Familiarizing yourself with the FastPass system at Disney World is a must before your Magical vacation. Fastpasses are available to you for free after you have purchased your tickets and connected your ticket number (or passholder information) on the My Disney Experience app. The app is excellent not only for getting (and changing/updating) Fastpasses, but also for making dining reservations, viewing maps, finding characters, locating bathrooms, checking rides (and wait times), etc. So make sure to download the app as soon as you’ve purchased tickets.
Fastpasses can be a little confusing. So, before you start your vacation, here is everything to know:
- Each person in your party can get up to 3 Fastpasses per day (then more as you go).
You can plan fastpasses up to 30 days out. If you are going with a family or group, book your fastpasses together. If you book them independently, there is a chance you won’t get the same times. After you have used your fastpasses in the park, you can log on to get more one at a time (if they are available). You can do this on your app or at one of the Fastpass kiosks in the park.
- Fastpasses are connected to your Magic Band
Out of convenience, you and your party will scan your Magic Band to enter the park. If you are a Passholder or staying at a Disney resort you receive a Magic Band for free. If you are not staying on Disney property or you are not a Passholder, you will be issued a Disney Card. They work the same, the Magic Band is just worn on your wrist (like a watch or fitbit) and is easier due to accessibility (you don’t have to find your wallet, pull it out, etc). You will also scan your MagicBand or Disney Card to use a fastpass at the ride entrance.
- Most Fastpasses are good for a 1 hour time frame
When you select a Fastpass, you will be given a time frame (for example, 2:30-3:30). This means you can arrive at any point at the experience between 2:30-3:30. If you arrive before 2:30 or after 3:30, you will not be able to redeem your pass (unless you’re less than 10 minutes early/late). Remember that some fastpasses are for shows. Thus, the timing may be a little different. For instance, the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom may give you a 2:30-2:50 time. This likely means the show starts at 3pm, so get there by 2:50 to get your seat (and PS- don’t miss this show, it is fabulous!).
- Strategically plan your Fastpass experiences and times.
I can’t emphasize enough that you should PLAN if you want to get the most out of your Disney experience. It is difficult (and tiring) to be going back and forth across each park all day and get to everything you want to see. I suggest doing the Disney parks in a circle, planning in “break” times for snacks or meals. This means you should plan your fastpasses considering how your day will start. I also recommend getting fastpasses in early in the day, as you can always get more later. Plus, busy wait times tend to be 10am-2pm. So, if you’re planning a day at Magic Kingdom, I suggest starting down Main Street then cut over to Adventure Land, then Frontier Land, Liberty Square, Fantasy Land, and ending with Tomorrow Land before fireworks. I would reserve your fastpasss for Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the morning. Make your way through the park and plan lunch. By 2pm, schedule your Seven Dwarfs Mine train (this wait is always long).
- You can change Fastpasses at any time
At any point in your day, you can go to your Disney app or a Fastpass kiosk in the park to change or update your Fastpasses. You would do this if you aren’t going to make a time frame; however, beware. If you change your fastpass for a popular attraction, the same attraction probably won’t be available. So, try to make it to your “popular fastpasses” (see #7 below).
- You can’t book fastpasses at different parks on the same day
If you are park hopping, you can’t book fastpasses at different parks. Plan to book them for the park with the longest lines. I personally think Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom tend to have the longest wait times, thus are best to book fastpasses at- if you must choose.
- Popular Fastpasses book FAST
There are certain Fastpasses that book FAST. So, you should reserve these ASAP if you want to ride them and not wait. In my experience, the following fastpasses can be difficult to book less than a week out:
Epcot: Frozen Ever After, Soarin, Mission Space, Test Track
Animal Kingdom: Avatar Flight of Passage, Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest, Dinosaur
Magic Kingdom: 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Peter Pan
Hollywood Studios: Rockin Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania (sometimes)
- Just because it’s a long wait ride, doesn’t mean you should book the fastpass
Keep in mind the age of crowd you are going with and what you may like to do. If you are not a big roller coaster family, save your fastpasses for some other ride or character encounter choices (there are plenty to pick from). These waits can also be very long, especially if you have little ones (See: What to do at Disney with Young Children).
Whatever you do, make sure you book fastpasses for SOMETHING. They can be huge time savers and you get them free anyways.
And don’t forget… HAVE FUN!