Walt Disney World regulars rejoiced last week, as the rollout of advance reservation FastPass+ features finally reached all WDW annual passholders. That means that all Disney World annual passholders should be able to access the My Disney Experience website or mobile app and make FastPass+ bookings up to 30 days ahead of time. Previously, I shared my experiences using FastPass+ as an annual passholder making same-day reservations using in-park kiosks, as off-site guests still must do (at least for now). Now, I’m going to detail my personal adventures with week #1 of Annual Passholder advance FastPass+ reservations.
Getting Started with Annual Passholder Advance FastPass+
First of all, if you haven’t already, log into MyDisneyExperience.com and set up an account. Be sure to link your account to your valid annual pass using the ID number on the back of your pass, or voucher number if you have not yet redeemed an online purchase.
Next, visit the Magic Band page to customize your RFID wristband. You can select a color and name, verify your shipping address, and receive confirmation that your order has been received.
According to the webpage, Magic Bands should start shipping to annual passholders shortly.
Until your Magic Band arrives, you can continue to use your RFID-enabled credit-card-sized annual pass to enter the parks and activate FastPass+ sensors.
If you carry a smartphone in the parks, be sure to download the Apple or Android app. The iPad app is probably the most efficient platform for scheduling and adjusting FastPass+ reservations, but the website and phone apps work fairly well.
Making Advance FastPass+ Reservations
As we’ve covered before, making annual passholder advance FastPass+ reservations though My Disney Experience works exactly the same as it does for guests staying in onsite hotels. The only difference is that annual passholders who do not have a current hotel reservation may only book 7 days of advance FastPass+ reservations at a time, out of the next 30 days. That is based on a rolling 30 day calendar, so if you wanted you could make a new reservation every day, up to a total of 7 booked days at a time. (If you have a hotel reservation number tied to your account, you can reserve FastPass+ for as many days as you have booked in the hotel within a 60 day window).
Here’s a visual example, showing how I selected my first few days of FastPass+ reservations:
Day 1: Epcot FastPass+
My first first-hand annual passholder advance FastPass+ experience occured on Thursday afternoon at Epcot. I arrived around 1:00 p.m. and was parked in the the next-to-last spot in the next-to-last row, thanks to a healthy crowd for the newly-opened 2014 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.
The first sight I encountered after passing under Spaceship Earth was the epic double-sided queue that has been erected for the FastPass+ kiosks located around the central pin-trading station between the two Innovention wings.
The line seemed to be moving well, thanks to an overwhelming number of tablet-wielding cast members. But you still may want to seek out the less-visible kiosk clusters located in each Innovention breezeway. Better yet, the FastPass+ kiosks in World Showcase always seem relatively uncrowded, likely because there are barely any attractions that offer FastPass+ in that half of the park.
My first stop was The Land, where I used my Soarin’ FastPass+ to soar past a 120 minute posted standby wait in only 8 minutes (including the video preshow).
I haven’t experienced this attraction at Epcot in years, because I’m generally unwilling to sprint for a FastPass at rope drop. FastPass+ changes all that, since I can now sleep in and still ride without an interminable wait. Sadly, the film used in Epcot’s Soarin’ attraction is now so badly scractched (even compared to its less-than-pristine cousin in Disney California Adventure) that I can’t see myself returning until the massive vertical streaks marring the image are removed.
After Soarin’, I sat in on a showing of Captain EO (always assuming it will be retired before I return to the park), followed by a short stroll past some of the Flower and Garden displays.
Incidentally, the best part of this year’s festival is easily the expanded eats, with additional “outdoor kitchen” vending stand turning the even into a mini-Food & Wine Festival.
From the Buttercup Cottage near the UK Pavilion, I liked the pastry-wrapped pork and apple sausage roll, but loved the chese biscuit stuffed with smoked salmon tartare! Even better, I had Off Kilter to serenade me while I ate.
Another delicious discovery was the ghost pepper-dusted tilapia from the Urban Farm Eats stand. The shockingly large slice of fish wasn’t quite as scorching as its name would suggest, but it still packed a mouth-tingling kick.
Next, I considered hopping in Test Track‘s single rider queue, but 40 minutes was longer than I’d like to wait for it — especially considering the similar but superior Radiator Springs Racers usualy moves singles through in 20 to 30 minutes.
At this point, it was time to use my second FastPass+ at Mission: SPACE. It was a less efficient experience than Soarin’, because a “brief technical delay” (read: upset stomach) temporarily halted the Orange Team queue and extended my total wait to about 25 minutes, nearly the orginal posted standby.
After my expedition to the red planet, I was ready to ride the big silver one. Spaceship Earth had a 20 minute posted standby, but I was seated in my time machine in about a tenth that time.
Unfortunately, another unexpected delay halted my Judi Dench-guided journey, stranding me with the alphabet-inventing Phonecians for a quarter hour or so. It’s probably my fault for forgetting to thank them…
By the time I emerged, a substantial line had backed up in both the standby and FastPass+ Return queues. This can happen whenever there is a breakdown, but remember that you can adjust your return window at any time up until you active the FastPass+ sensor. If the return queue is congested, check your My Disney Experience app for an alternate time slot, if still available.
Even with my unexpectedly extended stay in the ancient era, I still departed Epcot by 4:30 p.m. In under 3 1/2 hours inside the park, I experienced four attractions, saw some live entertainment and festival decor, and ate lunch. While I have done the same in the past under the old FastPass, I would never have been able to ride Soarin’ at all under this scenario before having annual passholder advance FastPass+ reservation abilities.
Tune in soon for more thrilling tales of my annual passholder advance FastPass+ adventures at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom!