Vote of the Week: After a Year, What's Your Experience with Disney's Fastpass+?
It's been more than a year since Walt Disney World implemented its new Fastpass+ system for making reservations for its rides and shows in advance of your visit to the resort. Given the experience that many of us have had with the system, let's take this opportunity to vote on how it's working for us.
If you've visited Walt Disney World during the past year, you probably know that Fastpass+ allows you to make three reservations a day for rides and shows at the Disney parks, up to 30 days in advance of your visit. (It's 60 days for guests who've booked a stay at one of Disney's on-site hotels.) To take advantage of the reservation system, you must have purchased a Disney World theme park ticket and associated it with an account on the Walt Disney World website. Once you're logged in with a valid ticket, you can start making reservations within your time window.
We recommend that you use the system to book a visit on the three attractions you most want to experience in the park you'll be visiting that day. (And you can see our suggestions on our theme park travel tips page.) Don't worry about times at first -- just get the attractions you want. That way, you'll be assured of getting in to see the rides or shows you most want to experience with minimal wait, allowing you a bit of peace of mind for the rest of your day. You don't have to rush around the park early in the day to get your first Fastpass, either. You can lock in three for everyone in your group at your convenience, before you leave home.
Now, if you want to play Fastpass+ at the advanced level, try to time your three reservations for early in the day, as Disney will allow you to pick up additional Fastpass+ reservations, one at a time, inside the park on the day of your visit. You can make or change Fastpass+ reservations in the park by getting help from cast members at designated locations in the park, or by using the My Disney Experience app that you can download for your smartphone.
If the attraction you selected is down, for whatever reason, during your scheduled time, the system will (should?) give you a "golden Fastpass" to use on any other attraction in the park, so you won't lose one of your three Fastpass+ line-skipping opportunities.
Okay, that's all good news. The bad news is that the expansion of Fastpass+ to dozens of attractions that never offered ride reservations under the old paper ticket-based Fastpass system has disrupted guest visitation patterns throughout the parks. High-capacity attractions that rarely had long waits before Fastpass+ now often do, as Disney uses the system to direct more guests to those high-capacity attractions, filling both their Fastpass+ return and stand-by queues. People who'd mastered getting the most for their money at Disney under the old system have had to start over and develop new strategies for getting on as many rides and shows as possible during their day.
And making Fastpass+ reservations at home isn't always the carefree experience that Disney promotes. If you want one of the really hard-to-get Fastpasses, such as the Anna and Elsa meet and greet, you'll need to be up at the crack of dawn exactly 60 days before your visit, logging into your Disney World account in an attempt to get one those just-made-available times before they're all gone.
Of course, not every Walt Disney World Resort visitor uses Fastpass+. As with the Fastpass system before it, many visitors just ignore the opportunity to claim reservation times for selected attractions, and choose instead just to use the standby queues as visitors have been doing at theme parks for decades.
For this Vote of the Week, we'd like to ask about your experience with Fastpass+. Have you visited the Walt Disney World Resort since the system went into widespread use in early 2014? If you have, did you use Fastpass+? Did you like the experience, or not?
In the comments, please tell us the one thing that you think other visitors should do to get the most from using Fastpass+. (Or tell us what you think Disney should do to improve the system — and no, it's not going away.) As always, thank you for being part of the Theme Park Insider community!
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Went to MK in June and Thanksgiving weekend 2014. June was my first time taking my kids, so the first time in MK since the early 90's. Never used the paper Fastpass. The Fastpass+ in conjunction with Magic Bands was great for us! Can't imagine not having it. As suggested, I learned in June that scheduling the FP times for early in the day is the best strategy. Was most beneficial in getting reservations for 7DMT that opened up just a few days before our November trip. This is long-winded, so I'll stop. Could and would talk about my MK strategy for hours. Thanks for the poll! Look forward to seeing the results.
As someone who used to run around and score 5-7 fastpasses a day for my family, I was very skeptical of the limitation to 3. After using the new system the last two years though, I can tell you my day is much less stressful having those 3 key rides pre-booked and not having to spend all my time thinking of strategies of where to run to next. Instead we arrive in the parks and enjoy ourselves. Only downside is longer lines on former short line rides like Pirates. We've skipped that one both of the last two years due to long lines and our prioritization of Fastpass elsewhere.
