We’ve been going a little MyMagic crazy here at TouringPlans. I’ve shared some of my MyMagic+ test experiences and given you the basics about MagicBands, Kristina Murphy has explored the world of MyDisneyExperience, and Brian McNichols has given you the scoop on how to make the best use of FastPass+ with your own Touring Plan.
What we’ve missed so far, and what I’m now here to give you, is a basic rundown of the features of FastPass+ which when paired with a MagicBand, is the crown jewel of Disney’s next-gen in park technology. Here’s what you need to know:
What exactly is a FastPass+?
A FastPass+ is a reservation for a ride or other Walt Disney World attraction. You can make reservations days, weeks, or even months in advance of your Walt Disney World visit.
What’s the difference between FASTPASS and FastPass+?
If you’ve been to Walt Disney World in the past decade or so, chances are you’ve seen or used the old FASTPASS system. (Which Disney is now calling “legacy FastPass.”) With the old FastPass system, you put your park ticket into an on-site kiosk machine (like an ATM) and the machine spit out a paper ticket telling you at what time to return later that same day to enjoy the ride with little or no wait.
With FastPass+ you can make reservations for rides from locations other than Walt Disney World via a computer, tablet or smartphone (assuming that you have an account with Disney and the appropriate app). There are also centralized locations at the WDW parks where you can make/organize FP+ reservations; you do not need to go to the attraction itself. You do not get a paper ticket, instead you enter the ride FastPass return queue using either an RFID enabled card or a MagicBand.
With legacy FP, you had no choice about when your return time was, you simply took what the system spit out, regardless of whether that time worked for your meal/nap schedule. With FP+, you can control your return time, allowing you to avoid returns which interfere with your other plans.
With legacy FP, once you got a paper ticket, you were stuck with that return time, with no way to modify your FastPass. With FP+, you can change your FastPass attraction or attraction return time, while you’re on the go in the parks.
With legacy FP, anyone could use the paper ticket. You could give the entire family’s allotment of FP to one child, or you could gift unused FastPasses to other guests on your way out of the park. With FP+, the FastPasses are non-transferrable.
Who can make FastPass+ reservations?
The FastPass+ system is currently in a testing phase. During the test, guests staying at select Walt Disney World resort hotels and select WDW annual pass holders are being invited to use FastPass+ on a trial basis.
Most guests who are able to use FastPass+ are specifically invited to do so via a UPS letter and/or and email. A small group of guests are learning about their FastPass+ eligibility by simply logging onto the MyDisneyExperience section of the DisneyWorld.com website.
Which Disney resorts are inviting their guests to test FastPass+?
As noted in my previous MagicBand post, current WDW resort testers are guests registered for stays at Walt Disney World hotels between the dates of Sept. 3, 2013, and Oct. 31, 2013.
Guests of the following resorts MIGHT be selected for MagicBand testing: Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas (Jambo House only), Art of Animation, Beach Club and Villas, Contemporary, Polynesian, Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, and Yacht Club. While there’s always some possibility that this list will change (I am seeing anecdotal evidence online that a small number of annual pass holders or guests of other resorts getting invitations), unless you are staying at one of these hotels, it is unlikely that you will be a MagicBand tester. If you’ll be visiting Walt Disney World and are truly dying to test MagicBands, then you may want to arrange to stay at one of these hotels.
The dates and locations of future testing are not yet available.
How do I make FastPass+ reservations?
In order to make a FastPass+ reservation, you must be invited into the test (for now) and you MUST have purchased a Walt Disney World park ticket. When you have your park ticket (or resort/ticket package), enter the ticket number into the MyDisneyExperience section of the DisneyWorld.com website or app. Tickets can be purchased from a number of vendors, they do not have to come from WDW itself. Once your ticket is linked, choose the FastPass+ tab and follow the instructions from there.
