Disney Tips · Listicles · Uncategorized

How to Plan FastPass+ as a Disneyland Veteran

As I was writing my list of tips for How to Visit Walt Disney World (WDW) as a Disneyland Veteran, I realized that the FastPass+ system can be extremely overwhelming. So I decided to write a more in-depth post on the system and include my opinions for the best choices for FastPass+ at each park.

General Tips

FastPass+ at Disney World is very different from Disneyland’s system in that there are no paper FastPass+ tickets and you can plan FastPass+ in advance.

Planning Ahead:

  • You can plan 3 passes per day per person ahead of time
  • All three of a person’s advance-planning passes have to be in the same park
  • If you are staying at a Disney hotel for your trip, you can make your FastPass+ selections in the My Disney Experience app or online starting at 7 AM EST 60 days ahead of the first day of your trip
  • If you are staying off property for your trip, you can make your FasttPass+ selections starting at 7 AM EST 30 days ahead of the first day of your trip
  • Once you hit the 60 day or 30 day mark, you can select FastPass+ for all the days of your trip if you have tickets linked to your reservation
  • The usual recommendation is to get the earliest times for FastPass+ as possible so you can reach the point of being able to make additional FastPass+ selections faster
  • As a general rule, avoid using advanced FastPass+ selections for night-time shows because these are some of the latest possible time slots and you will not be able to make additional selections day-of until the night-time show

Tier System:

Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom FastPass+ operate on a tier system for selections made in advance. Some of the most popular attractions are in a different tier from the less popular attractions and you are restricted in how many of each you can select. In these three parks, you can only use your advanced FastPass+ reservations to select one attraction in Tier 1 and the other two selections must be from Tier 2.

In the Parks:

  • You cannot make new FastPass+ reservations until you have used or cancelled all three of your FastPass+ selections
  • Once you have used (or cancelled) all three FastPass+ reservations, you can select FastPass+ in the same or a different park
  • You can use a FastPass+ at anytime between the 10 minutes before the starting time of the hour window and up to 15 minutes after the the ending time of the hour window
  • When making FastPass+ selections the day-of, you can select a new FastPass+ as soon as you use a FastPass+ even if you’re still in line
  • If your day-of FastPass+ selection has a time window that is more than 2 hours from the time you made it, you will be able to select a new FastPass+ two hours after you made the selection
  • There is no limit to how many times you can modify or cancel your FastPass+ selections

So which attractions should you use FastPass+ for? Read on for my recommendations!

Note: One thing that WDW has that blows Disneyland out of the water is the level of detail in their queues. I know Disneyland has way better theming than Six Flags but WDW has outdone themselves, partly to keep people dry and cool and protected from the Florida weather. This fact definitely influences my recommendations for how to use FastPass+ as a Disneyland veteran.

Magic Kingdom

Recommended Initial 3 FastPass+ Selections

  • Splash Mountain (if during peak times or summer time) otherwise Big Thunder Mountain
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater

Why these three? Most adults would probably want to use their FastPass+ for the four main roller coasters (Space, Splash, Big Thunder, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) because they usually have the longest lines. Of the four, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain have the least interesting queues and thus most worthy of using a FastPass+. However, Splash usually has really short waits during the cold months or when it is raining so doesn’t necessitate a FastPass+ at those times. The Big Thunder Mountain queue can get really long and is mostly outside but it does have many interactive elements and decor that are entertaining.

Enchanted Tales with Belle is one of the most magical experiences at Walt Disney World, even without kids. FastPass+ for this attraction usually goes pretty quickly and can get to have long waits because it isn’t a very high capacity ride.

Meeting Mickey Mouse is the other attraction that has the longest wait time and is a unique meet-and-greet that you can’t do anywhere in any other Disney park in the world, so I highly recommend using a FastPass+ to meet him here because, as of March 2018, he talks! If you don’t care about meeting characters or you watched videos on YouTube of this meet-and-greet, then use your last FastPass+ on another roller coaster.

