April 20, 2017
This Week’s Ask Ashley Question
One of the questions this week came from Winifred from Des Moines, Iowa. Winifred asked:
The last time I was in Walt Disney World they had paper FastPass tickets. I’m so excited to be going back, finally! I’ve read a bit on how Disney has done away with the paper tickets and now puts them on a wristband. How does that work? Is it similar to before, one pass at a time once we are on property? Any tips Ashley?
Ashley’s Answers: Understanding the FastPass+ System
Thank you so much for your question Winifred! When I worked at Walt Disney World (WDW) back in 2007-2010, I actually collected every FastPass paper ticket. I keep them in a Disney-themed book as a memento of my time there as a Cast Member! They were definitely a unique souvenir, but not the most accommodating for guests.
No longer do you have to arrive in the park with a plan at rope drop and make a beeline for the most popular attraction (e.g. Soarin’ at EPCOT). Now, there are no tangible tickets to input into a machine that spits out the FastPass ticket telling you to return between 12:30 and 1:30p.m. even though you arrived at the machine at 9:05a.m. Also, you no longer have to worry about the FastPass return time conflicting with your dining reservations that you made 180 days in advance! Truthfully, how difficult was it to turn down that FastPass because you spent all of that time booking your Table Service reservation?
Now, it is all about the MyMagic+ system that works via the MagicBand 2 (now being released for all 2017 and beyond vacations to WDW). You can find more information on the MyMagic+ and the MagicBand innovations in the Ask Ashley post from January 29, 2017.
The Convenience of the MagicBand 2
Remember those FastPass tickets I mentioned above? Before, you would have needed to not only know when to return to your selected attraction, but you would also need to keep track of the ticket itself. Prone to losing things, but somehow always know where your phone is? Now, you’re in luck!
As long as you have your MagicBand 2 either around your waist or the fob in a supplementary offered keychain or other similar option, you’ll be able to enter your selected FastPass+ attraction. Simply look for the RFID “Mickey Head” reader outside the FastPass+ entrance and match the “Mickey Head” on your MagicBand 2 to the “Mickey Head” on the reader. Don’t have a MagicBand 2? You can still enter the attractions you’ve reserved FastPass+ reservations for, just place your finger on the scanner and put your park ticket up to the “Mickey Head” in the same fashion as described above.
As a result of the implementation of MyMagic+ and the MagicBands, comes the importance of booking your FastPass+ reservations in advance. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that to buy tickets as early as possible for your WDW vacation. Why? Supply and demand. When guests have access to FastPass+ reservations earlier, it is extremely likely that the supply will run out. The alternative? Lines. A line may be one hour or potentially three or more hours for the most popular attractions (e.g. Frozen Ever After). When guests encounter wait times of this caliber, they often choose to skip the attraction as opposed to missing out on another experience, dining reservation, parade, firework show, etc. Skip the longer lines instead and book your FastPass+ reservations in advance!
FastPass+ reservations can be booked for one hour windows, without overlapping, during any of the park’s normal operating hours (which can vary by season). If you’re staying for Extra Magic Hours or other after hours event, you cannot book a FastPass+ reservation during these times.
When arriving at the attraction, you can show up as early as five minutes before your reservation or up to fifteen minutes after your reservation and the RFID reader will still illuminate green. Additionally, once you’ve used up your initial reservations, you can book same-day selections, based upon availability of course.
How-To Book FastPass+ Reservations
Prior to arrival, you can book your FastPass+ reservations in one of two ways:
- Via the My Disney Experience website (see photo above), or
- Via the My Disney Experience App (if you have a smart phone).
Once you’re in the park, you can book additional FastPass+ reservations once you’ve used your scheduled three (or your initial reservations should you not have booked them prior to arrival) in one of two ways:
- Via the My Disney Experience App (if you have a smart phone), or
- Via the kiosks located throughout the park (if you don’t have a smart phone or your battery dies).
Prior to Arrival FastPass+ Booking
You can schedule your FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days prior to your arrival at WDW for your entire stay! Note that in order to book your reservations 60 days prior, you must have both purchased your tickets in advance and also be staying on WDW property. If you purchased your tickets in advance, but chose to stay in a Good Neighbor Hotel or other offsite location, you will only be able to book your reservations 30 days in advance.
A trick of the trade? Treat your FastPass+ reservations like your Advance Dining Reservations. More specifically, be in front of your computer at 7:00a.m. 60 days (or 30 days) in advance ready to organize your attraction itinerary.
If you can’t book the FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance, sleep through your alarm, or just plain forget, don’t stress! You will get something! Plus, there are ways of structuring your day in the parks to hit the typically reserved attractions without a FastPass+ reservation and still have a relatively short line (think during Extra Magic Hours, specially-ticketed events, and even during fireworks and/or parades).
The system allows you to schedule three FastPass+ reservations per day in advance. Once you’ve used these three, you can book a fourth (in real time); once you’ve used the fourth, you can book a fifth (in real time); and so on. What this means is that many people book their FastPass+ reservations early on in the day. Another advantage here is if you purchased the Park Hopper ticket, because you can use your first three reservations at Animal Kingdom and get your fourth and fifth reservations at Magic Kingdom.
If you aren’t big into having to see every attraction, it may be more worthwhile for you to spread out your reservations or even ride some of the more popular attractions (i.e. Toy Story Midway Mania and Test Track) first thing, without a reservation. This may make more sense for you and your family’s interest/plan; but it is often worth a discussion to hear everyone’s thoughts.
Ta Ta for Now
In the spirit of keeping these posts reader-friendly, I will write an additional post about the best attractions to get the FastPass+ reservations for and explain how the tiered system works.
What are your go-to FastPass+ attractions? Do you have a method to choosing your FastPass+ reservations? If so, what do you do?