FastPass+ - New and Improved?
Several years ago Disney introduced a system to help reduce the time people stand in lines. It was called FASTPASS. Recently Disney has been upgrading the program into a brand new FastPass+ program. Check it out.
The new system has worked out most of the kinks, but can still give guests trouble from time to time (don't be afraid to ask a Cast Member for help). It's very different from the old get a paper ticket and come back at a certain time. Now you can "schedule" your visits to attractions (and even make a reservation for lunch).
The old FASTPASS Tickets
Photo by Lisa Klien1
Disney has been testing several new ways to reduce wait times (and to make them more enjoyable). It's all part of the new Billion dollar program called MyMagic+. One of the parts of MyMagic+ is called the My Disney Experience which includes FastPass+. This will allow you to schedule up to 3 rides before you even leave home.
This may totally change the way you tour the parks. For some people, this will mean sleeping in and heading to the park later with FASTPASSes already secured. If you do arrive early, the best plan of attack will be to hit the “big” rides first, then see everything else, saving your FASTPASS reservations for later in the afternoon and evening when lines are longest.
You can even change your reservations up until their active time, and if you want to cancel all your reservations for one park and rebook them for another park, you can do so before your first pass is active. When you head to an attraction, you’ll use your MagicBand to enter through the FastPass+ entrance (a bit different from the regular FP entrance).
The Basics of FastPass+
You can make your reservations up to 60 dates in advance (30 days if you aren't staying at a Disney Hotel) using either the My Disney Experience planning page or the mobile app. Don't worry, you will be able to change your mind about attraction times once you arrive at WDW using the My Disney Experience mobile app, talking with your hotel concierge, or at the FastPass+ kiosks in all 4 parks.
Using FastPass+ you can reserve a certain time, if you do not want to reserve a certain time than the system will give you the first available reservation. So if you have mapped out and planned to be at Space Mountain in MK at 10:30 a.m. you will need to request that time. This can be very important if you want to change your plan once you have entered the park, since the time you desire may not be available.
To start with, you will get to pick 3 attractions and/or entertainment options per day at 1 theme park. You have to pick 3 different attractions (no hogging the Space Mountain FastPasses!), and you can't split them between parks if you plan to park hop.
After you use those 3 initial passes you can get additional passes, one at a time, for that park or a different park, by visiting a FastPass+ kiosk or making a new reservation with the my Disney Experience app on your phone - but only after you've used the initial 3 passes.
Dad's Ultimate Guide to FastPass+
How do you keep everything straight, with your MagicBand of course. The Magicband is flexible and lightweight and making is easy to keep your vacation on track. They can be used to enter any of the WDW parks. The MagicBand has a RFID chip embedded into it. This chip keeps track of park tickets, dining reservations, PhotoPass photographs, FastPass reservations, along with being the key to your room and a payment option at the resort or in the parks.
Each park is a little different in how it handles attractions. The Magic Kingdom has the most options and it pretty simple. Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios have fewer options and are set up on a tier system. Here are the options.
In the Magic Kingdom there are 25 different attractions that have the FastPass+ option. Most are attractions, but Disney is experimenting with special areas where you can watch parades or Wishes. Here's the list ...
- the Jungle Cruise
- Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Splash Mountain
- The Haunted Mansion
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
- Space Mountain
- Tomorrowland Speedway
Main Street U.S.A
- Town Square Theater Mickey Mouse Meet and Greet
- Ariel's Grotto
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Princess Fairytale Hall
- Meet Cinderella/Rapunzel
- Meet Anna/Elsa
- The Barnstormer
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- It's a Small World
- Mad Tea Party
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Mickey's PhilharMagic
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Remember you can only pick 3 so choose wisely.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
At Disney's Hollywood Studios guests are allowed to pick 1 attraction for group A and 2 from Group B. No, you can't pick more than one from Group A or more than 2 from Group B.
Group A (Choose 1)
- Toy Story Midway Mania!
- Beauty and the Beast- Live on Stage
- Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
- Great Movie Ride
Group B (Choose 2)
- Disney Jr-Live on Stage!
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Star Tours
- Muppet Vision 3D
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
This does make it a bit harder to get around in Disney's Hollywood Studios where it really helped to be able to FastPass most of the big rides.
Epcot also has their attraction group into groups A and B. Again you are allowed to pick 1 from group A and 2 from group B.
