FAST PASS advice for Walt Disney World ~ Tips to Maximize Your Experience at the Most Magical Place on Earth!

FAST PASS: What is it and how do I maximize its benefit?

 

Fast Pass at Walt Disney World is a complimentary opportunity to reserve a spot in an express line for your favorite ride. While other theme park companies charge a fee for their express lanes, Disney allows each guest to reserve up to 3 selections in advance either online or using your smartphone app while logged in to your MyDisneyExperience account. Don’t have a MyDisneyExperience account? Don’t fret! It’s easy to sign up and it’s free, just visit www.StartYourDisneyExperience.com

TIP: Schedule your Fast Passes all in the earlier part of the day and after you use all your selected Fast Passes (or their time expires) you may visit a Fast Pass Kiosk, or use the mobile app, and select another available Fast Pass! You may continue to do this until no more Fast Passes are available for that day. Quantity is limited in order to keep the Fast Pass lines, well… you know… FAST.

TIP: Reserving your Fast Passes earlier in the day is also a good idea for “Park Hopping”. When you reserve your Fast Passes, you must select all 3 in the same theme park. If you schedule them in the first half of the day and enjoy one park in the morning and lunchtime, and then “Park Hop” to another park, you may then visit a Fast Pass Kiosk at the second park to select an available Fast Pass (or use the mobile app). This allows you to utilize the Fast Pass system in two parks on the same day!

TIP: Don’t schedule your Fast Pass in the early part of the day! WHAT?!? Didn’t I just tell you to schedule early? When my family and I visit Walt Disney World we have a pattern that we enjoy:

  • 8am: Extra Magic Hour in the morning (For Disney Resort Guests Only). For this example we’ll use the Magic Kingdom. Arrive at 8am and enjoy the park one hour prior to opening for the general public; Smaller crowd equals very quick lines. In that first hour we visit Tomorrowland and enjoy Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin first, each with only a 5-10 minute wait compared to the 90+ later in the day. We usually ride them each twice. Then we move on to Fantasyland for Seven Dwarves Mine Train or Peter Pan’s Flight. In the first hour we enjoy multiple rides that later in the day will take more than an hour each.
  • 9am: The park opens to all. The lines are still short for popular rides. Walk past all the other rides and go enjoy Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad quickly between 9 and 10. (Park hours may vary and schedule is subject to change. Confirm with your Travel Agent or a Cast Member at your resort for accurate times during your stay)
  • 10am: go to Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise. You have now completed your circle of Must-Do attractions.
  • 11am: you skipped breakfast and you’re hungry for an early lunch. Go eat now before everyone else who showed up later become hungry and fill up the restaurants between 12 and 1. At peak time it can be challenging to find an empty table to eat at. I’ve seen people standing and holding their food. Don’t be that person!
  • 12 noon: The park is full of people and the lines are getting long and ugly… good thing I scheduled my Fast Passes for my favorite rides at 12, 1 and 2. I begin my second circle of the Magic Kingdom. This time I enjoy the less popular rides with manageable wait times while also taking advantage of my Fast Passes to enjoy my favorite rides another time; after all, can we really get enough of the rollercoasters?
  • 3pm: Parade!
  • 4pm-6pm: Normally we take a break after the parade and go back to our resort. The midday is hot and crowded. We already had a great time and we’re ready for a nap or a swim.
  • 6pm-10pm: Return to the park for Dinner, evening parade, nighttime show (fireworks).
  • 10pm-12midnight: Stay Late! Because we are rested from our midday nap and swim we have the energy to enjoy the park late at night while other families are retiring for the evening. You know what that means? Shorter lines again!

Classifying rides and attractions as Fast Pass worthy, Must Do, Classic Cult Following and Other opportunities:

Once upon a time I had a friend ask me for my opinion on the attractions at Walt Disney World. While this list will change in the future as they continue to build more attractions (like the World of Pandora 2017, Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land 2019), this is my priority list sorted into Fast Pass, Must Do, Classic Cult Following and Other attractions. While I’m certain my priorities will differ from other opinions, I hope you find my advice helpful for your vacation.

