WHAT IS A FASTPASS+ (aka FASTPASS or FASTPASS PLUS)
Disney’s FastPass+ is a reservation and scheduling system that allows you to reserve attractions, rides and entertainment in advance so that you can minimize your wait time in line. By having a FastPass+, you typically enter the attraction through a separate line, that is much shorter than the general entrance line.
Every guest at Walt Disney World receives three FastPasses. (Additional FastPasses may be added when your first three are used.) They are free of charge and come with your park admission.
FastPass+ reservations are good for one hour (except for select shows). For example, a FastPass+ scheduled for 9:15 am can be used from 9:15 am through 10:15 am. (There is a small grace period on each end of your window, however often dependent on the cast member assisting with the FastPass+ queue.)
MAKING FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS
FastPass+ (aka FastPasses) can be booked on the My Disney Experience site or mobile app.
FastPass+ become available at 7:00 am ET, 60 days prior to your first day at Disney (if staying at a Disney resort), or 30 days prior to your first day if staying off-site. (There is also now an option to book at 90 days prior, but its limited to those staying at select hotels on the club-level and has an additional charge.)
WHAT TO DO IN ADVANCE OF BOOKING FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS
Link your tickets, package, or annual pass to your Disney Account. (You can do this on the My Disney Experience site or the mobile app.)
If you are booking FastPass+ reservations for others, you need to add them to your Family & Friends list in advance of booking your reservations. (You can do this on the My Disney Experience site or the mobile app.)
DISNEY FASTPASS SECRETS: PLANNING TIPS
In order to excel at your FastPass+ strategy, you need a well-thought-out plan.
- Prior to booking your FastPass+ reservations, you should know which parks you will be going to each day. When determining your parks, keep in mind the following:
- Hours of operation for each park for the days you are visiting. (Keep in mind the hours may vary depending on when Extra Magic Hours are scheduled.)
- Predicted crowd calendar. (Ideally you will want to visit on days with the lowest crowd prediction.)
- Note that if you have a Park Hopper Ticket, you can only make your FastPass+ selections for one of the parks, however after using your three reservations, you can book additional ones (one-at-a-time) day of at the second park you visit.
- For each park you are visiting, make a list of the attractions (and rides/entertainment) that are most important to you. If you are traveling with younger children, take a look at the height requirements in advance to know if they have any restrictions.
- At certain parks, there is a tiering system where some rides are rating in tier 1 and others in tier 2. If the park uses the tiering system (all but Magic Kingdom do), you can only select one ride from tier 1 and the other two must be from tier 2. Keep this in mind as you are making your list of must-dos.
- FastPass+ reservations can also be used for certain character meets, parades, and fireworks. Be sure to check out the listing of available attractions on the Disney site for each park.
- There are certain rides where you should keep the time of day in mind when selecting a time. At Animal Kingdom, I prefer to go on the Safari in the morning as it gets hotter throughout the day and the animals are most active in the earlier hours. At Magic Kingdom, I prefer Splash Mountain in the afternoon when the heat is strong and you need a nice cool down. (And you likely don’t want to get wet at 9:00 am when you are just starting for the day.)
- Keep in mind the layout of the park so you are not hopping from one side to the next in a short window.
DISNEY FASTPASS SECRETS: USING RIDER SWITCH WITH FASTPASS+
If you have young children, this section applies to you. If not, you can skip to “Developing your Strategy” below.
Before we get into the strategy and secrets for booking your FastPass+ reservations, it’s important to understand Disney’s Rider Switch. This service can be used in conjunction with your FastPass+ reservations and if you plan appropriately, you can use FastPass+ and Rider Switch together to “hack” the system and use the FastPass+ line for more than your scheduled three FastPass+ reservations.
WHAT IS RIDER SWITCH?
Rider Switch is a solution that Disney offers for those traveling with younger children who may not meet the requirements for select rides. (The complete list of rides that allow for Rider Switch can be found on the Disney site. It allows for one adult to wait with the child(ren) who do not meet the requirement while the other adult enjoys the ride. When they have finished the ride, the waiting adult can board the ride without having to wait in the regular line (and use the FastPass+ line, without having a FastPass+.)
When the first person who will be riding the attraction gets into line, they can ask the cast member for a Rider Switch pass. After completing the ride, they hand the Rider Switch pass to the adult waiting, and they can skip the regular line to board.
A Rider Switch pass is good for up to two or three guests. (The Disney site says two guests, however the actual Rider Switch pass as of March 2018 says three guests.)
