Just this week, we reached our 60 day benchmark in which we are allowed to book fast passes for our upcoming (fingers crossed) July Disney trip. If you have never traveled to Disney before, you may be wondering, "What the heck is a fast pass?" A fast pass is basically a way to reserve your spot to experience a ride or an attraction in the parks WITHOUT the hassle of a line. If you hate waiting in lines, it is THE way to see the parks. You will book your fast pass online (on the My Disney experience app or website).
If you are staying on Disney property, you will get a magic band bracelet that links everything in your account from your room key to Fast Passes. You will scan your bracelet at special Mickey entrances to each ride and BOOM you instantly hop on a ride. If you have a day ticket, you would get something that is like a credit card that is also scanned everywhere you go.
For booking fast passes, there are a few things to remember.
If you stay off property or purchase a day ticket to the parks, you can book Fast Passes 30 days in advance. If you stay on site at a Disney resort, you can book 60 days in advance by linking your reservation number to your My Disney Experience App. We love staying onsite anyways, so this is a great perk. When you hit your benchmark date for booking, you will want to be ON the website by 6AM (EST)...this is when everything opens up and things get snagged quickly.
You will want to add everyone in your travel party to your account so you can book fast passes for each person in your group. This is all done by the Disney app.
You can book 3 fast passes per day (per park); however, once you have used up your initial 3, you can potentially book more if they are available. Disney reserves some fast passes that are released each day. There is always a chance of having some extra and unexpected magic and rides to see/experience! Note that after you have used your initial three, you can only book one fast past at a time (if available) per day.
This is another reason we like Park Hopper tickets. They give us the flexibility to show up at one park for opening, ride a big ticket ride, maybe grab some food and then head elsewhere. This is especially easy for adult/couples travel, not so much for families or groups with small kids.
At Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot rides are "tiered." This means the top rides are classified as "tier 1." Think your big roller coasters, new rides, etc. You may only book one of those a day. Maybe you could get another after using that one? There's always a chance. There are lots of other tier 2 and 3 attractions that you can book to fill you itinerary if you wish.
I have said this before...I will say again...YOU SHOULD PLAN. You should have a rough idea of what parks/rides you want to experience before you go so you don't spend your whole visit standing in lines or just running around aimlessly. Be strategic. Know what is important for your visit. There are countless trip/park planning services online that will help you optimize your time. For example, my husband and I map out a basic itinerary for each day of our visit that includes the park we are going to, any dining or experience reservations, and our fast passes.
If you are more of the spontaneous type, you can leave some space in your schedule for exploring or rides that might open up, but if something is available that you want, I would highly suggest booking the fast pass ahead of time. See below for example of our trip planning sheets. I also use them to mark how many Quick Service (QS) or Table Service (TS) meals we have so we use our dining plan entitlements correctly. After I made my fast pass reservations, I simply went in and added those times. You can also see all of this virtually on the Disney app which comes in very handy when you are walking around the park. Simply go to the app and click "my plans." The written copy just really helps keep me organized when I am planning.
Don't use fast passes for continuously moving/boat rides (usually). You will want to use your fast passes for BIG rides and experiences, maybe even character meet and greets if that is important to you (and it is to me). Rides like "It's a Small World" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" generally move quickly because they are continuously running boats that can hold lots of guests. My policy is, unless a ride has more than a 20 min wait time (generally), I won't use a precious Fast Pass on it. I am willing to stand in line for 20 minutes. This is another reason I love special ticketed events.. LOW WAIT TIMES.
Again, don't hesitate to reach to me with any questions. There are also so many great planning books, websites, and blogs out there! I hope to eventually add a printable section to the blog to aid in trip planning!