Walt Disney World Fast Pass and “Must-Do” Attractions!
While I could easily say “see and do it all” because each of Walt Disney World’s attractions are unique and could each be considered a “must-do” opportunity, there are certainly attractions that are more popular than others. If you were to talk to Disney fans, each person would have their personal favorites and you’d be surprised to discover the cult following for some of the older less popular attractions.
My personal strategy for Walt Disney World:

  • Obtain a Fast Pass for three attractions that typically have LONG wait times.
  • Avoid longer wait times by visiting the parks during the first and last hour of each day.
  • Observe current Wait Times (easily done with the MyDisneyExperience smartphone App).
    • Focus on “Must Do” rides with a wait under 30 minutes.
    • When lines are full and busy move your focus to “Classic Cult Following” rides for a retro experience with shorter wait times. Often times on busy days the Classic rides have shorter wait times which for me enhances the overall experience; more fun playing and less time waiting.
    • “Other” attractions are rides that I personally don’t feel are worth the wait. This is a personal opinion that is not shared by everyone. You might love these attractions, but in my opinion they’re only worth it if the line is very short.

Here are my suggestions for approaching the attractions based on popularity:

Magic Kingdom 
Main Street USA:

  • Although Main Street is more shopping, food and treats there are some notable items to share. The Harmony Barber Shop is where my son received his first haircut, the barbershop quartet that comes out periodically are wonderful to listen to, the Walt Disney World Railroad is worth a ride around the park, and this is a great place to watch the parades and fireworks.

Tomorrowland:

  • Fast Pass ~ Space Mountain!
  • Must Do ~ Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and Monsters Inc Laugh Floor.
  • Classic Cult Following ~ Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover and Astro Orbiter.
  • Other ~ Stitch’s Great Escape and Tomorrowland Speedway.

Fantasyland:

  • Fast Pass ~ Seven Dwarves Mine Train! Other good Fast Pass options include The Barnstormer (for smaller children), Peter Pan’s Flight (for classic ride lovers) or Princess Fairytale Hall (for popular character meet n greet).
  • Must Do ~ Peter Pan’s Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid.
  • Classic Cult Following ~ It’s a Small World, Mad Tea Party, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant (if you have small children).
  • Other ~ Mickey’s PhilharMagic (3D Movie), and Enchanted Tales with Belle (storytime).

Liberty Square:

  • Fast Pass ~ None. I focus my Fast Passes on other areas. Diehard fans of the Haunted Mansion choose a Fast Pass here, but I have found that during the first or last hour of the day the wait time is less than 20 minutes … sometimes no wait.
  • Must Do ~ Haunted Mansion
  • Classic Cult Following ~ The Hall of Presidents (for history lovers), and the Liberty Square Riverboat (a relaxing sight seeing ride).
  • Other ~ None.

Frontierland:

  • Fast Pass ~ Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Rollercoaster!) or Splash Mountain.
  • Must Do ~ Splash Mountain and Big Thunder are the key attractions. Whichever one you did not get a Fast Pass for the other is definitely a Must Do!
  • Classic Cult Following ~ Country Bear Jamboree
  • Other ~ Tom Sawyer Island

Adventureland:

  • Fast Pass ~ Jungle Cruise
  • Must Do ~ Pirates of the Caribbean. While many people choose to Fast Pass Pirates, I have found that the line is not typically too long and it moves quickly. Jungle Cruise however regularly has longer wait times.
  • Classic Cult Following ~ Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Other ~ The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (small children), and Swiss Family Treehouse.

Magic Kingdom also has a themed Parade at 3pm, another Parade in the evening and a spectacular fireworks show. The themes and times of these events change periodically throughout the year. Check your Guide Map, phone App, or speak to a Cast Member for current offering during your visit.

