This guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney World offers strategy for scoring the best FastPasses at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. With our tips for Disney’s ride reservation system, you can minimize your wait times and save hours in line. (Updated February 14, 2020.)
Our detailed guide for using FastPass+ at Walt Disney World has been tweaked numerous times to better help you plan as changes have been made to the FastPass+ system. In addition to recommending the attractions you should prioritize via FastPass+, we cover a variety of different approaches (including the “refresh strategy” and Park Hopping), and other ways to save time by avoiding waiting in standby lines.
Most recently, the major changes have occurred at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Land opened two years ago, Star Wars Land opened last year, and the blockbuster Mickey Mouse ride opens soon–and FastPass+ is already offered from day-one for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. (The newer attraction in Galaxy’s Edge does not use FastPass+ or a standby line–read our Ride Guide & FAQ for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance for everything you need to know. It’s currently the most popular attraction at Walt Disney World.)
The good news is that the more things change, the more things stay the same. The most popular and hard-to-score FastPasses at Walt Disney World are still Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom, Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom’s Pandora – World of Avatar land, and Frozen Ever After in Epcot.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a different story, where Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Millennium Falcon were both just added to the lineup. Since these are the hot new FastPass+ options, they have overshadowed Toy Story Land’s Slinky Dog Dash in popularity. We anticipate Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway retaining that top spot, but Slinky Dog Dash could dethrone it.
It’s no coincidence that those are among the newest rides (with FastPass+) in each park, and we expect all to remain the ‘hot ticket’ FastPass selections until mid-2020.
At that point, there’s a strong possibility that Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will become #1 in Epcot. It’s also possible that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be added to the FastPass+ system at some point before Fall 2020, but we honestly aren’t holding our breath on that. Its unreliability and downtime issues almost necessitate use of the more flexible (for Disney) and dynamic virtual queue.
Before we get to those specific tips, a bit of background is in order. You might be wondering, just what exactly is FastPass+? Well, it’s essentially ride reservations. You make a FastPass+ reservation, and go to the attraction at which you booked the reservation during your allotted timeframe (say, 1:20 – 2:20 pm), enter through the FastPass+ line, and have a minimal wait in line. It’s like a VIP line, but there is no charge to use FastPass+.
FastPass+ is the second generation of FastPass at Walt Disney World, replacing paper FastPass ride reservations. The idea then was to get people out of lines and allow them to do other things while waiting for their ride reservation window. The original FastPass system had its strengths and weaknesses, and could be leveraged to allow those who did their homework a strategic advantage.
There was trepidation about FastPass+ existed when it officially launched a few years ago by those who mastered the old system, but FastPass+ has its own advantages. While FastPass+ can’t be exploited to the same degree as regular paper FastPass, guests who are “in the know” can still save a ton of time. All it takes is a little patience and spending the time to understand how FastPass+ works.
While we can’t grant you patience, we will help you understand the system in this post…
Step by Step FastPass+ Booking Process
There are two ways FastPass+ can be obtained: via the My Disney Experience app or website in advance of visits, or via in-park kiosks for guests who don’t have smart phones or who don’t purchase tickets in advance. The FastPass+ is then stored on the MagicBand or your park tickets. (Note that Magic Bands are not required to use FastPass+.)
The importance of booking FastPass+ in advance of your trip cannot be over-emphasized, and this is one of the big reasons why strongly recommend buying tickets as early as possible in our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Many FastPass+ for popular attractions “sell out” quickly, and getting FastPass+ reservations early can literally save you hours in line, or prevent you from missing out on experiences entirely.
FastPass+ can be booked for any hour window during the park’s normal operating hours. FastPass+ cannot be booked during Extra Magic Hours or hard ticket events such as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Additionally, FastPass+ times cannot overlap.
Guests “redeem” FastPass+ by swiping the MagicBand or park ticket against an RFID “Mickey Head” reader outside FastPass+ attractions. Guests are able to book 3 FastPass+ tickets in advance of their vacation. You can be 5 minutes early or 15 minutes late to use your FastPass+ reservation and the RFID readers will allow you to enter. So really, your “hour” window is 1 hour 20 minutes long.
After these initial FastPass+ selections are redeemed, guests can book additional same-day selections, as available. This is now possible with the app in addition to the in-park kiosks.
