FASTPASSES at Walt Disney World
By Dave Shute
OVERVIEW: FASTPASSES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD
(This page is one of a series explicating Walt Disney World lingo, abbreviations, and FAQ for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.)
Walt Disney World’s FASTPASS system is a benefit that comes built-in for free in all Walt Disney World theme park admission tickets of any type.
Using FASTPASSES greatly reduces your time spent waiting in line for some (but not all!) of Walt Disney World’s most loved—and crowded—rides and attractions.
The FASTPASS system allows you to “make an appointment” with a ride or attraction to come back to it at a later time in the day.
When you come back at that time, you will, after showing your FASTPASS, be directed to a special, shorter waiting line and be able to experience the attraction with almost always less than a fifteen minute wait.
This can save you hours of waiting in line.
HOW WALT DISNEY WORLD FASTPASSES WORK
Only some rides offer FASTPASSES–your park map (available at the theme park entrance) will indicate which rides are intended to offer FASTPASSES on the day of your visit.
- At a ride that offers FASTPASSES, find its FASTPASS distribution area near the entrance to the attraction.
- If its FASTPASS machines are covered, then either that ride has distributed all of its FASTPASSES for the day, or it is not offering them.
- Find above or nearby the return time. This is the earliest time at which you can come back to use your FASTPASSES. Make sure this time fits with your other plans for the day.
- If the return time works for your family, insert into the machine park admission tickets which have been used to enter the park that day.* (If your whole family needs FASTPASSES, it’s faster for just one person to get them for everyone, inserting them one at a time and getting a FASTPASS in return for each.)
- Your FASTPASSES will have printed on them the name of the ride, the earliest and latest time you can return, and the time at which you can get your next FASTPASS—whether for this or for another ride.
- Anytime in your return window,** return to the ride and find the “FASTPASS Return” line. Show the cast member there your FASTPASS, and then, keeping your FASTPASS (as it likely will be checked again!), enter the line the cast member directs you to.
- Shortly, you will be enjoying the ride!!
MORE STUFF ON FASTPASSES
Disney World will distribute only a limited number of FASTPASSES for a ride each day, based on the proportion of the ride’s hourly capacity they have determined to allocate to FASTPASSES, and how many hours the park is open that day.
- As a result, FASTPASSES for some of the most popular rides can quickly be all distributed—gone–for the entire day. This often happens before 11a at Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
- Or there can quicklybe a very long time between when you get your FASTPASS and when your return time begins.
This is why it’s important to check the return time before getting your FASTPASSES…
It’s also why all the itineraries on this site have early morning starts to many days—among other reasons, so that you can get FASTPASSES with a reasonable return time, and before they are all distributed for the day.
You can have more than one FASTPASS at a time…within limits.
- First, of course, FASTPASSES have to be still available, and at a return time that works for you.
- Second, once you have a FASTPASS, the system will allow you to get another FASTPASS only at a defined time.
- This will be the earlier of when your FASTPASS return window begins, or two hours after you got the FASTPASS. (This time will be printed on your FASTPASS—so you don’t have to do the math!!)
- For example, if you get a FASTPASS for Soarin at 9:05a, and your return window begins at 9.45a, your FASTPASS will show that you can get another FASTPASS at 9.45a, because your return window is less than 2 hours from when you got the FASTPASS.
- If, however, you get a FASTPASS for Test Track at 11a, and your return window begins at 3.15p, your FASTPASS will show that you can get your next FASTPASS at 1p—two hours after you got this one.
Note that this system rewards early arrivals to the parks! Not only will the parks themselves be much less crowded, but also you can get more FASTPASSES more quickly than 2 hours apart.
FASTPASS TRICKS, TIPS, DOs, AND DONTs
- Unless you have no better way to spend your time, don’t enter a FASTPASS return line right after a parade or fireworks. Many other people will do so, and the line will be much longer than normal. The short waits of FASTPASSES work well only when arrivals are random.
- Don’t leave the park for the day with unused FASTPASSES. Offer them to another family that looks like it could use some pixie dust.
- Perhaps I am the only idiot who has done this…and I’ve done it more than once…but in case not, the FASTPASS machines for Big Thunder Mountain are located in a place where the easily confused might think they are the FASTPASS machines for Splash Mountain. Take care to get FASTPASSES for the ride you really intend to get them for!
Dos: If you are leaving but intending to come back—for example, leaving Epcot at noon, but intending to return at 5—if the return time works, FASTPASS a favorite just before you leave. You can use these FASTPASSES when you return later in the day.
FASTPASS Tips and Tricks
- At several places two FASTPASS rides are nearby. Check both before FASTPASSING either
- These include at the Magic Kingdom, several rides in Fantasyland, and in Adventureland Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain; at Epcot, Mission: Space and Test Track; and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Rock N Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror..
- Before FASTPASSING either, check the regular waiting times and the FASTPASS return times for both. This way you can FASTPASS the one with the longer regular line waiting time, or the shorter FASTPASS return time
- You don’t always have to go to the ride to find out FASTPASS return times to see if they will work for you. For example, an electronic signboard in the center of Epcot’s Future World indicates the FASTPASS status (and regular line wait times) for the major rides at Epcot. TouringPlans.com new app LINES can also be an aid.
- The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World reports that the FASTPASS machines at Lights, Motor, Action are not connected to the rest of the park.
- This means that it does not count toward your next FASTPASS timing limits. The same source also reports that Tower of Terror FASTPASSES allow another FASTPASS in 60 minutes, rather than two hours.
- Despite trying to confirm this half a dozen times, I have not been able to…as I always go during times sufficiently un-crowded that Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show is not offering FASTPASSES, and the return time at Tower of Terror is less than 60 minutes anyway!
*That is, you can’t let your family sleep in, grab all your family’s tickets, enter the park using only yours, and then get FASTPASSES for everyone else while they still are asleep…tickets must have been used to enter the park to get FASTPASSES for them
**Disney strictly enforces the beginning of your window, and, as of March 2012, also the ending time, which is a change from past policy.