Disney FastPass Secrets
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Getting the most out of your Disney World FastPass selections may seem like a mysterious art at first, but there are actually some solid rules and a few Disney fastpass secrets that can help you snag the very best times and rides for your next vacation.
Basics : What is a FastPass?
It goes by many names : fastpass, fastpass plus, fastpass+. All of these are code for a “reservation” for a ride at Walt Disney World. It allows you to go through a special line for a pre-selected attraction or ride. The big bonus is that it typically comes with a much shorter line (like shorter by HOURS in some cases). You make your fastpass+ reservation for a certain day and hour time frame (think 2-3pm). When you show up to the ride during that time frame, you can go through the shorter line. Understanding how fastpasses work is going be key to your strategy. You can also pick up an Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World for more in-depth planning expertise.
Disney FastPass Secret #1 : Schedule FastPasses Ahead of Time
Everyone with a ticket can schedule their fastpasses 30 days in advance of their stay at Disney. If you are staying on property, you get a big advantage. You can schedule your fastpasses 60 days ahead of the FIRST DAY of your stay. This means that if you are staying for 7 days, you might be scheduling some 67 days in advance.
Disney World Pro-Tip : You can snag the 60 day fastpass window AND save money.
There are two other ways you can snag the 60 day fastpass booking window without booking directly through Disney (i.e. for less money!):
- Stay at a participating Disney Springs Hotel: Certain participating hotels in Disney Springs get the same benefits as an on-property hotel. The big benefit here is that they are much cheaper than a traditional Disney Resort. Double check that it is a participating hotel by reviewing Disney’s website.
- Rent DVC Points – Disney Vacation Club owners will “rent” their points out when they can’t make a trip during the required time frame. You can snag a stay at a Deluxe Villa for 20-30% of the normal rate by renting points. It roughly brings a Deluxe Villa down to the price of a Moderate Resort.For some examples of what this might look like, you can check out the Grand Floridian Villas, Animal Kingdom Villas, or Polynesian Villas. If you decide to go this route, we have personally used David’s Vacation Club rental and can vouch for the excellent service and quality of the rooms. You can find out more about the whole process here.
You should always take advantage of scheduling your fastpasses early. Even at the 30 day mark, you might be able to get some really good passes. One thing that Disney is excellent at is adding new attractions. As some become more popular, others will have openings. For example, a fastpass for Toy Story Mania may have been impossible at the 30 day mark before. Now that Slinky Dog has taken over in popularity, you can snag Toy Story Mania much easier.
Disney FastPass Secret #2 : Look for Specific FastPass+ Times
When you go schedule your FastPass+ selections, the default method is to look for “Morning, Afternoon, Evening.” You also have the option to search for specific times. A common problem is how to get your dining reservation and fastpasses to line up. You can schedule dining 180 days in advance, so your fastpasses often come after. Searching for specific times for your fastpass is often the best way to get times that align with your dining.
Example : Schedule FastPasses for a Specific Time
As an example, let’s pretend that we want to get a fastpass for Barnstormer (although the wait is usually low, this is a toddler FAVORITE). If I let it search by “morning:, I see there are not times available at 10am. When I switch to a specific time (10:30), I get several options at 10am. It makes sense too. You would offer the LEAST crowded fastpass times first to try to spread the love around. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a time out there for you a little later or earlier Now, when the fastpasses become scarce, this secret isn’t as helpful.
Disney FastPass Secret #3 : Schedule Backwards if Staying On-Site
If you are staying on-property at Disney World, you get that extra benefit of scheduling 60 days from the FIRST day of your reservation. This means you have a bigger chance of snagging those hard-to-get fastpasses later in your trip. Since everyone with trips before you might overlap into the first part of your trip, you want to start scheduling backwards. For this Disney World fastpass secret, pick your last day and schedule it first, going for those rare fastpasses (Flight of Passage, Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Slinky Dog and the newest rides). I have had a 7 day stay and literally was only able to book Slinky Dog coaster on the last day. If I’d started booking on my first day, I might have been too late!.
Don’t forget to get your free MagicBands if you are staying on-site too. If you want to dress them up though, make sure to check out ShopDisney for all kinds of awesome accessories!
Disney FastPass+ Secret #4 : Stretch your FastPass+ with Rider Swap
Rider Swap is a feature that Disney offers to adults that have smaller children in their party that don’t qualify for certain ride height attractions. The gist is that you (adult #1) and your “of height” child (#1) schedule a fastpass for Ride #1. When you go up to the FastPass line, you let them know that adult #2 has to stay back with child #2. They will give you a free fastpass for adult #2 to ride with child #1 after you finish the ride. This means your kiddo gets to ride the twice, once with each parent. Check out our Rider Swap for Rock N’ Roller Coaster:
Example : Disney FastPass Tricks with Rider Swap
When you are booking rides, therefore, you only need to book one fastpass for adult #1 and one for child #1. Adult #2 will get to go “for free” as part of child swap. This means you can also book a different fastpass for adult #2 and child #2. A typical scenario for us has been to book a fastpass for me and my daughter to meet the princesses at the same time that my husband and son ride Seven Dwarves Mine Train. My daughter gets big hugs from Rapunzel and Tiana while the boys ride. When we are done, I can use the rider swap to enjoy Seven Dwarves Mine train with my son too. The result is:
FastPass Secret : Rider Swap
Without Rider Swap With Rider Swap
Adult 1 FastPass - Seven Dwarves FastPass Seven Dwarves
Child 1 FastPass - Seven Dwarves FastPass - Seven Dwarves
Adult 2 FastPass - Seven Dwarves
FastPass - Fairytale Hall
FastPass - Fairytale Hall
Child 2 FastPass - Fairytale Hall FastPass - Fairytale Hall
Summary Adult #2 uses 2 fastpasses, meaning they only have 1 left Everyone only used 1 fastpass, meaning they have 2 left
It isn’t only good for one adult either. Disney World currently allows you to take 3 adults back through with you. They will scan the bands of the adults and the child who will be riding the second time. They will also try to time it to coincide with the time that the first adult and child will get finished with the ride. During out last trip, this meant the rider swap was good for about an hour after our initial ride.
