Spend more time on Disney rides, not waiting in line

by , SmarterTravel Staff
The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Walt Disney World's Epcot Center, Orlando, Florida (Walt Disney Company)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on April 16, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Disney, family travel, Orlando, Sarah Pascarella, theme park.

If you're heading to Disney, you can remove some hassles by becoming familiar with the FastPass program. FastPasses, available for no extra charge at each ride's entrance, offer timed entry, enabling you to return at a designated time and skip the line.

On a recent Disney vacation, my colleague John Reiss and his wife devised a FastPass strategy to maximize the number of rides they could enjoy. "Since many of the parks were designed in a somewhat circular pattern, we chose rides that were most attractive to us the evening before we went to the park," says Reiss. "With this list we were able to choose the direction we wanted to go—clockwise or counter-clockwise."


In each of the different sections of the park, they had a first-, second-, and third-choice ride in mind. If the first-choice ride had an estimated wait time longer than a half hour, they grabbed a FastPass and went to the second choice. If the second had a wait longer than 20 minutes, they went to their third-choice option. "We continued this process through all of the parks and hit everything we wanted to and then some," says Reiss. "In our experience, anything 20 minutes or under was worth waiting [for] immediately because the lines tend to move much quicker than indicated. Over 20 minutes seemed to have more accurate estimates."

When planning, also make sure to calculate each ride's duration. You wouldn't want to miss a FastPass entry because you were riding a different attraction.

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