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Disney FastPass+: The Ultimate Guide

SmarterTravel

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, spans nearly 40 square miles (about the size of San Francisco!) and there’s no shortage of thrills, spills, and chills you can experience. But with so many choices, it can be overwhelming to navigate reservations, rides, and character visits. That’s why Disney created FastPass, now called FastPass+.

Included in the price of your park ticket, FastPass+ was designed as a way for Disney World visitors to skip the lines one ride at a time. It’s moved from paper ticket kiosks outside each ride to a complex online system that I’m here to help you navigate.

How Disney FastPass+ Works

Once you purchase park tickets or an Annual Pass, you can grab your trip’s FastPasses up to 30 days in advance—or 60 days in advance if you’re staying on property at one of Disney’s 25 resorts. Once the window opens, you can select up to three rides per park per day online or through the My Disney Experience app. After that, you can get one additional FastPass at a time.

Otherwise, you’re stuck waiting. And like most things too good to be true, there’s a catch: Because Disney releases each FastPass in tiers for every park except for Magic Kingdom, you’re only able to book one “top-tier” attraction at a time—things like Avatar Flight of Passage or EPCOT’s Test Track.

You’ll have to pick and choose carefully by location, too, unless you want to be running headlong across the park to catch a FastPass. You can change your selections anytime, but it’s based on availability and competition is fierce.

If you wait until the day of, it’s likely you’re going to wait, but it’s not impossible to get a FastPass—there are kiosks throughout each park where you can switch your selections or make your first ones. You can also swap things out in the app. Rumor has it that Disney releases more FastPasses based on availability, so if you’re dying to get on a specific ride that has a long wait time, you can keep refreshing throughout the day to see what’s available.

Which Disney World Rides Should You Choose for FastPass?

Since you’re only able to choose three at a time, make the most of it. Here are the top Walt Disney World rides you should definitely try to snag a FastPass for.

The Best Rides to FastPass at Magic Kingdom

If you’re picturing Disney World in your head right now, you’re probably visualizing Cinderella’s Castle from Magic Kingdom. It’s the original Disney theme park and the most family-friendly—even the “big” rides aren’t so scary.

Magic Kingdom doesn’t currently have “tier” options, but nearly all 25 FastPass rides are popular, so you still want to choose carefully based on what you’re interested in riding.

If you like…

  • Thrills: Ride Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, or Splash Mountain—these are arguably the best rides across Disney’s parks.
  • Fun: Try for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, or the Tomorrowland Speedway in Tomorrowland.
  • Beating lines: To avoid the longest lines, grab Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan’s Flight, or Splash Mountain, which consistently have wait times over 60 minutes.
  • Keeping little ones happy: Try for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
  • Meeting characters: Go for meeting Ariel, Rapunzel, Tiana, Mickey, Tinkerbell, or Cinderella, depending on who your kids’ favorites are.

The Best Rides to FastPass at EPCOT

EPCOT, which stands for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow,” has two distinct parts: Future World and the World Showcase. Of all the parks, EPCOT will have the most construction in 2020, with tons of new rides opening in 2021, so FastPass options may be limited in the meantime.

EPCOT divides its rides into two tiers, so you’re only able to choose one “top-tier” ride at a time (Test Track, Soarin’, Frozen, and EPCOT Forever, the new fireworks show). The longest lines are definitely at Soarin’ or Frozen, so your FastPass will go much further depending on what you (or your Frozen-obsessed kiddos) are clamoring for.

After that, you can choose two of the Tier 2 rides. If you like…

  • The final frontier: Try Spaceship Earth and Mission:SPACE (my personal favorites).
  • Chilling out: Relax with Turtle Talk with Crush or Living with the Land.
  • Finding Nemo: Go to The Seas with Nemo and Friends or Turtle Talk with Crush.

The Best Rides to FastPass at Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom, divided by continent, brings the animals of the world to you. Whether you’re heading out on safari, riding river rapids, or climbing Everest, it’s full of adventure.

With the recent opening of Pandora, the mystical land from Avatar, FastPasses at Animal Kingdom are split into two tiers. The two rides in Pandora (Flight of Passage and The Na’vi River Journey) make up Tier 1. Flight of Passage is one of the best rides in any of the parks right now, so if you’re able to snag it, please do.

As for the Tier 2 options (i.e., all of the other rides), there are tons to choose from. If you like…

  • Thrills: Ride Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, and DINOSAUR.
  • Sing-alongs: Get a seat at the Festival of the Lion King, Rivers of Light, and Finding Nemo – The Musical shows.
  • Animals: Go on safari with Kilimanjaro Safaris, UP! A Great Bird Adventure, and It’s Tough to Be a Bug.

My top picks? Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris, no question—though DINOSAUR is a close third.

The Best Rides to FastPass at Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is emerging from several years of heavy construction with the immersive Galaxy’s Edge, the new Star Wars area of the park. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is, of course, a must-do—and it’s a Tier 1 ride, along with Slinky Dog Dash.

But there are plenty of other epic new rides at Hollywood Studios to choose from, like Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Alien Swirling Saucers. You can’t go wrong with any of these, though Toy Story Mania has the longest lines of the bunch since it’s the newest.

The rest of the Tier 2 “rides” are mostly shows, and the FastPass allows you to sit up front. That’s where Hollywood Studios is at its strongest besides the rides, so there’s plenty to choose from and enjoy. If you like…

  • Princesses: Go for the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Beauty and the Beast, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid.
  • Action: Watch Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! and ride Star Tours.
  • Classics: Watch Fantasmic! and Muppet*Vision 3D.
  • Entertainment for little ones: Head to Disney Junior Dance Party!

Of these, Star Tours is the most popular, and then you can choose the show that most interests you (we’re big fans of Frozen in our house) as a nice break from waiting in line at the other top-tier options.

Need to coordinate the rest of your trip? See Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Tips: Everything You Need to Know Before Your First Disney Vacation.

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Always in search of adventure, Kayla Voigt hails from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, the start of the Boston Marathon. You can usually find her at the summit of a mountain or digging into a big bowl of pasta. Say hi on Instagram @klvoigt.

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