Disney FastPass+ Secret #5 : Move Up Your FastPasses
When you originally book your fastpasses, you can’t have overlapping times. For example, if your FastPass+ for Seven Dwarves is from 9-10am. You can’t schedule another fastpass until 10am. Once you are in the Park and using your FastPasses, that changes. As soon as you use your fastpass (I.E. you scan your band on the ride), you can move your next fastpass into the same time zone. This works because you technically “don’t have” two fastpasses at the same time. You’ve already used one and it has left your account. This means your 11-12p Space Mountain could become a 9:05-10:05a. This strategy can help you condense your fastpasses and leads directly into FastPass secret #6!
Disney World Pro-Tip : Keep your phone charged!
This secret requires you to have a fully charged phone at the parks, because you are going to be using the MyDisneyExperience app to make these changes. The app is known for draining batteries (it’s running you location constantly), so I highly recommend bringing an external battery pack with you. You may read a lot about the Fuel Rods, because they have free charging stations in the park. There is a reason….they don’t hold a charge and they die quickly. They also get super hot in our experience. I highly recommend that you instead spend a few bucks on a good charger. You can use it for more than just Disney. The one we recommend is the Anker Power Core 1300. It has 2 USB charger ports and can charge an iPhone up to 4 times on a single charge of itself. It’s worth the price.
Disney FastPass Secret #6 : You can schedule more than 3 per day!
I know we said you can only schedule 3 per day, but the truth is you can only PRE-schedule 3 per day. Once your fastpasses are exhausted, you can schedule 1 fastpass at a time for the rest of the day. Technically, you can have unlimited fastpasses! I have seen someone use as many as 20 fastpasses in a day! They might not be for the most popular rides, but they certainly help you spend far less time waiting in line and a lot more time riding!
The same rules also apply as moving up your fastpasses. As soon as you scan your band, you can begin scheduling your next fastpass. I’ve had some scheduled before I even get on the first ride!
Disney FastPass Secret #7 : Break Large Groups Up
If you are riding with larger groups (think 5 people +), then you might have better luck breaking yourselves up into smaller groups and getting overlapping times. Again, you will want to search by exact time (our #1 secret) to have the best chance of finding the overlapping times. It’s much easier to snag a 4 person Flight of Passage from 10-11am and a 3 person from 10:15-11:15a than it is a 7 person from 10-11a.
Disney FastPass Secret #8 : Schedule During the Busiest Times
Scheduling a fastpass as soon as the park opens is a wasted fastpass. If you expect to be at the park when it opens, it’s a much better use of your time to try a “rope drop” the ride than it is to use a fastpass. If you head straight there as soon as the park opens, you will have a small/moderate wait and can use that fastpass during peak hours. For most parks, they are busiest from 10a-4p. This is the time zone that you should target your fastpasses. If you are using secret #5, you can breeze through your first 3 fastpasses and be ready to schedule more soon!
Disney FastPass Secret #9 : Use Your FastPasses Quickly
Use those fastpasses quickly so you can book another high tier ride. All parks except Magic Kingdom break their rides up into Disney fastpass tiers, meaning you can only select one ride from a certain tier. For example, Hollywood Studios places all the Toy Story Land attractions in the top tier so you can only have a FastPass for one each day. That is, until you exhaust all 3 fastpasses and then you can schedule another one! You can’t do this by cancelling a fastpass though. You actually have to use all 3 before you can schedule another from the same tier. This means you want to use them up as quickly as possible.
Disney FastPass Secrets Summary
Fastpasses are a big part of your Disney vacation planning, and putting these Disney fastpass tips to work can help you save tons of time waiting in lines! For a recap, these are the top 9 Disney World fastpass secrets:
- Schedule your FastPass+ selections as soon as you can.
- Search for your fastpasses by specific times instead of just by “morning, afternoon, or evening.”
- Schedule your last day in the parks first to take advantage of advanced booking.
- Take advantage of Rider Swap to saving some fastpasses.
- Reschedule your fastpasses earlier as soon as you use the first one.
- Be sure to schedule a new fastpass as soon as you use your first 3 up completely.
- If you have a large group, search for them in smaller groups to better your chances.
- Use fastpasses for the busiest times of the day.
- Use your fastpasses as quickly as possible so you can schedule additional tier 1 rides.