Disney Fastpass Secrets, Tips and Strategy
On my recent trip to the happiest place on earth, there was one thing in particular that caught my eye. Many people are either completely unaware of Disney’s fastpass+ service or they have no idea how to use it. I lost count of the number of guests I saw walk straight up to the magic band scanner and get greeted with that dreaded blue mickey light. Only to be told that in order to avail of Disney’s Fastpass service you must pre-book the Fastpass and return to the ride at the designated time.
My heart broke for each and every family that was unaware of the workings of Disney Fastpass system because in reality, in order to get fast passes on the day for the most popular attractions you will need to have a little bit of faith, a little bit of trust and a whole lot of pixie dust. Or, you know, you could stay here and read this guide to Disney Fastpass Secrets, Tips and Strategy 😉
There is no denying it, but a little bit a preparation and research goes a long way on a Disney holiday. And I am determined to help those of you who are a little uncertain about using Disney Fastpass service conquer the system and ultimately have the best possible time on your Disney Vacation.
So, Let’s get started!
Now I can only presume that those of you who have landed on this blog post are looking for Disney World Fastpass secrets, tips and strategies. However, I understand that this article may attract a wide variety of Disney guests.
For those of you visiting Walt Disney World for the first time continue on reading.
For those of you who know how FastPass works, and want to skip to the step by step Fastpass strategy, please click here.
For those of you who have critiqued their Disney Fastpass Strategy but want to know some extra strategic tips, click here.
And, for those of you who are here for the juicy Disney FastPass secrets, please click here.
What is Disney Fastpass? And how does it work?
Ok, so before we get started with booking our fast passes, we must first understand the purpose of the program and how it works. Long gone are the days when Walt Disney World used the same simple paper Fastpass system as the rest of their theme parks. Disney has most definitely moved on with the times and has introduced a modern spin on the original system.
Today, all those who purchase Walt Disney World tickets are entitled to 3 pre-booked fast pass reservations a day. Once all 3 passes are used, guests can continue to book more fast passes one at a time, throughout the remainder of the day. A fast pass entitles guests to skip the regular line and enter a line dedicated to fast pass reservations only. Resulting in a shorter wait and more time to spend at other attractions in the park.
Fast pass reservations last a total of 1 hour. So, if a fast pass begins at 1.00pm, guests can avail of the reservation anytime between 1.00pm and 2.00pm. Meaning if the wait time for Splash Mountain is 60 minutes, and you enter the line at 12.30pm. You can still avail of your 1.00pm fast pass for Thunder Railroad at 1.30pm. Just be mindful of the ride time and the walking distance from one attraction to the next.
How much is Disney Fastpass?
Wait what? How much? Many people seem to be under the impression that Walt Disney’s Fastpass system comes at a cost. Well, I’m happy to shed a light on that rumour because fast passes at Walt Disney World are 100% completely FREE. That’s right FREE.
Yes, there are paid services that entitle guests to skip the lines like Disney’s VIP tour, but they are in addition to the FREE scheduled fast passes.
Are fast passes available at all 6 Disney World Theme Parks?
At the moment there is no Fastpass system in place at Walt Disney World Water parks. The fastpass+ service only applies to the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot.
How do I book fast passes?
Booking fasspass+ reservations are made super easy once you know what you are doing. There are three possible ways to book Fastpass reservations.
- Using the My Disney Experience App (IOS/Android)
- On a laptop or computer over at disneyworld.disney.go.com
- At an in-park Kiosk
The Fastpass kiosk in the parks is super handy for us international guests. As the Disney WIFI isn’t always that reliable. So, if your struggling to secure a FastPass reservation on your phone be sure to head on over to a kiosk. Also, there is usually Disney staff waiting at the kiosk to help with any questions you may have.
PS: That kiosk is going to come in super handy in the Disney FastPass secrets section of this post 😉
Can I make my FastPass reservation as soon as my Disney booking is confirmed?
Unfortunately, no, FastPass reservations can not be made until 30/60 days before arrival.
One of the perks of staying at an on-site Disney property is FastPass availability. Disney resort guests have early access to FastPass selection. They can make a fast pass reservation 60 days before arriving at Walt Disney World. The reservations open at 7:00 a.m. American Eastern Standard Time and unlocks all the days of the resort guests stay.
General ticket holders and annual pass holders can make fast pass reservations 30 days before arrival, however, only for the day that is in 30 days time. So, a guest arriving on the 1st of August can book their first 3 fast passes on the 2nd of July, their next on the 3rd and their next on the 4th and so on.
