Monday, December 5, 2016

{Disney} Your Guide to FastPass+

I've referenced our use of FastPass+ during our most recent Walt Disney World vacation and spoke to the importance of understanding how to use the FastPass+ system.  It can be a huge timesaver, especially when paired with basic touring plans.  If your first Disney vacation is coming up, I realize that the whole FastPass+ thing may seem a bit overwhelming.  I used to hate dealing with it and in the past, always asked Rich to take care of that part of the planning.  Disney's most recent update of the system has made it much more user friendly and booking our FP+ reservations was quite simple this time around.

FastPass+ is basically a reservation to enter a ride or attraction during a specific period of time.

You need to know:
  • Initially, you can make up to three FastPass+ reservations (must all be in the same park) per day.
  • If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can make your FP+ reservations 60 days in advance.  If not, you will have to wait until 30 days before your vacation.  (Note that the time to begin securing your FP+ reservations is 7:00 AM EST.  I suggest you log on to your My Disney Experience account prior to that day to ensure that your account is set up and ready to go.)
  • A FP+ reservation is for a window of time that lasts an hour.  
  • Your FP+ reservations cannot overlap.  If you have a reservation to ride Peter Pan's Flight at 2:00, you cannot book another FP+ within that hour window.  The next opening available to you would be 3:00.
  • Once you use your three FP+ reservations or the time for your reservations expires, you can make another FP+ reservation.  After you use that FP+, you can book another, and so on. 
  • Having the My Disney Experience app on your phone will save you time during your vacation.  Not only can you view your FP+ selections, but you can make any changes through the app.  If you don't have the app and you want to make a change, you will need to go to a kiosk in the park.   

Unfortunately, Epcot and Hollywood Studios operate under a tier system.  What does this mean?  Well, you can only hold a FP+ reservation for one Tier 1 attraction at a time.  And yes, the popular rides are in that Tier 1 category.

Epcot Tier 1 Attractions
  1. Frozen Ever After
  2. Soarin'
  3. Test Track
  4. IllumiNations
(Does this surprise you?)

Hollywood Studios Tier 1 Attractions
  1. Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
  2. Fantasmic
  3. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
  4. The Great Movie Ride
  5. Toy Story Mania

Several rides rarely see wait times in excess of 20 minutes but yet Disney allows guests to select a FastPass for these rides.  My belief is that this is done in order to spread out the FastPasses with uninformed guests using their FP+ slots for rides with low wait times. In addition, FastPasses are limited and quite often book up which sometimes leaves guests no choice but to choose rides with typically shorter lines.

So what should you do?  Here are some of my suggestions (including touring plans) for Magic Kingdom and Epcot:
  • Arguably the most popular ride in all of WDW right now is Frozen Ever After.  This should be the first FP+ selection you make.  Keep in mind that at the 60 (or 30) day mark, all of your vacation days are open for making selections.  
  • Don't make FP+ selections that coincide with when the park opens because the lines should be short anyway.  If you plan to arrive for rope drop (or shortly after), hit some rides first in the standby line as the wait times will be low.  Then as the park begins to fill in, utilize your FP+ selections.
  • Avoid making FP+ selections for later in the day because you won't be able to add any additional FP+ until your original three have been used or the time has expired.
  • On most days, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has the longest line at Magic Kingdom.  If you plan to ride this, I would secure a FP+ or make sure you are at the park at rope drop and this is your first stop.
  • If you are unable to secure a FP+ for Frozen Ever After, I would choose Test Track over Soarin'.  The recent renovation of Soarin' increased rider capacity and the wait times are typically lower than those for Frozen Ever After and Test Track.  
  • Don't ever let anyone tell you that securing FP+ for a character meet is a waste of time.  It's your vacation and if your children are into meeting the characters, those lines can sometimes grow quite long.  If possible, I try to add character meet FP+ after we've used our 3 FP+ for popular rides. 

Remember that you won't be able to plan out every little detail and if you try to do so, you are setting yourself up for a meltdown.  Do your research, know what to expect and go with the flow.


Karen said...

I think becoming a part time Disney travel agent would be the perfect job for you... Have you considered that?

Courtney said...

I liked FP+ characters because then my son didn't have to wait in a long line to see princesses he wasn't that interested in. He was more willing to wait in long lines for rides he wanted to do!

BreezieGirl said...

I did two character FP+ during our trip and they were perfect. The one was our first day and we weren't sure what our plan looked like (so we weren't going to be sad if we had to miss that FP+). The second was at Epcot and included Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy. My nephew never would have waited in a long line and my brother really didn't want to meet any characters. The FP+ meant a short wait so everyone was happy AND we were able to get pictures with ALL of us in them (which was my whole goal since I'm usually behind the camera).

My biggest confusion with the system was not being able to initially select the exact times for each of my choices and Disney spitting out set times for all three. I figured out how to change them later though.

Cynthia said...

If you're not a Disney hotel guest, the booking window only opens for that specific day that is 30 days out and not your whole vacation. We stay at Shades of Green which is not eligible for 60 day FP+ (although we do get EMH), so I had to go in day by day to book our fastpasses :)

Sarah said...

I wish they would add Shades of Green to the 60 day window.