Your FastPass+ Priorities at Epcot

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Spaceship-Earth

A small ceremony at Leave A Legacy in Future World Plaza marks the end of FASTPASS.

Epcot begins exclusive use of FastPass+ on Thursday, marking the official end of the original FASTPASS system at Walt Disney World. We think it would be appropriate tomorrow to recognize the occasion.

We’ve updated of our Epcot touring plans to use only FastPass+. Each plan now lists the suggested FastPass+ start times for the attractions that will save you the most time in line, like this:

Suggested start times for FastPass+ reservations:

Mission: SPACE (Orange) = 9 AM
Soarin’ = 10 AM
Spaceship Earth = 11 AM

The updated plans are very efficient, with the average wait in line under 9 minutes per attraction on most plans. In fact, because the plans are so efficient, we’ve added Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure and other attractions to many of the plans for teens and adults. (We also really like the game.) And some touring plans only use 2 of the 3 FastPass+ reservations you’re given each day, which means you have 1 more to revisit a favorite attraction (that you’ve not already used FastPass+ on that day) or try a new ride.

When we updated the plans, we kept track of how many times each attraction was identified as needing FastPass+. As we did for the Magic Kingdom’s FastPass+ priorities, here’s Epcot’s chart:

Epcot Fastpass Plus Chart

Epcot offers FastPass+ for 13 different experiences, and it was a little surprising to see that FastPass+ was useful in at at least some circumstances in more than half of the attractions. Read on for a detailed explanation of why these attractions show up most frequently in our Epcot touring plans.

Epcot’s Tiered FastPass+ Attractions and Their Impact on Touring Plan Strategy

The first thing to note about Epcot is that its FastPass+ attractions, like the Fastpass+ attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, are grouped (or “tiered”), and Disney limits how many FastPass+ reservations you can make for each group. Here’s the tiering:

Group A (Choose 1 attraction)

Epcot Character Spot
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
Maelstrom
Soarin’
Test Track

Group B (Choose 2 attractions)

Captain EO
Journey Into Imagination With Figment
Living with the Land
Mission: SPACE Green
Mission: SPACE Orange
Spaceship Earth
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Turtle Talk with Crush

A lot of our Epcot touring strategy is dictated by the first group, which includes both Soarin’ and Test Track. Since you can’t get FastPass+ reservations for both, the basic strategy is to visit one as the first step in a touring plan, and then use FastPass+ for the other.

Another thing that affects an Epcot touring plan is that Sum of All Thrills, where you design and ride your own virtual roller coaster, does not participate in FastPass+. (Probably because its can handle only a few hundred guests per hour, so it doesn’t have enough capacity to allocate to reservations.) Sum of All Thrills appears on our ‘tween, teen and adult touring plans. Sum of All Thrills is in Innoventions East, near Test Track and Mission: SPACE, so our one-day touring plan for adults avoids the capacity constraints at Sum of All Thrills by putting it as the fourth step of the day, in between FastPass+ reservations for Test Track and Mission: SPACE:

Adult 1-Day Touring Plan for Epcot

1. Soarin’
2. Living with the Land
3. Test Track – make FastPass+ reservation for 9:15 AM to 10:15 AM
4. Sum of All Thrills
5. Mission: SPACE (Orange) – make FastPass+ reservation for 10:15 AM to 11:15 AM

You should get to Test Track in the second half of your one-hour FastPass+ time window. By the time you’ve finished Test Track and been through Sum of All Thrills, your FastPass+ window for Mission: SPACE (Orange) will have started, and it’s a short walk from Innoventions East. So this strategy saves you both time in line and walking.

Why FastPass+ Is Recommended More At Soarin’ Than Test Track

You’ll notice that our touring plan software recommends FastPass+ for Soarin’ more than twice as often as Test Track. Both have 40″ height requirements, but Test Track is a more harsh ride, with sudden stops, turns and acceleration. For that reason, Test Track doesn’t appear on many of our touring plans for parents with small children or our touring plans for seniors, and it doesn’t appear as often in the chart above.

The second reason is that Test Track has a single rider line, but Soarin’ does not. Test Track’s single-rider wait times are typically less than half of the standby wait times. If you’re willing to have your group ride separately, Test Track’s single rider line is a good way to mitigate its standby waits.

Attractions That Never Need FastPass+ In Our Epcot Touring Plans

These Epcot attractions never require FastPass+ in our touring plans:

Captain EO
Journey Into Imagination with Figment
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
Epcot Character Spot
Mission: SPACE (Green)

Waits for Captain EO and Imagination are almost always under 10 minutes, so they’re not a good use of FastPass+. Similarly, the waits for the non-spinning Mission: SPACE (Green) are almost always lower than the spinning (Orange); the spinning version is more popular and that’s what we have in our touring plans.

IllumiNations is more popular, and FastPass+ gets you into a special viewing area for the show. But there are so many other good viewing spots along World Showcase Lagoon that it’s difficult to recommend FastPass+ for IllumiNations, when the consequence is an hour-long wait at either Soarin’ or Test Track.

Finally, the Epcot Character Spot doesn’t require FastPass+ in our touring plans for parents with small children. Because you can get a FastPass+ for Soarin’ (if your children are old enough), and because Test Track and Mission: SPACE aren’t on our plans because of their intensity and height requirements, our touring plan software usually puts the Epcot Character Spot as one of the first steps in your touring plan.