What is the difference between Fastpass and Fasspass+?
I can see where things can get confusing for Disney first timers. Just a rule of thumb, if you hear anyone talking about FastPass or fastpass+, just presume they are talking about the same thing.
Disney called the initial paper system ‘FastPass’, so when they brought out the new modern system, they renamed it ‘fasspass+’. However, generally speaking, most guests still refer to the new FastPass plus system as just Fastpass, myself included.
Do you need a Magic Band to use Disney’s Fasspass+ System?
The simple answer is no, Magic Bands are not needed in order to avail of Disney’s fasspass+ service. Those without Magic Bands can use their regular park tickets to scan in and out of the FastPass line. The only problem is, most FastPass lines require guests to scan twice. On entrance into the line and then once they leave the FastPass area. That means guest need to keep their tickets out while in line. Leading to a higher possibility of losing the ticket.
Where do I purchase Magic Bands?
Please note, guests staying on Disney property receive basic magic bands with their booking.
A Step by Step Disney World Fastpass Strategy
Ok, so now that we understand the workings of the fast pass system, it’s time to dive deeper. In this section, I will walk you through the basic step by step FastPass strategy and time table I use when at Walt Disney World.
Following this strategy, I will provide a section on FastPass tips on the FastPass tiers system, park-hopping with fast passes and other tips you should take into consideration.
The FIRST FIVE STEPS of my Fastpass strategy take place at home. 60 days before park arrival for Disney Resort Guests and 30 days for all other ticket holders.
STEP 1: CHOOSING A PARK
The first thing I do in my fast pass strategy is to choose what park I would like to visit on a said day. In an attempt to predict the crowd levels, there are two things I take into consideration, the extra magic hours and special ticketed events (I’ll explain how to deal with both of these in the fast pass tips section of this post).
STEP 2: DON’T BOOK FAST PASSES FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
I have seen many blog posts online advising people to book fast passes first thing in the morning. However, I generally avoid this. At park opening, the crowd levels tend to be at their lowest. The low crowd levels last anywhere between 1 to 2 hours after park opening. Between that 2 hour window try to ride the most popular attractions like Peter-pans Flights, Space Mountain or The Dwarfs Mine Train. These attractions wait time can rise to 120 minutes during the day but are generally under 20 to 40 minutes in the morning. Save your fast passes for later so you can avoid waiting in those 2-hour lines.
STEP 3: BOOK YOUR FIRST FASTPASS
I usually book my first FastPass starting at 11.00 or 11.30am. By then the wait times have skyrocketed and believe me the PARKS.ARE.PACKED. I try to book the most popular attractions for my fast passes and wait in line for the less popular ones.
*More details are provided on each parks most popular attractions in the tips section of this post*
STEP 4: TIME TO BOOK THE SECOND FASTPASS
I try to book my second FastPass for about between 12 and 12.30pm. Once again for the most popular attraction, of course taking into consideration the tiers system in Hollywood Studios, Epcot & Animal Kingdom
*More info on tiers in the tips section*
STEP 5: THE 3RD FASTPASS SELECTION
I then leave a half-hour to an hour window between my 2nd and 3rd FastPass time for lunch, photo’s and resting, AKA going on a scavenger hunt looking for the famous ‘Disney Walls‘. I book my 3rd FastPass at around 2.00pm.
Step 5 completes the at-home part of my FastPass strategy. I do log into the My Disney Experience App from time to time to modify my schedule if fast passes have opened up for popular attractions like ‘Avatar Flight of Passage’. But…. other than that. I have done all I can until the day I arrive in each park.
STEP 6: BUT… WE ARE NOT FINISHED YET
Did you forget about the 4th FastPass? Yes, it is only possible to pre-book 3 fast passes in advance. However, once you arrive in the park and use all the prescheduled fast passes, it’s possible to schedule one fast pass at a time.
That means the Walt Disney World Fastpass strategy does not end at home. Once I scan my 3rd and final preschedule fast pass. I log straight onto the My Disney Experience app to book my next fast pass. I continue to do this until the park crowd levels die down.