Note that your whole group should be present when the first person enters the line to tell the cast member they need a Rider Switch.
HOW TO USE RIDER SWITCH IN CONJUNCTION WITH FASTPASS+
You can maximize your usage of FastPass+ when you use the FastPass+ strategically with Rider Switch. Only the first member of the party needs a FastPass+ in this case. The waiting party will automatically get to use the FastPass+ boarding lane with the Rider Switch pass, even if they do not have a FastPass+ themselves. If you play your cards right, this can mean getting extra FastPass+.
For example, say a couple is visiting Disney with their young children and want to enjoy some of the rides with higher height restrictions while their children are taking a stroller nap. Adult 1 can get a FastPass+ for one ride and Adult 2 can get a FastPass+ for a different ride. The whole family should show up to the first ride, Adult 1 uses their FastPass+ and asks for a Rider Switch pass for Adult 2, who is waiting with the kids. Upon completion of the ride, Adult 1 takes over supervising duties and Adult 2 boards the ride using the Rider Switch pass and can use the FastPass+ lane, even though they did not book a FastPass+. After the ride, the family makes their way over to ride 2, where Adult 2 uses their FastPass+ to board, and asks for a Rider Switch pass for Adult 1.
This is also a great solution if you have multiple children, with at least one not meeting the height restriction for a ride, however both adults want to experience the magic of the ride with the child(ren) who meet the restriction. Adult 1 and the child who meets the requirements can board the line and ask for a Rider Switch pass. Adult 2 stays back to supervise the child(ren) who cannot ride. When Adult 1 and the child meeting the height restriction are done with the ride, Adult 2 can take the same child on the ride again, without waiting in the general boarding line.
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DISNEY FASTPASS+ SECRETS: DEVELOPING YOUR STRATEGY
Initially, you can only book three FastPass+ per person, however you can book more throughout the day once you use your initial three. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to schedule your first three as early as possible in the day so you can add additional ones as soon as you check into the third ride.
You can only schedule one FastPass+ per hour. For example, if your first FastPass+ is at 9:15, your second FastPass+ cannot start until 10:15.
You have a one-hour window (starting from the time of your FastPass+) to use it. That means if you have a FastPass+ for 9:15, you can show up at 10:00 and still be within your window of time.)
Make a list of your ideal plan. Include the rides you want to do, on which days, and who will be reserving a FastPass+. An example schedule looks like this:
DISNEY FASTPASS+ SECRETS: BOOKING FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS
You should be on your computer or mobile device by 6:55 am ET and refresh just before 7:00 am ET on the day your FastPass+ reservations become available. (This is 60 days prior to the first date of your trip if staying on a Disney Resort, or 30 days prior if staying off-site.)
Book your hardest-to-get reservation first.
Try to schedule the harder-to-get rides for the end of your trip as you will have a better chance at availability. (Your FastPass+ window opens 60 or 30 days prior to the first date of your trip, but you may book for all of the days in your trip at that time.)
You may have to move the timing of your reservations around as you are making your selections. The time slots go quickly, but also change quickly in those early hours when FastPass+ selections are made available. In order to fit everything in, you may have to adjust your timings. If you don’t see a time available, try again in a few minutes.
If you cannot obtain a FastPass+ for a desired attraction/ride, try changing your search to just include one member of your party. You may find a FastPass+ for one and then be able to add the other members to this reservation after. (This is not guaranteed but may work for you.)
Only those with a park ticket need a FastPass+ (i.e. a 2-year-old does not need a park ticket nor do they need to be booked for FastPass+.)
DISNEY FASTPASS+ SECRETS: TIPS WHILE AT THE PARKS
Because lines are the shortest in the morning, see if you can fit in a few rides prior to using your first FastPass+ (using the general admission line.)
DISNEY FASTPASS+ SECRETS: BOOKING ADDITIONAL FASTPASS+
As soon as you check in during your third FastPass+ attraction, you can book another FastPass+. (You can continue this throughout the day by adding another and another after each ride.)
The easiest way to access your FastPass+ while in the park is to use Disney’s mobile app (My Disney Experience), but there are also kiosks in the parks that you can use to reserve additional FastPass+ reservations.
It has been rumored that Disney will release additional FastPass+ availability throughout the day (day of) for certain hard-to-get rides. Keep checking your app throughout the day to see if additional spots have been opened.
Do you have additional tips for booking FastPass+ reservations? Feel free to share in the comments.