I actually recommend NOT getting a FastPass+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train because 1) it has such a cool queue that standing in line is an attraction by itself, 2) because they are so hard to get for early in the day, and 3) because the ride itself isn’t that spectacular that you shouldn’t be heartbroken if you don’t ride it. If you can get a FastPass+ day of or go when the line will be shortest (Extra Magic Hours or right before park close), then do that.

Honorable mention

  • Any other roller coasters
  • Any princess and Tinker Bell meet-and-greet
    • These usually have wait times between 30 and 60 minutes unless you go right before the park closes.
  • Any classic Disney attraction
    • Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Dumbo, Jungle Cruise, Small World, and Peter Pan all can have pretty long waits and are good uses of a FastPass+ if your top choices aren’t available.
  • Rides for Younger Guests
    • Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Winnie the Pooh, Barnstormer, and the Tomorrowland Speedway can get lengthy queues and if you have a child in tow, it is best not to wait too long for these attractions, especially because several of these queues are exposed to the elements.

Not worthy of FastPass+

These attractions usually do not have longer than a 30 minute wait or have FastPasses available day of that you can snag if you must ride them.

  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Epcot

Recommended Initial 3 FastPass+ Selections

  • Frozen Ever After (Tier 1)
  • Spaceship Earth (Tier 2)
  • Mission: SPACE (Tier 2)

I recommend these three options because they allow Disneyland veterans to prioritize new experiences at Disney World. Frozen Ever After is unlike any boat ride at Disneyland and has phenomenal animatronics; the queue is worth waiting in because it really is beautiful but it is usually longer than 45 minutes or an hour. An ideal time for this FastPass+ would be between 10:30 am or noon so you can peruse the World Showcase (which opens at 11 AM) in a clock-wise direction immediately afterwards.  The other two attractions in Tier 1 (Soarin’ and Test Track) are the same as or a lesser version of their Disneyland counterpart.

Spaceship Earth is the most iconic attraction at Epcot and the regular queue is the exact same as the FastPass+ queue. It isn’t the most thrilling ride but I definitely think it is the most must-do attraction of the Tier 2 options. Try and get this as early or late in the day as possible so you can do it on your way in or out of the park.

Mission: SPACE is one of the more thrilling rides in Epcot. It makes me motion sick but is a pretty cool opportunity to feel like you’re in a real space ship if that doesn’t bother you. The Orange version is more intense and takes you to Mars; the Green version gives you a view of the Earth from space. Try to do this in the morning after you’ve had a little bit of time to digest your breakfast.

Honorable Mention

Other worthy options for Tier 1:

  • IllumiNations
    • Make this one day-of instead of in advance so that you can make additional FastPass+ selections in the park earlier in the day
  • Soarin’
    • This is almost exactly the same as Disneyland’s version and has a less educational (and thus sub-par in my view) queue. Still a fantastic ride and can get pretty long waits throughout the day so try to do this during Extra Magic Hours if you can.
  • Test Track
    • This has a different theming than Radiator Springs Racers but is essentially the same. I usually use the single rider line to avoid long lines. Be wary that this will close during inclement weather but that if a ride is closed during your FastPass+ window, it will likely turn into a FastPass+ that can be used on any attraction.

Other worthy options for Tier 2:

  • Living with the Land (if the line is long)
    • This is a fabulous and educational attraction that a lot of people skip. The line is usually not more than 15 minutes but if it is, definitely try to get a FastPass+ day-of or swap your Mission: SPACE FastPass+ for this if you get motion sick.
  • Meet Disney Pals
    • Meet three characters while only waiting once. This will be three of the Fab 5 characters (Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Donald) and they are in their classic outfits with some themed set pieces.

Not worthy of FastPass+

These attractions usually do not have longer than a 20 minute wait or have FastPass+ available day of that you can snag if you must ride them.

  • Pixar Film Fest
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Hollywood Studios

Recommended Initial 3 FastPass+ Selections

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (Tier 1)
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Tier 2)
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (Tier 2)

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has a single rider line so this FastPass+ isn’t absolutely necessary but can be worth it because it is a coaster that is unique to WDW.