Disney World Fastpass Strategy Summary
- STEP 1: CHOOSING A PARK
- STEP 2: DON’T BOOK FAST PASSES FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
- STEP 3: BOOK YOUR FIRST FASTPASS BETWEEN 11.00 TO 11.30PM
- STEP 4: TIME TO BOOK THE SECOND FASTPASS BETWEEN 12.00 TO 12.30PM
- STEP 5: THE 3RD FASTPASS SELECTION AT 2.00PM (LEAVE TIME FOR LUNCH
- STEP 6: WE ARE NOT FINISHED YET – IN PARK SELECTION
One final note on this Disney Fastpass Strategy. The above example presumes that you plan on arriving at the parks for opening.
Of course, there are days when that is not feasible due to tiredness from the day before or other scheduled plans.
In that case, just adapt the time schedule but continue to use the same strategy and technique.
8 Disney World Fastpass Tips
As promised, in this section I will give you tips and advice on things you should take into consideration when planning your Disney Fastpass strategy. I’m sure a lot of you have questions on the Fastpass tier system, the extra magical hours, special ticketed events and the most popular attractions. I will explain all of the above and how they can be an advantage or disadvantage to your FastPass strategy.
Tip 1: Modify
Modify! Modify! Modify! So, even if you follow this awesome Disney FastPass secrets, tips and strategy guide step by step. Sometimes… it is not possible to pre-schedule fast passes for your 3 favourite rides. When that happens book the next best thing.
But say, for instance, you wanted a Fastpass for Thunder Mountain but they were all gone. Book that available FastPass for Pirates of the Caribbean anyway. Then, on the day, check back every once and a while and try to modify the pirates FastPass for Thunder Mountain. Disney often releases new FastPass reservations on the day of.
Tip 2: Fastpass Cancelations
The moral of this tip is plans change and it’s hard to predict where you will be 60 or 30 days in advance. So, therefore, it is quite possible for a Disney guest to have booked some of Disney most difficult FastPass reservations. Like, Avatar Flight of Passage and then decide to cancel it because they don’t want to go to the Animal Kingdom that day.
If a guest cancels a Fastpass, it doesn’t just disappear. Disney reissues it onto the My Disney Experience App and that FastPass reservation is fair game for the first person who finds it.
So, ALWAYS refresh your app. I generally try to set alarms throughout the day to check if new fast passes have become available.
Tip 3: Most Popular Rides At Disney World by Park
When working on your Disney Fastpass strategy, it’s important to take note of the parks most popular rides and their average wait times. After all, you don’t want to book a fast pass for a ride that typically has a wait time of 15 minutes over a ride with a wait time of 105 minutes.
*The following times are only an estimate from my experience in the parks and may vary on your stay. The estimates are calculated for peak times, during high crowd levels*
MAGIC KINGDOM MOST POPULAR RIDES
|Ride Name||Average Wait Time|
|7 Dwarfs Mine Train||110 to 130 minutes|
|Big Thunder Mountain||50 to 90 minutes|
|Splash Mountain||40 to 60 minutes|
|Space Mountain||80 to 120 minutes|
|Pirates of The Caribbean||40 to 60 minutes|
|Haunted Mansion||50 to 60 minutes|
|Jungle Cruise||60 to 80 minutes|
|Peters Mans Flight||60 to 90 minutes|
|Winnie The Pooh||40 to 50 minutes|
|Buzz Lightyear||40 to 50 minutes|
HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS MOST POPULAR RIDES
|Ride Name||Average Wait Time|
|Tower of Terror||60 to 120 minutes|
|Rocking Rolling Coaster||80 to 120 minutes|
|Toy Story Mania||90 to 120 minutes|
|Star Tours||40 to 60 minutes|
|Slinky Dog||90 to 130 minutes|
|Alien Saucers||60 to 80 minutes|
ANIMAL KINGDOM MOST POPULAR RIDES
|Ride Name||Average Wait Time|
|Everest||60 to 90 minutes|
|Dinosaur||60 to 90 minutes|
|Avatar Flight of Passage||120 to 150 minutes|
|Na’vi River Journey||60 to 120 minutes|
|Kali River Rapids||60 to 120 minutes|
|Safari’s||50 to 110 minutes|
EPCOT MOST POPULAR RIDES
|Ride Name||Average Wait Time|
|Test Track||90 to 120 minutes|
|Soarin’||60 to 90 minutes|
|Spaceship Earth.||40 to 60 minutes|
|Mission Space||20m(G) 60m(O)|
|Frozen||70 to 100 minutes|
|Sea with Nemo||30 to 40 minutes|
Tip 4: Disney World Fastpass Tiers
Walt Disney World uses a Fastpass Tiers System. Meaning you can only have one fast pass from tier group 1 and two Fastpass from tier group 2.
