Disney Travel

Disney Fastpass Secrets: Best Tips and Strategies for Booking Disney Fastpasses

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on
March 24, 2019

The process of planning a Disney World Vacation is both exciting and overwhelming!

If you’re a Disney first-timer, understanding the process and feeling the pressure of booking Disney FastPasses can feel like an enormous task.

This article will share all of our Disney FastPass secrets and tips, as well as answer all of your questions on selecting and booking Disney Fastpasses.

Our Disney FastPass secrets start with the basics and conclude with less talked about tips that you absolutely don’t want to miss!

Disney FastPass Rules: Understand the basics

  • Disney’s FastPass is a system for reserving ride and showtimes in the theme parks. With a FastPass reservation, instead of waiting in the regular line (Standby) for a ride, you are directed to a special line (FastPass) with a shorter wait time.
  • FastPass is available to everyone and 3 FastPasses come FREE with each park admission ticket.
  • Prior to booking FastPasses, it is important that you set up a MyDisneyExperience account from the Disney World website. This is where you make and manage your Disney FastPass reservations.
  • Also prior to going in to book your FastPasses, link your already purchased Disney park tickets to your My Disney Experience account. Next, follow the steps to link your entire party’s tickets together.
  • Disney FastPass reservations are redeemed at each ride via scanning either your Disney Magic Band or credit card-style park ticket that you have been issued.
  • Once your initial 3 FastPasses are used in the park, all guests may make an additional FastPass reservation via an inter-park kiosk or the MyDisneyExperience App. This can be done until all reservation slots have been allocated for the day.

Disney World FastPass Tiers

In 3 of the 4 Disney World parks (Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), FastPasses are divided into 2 separate categories, commonly referred to as “tiers.”

Tier 1 attractions are the most popular and in-demand rides in the park. Tier 2 attractions are the less popular ones.

Disney FastPass tiers are designed to distribute FastPasses more evenly by only allowing guests one pick from the most popular attractions.

When booking your standard FastPass reservations, you can have a total of 3 FastPasses at a time. At Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot, only 1 of your initial 3 FastPasses can be from the Tier 1 category. 

Disney World FastPass Secrets: Book as soon as you’re able

Disney FastPass rules are designed to encourage you to stay at a Disney resort hotel, as Disney resort hotel guests are given priority when it comes to booking Disney FastPasses.

  • Guests staying at a Disney resort hotel may book FastPass ride and show reservations for the entire length of their trip, up to 60 days in advance.
  • Guests staying at a non-Disney resort hotel may book FastPass reservations beginning 30 days in advance one day at a time.
  • The FastPass selection window opens at 7:00 AM U.S. Eastern Time on the Disney World website. Be sure to determine what time zone you are in and to calculate what time this means for you.
Disney Fastpass Secrets featured by top US family travel blog, Travel With a Plan | Screenshot of My Disney Experience for How to Book Disney 30-day FastPasses+

Disney FastPass Secrets: Have a booking strategy

The general rule of thumb is to base your 3 initial FastPass selections on these five factors: the popularity of the ride, your favorite rides, location of the ride, time availability of the FastPass, and other considerations such as when you may have dining reservations.

Go in with a game plan. When logging in to book FastPasses the key is to quickly analyze the rides and times that have FastPasses remaining.

Likewise, be prepared to make an instant decision on your selections.

After all, a delay in ‘clicking’ your selection by even a few seconds may cause the ride to become unavailable once the page refreshes.

