By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor







FastPass+ for Disney World Fireworks, Parades, and Character Greetings



By Dave Shute

What You Need to Know About Fastpass+ from yourfirstvisit.netI did my second test of FastPass+ a week and a half ago, focusing on the value of FastPass+ for character greetings, parades, and fireworks.

(My first test, in September, focused on FastPass+ on rides; at my third test, next week, I’ll be showing up with nothing booked, and testing how well day-of FastPass+ bookings go.)

The comments below about the value of FastPass+ assume that you will be able to book only one headliner a day, and that parades, the big character greetings, and fireworks shows are gonna be in the list where you can only “choose one from here.”

Getting Ready for FastPass+ Test 2 from yourfirstvisit.netThis is now true at Epcot and the Studios, and I expect it to become the case at the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom soon…

FASTPASS+ FOR DISNEY WORLD CHARACTER GREETINGS

This site is aimed at kids 8 and older, for whom character greetings aren’t such a high priority.

FastPass+ Character Greeting test from yourfirstvisit.netIts itineraries handle character greetings largely through dining—recommending meals at which kids will meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pooh, Tigger and buckets of princesses.

Folks with younger kids, especially those for whom most of the other “headliners” offered in FastPass+ are not age-appropriate, may save some time in line by grabbing character greeting FastPass+, especially at the Magic Kingdom.

Some such lines in the other parks aren’t long now, but they may become long as more families grab such sessions as part of FastPass+.

Folks with older kids booking FastPass+ at parks where people can pick only one headliner should skip FastPass+ at character greetings—there’s better ways to use these.

(Note: I’m not counting Enchanted Tales with Belle or Turtle Talk with Crush as “character greetings”—these are much more, and much better, than that…)

FASTPASS+ FOR DISNEY WORLD PARADES

FastPass+ Parade Test from yourfirstvisit.netIt’s not hard to find a good viewing spot for parades most of the time, but for many families with little kids the key is locking a spot early enough so that the kids can see the parade—that is, their views aren’t blocked out by older kids or adults.

(There’s some etiquette to the parades— see this.)

The current FastPass+ location for the Magic Kingdom parades is right in front of the Castle.  This creates a wonderful photo backdrop (especially if the day is a lot sunnier than when I was there).

Magic Kingdom FastPass+ Parade Viewers from yourfirstvisit.netHowever, the spot is so deep—much deeper, for example, than the Main Street viewing areas– that little kids can still not have a good view.

This was not an issue on the cold and quiet November day that I tested the FastPass+ for the parades, but as FastPass+ becomes more predominant, it will be.

Magic Kingdom FastPass+ Parade Viewing Spot from yourfirstvisit.netArriving at the FastPass+ parade viewing area when it opens (that is, at the earliest time your FastPass+ lets you in) solves this problem, as you’ll then be able to claim a viewing spot right on the curb.

My dates, FastPass+ let me in about 35 minutes before the parade was expected to pass by the FastPass+ viewing area…but most times of the year, you can find a front of the curb spot in Fantasyland at 35 minutes before…

So for the parades, too, for most families, I’m not seeing a lot of value to FastPass+…

FASTPASS+ FOR DISNEY WORLD FIREWORKS

There’s a coupla things you might want out of FastPass+ for the Disney World fireworks shows—including

  • Being on the axis for which the show was designed to be seen without having to wait much
  • For the shows that often close the parks—almost always Illuminations at Epcot, except on evening Extra Magic Hours nights, and often Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios—being closer to the cars and buses than most other people, so that if you want to leave then, you can without so long a fuss in getting out of the park
  • Moreover, for Fantasmic in particular—the only evening fireworks show with limited capacity—you’d want guaranteed access as well.

By these criteria,

  • Illuminations is worth a FastPass+ if you have two days at Epcot
  • Fantasmic is nearly worth one if you have two days at the Studios
  • And Wishes is not worth a FastPass+, unless you have four or more days at the Magic Kingdom.

FastPass+ and Illuminations

Illuminations FastPass+ Viewing Location from yourfirstvisit.netThe Fastpass+ viewing area for Illuminations is at the intersection of the World Showcase Lagoon and Future World, between the two Tower gift shops.

This puts your family right on the axis from which Illuminations was designed to be viewed (although Illuminations is not so axis-dependent as the other two shows) and also pretty much as close to the exit to the transportation area as an Illuminations viewer can be.

This is not worth a FastPass+ if you are spending only a day at Epcot, but is worth one if you are spending more than a day.

