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Disney World tweaks its Fastpass+ line-up, but our advice for using Fastpass+ remains the same

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Published: June 11, 2014 at 7:08 PM

Effective Monday, Walt Disney World is changing which attractions are in which tier for Fastpass+ reservations at Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios. Four attractions in total are switching tiers. So let's take the opportunity to talk about how you should be using Fastpass+ to get the most out of a Walt Disney World theme park visit.

MagicBand accessing Fastpass+
Using a Disney MagicBand wrist band to enter a Fastpass+ return queue. Photo courtesy Disney

To review, Walt Disney World allows visitors to make advance reservations for three attractions a day under Fastpass+, via the My Disney Experience link on disneyworld.com. Guests who have reserved a stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel may use the Fastpass+ system to reserve ride and show times up to 60 days in advance of their trip. Annual passholders and other ticket holders may reserve times up to 30 days in advance of their visit.

Once inside the park, Disney visitors may book additional Fastpass+ reservations, one at a time, after using their initial three Fastpass+ reservations. That's why we suggest that visitors consider try to schedule their initial three Fastpass+ times for early in the day, so that they can get additional line-skipping reservations during the rest of the day.

In Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's separated the shows and rides eligible for Fastpass+ reservations into two tiers. You can reserve only one "Tier 1" attraction (the really popular ones) in advance, and must select "Tier 2" attractions (the less popular ones) for your other two Fastpass+ times.

At Epcot, Disney's moving Living with the Land up to Tier 1, and demoting Maelstrom and the Character Spot to Tier 2. At Hollywood Studios, The Great Movie Ride moves up to Tier 1. Here are the tier lists, effective Monday, June 16:

Epcot
Tier 1 (choose one)

  • IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
  • Soarin'
  • Test Track
  • Living with the Land* (New to Tier 1)

Tier 2 (choose two)

  • Epcot Character Spot* (Demoted from Tier 1)
  • Maelstrom* (Demoted from Tier 1)
  • Captain EO
  • Journey Into Imagination
  • Mission: Space
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Disney's Hollywood Studios
Tier 1 (choose one)

  • Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage
  • Fantasmic!
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • The Great Movie Ride* (New to Tier 1)

Tier 2 (choose two)

  • The American Idol Experience
  • Disney Junior - Live on Stage
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Lights, Motors, Action!
  • Muppet-Vision 3D
  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid

The tier changes do not change our recommendations for using Fastpass+, based on our average reader ratings for Walt Disney World attractions and the average standby queue waits for people not using Fastpass+.

At Epcot, we continue to recommend using your Tier 1 Fastpass+ reservation for Soarin' or Test Track, and one of your remaining Tier 2 Fastpass+ reservations on Mission: Space. Pick from among the Character meet-and-greet, Spaceship Earth, or The Seas with Nemo and Friends for the other. You might keep in mind that Test Track has a single-rider line, so if you're willing to use that to save time over the standby queue, spend the FP+ slot on Soarin' instead.

At Hollywood Studios, we recommend using your Tier 1 for Toy Story Midway Mania or Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. Use your Tier 2 spots for Tower of Terror and Star Tours. (Rock 'n' Roller Coaster has single rider, so consider using that option for the roller coaster and the FP+ for Toy Story.)

For what it's worth, we recommend using Fastpass+ for the Anna and the Elsa meet-and-greets and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom, which just happen to be the toughest FP+ "gets" at the moment. If the Frozen princesses are not of interest, a FP+ for the afternoon Festival of Fantasy parade during busy summer months can be a good choice, while still allowing you time to pick up additional FP+ times later in the day. The Magic Kingdom has, by far, the largest number of FP+-eligible attractions, with 28 eligible attractions. However, with the exception of the attractions we just mentioned, Fastpass+ does not offer a huge (hour-plus) time advantage in most situations for the Magic Kingdom's top-rated rides, so if you're not booking the parade, get your advance reservations out of the way early so that you can use the system to save a few minutes in waiting here and there with additional reservations throughout the rest of the day. Collectively, those savings do add up in allowing you to experience more rides by the end of the day in the Magic Kingdom.

Over at Disney's Amimal Kingdom, we recommend using your Fastpass+ reservations for Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris, with your choice of Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo, or Dinosaur for the third. Again, if you are willing to use single-rider lines, you can use that to skip the regular queue on Everest, freeing a FP+ for one of the other highly-rated attractions in the park.

Again, these are simply our recommendations based on the average attraction-quality ratings submitted by Theme Park Insider readers. If you and your family really love a ride that other TPI readers don't, just skip the recommendations and reserve the attractions you love most. So long as you're having fun, there's no "wrong" way to visit a theme park!

How are you using Fastpass+ at Walt Disney World? Please tell us, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From 98.21.198.85 on June 11, 2014 at 11:26 PM
Why move Living with the Land to tier one? It never has a line anyway..... or is it just so that the people who don't like thrill rides has something in tier one to choose?
From Robert Niles on June 12, 2014 at 6:18 AM
Bingo.
From Russell Meyer on June 12, 2014 at 7:11 AM
I think the reason they're moving Living with the Land is because many people were timing their Soarin' and Land FP+ times so they're back to back, and it gets them in position to collect additional FP+ reservations more quickly and efficiently. Line or not, you need to complete 3 FP+ reservations before getting additional reservations.
From Anon Mouse on June 12, 2014 at 7:53 AM
"That's why we suggest that visitors consider try to schedule their initial three Fastpass+ times for early in the day"

You don't define "early in the day." Perhaps it should be more precise. I advise schedule late moring (10am) to early afternoon (3pm). You'll still have chances to book FP for late afternoon and evenings.

Pick the most popular attractions (must-sees). Otherwise you'll be disappointed if you could not see your preferred attractions. I know this is very hard for some people, but you will know which 3 attractions. Not everyone can arrive at the park upon opening. Even if you do hit the park in the morning, try to hit the most popular rides for a non-reserved FP attracted to ensure you get the most out of your day.

I seen Anna and Elsa with FP+. I highly advise you get your FP+ early or you'll miss out.

From Rich T on June 12, 2014 at 8:13 AM
If they want tier 1 options for non-thrill, then what do you consider Illuminations and Soarin'?

Even Maelstrom was rather tame. and Test Track is literally a fast car ride.
Maybe its a capacity issue. But Living with the Land in tier 1 is an absolute joke.

That was a great ride, with the best food court and a short line. Its educational, fun and relaxing. But I find it ridiculous to equate that experience with Illuminations, Soarin, or Test Track.

Why do we need 4 tier 1 rides anyway? Why provide us with more options that we can't experience? Sure, bump Maelstrom down, but why move Living with the Land?

From Kris V on June 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM
According to the "A Lush's Guide to Epcot", drinking two Grey Goose Orange Slushes and then attempting to ride Maelstrom will make it way more of an exciting ride. And that's just trying to straddle getting into the boat. Soarin becomes an incredible ride experience as well rather than its ordinary dull (why are we showing places in California?) self. I'm not entirely sure if this will work for Living with the Land, but it would be worth a try.

I find it interesting that Tower of Terror is not a tier one ride like the Hannah Montana Rockin' Roller Coaster. That's a good thing though, strategy-wise when it comes to fast passes.

Speaking of strategies, so help me that a family of five walks into a single rider queue like the Rockin' Roller Coaster and then complains that their party is going to be separated whenever they reach the train station. Happens every time to me and somehow, a cast member bends the rules for them. Boo!

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