The advance booking process for FastPass+ is relatively straightforward once you understand it, but it’s one of those things that’s much easier to understand when you can look at something to help you visualize the process, so I’m going to walk you through it and explain some additional things to know.
For this walk-through, I’m using the My Disney Experience website, but it’s virtually the same on the app. Before starting, you’ll want to download the My Disney Experience app, or sign onto your DisneyWorld.com account. While our explanation covers what you need to know, it’s easiest if you just play around with the app and see for yourself. Learn by doing.
When you purchase Walt Disney World tickets in advance and stay at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, you can make your FastPass+ selections up to 60 days prior to check-in for the entire length of your stay. These booking windows open up at 7 a.m. on the 30 or 60 day mark, so don’t wait around until 8 a.m. to do this like you would Advance Dining Reservations! Okay, now time for the steps…
The first step is being up bright and early before your booking window opens at 7 a.m. on your 30 or 60 day mark. Make sure you’re logged into My Disney Experience on your computer or phone, pull up the My Disney Experience menu, click FastPass+, and be ready to go at exactly 7 a.m. Once the clock hits 7, click the “Get Started” button on the FastPass+ page, and select the date and park you plan on attending.
Next, you make your individual selections.
This works differently for the Magic Kingdom than it does Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as Magic Kingdom does not use tiering and the other three parks do. We’ll cover this in the strategy section below.
After choosing my time, I’m given a confirmation screen…
…After hitting confirm, I receive confirmation, and am asked whether I want another FastPass+. Rinse and repeat. The system via My Disney Experience is pretty easy. (So long as the app doesn’t crash!)
When you return to the FastPass+ screen, you’ll see your reservations, have the ability to modify, etc. It’s all very intuitive. If you can use Facebook, you can use this system. Chances are that any question you have about the functionality of the site will answer themselves after playing around with it for 5 minutes.
With all of that said, don’t be afraid to ask questions below, but since the basics of booking FastPass+ are ridiculously easy to understand, I’m going to move onto strategy, which is where the fun begins…
Best FastPass+ By Park
We’ll keep it short and sweet here, in case all you care about is the best choices, and don’t want to read a long explanation as to why (that’s in the strategy below). You can also find more strategy in our Disney Attraction & Ride Guides for Walt Disney World each contain thorough recommendations concerning the best uses of FastPass+ for each park.
Here are the choices that will save you the most time in each park:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Splash Mountain
- Space Mountain
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Frozen Ever After (Tier 1)
- Soarin’ Around the World (Tier 1)
- Test Track (Tier 1) – single rider recommended instead
- Spaceship Earth (Tier 2)
- Mission: Space (Tier 2)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Avatar Flight of Passage (Tier 1)
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Expedition Everest
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (Tier 1)
- Slinky Dog Dash (Tier 1)
- Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster (Tier 2)
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Tier 2)
- Toy Story Mania (Tier 2)
These are objectively the best choices, but they may not be the best selections for you, depending upon which attractions interest you (also note that some of the above have height restrictions, so they may not be the best options for families). The best thing you can do prior to your FastPass+ booking windows opening is looking at Walt Disney World wait times for a little while before your trip, and pinpointing the most appealing high-wait attractions to you.
If should come as no surprise that not all FastPass+ attractions are created equally. Some are really difficult to score, and others are seemingly always available (think of them as the “participant award” FastPass+). Let’s start with the difficult ones.
Currently, the most coveted FastPass+ is for Avatar Flight of Passage in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Along with Na’vi River Journey, these are the two new attractions in the Pandora – World of Avatar land.
For these two attractions, Animal Kingdom has gone to a quasi-tiered approach. In this context, you cannot hold FastPasses for both Pandora attractions simultaneously. While both attractions are sure to have long waits, the more popular FastPass+ is Avatar Flight of Passage.
Since this is the E-Ticket thrill ride (whereas Na’vi River Journey is a slow-moving boat ride), it’s likely going to have longer wait times. As such, we recommend trying to score a FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage and doing Na’vi River Journey via the standby line. You can read more about strategy for this new land in our Ultimate Guide to Pandora – World of Avatar.
