How To Make Better Fastpass+ Selections around Walt Disney World

Visiting Walt Disney World? Use Disney's Fastpass+ system to reserve times to go on your favorite attractions, without having to wait in long lines. You can make your selections from home, weeks before your visit.

If you've visited Walt Disney World in the past — or used Fastpass at other Disney theme parks — Disney World no longer uses those paper return-time tickets you used to get in the park. Fastpass+ is an online system that automatically links your reservations to your MagicBand wristband or chip-enabled theme park admission ticket. Just tap it at the entrance and go. 

Here's how you set up and use Fastpass+:

1. CREATE AN ACCOUNT ON THE DISNEY WORLD WEBSITE

Go to https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/ and click "Create an Account" if you do not already have an online account with Disney. (If you do, just go ahead and log in.) This page, called "My Disney Experience," is where you start making all your Fastpass+ reservations. 

Once you are logged in, the website will walk you through the steps of getting ready to make your Fastpass+ reservations. You can make three reservations in a single park for each day of your visit. (After you use those reservations, you can make additional Fastpass+ reservations inside the park on the day of your visit, and we will get to that in a bit.)

The website will start by asking you if you have an existing Walt Disney World on-site hotel reservation. If not, that's no problem. But if you do, the website will link your reservation to your account and that will make your life much easier as you plan your vacation. 

After that, the website will ask you to add the friends or family members that will be traveling with you to your account. They don't need their own Disney accounts and Disney won't give them your log-in — this is just so the system can book Fastpass+ reservations for everyone in your group at once, if you want.

Next, you will need link your Disney World theme park tickets to your account before you can make Fastpass+ reservations. If you haven't bought your tickets yet, you will need to do that before you can make your reservations. (Here are safe places to buy discounted theme park tickets online.) Don't wait too long to do this, because you if you want to reserve Disney World's most popular attractions, you will need to make your reservations as soon as you can.

2. SET YOUR ALARM

You can start making Fastpass+ reservations at 7am Eastern Time 30 days before your visit. If you are staying at an on-site Walt Disney World hotel, you can start making reservations at 7am Eastern 60 days before your visit. (But you will have had to link your reservation to your My Disney Experience account — see above.) 

That's right. People staying at Disney hotels get a 30-day head start on everyone else. Don't worry, though. Disney does not make all its reservation times available 60 days in advance. It holds back some for people booking 30 days in advance, and it's believed that Disney holds back some for same-day reservations, too. And if worse comes to worse, you always can just wait in the stand-by line for any attraction, instead of making an advance Fastpass+ reservation.

3. MAKE YOUR SELECTIONS

Here's where strategy comes into play. You could just pick your family's three favorite rides and make Fastpass+ reservations for those. But if those rides always have short waits anyway, you can save yourself a lot of time during your visit by using your Fastpass+ reservations on other rides with longer stand-by waits, instead.

The best strategy, as always, is to be at the park before it opens, so you can go on the most popular rides before the lines get long. And several rides also offer single-rider queues, which allow visitors to skip most of the wait if they are willing to ride alone by filling in an empty single seat in a row somewhere.

You want to use Fastpass+ for those rides with long waits that you can't get to first thing in the morning and that you won't be using single rider on, either!

We suggest using Fastpass+ only on rides, too. Shows tend to have large capacities and minimal wait times, so it's a waste of a reservation to use your initial three FP+ selections on those. (The only exceptions would be if you are not spending the whole day in the park, but just coming in the evening and you want to make sure that you can get a good spot to see Illuminations or Fantasmic without waiting or having to buy a dining package. Annual passholders often use their FP+ slots for this.) 

If you have young children who really want to meet the Disney characters, you can use Fastpass+ reservations for those, too. But we suggest that booking a character meal at one of Disney's restaurants is not just an easier way to see the characters, but also to spend more time with them, and without having to burn any of your Fastpass+ reservations. 

At Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, you can choose only one attraction from Group A for a Fastpass+ reservations. The other two must come from the list of attractions in Group B. There are no such restrictions at the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Here are your Fastpass+ options in each park, listed from longest stand-by wait to the shortest. Rides marked with an asterisk (*) are our first-choice recommendations for Fastpass+ selections in each park, if they are available. But don't sweat it — whatever you end up getting is the right choice for you! (You can learn more about all of these attractions by visiting our linked park listings pages.)