FastPass+ and Fantasmic

Fantasmic and FastPass+ from yourfirstvisit.netFantasmic is a trickier call.  Your Fantasmic FastPass+ guarantees you access, but not—at least of my November test—a good seat.

In my September test, the Fantasmic FastPass+ seats were in the Pocahontas section, which are in the better middle third of the Fantasmic viewing area.

But on my November visit, there were no dedicated FastPass+ seats.  Your FastPass+ guaranteed access, but how good a seat you got was still a function of when you got in line.

Our FP+ kicked in at 35 minutes before show-time—I think we would have been fine getting there even a few minutes earlier than then–but I didn’t roll in til 20 minutes before showtime, and by then, most of the good seats were taken.

Because I wanted to be close enough to finally take barely adequate photos of Fantasmic, I found good seats near the front, which those in the know avoid because they can be misted for pretty much the entire duration of the show, and greatly delay exit.

But it would have been rough to find “good” seats then.

The best way to see Fantasmic remains seeing it on a night with two shows, and hitting the second show.

Assuming that Disney sticks with the Fantasmic access model I saw in November, and not the one I saw in September–if you have more than a day at the Studios, and neither day has two shows, then the guaranteed access feature of FastPass+ makes it probably worth using one for Fantasmic.

But if you are able, still show up early in the FastPass+ window so that you can get good seats—in the center section, about halfway up.

FastPass+ and Wishes

Wishes FastPass+ Viewing Location from yourfirstvisit.net from yourfirstvisit.netI’m not so keen on the Wishes FastPass+ location, which is near, but off-center to, the Castle, and somewhat obscured by trees—it’s the area on the left side of the line in the lousy photo.

The best place to see Wishes is facing the castle with Main Street at your back, with no trees obstructing your view.  This lets you see both the great Celebrate the Magic castle show—typically 30 minutes before Wishes–and Wishes itself.  You’d be closer to the train station if you planned to leave right after, and closer to the castle if you didn’t.

The Wishes FastPass+ location has a couple of problems

  • It’s very close to the castle—good unless you plan to leave right after, when it will put you behind thousands
  • It’s off center—not hugely so, but being off center matters more the closer you are to the castle
  • Parts of the viewing area are obscured by trees—not a big issue for Wishes, but a problem for Celebrate the Magic

So I’m not too keen on spending what at the Magic Kingdom are particularly valuable headliner FastPass+ on Wishes…

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22 comments

1 Jennifer Hardy - An Agent with Destinations in Florida { 11.25.13 at 8:55 am }

Thanks for a great review! I will be sharing with my guests as we work on their itineraries.

2 Adam { 11.25.13 at 2:14 pm }

Thanks for this information. I have been wondering about the value of using FP+ for these things, so I am glad you provided all of this information.

One question…Do you think the Candlelight Processional will eventually offer FP+ while it is running, and do you think it would be worth it if it was offered?

3 Chris { 11.25.13 at 8:56 pm }

We are not receiving the parades as a Fastpass + option for our trip next week. Are they only offering at certain time periods? Out of all the parks, the only parade/fireworks event we saw as an FP+ option was Fantasmic. Was hoping to FP the electrical parade.

4 Dave { 11.26.13 at 8:08 am }

Thanks, Jennifer!!

5 Dave { 11.26.13 at 8:21 am }

Great question Adam! It’s just a guess, but my guess is no–certainly not to replace the dinner package, and I fear that for the standby line, AP holders would scarf up too many options and then fail to cancel the ones they aren’t gonna use…

6 Dave { 11.26.13 at 8:22 am }

Chris, I know there is variability to whether people get the offers or not, but do not know why.

7 Lisa { 04.03.14 at 3:15 pm }

Dave,
Me again! I have a question regarding the Fantasmic show. We are dining at Hollywood and Vine at 4:30 then they give us a ticket to get into the show at 8:00. Well we need to get there early arond 7:15. Does this ticket from the dinner give us better seating then maybe fast pass + would?? I am wondering if doing the dinner and getting a ticket from them is there a designated area that they have for the people that dined at the restaurants or is it worth it or should i just do the fast pass to get better seating?

Thanks

8 CJ { 04.03.14 at 8:30 pm }

Hey Dave,

First let me say that you have NO idea how helpful this blog has been to our Disney planning experience. Thank you for your time and dedication.

Here’s my question. We have only one day in Epcot during the first week of June. Illuminations is a HUGE priority for everyone. However, so is Le Cellier, and the only reservations we could get were at 7:35. For that reason, I’m thinking we need to fastpass + Illuminations. We do have little ones. What are your thoughts?

