Do Fast Passes Really Save Time at Disney?


This may be one of the best pieces of information a first-time traveler to Walt Disney World needs to be aware of for most effective planning.  I feel so sorry for visitors who clearly decided to go to Disney yesterday, purchased their tickets, have no idea where anything is and certainly have no plan in place or fast passes reserved for the day.  While they may have a nice day, it may not include everything they wanted to do simply because they were uninformed as to how to reserve fast passes or choose which attraction to do when.

Example of FastPass vs No FastPass Wait Time

Overview of Fast Passes and How They Work

Here’s a quick overview of how Fast Passes work. In order to monitor crowd levels and flow, Disney allows visitors to reserve up to three Fast Passes a day.  A Fast Pass is a window of time (usually an hour) that you can arrive at the ride and enter the Fast Pass Line bypassing the walk-up line.  In the early years, it was an actual paper pass, and occasionally still can be, but by and large the Fast Pass system now operates through your Magic Band if you are staying on site or your “My Disney Experience” App.

The My Disney Experience App and Why You Want It

You can reserve your initial fast passes for a certain attraction in a certain park on a certain day online as early at 60 days in advance of your visit if you stay onsite, or 30 days in advance otherwise, as long as you have purchased your tickets and linked them to your “My Disney Experience” App. Your entire family will be entered and you will be reserving FP’s for each individual.  Sometimes families split up for experiences of interest due to certain ages or requirements and that is a great functionality!
Click to Download My Disney Experience App

Click to Download My Disney Experience App

The attractions and/or shows are divided into several “tiers” based on popularity.  You can only reserve one FP for a Tier One ride at a time.  A little-known fact is that after your three reserved FP’s are used, you can continue to reserve one FP at a time until your day is over.  Also, you can modify if plans change or pick up new passes at kiosks inside the parks if you want a cast member’s help.

Once you have your three FP’s for the day, it gives you a framework around which to best organize your day significantly reducing your time waiting in line for the most popular of attractions.  Even if you don’t get the time you want, you will still save time in the long run! Bonus hints: going the opposite direction of the crowds will also save you time! Not eating meals at “traditional” mealtime will save you a TON of time!

What If I Purchased My Tickets 10 Days Ago, Am I Out of Luck Getting Fast Passes?

Absolutely NOT! Plans change.  FPs are canceled and picked up every single day! Being flexible, as you obviously are, will benefit you as you can pick up whatever comes available! That’s a fun adventure too! Every FP you can to take advantage of will save you valuable touring time!