Ah, Disney World FastPass+. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying it’s incredibly useful during your Disney World vacation.
Disney World’s FastPass+ system is notoriously complex to master, and understanding the different Tiers and the way they work is integral to making the most of your Disney vacation. After all, those precious minutes in the park are EXPENSIVE. Why waste them standing in line?
Still, it takes some effort to use FastPass+ to its fullest potential and the system is constantly changing. In fact, we’ve ALREADY seen some pretty big updates this year. So, if you’ve got a Disney World trip this year (or you’re dreaming of one), read on! Here are the three tips you need to master Disney World’s FastPass+ Tiers in 2020!
Now, before we dive into the tips, let’s get down to the basics of what the FastPass system is all about!
What is FastPass+?
FastPasses are special passes included with Disney World theme park admission that allows you to get on a ride without having to wait in the full line. You book a FastPass for a certain window of time and head to the ride sometime during that window. You’ll enter the FastPass line for the ride, bypassing the regular line, and have a very short wait before you can board the attraction.
This can be pretty invaluable, especially when the alternative is two-hour (or more) waits for rides like Avatar: Flight of Passage or Slinky Dog Dash.
How to Book FastPasses
You book FastPasses using the My Disney Experience app or the Disney World website. You can book up to 30 days in advance of your trip, or 60 days if you’re staying at a Disney World Resort Hotel. You can also book FastPasses using kiosks inside the parks on the day you intend to use them, but you’re going to see a lot fewer options day-of, so we definitely recommend booking in advance if possible.
How Many FastPasses Do You Get?
Here’s where it gets a little more complicated. You can book up to three FastPasses per day in advance. Note that your initial 3 do all have to be in the same park. After you use your 3, you’re free to book other available FastPasses one at a time in any park of your choice. The rides you can book are limited by Tiers in every park except Magic Kingdom. Tier 1 attractions are the highest demand rides (think Frozen Ever After in Epcot or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom) and Tier 2 attractions are everything else that offers FastPasses in that park.
In parks with Tiers, you can only pre-book ONE Tier 1 FastPass per day. You’re going to have to choose which Tier 1 attraction in each park is most important to you and use your other two passes for Tier twos. But how do you decide?! More on that soon.?
With the basics out of the way, let’s jump into those juicy tips for 2020!
1. Book as Early as You Can!
Thousands of people visit each Disney World park each day, and those same massive amounts of people are likely all hoping to score FastPasses just like you before their trip! So how can you ensure you’ve got the best odds at nabbing your top picks?
First piece of advice is to stay at an on-site resort. If you’re staying at a Disney resort, 60 days out from the first day of your trip you can make your FastPass selections beginning at 7 AM EST. Remember, EVERYONE out there staying at a Disney resort who has a trip 60 days out can book FastPasses starting at this time, right when you do. This can make availability for the more high-demand rides go QUICK! Honestly, it can sometimes feel a little bit like a mad dash! It can definitely be stressful if you’re not expecting it!
What about off-site guests or Annual Passholders who get to book 30 days out from their trip? All is not lost for you, but the advantage certainly goes to the guests with an extra 30-day head start! Sadly, many of the most popular rides will often have all FastPasses distributed once folks 30 days out are able to begin booking, but that’s not always the case. If you really want the best odds though, consider staying on-site.
Have a Plan!
So how do you best prepare to get those FastPasses you want most? Make sure you’re ready to book right when FastPasses release at 7 AM EST. Make a reminder on your calendar for that day, set an alarm, and have a clear idea of what rides you want in each park for each day of your trip. In the immortal words of Scar from The Lion King, “Be prepared!”
Since you can book all your FastPasses for the full length of your trip (up to 10 days out), a fairly reliable technique is to try and book rides you know run out of FastPasses quickly on later days of your trip, assuming the farther out you go there will possibly be fewer guests fighting for the same FastPasses! Having your whole trip planned out before the system opens up helps a lot here.
You’ll want to put your initial focus, once that clock strikes 7 AM, on those Tier 1 rides, then circle back to the Tier twos. For reference, here are typically the most difficult FastPasses to get in each park:
- Magic Kingdom
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Test Track (Tier 1)
- Frozen Ever After (Tier 1)
- Hollywood Studios
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (Tier 1 as of February 19th)
- Slinky Dog Dash (Tier 1)
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (Tier 1 as of March 4th)
- Animal Kingdom
- Avatar: Flight of Passage (Tier 1)
If any of the above rides are ones that you want FastPasses for, focus on booking those FIRST thing when you get on at 7 AM. Otherwise, they very well could be gone.
After you’ve booked all of the hard-to-get passes, you can move on to filling out the rest of your trip with Tier twos.
2. Know Which Tier 1 Ride is Best to Book in Each Park
Now, before you get to that crucial 7 AM booking time, you’re going to want to figure out what rides are a priority for you! For many of the popular and Tier 1 FastPass rides, there are times during the day that you can hop in the regular line with a shorter wait, so you won’t necessarily need FastPasses if you know when to head that way.
