Today’s article is a guest post from Magical Memories Travel
Disney vacation specialist, Jen Zinno.
One of the most important parts of a successful touring strategy at Disney World is making good use of Fastpasses. Although they are most important during busy times, they will allow you to make the best use of your time during slower periods as well. The basic concept of a Fastpass is simple, but using it effectively requires some more in depth understanding.
What is Fastpass?
Fastpass is a virtual line system. It is a free perk to anyone visiting any of the four Walt Disney parks in Florida. All you need to use it is your admission ticket. Each of the four parks has a number of Fastpass attractions. These are generally the busiest and most popular rides. Fastpass effectively allows you to have your place in line held while you go do something else.
How does Fastpass work?
When you approach a Fastpass attraction, you have two choices. You can enter the regular (standby) line and wait. Or you can go to the Fastpass kiosks that will be somewhere next to the attraction. When you approach the kiosk, you insert your park ticket into the machine. The park ticket will come back out, and a piece of paper (your Fastpass) will print. On the Fastpass, it will say the name of the attraction and a return window of 1 hour. So it may be 9:30AM right now, and your Fastpass has a return window of 11:10 to 12:10. That means you can go and ride other rides, eat, or anything else you want, and then return to the ride later. When you return, you enter the special Fastpass line. Since there are a limited number of Fastpasses distributed each day, the wait time in this line is usually only about 5 or 10 minutes.
How often can I get another Fastpass?
When you get a Fastpass, the time that you are eligible for another will be printed at the bottom of the ticket. In general, that time will be the earlier of the start time of your return window and 2 hours from when you got the Fastpass. So if you got a Fastpass at 9:30 with a return time of 10:15 to 11:15, you would generally be eligible for another Fastpass at 10:15. If you got a Fastpass at 9:30 with a return time of 2:15 to 3:15, you would generally be eligible for another at 11:30. However, there can be variations to these guidelines, so always check the time listed on your Fastpass. Note that you don’t have to use your first Fastpass before you get another. You just have to reach the time listed on your current one.
What about my under 3 year old child who doesn’t have an admission ticket?
Children under 3 who don’t have a ticket (and therefore can’t get a Fastpass) can go through the Fastpass line with an adult who has one. Most rides with Fastpasses are thrill rides that have height restrictions that an under 3 wouldn’t be riding anyway. But there are some exceptions (most notably Toy Story Mania). Your child will have no problem going through the Fastpass line with you.
How strict is the return time?
The beginning time of your Fastpass window is very strict. You will not be able to enter the Fastpass line even 1 minute before your return window. However, the end time is more flexible. Currently, Disney does not enforce the end time of the Fastpass window. So if you have a return window of 10:15 to 11:15, you can not return before 10:15. You can return anytime after 10:15 until the end of the day. Note that this is an unwritten rule, and there are always rumors that Disney is going to stop allowing it. For the time being though, it is a huge help to touring plans. A great strategy is to collect Fastpasses in the morning every time you are eligible. While doing this, you can either ride the less popular rides, or ride the same Fastpass rides while lines are short. Then later in the day when lines are long for everything, you can use your Fastpasses to ride the popular rides quickly.
How do I decide whether to get a Fastpass or ride Standby?
In general, if a line has less than a 30 minute wait, it most likely makes sense to ride Standby. However, you can also do both -ride it Standdby while the line is short, and also collect a Fastpass for later. Also, during slow times of the year, you may see a Standby line with a 20 minute wait, and Fastpasses with a window that starts in 20-30 minutes. In that case, you can get the Fastpass and ride at the same time without having to stand in line.
What rides use Fastpass?
Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Jungle Cruise, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan’s Flight.
Epcot: Mission: SPACE, Test Track, Captain EO, Maelstrom, and Soarin’
Animal Kingdom: Dinosaur, Expedition Everest, It’s Tough to Be a Bug, Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Primeval Whirl
Hollywood Studios: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid
How do I use Fastpass with rider switch?
Rider switch is a way for families with children who are too short for some rides to get on the rides without having to wait twice. The whole family (including the child that is too short) approaches the start of the line. All but one adult get in line to ride. The cast member at the line will give a special Fastpass to the adult who is staying behind. It will allow that adult (and up to 2 other people) to ride the attraction by going through the Fastpass line.
Rider switch can be combined with regular Fastpasses in a couple of ways. For example, assume you have a family of 4 – 2 adults, 1 child tall enough to ride, and 1 child who is too short. You can get 4 Fastpasses for the ride using your 4 tickets. Then use 2 of the Fastpasses for an adult to ride with the tall enough child. The other adult can then use the rider switch pass to ride with the tall enough child (they get 2 rides!). After that, you still have 2 Fastpasses left, and can do the whole thing again. Another option is to only get 2 Fastpasses for the ride, and get 2 Fastpasses for another ride. Then use rider switch at each of the 2 attractions so that everyone tall enough can ride both.
Anything else I need to know?
Some of the most popular attractions can run out of Fastpasses very quickly during the day. The biggest examples of these are Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios and Soarin’ in Epcot. For both of these attractions, it’s very important to get to the park early and immediately get Fastpasses. During busy times, Toy Story Mania can run out of Fastpasses by 10AM, and even getting there slightly after park opening can result in a return time late in the day. Even during slow times, Fastpasses are often gone by lunch time.
There are also a few shows that sometimes distribute Fastpasses. It is usually not necessary to use them at these attractions. The theaters for them are large, and except for at very busy times, you will most likely get into the next show whether or not you have a Fastpass.
Using all the information and guidelines above will make for a much more relaxing day of touring. There’s nothing better than seeing a standby wait time posted at 90 minutes and walking through the Fastpass line in 5!
Jen Zinno, a self described “Disney addict,” is a Disney vacation specialist with Magical Memories Travel. She lives in Sharon, MA with her husband and two children. Jen looks forward to her Disney vacations where she can leave her worries behind and be a kid again. You can contact Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 339-364-3475 or 1-888-908-7718 ext 104.
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