Thanks to our travel consultant Karen Waldman for giving us this overview of Disney’s FastPass+ system. – Tim
If you’ve been to Disney, you are probably familiar with the FastPass (FP) system. If an attraction’s line is too long for your tastes, you go to a nearby kiosk and request a FastPass for the attraction. You receive a ticket to return to the attraction at a given time, you get into a special line, and your wait time is dramatically cut to little or none. Disney is enhancing the system with FastPass+ (FP+) to allow for “pre-booking” of FastPasses at Disney World, before you even get into the park.
My family is going to Disney World soon and we are excited to be part of the trial for the new FastPass+ system. The system will go “live” sometime in 2014. Though the rules and capabilities may change between now and then, here is what I experienced in making our FastPass+ reservations:
- You must first register with www.startyourdisneyexperience.com.
- You may start reserving your FastPasses 60 days prior to arrival. Prior to that time, you will get a generic error saying something like “you are not allowed to perform the operation.” There is an easily-visible counter on your personal home page of MyDisneyExperience, to keep track of your days to arrival.
- You must have valid park tickets to use the FP+ system. The ticket information must be available to the system before reserving FPs.
- You are allotted up to three FPs per person per day.
- You may choose from only one park per day, regardless of whether you have a park hopper ticket.
- Most of the traditional rides that offer FastPasses are also part of the FP+ system. In addition, you are allowed to also reserve FPs for things like character greetings and preferred viewing areas for parades, fireworks, and shows.
- The available FastPass+ selections are first-come-first-served. That is, they can “sell out”. It is expected that the character greetings and preferred viewing areas will go fast.
- Each FP is given a time window, and none of the FP time windows will overlap. Each time window is an hour. The system initially assigns a set of time windows for your FPs for that day. You are later allowed to change each time window to your liking.
- Changes are allowed to your FP selections up until a minute before the time window for a particular FP. Take your mobile phone with you into the parks if you may want to make last minute changes.
- I am told that if you have FastPass+ reservations, you will be restricted from getting traditional FastPasses in the park. To the contrary, I have also heard that some folks have tried it and were able to get extra impromptu FastPasses in the park. I would assume that it only works when you are not overlapping any of the time windows, if it works at all. I guess we’ll have to try it and see!
- The FastPass+ information is stored on your Magic Bands, for easy access to the rides and shows. See Tim and Anne’s blog for more on Magic Bands.
- Epcot works a little differently. We were disappointed to find that you may only choose ONE of certain attractions; I presume those were the attractions that Disney finds the most crowded. After picking your one top choice from those given, then you are given a list of other attractions to choose from, probably the slightly-less popular attractions. For example, our top picks were Mission Space, Test Track, Soarin, and Maelstrom. We were allowed only one of the latter three.
- The system knows which attractions will be closed during your visit and will not allow you to choose those. For example, we were bummed to find that Splash Mountain and Fantasmic will not be running during our visit.
- The FP+ trial reservation system seemed slow to me, and had glitches. Hopefully those will be worked out by the time you want to use it! Nonetheless, it really is a great website and a great opportunity if you want to plan ahead.
I admit that this system will not be popular with all travelers. Many people will not want to plan out their ride times 60 days in advance! Though I don’t like planning my trips to the minute, I do like knowing that we already have three slam-dunk Fastpasses available to us every day. It will be fun to test it out and see how it works for our family. – Karen Waldman