I’m surprised Tower of Terror isn’t in Tier 1 so I think this is the best value for a Tier 2 FastPass+ and you don’t miss any (just go a bit more speedily through) of the incredibly themed queue.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is the only way to satisfy an Indiana Jones craving at WDW and is a pretty great show to boot. Being closer to the front is definitely better in that you’ll be more likely to be selected as an extra in the show!

Honorable Mention

Other worthy options in Tier 1:

  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
    • Having a FastPass+ for this might allow you to show up closer to show start time and still get a decent seat. You could swap out Indiana Jones for this one if you’d like or Tower of Terror if you don’t like the drops.
  • Fantasmic!
    • There are usually FastPass+ available for this show day-of but even then, there is plenty of room to try to get a standby seat.
  • Toy Story Mania!
    • These wait times can get crazy high but the queue is fabulous and the same ride can be found at Disneyland so it isn’t necessary to do.

Other worthy options in Tier 2:

  • Star Tours
    • You bypass all of the cool outdoor queue but because most of the indoor queue is the exact same as Disneyland’s queue, this ride is almost only worth doing with a FastPass+
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along
    • You’re not guaranteed to get a better seat but try and be in the middle of the crowd when entering so you don’t have to go all the way across an aisle and can get a middle seat.

Not worthy of FastPass+

These are all shows that happen regularly and thus have a high capacity and a standard wait time of however long the show is (between 15 and 30 minutes).

  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Animal Kingdom

Recommended Initial 3 FastPass+ Selections

  • Flight of Passage (Tier 1)
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris (Tier 2)
  • Festival of the Lion King (Tier 2)

Flight of Passage, even close to a year after it has opened, still has wait times longer than 2 hours. Get a FastPass+ if you can; this is the only reason to try and wake up at 7 AM EST to reserve your FastPass+ ahead of time. The standby queue has the most spectacular theming though, so if you can, ride it twice if the wait time is under 120 minutes. The wait time is especially short when it rains at night!

Kilimanjaro Safaris used to be the most desirable FastPass+ in Animal Kingdom. The best times to go on this attraction are early in the morning, at dusk, or right before the park is closing at night. The line gets longer in mid-day and it can be unbearably hot so the FastPass+ can be more worth it in that you skip a longer line at these times.

Festival of the Lion King is the best entertainment at Walt Disney World in my opinion and the shows regularly fill up. FastPass+ will most likely put you in the warthog seating area (right in front of the sound booth for superior audio quality) or elephant seating area (in-between the two entrance curtains and excellent views of the Simba float) which have a higher percentage of seats close to the action.

Honorable Mention

Other worthy options in Tier 1:

  • Na’vi River Journey
    • Until wait times at Pandora die down, this is the only other option in Tier 1. If you cannot get a Flight of Passage FastPass+, take this one happily because the wait times are usually much longer than the 45 minute max that the short ride is worth.

Other worthy options in Tier 2:

  • DINOSAUR
    • This is one of the best attractions to do at rope-drop or early in the morning because no one heads this direction. There are lots of interesting things to look at and learn in the queue even when there’s a long line so feel free to take your time even if there’s only a 10 minute wait.
  • Expedition Everest
    • This is another great ride to do at rope-drop but is especially epic late at night so try to get a FastPass+ day-of for the later hours if you can. There will be close to no wait before, during and after Rivers of Light and there’s a single rider line when the standby wait is longer than about 30 minutes.
  • Kali River Rapids
    • This queue can get very long during the hotter months so is worth getting a FastPass+ for day-of or if all the Pandora options are already gone. However, this is practically the same attraction as Grizzly River Run at California Adventure.
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical
    • This is a relatively long show (40 minutes) and the waiting area has practically no shade. With a FastPass+, you can be choosier with your seats and will be waiting for showtime in the air conditioning longer.
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
    • Meet Mickey and Minnie at the same time here. Lines can be over 30 minutes.
  • Up! A Great Bird Adventure
    • This show is new and the seats can fill up pretty fast. Some of the best seats will be on the aisles in the front sections.

