Ah, FastPass+, we love you so. But, BOY, can it be stressful to decide what FastPasses to choose for your next trip to Disney World!
There’s a lot to know about FastPasses. Trust us, even WE’RE still learning! Having the right FastPasses can help to make or break your Disney day. And there might be some things you’re skipping over when it comes to thinking about your FastPass+ reservations!
Well, we want you to have the BEST. TRIP. EVER. So we’re going to make sure you know everything you need to know to pick the right FastPasses for YOUR family!
We’re going to start off with a quick refresher on the basics of FastPass+. FastPass+ is a system that allows Disney World guests to book passes that let them skip the full standby line and head to an often much shorter line. The best part? FastPasses are TOTALLY FREE to any guest with a park ticket!
To book your Fastpass+ reservations you’ll need to link your park admission to your Disney account in the My Disney Experience app or on the Disney World website. Fastpasses are available 30 days out from the first day of your trip or 60 days out (bookable for the length of your stay, up to 14 days) if you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel. Booking opens up at 7 AM EST each day.
When booking FastPasses in advance you can select up to THREE FastPasses for each day. Those FastPasses all have to be in the same park. If you’re planning on spending a morning in Magic Kingdom before heading to Epcot, you’ll have to decide which park you want your FastPasses in — you can’t select both!
The booking process is pretty simple. One person in your group can book FastPasses for your whole crew, so make sure everyone is linked together in My Disney Experience prior to booking.
You’ll look for the attraction you want in each park and select FastPasses for your group from one of the available time slots. Now, remember, some attractions are WAY more popular in terms of FastPass so you might have trouble getting that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Flight of Passage FastPass even if you’re grabbing your FastPasses as soon as they become available!
FastPass+ Tier System
OK, so you’ve got the 411 on the overall FastPass+ system, but you also need to know about the FastPass Tier System. Every Disney World park except for Magic Kingdom has its attractions split into different FastPass tiers or levels. So, when you’re checking out your options you’ll see “Tier 1” attractions and “Tier 2” attractions.
Here’s the catch: you can only select ONE Tier 1 attraction per day in advance. So, no, you won’t be able to snag Slinky Dog Dash AND Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run when selecting your initial 3.
As for Tier 2s, you can reserve as many as you want (within your limit of three for the day). Still, we always recommend getting that Tier 1 if you can manage. Those are going to be the attractions with a higher level of demand.
After you’ve used your 3 pre-booked FastPasses in the park, you’ll be free to make additional FastPass selections, one at a time. Don’t feel limited to those 3! While those popular Tier 1 attractions may not be easy to get a same-day FastPass for, you can often ride a good number of rides by grabbing those additional FastPasses!
So now we’ve got the basics of making FastPass reservations down, let’s talk about what you’re NOT thinking about (that you totally should be) when you’re picking out your FastPasses!
Deciding Which FastPasses to Get
Alright, NUMBER ONE! You GOTTA know which FastPasses are the best ones to get before you set out to make your choices. This might seem like a no-brainer but you should have a solid game plan and be prepped before the clock strikes 7 AM on your FastPass reservation day.
Sure, you’ve probably already got a good idea of what rides your family definitely wants to get on. Got a little pirate? You’re probably aiming for Pirates of the Caribbean. Married to a coaster-lover? Maybe you’re eyeing Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster. Still, just because the rides are high-priority for your fam, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the FastPasses you’ll want to pick first on FastPass booking day!
Let me explain.
Knowing which FastPasses are hardest to snag helps you determine which ones you need to go after first. You’re usually not going to have to worry about all the Pirates of the Caribbean FastPasses being gone right at 7 AM, but if you have any interest in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or even Space Mountain, those could disappear — FAST.
- Magic Kingdom: Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and the Mountains (Space, Splash, and Big Thunder)
- Epcot: Test Track or Frozen Ever After, followed by Soarin’
- Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey followed by Kilimanjaro Safari
- Hollywood Studios: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Slinky Dog Dash, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
If any of these attractions are on your FastPass wish list, make sure to get one of those FIRST. But how do you decide WHICH Tier 1 you want MOST?
