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How to Get Difficult FastPass+ Reservations

By Jennifer L. Nelson

You’ve booked your hotel, made your travel arrangements, and purchased your park tickets. You’re almost ready to visit the most magical place on Earth. But first, you might want to take some time to secure your FastPass+ reservations.

If you know anything about the new Walt Disney World FastPass+ ride reservation system, you probably know that the old method of line-jumping is a thing of the past; you can no longer walk up to an attraction and receive a ticket with a return time designed to reduce your wait in line. Instead, there are now computer kiosks scattered throughout each park where you can reserve one-hour time slots for popular rides like Splash Mountain or Expedition Everest — and, ironically, you may actually have to wait in line to use those kiosks — but for those hard-to-get FastPass+ reservations, you’re probably going to want to make your plans ahead of time.

Sound confusing? It can be. But here are a few tips to help you master the FastPass+ system and get to the front of the line for all of your favorite Walt Disney World attractions…even the most popular ones!

Get a Head Start. For the most part, the attractions and times that you want will probably be available, even if you wait to make your FastPass+ selections just a few days in advance (or possibly even the day of your visit). However, there are a handful of options that may be limited, depending on the time of year that you’re visiting — think major headliner attractions like Toy Story Mania or Soarin’.

If you’re anything like me, you’re going to want to ensure that your FastPass+ selections fit neatly into the planned itinerary for your trip. So the only way to score the optimal times for your family’s park touring plan is to buy your park tickets and start booking your desired reservations at your favorite attractions several weeks in advance.

Stay On-Site. Many Disney-goers may already know that the two hottest tickets on the Walt Disney World property right now can both be found at the Magic Kingdom: a ride on the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster, and a meet-and-greet with Anna and Elsa from Frozen. Getting a FastPass+ for either of these might prove difficult, if not impossible, for even the savviest Disney traveler…even when visiting in the off-season.

To increase your chances of securing FastPass+ reservations for either of these experiences, your best bet is to stay on-site (you’ll have to decide how much some extra line-jumping is worth to you and your family). Guests who are staying at a Walt Disney World resort can make their FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance, while off-site guests have to wait until the 30-day mark. If you stay off-site, you shouldn’t have any trouble booking the majority of your desired FastPass+ attractions…but the likelihood of scoring a time to ride the coaster or meet Disney’s newest princesses will be slim.

Timing is Everything. When it comes to lining up your FastPass+ reservations, you’re going to have to work on Disney’s timetable. Be sure you’re on-line and ready to go in your My Disney Experience account just before midnight EST time on the first day of your 30- or 60-day reservation window (don’t forget to refresh your log-in). Sometime in that hour, all of your FastPass+ options for the duration of your trip should open up.

Always make your FastPass+ reservations in order of difficulty to get rather than chronological order; don’t waste time booking Test Track at Epcot for your first day in the parks when you can devote those precious minutes to scoring an adventure with the seven dwarfs or a photo opportunity with the Frozen sisters for the third day of your trip at the Magic Kingdom. If you’re trying to book a FastPass+ for either of these experiences, try aiming for a date that’s later in your trip to take advantage of the fact that it will still be out of the 60-day range for many of your fellow travelers.

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Understand the System. The FastPass+ system comes with all kinds of caveats; among the most problematic is the fact that when it comes to the most popular rides at Epcot and Hollywood Studios, your choices are “tiered” — you’re limited to only one headliner at each park, and then you can choose two from the next “tier.”

If you’re debating between Soarin’ and Test Track, or Toy Story Mania versus Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, be sure to have your FastPass+ strategy firmly in place to save time while making your reservations. You have to choose three FastPass+ attractions at a time, so be prepared to make a reservation for a not-so-popular ride like The Seas with Nemo and Friends in addition to your Soarin’ FastPass+.

Know How to Hop. As the system works currently, you may hold three FastPass+ reservations in one park per day, and you can only make new selections (one at a time at the in-park kiosks) after those three one-hour reservation windows expire. So the problem then becomes how to schedule your FastPass+ selections for popular attractions on a day when you plan to park hop.

Your best bet for locking in your family’s Enchanted Tales with Belle experience during an afternoon visit to the Magic Kingdom is to arrive at your first park early enough to experience the attractions via the stand-by lines without a long wait, and then take advantage of your pre-reserved FastPass+ appointments in the busier part of the day at your second park.

If you exhaust three reservations at Epcot in the morning, by the time you’ve reached the Magic Kingdom at 2pm, your desired FastPass+ selections might be either limited or “sold out.” If your family wanted to reserve a special viewing spot for nighttime entertainment like Fantasmic! or IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the FastPass+ appointments for evening shows may also be fully distributed by the afternoon.

Copy Your Plans. When you’re maneuvering through the My Disney Experience app or website and trying to book FastPass+ reservations for a larger family, you may sometimes find that the system won’t be able to locate a particular reservation time slot for your entire travel party. You can try to make the reservation for one member of your party and then use the “Add Friends and Family” option to then copy your reservation to the rest of your family members. This trick works especially well for those hard-to-get FastPass+ attractions that probably won’t have multiple time slots available to accommodate a larger group.

Check the Calendar. Disney regularly changes and updates its park hours, which presents the ideal opportunity for you to have access to newly-released FastPass+ options. If the Magic Kingdom was originally supposed to close at 8pm, but the hours were later extended to 9pm, you may be able to cash in on a new hour’s worth of FastPass+ appointments if you stay on top of the calendar.

Shop Around. The Disney website makes it easy to shop around for alternate FastPass+ options. If you already have your three choices for a given day, but you’d like to keep checking back for a better time for your ride on Space Mountain (or a harder-to-get reservation like Enchanted Tales with Belle), you can continue to modify your plans without cancelling your original FastPass+ choices. Simply choose the “update” option instead of “cancel,” select a FastPass+ that you’d be willing to give up in place of an alternate experience or time, and conduct your search for your chosen attraction.

Keep Checking Back. Leaving for your trip and failed to score a FastPass+ at your favorite attraction? You can still plan to arrive to the parks early — or stay late — and ride most of the attractions without a long wait, even in the busy summer months.

But don’t give up hope just yet. Disney travelers change and cancel their plans all the time. Much like the reservations at Walt Disney World’s on-site restaurants, you may find that with a little bit of persistence — and a willingness to spend some extra time on the Walt Disney World website — your desired FastPass+ option might eventually open up. Plenty of people have reported nabbing a Seven Dwarfs FastPass+ via the My Disney Experience app the night before their Magic Kingdom visit. Keep checking!

 

 

About Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer L. Nelson donned her first pair of personalized mouse ears at age 4. A lifelong Disney fanatic and avid runner, the New Jersey resident visits both Walt Disney World and Disneyland several times a year to cross the finish line of one of runDisney’s half or full marathons; among her proudest accomplishments to date was completing the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend’s 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon to earn the coveted inaugural Dopey Challenge medal. When it comes to theme park touring, she’s a self-described “commando” visitor who arrives at rope drop, follows a strict touring plan (and never waits in line!), and soaks up the Disney magic until the final gift shop has closed. She is a freelance writer and editor who blogs about her personal weight loss journey, running exploits, and Disney obsession at www.thefinalforty.com.