Disney Fastpass Secrets and Tips!  #Disneyfastpasssecrets #DisneyFastpasstips #fastpasstips #MagicKingdomfastpasses

How to book FastPasses on MyDisney Experience:

  • Be online as soon as booking opens. The FastPass booking window opens on your My Disney Experience Account at 7:00 AM Eastern. Know what this means for your particular time zone.
  • Be sure to refresh your browser if 7:00 AM rolls around and you aren’t able to assess the Fastpass reservation page yet.
  • Have park maps on hand. Print off a park map for each park if you are not familiar with where the rides are located.
  • Refer to the park’s layout and take into consideration ride proximity and their corresponding FastPass+ times.
  • Secure the most difficult FastPasses first. If a headliner or Tier 1 FastPass is available, secure that FastPass+ first.
  • Book your FastPasses consecutively. Experts recommend booking your 3 initial FastPasses+ as close together as the available times will allow, i.e. 10am, 11am, 12pm. A not-so-good idea would be, i.e. 12pm, 3pm, 7pm.
  • Consider splitting up your party. If you are booking FastPasses+ for a large group and aren’t seeing availability, consider splitting up your party and trying that way.
  • Don’t give up! FastPasses are a fluid system with people adding and dropping selections all the time. 
  • Continue to check FastPass availability until the morning of your park arrival for the FastPass you weren’t able to initially book. Chances are that you will eventually get lucky and snag a popular experience or a better time

Read: Our absolute best, hands-down, most highly recommended Top 5 rides to Fastpass at Magic Kingdom!

Disney FastPass Secrets: Recommended FastPass times

Use stand-by lines during the park’s first hour or so, until the lines build up. Aim to book your initial FastPasses in the late morning at around 10:00 AM when the parks start to get busy.

Ideally, you would want to have used your initial FastPasses booked back-to-back and used up by mid-afternoon. This way you have a chance of securing additional Fastpasses once your initial ones are used.

Keep in mind, however, that additional FastPasses are subject to availability. On high crowd days, additional Fastpasses may not be available.

Additional planning tip: Each FastPass time is imprinted with a ride time window.  So if your FastPass time is 2:00 PM, your window to ride will be 2:00 until 3:00 PM.  

Even then, there is a slight grace period. You will be granted entry 5 minutes prior to 2:00 PM and up to 15 minutes after 3:00 PM.  

It’s nice to have that bit of flexibility because it’s understandable that plans can change or things can happen along the way.  

Rockin' Roller Coaster

Disney FastPass Secrets: 30-Day FastPass expectations

I feel that the key to knowing what to expect when going in to book 30 Day FastPasses, is to not have any expectations!

Jen

With FastPass availability being limited by hourly ride capacity, it is a major perk to be able to book FastPasses as early as possible.

Guests choosing to stay at a non-Disney resort or those booking last-minute trips will find that FastPass reservations are no longer available for their favorite attractions.

It is practical to assume that 30-day FastPasses on predicted high crowd days will not be available for Disney’s most popular rides including:

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Soarin’
  • Test Track
  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Slinky Dog Dash

Disney FastPass Secrets: Have a back-up plan

If you don’t get the selections you want, it is best to hit the parks before opening and to get in the line for rope drop.

Rope Drop is when the park officially starts letting guests onto the attractions – not when they let people into the park.

-WDW Prep School

Rope dropping involves making a mad dash for the headline attraction(s) that you were unable to get a FastPass for. Continue to ride your family’s priority attractions right way when crowds are the lowest during the first hour of a park’s opening.

The idea of getting to the parks early (like, really early) is one of the most important Disney tips I wish I would have known before our first Disney vacation.

Disney FastPass Secrets: Actual examples

We visited the Disney parks in April (the week before Easter) when crowds were at their peak, a 10/10.

Here is an example of the 30-day FastPasses+ that we were able to secure when jumping online right when the booking window opened.

Magic Kindgom FastPass Strategy

Using our 1-day Magic Kingdom itinerary, utilize the following Magic Kingdom FastPasses:

Magic Kingdom FastPass strategy

Splash Mountain was the only of the 3 Mountain rides available as a FastPass+. Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight were also unavailable as we had expected.

We booked these 3 FastPass times with the intention of rope dropping Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train and Peter Pan’s flight.

Additional planning tip: Pirates of the Caribbean was shut down due to technical difficulties during our FastPass+ window.