How To Choose Between Tier 1 Attractions
We know, we know. It can be TOUGH deciding which one Tier 1 attraction is REALLY the one you want. Luckily, we’re here to help!
Since Magic Kingdom doesn’t have Tiers, you don’t have to pick just one mega-popular ride — opt for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan, and your chosen mountain. But for all the others you will have to make that difficult decision.
For Epcot, your Tier 1 options are Frozen Ever After, Test Track, Soarin’, and Epcot Forever. We don’t recommend using your Tier 1 for Epcot Forever since there are LOTS of great places to watch the fireworks and you can even guarantee a good viewing spot with the right dinner reservation in World Showcase.
Soarin’ also won’t be your best choice since wait times can drop for this attraction especially in the morning and in the evenings. If you don’t mind a little wait — and if Soarin’ isn’t your top-priority attraction — we’d save our FastPass for something else.
We highly recommend you pick between Frozen Ever After and Test Track for this tier 1 FastPass. Both of those attractions tend to have consistently long waits. Both rides offer very different experiences and Test Track has a height requirement, so look over both experiences and see which your family prefers.
If you just can’t choose, consider grabbing the Test Track FastPass and booking a reservation for the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party. You’ll get a preferred view of the fireworks AND an after-hours ride on Frozen Ever After (oh, and dessert!) that’s like two Tier 1s in one!
Alternatively — and this is our recommendation for any situation where you have to choose between two tier 1 attractions you really, really want to ride — book your highest priority tier 1 FastPass for about an hour after the park opens. On the day of the FastPass, arrive at park opening and rush over to the other tier 1 attraction you wanted to ride. Lines are usually shorter first thing in the morning, so you should be able to ride the attraction you don’t have a FastPass for immediately at opening time, then head over and do your FastPassed attraction next.
Animal Kingdom is an easy-peasy choice. If you can get it, we recommend Flight of Passage over Na’vi River Journey (those are the only two Tier 1 attractions in the park!). The Flight of Passage line is notorious for having wait times that hang out above two hours long pretty consistently. But again, don’t forget — Flight of Passage has a height requirement and may be too intense for smaller children.
In those cases, a calm boat ride on Na’vi River Journey may be more suited to your family.
Na’vi River Journey will have longer lines than most other attractions in the park, so it’s still a FastPass well spent.
Hollywood Studios is the trickiest of the three Tiered parks, with Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Slinky Dog Dash, and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway all in the Tier 1 section.
We recommend ruling out Millennium Falcon first. Lines tend to dip later in the afternoon and the evening (we’ve seen it as low as 25 minutes!) AND it has a Single Rider line as another way to reduce your wait (if you don’t mind being split up form your group when riding!).
As for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway versus Slinky Dog Dash, it’s more or less up to you! If you’ve never ridden Runaway Railway, that might be a great choice. BUT if you’re a hardcore Toy Story fan or have trouble waiting in a hot, outdoor queue, the Slinky Dog FastPass could be for you. Keep in mind that there are no height requirements for Runaway Railway but Slinky Dog does have one. It’s a tame roller coaster, but a coaster nonetheless, so consider your family when deciding. (Here at DFB, most of us would book Slinky Dog with the FastPass and go ride Mickey and Minnie’s at park opening, using our FastPass tip outlined above.)
Consider the Timing of Your FastPasses
You’d be surprised but this is a big thing to consider! It can be tempting to just snag the first time slot you find, but there can be much more to it than that.
When it comes to timing your FastPasses you have a few options.
- You might want to book your FastPasses for first thing in the morning so that you can get more FastPasses after your ride your initial three. You’ll probably have trouble getting those Tier 1 FastPasses or super popular rides, but you never know what you’ll find until you’re there! If you’re not too picky, you can often ride a good number of attractions by picking up same-day FastPasses.