If you don’t have access to a computer or smartphone, you can also make FP+ reservations while you are at Walt Disney World. You can do this at your resort concierge desk, at any guest relations window, or at the dedicated FP+ stations in the parks.
How do I use my FastPass+ reservations while I’m in the park?
You will have either a card (ticket or room key) or a MagicBand (or both a card and a MagicBand) associated with your MyDisneyExperience account. At the park, simply go to your FP+ attraction at the appointed time and look for the FastPass return line. At the head of the line, you’ll see a post topped with a ball featuring a Mickey head icon. Tap your card or band on the icon. Mickey will turn green and then you’re good to go. It takes all of about 10 seconds to learn the process.
How long is the return time window for FastPass+ reservations?
Same as for the legacy FastPass: There is a one hour return window. For example, your FP+ reservation will be for a ride on Space Mountain between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
How many FastPass+ reservations can I make?
Currently, each guest is allowed to make three FP+ reservations per day. There has been anecdotal evidence that some guests are being allowed a “bonus” FP+ for a particular park or particular day. Other guests (including me) have been allowed to make a FP+ reservation for a quick service restaurant (Be Our Guest lunch) in addition to the attraction FP+.
In a previous test incarnation, I was able to make a different number of FP+ reservations for each park. My gut tells me that this is an area in flux. While the “three FP+ per guest” rule may stand for a while, my guess (really a guess, no official scoop from Disney) is that the FP+ allotment per guest may vary depending on a number of factors which may (or may not) include: time of year visiting, how a reservation is made, annual pass status, which Disney resort the guest stays at, level of package chosen, etc.
Remember, this is still in test mode, anything can change.
How close together can I make my FastPass+ reservation times?
Currently, guests are allowed to make one FP+ reservation per hour. If you plan things exactly right, you could use all three of your FP+ allotments this way in under an hour and a half. For example if your FP+ reservations are Space Mountain 9:00-10:00, Splash Mountain 10:00-11:00, and Big Thunder Mountain 11:00-12:00, you could arrive at the Magic Kingdom at 9:45, walk to Space Mountain and ride, then go on Splash Mountain anytime during the return window, then go on Big Thunder at exactly 11:00. Assuming that you only want to go on three rides and that you’re able to get the FP+ return times you want, you can make your visit very efficient.
Does everyone get the same number of FastPass+ selections?
For now, yes. As I mentioned, I believe this to be an area in flux. Stay tuned.
Can I make FastPass+ reservations at more than one park per day?
Not right now. Currently, the system only allows you to make FP+ selections at one park per day. This may change as the system evolves.
Can I make FastPass+ reservations for same ride more than once per day?
Not officially. The computer/app will not allow you to make FP+ reservations for the same attraction more than once per day. However, you can make FP+ reservations for the same attraction on different days. For example, I could get a Space Mountain FP+ on both Monday and Tuesday, but not twice on Monday. I have heard anecdotal evidence that cast members may be able to fudge this for you in person at one of the FP+ stations in the parks. Let us know if you try it.
How far in advance can I make FastPass+ reservations?
Currently, the FP+ reservation window is 60 days. For most guests, the window is now effectively much shorter than this because they are not receiving their FP+ test invitations until something like 30 days in advance of their trip. Again, this may be an area in flux. During a conversation with a FP+ cast member in July, he mentioned that one possibility under consideration is that guests in select categories (annual pass holders, DVC members, frequent visitors, deluxe resort guests, etc.) might have a longer reservation window. No word on any specifics of this yet.
Even without specifics, I’ve heard more pushback from TouringPlans readers about this topic than nearly anything else related to FP+. The even distribution of legacy FastPass was a non-classist feature which endeared Disney to many. One thing to remember when considering this topic is that Disney does already have some stratification of service based on guest status. For example, resort guests can make dining reservations before off-site guests, concierge level resort guests have access to personal assistance with reservations, annual pass holders receive merchandise discounts, DVC members get first crack at villa-style rooms, etc. And the Disney Cruise Line Castaway Club allows frequent voyagers to make reservations before other guests. Disney has a long history of rewarding “better” guests, just not in such an overt manner (assuming that FP+ stratification does indeed occur at some point in the future).
