by JollyFrogger Diva
Being a seasoned visitor to Walt Disney World, my family has our planning system down pat by now. I know all about making advance dining reservations, hotel reservations, and booking our flights. My father taught me long ago how to research park hours and come up with a plan to maximize our time in the park each day and also how to schedule non-park days to give our feet a break. Planning for our upcoming trip, however, has thrown me for a bit of a loop.
Right before our last trip to Walt Disney World, beta testing began for the Magic Bands and the FastPass+ (FP+) system. We were lucky enough to be allowed to participate in that beta test, and for the most part we really liked the convenience of the bands. However, due to some sort of issue with the My Disney Experience site, we were never really able to test the FP+ system, which wasn’t a problem at the time because paper FastPasses were still in use. This trip, I have had to teach myself all about the FP+ system in order to know how to make the best choices when our reservation window rolls around. The FP+ system is a free service for all visitors of Walt Disney World, even if you don’t stay on Disney property. Here is some information about the FP+ and a few tips for figuring how to make the best reservations for your group.
1) How soon can I make a FP+? If you’re staying on property at Walt Disney World, you can make your FP+ reservations 60 days before you check in. If you’re staying off-property, you can make your reservations 30 days before you check in.
Disney Diva Tip: Disney recently changed the time you can start making these reservations to 7am Eastern Standard Time.
2) How many FP+ can I make?You can make as many as 3 FP+ per day in advance. They must all be for attractions in the same park. Due to recent changes, you no longer have to make 3 so if there’s only 1 ride or attraction you care to use a FP+ for, that’s now possible. Once you use your advance FP+ reservations, you now have the ability to make an additional one on the same day from any park kiosk or the My Disney Experience mobile app. This additional FP+ does not have to be made for the same park your advanced reservations were in.
Disney Diva Tip: After each same-day FP+ is used, you are able to make additional Fastpass selections one at a time.
3) Does everyone in my party have to have same FP+ reservations? No. You can tailor your FP+ reservations to each person’s interest and age. On our upcoming trip, my husband and sister want to ride Space Mountain but nobody else in the family wants/is able to ride. Therefore, I am making my parents, daughter, and myself a FP+ reservation for Tomorrowland Speedway so my daughter and parents can do something they want to do while my sister and husband are also doing something they enjoy.
Disney Diva Tip: Children under 3 do not need a FP+ in order to be able to rides they meet the height requirement for.
4) How long do I have to use a FP+ reservation? Each reservation is good for a one hour window. For example, if you have a FP+ for Pirates of the Caribbean at 5:30pm, you can return to the ride any time between 5:30pm and 6:30pm to redeem that reservation.
Disney Diva Tip: I have seen reports that some people have been able to use their FP+ reservations a few minutes before their window begins or a few minutes after it ends, but I wouldn’t rely on that always being an option.
5) Which rides or attractions are eligible for a FP+? This is the biggest change between the old paper system and the current FP+ system- every ride and most attractions can now be reserved. To me, this makes things more challenging because there are so many options now and you only get 3 FP+ to start with. To complicate matters further, both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios use a tier or group system that only allows you 1 FP+ for a ride or attraction on the tier 1 list and makes you choose your other 2 FP+ from the tier 2 list. If your family is like mine and really wants to ride the new Frozen Ever After ride at EPCOT, but you also love Soarin’, this can make for some tough choices as both rides are considered Tier 1. After some debate we decided to use our FP+ for Frozen Ever After and head straight to Soarin at rope drop in hopes of minimizing that time we have to wait in the standby line.
6) How do I know which attractions or rides to make a FP+ for? This is going to be different for every person. There are some rides that will almost certainly need a FP+ unless you want to stand in line for several hours- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Frozen Ever After for example. However, not everyone will care/be able to ride those rides. If you’re a planning person like me, I’ve found the best way to decide which rides to use a FP+ for is to make a tentative schedule for each day of your visit and then see which rides or attractions would have the longest wait and choose those.
Disney Diva Tip: Touring Plans has a tool that lets you choose from several ready-made touring plans or even allows you to create your own. Below is an example of the one I made for our day at Animal Kingdom- it shows you approximately what time you would get to the attraction, the expected standby wait time, and the length of the attraction. It also recommends attractions that would be a good candidate for a FP+. Once you book your FP+, you can add that to your touring plan and it will adjust the time accordingly and give you a tentative look at your day.
Hopefully these tips will help you as your research and prepare to make your FastPass+ reservations for your upcoming trip. If you need help planning your next trip, please contact our official travel agent Patricia from All for Dreams Travel for a free quote.