Since you can only book one Tier 1 FastPass per day, here’s an idea of which ones should be a priority in each park!
The Tier 1 FastPasses in Epcot are for Test Track, Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Epcot Forever. We don’t recommend using your Tier 1 slot on Epcot Forever, since you can get a great view from most locations around World Showcase. Plus, you can always get a good view of the show with the right dining reservation in World Showcase.
We also wouldn’t use your slot on Soarin’ as the wait can drop significantly for that ride throughout the day, as well as first thing in the morning and closer to close.
Now, the choice between Test Track and Frozen Ever After gets a little bit more difficult. Both rides often have a substantial line throughout the day.
If you’re traveling with little ones, getting them on Frozen to see Anna and Elsa is probably going to be a higher priority than getting them on Test Track (especially if you have any kiddos who don’t meet the height requirement!). An older party might want to opt for Test Track with its more thrilling high speeds.
You also can get both rides into your day with relatively short waits if you FastPass one and hop in line early for the other.
For 2020, your priorities for Hollywood Studios may have recently been shaken up (in a good way!). There are be 2 BIG Tier changes happening! As of February 19th, the Tier 1 rides have shifted! Tier 1 rides previously included Slinky Dog Dash, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. With the update, many of those rides have slid down to Tier 2 leaving only the new Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Slinky Dog Dash to choose from in Tier 1! But not for long…
The second shift happens on March 4th (but you can book FastPasses now!) for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. It will be a Tier 1 attraction when it opens! So your FastPass Tier 1 choice will be much more difficult in a few weeks!
Overall, this is a GREAT change because so many of those popular rides like Tower of Terror and Toy Story Mania can be scooped up in your Tier 2 selections! But as for Tier 1, it is hard to predict which ride should be your priority. Are you a family of ride or die Star Wars fans or are you all about the Toy Story life? What about the fun for all ages Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway?
As with Epcot, you’ll want to be aware of height limits and overall ride experiences. Slinky Dog Dash IS a roller coaster, but it is incredibly tame and can be fun for all ages (if they meet the height requirement, that is!). Millennium Falcon, on the other hand, is a motion simulator similar to Star Tours with interactive elements and a large, sometimes confined queue. Mickey and Minnie has no height requirement and is suitable for your whole crew! All three experiences are unique and thrilling, but one may be more suited to your party than the other. We put together a comparison of the more thrilling rides, Millennium Falcon and Slinky, to help you choose right here!
Now, it is important to note that Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway are not the ONLY ride we expect to join the Tier 1 Line-up at Hollywood Studios in the future. Rise of the Resistance recently opened in the park and it’s possible that (once the massive hype cools down a little bit) it could be added to the FastPass system as a Tier 1 attraction.
So, if you have a trip further down the line in 2020, it’s important that you keep an eye on the changes for FastPass in this park. These updates could have a significant effect on your strategy!
The Tier 1 prioritizing is definitely easiest in Animal Kingdom. There are only two Tier 1 rides in the park: Avatar: Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. In most cases, we recommend going for Flight of Passage. The wait for this attraction rarely dips below an hour (in fact, it can sit at two to three hours or MORE!) and the ride is considered by many to be one you don’t want to miss.
Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain groups that should choose Na’vi River Journey. Again, check that height requirement! It may not make sense for your group to spend your Tier 1 slot on a ride that your little one will have to sit out. Flight of Passage can also be difficult for those with acute motion sickness or claustrophobia due to the ride vehicle and system.
If any of that sounds like a concern to you, opt for the calm boat ride on Na’vi River Journey. This ride is still quite impressive to see and the whole family can ride.
So, even though Magic Kingdom doesn’t have FastPass Tiers like the other parks, we want to note a few rides you should prioritize. FastPasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Space Mountain go the quickest in this park. So, think about which of these is best for your party and prioritize it first.
Since there are no Tiers, you can use your additional FastPassess for the other two if you like if they’re available (and if they’re what you were hoping to ride!). That’s the bonus of the no Tier system!
3. Book FastPasses For the Morning
No matter which park you’re booking, we recommend trying to book your 3 FastPasses throughout the morning hours, if possible.
The sooner into your day you use all 3, you’ll be free to book MORE. You can book one additional FastPass after your 3 are used up in any park of your choice, but keep in mind selections will be more limited. As SOON as you scan your MagicBand for your last FastPass ride you had booked, grab your phone and open up My Disney Experience. You can book your next FastPass while waiting in line!
Now, it is important to note that you probably won’t get too lucky with using the day-of method to snag Tier 1 passes as those are going to be booked up pretty solid at that point, but ya never know! People drop FastPasses all the time throughout the day. Maybe a lunch ran long or they’re heading back to their room. Whatever the reason, if you’re looking at the right time, you can snag a great FastPass, so keep checking!
With these 3 tips, we hope we’ve filled you with confidence to get those FastPasses you want the most! With some pre-planning, you can make the most of the FastPass system in each park like a PRO!
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Do you feel prepared to tackle your Disney World FastPass plans now? Got any other tips and tricks for others? Let us know in the comments!