When it comes to travel, there are a few things you never want to hear. For example, anytime a pilot begins a sentence with the words, “Well, folks…,” you know it’s going to end badly. And whenever a hotel describes itself as “classic,” prepare to pay a fortune for a shoebox-sized room. But the worst word in travel lingo may be “enhanced,” which usually refers to a company’s profits, rather than an improvement in whatever feature is being discussed. So it’s nice when an enhancement is actually, well, an enhancement. Welcome, Disney’s FastPass.
A Brief History of FastPass
One of the best reasons to have children is that they give you a ready excuse to go to the Magic Kingdom. Still, as much fun as it is, we’ve all had that experience of waiting 45 minutes in line to see a couple of paper mache characters have a pretend sword fight. Fortunately, Disney has found a way around that problem, and one of the features that we used yesterday made their solution even more handy.
In the past, I’ve discussed the FastPass program (whose current iteration is known as FastPass+), an automated system that allows you to jump to the front of the line at popular rides. Disney issues a certain amount of FastPass slots per day, and you can reserve up to three per person, either 30 or 60 days in advance, depending on whether you are staying at a Disney property. Wanna meet Elsa & Anna or skip the line at the uber-popular Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Hope you’re staying on site, since those are gone right at the 60-day mark.* Most others are achievable, however, even within 24 hours, but book in advance to get the times you want.
There were a few issues, though: Although you could always book more FastPasses after you used up your first three, you had to hunt down one of the few kiosks in the park to do so. And once you found a kiosk, they were clunky to use and often had lines that were longer than some of the rides.
Disney Further Enhances FastPass+
Disney’s latest roll-out has eliminated that issue, however. Now, you no longer need to go to a kiosk to get new FastPasses after you finish your initial allotment. Instead, you can do everything on your phone. Once you finish your third FastPass, immediately book your next one, the same way that you booked your first three. You’ll want to book a time that’s available as soon as possible because once you finish that ride, you’re going to do it again.
In fact, you don’t have to wait until you finish the ride. Under the previous system, when using a FastPass, you tapped your Magic Band (or card) at the beginning of the line and then again right before you boarded the attraction (to make sure crafty guests didn’t hop the divide halfway through the queue). Now, however, Disney is testing a system that only requires an initial tap when you enter the FastPass lane. As soon as you “tap in,” you can start preparing for your following ride. Close out of the app**, open it again and then select the next attraction whose line you want to skip.
This latest enhancement has made FastPass more valuable than ever and is yet another reason to schedule your “skips” at the beginning of the day,*** since it is that much easier to manage your visit once you have used them up. There’s no reason to be waiting in lines all morning because your FastPasses aren’t scheduled until that afternoon. While it’s true that the extremely popular rides will be sold out on the day of your visit, it also means that you can get yourself right onto some of the “second-tier” attractions, such as Pirates of the Caribbean or It’s a Small World, without waiting in the 30-minute lines that are common. My kids (Sure, it was the kids…) wanted to do Buzz Lightyear multiple times, so we would swipe our Magic Bands, relaunch the app and book again for fifteen minutes later while we walked around the crowd of people waiting in line.
The additional FastPasses had always been an attractive way to skip rides at the park. Now, Disney has made them easier than ever to access.
*One thing to keep in mind: FastPasses can be like award tickets. They book up way in advance, but you also get a few released the day before your trip. If you want to meet the Frozen folks but don’t get your slot the first time around, you may be able to Let It Go until the day before, when a few times will open.
**The app in question, by the way, is My Disney Experience. You must, and I mean must, have this app. It will do everything from check wait times to manage your reservations to mow your lawn for you. Okay, it won’t mow your lawn. But someday, it might.
***Starting at 10 AM. If you show up as soon as the park opens, you should have no trouble getting onto most rides between 9 and 10 with short lines. We did Space Mountain four times in under an hour yesterday. And for those who are curious, the maximum number of times that you can do Space Mountain consecutively without being sick for the rest of the day is three.