If you are traveling with large parties, don't be afraid to split up your fastpass reservations. For example, I was not able to get an "Enchanted Tales with Belle" reservation for our party of 9 before 9PM. However, by trying to find reservations for smaller groups, I was able to book 2 people at 3:20-4:20, 3 people at 3:40-4:40, 3 people at 3:50-4:50 and 1 person at 4:00-5:00. Seems confusing, but we all had an overlapping reservation from 4:00-4:20 so we just went on the attraction together through the fastpass line then. Worked great.
I would like it more if I could actually PICK the 3 attractions I want Fast Passes for instead of "1 from this group and 2 from this group" AND spread them across parks. I mean that's what your Park Hopper is for.
On our trip in September of 2014 (long after FastPass+ had left the "testing" phase), our reservations were hit and miss. Sometimes the system would recognize our FastPass+ reservation and Mickey would light up green, other times it would light up blue and show no reservations, or show reservations for only some of the party. Multiple trips to Guest Relations wasn't enough to solve the problem, as whatever fixes they implemented would show up on their computer, but not at the attractions where Guest Relations had supposedly hooked us up with new reservations. On our final Guest Relations trip the cast member took away the FastPasses that we had (including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and the Anna and Elsa meet&greet) and assigned us new and different fastpasses. When we asked about the Mine Train and meeting Anna and Elsa, the Guest Relations cast member told us we were just "out of luck" because someone else had snapped up those reservations as soon as he had cleared them from our account and he couldn't get them back. After that we gave up on Guest Relations entirely, and this was the first vacation where we came home not anxiously awaiting our next trip. The system, as well as the Guest Relations cast members who didn't seem to care whether it worked or not, left a very sour taste in all of our mouths.
I generally enjoyed FP+ (as a Disneyland regular, I absolutely hate the jog around the park to collect Fastpasses). We had one major issue when we went last May, and it related to the Wifi. We are from Canada, so we don't have the ability to use data in the US (not without paying a crazy amount) so we were completely relying on the wifi in the hotel and parks. We often found that the buses from the hotels were (very far) behind, and as we were riding the bus, our FP window would already be open. It would've made it much more convenient if we didn't have to wait until we got to the park to be able to hook back up to wifi so we can rearrange our schedule for the day. Wifi on buses is a thing. If Disney is going to have a system that makes everyone rely so much on their app, they should provide wifi everywhere on the resort property, including the buses and bus stops.
I have to admit that after complaining about it in other posts I haven't actually used it. I think you can't really make an opinion until you have the experience.
I experienced FP+ for the first time two weeks ago and was overall satisfied. It is great at MK given the number of FP+ attractions. I think it highlights the problem at DHS and Epcot and the lack of attractions with FP+ in those two parks. However, it is great that you can get a FP+ before you even head to the park and don't need to run to get one for TSMM. I would agree with other comments saying that it created a line in rides that never had line before; 30 minutes for Living the Land?!? My main downside is to get the additional FP+ once you have used your first three; you can't use the App to add one and you must go to a FP+ kiosk to get the additional one (which you can edit later with the App). I guess it depends on the crowd level in the park, but the queue for the FP+ kiosk was at time significant. I want a FP for a FP Kiosk! :) The solution for this is quite simple and inexpensive; they should have more FP+ kiosk and better spread throughout the park.
I haven't been to WDW the past 2 years. Not because of Fastpass+ but because they didn't build new rides I cared about. The whole Fastpass+ thing made me not want to visit the old parks because of the way it's done.
I've had season passes to disney since i was a very small child. now i have children of my own and enjoy taking them to the parks. or at least i did... the way fast pass+ has transformed the parks really makes it feel as if Disney were purposefully designing it to hinder locals enjoyment of the parks.
The hyper scheduling just doesn't work well with young kids who need more flexible schedules. So it just doesn't work well for us.
It was hit or miss for me. We had a problem at the hotel when someone smashed our car window so we spent a couple of hours there dealing with the disney security people. To make up for the time we lost dealing with this, they put two 'special' fastpasses in the system for each person in our party (that would work at any attraction) For our group of five, when we went to use them it said they had both already been used by one person in the party, even though we hadn't gone to anything yet, and one other person was on their second 'special' one, while the other three people were on their first 'special' one. No one could explain why this didn't work right.We went to guest services and after an hour or so they gave us paper fastpasses good at epcot only, but we were going to use the second special one at the magic kingdom, so that didn't work for us. Too bad, that's all they could do.
