If you read this blog regularly (as you should), you are undoubtedly aware of Disney’s multi-million dollar infrastructure renovation called MyMagic+. Over the past few months, extensive testing of the first phase of MyMagic+ has been taking place at Walt Disney World. For general questions and to familiarize yourself with what is going on I recommend fellow blogger Erin Foster’s two excellent pieces on initial observations and her personal experiences with the test.
Like Erin, I have been cordially invited by Mickey himself to participate in the MyMagic+ testing for my trip next week. Since much of what occurs during the test has been covered so well on this site, I have decided to turn an analytical cheek toward the process (as I do with most things). For the purpose of this article I will be discussing strategies for using the new FastPass+ system.
Some FastPass+ Background
So what is this crazy sounding FastPass+? (Geez, that +? looks weird…silly Disney marketing). I will assume that you are familiar with Disney’s current FASTPASS system (and if you are not, check out this page). In simple terms, the difference is that with Plus you will be able to schedule some of your FASTPASS windows well in advance of your trip. For instance, if you are traveling in December, you may be able to schedule a FastPass+ for Soarin’ at 4:30 pm on December 6, even though it’s only September!
Now you, like many, many other vacationers, might be thinking, “Holy cow! I have to plan out my entire trip?!” Well, yeah, kinda. There are kiosks in the park as well as the My Disney Experience smartphone app that will allow you to select FastPass+ times even as you walk the park, but the availability of times and attractions is finite. Therefore, if you wait until that morning, you may be snagging FastPasses for The Seas with Nemo rather than Soarin’, which doesn’t really need it in most cases.
Which FastPasses Should I Choose?
Okay, so now you’ve resigned yourself to at least doing some advanced planning. How can you best utilize those FastPass+ reservations? Under the current testing phase, every ticketed visitor is entitled to 3 FastPass+ reservations per day in any one park. These parameters are likely change, but the theories I will discuss won’t, so these are the parameters I’m going to use.
As you, the Touring Plans user, know parks get more crowded during the middle parts of the day (which is why you, the smart one, are there at park opening). Therefore, scheduling any FastPass+ time for before 11am is not the most efficient use. You are also aware that certain attractions just plain get longer lines than others. Even though attractions like it’s a small world and The Great Movie Ride are options for FastPass+, they would very, very rarely be efficient uses either since they don’t normally have lines longer than a few minutes.
So that leaves us looking at afternoon times and headliner attractions. But wait…there’s more (said in your best 80s gameshow voice)! FastPass+ reservations are also available for many parades and fireworks displays, such as Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes, and Fantasmic. From what I have noticed, these reservations seem to be the first to disappear, even in this limited test phase. These parades and fireworks have special viewing areas for those with FastPass+ so (theoretically) one could show up shortly before the start of the event and get a great spot.
Clearly, the play here is to work backwards for the end of your day. Try to figure out where you are going to end your night and get FastPass+ reservations for that park, starting with the fireworks. The example I will use here is for a day when I will be visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
So Really, Which FastPasses Should I Choose?
I started by looking at my proposed schedule and determined a day that we will (hopefully) be at Hollywood Studios in the evening. This is a little more complicated for my family because I still attempt to get my young children to calm down long enough to fall asleep. Some people call this a nap. We tend to go to a different park following naptime than the one we visited in the morning, therefore any FastPass+ reservations have to be late enough that we could get there after nap.
I started my planning in the same place all good planning starts: TouringPlans.com! I created a Personalized Touring Plan for September 18 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that started at 4pm. After selecting the attractions we would like to visit, I was shown my yet-to-be-optimized plan. Just below the summary window, you will see a link that reads “FastPass+ Options (skip if not using).” Clicking this will open the window seen in Image 1.
At this stage, you only want to put in the number of FastPass+ allotments in the “FP+ Opportunities in Group One” box. As I mentioned, I am allowed 3 per day, so that’s what I added. I then scroll down and click “Optimize” (Image 2). As you can see in Image 3, following the optimization some of the attractions are now marked that “This would be a good candidate for FastPass+.” My particular plan listed four of these: Disney Junior – Live on Stage, Star Tours, Toy Story Mania, and Fantasmic.
As I mentioned, Fantasmic is a no-brainer for me because I despise having to queue up an hour early for that show (and because I have no brain). Since my projected wait on my Touring Plan for Toy Story Mania is 59 minutes, that seems like another easy choice. For my third one I decided on Disney Junior - Live on Stage because a) my kids cannot see that enough, and b) I’m hoping there is reserved FastPass+ seating for it.
I Need To Know…Did You Score Your FastPasses?
I did! I logged onto My Disney Experience, went to the FastPass+ selection and checked out Disney’s Hollywood Studios on September 18. As you see in Image 4, I was also lucky to get all of my reservations later in the day.
What Do Those Reservation Times Do to the Touring Plan?
After making my reservations, I went back to my Personal Touring Plan and back to the FastPass+ screen. Under “Reservations I have already made…” I entered the attractions and times as you will see in Image 5. One important note here: You need to keep that 3 in the “FP+ Opportunities” window in order for the optimizer to know you want to use them. Then…Re-Optimize!
Now these are results!
Check out Image 6, the final plan, and you will see why I did this. The plan is now optimized to include my FastPass+ reservations. The big difference is that prior to adding my reservation it was estimated that I would wait 105 minutes. After…70 minutes. So adding my FastPass+ reservations potentially saves me 35 minutes in line in only 4 hours in the park!
Is This All Worth It?
The actual results will be seen on my trip, and I will update you when I get back, but so far, so good. Touring Plans helped me decide which attractions would be the best to choose for FastPass+ and told me how to best plan my other attractions around those reservations. I found the My Disney Experience FastPass+ system easy to use and the reservations were seamlessly added into my Touring Plan.
Have any of you tried FastPass+? What did you think? Feel free to post any questions below, and thanks for reading!