Disney FastPass+ : Skip the Lines!
I do not wait in 2 hour lines, especially with a 3 year old and a 6 year old. Disney understands this, and their fast pass system makes it possible to skip the lines for your favorite rides. If you are staying on property, you can schedule your fast passes 60 days in advance. For all other guests, you can schedule 30 days in advance. Understanding the system can save you hours of waiting in lines.
Before you start scheduling fast passes, you have to do some prep work with your visiting party. Things to consider:
- Early Risers : Is your group up at dawn or do they like to sleep in? You are on vacation, so don’t push yourself to get the first fast pass of the day if you know its going to cause irritability. You need to allow at least 1 hour for travel inside the park system (resort to park). Knowing when and how your team operates in the morning will help you start planning. My group does not like getting up early so I always schedule our first fast pass at least an hour after the park opens.
- Nap Times : Naps are OK (and very welcome in my family!). One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in the past is scheduling fast passes during known nap times. Never bank on your kids “powering through.”
- Lunch and Snacks : One of my biggest lessons-learned from our trips when our son was sub-4 years old : Food matters! You will want to schedule fast passes around lunch times or pack good-quality snacks.
- Get out the measuring tape! You don’t want to waste a fast pass on a ride that your children don’t quite measure up to yet. We literally pull out the measuring tape and check in advance of our trip. My site on Where to Start When Planning a Disney World Vacation has a list of all of the height requirements to save you some time searching.
How Do I Schedule Fast Passes?
Fast Passes are scheduled through the MyDisneyExperience app or website. I personally like to schedule them through the website initially, but use the App constantly when we are at the parks to re-schedule or check wait times. Once you are 60 days out from your trip (if staying on property) or 30 days out, you can log into the website and select FastPass+ from the menu.
The website or App will walk you through the steps which include selecting:
- Your Party – Make sure you checked those height requirements!
- Park – You can only have active fast passes at one park at a time
- Time – Select Morning, Afternoon, Evening or a specific time
- Scroll through experiences and select the exact time that works best for you
How does it work?
There are a few rules to your fast passes that will help you when you start planning:
- You can only have active fast passes at one park at a time
- You an schedule a maximum of 3 fast passes per day
- Fast Passes are good for a 1 hour time frame for rides. If your fast pass is at 9:00 am, you must show up between 9 and 10am. Fast passes for shows will give you the window, usually 30 minutes prior, for you to get your fast pass seat.
- The rides are restricted to “tiers” at Epcot and Hollywood Studios. This keeps the headlining attractions open for more people. For example, you cannot book Toy Story Mania and the Beauty and the Beast Live! as fast passes on the same day. At Epcot, the rides are broken into two tiers:
Epcot FastPass+ Group A (Choose 1)
- Frozen Ever After
- IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
- Test Track
Epcot FastPass+ Group B (Choose 2)
- Disney/Pixar Short Film Festival
- Journey Into Imagination With Figment
- Spaceship Earth
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Turtle Talk with Crush
- Epcot Character Spot
- Mission: SPACE Green
- Mission: SPACE Orange
- Living with the Land
Hollywood Studios FastPass+ Group A (Choose 1):
- Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
- The Great Movie Ride
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Toy Story Midway Mania!
Hollywood Studios FastPass+ Group B (Choose 2):
- Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
- For the First Time in Forever – A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
- Muppet*Vision 3D
- Star Tours 2: The Adventures Continue
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- The Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special (seasonal)
What are the must-have fast passes?
With all the planning in mind, which fast passes are must-haves? There are some rides that we would literally never ride without a fast pass (I don’t wait in 2 hour lines!). Your picks will be personalized to what your family likes to do, but these are good starting places:
- Seven Dwarves Mine Train – I have seen this line 2 hours at 2 am. Without a fast pass, or another trick, this is almost impossible to find with a short line.
- Space Mountain – It’s a classic and one of the faster roller-coasters. You can luck out during Extra Magic Hours to not have to wait, but a fast pass will guarantee you’ll make it on this ride.
- Splash Mountain – With a lower height requirement, this ride can have a very long wait, especially during warm weather.
- Any of the Group A Rides:
- Frozen Fever – Elsa brings 2 hour+ waits consistently.
- Soarin’ – This ride came out with a whole new theatre and movie/theme in 2016. The lines can get long to see the new setup.
- Test Track – This is a must-do for any car-loving kids. You design you own car and take it for a high-speed ride.
- Any of the Group A Rides:
- Toy Story Midway Mania! – I have literally never ridden this ride unless I have a fast pass. The wait is almost always 1.5 hours or more.
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – One of our favorite thrill rides at Disney! Hollywood Studios doesn’t have a ton of rides, so the good ones fill up fast. This might all change once Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land open up in 2019.
- Kilamanjaro Safari – I get my favorite pictures on this ride, and so does everyone else which leads to long wait times.
- DINOSAUR – A must for any dinosaur-loving kids. It’s an inside attraction, which get busier on hot days.
- Expedition Everest – The only roller coaster in Animal Kingdom spells l-o-n-g l-i-n-es.
- Starting May 2017: Pandora opens in Animal Kingdom and these rides are sure to require a fast pass for quite a while as they are the “hot, new thing”
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
While I spend a lot of time planning my fast passes, I use the app while in the park constantly to make sure I need to use them. If you luck out and there is a short line, don’t use your fast pass! You can cancel it or modify it for another ride that might have a longer wait. Some of the ones listed in the recommendations are not likely to have another available time, but if you are park-hopping, you can schedule fast passes at another park once you have used or cancelled all of your first set.
Fast Passes can definitely help you get the most of your vacation. As with everything Disney, the key is to have fun and use your planning to help alleviate stress when you are in the parks. You are on vacation! A little prep work to get the right fast passes an help make sure you get to ride your favorite rides without hours waiting in line.