Home » 6 Crucial FastPass+ Strategies You MUST Use on Your Next Walt Disney World Visit

6 Crucial FastPass+ Strategies You MUST Use on Your Next Walt Disney World Visit

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By now, you’ve likely heard all the pros and cons of the FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World. In order to maintain tighter control of the number of FastPasses that Disney guests enjoy, the Walt Disney Company added a new computer system that encourages early planning. Theme park tourists who know they’ll visit Orlando, Florida, in 30 days have the opportunity to select three Walt Disney World attractions they can enjoy without the aggravation of waiting in the regular line.

You can learn the entire story here, but what’s important is that the new system is much tougher to manipulate than the one employed at Disneyland. Since there’s no way to cheat it, the next best thing is to understand how FastPass+ works and figure out how to bend it to your will. Here are six tips that will help you make FastPass+ work for you instead of against you.

1. Start early

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Even under the new FastPass+ system, rope drop tactics still work. In fact, you can augment them. You should always schedule your FastPasses for the start of the day. Assuming that the park opens at 9 a.m., you’ll want your passes set for 9 a.m., 10 a.m., and 11 a.m. If you’re not a morning person on vacation, I understand why you’re groaning. Consider this a necessary evil.

Here’s the explanation. Initially, Walt Disney World limited park visitors to three FastPass+ selections. They’ve since softened on that stance. You can get a fourth and even fifth and sixth pass if you plan well. Eight is the most I’ve ever managed in a day, but that was at Magic Kingdom when it was open until 2 a.m. In most scenarios, guests can get at least five FastPass+ reservations pretty easily. 

By getting to the park early, you’ll open up your options later in the day. Let’s say you schedule a FastPass+ for 9:05 a.m. You’ll have until 10:05 a.m. to ride this attraction. That means you don’t have to head straight to your FastPass line. Take advantage of standard rope drop strategy in this scenario.

2. Tripling down on your favorites

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If you have a favorite ride and it’s popular, you can’t get two FastPasses for it in advance. Disney’s rules allow only one FastPass per attraction, at least during the planning phase. You can, however, ride it as many as three times during the day of your visit through clever planning. All you must do is set up an early FastPass for your favorite attraction then employ rope drop tactics.

Let’s use Seven Dwarfs Mine Train as an example. The moment the park opens, head all the way to the back of the park at Fantasyland. You should be able to get on the ride with no more than a 15 minute wait if you time it well. You HAVE to walk with purpose and without getting sidetracked, though. A few moments of delay can double your wait time. Ride it once in the regular line then turn around and ride it again using your FastPass. You’ll notice at this point, that the standard line is probably much longer now.  Rather than ride it again, use some strategy. Later in the day after you’ve used your third FastPass, try to get another one for this ride. Voilà! That’s three times on the ride with little time spent waiting in line. This plan works for almost every ride but Toy Story Midway Mania.

However you handle your options, be flexible with your additional passes. When you’re about to enjoy your third attraction, you should start planning for your next one. Look at the wait times for the other rides you’d like to experience. Try to determine the ones that have the longest wait times but the earliest FastPass options when you’re at the kiosk.

3. Wishes is great, but…

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There’s a flip side to the park opening thought process above. You can’t get additional selections until you complete the current set. You also can’t get a fifth FastPass until you use the fourth one. If you’re thinking like a FastPass+ expert, you’ve probably already reached the end of the page on this one. By locking up a selection that doesn’t take place until after dark, you prevent yourself from adding others.

The instant you spend a FastPass selection on premium seating for Illuminations, Fantasmic, and the Electric Parade, you’ve decided to wait in lines the rest of the day after you’ve used your first two FastPasses. While I advise against this strategy, I understand that you may disagree. If that’s the case and you do spend a FastPass in this manner, here’s something else to consider.

