the next section. Trying to go from one end of a park to another in one day is too much for young kids and is time wasted walking long distances. Going back and taking a break at your place of stay can be good too if doing a park that is open late. Then go back at night. The best time to get on a roller coaster with short waits is during the last 30 minutes the park is open, at least at Magic Kingdom for us it was. We did this with a 4, 6 and 7 year old when open till 11 pm, after a nap of course from 5ish to 7ish and dinner at our camper.
Fast Pass theory: Load and reload back to back as close together as possible. I load 3 passes for times as soon as the park opens, back to back, for popular rides that usually have waits (staying in the same section mind you for all 3 passes) and then I find attractions that seat large crowds to go to in between.
So for example, I would do tomorrowland in magic kingdom spilling just a little into fantasy land because it is close. First fast pass should be what ever is the closest to the entrance of tomorrowland. ie. FP+ 9:05 Buzz Light Year spin, then go to Monster Inc Floor because this seats large crowds, I don’t use a FP. You can usually get in the very next show while waiting for the present one to finish. about 15 minutes. Next FP would be scheduled for 10:05 (or as close to the hour mark from my first FP.) I would choose the Orbitors for younger kids or space mountain for older kids. Keep in mind you have up to an hour from the start of your FP time to fulfill it. So after the Monster show I may do the transit People Mover ride because the line seems to move along quickly. My third FP would be 11:05 and I would have the speedway chosen. So I would do my FP #2 for Space Mountain by 10:45 after a couple large attractions and then immediately walk to my 3rd FP which should be about the time my party can check in at the cars. As soon as we all checked in at FP #3, I would be using my phone to reload another fast pass while waiting to get on my #3 FP ride. choose a ride near by like mad tea cup party for #4 and depending on the time, you may have time to do another large group attraction near by like the carousel of progress before going over to MTCparty. And again I would reload my 5th FP as soon as we checked in at MTCparty. Of course around the 4th and 5th FP, your party would need a break for RR and lunch to work in. I would reload rides you liked in the tomorrowland area or try to find one just a little further into Fantasy land. If we leave Magic Kingdom and come back at night, I reload a FP for time we think we will make it back picking an area close to the front of the park depending on how much time you are coming back for. or up by the roller coasters you want to get on and stay in that area. ….. I would have my next day planned again the same way for another section of Magic Kingdom like Adventure Land and spilling into frontier land loading rides back to back with waits and going to an attraction that seats large numbers in between.
Hope my ideas were helpful! WDW is fabulous! and I think they do an outstanding job.
Julie from Naples, FL