Fastpass+ worked exactly as expected. I had no complaints. FP+ works better than the old system since you don't need to run to each ride to book a fastpass.
As a local, I can tell you this system does not work. It restricts you to FP's for a single park, and most of the top ride reservations are taken long in advance. Meanwhile, lines are longer at other rides (like Pirates) because they never had Fast Pass before, or have allocated so much to FP that it hurts regular capacity. Or they're "dummy" choices, like The Seas or Spaceship Earth, that will waste your reservation.
After using it on Tuesday I can say its a failure all around. While it may be great for people who plan their trips months in advance, it's garbage for day guests. I had a chance to hang with a friend for his birthday on Tuesday and he chose to go to the Magic Kingdom. I stood in line a half hour just to make my fast pass+ selections. Then, after doing so, was told that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Anna and Elsa meet n greet were not available. I was there not even thirty minutes after park open and there's none for these attractions? Horrible. Just as bad as Toy Story Manias situation.
I totally love the Fastpass+ system but I have noticed that Disney World cast members' level of customer service have decreased immensely during the past year or year and a half. I work customer service so it makes me cringe when they do things like blame the customer, etc. They made me yell and literally "throw a fit" a couple of times to get what I was entitled to in the first place... That never happened to me at disney before... They used to be really fair but not anymore...
I love FP+
The biggest tip I can give anyone is that while you can only get a new Fastpass+ at a kiosk, you can CHANGE that Fastpass using the mobile app afterwards. So you don't need to take up a bunch of time at the kiosk deciding what you want, just grab a pass, then change it on the fly.
I liked the fastpass +, my major gripe is that is makes some of the queues that used to work great (Haunted Mansion), unbearable at times.
I think the FP+ is a great idea, with extremely poor implementation. My main objection was the limit of three with the tiered system. They have somewhat opened it up to additional passes, but with use and time there has emerged a much more serious problem: it creates long lines for attractions that never had long lines: Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Spaceship Earth, etc. This problem has created a terrible situation for us: the parks are no longer as much fun. They really, really need to lift the system on many attractions and only use FP+ on key attractions and shows. It is my understanding that from several statements in focus group that they did not know how it would work before starting it up. I will say it is great for the room key, dining plan, payment and the like. It is nice to be able to go to the pool and not worry with a wallet and keys, but they have made the parks themselves much less fun. Further, they have allowed this system (that is highly flawed) to impact the introduction of new attractions. They should use some of the billions that they make on their movies and merchandise for the betterment of their parks. It is almost like there has been a change of their business philosophy over the last decade as it relates to the parks: before it was customer convenience is of the utmost importance. Now it is theirs.
The new system definitely has some positives, but is not without its drawbacks.
The last system made you "run around". I never ran or rushed in any way and the old system was fine. BTW it isn't really the "old" system. DLR still uses it people!
I've used the new system a few times now, with a decent success rate, so I can't complain. Of course, there is always room for improvement. The first thing that comes to mind is the method by which you obtain a new fastpass, after using your inital selections. At the Magic Kingdom in particular, this process can involve waiting in line for 10-15 minutes. There has to be a better way. If it can't be done via the app, then please add some additional locations. The number currently available is not sufficient for heavy crowds.
I have not personally used the system yet, but I have helped several first time visitors use it in the past two years. I thought the set up was painless and according to their reports the execution was flawless. For these first timers, the system turned out to be a real boon. I hope to be using the system for the first time if we visit in May 2016.
They need to remove the tiers. There's not enough rides to make people choose between going on Test Track or Soarin. I'd also like to see the limit raised on rides you can book.
FP+ worked well for us last November. We even decided to go to Animal Kingdom at the last minute one morning, and had no problem finding rides to reserve. We were even able to change them on the go. When we went to Hollywood Studios, we were able to book an overlapping time for my sister for TSMM, since her ticket was purchased right before the trip. We didn't have any wifi issues either, and I don't have a data plan on my "phone". I rely on free wifi.
As a long time, and as of January, former annual passholder, the paper Fastpasses worked great. The current system is anything but magical.