There is currently no tier system in place at the Magic Kingdom. So you can book any 3 attractions you wish to ride.
Tier System at Hollywood Studios: Currently, the rides in Tier Group 1 are Alien Swirling Saucers, Slinky Dog Dash and Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror and Rocking Roll. The rest of the attractions are a part of tier group 1. Excluding the new Star Wars Galaxy Edge Ride, this is yet to be made available on Fastpass+.
Tier System at the Animal Kingdom: The rides in Tier Group 1 are Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey, the rest are in Pier Group 2.
Tier System at Epcot: The rides in Tier Group 1 are Soarin’, Test Track, Meet Disney Pals and Frozen Ever After. The rest are in Tier Group 2.
Tip 5: Park Hopping
As it stands, it is not yet possible to preschedule fast passes for two different parks. It is, however, possible to use all three fast passes in one park. Once all fast passes are used, the app will allow guests to book another FastPass in any of the other 3 parks.
Tip 7: Know the rides with the best lines
This is a bit of a strange one. But… I must admit that half the fun at Walt Disney World happens while waiting in line. Some of the attractions have awesome inline entertainment for you while you wait.
Like, the haunted mansion, Dwarfs Mine Train and space mountain. Now, I am not suggesting you go wait in a 120-minute long queue just to experience the ‘inline entertainment’. I do, however, suggest doing some research on inline entertainment and maybe try to visit those attractions when the parks are less busy, like late at night or early in the morning.
Tip 6: Make use of early mornings and late nights
So, I already mentioned that the crowd levels are at their lowest early in the morning at the park opening. Well, this rule also applies late at night, particularly during the fireworks and shows. So, If you have already seen Fantasmic, skip it the second time and jump inline for some of the most popular attractions instead.
My family and I once rode Tower of Terror 12 times in a row before the park closed. On the last ride, we were rewarded with an Extra magical moment and my family and I got to ride the ride with just us and one extra passenger. A Tower of Terror bellhop 😉 This is by far one of my favourite Disney Memories. (Photographed Above).
Tip 8: Extra Magic Hours & Special Ticketed Events
Extra Magical Hours allow Disney Resort Guests to enter the parks one hour early or stay two hours after the parks close. They only run on certain days and only in one park at a time.
Click here to check the Extra Magical Hours timetable for the duration of your stay.
This can work in your favour if you plan on staying on-site as you have extra time to ride the rides with a limited wait time. Therefore, If I were you, I would 100% book my fast passes in the same park as that days magical hours.
However, extra magic hours can be of a Disadvantage for those not staying on Disney property as the park with the extra magical hours will be busy before you even arrive. In that case, I advise booking fast passes for a different park to the one that is hosting the extra magic hours.
This theory applies to special ticketed events too. The ticketed events also offer admission before or after the pack closes. The only difference is those attending the events have purchased an additional ticket on top of their general park ticket.
The Ultimate Disney Fastpass Secrets Guide
Ok, so now we know how Disney World Fastpass system works, the best FastPass strategy to use and tips on scoring the most popular rides at the Walt Disney World Resort. It’s now time for the juicy information. The lesser-known Disney Fastpass Tips. This is your ultimate guide to Disney Fastpass Secrets.
Disney World Fastpass Secrets Number 1: The Grace Period
Many people don’t know this Disney Fastpass Secrets as it’s not something Disney likes to advertise. The Disney Fastpass system has a grace period, allowing guests to enter the FastPass line 5 minutes before their designated time and 15 minutes after. So, technically, that 1-hour Fastpass window is a 1 hour and 20-minute window.
The only time this Disney FastPass secret does not apply is when guests also hold a Disney Multi Experience FastPass. If the guest enters the FastPass line within the grace period, the system will pull the multi-experience FastPass rather than the pre-booked Fastpass reservation.
Secret Number 2: Multi Experience Fastpass
If a ride breaks down during your pre-booked FastPass time, Disney will issue a Multi Experience Fastpass. Allowing you to ride different attractions in the park. Please note, not all attractions are valid under the Multi Experience fast pass, the available attractions will be listed when the Multiple Experience Fastpass is issued to your app.
