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Most Disney goers have one thing on their mind when they arrive at the park. How do I do more and wait for less? It’s a legitimate question. After all, a day at Disney is not cheap and we want to get our money’s worth.
I fully agree with the advice that says to “slow down, enjoy the atmosphere, do less”, but once I scan my magic band I’m at full-speed all day.
On my husband’s first day at the Magic Kingdom, we did 27 attractions and saw the parade. It was a blast! If you’re a go-with-the-flow, see-where-the-Disney-wind-takes-you kind of person, by all means, do that! It sounds super relaxing! But if you have to fit as much as possible into your day, I have the answer for you–FastPass+.
What is FastPass?
So what is FastPass +? Disney has a system where you can basically book “front of the line passes” on your magic band. Before your trip, you will go to the My Disney Experience App and choose rides you would like to go on. It will give you several different times to choose from. You’ll pick one and you now have a Fastpass for that ride.
On the date and time you choose, you will show up for the ride, go to the FastPass Line, and scan your magic band. You then get to pass all the people waiting in the Stand-By Line and ride the attraction with little or no wait. Unlike many parks, this service is included in the price of your ticket and is open for everyone to use.
Now your first question is probably ” This sounds great! Why would anybody wait in those long lines?” Well because it is open to everyone, there are a few rules to follow:
- You can only get three FastPasses to start with, and they must all be in the same park.
- Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios have a tiered Fastpass system. Basically, the most popular rides are in Tier 1, and you can choose one from this category. The other two have to come from a Tier 2. You can choose any three rides at the Magic Kingdom.
- Once you’ve used your 3rd FastPass, you can make another Fastpass on the App. When that one is used, you can book another, and so on.
- It’s best to book your FastPasses in advance. If you’re staying on Disney property, you can book FastPasses 60 before your check-in date. If your off-property, you can book FastPasses 30 days before you go. To learn more about where to stay check out Step 3 of this series.
Beyond the rules set by Disney, having a FastPass strategy is important. This will help you get the most done in a day. Here are a few of the strategies we use.
When booking your Fastpasses, don’t always take the earliest one available. If you get to the park when it first opens (also called Rope Drop), you won’t need FastPasses because the lines are pretty short for the first couple of hours.
I like to book my first FastPass for around 10:30 and then get the next two as close together as I can. If they’re available, I make these FastPasses for that park’s most popular rides. Whatever popular rides I can’t get FastPasses for, we go to as soon as the park opens before the lines get too long.
I often plan “no line attractions” for the middle of the afternoon when the park is the most crowded. These include things like Tom Sawyer’s Island, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, or the World Showcase. If I can get FastPasses for this time I will, but if nothing is available until the evening, we still have something to do.
Booking on the Go
Now you can get that 4th FastPass as soon as you scan your magic band for the 3rd. So on your last Fastpass, go to the entrance, scan your magic band, and check the app to see what Fastpasses are available. Book whichever one suits you, and continue to repeat until the park closes.
When booking your Fastpasses, if nothing works for you, keep going back and reselecting the time you’re looking for. It refreshes with new times and rides. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get what you want, but I’ve gotten FastPasses for some pretty popular rides that initially were gone or for very late in the evening when I first looked.
Combining with Rider Switch
When we are traveling with our children, we take advantage of Disney’s Rider Switch option. We go to the line entrance, and show them that we have a child that can’t ride an attraction.
Let’s say that Shaun and the Disney Dude go on the ride while the Pixie Princess and I wait or go on another ride. When Shaun gets to the front of the line, he gets a special FastPass for me to come back and ride without waiting. That FastPass is good for up to 3 people so the Disney Dude actually gets to go on everything twice until his sister gets taller.
Here’s where it gets really good. You can combine FastPass with Child Swap. So in our scenario, Shaun and the Disney Dude have Fastpasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We go to the Fastpass entrance and show them our little. They go on enjoy Seven Dwarfs and get the special FastPass.
In the meantime, I’ve booked a FastPass for me 30 minutes later at Space Mountain. When they get off Seven Dwarfs, we head to Space Mountain and show them the Pixie Princess and I ride Space Mountain and get the special FastPass for Shaun and the Disney Dude to come back later.
You can essentially double the number of FastPass you have if you use this strategy. This is especially helpful in the parks with a tiered system because it allows you to get two Tier 1 Fastpasses if your group has to split up. We only use this on rides where the Pixie Princess can’t ride.
Don’t Miss the Magic
FastPass is awesome! It really is, but don’t get so obsessed with them that you miss some of Disney’s magic that is happening around you. If you’re wandering by a street show that’s just starting, stop and see it. You have an hour window to get to the ride so be flexible and enjoy every part of your day.