Epcot

Future World East:

  • Fast Pass ~ Test Track!
  • Must Do ~ Mission Space
  • Classic Cult Following ~ Spaceship Earth, Innoventions and Disney Phineas and Ferb Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure.
  • Other ~ Ellen’s Energy Adventure

Future World West:

  • Fast Pass ~ Soarin
  • Must Do ~ Turtle Talk with Crush, Epcot Character Spot, and The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
  • Classic Cult Following ~ Journey Into Imagination with Figment, and Disney Pixar Short Film Festival.
  • Other ~ Living with the Land, The Circle of Life,

World Showcase:
Travel the world in a day! Explore and experience the pavilions of many countries. See the architecture and fashion, taste the food and experience the festivities!

Each country has either a presentation, music, or other festivity to enjoy. The only two with rides are Mexico’s Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros and Norway has the Frozen Ever After attraction (Fast Pass recommended).
My personal favorites are China’s acrobatics demonstration, Germany’s Biergarten restaurant experience, America’s Voices of Liberty and the United Kingdom’s British Invasion Band.
Epcot also has a nighttime show called “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” (Typically at 9pm through out the year)

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios Fast Pass system has “Tiers”. Due to the tiered system I recommend getting a Rock n Roller Coaster Fast Pass allowing you to acquire Toy Story Midway Mania as well. If you go to Tower of Terror during the first hour of the day the line will be much shorter. Schedule your Rock N Roller Coaster Fast Pass in the morning. Ride Tower and watch Beauty and the Beast while you’re in the area.
Use your third Fast Pass for your personal favorite of the remaining attractions.
Sunset Boulevard:

  • Fast Pass ~ Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster
  • Must Do ~ Tower of Terror and Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage.
  • Sunset Boulevard is my favorite place to eat Quick Service dining. They have a variety of delicious options!

Hollywood Boulevard:

  • Must Do ~ The Great Movie Ride
  • Hollywood Boulevard is filled with great shopping. Keep an eye out for street performers!

Echo Lake:

    • Fast Pass ~ Star Tours
    • Must Do ~ Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show Spectacular!
  • Ask a Cast Member as you enter the park where to sign up your child for Jedi Training Academy.
  • Coming Soon in 2019 ~ Star Wars Land!

Streets of America:

  • Must Do ~ Muppet Vision 3D
  • Currently large portions of this area are closed while they build StarWarsLand and ToyStoryLand coming soon in 2019.

Pixar Place:

  • Fast Pass ~ Toy Story Midway Mania
  • This attraction is so popular that Disney decided to build an entire ToyStoryLand!

Animation Courtyard:

  • Must Do ~ Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Classic Cult Following ~ Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a lot of opportunities for Character Meet n Greets. Get your picture taken with Sorcerer Mickey, Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater, Star Wars and Toy Story characters.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a nighttime show called Fantasmic!

On select nights they feature Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks Show.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Pandora ~ World of Avatar:

  • Fast Pass ~ Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Must Do  ~ Na’vi River Journey

Discovery Island:

  • Must Do ~ It’s Tough to be a Bug! (located under the Tree of Life)

Africa:

  • Fast Pass ~ Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Must Do ~ Festival of the Lion King
  • Wildlife lovers should walk through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and take the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Asia:

  • Fast Pass ~ Expedition Everest
  • Must Do ~ Kali River Rapids (expect to get wet)
  • Wildlife lovers should walk through the Maharajah Jungle Trek (See Tigers and more) and see the Flights of Wonder.

Dinoland USA:

  • Fast Pass ~ DINOSAUR
  • Must Do ~ Primeval Whirl, and Finding Nemo Musical.
  • Other ~ Triceratop Spin, The Boneyard, and Fossil Fun Games.

Click here to discover Animal Kingdom’s nighttime activities.

*I will update this article at a later date to include Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land when I have accurate information.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy reading: Top 10 Reasons for Staying at a Disney Resort with a Large Family 

Need assistance with your Walt Disney World vacation? Contact Zac Wilson!

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