Standing in lines waiting for rides is the best part of visiting a theme park said no one, ever. Fortunately Disney has improved on their long-standing FastPass system to help you make the most of your time in their parks.
Back in the day, visitors to Disney parks could take advantage of the FastPass+ system and find themselves jumping the lines at some of the most popular rides. All you had to do was go up to the electronic kiosk, insert your park pass and the machine would pop out a little paper ticket—which was your pass to the front of the line. You were assigned a time window to return to the ride and hop on, without much of a wait.
In 2014 Disney introduced their new and improved FastPass+ system. This new system not only allowed visitors to reserve their spot on the most popular attractions and entertainments in the parks, but they could also do it 60 days before they even arrived. Some critics have said that this leads to too much planning and not enough freedom to just enjoy your day. We have found that having a plan when visiting a Disney park with kids is essential. We love the new FastPass+ system—if you do it right. Here’s how you can use the system to your advantage and get the most out of your day at a Disney Park.
First, the rules:
- You get to make three FastPass+ reservations at each park you are going to, for each day you are there. So if you are headed to the Magic Kingdom on two separate days, you get to make three reservations for each day that you visit.
- If you are staying on site at a Disney hotel you can go online 60 days ahead of your arrival and choose three different attractions to make your FastPass+ reservations.
- If you are staying off site, you can book your FastPass+ reservations 30 days before you arrive at the park.
- On the day that you are at the park, once you have used up all your FastPass+ reservations you can book more, one at a time, at various locations around the parks.
- If you have bought tickets or passes to any of the Disney World Parks, you are eligible to use the FP+ system—and it’s free.
- Your FastPass+ reservation will be for a particular time window but if you are early or late you may still be able to ride. There have been reported grace periods letting riders on 5 minutes early and up to 15 minutes late. We still recommend trying to be on time, but sometimes, a kid’s gotta pee.
Only certain attractions are eligible for FastPass+ reservations, and the newest and most popular attractions fill up the fastest. You can see the full list of eligible attractions here, but here are our top ride choices by park:
Meet Princesses at Fairytale Hall
Attention Frozen fans! This is your chance for your kids to meet the ever-popular Anna and Elsa. This is a hot ticket, so if this is one of your must-dos we recommend trying to get this first. If Anna and Elsa aren’t your kiddos faves, instead they could choose to meet Cinderella and Rapunzel. Good to Know: Meeting these princesses mean two separate lines so if you want to meet them all, you’ll have to line up twice.
Seven Dwarf Mine Train
This is one of the newest rides at Disney World and the lines are long because of it. But this fun roller coaster is worth it. We recommend heading straight to the ride when the park opens and waiting in line to ride—it will move quickly first thing in the morning. Then you can ride a second time with your FastPass+.
Enchanted Tales with Belle
Another fun one for the princess lovers out there. This interactive show takes you inside Belle’s cottage and transports you magically to the Beast’s Castle. There, thanks to the magic of Disney, kids get to meet Belle and help her act out the story of how she and the Beast met, and fell in love.
Peter Pan’s Flight®
If you went to Disney World as a kid, you probably rode (and loved) this attraction. Board your own pirate ship and travel far above the city lights of London and experience the classic story of Peter Pan. This ride always has long lines but it is an eternal favourite of kids young and young at heart.
Epcot has split the FastPass+ reservations into tiers, and you can pick ONE attraction from Tier One and TWO attractions from Tier Two. Unfortunately that means that you can’t make reservations on both Test Track and Soarin’, two of Epcot’s most popular rides.
This incredible stimulator ride takes occupants on an aerial ride over California. It is one of the highlights of Epcot for many families, but there are height requirements (40″) and this ride may cause motion sickness.
Another highlight at Epcot is definitely Test Track where you get the chance to design your car of the future…and then virtually test drive it. Good to know: the ride goes VERY fast at the end so it is not for the faint of heart, or for the very young.
DISNEY HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios are also broken into tiers, just like at Epcot. You can select one attraction from Group A and two from Group B. At this park, more than at any of the others, you may want to use your FastPass+ reservations to take in a show or two.
Fans of Star Wars will love this ride! Don a pair of 3D glasses and blast off on a tour of the Star Wars galaxy aboard a Starspeeder 1000. Good to Know: this is a motion simulator ride and may cause motion sickness in some.
Toy Story Mania
This 4D shootin’ game stars all your favourite Toy Story characters. Riders get to zip through a virtual gallery of carnival games. Good to Know: This is a very popular attraction at Hollywood Studios so be prepared to line up or get yourself a FastPass+.
For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-a-Long Celebration
We know you know the words, so why not belt them out in a room full of other Frozen fans? The highlight to this show is the appearance of Queen Elsa and Anna at the end while an auditorium full of people young and old sing along to ‘Let It Go’ while the snow gently falls. Magical.
The newest Disney park opened its doors in 1998 and is the second largest theme park in the world. It is the first (and only) Disney park to be themed entirely around animal conservation and is a fun day for animal lovers.
Board an open-air vehicle for a tour of a lush African savanna. You’ll get to glimpse real animals in their natural habitats during an 18-minute exhibition. Expect to see lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos and more.
Festival of the Lion King
This is not a traditional attraction; it’s a Broadway-calibre show. Kids will love the pageantry (and puppetry) as the show celebrates Simba, the lion cub who will be king. Songs from the film are presented in a unique and exciting way.
Seems like a lot of info right? If you’re smart about it, FastPass+ can help make your day at a Disney park run smoothly—and who doesn’t want that? Here are our tried-and-true strategies for making FastPass+ work for you:
- We like making all our FastPass+ reservations for the morning. That way when you have used up all of your passes, you can make another one. And another one. And on and on.
- If you are staying on site and didn’t get your top FastPass+ reservation (for example, if your entire trip will be ruined if your family misses out on meeting Anna and Elsa), we suggest taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours. These are a perk for onsite guests, which allow them to enter the parks (or leave the parks) early (or late). Different parks keep different hours, so check before making your plans, but we suggest getting to the park for early EMH (you’re up with the kids anyways, right?) and then heading directly to the attraction you want to go on most and waiting in line. Yes, we know you will still be waiting in line but you will have a jump on the masses.
You don’t have to use FastPass+ in order to have a fantastic time at Disney World, but if you use it right it can enhance your experience and help you get the most out of your visit.