Now, I am a little bit guilty of ‘cheating the Disney Fastpass system’ as I have from time to time booked a FastPass for the likes of ‘Splash Mountain’ knowing full well of the incoming thunderstorm that was fast approaching. When the storm hit and splash mountain closed due to weather. I was issued a ‘Multi Experience Fastpass’. I then used that FastPass for Space Mountain, which at the time was done with FastPass distribution for the day.
So, this secret is, book a Fastpass for an outdoor ride before incoming weather and use the multi-experience Fastpass to ride popular attractions with no more fast passes left.
Secret Number 3: 4 Fast passes at the one time
Now, I’m not 100% certain if the next tip is one of the ‘official Disney Fastpass Secrets’ as it could very well be a glitch in the system. It did, however, work for me, and I would like to give you guys at least the opportunity to at least try it.
One day in the Magic Kingdom, The Pirates of the Caribbean ride went down and my sister and I got a Multi experience Fastpass. At this time, we still had not used any of our 3 pre-scheduled fast passes. When modifying our pre-booked fast passes we noticed that we were entitled to book one more Fastpass. As a result, we had 4 fast passes at one time. 3 scheduled fast passes and one Multi Experience Fast Past.
So, long story short, if you happen to get a Multi Experience Fastpass, log in to your My Disney Experience App and try to book a 4th Fastpass.
Secret Number 4: Over Lapping Fast Passes
Now, I explained earlier that the fast pass time slot can not overlap. There is, however, a way of cheating the system. If you have a Fastpass scheduled for 11.00am to 12.00pm and scan the fast pass at 11. That fast pass is now used, therefore, it is possible to modify your next fast pass for an earlier time. Meaning a Fastpass that was originally scheduled for 12.30pm can now be modified to any time after 11.01am.
Secret Number 5: Time Refresh
The next secret is an extremely helpful one. If you are looking for a Fastpass at a certain time but the desired attraction is not available.
Click into a later time slot and try to modify the reservation by pulling the time’s bar to the right. Do this a few times, until more time slots appear.
Secret Number 6: Make an in Line Reservation
What many people don’t know, is… You don’t have to wait until the hour window of your final pre-scheduled Fastpass is up to book your 4th Fastpass. In fact, the moment you scan through and get that flashing ‘green mickey’ your good to go and book your next fast pass.
Therefore, while you are in the Fastpass line for your final prescheduled fast, you should search the My Disney Experience app straight away for your desired 4th Fastpass.
Secret Number 7: 1 is better than none
Next on the Disney Fastpass Secrets list is a really neat trick, particularly for large families and groups. If you are struggling to get a Fastpass for all members of your party. Try to book them individually. Say one family member gets a Fastpass for Tower of Terror at 12.00pm, the second Family member has one for 12.15pm and the 3rd family member has one at 12.30pm. All 3 guest can have a 30-minute window where they can ride the attraction together. 45 minutes if you take the grace period into consideration 😉
Secret Number 8: Kiosk Reservations
The next of our Disney Fastpass Secrets is more of an observation. I’m from Ireland, so when at Walt Disney World, I heavily rely on the good olde Disney WIFI to operate the Fastpass system. Although, more time than not, the WIFI has kicked me out of the My Disney Experience App. I then, have to alternate to plan B. The Fastpass Kiosk. The Kiosks are scattered around the Disney parks and are basically a physical hub for the My Disney Experience App. One thing I have noticed that often time the My Disney Experience app displays no available fast passes for certain attractions when the Kiosk has a few. So, therefore, it is worth giving the kiosk a go every once in a while to book your next Fastpass.
THE BONUS DISNEY WORLD FASTPASS SECRETS!!! DUN DUN DUN
The reason I didn’t put this in the main Disney Fastpass Secrets column is that I don’t know exactly how ‘Official’ it is. I did, however, notice that Disney Distributes new fast passes on the hour, every few hours. I’ll give you an example, I was browsing the My Disney Experience app at 2.45pm and it stated that distribution for space mountain was finished for the day. Then at 3.00pm, I went back on to find 3 different time slots for Space Mountain. This scenario happened on several occasions, so I guess it’s important to always check the app. Just in case.
So, that brings us to the end of our Disney Fastpass Secrets, Tips and Strategy post. I just want to say a big thank you for those of you that made it all the way to the end. I know it is a super long post but I hope it came in helpful for those of you planning a trip to Walt Disney World. I would be extremely grateful if you guys could give this a big share on social media platforms, by email and with family and friends. I hope you have a magical time on your Disney Adventure and tell Mickey and all the gang that I said Hi.
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