I am always so shocked when I hear that some guests do not even know about the Fastpass system at all, let alone the best Disney Fastpass Secrets and Strategy.
I cannot tell you how many times people I know have returned from their Disney vacations and complained to me about how long the lines were, how they didn’t get to do hardly anything, and how they never want to even go back. This is always my response: “Well, did you use Fastpass?” If you are a Disney pro like me, you would be surprised to know that I ALWAYS get one of these two replies:
“What is Fastpass?”
“No, because we did not want to pay for it.”
AHHHHHHH!!! Noooooo!!! My heart literally breaks for these guests because they were really missing out on something amazing that was just hidden in plain sight, and wouldn’t have cost them a dime. If this sounds familiar to you, let me break it all down so you never make this mistake at a Disney Park ever again! Plus, I will give you all of the best Disney Fastpass Secrets! It should be noted that all Fastpass systems–Fastpass+, Fastpass, and Maxpass–require that you only have one reservation at a time, except for certain shows like Fantasmic!
What is Disney’s Fastpass?
Long story short: Fastpass is the *legal* way to skip most of the lines at Disney Parks for free. Yes, Fastpass is COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE! As long as you have a valid theme park admission ticket for that day, you can use Fastpass as much as you want during your stay.
There are several kinds of Fastpass, depending on what you want and the park it is that you are visiting. Let’s talk specifically about the United States-based Disney Parks. At the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, guests will use what is called Fastpass+ (pronounced “Fastpass Plus”). And at the Disneyland Resort in California, you can use either Fastpass or Maxpass. Since this may be a bit confusing, let me break it down even more for you.
Walt Disney World Resort
How Disney World FastPass+Works:
Fastpass+ is used at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, with the help of the My Disney Experience app. This can be used by ALL GUESTS!
One of the enduring myths out there right now is that you have to be staying on Disney property to use Fastpass+. That is not true. Although, staying at a Disney Resort Hotel may have some other added benefits when it comes to Fastpass+. I will speak more about that later. But first, I want to talk about Fastpass+ and the My Disney Experience app and/or website.
In order to use Fastpass+ at Walt Disney World, you will need to understand how to use My Disney Experience. My Disney Experience is the ultimate Disney World trip planning tool. Not only does it help you plan your vacation, but it can also help you check into your hotel, make and pay for your mobile food orders, shop online, connect to your MagicBands, save and view your Photopass photos, check wait times, check parade and showtimes, see when and where to meet characters, look at restaurant menus, get live WDW news updates, track your Disney Dining Plan credits, and of course–manage your Fastpass+ reservations! I have written about this extensively already, so check that out for more information if you would like.
Details on Fastpass+
Now that we have covered My Disney Experience, I will move on to Fastpass+. Fastpass+ is really not complicated at all. In fact, once you understand it, it is pretty simple.
Fastpass+ is basically when you make a reservation for your spot in a shorter line at a certain time of day for a specific attraction. For example, pretend you want to ride Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom without a long line (but let’s be real, you don’t have to pretend you want to ride it, everyone wants to!). You would go to My Disney Experience as soon as you are allowed (depending on where you are staying) and book that reservation for that day.
You have a specified time for when you can book ahead. This is when staying onsite can be a huge benefit. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, you can make your reservations up to 60 days in advance. However, if you are not staying on property, you need to wait to book your reservations until up to 30 days prior to your vacation. If you are trying to save money but would like to stay on Disney property, consider renting DVC points. This is one of the many Disney Fastpass secrets, that many guests may not even think about.
You can book up to three Fastpass+ reservations in advance. There are also certain tier systems you must abide by, depending on the ride/park/time of year. The Disney app/website will guide you as needed. Tier One rides will always have the longest lines so those are important to book if you can.
One thing that many guests don’t realize is that you can continue to book Fastpass+ reservations throughout the day, once your first three have been used. So, you should really try to book the first reservations three as early in the day as possible. This will allow you to book as many Fastpasses as possible throughout the day and possibly avoid all long lines.
Disney Fastpass Secrets and Strategy–Florida
- Pay attention to the tier system.
- Research and prioritize the rides and attractions you want to experience most and have that list ready when you book.
- Set an alarm for midnight at exactly 30 days in advance (or 60 days in advance if you are staying at a Disney Resort Hotel) for EACH DAY OF YOUR TRIP! You don’t want to make the mistake of only booking Fastpass+ reservations for the first day. Once that alarm goes off, head to the My Disney Experience website and book your ride preferences that you already put on your list.
- Book as early in the day as possible so you can continue to ride more rides with Fastpass+ once you have used the first three.
- Check the app multiple times throughout the day of your trip, even while at the parks. You might be surprised to see an extra Fastpass for a ride you love or haven’t gotten the chance to experience yet. This happens all the time!
