How To Use Disney Fastpass+ And Making The Most Of Your Next Walt Disney World Vacation

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not someone who plans every single second of my family’s Walt Disney World vacation. Do I make dining reservations in advance? Sure, but only a few and certainly not ones for every day or every meal. But when it comes to Fastpass+, that’s one thing I won’t compromise on. As soon as my window of time opens up (either 60 or 30 days before your vacation), the alarm I set on my phone goes off and I immediately hop on the My Disney Experience App to plan our Fastpasses.

If I’m being completely honest with you, it’s not the easiest thing to understand. Disney will sometimes change it’s policies with how you can book (like the change to Attraction Tiers they made a few months ago), or if you haven’t been to the parks in a while it can become overwhelming. I’m here to help you better understand what Fastpass+ is, how you can effectively utilize it on your next vacation and provide you with some of my Disney Mom Tips along the way.

First thing’s first- download the free My Disney Experience App! Your Fastpass+ adventure begins there.

What is Disney’s Fastpass+?
Disney’s Fastpass+ is a reservation system for the park attractions. At Disney World, guests can book reservations for their favorite theme park attractions 60 or 30 days in advance (depending on where you’re staying).

How does Fastpass+ work?
Using the My Disney Experience App, you book an attraction reservation for a particular time slot. Each time slot is for one hour and you can return at any point during that hour. However, your time slots can’t overlap. When you’re booking, the app will alert you that you already have a time scheduled at another attraction.

Once at the park, you scan your MagicBand or hard ticket at the Fastpass+ return line during your reservation window and are permitted to enter the ride’s FastPass+ queue. The benefit is that the FastPass+ line offers a shorter wait time than an attraction’s Standby queue.

Log into your My Disney Experience App and simply click on the “+” sign in the circle at the bottom of the screen 
This screen will pop up and you will click “Get Fastpass+”
You’ll be asked to select a date and specific park 
Times and Attractions will pop up for the park you selected.

How much does Fastpass+ cost?
Nothing. Fastpass+ is included with your theme park admission ticket.

Do I have to purchase my ticket before I book my Fastpasses?
Yes, before gaining access to the Fastpass+ reservation system, you need to have your ticket purchased and attached to your My Disney Experience.

Does a child under 3 with no park ticket need a Fastpass+?
No, a child that isn’t required to have a park ticket doesn’t need a Fastpass+. Just bring the child with you to the Fastpass+ line when it’s your appropriate return time.

When can I book my Fastpass+ reservations?
If staying onsite at a Disney World Resort, select Disney Springs hotels or the Four Seasons Resort Orlando allow you to book your Fastpass+ rides 60 days in advance of your check-in date starting at 7 am ET. If you are not staying on property, you can only book 30 days in advance.

On top of all the Disney World Resorts and hotels, certain Disney Springs Hotels now qualify for the 60-day pre-book window:
B Resort & Spa
Best Western Lake Buena Vista
DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando
Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace
Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
Holiday Inn Orlando
Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista

Can I pay to schedule extra Fastpasses in advance?
Yes, and no. Unlike Disneyland, you can’t pay ahead of time for Fastpass+. Here’s the catch, guests staying club level or other rooms that are eligible for signature service such as the bungalows at the Polynesian and have at least a 3-day park ticket or annual pass are able to purchase three additional Fastpasses, a 90 day booking window plus a handful of other benefits for $50 per Guest per day ($150 minimum due to the 3-day ticket requirement).

How many Fastpasses do I get each day?
Technically, there isn’t a limit. However, when you first begin planning you’re allowed 3 FastPass reservations at one park per day. This is true even if you have a Park Hopper ticket.

This is where having the My Disney Experience App comes handy- After you use your three FastPasses you can make additional ones from what is available via the My Disney Experience App or any kiosk in the park.

What are Fastpass+ Tiers?
At Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, the attractions are broken up into two tiers. Tier 1 has extremely popular attractions such as Frozen Ever After at Epcot or all three of the Toy Story Land rides at Hollywood Studios. And Tier 2 has all the other attractions.

Which Fastpasses should I snag first?
This all depends on the kind of Disney vacation you wish to experience, and what your specific circumstances are. Are you traveling with little ones? Are you on your Honeymoon? Does everyone like the same ride, or will members of your party be sitting out on certain rides? Above all, what do YOU wish to experience?

Below is my list of the Walt Disney World attractions for which FastPass+ reservations are a must. Keep in mind, this list is formed from my personal experience of tackling the parks with children ages 4 and 6. My boys can go on most rides. This past trip our 6 year old was officially tall enough for Space Mountain. That being said, I booked a Fastpass+ for him and my husband, while I rode the people mover with my other child who’s just now clearing the 42″ mark. As I mentioned above, it’s completely subjective and you may find other attractions work best for you.

Magic Kingdom
Seven Dwarves Mine Train– Not only is this ride the most popular in the park, coming in at just under 3 minutes- it’s one of the quickest. Normally, I wouldn’t want to wait even 30 mins in line for it, but if you have a Fastpass for it- it’s a must-do!