The Best Times for FastPass+ Reservations at Epcot

Now that you know which attractions most need FastPass+, the next question is when you should make your FastPass+ reservations. Here’s a chart showing the times our Epcot touring plans use FastPass+ to avoid long lines (yellow=morning times, orange=afternoon):

Epcot FastpassPlus Suggested Times

Another thing worth noticing is that the average FastPass+ reservation time is before 1:30 PM in our touring plans. Every FastPass+ ride except Norway’s Maelstrom is in Future World, and World Showcase doesn’t open until 11 AM. This, coupled with typical guest arrival patterns at Epcot, means that crowds will be concentrated in Future World through early afternoon.

What To Do If You Have Other FastPass+ Attractions or Times

If you can get a FastPass+ reservation for the attractions shown, anywhere near the times listed, the touring plans will work exactly as shown, and your waits in line will be minimized. If you need to choose other FastPass+ attractions or times, our free computer-optimized touring plan software will incorporated those.

Here’s the process I usually follow to create an optimal Epcot touring plan with low waits in line:

  1. Select all of the attractions I want to visit during the day, and enter in all of the meals and breaks I want to take. I don’t enter any FastPass+ times at this step, because I first want to see what the Optimizer identifies as the attractions with potentially long waits.
  2. Click the “Optimize” button and wait for the touring plan to be optimized.
  3. Find the first attraction with a wait over 30 minutes, and see if a FastPass+ reservation is available for that attraction around that time. If I find one, I enter in the FastPass+ time that’s available, and re-optimize the plan.
  4. I repeat Step 3 for the two FastPass+ eligible attractions with the highest wait times throughout the day. I re-optimize the plan after each attraction, because saving a bunch of time on one attraction may allow the Optimizer to uncover other ways to save you time throughout the day.

I’ll also manually re-arrange some of the World Showcase steps in a plan, especially if they’re not automatically oriented into a clockwise- or counter-clockwise tour. The folks in our Lines Chat forum are especially helpful in making suggestions for efficient touring plans too.

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Posted on January 22, 2014

23 Responses to “Your FastPass+ Priorities at Epcot”

  • Love the photo!

  • I will say the viewing area for Illuminations is perfect for viewing the show. You’re in the spot where everything is centered with one of the launching points for the panoramic fireworks directly in front of you. If you don’t mind skipping Soarin (which has gotten a little stale for me) and are willing to do a single-rider line at test track, this is a great option.

  • Len, I’m surprised that Spaceship Earth is such a popular choice for FP. It rarely has a wait when I’m walking past it.
    Perhaps the driver here is that it’s at the end of the park, so walking to and from during the middle and later parts of the day is inconvenient.

  • Len,

    Thanks for all four of these articles. I can’t wait to try out the new plans.
    It sounds like that with the addition of FP+ you were able to make many the touring plans more efficient, and even add attractions to some. Would it be safe to say that FP+ makes using a touring plan better than legacy FP did? (Once all the bugs get worked out of course)

    • Thanks Scott! I think FP+ will be a benefit to Disney resort guests in general, and late-sleeping Disney resort guests specifically. I’m doing a blog post on this now, but I can totally see why Disney wants to make the theme park experience better for them.

      Off-site guests without APs will fare worse. But Disney’s addressing the largest segment of its big-spending guests, so again, I see it.

      • I think one of the main benefits of FP+ will be the capacity to enhance your park hopping, as you will be able to use your FPs for the second park immediately upon arrival (where this was not possible with the legacy FPs). It would be interesting to see have optimized touring plans for arrivals later in the day.

  • Len:
    You say:

    “And some touring plans only use 2 of the 3 FastPass+ reservations you’re given each day, which means you have 1 more to revisit a favorite attraction or try a new ride.”

    I was under the impression that you could not use two of your three FastPass+ selections on the same ride. This was certainly true when we were there in October. Has this changed?

    Cheers,
    –Lee

  • RIP Beloved FASTPASS. Those who knew you well will miss you most… (Sniff)

  • On another note, these blog posts have been extremely helpful and reassuring as I plan my family’s first visit to The World with FPPlus. Thank you so much for the tips and data!

  • Is there a way to customize a personalized touring plan to use the single rider line? If I decide to use the single rider line for Test Track, how do I let the Optimize and Evaluate functions know that I plan to do that?

  • How do you let the system know that you intend to use the single-rider line? If I plan on using the single-rider line for Test Track, how do I evaluate and optimize my personalized plan to take that into account?

  • Sorry for the double-post.

  • Can you please advise on which kiosks in Epcot are least congested for booking same day fastpass+ ?

  • We are going in 2 weeks and just bought your book and a subscription to your site – we booked an off-site room before we learned anything about this fastpass+ change. Are we stuck? How do we follow the plans without access to FP+?

    • All guests have access to FP+ as of today! The only difference is that offsite guests must use an in-park kiosk to make their reservations on the day of, instead of using the smartphone app in advance.

      • Thanks Seth – Where does the in-park kiosk factor into touring plans? We are early birds and will get there at rope drop. Do we go straight to the kiosk or to ride #1? Do you think the kiosk lines will be long?

  • I saw a picture of toy story mid way mania and instead of fast pass it said it was now a single rider line too! Any confirmation on this?

  • I’ve been to WDW about 7 times in my life.
    Every time I have gone I have gone to Epcot.
    Not one of those times did I notice Spaceship Earth having a line of any significance at all. And the times I have gone on it, it took me longer to walk to the ride itself than I spend standing in line.
    Why on earth is this a FP+ ride?