- Don’t stress if you don’t get exactly what you want. You can still wait in line, or try booking it the day of your trip. People are constantly changing their reservations so you might not be out of the game just yet.
Disneyland Resort FastPass+
The Fastpass system at the Disneyland Resort in California, which includes both Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure Park, is a bit different from Fastpass+ in Disney World. There are two different kinds of Fastpass systems at the Disneyland Resort: Maxpass and Fastpass. What is the difference? Well, there are only a few differences. Let me explain. Maxpass is all electronic, controlled through the Disneyland app on your smartphone. The traditional Fastpass system, however, is only somewhat electronic. Maxpass will also cost you an additional $15 a ticket, per day because it is supposed to be more convenient. After that, there is not much difference between the two. Here is how each of them works.
If you choose to buy Maxpass, you may save some time but you might not save money. That is because Maxpass is fast and really easy, but it costs $15 per person per day. It is up to you to decide which is right for you.
To use Maxpass, you must first link your tickets to your smartphone (or at least one member of the party’s cell phone to keep better track). You can scan the barcode of each ticket on the Disneyland app. To do this, click on the app, scroll down until you see “My Tickets.” Click that button. Then click the “+” on the top right corner and press “Link Tickets and Passes.” Next, you will use your phone’s camera to scan each ticket. After each ticket is scanned, you should be all set to use Maxpass. If you purchased your tickets with Maxpass already, you are good to start making reservations. If not, you just need to return to the homepage of the app, click the “+” sign at the bottom middle, and then click “Get FASTPASS with Disney Maxpass.”
After each ticket is linked with MaxPass connected, here is how you can make your Maxpass reservations. From the home screen of the app, find the three horizontal lines at the bottom right corner. Click that button. Then you will be taken to your profile. Press “My Plans’ ‘ and add your Maxpass reservations from there.
Once you have made a reservation, you will receive a return time of about an hour-long time frame. At that time of the day, you head to the attraction entrance and get in the “Fastpass Return” line. It is usually much shorter than the standby queue. Be ready to scan your park tickets as well, or your smartphone, to redeem your Maxpass.
Let’s say you want to ride Incredicoaster. You go on the Disneyland app and either find Incredicoaster on the map and click on the wait time and the Maxpass option, or you go over to “My Plans” using the bottom right three lines and make a reservation there. Then let’s say it says you can return between 11:30am-12:30pm. You can go enjoy other attractions, eat lunch, etc. Then once it is convenient for you, after 11:30am and before 12:30pm, go to the “Fastpass Return” line at the Incredicoaster entrance, scan your tickets or smartphone, and wait in the shorter line.
This Disney Fastpass secret–that of the existence of Maxpass– is convenient because you can do it all in one spot. You are not constantly walking around the park like you otherwise would with the traditional Fastpass system. If that is important to you, Maxpass may be worth it. Again, it is up to you to decide for yourself. Speaking of, let’s talk about traditional Fastpass now.
If you decide to use the traditional paper Fastpass system, you will save some money but you may not save time. Personally, I prefer to use the regular Fastpass system instead of Maxpass because I would rather save a few extra bucks that I can use for other cool things instead. That is one of my personal Disney Fastpass secrets. Now you know. But again, it is up to you to decide which is best for you, your trip, your group, and your budget.
To use the Fastpass system, all you need is a valid park ticket. You simply walk over to the attraction you want to Fastpass, scan each party member’s ticket at the Fastpass Distribution kiosk, and return at the specified time frame. It is also very simple. The only thing that may be less convenient is the fact that you have to walk back and forth throughout the park more often.
Again, let’s say you want to ride Incredicoaster. Instead of booking your reservation through your smartphone, you would head over to Incredicoaster where there is a Fastpass Distribution kiosk. There, you will scan your ticket and a paper reminder will pop out with a time-frame. Let’s say it is once again between 11:30am and 12:30pm. You can go enjoy other attractions, eat lunch, etc. At your convenience after 11:30am and before 12:30pm, you walk back over to Incredicoaster and get in the “Fastpass Return” line, scan your ticket and wait in the shorter line.
Disney Fastpass Secrets and Strategy–California
- Decide whether you want to use Maxpass or Fastpass before you get there.
- Don’t forget about your reservations! Sometimes cast members will still let you ride if you are a little late, but not always.
- Don’t forget that Fastpass and Maxpass are options! You don’t want to realize when it is too late that you have been wasting your time in long lines all day.
- Remember that Fastpass is completely free. If you can’t afford Maxpass, you still can (and should) use Fastpass.
- Both Fastpass and Maxpass work at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.
- If you can, use your Fastpass/Maxpass for the rides with the longest lines: Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Incredicoaster, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.
Well, what are your thoughts on these Disney Fastpass secrets and strategies? I hope they were a big help!