We talked about this before, but I’ll say it again – I am a planner. I can be as type-A as they come and while I have grown in this area to be more spontaneous, I still love to plan. I am not the best car mate when we get lost and have no direction as to where we need to be going. It is one of my pet peeves to be in another state and lost in the car. I get the stress sweats when the GPS signal goes silent and yet my car is still moving forward. Having said this, “to fail to plan is to plan to fail,” in my opinion.
In last week’s post we talked about what a FastPass actually is and where it came from. This week we will discuss some method to the madness. A little strategy can go a long way.
If you’ve ever been to a Disney park, you know the chaos that ensues when you arrive at the gates (getting off the monorail, boat, or bus to a slew of people trying to get through security with strollers and bags galore. THEN you have to get through the gate). You have enough things to worry about besides when and where you are going to be hitting up your favorite attractions.
Spending a little bit of time before your trip planning things out can make a day at the park so much more enjoyable. There are plenty of people that are perfectly happy to just show up, but I would tell you there are some really great things you can miss out on from simply not preparing. I would even venture to say you might be wasting time and money.
Pre-planning for Disney parks can take a huge load off and is just another plus to vacationing there. My favorite pre-planning activity is booking FastPasses. I feel like it’s finally real when I have my FastPass reservations in my My Disney Experience (MDE) app done.
For my husband, Doug, and me, we would say we are more ride motivated in our Disney travels. Our park plans revolve around attractions and seeing how much we can pack into one day. Our leisure time is spent going to the bathroom and eating, for the most part. We take FastPasses very seriously around here.
As I mentioned in my last post, depending on whether you are staying at a WDW resort or not determines when you can book your FPs. We have stayed both at a WDW resort and elsewhere over our travels and there are definitely perks to staying at a WDW resort, like reserving your FPs 60 days in advance. If you are not taking advantage of the resort perks, you can book your FPs 30 days in advance.
For WDW resort guests, you can log into your MDE app the morning of the 60th day out at 7a.m. EST and get to booking all FPs for your entire stay. If you are NOT staying at a WDW resort, you will have to do this for each morning of the amount of days you are staying. In other words, if you are going to the parks 4 days, you will have to log on each of 4 consecutive days (each 30 days out from the day you’re trying to reserve FPs for) to book your passes. For guests staying at a WDW resort, you only have to do it once. Hopefully you are still following because here is where the real work begins.
Picking your FastPasses
Previously I’ve mentioned you can only book 3 passes per day for you and your party. It must be noted that Disney has put tiers in place to help space attractions out. Not all parks currently have tiers, but most of them do. You can only book ONE top tier pass before moving to the next tier. Typically the top tier has, you guessed it, a group of top attractions. Don’t worry though, there are still some favorites left in other tiers to go around. As of today, Magic Kingdom is the only park at WDW that does not have a tiered FP system.
It is important to know that FPs are booked and released constantly so looking for passes one time will not suffice. Sometimes we will refresh our search multiple times within a few minutes and one will pop up that we are looking for. It basically becomes a game (no whammies, no whammies, no whaaammmiiieeessss, STOP!). Sometimes we are even both refreshing at the same time and get different times (this is another reason why multiple people having the MDE app can be beneficial).
Just like the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes you log on and you just can’t seem to get the passes you want or you have to choose, and some of your favorites are left off. Fear not, there are ways to get it all done! This is where what we call rope drop can be your best friend beside the FP.
When we say rope drop, we mean to say that you are at the park gate as soon as it opens, if not before, waiting for them to drop the rope letting you in. Yes, they can be very early but when the rope drops, there is nobody in any line just yet. This is where you can enjoy your favorite attractions without FPs first.
We typically do not like to FP Peter Pan’s Flight, but the line for that thing is always a mile long, it seems. If we are at rope drop at Magic Kingdom, we head there first and then make our way over to Adventureland (because it is left in the park), typically stopping to hit Haunted Mansion (because we feel the need to ride it 50 times in a day if we can). If you couldn’t get a FP for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, or you just want to ride it multiple times, try heading there first. The same goes for Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom for us. I have many memories of dads with small children dressed up in Star Wars gear in hand, running to the Jedi Training Academy to get their kid’s signed up for the day (tip: If your child wants to do this, and must, he shall, you will need to bring your running shoes and be at rope drop to get back there and sign up. They do not have FP for this activity). Now, let’s talk about my random comment about going left in the park.
There has been plenty of research to show that most people, upon entering the park, will go to the right first and make their way around as so (like Derek Zoolander, they can’t turn left). In order to combat this tragedy, we like to hit the parks inside starting to the left. Once we take advantage of a top attraction or show up after park open, we head to the left.
FPs will book an hour slot of your time leaving that entire window open for you to enter the attraction (Ex. you can enter the attraction at 10:00 am or 10:59 am for a 10:00 am FP). This means your times will have to be at least an hour apart for each pass. We will usually try and get 3 passes booked in a 4 hour window or less, if we can. If we can get our original FP’s done around lunch or early afternoon, we feel we are doing pretty good. Our strategy entails booking FP’s earlier in the day (typically right after our breakfast if we have reservations) in order to keep rolling for the rest of the day as we navigate the park. After those passes are used up, you can book more to keep them rolling for that specific day.
After You’ve Used Your FastPasses
As soon as you walk through the que and scan your last FP, one of us will immediately get on the MDE app and start looking for what’s available next. This has been easy peasy each time we have done it and helps us to keep mapping our next steps. Again, keep refreshing until you see something you want. We like to get our park hop on too, so sometimes we will book 3 passes earlier in the day at one park, then roll them at the next park for the remainder of the day or vice versa (Note: You cannot book multiple passes at different parks, they have to be all in one park to start with).
Also in the MDE app are the ride wait times for the stand by lines (this is another best friend to have. Wow, your friends are racking up for this trip). Ride wait times are updated all day long and will help you know what you can squeeze in between FPs. If you have an hour to kill in between and there’s a 40 minute wait for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, “git er done!”
As many of us know, WDW is about to launch all kinds of new attractions meaning it can be extremely hard to get a FP and if you get one, you take it. For example, we visited Animal Kingdom not too long after Pandora opened and Flight of Passage was available to ride (this is by far the most incredible ride experience to date at WDW if you ask me). We were able to get a FP for it but it was at 6pm one evening. This meant we couldn’t necessarily roll our passes earlier in the day because we hadn’t used up our last one yet.
Some days you just have to take what you can get and fill in with other Disney magic! There are so many activities to do, food to eat, and characters to see. I assure you there is never a time to be bored at Disney parks. For more info on some extra low-line activities to do with kids, you can check out Jen’s article HERE!