I used it last January. There are pros and cons. I think that it is slightly better for an experienced customer and much better for someone that had never used any fast pass system.
Can someone explain to me like I'm a dumb person why fastpass+ increases wait times at high capacity attractions? Now I'm worried that I'll have my fastpasses set before we go, but 30 minute waits on everything else. I get that Disney is redistributing people and you can't get all the fastpasses you want to, but I don't understand why the line to Pirates would shoot up just because there are more fastpasses in use.
Okay, I just have to say this since no one else has yet. According to the survey, twice as many people who have used FastPass+ liked the way it worked, as did not. That's not a bad first year for a system that everyone - EVERYONE - was vehemently condemning before it went online.
We used it on our trip last september and it worked really great. We got all the attractions that we wanted and even managed to get a second FP+ for the six of us for Toy Story Mania. I guess being on low season really helped. We have never had park hoppers but I think guests paying for that option should have the possibility to book rides in more than one park. Also it would be great to have the possibility to use the app to select the additional FP once you have used them all, to avoid having to make a line to avoid a line. We really didn't see any lines on FP kiosks but again it was september. The only other improvement I would add is the possibility to see all the FP+ reservations for your party in a single view. We had different attractions selected for each and you always had to select the person first(at least in the version of My Disney Experience we used on sep). After the first day I ended with a paper with all the reservations written down and the people on that reservation. We did use the child swap to override the tier restrictions because we had a 3yo and a 8yo.
I haven't used the system, but I have family members who have. From them, the system has gotten mixed reviews. Pros of the system are that it guarantees you will have the opportunity to experience your top priority attractions, it eliminates the running around required with the old system, and it allows you to select a return time instead of having one assigned, while cons are the requirement to pre-plan your vacation, the difficulty in making additional reservations once the initial three are used, the lack of support for park hopping, and being forced to choose three different attractions when you might rather do something twice. Overall, the consensus among my family is that it is a good system, but the old paper tickets are better.
We've used the "new" system on our last 3 trips and I don't think it's an improvement over the old, First Come First Serve standby days. Not only do you need hotel and restaurant reservations, now you need attraction and fireworks viewing reservations too? Can reserved restroom breaks be far behind? To echo a previous poster, rushing through the parks from one corner to another to make your FP window, and then to a kiosk to repeatedly make whatever additional FPs are available, is a lousy way to enjoy the parks the Imagineers have done such a beautiful job creating. The reason why the Standby lines are so long is that they're held up for FP holders. Eliminate the FP system and the wait times will go reasonably down. I can honestly say that these new policies/procedures have lessened my enjoyment of WDW, while the Universal Express Pass has increased my enjoyment of those parks. Let's hope It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.
I don't understand the local day guest's complaints. I have a limit on my passes of signing up no earlier than 7 days in advance. I almost always don't even think of going to a park until the night before or the morning of and even with that I can get almost always what I want.
I wish I could double vote: I was at WDW in February, used Fastpass+ extensively, and was both satisfied AND unhappy with the experience.
We would like to have more than 3 a day, would prefer not to have rides pitted against each other and that Disney not give the times. In order to get rides in consecutive order, time wise you have to go back into the system three or more times. I tried Fastpass+ in October 2013, November 2014 and March 2015. It improved with each visit!
In blunt terms, I am now a former annual passhder having had annual and seasonal passes for 20 years.
The questions was asked how this system increases wait times. I monitor wait times year round. With the old system, they only had fast passes for traditionally popular rides or those of low capacity. Now they have them for everything. Rides with continuous loading systems like Spaceship Earth, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Carribean all load mostly continuously and can run lots of people through, unlike a roller coaster where it takes a while to load and safety check the attraction. Now, you are stopping the continuous loading process to let all of the fast pass+ people in. It bogs down rides that would be no more than 30 minutes on a busy day. After FP+ came along, these high volume, fast loading rides started to get 45-60 minute waits, almost doubling them. Families that were used to the old system could avoid most waits by using touring plans or just common sense. This new system eliminates this. Further, it seems to me, and I could be very wrong about this, more and more guests are arriving early, making the early bird system of being able to hit 4-5 rides in the first hour less possible. I can now experience as much less a day. Gone also is the rising favorite attractions three times in a 30 minute span. The last time I was at the parks on a crowded day, I rode Haunted Mansion once and never could get on Pirates. The same week I was able to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey four times in 30 minutes using their single rider line. I do think they should revisit the system to get the lines down and find a way to accommodate the day guests and season passholder (and I never fit into either group). All the families that I know that are, I should say were, regulars hate it. They need to modify it. They also need a fifth gate. Badly.