Many days, FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage will be “sold out” 60 or more days in advance. This is possible because hotel guests have 60 days from the date of check-in. So, if you’re taking a 10-day on-site Walt Disney World vacation, you effectively have a 70-day window for that last day of the trip.
This makes booking FastPass+ for the later days of any long trip easier than the early days. Because of this, always book FastPass+ in order of difficulty. Meaning, if you’re going to Animal Kingdom on day 3 of your trip, start by booking your Avatar Flight of Passage FastPass+ before booking days 1 and 2. It is the most difficult FastPass+ to book, so that means booking your Animal Kingdom day first.
If you want Frozen Ever After, you’ll need to be up bright and early, because Frozen Ever After is still among the most difficult FastPass+ reservations to score in all of Walt Disney World. Standby waits still regularly exceed 60 minutes, and can hit 90-120 minutes on busy days.
A big part of this is because Frozen Ever After is a low-capacity boat ride and demand for it remains high since it’s a family-friendly attraction featuring a movie that is still popular. This is all a recipe for wait times that tend to eclipse an hour, you will want to be up bright and early when your window opens in order to book a Frozen Ever After FastPass+.
The same is true with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway or Slinky Dog Dash at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Even now that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open, these are the best options at DHS. Long term, it’s difficult to say which will emerge as the victor, but for now, we’re recommending Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway or Slinky Dog Dash as tied for the #2 FastPass+ in all of Walt Disney World.
If you can’t get either of these, Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run is an okay alternative. It has very long lines early in the day, but these fad as the day goes on, and the ride often has a short wait in the evening hours. In fact, there’s more fall off in wait times at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at night than any other park, so it’s not the end of the world if you can’t get your most-coveted FastPass+ at DHS.
FastPass+ Last Minute Refresh Strategy
One final tip for these super-popular FastPass+ attractions: if there’s something that’s an absolute must-do for you, refresh the app regularly, particularly on the day of your visit.
This is done by simply selecting a time for FastPasses in a particular park, quickly scanning what’s available, and if there’s nothing to your liking, selecting another time. The key part of this is toggling between different times–it doesn’t matter what times you choose, as My Disney Experience will show anything that becomes available for previously sold-out attractions.
It can take 10-15 minutes of refreshing (we recommend doing this while you’re standing in line for something else), but you can often score same-day FastPasses for headliner attractions simply with a bit of diligence and persistence in the app.
People cancel FastPass+ reservations all the time, and if you are diligent, getting a Frozen Ever After FastPass+ is possible (particularly for parties of 1-2). We’ve gotten lucky with same-day FastPass+ for Frozen Ever After, Slinky Dog Dash, Avatar Flight of Passage, and numerous other attractions.
This is also a strong approach for your fourth, fifth, sixth (and so on) FastPasses of the day after you’ve used your initial allotment of FastPass+ selections. Even on busy days, you can often keep scoring tough-to-acquire FastPass+ reservations for popular attractions with long lines.
The one caveat here that’s worth reiterating is that this approach works best for smaller parties with more flexible plans. If you’re a party of 6-8 or you can only do a particular attraction at a certain time, you’re probably going to be out of luck.
FastPasses to Avoid
At the other end of the spectrum from highly coveted FastPass+ like Frozen Ever After, Avatar Flight of Passage, and Slinky Dog Dash are the “Participant FastPass+”, Walt Disney World added FastPass+ to many attractions that never had (and never needed) FastPass to make sure there was sufficient capacity in the system so that each guest can book 3 per day without all popular attractions “selling out” of FastPass+ in advance, causing guests to become irritated.
This means that some attractions offering FastPass+ are essentially red herrings, offering FastPass+ not because they will save you time, but so people have something to book in advance if other attractions are sold out. These are typically for shows, for which FastPass+ is almost never necessary.
The idea behind this is that guest satisfaction will be higher if people are able to book FastPass+ (even if those selections save them no time) than they would be if all FastPass+ during their trip are “sold out.” Guests with FastPass+ may get better seats at these shows, but there’s no guarantee of that.
To reiterate: FastPass+ for a show is almost always a waste of a FastPass selection. Don’t do it. These selections are only offered so people don’t feel discouraged when the good FastPass+ options aren’t available. Think of them as the “Participant Award” of Walt Disney World touring.
