6 Tips for booking Fastpasses at Walt Disney World
One of the first questions we googled when we started to plan our trip to Orlando was ‘how to book Fastpasses at Walt Disney World?’ So I guess it’s no surprise that this would be one of the first posts I would pop up on the blog. After returning from the most magical land I have so many tips and tricks that I want to share with you. Unlike other theme parks the price of fastpasses at Walt Disney World are included in the cost of your ticket. It’s brilliant. But how do you book them? We were surprised by how many additional ones we were able to book, on one day we managed an extra 12.
We are no experts, this was our first trip to Orlando having visited Disneyland Paris three times before. How we planned our trip won’t be for everyone, we kept ourselves busy and absolutely loved our time in Orlando. We wouldn’t change a thing. We came home feeling like we hadn’t missed anything and ticked everything off our must have and nice to have lists. We spent 18 days in Orlando and visited all the Seaworld Parks, all 6 Disney Parks, all 3 Universal Parks as well as Kennedy Space Centre, Gatorland and spent a day at Clearwater Beach. Our down days were our Waterpark days as well as those mentioned above that weren’t in an actual theme park.
Before I get started I thought I would explain a little bit about fastpasses. In terms of how fastpasses work – you can start to book your fastpasses at 60 days if you are staying in a Disney Hotel or 30 days if offsite. You can book them at 11am UK time (check time difference) either via a desktop computer or the app. As each day crosses the 30 day line you can book 3 fastpasses each. You can only book additional fastpasses once you have used all 3. Use that one, then get one more (based on availability) ― and repeat! And so, here are my…
6 tips for booking fastpasses at Walt Disney World
1. Download the My Disney App
Before you hit google download the My Disney App, link your tickets and party if it’s time and get ready. This is where it gets exciting. This app will be your bible – it will help you to plan so much more than fastpasses. Check it out. To get the most out of your fastpasses and time in the parks your planning should begin now. If you are planning to use the app in the parks which I highly recommend you will need an extra battery pack for your phone or just have one member of your party using it which is how we managed it.
2. Plan to arrive before rope drop
For each of the schedules below to work (point 4) I would recommend arriving prior to the turnstiles open and rope drop, we arrived into each park 45 mins before. Which meant we were able to ride the popular rides all before our first fast pass would kick in. We purposefully planned our first pass to kick in mid morning. Why? Because the queues are far less at rope drop, fastpasses are precious, don’t waste them. The key here is to plan ahead.
For some of the larger parks we mapped out how long it would take to walk between areas, or which rides to group together in certain areas – for example Frontierland where there are two rides very close together – Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. You could ride both at rope drop and save your fastpasses. As well weary legs and tired feet.
3. Research which days Disney Magic Hours operate in the parks
You should research which days Disney Magic Hours operate for each park. You can do this by checking the park opening times on the app. We failed to do this on our day in Animal Kingdom – which was painful and such a waste. We should have avoided the park on that day. Guests of Disney Resorts and other select hotels can spend extra time in one of the theme parks each day, either before it opens or after it closes so I would highly recommend checking which park as Early Magic Hours and on which day.
On the subject of early entry I would also consider booking Early Morning Magic at ToyStory Land – we did and would highly recommend if it’s in your budget. If you have children who want to ride Slinky Dog Dash then its definitely one to be considered. The queue for Slinky was around 90 minutes within 15 mins of the park opening each of our Disney Park days. By booking the Early Morning Magic at ToyStory Land it made navigating Hollywood Studios so much easier and enjoyable. Really enjoyable. Look at how quiet it was in the above photo. Glorious. Riding Slinky Dog four times all before 9am was definitely worth the money, as well as the other rides and the breakfast was fab too.
4. How to organise your Disney fastpasses
I would recommend breaking down your passes by park, height restrictions, which rides you want to ride and on what day you plan to visit. I would recommend visiting the busier parks at the beginning of the week and avoiding weekends if at all possible. You may have to consider re-organising your plan if you struggle to get a fast pass you are desperate for on that day. A degree of flexibility around your schedule will help. That said if you struggle to get a fast pass you could also consider arriving before rope drop as mentioned above and heading to that ride first. It worked for us everyday accept for our day at Animal Kingdom when we missed that it was a Disney Magic Hours morning.
We are a family of three, our little boy is seven – we love thrill rides, experience rides and character meets. And so I thought it might be helpful to you by sharing how we planned our fastpasses for each park. I would also consider the show times, parades and character meets in the parks – we very loosely worked around them. There are so many shows and animal interactions in the parks that you don’t want to miss – we used them as downtime between rides. Or if you need to pass some time as you are staying for the fireworks this could be a way of doing so.
Seven Dwarfs mine train, Big Thunder Mountain (rope drop), Splash Mountain (rope drop), Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Mickey & Minnie character meet, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger, Goofy & Donald character meet (opening of meet), Teacups, Dumbo
Slinky dog dash (Early morning hours), Toy story mania (Early morning hours), Alien Swirling saucers (Early morning hours), Tower of Terror, Rock n Roller Coaster, Star Tours, BB8, Chewbacca & Kylo Ren character meets, Mike & Sully character meets, Mickey & Minnie character meets, Register for Jedi Training at the Indiana Jones Outpost (this is not a fast pass option, if you don’t register first thing you’ll miss it).
Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari (rope drop), Kali River rapids, Primeval Whirl, Na’vi River Journey (you can only choose one Pandora fast pass a day – I would go with flight of passage), Rivers of Light, Festival of The Lion King
Soarin’ (rope drop), Test track, Mission: SPACE, Spaceship Earth, Illuminations
Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach
There are no fastpasses available for the Disney water parks. Either free nor paid. My advice would be the same as for the theme parks, aim to arrive 30 minutes prior to the parks opening. The crowds don’t arrive until after 11am in the water parks. And if there is a spot of rain or a storm you’ll see the parks empty and you’ll be flying on the rides. We didn’t struggle to ride the water rides, often going on a few several times.
5. Use spare fastpasses for character meets
There are many that would tell you otherwise. We would recommend using spare fast passes for character meets – unless you have magic hours or are lucky enough to be in line as they open. The lines for character meets are always super long so do look into them. We always book a Mickey & Minnie and any character that is a little unusual or one we haven’t met before. We were lucky to stumble across Donald & Goofy, Daisy & Pluto in Fantasyland, the queue was minimal and a real treat to see them all together.
6. Tap, Grab and Modify
And lastly you need to take advantage of the ‘tap, grab, and modify’ approach. When I read about this we both thought it was a myth, that it couldn’t be this simple but it works! Basically this only works on the day, grab a fast pass, come out of the app and instantly go back in to modify the one you just booked. You will notice several more options will appear. This approach also works for modifying a fast pass for the following day or a few days in advance – it’s important to remember that people change their plans all the time, so you might grab a popular ride if you keep refreshing the app. One last tip, if you struggle check the app at 3.01pm US time – often fastpasses pop up or a bunch are released – one we haven’t tried but I have heard it works.
And that’s our 6 tips for booking fastpasses at Walt Disney World. If you’d like to read about the rest of our adventures at Disney, Seaworld and Universal then you can take a look through our posts over on my Travel page.