Thanks!!!

9 Dave { 04.04.14 at 2:03 pm }

Lisa, the seats you get from the dinner package are fantastic. All FastPass+ does is guarantee you access–it does NOT guarantee good seats.

10 Dave { 04.04.14 at 2:13 pm }

Hi CJ and thanks!

On your question, I suppose it depends on whether your are willing to miss–or stand in line for a long time to see–Test Track or Soarin, as that’s what the Illuminations FP+ will cost you.

You can see one of these at park open, and the other via the FP+ that Illuminations would wipe out. Me, I’d pick Soarin over Le Cellier any day, but not so much Test Track…

11 Lisa { 04.07.14 at 12:11 am }

Thank you very much!!

12 MG { 06.17.14 at 8:48 am }

Hi Dave,
My little boy would love to meet Elsa (she can build things out of ice and she’s “very cute”). I will try to get a FP when our window opens, but do you know whether it’s necessary that the three adults in our party also get FastPasses? It would seem like a waste of hard to get FastPasses if 4 are needed so 1 in our group can meet the character and the other 3 can take pictures. He’s only three years old, so it’s not like I can let him go by himself. As always, thanks for your help.

13 Dave { 06.18.14 at 10:31 am }

MG, if everyone else wants to be part of the experience, then they need FP+. If only one of you accompanies your son, then only that one person needs FP+, and the other two can get a different FP+ for something else.

14 Andrea { 07.10.14 at 1:09 pm }

If we were to get fp+ for MSEP and stay there for Celebrate the Magic and Wishes, about how long would we be standing in one spot?

15 Dave { 07.11.14 at 7:09 am }

Andrea, it’s best to move after Celebrate the Magic closer to the end of Main Street, as the MSEP spot is a little to close to the castle for Wishes. Most nights the total time from being in the FP+ area to the end of Wishes is about 90 minutes

16 Andrea { 07.11.14 at 12:57 pm }

Thanks for the tips! I’m thinking we may not want to hang out that long in one spot with the 2 year old right after sitting in one spot to eat dinner (at BOG). This is the only evening we’re going to be at MK b/c of MNSSHP, so we may just fp+ Wishes and save the optimal parade viewing for another time. We will have two full days there, though, so I don’t feel like Wishes is a wasted FP+. We’re upgrading to upgrade to FL resident season passes when we get there, so we’ll be back to see the parade another time! I’ve heard that the Wishes viewing area isn’t ideal for viewing the projection show. Since I don’t want to sit around waiting somewhere else holding a “great” spot, would you say it’s “adequate”? My kids are 2 and 5, so they aren’t super critical. But, I would like them to at least have an idea of what’s being shown. Thanks, again, for your speedy replies. That’s one (though there are several more) reason why your site is my favorite!

17 Dave { 07.12.14 at 8:30 am }

Andrea, the Wishes FP+ spot is optimal neither for Celebrate the Magic nor for Wishes itself–it’s off center and in spots obscured by trees. –but in your situation it is is for sure good enough!!

18 Andrea { 08.25.14 at 9:42 pm }

Do you know if Wishes FP+ have been showing up as options at 60 days out, or are they still appearing closer to the arrival date?

19 Andrea { 08.26.14 at 12:56 am }

Never mind! I was able to reserve my Wishes fp+ for our trip in Oct. We’re just going to be in MK for the evening bc it’s the only night without MNSSHP. We also scored Anna & Elsa and a nighttime ride on SDMT. Squeezed in there will be dinner at BOG! It’s going to be a magical night!

20 Dave { 08.26.14 at 7:00 am }

Yay!!!!

21 Andrea { 01.15.15 at 4:54 pm }

Funny that my post from August is the last one on this page :o) Because of a family illness, we postponed our Oct. trip until April. I’m so excited that it’s finally getting close again! Our last evening at WDW will be spent at MK. We’ll probably spend the morning at EPCOT w/o fp+ and hop over in the late afternoon. I’m planning on using two FP+ for rides, eating at BOG at 7 and then FP+ for Wishes with our little ones. I read on another Disney site that the Wishes FP+ viewing will be moving in front of Casey’s Corner and The Plaza. Have you heard this too? If so, isn’t that a much better location than the current one?

22 Dave { 01.15.15 at 5:32 pm }

Hi Andrea, yup, I’ve heard that too, and yup, it’s a much better location than the old spot!

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