Picking your FastPasses for earlier times of day will allow you to maximize the number of additional FastPasses you can get since you’ll be able to go through them earlier. If you’ve got the Park Hopper add-on to your ticket this can also be a great choice if you’re planning to hop to another park to try to get FastPasses there. For instance, if you had your 3 pre-booked FastPasses in Hollywood Studios, you could use all 3 and head to Epcot that afternoon to make your next selection!
2. If you’re going to spend all day in one park (especially if you’re planning to arrive when it opens!) it might make sense to book mid-day FastPasses, between the hours of 10 AM and 5 PM. You’ll find that most rides have much shorter lines before 10 AM, so you can get on several attractions before those lines start growing. Then, you’ll have FastPasses for when the lines REALLY start to pick up mid-day!
FastPass Isn’t the ONLY Way to Skip Lines
Now we’re getting into the stuff that slips our minds sometimes! Maybe you forgot to consider that FastPass isn’t the only way to skip lines. Record scratch! freeze frame! WHAT? That’s right, there are a few attractions in Disney World that also offer a Single Rider line. If you use this, you’ll end up in a line that’s often the same length or shorter than the FastPass line.
The rides with Single Rider lines are Test Track, Expedition Everest, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. If you have a group that’s OK with splitting up and riding alone (This might not be the best if you have young kids with you who shouldn’t be riding alone.), then this could be an option.
The only time you actually split up in Single Rider is when you’re boarding and riding the ride. On rare occasions, you may get to ride together, but don’t plan on it.
If you use Single Rider at slower times like park opening or close, you might find a super-fast line. So, if this sounds like an option for you DON’T waste that FastPass on one of these guys! Remember which rides have Single Rider as you book those FastPasses and pick some of the more popular rides without this great option. But remember — single rider isn’t GUARANTEED to be a short line! If you’re there on Christmas Day, book the FastPass.
You Might NOT Want to Make That Kilimanjaro Safaris FastPass For the Middle of the Day
Yup, you might not realize that there are certain times of day that are better for certain rides!
Best Time For Kilimanjaro Safaris
For instance, you might want to snag that Kilamajaro Safaris FastPass for the morning or evening. Why? Kilimanjaro Safaris tends to be a better animal-viewing experience in the cooler parts of the day!
Obviously, this isn’t set in stone, but in general, we’ve found the animals prefer the cooler times of day, meaning you can possibly SEE more of them! Ever gone past the lions mid-day and seen…nothing? This is what you’re trying to avoid. You can often see a lot more wildlife at times the sun isn’t beating down.
Best Time For Water Rides and Outdoor Rides
And that’s not the ONLY ride that is better at certain times. Water rides and attractions that have an outdoor component have a tendency to shut down during thunderstorms. If you’re traveling in the stormy season (or anytime really, it IS Florida), you might want to make that Slinky Dog or Splash Mountain FastPass for earlier in the day before the afternoon storms start to roll in — just in case!
Riding During the Fireworks
In Magic Kingdom, there are a few rides that we prefer to ride during the fireworks! If you’re picking out some late-day FastPasses, try to get a high up, outdoor attraction during Happily Ever After! 9 PM can be a great slot for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and Astro Orbiter. If you time it just right, you could end up with a killer view!
You Might Actually WANT To Wait For Some Rides!
Here’s one that you REALLY might not be thinking about. You might WANT to wait for some rides! Now, we know what you’re thinking: Why on earth would I wait in a long line…on PURPOSE?! Because some of Disney World’s queues are AWESOME!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Try not to waste that Tier 1 Hollywood Studios FastPass on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The line can be on the short side, it has Single Rider, AND the queue is one of our FAVORITES in Disney World right now! You get to look out over the top of the Millennium Falcon, hang out in a smuggler’s workshop, and see one of the best animatronics in Disney World — Hondo Ohnaka.
We feel a similar way about Dumbo The Flying Elephant. This one might seem like a good FastPass pick in MK, especially if you have littles who make it a must-ride.