Not worthy of FastPass+

  • Primeval Whirl
    • This is a terribly uncomfortable and sometimes painfully jerky ride that is very similar to Goofy’s Sky School at California Adventure. If it is any longer than even 10 minutes, I highly recommend you skip it.
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
    • The same show as what used to be at California Adventure with epic punny movie posters. It is pretty cool to go under the Tree of Life but the FastPass+ doesn’t get you much
  • Rivers of Light
    • FastPass+ will likely be available right up until show time and even then there will be plenty of seating because this isn’t that popular of a show.

Please let me know if you agree or disagree with any of my recommendations in the comments below!

Additional Videos

Disney Tips · Listicles · Uncategorized

How to Visit Hollywood Studios as a Disneyland Veteran

Personally, Hollywood Studios is my least favorite park and part of that has to do with how many attractions it shares with the Disneyland Resort. But if you’re a huge fan of Star Wars, then this is the WDW park that you’ll probably enjoy most. In addition to my recommendations below, there are lots of great streetmosphere acts, pretty photo spots and plenty of shops to fill time when not waiting for the few attractions.

To Do

Attractions

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

This launch coaster is the biggest thrill ride in this park. To me, it feels like a shorter, indoor version of California Screamin/The Incredicoaster because it goes upside down (even though I could barely tell that it went upside down). There’s a single rider line that’s usually pretty quick also!

  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

I recommend this ride not only because of the nostalgia that Disneyland veterans might have for the original theming of Tower of Terror but also because there’s extra ride elements that make it much cooler and better themed than Disneyland’s previous iteration.

  • Slinky Dog Dash (When Toy Story Land Opens)

This ride is totally unique to Walt Disney World and seems like it will be a great family-friendly coaster that’s a step up from Gadget’s Go Coaster and with friendlier theming than Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

  • Muppet Vision 3D

Another attraction that used to be at Disneyland, this 4D show is actually quite amusing and has the nostalgia factor for those of you that remember and miss it (I don’t).

  • Walt Disney Presents

This walk-through attraction includes a wonderful museum-like trip through Walt’s animation history and history of the parks and includes models and information about upcoming movies and attractions like Galaxy’s Edge. Additionally, there is sometimes a character meet-and-greet (Star Lord and Groot have been there as of this blog post) and either a film preview or a film on Walt’s life that brought me to tears. Come here if you need some air-conditioning!

  • Star Wars Launch Bay

This area houses character meet-and-greets that you can find in the app (Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, and sometimes Rey and BB-8) as well as an area where jawas wander around and interact with guests. There is also a small art gallery with Star Wars art you can only get in the parks and a separate, large Star Wars shop. The Launch Bay Theater in this area also screens a film about some of the stories of the passionate people who have worked on Star Wars movies.

Entertainment

  • Meet Mickey and Minnie

This is the only place where you can meet Mickey in his Sorcerer’s Apprentice outfit (my personal favorite) and Minnie’s glamorous pink starlet gown will make any family photo look fabulous. The uniqueness of these outfits make this the place I most highly suggest meeting Mickey and Minnie.

  • Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight

You can’t meet this guy in Disneyland and for a character who can’t really move his hands, he’s still pretty expressive.

  • Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular

If you’re like me and have a craving for Disneyland’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye while you’re at Disney World, this is the closest you can get besides the track of DINOSAUR. This show has all of the humor, fight scenes, and explosions galore of an Indy film and you might even be selected to be an extra in the show! There are rumors that this might be replaced in coming years so see it while you can!

  • Disney Movie Magic & Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular

This park’s nighttime entertainment involves lot of projections on the facade of the Chinese Theater. Some of the coolest effects are the ways that they use lasers to make you feel like you’re in the middle of a battle and there are fireworks and fire coming from several locations around the main plaza.