Magic Kingdom

* Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

* Space Mountain

Peter Pan's Flight

* Splash Mountain

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Jungle Cruise

Pirates of the Caribbean

Haunted Mansion

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

Dumbo the Flying Elephant (has an indoor play area while you wait)

The Barnstormer

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Tomorrowland Speedway

It's a Small World

Mad Tea Party

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

Under the Sea Journey of The Little Mermaid

Mickey's PhilharMagic (show)

Enchanted Tales with Belle (character meet/show)

Meet Ariel at Her Grotto (character meet)

Meet Disney Princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall (character meet)

Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater (character meet)

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor (show)

Epcot

(Group A — Choose 1)

* Frozen Ever After (This is the single longest wait at Walt Disney World right now)

Test Track (Has a single rider option)

Soarin' Around the World

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth (show)

(Group B — Choose 2)

* Mission: SPACE Orange (the side that spins)

Mission: SPACE Green (the side that stays still)

Spaceship Earth (often a walk-on in the afternoon)

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Living with the Land

Journey Into Imagination With Figment

* Epcot Character Spot (character meet, best use of a FP+ for this if you don't have character meals booked)

Turtle Talk with Crush (show)

Disney/Pixar Short Film Festival (show)

Disney's Hollywood Studios

(Group A — Choose 1)

* Toy Story Midway Mania

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (Has a single rider option)

The Great Movie Ride

Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage (show)

Fantasmic! (show)

(Group B — Choose 2)

* The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

* Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration (show)

Disney Junior — Live on Stage! (show)

Voyage of the Little Mermaid (show)

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (show)

Muppet*Vision 3D (show)

Disney's Animal Kingdom

* Kilimanjaro Safaris

* Expedition Everest (Has a single rider option)

* Dinosaur

Kali River Rapids

Primeval Whirl

Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost (character meet)

Festival of the Lion King (show)

Finding Nemo — The Musical (show)

It's Tough to be a Bug! (show)

Flights of Wonder (show)

Keep in mind that you don't have to use the same three reservations for everyone in your party, though most people do.

Get the rides you want first, then worry about the times. You can modify any Fastpass+ reservation after you make it. All Fastpass+ reservations are for a one-hour return window, and Disney will not let you overlap the reservation times. 

Ideally, you would book your Fastpass+ reservation times for the late morning, so that you can then make additional reservations in the park after you use up your first three. 

And if you can't get exactly the rides you want, just go ahead and pick something. You can keep trying to modify your reservations and switch to different rides all the way up until your return time. Since other people are changing their reservations, too, something might come up!

4. DOWNLOAD THE MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE APP

The best way to change reservations, or make extra ones in the park, is with the official Disney World app, which is available free on the iTunes and Android app stores. If you don't have the app, you'll have to walk to one of the in-park kiosks and potentially wait in line to modify or add a reservation in the park. Yuck. 

The app also will tell you current wait times for all attractions in the park and provide maps with walking directions that will help get you from wherever you are to wherever you need to go.

5. MAKE MORE RESERVATIONS, IN THE PARK

Once you've used up your initial three Fastpass+ reservations for the day, you may make additional reservations — one at a time — using the Disney app or an in-park kiosk. You can make your additional reservations in another park, too, if you are park hopping. You are not limited to making extra reservations in the same park as your first three selections. 

The best way to do this is just to see if there is an available FP+ time for the ride you want to visit next. If there is, make it, and just skip the stand-by line and go right in at your scheduled time. Once you've used that FP+ reservation, you can make another one, and so on, and so on... until the end of the day!

During busy times of the year, Disney has made Fastpass+ reservations available for really good parade and fireworks viewing areas, too. We wouldn't use one of our first three FP+ picks for these, but definitely check on these a few hours before the show to see if you can snag a reservation. Then use the time you would have spent saving a viewing space to go on a few more stand-by rides!

Source: Theme Park Insider

Banner Photo Credit: Disney