FastPass+

Disney World Planning Challenges: Tough-to-Get Reservations—From FastPass+ to Dining

by on September 17, 2014

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Sign. Photo by Katie McNair

Photo by Katie McNair

Even with lots of research, some aspects of a Walt Disney World vacation are—let’s just say—resistant to planning. In fact, they can seem like downright mysteries to first-time vacationers and expert Disney World planners alike. A major challenge when planning a Disney World vacation is successfully reserving tough-to-get experiences that become available for booking at unpredictable times initially, book up extremely quickly, or both. Although there is no surefire way to snag these reservations, there are some ways to improve your chances.

First, though, it can be helpful for you to have a bit of background on the experiences that have given or are currently giving planners the most difficulty.

Hard-to-Get Reservations

Photo by Sarah Graffam

Photo by Sarah Graffam

Currently topping the list of difficult-to-get reservations are FastPass+ reservations for Meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom. In addition, obtaining reservations at Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant can be a real challenge.

Experiences that have proven difficult for guests to book in the past and that can still present a challenge in some cases include FastPass+ for popular rides like Epcot’s Soarin’ and Test Track as well as Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, FastPass+ for parades and nighttime shows, FastPass+ for shows at special events such as Star Wars Weekends, reservations for the Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package, reservations at Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party, and, the original most-difficult-to-get reservation, dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant.

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Day-Of FastPass+ Availability at Walt Disney World

by on September 16, 2014

Getting a “Fourth” FastPass+ (and Beyond)

One of the first changes to the FastPass+ program was the ability to make more  FastPass+ selections after using your first set of advance reservations. Besides being able to get more FastPasses, this lets you get FastPass+ options that may not have been available to you previously. (For example, the advance FastPass “tiering” rules at Epcot and the Studios aren’t in effect for your 4th FastPass+ selection and beyond, nor is the once-per-attraction restriction.)

This means you have to choose a strategy. The two most common options are:

  1. Book your advance FastPass+ reservations early in the day and have more time for “extra” FastPass+ selections,
  2. Schedule your advance FastPass+ reservations during the busiest time of the day and use the standby lines early in the day, when the wait times are lower

To make this choice, it helps to know each attraction’s day-of FastPass+ availability.

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Observations: June 17, 2014: A Magical Evening

by on June 23, 2014

I hope you’re ready for a magical evening, because earlier this week the rain finally stopped, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the Magic Kingdom! Before we get started I wanted to remind everyone that the new monorail schedule goes into effect in just a few days. Be sure to check it out.

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Actually, maybe the monorails not being around isn’t such a bad thing because it took me almost 40 minutes to get from the parking lot over to the Magic Kingdom gates. I can’t complain, because I did end up in the most magical place on Earth, but I would’ve liked to have been there earlier than 8pm! In any case, you can see this time of year I had plenty of sunlight left to take photos for you. :)

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FastPass+ Is Lowering Your Wait at Popular Disney World Rides

by on June 23, 2014

In April we took at look at How FastPass+ Is Affecting Your Wait In Line At Disney World. We saw a small increase in standby wait times for secondary attractions like Spaceship Earth and Pirates of the Caribbean, and a small drop in standby wait times for super-headliners like Space Mountain and Expedition Everest.

Here’s an update, using 278,000 wait times from Walt Disney World between February 1 and June 19, 2014:

How Fastpass+ Affects Your Waits in Line

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How Changes to Epcot’s FastPass+ Tiers Affect You

by on June 13, 2014

t_logo_fbOn June 16, Epcot’s Living with the Land will join Soarin’, Test Track, and IllumiNations as Tier 1 FastPass+ attractions. (Living with the Land was previously a Tier 2 attraction). Guests making advance FastPass+ reservations will be able to choose one of these attractions before arriving at the park. (You’ll be able to get more FastPass+ reservations from any tier once you’re in the park and have used your set of advance Fastpass+ reservations.)

Also, the Epcot Character Spot and Maelstrom will move from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

Here’s the complete lineup of Epcot FastPass+ Tiers:

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How Changes to Hollywood Studios’ FastPass+ Tiers Affects You

by on June 12, 2014

t_logo_fbOn June 16, Hollywood Studios’ Great Movie Ride will join Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Beauty and the Beast, and Fantasmic! as Tier 1 FastPass+ attractions. Guests making advance FastPass+ reservations will be able to choose one of these attractions before arriving at the park. Guests making advance FastPass+ reservations will still be able to select 2 attractions from the Studios’ remaining Tier 2 FastPass+ attractions.