Before the fastpass plus, normal fastpass for popular attractions would be gone at 10am being so unfair for those who arrive a later. So now you don't have to be running to get a pass just check on the phone and thats it. Like it better!
I did not like it in regards to the difficulty of trying to get into a restaurant. It seems like you we were supposed to schedule are whole vacation 4 months in advance. The cast members looked at was like we were crazy for even asking about how long the wait would be. At one restaurant we we were told no walk ins only reservations. That seems ridiculous that you need to know what time you will be hungry and what exactly you want to eat months before vacation. Having to go by a schedule took much of the relaxation out of the vacation.
Fastpass+ is terrible! I hate it.
Just speaking for our family. We've done 12 WDW vacations of a week or longer since March, 2007. They've all been great, but the most relaxing have been the past 3, with magic bands and FP+.
I have done FP+ to Disney World over the last w weeks and I thought it was great. Even before there was a regular fastpass my dad would take us when we were little and have heavily preplan stuff so I guess I got it from him. We had the free wifi on my bfriend`s phone and used it to plan the day ahead of time to see the waits. I based all the selections on knowledge from the previous visits and we did pretty well. We liked not having to gey up early and were abke to try rides that would have had fp all used up by days end. I understand the frustration with the lines st the statio. and putting some rides in categories but overall i liked it and i was not even in the hotels i made out ok 30 days in advance. I think it is incentive though if u go arpund christmas to stay in a disney hotel and get the 60 days
I must be doing something wrong. I have yet to really find an issue with it. First of all, I go quite a bit being a local. But I don't plan more than a few days out. During our spring break, we had FP's for DHS and Epcot. Picked them the week prior. Had no issue getting early FP's for Test Track - 10:30am - and was able to modify the times (which you can manipulate once you choose the three) for the other two so that they were all close in time. At DHS, we had Toy Story Mania, Frozen sing along and Star Tours. Again modified the times to keep them close together. We were able to do all of this, ride Star Tours again, and leave before the rains arrived.
As longtime WDW visitors, my husband, two daughters, and I are not fans of the new Fastpass system. We went to Walt Disney World at the end of last August and diligently followed the advice of making Fastpass reservations for every morning of our ten day vacation. That way, with our park hopper passes, we could make new Fastpasses at a different park after we used our initial three Fastpasses and took a break at the hotel. The problem with this plan was when we got to the second park every day, the only Fastpasses left were for rides/shows you didn't need a Fastpass for anyway, such as Turtletalk with Crush or Philharmagic. Worse yet, we're at the parks right at opening time every day and most of the time we were using Fastpasses when the standby lines were short or nonexistent (such as for Dinosaur at the Animal Kingdom). This happened time and time again. The lack of ability to get additional Fastpasses at the second park we visited really frustrated us, so when we visit this coming August we are employing a new strategy. We will be making Fastpass reservations for the afternoon/evening. In this way, we will arrive at the first park of the day and do standby lines while they are short, take a break from the heat at our hotel, then have Fastpasses for when the standby lines are at their longest. All that said, we did not have any trouble with our Fastpasses registering correctly last summer and got the "green light" every time we used them. I know we're in the minority, but we much preferred the old system where we didn't have to plan our whole itinerary 60 days in advance to be sure to be able to ride Toy Story Midway Mania or Soarin. We routinely got 5 or more Fastpasses in a day, for rides we really wanted to ride, not rides we had to settle on since they were the only ones that had Fastpasses left. We know it's not going away though, so we'll keep fine tuning how we use it until we find a strategy that works best for us. On another note, our daughter is going to Walt Disney World for her Senior trip at the end of April and the advisors for the trip just got the trip reservation numbers on Friday and will be giving them out to students tomorrow, March 30th. With only twenty-five days until their trip, she is racing home tomorrow to try and get Fastpasses for her favorite rides. We'll see how that works; I'm very curious to see if there will even be any left for Toy Story Midway Mania or Soarin.
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