The Haunted Mansion– I’m biased because this is one of my all-time favorite attractions. However, it wasn’t until recently that I felt the need to use a Fastpass for it. The line queue is fun and interactive and without a pass, I’ve waited anywhere from 25-30 minutes. Over the past few months when I’ve been in the park, the standby line was never under a 45-minute wait. With little ones (Who are also big fans of residents of Gracey Mansion), I’ve chosen to use Fastpass for this attraction.

Peter Pan’s Flight– If there was one ride to rival the wait times of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, it’s Peter Pan’s Flight. There’s also no height requirement so it’s perfect for the entire family. In all my years of going to Disney World, I’ve never seen the line under 75 minutes (And that’s on a good day). The very first Fastpass selection I make is this ride, and I strongly suggest making it one of your first selections as well.

Splash Mountain– Out of all the Magic Kingdom “mountains,” this one is our family favorite. It’s the longest attraction, so we always feel like we’re making good use of a Fastpass and getting our “money’s worth.” It’s one of those rides that could have a 10-minute wait or a line longer than 2 hours- you just never know and I don’t want to risk it. My boys love Brer Rabbit and that Briar Patch! Because Thunder Mountain is right next to it, there’s been times where we’re able to get a Fastpass for either attraction day of. We’ll choose the one with the longest wait time, and then wait in the stand-by line for the other attraction. It’s especially convenient since they are right next to each other.

Frozen Ever After– Fastpasses for this attraction can be hard to come by, so I suggest you try for this one first when planning your day at Epcot. If you can’t snag a coveted Fastpass, I suggest rope dropping at Epcot and going straight to this attraction.

Soarin’– Our boys just reached the height requirement for this attraction a few months ago (must be at least 40″ tall) and it’s quickly become a family favorite. It’s arguably the second hardest Fastpass to obtain, right after Frozen Ever After.

Test Track– I’ve never seen short wait times for this attraction, so when a Fastpass becomes available, I go for it and you should too!

Animal Kingdom
Kilimanjaro Safari– Disney Park guests young and old love this attraction. It’s one of the longer attractions, but it also has long wait times. If you’re traveling with children, I strongly suggest going for this Fastpass first, even before Avatar Flight of Passage.

Expedition Everest– Some would argue with me that the line queue for this ride is one of the most fun and interactive ones in the entire resort. I would agree it is, but with kids on a hot summer day, no line queue is worth melting for! This is also the best roller coaster on the property, I would say it’s even the best thrill ride!

Avatar Flight of Passage– Although this isn’t one of my favorite rides, you can’t deny the cutting edge technology Imagineers used to create this attraction. The amount of attention paid to every detail is unprecedented. You must experience this ride, at least once. Unless you rope drop at Animal Kingdom, a Fastpass will be your guaranteed ticket to ride.

Hollywood Studios
Slinky Dog Dash– If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this- Use your Tier 1 Fastpass for this attraction (above any other Tier 1 in all 4 parks). After you follow my advice and do this, you’ll understand why. It’s one of the best rides in Walt Disney World.

Rockin’ Roller Coaster – If you love roller coasters (and also happen to love Aerosmith- who doesn’t?), you won’t want to miss this ride. I’ve never ridden it without having a Fastpass.

Hollywood Tower of Terror – another not-to-be-missed attraction, with wait times that vary from 10 minutes to 90 minutes. I never risk it, and always opt for a Fastpass. It’s been my experience that out of all the thrill rides at Walt Disney World, this one is the easiest Fastpass to obtain.

Disney Mom Tip: Obviously, Smuggler’s Run would’ve been on my list for Fastpass must-haves. However, Disney does not have a Fastpass system in place for this attraction (yet). Your best bet of piloting the Millenium Falcon is by taking advantage of the extra magic hours Hollywood Studios has in the mornings or rope drop at Hollywood Studios to experience this cutting edge attraction.

Strategy For Hard-To-Get FastPasses:
Some attractions are very popular and it can be particularly hard to get Fast Passes for these attractions. These are currently the hardest to get FastPasses:Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

For reasons I can’t explain, I’ve just had luck booking these Fastpasses for the last few days of our vacation. For example, if Slinky Dog Dash is your top pick for Fastpass, try planning a day at Hollywood Studios the last day or two of your trip. I can’t guarantee anything, and it hasn’t always worked, but out of all the strategies I’ve tried- it’s been the most successful way to go about obtaining those coveted Fastpasses.

If all else fails, I always suggest rope dropping at a park or taking advantage of any extra magic hours when they’re offered. I also wrote an article about the After Hours Party at Hollywood Studios and although it’s an extra ticket, it was SO worth it. We had zero lines and were able to ride Slinky Dog Dash several times. Check out the article here.

Disney Mom Tip: I’m constantly checking the My Disney Experience App and if there’s anything I have a Fastpass for where the current standby line is a time we could wait in, I immediately cancel the Fastpass for that ride via the app. This opens up another opportunity for us to book a Fastpass on a different attraction that day.

