Our FastPass+ tips and tricks

FastPasses have certainly changed over the last ten years or so. Those of us who have been visiting Disney for a long time remember the days before the Fast Pass even existed. If a park was crowded, you’d just have to stand in line for the attractions you wanted to enjoy. Other than trying to enter the parks right at opening, there wasn’t much you could do. With the growing popularity of the parks, guest satisfaction began to decrease after people realized they were spending too much of their vacation waiting in line rather than enjoying the attractions.

Then in 1999 Disney introduced the FastPass system. Upon park entry, guests could now go to their favorite rides and get a paper ticket that allowed them to come back to ride the attraction at a designated time within a one-hour window, thus skipping the long line. That gave guests the freedom to wander the park and get on other rides until it was time to use the FastPass. After using that FastPass or allowing its time to expire, guests could then obtain another FastPass ticket somewhere else. 

The high tech FastPass+ was introduced in 2014, and the paper FastPasses disappeared. Now, guests could book their FastPasses up to 60 days in advance of their trip if staying in a Disney resort or 30 days in advance if staying off property. This system currently remains.

Whether or not you like the strategy of planning far ahead and guaranteeing certain attractions or see it as a disappointing end to the spontaneous Disney trip, you’ll want to be aware of a few tips and tricks we’ve figured out along the way. We’d like to share them with you!

1. Figure out what date your FastPass booking window opens.

If you have booked a stay at a Walt Disney World resort, you will be able to start making FastPass selections 60 days in advance. If you are not staying on property, your FastPass booking window will open 30 days in advance.

Once you determine the morning you can begin making your FastPass reservations, mark it in your calendar. You will want to be ready to start the process at 7am EST that day, so be sure you’ve done your homework and made your lists before then! Seasoned park-goers will be doing the same thing, so don’t let them snag your desired attractions while you’re sleeping late!

2. Be sure you’ve purchased your park tickets before your FastPass booking window opens.

You cannot make FastPass reservations without purchasing park tickets first. Get it done before that 60-day or 30-day mark! I always try to do it at least a few days in advance, if not sooner, just in case I experience some kind of technical difficulty with the website and need time to call a Disney representative to sort it out.

3. Make a list of your ride priorities for each park you plan to visit.

Now that you’ve booked your tickets, make lists of what rides you and your family most want to enjoy, organized by park. If you are able to get FastPasses for these rides, you know you will guarantee your favorites. It’s also good to research if your family’s top priorities are rides that happen to be the most popular or not, which leads me to our next tip…

4. Know which rides have the hardest-to-get FastPasses, and which rides really don’t really require FastPasses.

Before you do anything else, book FastPasses for rides that consistently have the longest lines. For example, in Magic Kingdom, those rides are the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan, and Space Mountain. If you want to ride these, book FastPasses for them immediately if you can. Do not waste a FastPass reservation on a ride that usually has a short line, such as Mickey’s Philharmagic (you can usually walk straight onto this ride). While Mickey’s Philharmagic is a family favorite of ours, we know we never need to FastPass it.

5. Book your hardest-to-get FastPass first, regardless of what day of your trip it is.

In other words, don’t feel like you have to book your FastPasses in order of date. We won’t go to Animal Kingdom until the fourth day of our vacation, but I’m still going to try to book that day’s FastPasses first because I know how hard it is to get on the Flight of Passage ride.

6.Try to schedule each day’s three FastPass reservations relatively early in the day and close together.

Why? Well, once you use your initial allotted three daily FastPasses, you will then be able to book another one. And another one. And another one. You get the idea.

You can only book three FastPasses per day – at first. You won’t be allowed to make additional FastPasses until after your first three have either been used or have expired. That means if you manage to book your three FastPasses in the morning, it leaves the entire rest of the day to book additional FastPasses. If you book your initial three FastPasses spread out over the entire day, then you’ll run out of time to try to book that fourth FastPass. You cannot book additional FastPasses until your first three have been used or have expired. See the logic?

Another good reason for this has to do with the tiered FastPass system. Disney has organized all the rides into Tier 1 and Tier 2 options. Tier 1 attractions are the most popular, and Tier 2 are everything else. (Magic Kingdom is the only park that only has one tier, so this point does not apply to it). For the rest of the parks, you’ll only be allowed to book one FastPass on a Tier 1 attraction. The other two FastPasses must be Tier 2 rides. However, once you’ve used your initial three FastPasses, you’ll be allowed to book another Tier 1 ride. This is why you really want to use your first three FastPasses as early in the day as possible.

7. Try to book your very first FastPass of the day about an hour after park opening.

Lines are shortest as soon as the park opens. So, by scheduling your first FastPass around 10am, you can arrive at the park at 9am and try to walk on other rides while the standby lines are still short. Once the park starts filling up with crowds, you’ll have hopefully ridden a number of rides you haven’t spent FastPasses on. Another way to do this? Book an early breakfast reservation before the park even opens. By the time you’ve finished breakfast, you’ll already be in the park and ready to hop on a ride - no FastPass necessary - before the crowds even get inside the gates!

We hope you’ve found these tips and tricks helpful in your FastPass planning! If you do it right, it can really take the stress out of your vacation. May the force be with you in all your FastPass planning!

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