Do I have to make FastPass+ reservations that far in advance?
It depends. Even though only a subset of Disney World guests are now able to make FP+ reservations, we are beginning to hear stories that the FP+ reservations for E-ticket rides can be hard to come by at peak times. As with dining reservations, the early bird catches the worm. If you absolutely must ride Toy Story Mania at 9:00 p.m. on your WDW arrival day, then you’ll want to make your FP+ reservation as soon as possible.
Bear in mind that you’ll “need” FP+ reservations for only some rides at some times of the day/year. Just like you need reservations for some restaurants, but can walk into others, the same thing will likely happen with FP+ reservations. In most cases, the rule to arrive early and follow a good touring plan will all but obviate the need for any FastPasses at all. Brian will soon putting the combination of FP+ and Touring Plans through the paces. I’m eager to hear his reports.
Can different members of my party choose different FastPass+ reservations?
Yes. Each individual party member can select his/her own FP+ attractions. If the teens want to use their FP+ for just thrill rides, but grandma wants to use her FP+ for just shows, you can make that happen.
If your group want to use some FP+ together, personally I’d make those reservations first (to optimize the chance that they will be available) and then slot the non-group FP+ into your remaining availability.
Can I use both legacy FastPass and FastPass+?
For now, yes. Most guests using FP+ have also been able to use their paper/plastic park tickets or their Key to the World (room key) cards in the legacy FP machines. This does not impact FP+ use in any way. This effectively allows FP+ testers to double up on their FastPass use. However, all indications are that legacy FP machines will be going away at some point, so enjoy this while you can.
Can I change my FastPass+ reservation times?
Yes, pending availability.
At home, you can change your FP+ reservation on your home computer as many times as you want. You can also modify FP+ reservation on the fly using a smartphone or tablet in the park or at any of the in-park FP+ stations. I did this during a FP+ test visit in July and found the system to be quick to respond and easy to use.
But the big “if” with changing FP+ reservations is whether your desired attraction will have FP+ availability at another time. We’ll have to see if this becomes a challenge for guests.
What happens if I have a FastPass+ reservation and my reserved ride stops operating?
Yes, it happens, the WDW rides do sometimes stop operation for several hours due to unforeseen maintenance issues. When this has occurred some guests with pending FP+ reservations have been notified by email if their chosen ride goes down, meaning that they don’t have to walk all the way from Norway to see that Soarin’ has stopped flying. Nice! Guests are also being given the opportunity to select a replacement attraction with a non-specific return time. For example, if Soarin’ is down, the guest may be allowed to use a FP+ on Test Track at any time that day.
I’m excited about this feature. Previously if your FP attraction went down, you were out of luck, now it appears that there may be some form of restitution.
Which attractions are available for FastPass+?
For my upcoming trip at the end of September, I’m being offered the following attractions as FP+ selections:
Animal Kingdom – Dinosaur, Expedition Everest, Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo show, It’s Tough to Be a Bug, Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safari, Meet Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost, Primeval Whirl
Epcot – Captain EO, Journey into Imagination, Living with the Land, Maelstrom, Meet Disney Pals at the Character Spot, Mission Space, Soarin’, Spaceship Earth, Test Track, The Seas with Nemo, Turtle Talk with Crush.
Magic Kingdom – Big Thunder Mountain RR, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Dumbo, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Goofy’s Barnstormer, Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Jungle Cruise, Mad Tea Party, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Meet Ariel at Her Grotto, Meet Cinderella & A Friend at Princess Fairytale Hall, Meet Mickey Mouse at Town Square, Meet Rapunzel & A Friend at Princess Fairytale Hall, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, Under the Sea.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – MuppetVision 3D, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, Star Tours, Great Movie Ride, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania
At other times, guests have been offered FastPass+ to in-park parades and to shows such as Fantasmic.