How do I modify or cancel a Fastpass+ selection?
It’s easy to change or cancel a Fastpass+ selection. Using the My Disney Experience app select the attraction selection you want to change and click on it. If you want to cancel it, you’ll see “cancel” on the left-hand side, click it and follow the directions. If you want to change the selections click “modify” on the right-hand side and follow the directions.

Disney Mom Tip: Often, only a handful of times come up for the selected attraction. Try swiping left or right on those times, more times will appear.

How does Fastpass+ work for shows or character meet and greets?
A Fastpass for a stage or firework show gives you access to a reserved viewing area and lets you enjoy the park instead of camping out saving your perfect viewing area. I once used a Fastpass for the Nemo show in Animal Kingdom and immediately regretted using one of my Fastpasses for it. Like most shows throughout the parks, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. In fact- I often prefer being towards the back or end of the aisles with little ones because you never know if they’ll make it all the way through and being in one of these seats allows for you to leave the theater much easier. If can you arrive earlier to the show, I suggest doing that and just waiting in the standby line.

Character meet and greets can be tricky. First of all, my kids are either obsessed with characters or they want nothing to do with them. Which makes it hard for me to book these Fastpasses months in advance. I’m constantly checking wait times for characters on the My Disney Experience App and if I notice a line is short, we quickly hop over there to meet whichever character it is. A few months ago, we were in Epcot and I was checking my app when I realized Joy and Sadness from Inside Out had a wait time of only 15 minutes. We were just coming off The Land and just walked over to the character spot to meet them.

Disney Mom Tip:
1- If you decide to use a Fastpass for a show, I suggest using it for Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom or Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios. Just like any other attraction, you’re given a time frame for which you are to show up and wait in line. Don’t wait until the end of your Fastpass time slot to walk up to the line. I know a family that once showed up towards the end of their Fastpass time for Fantasmic and the special seating area was full. So if you use it for a show, make sure you’re still there early enough.

2- If you’re going to do a Character meet and greet, the only one I’ve gotten a Fastpass for in the past is meeting Mickey Mouse on Main Street U.S.A. Mickey Mouse is so much apart of our family, that I cherish those family pictures with him. Every family deserves a picture with the mouse that started it all, which is why I’ll suggest getting a Fastpass for him. Again, this is subjective and if your little ones are into Princesses, then something like Fairytale Hall at the Magic Kingdom might work better for you.

What Happens If A Ride Is Down During My FP+ Return Time?
Minor malfunctions occasionally cause temporary ride closures. Weather is also a factor. There have been multiple times where we’ve been in line for Test Track or Slinky Dog Dash and because of the weather, the ride shuts down. If this happens during your scheduled FP+ reservation time, Disney will automatically adjust your FastPass+ reservation in one of 3 ways, depending on the time of day the issue happens:

1- If it’s early in the day, Disney will offer you the chance to return to the attraction at any point in the day, after it reopens.
2- Another early-day compensation option Disney offers is to let you choose another FastPass+ attraction in the same park, on the same day.
3- If it’s late in the day, Disney will automatically give you another FastPass+ selection good for any FastPass+ attraction at any park the following day.

Additional Fastpass+ Tips and Tricks: 

1- If it’s possible, I try to schedule our initial 3 Fastpasses around the same time. For example, if I have Haunted Mansion from 9:50 am- 10:50 am, I’ll look for a ride where I can book a time frame of 11:00 am- 12:00 pm. It’s not always an option, but when it is, I plan them as close together as possible. Nothing’s worse than getting a Fastpass for an attraction in the morning and then one for late afternoon and the last one being in the evening. You might like to space them out, and if that’s the case then you go for it and do what works best for yourself or your family.

2- You must download the My Disney Experience App (it’s free) before your vacation. Sure, there’s kiosks in the park where you can book and make changes to Fastpasses, but nothing beats having the app. You have complete and total control of your vacation and Fastpass schedule, right in the palm of your hand.

3- If you’re using a Disney travel agent, and the process of Fastpasses becomes too overwhelming for you, don’t be afraid to ask your agent for assistance. I always look to the professionals at Academy Travel when I’m making reservations or planning our trips and all of their agents have experience booking Fastpasses for your entire length of stay. There’s no shame in the asking for help game!

You can also watch our quick tutorial video on how to book Fastpass+ using your My Disney Experience App by clicking here.

The most important thing to remember when booking your Fastpasses or anything regarding your Walt Disney World vacation is never take it too seriously, plan for the best and expect that your plans might change (shout out to all you families with little ones, because do our plans ever stay the same?), and to just have fun. Seriously, the planning pricess is just as magical as actually being there. You’re about to make memories that will last a lifetime and obtaining Fastpasses for your favorite attractions is just the extra powdered sugar on your Mickey Waffle.

Kristi is the Media and PR Director for The Kingdom Insider. She's a lifelong Disney fan and grew up spending her family vacations at the Happiest Place on Earth. She resides in Florida with her husband and two boys, ages 4 and 6.