Disney World broke its long tradition of allowing FastPasses to be used anytime after their beginning time (in other words, if your return time began at 3:30pm, you could use them anytime after 3:30pm, even though the window supposedly closed at 4:30pm). Because of this big change, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit my FastPass top ten list. So, with a few minor updates and one major update, here is the top ten things you need to know about Disney World FastPasses.
Disney World FastPasses – an introduction
Just in case you may not be familiar with these little guys, here are the basics: At the majority of the Walt Disney World attractions you are able to retrieve a FastPass. This pass allows you to skip the regular standby line at the attraction granted you come back at a designated time. As you see in the picture at the top of the page, my Soarin’ FastPass will get me into the shorter line if I return between 1:15pm and 2:15pm. You’ll also note that the pass is only valid on the day it is printed.
There are only a certain number of FastPasses available for each attraction on a given day. Once they have all been distributed, it’s the regular standby line for everyone else. More popular attractions, such as Soarin’ at Epcot, can distribute all of its FastPasses in less than two hours after park opening. Less popular attractions may never distribute all of their FastPasses on a given day.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s hit the list!
#10 – FastPasses are attraction-specific!
Okay, this is a little bit more basic information but I thought it was important to mention: FastPasses are specific to the attraction from which they are distributed. As you saw in the picture above, the name of the attraction is clearly branded at the top of the pass, so you’ll have to play along.
Furthermore, FastPasses are only available for each individual attraction at that attraction’s distribution area. This means, if you want to get one for Soarin’, you have to make your way through Epcot to the Land Pavilion, walk into the building and down the stairs to pick up your passes. Kind of annoying, I know. Disney did test out centralized FastPass distribution in Animal Kingdom back in 2009, but nothing came of it.
#9 – Send one person to pick ‘em up!
Veteran Disney World travelers know this one well: If you’re getting FastPasses for an attraction, you only need to send one person to pick them up. All that person does is find the distribution area, put in each person’s admission ticket into the machine, and voila.
This leads me to number 8.
#8 – Make sure your admission tickets scan correctly at the turnstiles!
The FastPass distribution machines are hooked up to Disney’s centralized ticketing system. When you put in an admission ticket to get a FastPass, the machine checks whether you are physically in the park by seeing if your admission ticket was scanned. The idea here is to prevent someone with extra tickets (however they may have got them) from getting extra FastPasses.
WARNING: You need to be careful if there are issues with your admission ticket at the turnstiles. If your ticket doesn’t work for whatever reason, and you are waved in by the turnstile attendant, the system may not think you are in the park. So, when you go to pick up a FastPass, it will not give you one. This has happened to me before, and now you know so you can avoid the inconvenience!
#7 – FastPasses must be used within the time window printed on the ticket!
Many years from now, when I’m talking to my great-grand children, I’ll tell them of a time way back in 2011 when you could use FastPasses anytime you wanted, as long as it was after the beginning time printed on the ticket. They’ll think I am joking, because why in the world would Disney print a closing time if it didn’t enforce it? But for so many years it was true — and now those years have ended.
Starting this week, if you want to use your FastPass, you better be there on time. There’s no second place for late FastPass users, except for the standby line.
#6 – You can get another FastPass after two hours.
In general you are not supposed to have a FastPass for more than one attraction at any one time. If you attempt to get a second FastPass when you haven’t used the first one, you’ll get an invalid ticket from the machine.
However, Disney does put a two hour cap on this rule. So, if you are using the number 7 tip, then keep in mind you can get another FastPass–even if you haven’t used the first one–after two hours. Disney actually prints this on the FastPass, so you don’t have to keep track of the time with your phone or write it down.
#5 – Staying on-site doesn’t get you better FastPass access.
While there are numerous benefits to staying on-site at Walt Disney World, better access to FastPasses is not one of them. On-site guests have to use the same distribution system and follow the same rules as everyone else.
Staying on-site at Universal Orlando? Well that, my friend, is a completely different story. How does an unlimited FastPass sound? Universal calls ‘em Express Passes, and that’s exactly what you get if you stay on-site at one of Universal Orlando’s three hotels: Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, or Portofino Bay Hotel.
#4 – Don’t get your FastPasses mixed up with other tickets.
FastPasses and admission tickets are virtually identical in terms of size and the material they are printed on. So, when you shove everything together in your pocket, it can be easy to mix up the two. I suggest that you always keep them in separate pockets or bags, or put separate people in charge of the two items. If you lose either a FastPass or an admission ticket, someone is going to be stuck waiting in line at Guest Services or waiting out an attraction. That’s not a fun way to spend your vacation.
#3 – FastPasses are free… or are they?
We can argue back and forth all day about who has a better system: Universal Orlando with their for-purchase Express Passes or Disney with their free FastPasses. But before you begin to think Disney is taking the high-ground on this one by offering FastPasses free of charge, you should know their business motivation. Disney doesn’t give you FastPasses strictly out of the goodness of its heart. Rather, this is a strategy designed to keep you out of the lines. Because guess what you’re doing when you’re not in line for attractions? You’re shopping or you’re eating — in other words, you’re spending money.
#2 – Hang on to unused FastPasses as memoriablia.
Whether you want to put them in a shoebox or use them in a scrapbook, unused FastPasses provide a fun way to remember your Disney World vacation. Best of all, FastPasses have the date printed on them, so you don’t have to worry about remembering when you got them! If you do this, I also suggest keeping your room keys. Those are always fun to look back on.
If the scrapbooking idea doesn’t work out, you can try selling your unused Fast Passes on eBay.
#1 – Give the gift of time.
Next time you’re at Disney World and you don’t need FastPasses for anything, think about picking up a few anyway. You can really make someone’s day by handing them a set of FastPasses for Expedition Everest as you cross at the turnstiles. And you know what they say: What goes around comes around.