There are some nice things about the selection process: The height requirement for each ride is listed at the selection point, so you are made aware not to choose an attraction for a child that is not tall enough to ride. (You can even sort attractions by height requirement.) Attractions under refurbishment are “grayed out” so that you can not select them. I was offered FP+ for Princess Fairytale Hall for dates after the attraction debut, even though Fairytale Hall is not currently open.
Is it wrong to use a FastPass+ for It’s a Small World?
As with most things Disney, I’m going to give my standard “it depends” answer. For many guests, Small World would be a sub-optimal use of a FastPass+. This attraction rarely has any line in the morning, and when there are lines in the afternoon they are often much, much shorter than other attractions including the similarly located Peter Pan. If you’re a thrill seeker, then the Mountains (and/or a good touring plan) are a better choice. If you’ve got young kids, Peter Pan, Dumbo, and character greetings might be better choices since this may all have longer waits than Small World.
That being said, for some people, a guaranteed no-wait ride on Small World might be the best part of their vacation. If that’s your child’s favorite ride in the whole world and you’re arriving late on a Crowd-Level-10 day, then taking the stress edge off by getting a Small World FP+ might be just the thing for you.
Does it always make sense to get a FastPass+ reservation?
Check out Brian’s article that I mentioned earlier. But in a word, no. Depending on the timing of your visit, you may be better off just using a touring plan. This is really no different than the situation with legacy FastPasses. Sometimes it’s better to standby wait for the ride, or just come back later, than roping yourself into a specific return time.
What are some advantages of using FastPass+?
- Good for teens or other guests who like to sleep late. Allows them to ride headliner attractions without getting up at the crack of dawn for rope drop.
- Allows you to avoid FastPass return times during meals, naps, or other planned activities.
- Removes stress for some guests who want a guarantee that they’ll be able to ride a favorite attraction.
- Allows parents of young children to set accurate expectations of when they’ll be able to experience a favorite attraction.
What are some disadvantages of using FastPass+?
- May be challenging/confusing for guests who are uncomfortable with technology/computers or who don’t have access to a computer or smart phone.
- May be challenging to coordinate the FastPass+ return times for a large group traveling together.
- Weather issues may cause you to make global changes to your touring strategy, making previously chosen FastPass+ choices obsolete.
- May cause the loss of some spontaneous vacation fun.
- Technology outages or low Wifi signals in the parks may make on-the-fly FP+ changes difficult.
Is there FastPass+ at Disneyland?
Not at this time.
When will FastPass+ be available to everyone at Walt Disney World?
We have no specific date for this. Sorry. We’ll keep you posted when we find out more.
UPDATE 9/16/13: Regarding linking multiple tickets to an MDX account …
Touring Plans stats guru Steve Bloom has looped me in on multiple problems he encountered during a recent WDW visit in the MagicBand test phase. He was using a mix of shorter term park tickets for park entrance over a longer stay. (Example, using a left over 2-day ticket and a new 3-day ticket to get five days of admission.) This would be no problem under the old paper ticket system, but MDX and the MagicBand had great difficulty when more than one ticket was linked to a single account. Hopefully this issue will be worked out in the near future, but for now you may want to only link one ticket for each guest, possibly adding the second (or third, etc.) ticket mid-stay, after the first ticket has been completely consumed. Let us know if you encounter a situation similar to this and what your experience was.
UPDATE 9/17/13: More guests are being invited to test.
We’re hearing reports that the list of resorts included in the test has expanded. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World this fall, your best bet is to periodically check the MyDisneyExperience section of the disneyworld.com website. You may find an unexpected invitation waiting for you there.
I’ll be doing more testing during the last week of September. Keep the questions coming and I’ll see what else I can uncover about the new FastPass+ product.