What is a FastPass?
If you’re new to planning a Disney vacation or haven’t been since you were a kid, you might find yourself uttering this phrase. (Seriously, I tried to explain FastPass to my mother and she just kept shaking her head at me.) So let’s start here.
FastPass is a program offered at Walt Disney World to all ticket holding guests that allows them to make reservations for some of the most desirable attractions.
Each guest gets three FastPasses that can be used throughout the day. You can make your initial three FastPass choices in advance of your vacation. Those guests staying on site can make theirs 60 days in advance. Off site guests can do so at 30 days.
Once you are in the parks and use your initial three FastPasses, you can make additional FastPasses using either the My Disney Experience App or the in park kiosks.
Why should I make a FastPass? Can’t I just show up and enjoy myself?
This is literally what my mother said after she was done shaking her head at me. So let me tell you what I told her. You could do that. You can show up with no plan and just hope for the best. And then, when you’re standing in the five hour line for Frozen Ever After, you’ll have plenty of time to write me a long letter telling me how right I was about FastPass and how you’ll never doubt me again.
The truth of the matter is that Disney only gets more popular, which means that lines at the most exciting attractions only get longer. You can certainly hit some at rope drop and be successful, but that strategy has an expiration date. Once the park has been open for an hour, you’re going to see those crowds increase and then you’re back in hours long line territory.
You don’t need to plan out every second of your trip but you should have a rough idea of what your day will look like, and FastPass can help with that. Mom wants to do Mine Train, Dad wants to do Splash Mountain, Brother needs to do Space Mountain and Sister will be in tears if she can’t do Peter Pan’s Flight. Those are all big e-ticket attractions that can see crazy wait times. If you FastPass three of the four and hit your remaining ride at rope drop, you’ve already got a nice frame work for your morning.
But use your judgement on this one. There are some rides that rarely need a FastPass, because they are fast loading, high volume loading, or they don’t have a high buzz level. My youngest loves Prince Charming’s Carousel, but to FastPass that would be crazy. Same thing with some of the older attractions and shows. We always need to do Phillharmagic, but it seats so many people that the wait is rarely worth the FastPass. If you’re not sure which rides have the longest (or shorter) lines, log into the My Disney Experience app on your phone and check the wait times. Doing this a few days in a row will give you a good idea of what waits will look like for the attractions you’re most interested in.
The scheduling rules of FastPass means that each reservation is made within an hour window and cannot overlap. If you’ve got a 9:05 for Mine Train, that actually means you have between 9:05 and 10:05 to show up and use your FastPass. It also means you cannot make your next FastPass before 10:05. 10:10, yes. 10:15, go on ahead. 10? Nope.
So how do I even make a FastPass?
You’ll need a MyDisney Experience account, which you probably already signed up for to do your dining reservations. If you didn’t, hop on that right quick. Make sure your resort reservation and park tickets are linked to your account. Do all of this before your 60 day mark.
On your FastPass day, be at your computer ready to go at the correct time. Which you will have double checked the day before. For me, on Eastern time, it was 7am. I was ready, willing, and able by 6:55. Sign in and click on the FastPass icon. It will take you here.
Chose your day and the park you will be visiting. Know that even if you are using Park Hopper, you must make all three initial FastPasses at one park. Once you’ve used those during your vacation, you’re welcome to make your fourth reservation at a different park. But to start, you’ve gotta use ‘em all in one spot.
Next, you’ll see a screen with the available rides and available times.
This is where I tell you that it’s a good idea to go in with a rough idea of what rides you’d like to do at what time. Going in blind ,especially if you’re visiting at a popular time like summer or Christmas, can really hurt you. In the time it takes you to scroll through all the possibilities and decide what you want, all the morning FastPasses for Soarin’ have been claimed. Go in knowing the window you’d like to do certain rides and get the closest available time. Let’s say you go in with this rough schedule of what you would like to do at Epcot.
- Soarin’ (9-10)
- Journey Into the Imagination with Figment (10-11)
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends (11-12)
Soarin’ is a Tier 1 ride, so it’s my first priority. I get a FastPass at 9:10. Terrific. This pushes my possibility for the other two back, so maybe my schedule now looks like this:
- Soarin’ (9:10-10:10 FastPass Window)
- Journey Into the Imagination with Figment (10:20-11:20 FastPass Window)
- The Seas with Nemo and Friends (11:45-12:45 FastPass Window)
Always make your hardest to get FastPass first. In fact, I don’t do my FastPasses by day, I do them by difficulty. After you’ve made a FastPass, the screen will ask you if you’d like to make another. Once you say yes, you can chose this same day or another day. It’s very easy to switch between days. And this way, you can be sure other guests don’t grab all the Kilimanjaro Safari FastPasses while you’re twiddling around with whether you want to see the Frozen Sing Along at 11:30 or 12.
When you’re done making all your FastPasses, your screen will look like this.
Wait, you just said something about Tier 1. There are Tiers, now?
There are Tiers now! Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT all have two Tiers for their attractions. Tier 1 are the most popular, hardest to get rides. Tier 2 are a little bit easier to get on. For those three parks, you choose 1 attraction from Tier 1 and two from Tier 2. Disney does this to disperse the crowds in any given park. Once you’ve used your initial three FastPasses, you can chose your fourth FastPass from either Tier.
The good news is, there are no Tiers at Magic Kingdom, so you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. One word of caution, though. You can only book n experience once in your initial set of three. That means you can’t try and do Slinky Dog Dash at 9, 10, and 11.
How do I redeem my FastPasses when I’m in the parks?
FastPasses are tied to your tickets, either through your all access Magic Bands, or though your hard ticket. In both cases, you simply scan the band or ticket against the FastPass check in pole and you’re good to go.
If you’re having trouble deciding what attractions you’d like to FastPass, we’ve got you covered there, too. Be sure to check out complete attraction and entertainment guides for the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. These list every attraction, show, and entertainment within each park, including their height requirements, whether they participate in FastPass and Switch, and their location in the parks.
What are your favorite rides to FastPass? What ride is never worth FastPassing? Gimme all your best Fast Pass tips in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey three years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!