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MagicBand

Over the last few months, Walt Disney World has been gradually phasing out its FastPass queue-jumping system in favor of a replacement dubbed FastPass+. Recently, it made the full switch - so the legacy FastPass system is no more at the resort. We've received a lot of questions from readers about the differences between FastPass and FastPass, so we thought it would be useful to summarize them in a single article. We'll follow that up with reports on our own hands-on experiences of the new system.

Before we jump into the differences, let's identify two similarities between FastPass and FastPass+. Firstly, both systems are (or were) free to use if you've paid for admission to one of Walt Disney World's theme parks. Secondly, they both enable you to reserve a time slot, during which you can return to an attraction and ride it without waiting in the regular "standby" line.

With that in mind, let's take a look at how FastPass+ differs from its predecessor.

10. Reserve in advance

MyDisneyExperience

This is the biggie. With FastPass+, you can go online via the MyDisneyExperience website and reserve time slots for most attractions at Disney's Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom up to 60 days in advance of your trip (if you are staying on-site at a Disney hotel). So, if you want to, you can book a whole raft of FastPass+ slots before you even arrive at the resort. Disney hopes that this will discourage people from sneaking off to Universal or SeaWorld on a whim.

9. Restrictions for non-Disney hotel guests

If you're not staying at a Disney resort, you currently can't reserve FastPass+ slots in advance. Instead, you'll have to do so on the of your visit, using special kiosks that are set up around the parks.

8. MagicBands

MagicBand

Previously, guests obtained FastPasses using by inserting either a paper park ticket or a plastic "Key to the World" card into a FastPass booth. Now, on-site hotel guests will be equipped with an RFID-enabled MagicBand wristband. Off-site guests will use plastic park tickets to make reservations at FastPass+ booths.

7. No more paper passes

FastPass

Those little paper FastPass passes are no more at Walt Disney World. All reservations are stored digitally, and you'll "sign in" at an attraction's FastPass+ line using either your MagicBand (for on-site guests) or your plastic park ticket (for off-site guests).

6. Limits

There were limits in place on the previous FastPass system - most notably that you could only hold one at a time (or at least, you could not obtain another one until the start of the time window on your current one). However, there was no hard limit on the number of FastPasses you could obtain in a single day.

With FastPass+, that has changed. You're limited to 3 reservations per day.

5. Multiple reservations

The flip side of the "3 reservations per day" limit of FastPass+ is that it's now possible to make all of those reservations at the same time, so you won't have make multiple trips to FastPass booths.

4. Tiers

Tiers

With the roll-out of FastPass+, Disney has introduced tiers of attractions. This means that while you can reserve time slots for three attractions at Epcot, for example, only one of them can be a tier one attraction. Naturally, these are the most popular attractions, such as Test Track. And it's not possible to make multiple reservations for the same attraction on the same day, even if it's in a lower tier.

3. One park per day

Holders of Park Hopper tickets who opted to visit two (or more) parks in a single day used to be able to take advantage of FastPass in both parks. Not so with FastPass+ - it's only possible to make reservations at one park per day.

2. Strict return times

In the old days of FastPass, savvy guests knew that they could get away with returning late to an attraction as Cast Members almost never enforced the end time - instead, they would allow guests to return any time after the start time on their FastPass. Nowadays, FastPass+ windows are enforced much more strictly (we have noticed Cast Members making allowances for forgetful guests who've missed a pre-booked time slot, but this is likely to become less common as the system becomes more embedded).

1. More attractions

This is another major change. FastPass was available only for a handful of attractions in each theme park - those with the biggest capacity issues, and therefore longest queues. FastPass+, however, is available for the majority of attractions in every park. That means even rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean, which can process vast numbers of guest every hour, now feature a FastPass+ line.

For more on the restrictions associated with the new system, check out Brian's recent article on The 7 Big Restrictions to Walt Disney World's Fastpass+.

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Comments

So if you can't afford to stay in one of their hotels, it's a lot harder to enjoy the park. Why don't they just means test going to Disney. If you're not rich, then stay the Hell out.

Not happy about this, it has put me off going back for a while :/

Just used new system in Dec. Hated it!! Will stay off property next trip to Orlando.

Didn't like it, just spent the week there. Already cancelled one of my future visits.

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