Well, this is one that even a lengthier wait might be a good thing to sit through. The queue for Dumbo takes place in a massive circus tent with a play area for the kiddos. And benches. AND AIR CONDITIONING. Guests get a buzzer (like you would if you were waiting for a table in a restaurant) and are notified when it’s time to ride. Until that time, the kids can run and play and have a blast! See if you can skip using a FastPass on this ride. Instead, let your children burn off some energy and have a nice cool-down for the grown-ups!
Peter Pan’s Flight can really go either way. The waits can get LONG for this one so if you can, the FastPass is a good option. But there are a few people who might want to check out this queue. If you’re a Disney tech buff, the revamped Peter Pan queue is worth the wait. You’ll see awesome projection mapping and get to watch as you’re the subject of real-time motion capture. This queue is pretty cutting edge.
Plus, it’s downright magical seeing Tinker Bell fly around the Darling children’s nursery! This can be a really magical experience for little ones — maybe even just as much as the ride itself. (Buuuut, we’ll be honest, one time through is enough for us. After that, FP all the way.)
Don’t Make Your Kid a FastPass For a Ride They Can’t (or Won’t!) Ride!
If you’re traveling with small children don’t forget their limits. Your kids are the same kids, as much as you sometimes wish they’d “just be cool” when they’re In Disney World. They’re not going to suddenly get taller in Disney World to ride big-kid rides; and they’ll still have the same anxieties and fears…plus since Disney World can be super intense, those fears and anxieties sometimes even intensify. That means that while you’re being careful not to make a FastPass for an attraction they’re not tall enough to ride, you might also want to be sure not to make a FastPass for a ride that they won’t ride!
Make sure you check ALL height requirements before you make your FastPass selections for your kiddo! Disney posts all the height requirements on their website, so have your kid put on those shoes they will be wearing and whip out a measuring tape. Knowing before that crucial FastPass window opens that your little one is too short for Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster will save you a wasted FastPass (and possibly a lot of tears from upset kids!) in the long run.
Those rules are there for your child’s safety and Cast Members are usually pretty strict about enforcing the requirement. Pick something EVERYONE can enjoy or, if you’re comfortable, consider breaking up your group.
Also, consider what your little (or big!) ones may not WANT to ride as well! If your kid has never been on a roller coaster, you might face them digging their heels in the ground while you try to drag them on Space Mountain! Some rides are fast or scary…or very dark, so explain to your kids beforehand what they could be in for! Have them watch ride-through videos on YouTube to get a feel for what to expect. AllEars.net’s youtube channel has some really great ones that even go as far as to show you what to note about each ride that might be scary for kids.
The good news is you CAN use Rider Switch in these cases. Rider Switch is an awesome system that allows part of the party to ride an attraction while part of the party hangs out with someone who can’t or won’t ride. When the first group is done, the ones who didn’t get to ride can switch without the wait!
If you’re planning to use FastPass with Rider Switch, you can be on the safe side by making FastPass reservations for everyone who intends to ride.
Use Our FastPass Hack Before Hard-Ticket Events
This one is BRAND NEW TO US! Even we weren’t thinking about it just a few months ago! Did you know you can make FastPasses for the day that you have a hard-ticket event in the parks like After Hours, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party — EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE REGULAR PARK ENTRY THAT DAY.
Obvi you can’t use FastPasses DURING your party (and you wouldn’t need to with how short the lines can be), but most events allow you to enter the parks a few hours before they begin — usually 3 hours before. If you don’t already have FastPasses booked on a regular ticket for that day, make some FastPass reservations for the 3 hours before the event in the park begins using your party or event ticket!
This DOESN’T work if you book FastPasses for the day and THEN try to make additional FastPasses before the event — you can still only pre-book 3. You can’t have it both ways.
Wow, that’s a LOT to think about when you’re booking FastPasses! But, if you remember everything you’ll end up with the BEST Disney FastPasses for how YOU want to do your Disney trip. And remember, if you’re ever confused, we’re here to help!
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How do YOU decide what FastPasses to get? Let us know in the comments!