If a ride remains shut down 15 minutes past a FastPass’ 1 hour of the scheduled time, guests are notified via email and issued a Multi-Experience FastPass onto their MagicBand or park ticket.

Some rides are excluded from the Multi-Experience FastPass (i.e. Seven Dwarfs and Peter Pan at MK), but in our case, we were able to use it at Space Mountain.

By using our Multi-Experience FastPass for Space Mountain, we were able to bypass a 120-minute wait for this very popular ride (which ended up being the kids’ favorite!).

Animal Kingdom FastPass Strategy

Using our 1-day Animal Kingdom itinerary, utilize the following FastPasses:

Animal Kingdom FastPass Strategy

Avatar Flight of Passage was unavailable and we took the first available Na’Vi River Journey FastPass which is the only other Tier 1 option.

Being that we were unable to secure an Avatar FastPass, our touring plan is similar to the Magic Kingdom in that we hope to rope drop Avatar Flight of Passage.

If we can get on Na’vi River Journey with only a short wait after riding Avatar, we will hop on Na’vi River while we are in that area. This will allow us to modify our 3rd FastPass and choose a different ride.

I was happy to have booked Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris for the times that we did. These two rides both accumulate long waits.

These were also the first available times for those two rides.

Update: Despite checking the My Disney Experience App multiple times, Avatar FastPasses+ never became available for the day of our visit.

Wait times got as long as 210 minutes (3 1/2 hours!) for Avatar. We never did make it on this epic ride.

Having secured FastPasses for Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris was a great decision. We bypassed waits of 70-120 minutes on each!

Epcot FastPass Strategy

Using our Epcot itinerary, utilize the following Epoct FastPasses:

Epcot FastPass strategy

Soarin’ and Test Track FastPasses were unavailable, and we took the first available Frozen Ever After. (These are the 3 Tier 1 attractions at Epcot.)

Our plan is to rope drop Soarin’ then Test Track before using our first 2 FastPasses.

We will tour the World Showcase counter-clockwise to end up back at Frozen for our 5:25 PM FastPass.

Disney World with Toddlers

A successful Disney World vacation with young children requires putting some extra thought into the best rides for toddlers!

Likewise, your FastPass selections may need to be adapted to include some of their favorites!

Start with our basic FastPass secrets and simply adapt your choices based on the ages and interests of your children.

Disney FastPass Secrets: Conclusion

The key things to remember when booking Disney FastPasses are:

1. Study the FastPass tiers and start by reviewing how to book Disney Fastpasses. Then, set up an online My Disney Experience account.

2. Mark your calendar with your FastPass booking date (60 or 30 days prior to your visit) and be online right when the FastPass+ booking window opens.

3. Book your initial 3 FastPasses for each park and for each person in your party.

4. Don’t give up! Continue to check FastPass availability until the morning of your park arrival!

5. After using your 3 FastPass in the park, use your My Disney App or an inter-park kiosk to book additional FastPasses, one at a time.

Let me know in the comments what your first FastPass+ choice is going to be (so exciting!)!

Jen

As a member of our Travel With A Plan family, click through the following articles for exclusive tips, checklists, and touring plans for your Disney World vacation!

Disney World Touring Plans:

Disney World Ride & FastPass+ Tips:

Disney World Planning Tips:

Disney World Cost:

*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find our exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

Disney Fastpass Secrets and Tips!  #Disneyfastpasssecrets #DisneyFastpasstips #fastpasstips #MagicKingdomfastpasses #Disneyfastpassplanning
Top US Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan, shares their list of the Ultimate Disney Fastpass Secrets
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    Hi, I’m Jen!  Welcome to Travel With A Plan!

    I’m an avid adventurer who is always planning the next family vacation for my husband and I, and our three boys!

    As an advocate for family travel with kids of all ages, I am a firm believer that traveling together helps keep families healthy and happy at home!

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