Food & Drink

  • 50’s Prime Time Café

This restaurant is an experience and not just a meal. If you only want to do one table service meal at Hollywood Studios and don’t want to splurge for Hollywood Brown Derby, I would recommend this place.

  • Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

The theming in this place is out of this world and the milkshakes are too. For some upscale versions of theme park burgers and a few other delicious sandwich options, I recommend this place to give your feet a break while you watch a few sci-fi trailers.

To Skip

Attractions

  • Alien Swirling Saucers (When Toy Story Land Opens)

This is the same ride as Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree at the Disneyland Resort and the lines will probably be extremely long for awhile after the new land opens in June 2018.

Entertainment

  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

Unless you or someone in your party really loves Frozen, the Frozen stage show at the Hyperion Theater in California Adventure is far superior. If you must see it, try to go only about 5 to 10 minutes before a show is supposed to start to check if there’s still room or else wait for the next show. The snow falling at the end of the show never ceases to be magical.

  • March of the First Order

This happens so frequently that you really do not have to plan for it; it is more likely to get in your way. I personally don’t think there is anything too special about stormtroopers marching (with much poorer form and worse synchronization than even a terrible high school marching band) but I guess you can get some up close and personal photos.

  • Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away

This is the lamest thing that Disney has ever made to cater to Star Wars fans. The show is solely composed of characters (some of whom have died in the films) coming out and posing on stage without saying anything. The only chance you have of interacting with them is to lurk by the path they take to come on stage. And it happens several times a day.

Food & Drink

  • BaseLine Tap House

This place pretty much only has beer and some less than amazing appetizers; you can get a much better beer selection at Disney’s California Adventure.

  • Most quick service

There aren’t really any unique or can’t-miss treats or meals to get at the counter service locations here and it feels like there are a lot of them. If you can, I would try to do table-service or go to Epcot (if you have a park-hopper), the Boardwalk or Disney Springs for lunch or dinner instead.

  • Hollywood & Vine

This is character dining that mostly appeals to the target audience of Disney Junior (sometimes dinner has characters from the Fab 5, but Tusker House at Animal Kingdom is a much better option). Food-wise, I’ve heard that it is actually bad.

To Do Time-Permitting

Attractions

  • Star Tours

You have the exact same options for scenes as in Disneyland’s version but part of the outdoor queue looks like Endor and I’ve heard that ewoks can sometimes be spotted.

  • Toy Story Mania

The ride is the same as the Midway version at California Adventure but the queue for this attraction has absolutely incredible theming.

Entertainment

  • Fantasmic!

I almost put this on the To Skip list because the refurbishment of Disneyland’s version blows this show out of the water. But, I think this one is worth seeing just for the Pocahontas scene and to appreciate how Disney actually planned seating for one of its most popular shows. You will usually have to pick between seeing this and having a good view of the Star Wars fireworks so decide for yourself which is more important. My usual choice is to leave early and either park-hop to Magic Kingdom for Happily Ever After or walk to Epcot to catch Illuminations, picking up Ample Hills ice cream on the way.

  • Beauty and the Beast-Live On Stage

Somehow Disney has managed to scale down it’s Oscar-winning film into a 25 minute swirl of costumes and choreography with voice recordings for everyone except Belle and Gaston. This show is fine but I would be much happier if Disney were to replace this with Mickey and the Magical Map from Disneyland or a more original show.

  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

This theater adaptation of The Little Mermaid is very outdated so the effects are laughable yet oddly charming. If you have time to kill before a FastPass+, go for it but there are plenty of other things that are more worth your time.

Food & Drink

  • Hollywood Brown Derby & Lounge

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to dine here but I hear the theming and food are spectacular and will give you all of the Los Angeles vibes. This dining option is the one thing for which I might make a special return trip to Hollywood Studios.

  • ABC Commissary

Stop in here to get a free cup of water and check out the costumes and props from your favorite ABC shows like Grey’s Anatomy.