Wait - doesn't Disney already have Fastpass? How is this different?
Yes, Disney's free, awesome Fastpass system is still available, allowing you to get a reservation for a ride later in the day, skipping the lines. Fastpass Plus is different in that it enables you to make reservations for selected rides well in advance of your trip. It also has cool cards with RFID chips in them, so there's some cool technology involved, but in simplest terms, all you really need to know is it's a way to get Fastpasses before you head to Disney World.
How does it work?
Again, read this article for a nice description, but the short version is this - Disney is conducting tests of a new system where you can pre-reserve four Fastpasses for a particular day at Disney World, enabling you to skip the lines for those four attractions. Sounds great, but there are a bunch of caveats:
- The list of attractions is limited
- Disney chooses the times of the Fastpasses
- There are reports of some attractions' Fastpass times filling up well in advance. Yes, this means you may have to reserve rides months in advance of a trip to fully utilize Fastpass Plus.
- This is still in the testing stage - everything is subject to change, and not everyone is eligible
Does this replace regular Fastpass?
No, it does not. Even once Fastpass Plus is fully rolled out, it looks like you will still be able to get Fastpasses the "normal" way.
How do I get to be part of the test?
So far, it appears that only guests staying at a Disney hotel are eligible. More often than not, it seems people using Disney's Magical Express as transportation from the airport are being selected. To find out if you are eligible for this test, head to this page and sign in with your Disney account information that you used to make your reservation. (And heck, if you're going to Disney World soon, you may as well try to be part of the test!)
Lucky me - I've been selected to be a part of the Fastpass Plus system! What do I do?
The most recent test allows you to choose four attractions - two from this list (let's call it "Group A")
- The Barnstormer
- Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade
- Haunted Mansion
- Jungle Cruise
- Winnie the Pooh
- Mickey's PhilharMagic
- Meet Mickey and Minnie
And two from this list ("Group B"):
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
- Main Street Electrical Parade
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Meet the Disney Princesses
- Wishes Nighttime Spectacular
So which do you choose? The added wrinkle is that Disney selects times for the attractions - as I discussed in a previous post, you want to avoid choosing an attraction at a time that keeps you away from optimal touring. So let's look at each list individually:
First list (Group A)
There are a handful of attractions that have long lines here:
Long lines most of the day: Winnie the Pooh
Short lines very early, long lines rest of the day: The Barnstormer
Moderate lines most of the day: Dumbo, Meet Mickey and Minnie
Short lines early, moderate lines later: Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise
Rarely ever any lines: Mickey's Philharmagic, Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade
So here's what I would advise for Group A:
-The key here is the timing - other than Winnie the Pooh, I would avoid any Fastpass times before 11:00am - you'll be better off not wasting the morning time (which has smaller lines) on one of these attractions.
-If you have young kids and the times work well for you, choose Winnie the Pooh and the Barnstormer. If the times aren't great for one or the other, then replace with another of your choice.
Other than Winnie the Pooh, I would avoid any Fastpass times in the morning before 11:00am.
-For most other people, I would recommend Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise, provided the times are not in the morning.
Second List ("Group B")
This is the list of the "big kahunas" of the Magic Kingdom. Here are the wait times you would normally have:
Long Lines most of the day: Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pan's Flight, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Meet the Disney Princesses
Moderate lines most of the day: Buzz Lightyear
Other (See below): Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes Nighttime Spectacular
Wow, this is an interesting list. The one obvious suggestion is to not use one of these Fastpass Plus's on Buzz Lightyear. Even when the lines are longer, you usually can get a regular Fastpass for Buzz Lightyear with a 45 minute return time, so it's not worth it.
So what do I suggest? It depends. If you want to stay for the nighttime parade and fireworks, I would strongly suggest taking those opportunities. Simply enough, these opportunities are going to get you great vantage points without parking yourself on a curb an hour or so beforehand. A better experience without waiting - that's the Optimal Magic way!
As for those other long-line attractions - with proper planning and usage of "regular" Fastpasses we can get you on all of them without any waits. So I am less worried about them.
However, what if you don't want to stay for the evening parade and fireworks? In that case, I would recommend you pick the attractions where Disney provides return times that are later than 11:00am. Once again, that pre-11:00am time should be used on optimal touring, and being forced to head to, say, Splash Mountain at a non-optimal time will decrease the overall number of attractions you'll be able to experience.
My head is spinning - I'm totally lost and have no clue what to do
Sigh... Yes, I know - Disney, in their attempt to make things simpler, have made them more confusing, yet again. Do people really want to reserve a time on a ride 30, 60, or even 90 days before their trip begins? And how do you know exactly what you want to do then? And what's the right attraction to do at what time?
The good news is this - at Optimal Magic we are constantly staying on top of all changes to Disney World. And when you work with Optimal Magic, I'll guide you through everything and ensure you make the optimal choices for your trip and your group. If you've been selected to test Fastpass Plus, that's great news! I'll help you in the planning process, and you'll just get additional Fastpasses. And since I'm doing the planning for you, you won't be stressing about the complexities - you just get the benefits. How great is that!