Growing up, I remember each and every one of our few visits to amusement parks.
Back in the 80s trips to places like Disney were magical adventures that families needed to save up a bit for, just like now. Even though we lived in Southern California within reasonable driving distance to Disneyland, it was a special treat my parents only indulged in a few times in my youth.
So, the times we went were memorable and magical and all of the things parents hope it will be for their children.
Never mind that the lines were long.
Not long by today’s standards, but long enough that I recall waiting there, and moaning to my mom about my sweaty back, only to be hushed and given a Dr. Pepper.
Today it’s an issue that remains.
Families spend thousands of dollars to go on their one vacation of the year (or possibly of the decade), only to stand in line to ride things for 80 minutes each. You reach the end of a day tired and crabby realizing that you actually only rode three things. That’s kind of a sad way to burn through your three day vacation.
Not sad like, oh I will never go to an amusement park again, but sad like dang I wish the lines were shorter and we were able to utilize our one and only vacation week a little bit more efficiently.
Leave it to the masterminds of magic making at Disney to figure out a pretty sweet solution to this exact problem: My Disney Experience and Fast Pass+.
It’s Disney’s version of call ahead seating and it 100% changes the game for families visiting the parks.
You can use the app (or the website if you’re all 2012) in advance of your visit to book up to three ride times for yourself and your family. Then, when you get to the park, you just roll up to the ride at your assigned time and have your 92 seconds of screamtastic fun, virtually no waiting (it may be like a 5-10 minute wait, but that is negligible in the grand scheme of things).
It’s awesome because you can schedule your entire trip more realistically and make plans to work the parks over as efficiently as possible.
Lemme give you an example.
Here is a sample pre-FastPass+ daily family itinerary for our family of five when we visited with young children.
Yes, this sounds sketchy and exhausting and overwhelming. That’s because it was. Only, you didn’t care too much because it was like a once in a lifetime while experience that would result in magical memories for yourself and your children. And it’s Disney. And, in the grand scheme of things, who cares because, it’s DISNEY.
But what if it could be less OMG-why-is-everyone-crying-we-are-in-Disney-act-happy and more we-got-this-thanks-to-Mom’s-panning-and-Disney’s-genius?
Guess what… it can!
This system rolled out with the My Disney Experience planning page and mobile app allow families to more expeditiously and efficiently book rides and experience Walt Disney World.
You, like the pro-planner you are, can pick your 3 FastPass+ ride passes in advance of each day you plan to visit so you know you have all of those in the bag.
Then, if you like to take your planning to the next level, you will check the map on the app and determine the most expeditious routes to take from place to place within the parks. Mapping out your timeline, dining experiences, shows and additional rides for the day.
You can basically take the above itinerary and shave 3 hours off of it leaving you space to add 3 additional rides. That means nine rides in nine hours (instead of just 6), and that’s making time for lunch and dinner!
Your kids will still moan, your ankles will still swell, 11:30-1:30 will still be a silly time to eat lunch, but dang it all less! Less hard, less exhausting, less swelling, less moaning and just more time for awesome!
FastPass+ is just 1000 times better than the old way of wait in line, walk, wait in line, walk, listen to kids moaning, walk, wait in line, eat, listen to additional moaning, walk, wait in line, wait in line, wait in line.
It does require forethought and advance planning on your part, but if you put in that time and effort, you will be rewarded with an easier Disney parks experience.
Ready to go? Here are 5 Things You Need to Know About FastPass+ Before You Go
1. It’s free. And available to anyone who buys a ticket.
2. Resort guests get added benefits. In addition to just being able to stay at the most magical place in the land, Disney resort guests also get access to their FastPass+ options even earlier. You can book your rides up to 60 days before your arrival with a valid, on property hotel reservation (it’s 30 days for visitors saying off site).
3. It’s not a blood pact. You can alter your schedule any time you want, before you arrive, on your way to the park, when you are literally standing in line to ride. You can change your FastPasses as you see fit, just know that when you do, you basically get back in line.
4. Technically, you can have as many as you want. You get three FastPass+ options in advance, once you use those you just go to a kiosk in the park and book additional ones. There will likely be a line at the kiosk, but they move rather quickly and cast members are there to assist. Also, you may have to wait a couple of hours for a space to open up on a ride. The lovely thing, though, is that with a set ride time you can use that time to eat or shop or catch a show or watch a parade and not waste it standing in line. (Note: you can only book a FastPass+ for a ride within the park you are booking from so, for example, if you are in Hollywood Studios and you want to book a FastPass+ for Space Mountain, no can do.).
5. It’s easy to use. Just log in to your My Disney Experience (via the site or your phone app) and select the date of your visit…
Choose the rides you’d like to FastPass…
Wait for the system to give you a few itineraries to choose from (it will pick the best match for your chosen rides and will replace them with something else if the ride you choose isn’t available).
If you like what the system comes back with book it, if not, try again.
Five minutes of planning will lead to a full day of fun!