4. Afternoon delight

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You no longer need to arrive at the park’s opening, because you won’t get extra FastPasses before lunch anyway. Yes, you can still get in several rides before park traffic picks up, but if you’re more interested in sleeping in and enjoying the day at a leisurely pace, go with it. Pick your FastPasses for the afternoon when congestion would prevent you from skipping lines at most attractions. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction in walking past people facing an hour-long wait. Plus, you can slot your park time between lunch and dinner for maximum convenience. This suggestion works better for people who travel to Walt Disney World frequently and don’t have the pressing need to enjoy as many attractions as possible in a single day. You can calmly hit your favorites between meals then take in a fireworks show from an optimal location where you can get some unforgettable pictures and videos.

If you want to combine the two plans, you can usually get FastPasses for fireworks shows early in the afternoon. Unless it’s peak season or a holiday, they don’t sell out quickly for the reasons above. So, get three morning FastPasses and maybe even aim for a fourth one if you can get it prior to say 3 p.m. After you’ve enjoyed your final attraction, try to get a FastPass for the evening show. If everything works out, you can ride a lot of your favorites before lunch while guaranteeing a relaxing end to your day.

If you’re struggling to make the FastPass+ schedule work well, you can use meet and greet character experiences as a way to pass time effectively during hour-long FP windows. They tend to take longer than other attractions since nobody can control the amount of time a child hugs someone in a costume.

5. Save your feet some sorrow

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One of the worst mistakes you can make with the new FastPass+ system is crisscrossing the park needlessly, especially at Animal Kingdom, the largest of the four Walt Disney World theme parks. It’s important that you plan your day, even if you are annoyed that you can no longer just show up at Walt Disney World and wing it.

You HAVE to set up your FastPass selections in an order that doesn’t force you to traverse the park too much. Try to create a path with your FPs such as east to west or south to north rather than east west east. This tactic is also tricky if you’ve never visited before. You’ll need to look at maps to plot your course if that’s the case. 

6. Four parks, four plans

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One of the most important planning tips for Walt Disney World is that each of the four parks has its own behavior. For example, late afternoon FastPasses are pointless for Animal Kingdom since it’s starting to clear out by that point anyway. If you can take the afternoon heat, crowds won’t be a concern. Every park has its quirks. Disney set up the FastPass+ tier system to reflect the differing attraction traffic patterns. Three of the parks have priorities for FastPasses. Magic Kingdom does not. The park you plan to visit for the day determines your behavior to a certain extent.

No matter the park, you should only get FastPasses for rides that have constantly long waits. These rides at Magic Kingdom merit a FastPass:  Splash Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and the Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet. If you love the rides and don’t want to wait, Thunder Mountain Railroad, The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and Jungle Cruise are also options. Everything else has tolerable lines during all but the busiest points on the schedule.  

For other parks, the options are simpler. At Hollywood Studios and Epcot, you’re looking at an either/or with the best rides. Consider a rope drop for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith at Hollywood Studios or Test Track at Epcot in combination with a FastPass for Toy Story Midway Mania and Soarin’. That way, you’re likely to enjoy the best rides without having to wait in line a long time. Beyond these selections, most FastPass+ selections are pointless since the waits are rarely long. Since you’re forced to pick, go with Twilight Zone Tower of Terror since it’s the best ride at Hollywood Studios in my opinion. At Epcot, the character spot is probably your best bet until the Frozen ride debuts at Norway Pavilion.

At Animal Kingdom, there’s nothing that truly requires a FastPass other than Kilimanjaro Safaris, and the dirty secret about it is that the FP line is sometimes longer than the regular one. You should also get Kali River Rapids during hotter times on the calendar, but it’s frankly a ride that needs updating anyway. Its primary value is a bit of splashing water that will cool you down. Even Expedition Everest has acceptable wait-times at most points. You may find a FP for Festival of the Lion King is your best option from now until the debut of Avatarland.

Finally, when you do pick rides for your FP selections, remember to factor in your kid. Many FP rides have height requirements. You don’t want to waste one on something only to discover they won’t be able to join you.