Group A (Choose 1)
- Test Track
- Living With the Land
- Illuminations: Reflections of Earth
Group B (Choose 2)
- The Disney/Pixar Short Film Festival
- Journey Into the Imagination
- Character Spot
- Mission: SPACE
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends
- Spaceship Earth
- Turtle Talk with Crush
Epcot is interesting because only 1 of the attractions is in the World Showcase.
When visiting the Animal Kingdom there are 10 experiences that you can choose from.
- Expedition Everest
- Festival of the Lion King
- Finding Nemo-The Musical
- It's Tough to be a Bug
- Kali River Rapids
- Kilimanjaro Safari
- The meet and greet at Adventurers Outpost
- Primeval Whirl
Animal Kingdom may be the most friendly to FP+. It's pretty easy to choose here.
Some of you out there are thinking what if I miss my window of time for these attractions? I have the answer, if you do miss your time window just talk to a Cast member and they will try to help you, at the worst you will have to stand in the regular line and wait for your turn for the attraction.
Changing your mind
You are not tied to the decisions you have made a few months before your trip. If you change your mind use the Disney Experience App, visit your concierge at the resort, or visit any of the kiosks in all 4 parks. There are lots of kiosks so feel free to change your mind mid-day if you want, but word of warning, you may not get the time you want since people have been booked for months in advance.
Upon entering the Magic Kingdom, there are two chances on Main Street to visit a kiosk, you can stop at Guest Relations at City Hall or at the Town Square Theater. If you are in Liberty Square there is a kiosk near the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon. There a 2 kiosks in Fantasyland, one outside of Mickey’s PhilharMagic and the other across from The Barnstormer at the Storybook Circus. The last one in the Magic Kingdom is at Splash Mountain in Frontierland.
During your day at Epcot you can visit the kiosk at Mission: SPACE and at Soarin’. There are also kiosks at Guest Relations at Future World, the digital tip board between Spaceship Earth and the big fountain, the International Gateway, or at the Future World West Walkway by The Land pavilion.
There is a FastPass+ kiosk to your left upon entering Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There is also one by the wait times board at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard. Kiosks are also outside the Voyage to the Little Mermaid and outside the Tower of Terror where the old machines used to be.
While visiting Animal Kingdom you stop by Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, or Primeval Whirl to find a kiosk. There is also a kiosk at the Disney Outfitters store on Discovery Island and at the front of Creature Comforts.
Getting More FastPass+ Reservations
After your first 3 FP+ reservations have been used, you can start selecting others, one at a time. For instance, you can't get your 5th reservation until you've used your 4th one. So if it's 1pm and you take a 10pm Space Mountain reservation, you'll be done making more FP+ reservations for the day.
The good news is, you can park hop! Spending the morning at Magic Kingdom, but plan on being at Epcot after dinner? No problem, just use the app to select the available FP+ reservation of your choice at the other park, even while you're still at the first park. Neat.
Here's how it works:
And don't worry about losing your reservation if a ride breaks down. Should that happen, you'll get a handy email and an in-app notification that your ride is down and a list of options for where you can go instead. It's a pretty great system.
History of the FastPass System
The original paper FastPass sytem was first introduced in 1999. The original design of the FastPass system is that each attraction has a certain number of people that can ride each hour and the park is open for a certain number of hours each day. For example, the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion allows 2,000 guests per hour, if the Magic Kingdom is open for 12 hours, then 24,000 guests can ride the attraction.
At the beginning of the day a set number of FastPasses are set aside and given out for a designated return time. As the day goes on fewer and fewer FastPasses are available. Once they are all given out they are gone.
The old paper system is gone. In mid-December 2013 Animal Kingdom was the first park to get rid of the paper system. Magic Kingdom joined them on January 14, 2014 and Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios followed in February.
In April 2014 Disney started opening up FP+to all guests.
Crowds and Touring Plans
Disney World Crowds are a fact of life. To go on a Walt Disney World vacation will at one point mean standing in line. There are ways to minimize the time you stand in those lines and it's something Dad suggests everyone gets. The way to minimize time standing in lines is by using Touringplans.com.
Touringplans.com is the unrivaled leaders of creating Touring Plans (imagine that) for Walt Disney World vacations. They have put together a system that will save you up to several hours of standing in line on your vacation. Check them out.
Dad also knows a thing or two about crowds at Disney World. His crowd pages are legendary at least in his own mind.
FastPass+ is a big change from the old FP system. It's just getting started and there are lots of complaints so it might change a bunch over the coming months so stay tuned.