Great Movie Ride was a Tier 2 FastPass+ attraction before June 16, 2014, and we’ve been getting two questions about this change:

  • How does this affect our Hollywood Studios touring plans?
  • What are my FastPass+ priorities at the Studios now?

Effect on Studios Touring Plans

Only 2 of our 15 Hollywood Studios itineraries required changes to accommodate Great Movie Ride: the standard 1-Day Studios Plan for Parents with Small Children, the Holiday 1-Day Plan for Parents with Small Children, and the Happy Family touring plan for multi-generational families. On these 3 plans, the touring plan software either moved Great Movie Ride to slightly earlier in the day, when crowds haven’t yet built, or to around 2 PM when there’s an afternoon lull at the ride.

With these updated touring plans, your average wait time for rides will be well under 15 minutes. In fact, your longest wait of the day is likely to be at Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, somewhere around 17 to 20 minutes.

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Disney Changes FastPass+ Tiers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot

by on June 10, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Disney is still constantly tweaking FastPass+ selections that are available for guests, and a brand new tweak is currently on the horizon. Beginning Monday, June 16, Disney will change up the tiers of attractions available for guests at both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here is a look at what will be affected.

At Epcot, originally, Living With the Land was a Tier 2 attraction, while the Epcot Character Spot and Maelstrom were Tier 1 options.

Beginning June 16, Epcot’s tier system will be as follows:

Tier 1 (Choose One)

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Wishes: Is It Worth Your FastPass+?

by on June 10, 2014

IMG_4438Last week I visited Epcot to find out if IllumiNations is worth your FastPass+. This week I thought I’d share some information about the Wishes FastPass+ viewing. Obviously, this is one of the hottest FastPass+ options in all four parks, often not even showing available 30 days in advance. The viewing location is in the Rose Garden and gives guests enough room to comfortably spread out and sit in the grass. If you’re lucky enough to score this viewing spot, then you’ll be able to also watch Celebrate The Magic from here. Without a doubt this option will get you the best view while waiting the least amount of time for the show.

However, if you check out the photo to the left you can see the view from the Rose Garden is slightly obstructed and off to one side. I’m not saying this is a bad view at all, but I don’t know that it’s worth tying up your 3rd FastPass+ all day long. What if I told you there was a less popular FastPass+ that would give you an even better view?

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Observations: June 1, 2014 Lion King Reopening

by on June 5, 2014

Jambo, Everyone! Welcome to our look at the very blustery opening day of the Festival of the Lion King. When FastPass+ were released just a couple days before, I jumped at the chance to see this show return after a six month closure. Unfortunately, I was only able to reserve the last show of the day. Around 1pm I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to head to the park and attempt to get into the 2pm show through the standby line, even though it was drizzling outside. The new theater looks great and fits in perfectly with the rest of Harambe.

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I arrived at the theater at 1:45pm and hopped in the line. It wasn’t as long as I’d expected, but I noticed people were only trickling in a few at a time. When I was closer to the podium, I was advised that only standing room was available for the show. I didn’t remember this from the old theater, so I decided to check it out for you guys. Basically, Disney is allowing guests to stand on the staircases around the seating areas and at the very back of the theater. I was pushed off to one side, so my photos didn’t turn out at all. The below photo will give you an idea what this view is like. Full disclosure: this is an older photo from the previous theater.

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Opening Day Observations

by on June 2, 2014

Seven Dwarfs mine train observations

All aboard the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at WDW’s Magic Kingdom (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Unless you’ve been living underneath a magical gem mine for the past month, you’ve probably heard about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction that opened on May 28, 2014, at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Len Testa’s review of the ride does a thorough job of explaining why we feel this family-friendly roller-coaster is worthy of 3½ stars. I accompanied Len on a soft-opening preview of Fantasyland’s newest ride during the 24 hour “Rock Your Disney Side” party, and returned on opening day to experience the ride during official operations. Here are some Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opening day observations that may make your visit more “heigh-ho” and less “poison apple.”

 

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Standby Queue

The queue area around the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is lovingly sculpted and landscaped, but unfortunately there isn’t quite enough of it. The standby line runs out of the entrance (across from Storybook Treats snack stand) and stretches along the sidewalk towards Storybook Circus. When I stepped into the queue near the Mad Tea Party, the wait time was 75 minutes, according the portable wait sign held by a cast member marking the end of the line. However, by the time I reached the actual queue entrance, the wait was posted at 110 minutes, which proved much closer to my actual 100 minute wait.

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