We recommend making FastPass+ selections starting about an hour after park opening. Ideally, make your first 3 FastPass+ selections between 10 am and 1 pm, if not slightly earlier. This is because midday is when the wait times are the longest, the weather is the hottest, and you’re going to want to spend the least time waiting in line.
The first advantage to this is that it gives you roughly an hour from rope drop until 10 a.m. to do attractions via the standby line before the crowds really hit, and lines start getting longer. If you’re redeeming FastPass+ first thing in the morning, you aren’t taking advantage of these short standby waits.
Conversely, if you book FastPass+ too late in the day, your options are limited once you redeem your FastPasses and can start making additional selections. Instead, you want to find the right balance between early and not too early, and I think that is around 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Since many guests have no clue what FastPass+ even is until they show up at the park that day (I’d say this describes most guests), you essentially are in a “race” with other guests to use your FastPass+ and start making additional selections before other guests select remaining “good” FastPass+ run out for the day. Think of it as the Hunger Games, except with Disney rides.
In the Magic Kingdom, it is worth noting that many of the attractions that will have high wait times later in the day are located nearby one another, have short ride durations, and can be quickly knocked-out with minimal wait first thing in the morning. So, if park opening is at 9 am, you might be best served by racing to Peter Pan’s Flight, then Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, and ‘it’s a small world’ first thing. After Fantasyland lines start getting bad, use your FastPass+ for the “Magic Kingdom Mountain Range” after 10 a.m.
This is especially important in the Magic Kingdom, where there are 15+ attractions for which FastPass+ is useful to help avoid waits. For this reason, an ideal strategy in the Magic Kingdom is spending the first hour or so of the day doing popular, short attractions via standby, then using FastPass+ for different attractions, then getting and redeeming more FastPass+ as soon as possible.
Continue that strategy for as long as you’re able, and then do unpopular attractions and/or redeeming additional FastPass+ in the middle of the day. Finally, at the end of the night, you’ll be using standby again at as the crowds and wait times die down. (We always jump into line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 1 minute before the park closes!)
FastPass+ Park Hopper Strategy
An alternate strategy to this if you’re going to be Park Hopping is to not book any FastPass+ for the first park you’re visiting (you can only book FastPass+ for one park per day), staying there until standby lines build, and then hopping to a different park where you have FastPass+ scheduled once things start getting busy.
This strategy works really well for doing a second park in the late-afternoon after some other park in the morning. Now that Disney’s Hollywood Studios has changed its FastPass+ tiers, we’d strongly recommend not using this strategy to hop to DHS. You’ll be at a huge disadvantage if you do, as you can only hold a FastPass for one of its headliners, and you won’t be able to do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at all.
I know this is a lot to digest about FastPass+, especially considering how intuitive and easy to use the system really is, so I’m going to cut this FastPass+ guide off here. Like so many things related to Walt Disney World, it’s intimidating at first, with a lot of superficial complexity. However, also like a lot of Walt Disney World trip planning, it’s surprisingly simple to understand. There are some complexities that do make it difficult to master, and I think I’ve covered most of those.
If you have specific questions or are interested in park-by-park guides for FastPass+, please feel free to ask, and I’ll do my best to answer in the comments below. Also, keep in mind that, although much of the dust has settled, the FastPass+ system is still in its infacy, and very much in flux. I’ll do my best to keep this guide updated, but some things may change…please let me know if you notice any outdated info!
If you need help booking your Walt Disney World vacation and would like the assistance from a professional, click here to get a quote from a recommended, no-fee Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They get their commission from Disney, so there is no charge to you for them to book your trip, help you plan, and even book your FastPass+ ride reservations for you!
If you are planning a first trip to Walt Disney World or your first trip since all of this My Disney Experience stuff launched, make sure to check out our Disney Tips & Tricks page for a lot of helpful tips to outsmart the masses. Also check out our dining reviews to find the best restaurants and our trip planning posts to figure out what to pack, where to buy Walt Disney World tickets to save money, which discounts to look for, and all the other ins and outs of a trip to Walt Disney World, all of which are covered extensively in our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
Have you used FastPass+? What did you think? Which FastPass+ did you find the most difficult to score? Have you had luck securing same-day FastPass+ for popular attractions? Any tips of your own to add? Any questions you have about FastPass+ that this guide didn’t answer? Please share your thoughts in the comments!