9 Easy Steps to Making Perfect FastPass Reservations
Updated: Apr 8, 2020
It’s an exciting time for the Wildish family. Not only is it officially the holiday season, but our big family Disney World trip is just around the corner. Woo hoo!
We don’t leave till the end of January, but because we are staying onsite at a Disney World resort our FastPass+ reservation window is opening soon. It’s one of my favorite planning stages in the whole vacation planning process!
I am not one of those people that like to plan every minute of our Disney vacations. I think that only leads to burnout, disappointment, and exhaustion. There is something magical about seeing where the day takes you and going with the flow when you are on a Disney vacation.
But there are things that require pre-planning in order to have successful Disney World vacation, and FastPass planning is one of them.
You don’t want to just look through the list of options at the last minute either, picking the three that sounds good at the time. This is especially a big not to do when you are traveling with kids.
But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming either. Here are the steps I take when planning my family’s FastPass+ reservations. Follow these easy steps and you’ll be super prepared come your FastPass+ reservation booking window.
Step 1: Determine Which Parks You Are Visiting On Which Days & Your FastPass Strategy
Do you have a Park Hopper ticket? Are you just going to one park per day? What are the park hours for those days? Figure this out now, because it will affect your FastPass planning strategy.
I plug all this information in my handy Disney Itinerary planning worksheet, which you can grab for yourself here.
What should your FastPass planning strategy be now that you’ve figured out what parks you are going to on which day?
If you are doing just one park per day, I recommend trying to get all your advanced FastPass+ reservations for between 11am and 3pm. This way you can take advantage of the shorter lines in the morning, thus not wasting a FastPass.
Once you use all your advanced FastPasses, you can start grabbing more through the Disney World app and your MDE account. The earlier you use all your advanced FastPasses, the more time you’ll have to grab more and potentially get on more rides that day.
If you are park hopping, I recommend making all your FastPass reservations for the park you’ll be visiting in the afternoon and evening. Take advantage of the shorter wait times in the early hours of the first park you are visiting. Then you’ll have the FastPasses when its more crowded in the afternoon of the other park.
Step 2: Chart What Other Reservations You Already Have
Next, I plug any other reservations I’ve already made into that same itinerary planner. This includes my table service restaurant reservations, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Pirates League reservations, etc.
I also plug in the showtimes for any of the shows I want to make sure to catch. Want to make sure you catch the Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom? Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios? Plug those all into the planner.
This way you won’t inadvertently book a FastPass that overlaps with one of these other items.
Pro Tip: Note the locations of these reservations as well. You don't want to have to run from one side of the park to the other to get to your reservation.
Step 3: Figure Out How Tall Your Children Are
Certain rides have height requirements. Make sure you know how tall your child is and what the height requirements are for the rides you want to go on. Then you won’t inadvertently get a FastPass for your child for a ride your child can’t even go on.
Pro Tip: Even if your child is too short to ride, mom and dad can still go on the ride using rider switch. Keep this in mind when planning your advanced FastPass reservations.
I also recommend doing some extra homework here, and the weeks leading up to your FastPass reservation window start watching the Disney World rides with your kids on YouTube. You’ll be able to get a feel for what they can and cannot handle and plan your FastPass+ reservation wish list accordingly.
Plus, it’s a great way to get your kids involved in the Disney World vacation planning process and start getting then pumped up for the trip!
Step 4: Note the Ride Tiers
With the exception of Magic Kingdom, the FastPass rides at the parks are divided up into tiers. You can pick one ride from the top tier and two from the second tier when making your advanced FastPass+ reservations.
Make sure you know which rides are on which tier so you can plan your wish list accordingly.
Step 5: Make Your Ride Wish List
Now the fun part! Make your wish or priority list of the rides you want to get your advanced FastPasses for, along with the approximate times you hope to get them for.
It's a good idea here to look up what, if any, attractions will be closed for refurbishment during your stay so you can leave them off your wish list.
Also, remember that pro tip from step 2? Applies here as well. It's a good idea to consult the park maps when making your list, which you can do easily in the MDE app. Disney is exhausting on its own, you don't want to make it worse by running yourself ragged running big distances between attractions.
I use my handy Disney World FastPass Reservation planner to chart all this out. You can get your own copy of this planner for free here.
Pro tip: Consider the weather when planning your FastPass reservation wish list. If riding Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids is on your list for the day, book your FastPass for when it will be the warmest part of the day. If the weather will be generally cool, don't bother with getting an advanced FastPass for it as the lines will be short.
Step 6: Put Your FastPass Reservation Day in Your Calendar with a Reminder
You can start making FastPass reservations starting at 7am eastern time on the day your reservation window opens. If you are staying on property, your window begins 60 days prior to check in, and you can make your FastPasses for your entire length of stay.
If you are staying off property, your reservation window opens 30 days in advance of when you plan to be at that park, and you can only make one days’ worth of reservations at a time. So if you are visiting the parks for 5 days start on May 1st, for example, you can make your FastPass reservations for May 1st on April 1st, your FastPass reservations for May 2nd on April 2nd, etc.
Pro tip: This booking window and being able to make your FastPass reservations for your entire length of stay is one of the biggest perks to staying at a Disney World Resort property.
Make sure you put your date and time into your calendar with a reminder. You don’t want to forget!
Oh, and it goes without saying but make sure you have purchased your tickets and linked them to your My Disney Experience account as beforehand.
Step 7: Make Your Reservations in Order of Popularity
The day has arrived and it’s time to make your selections. Woo hoo! Your tickets are linked to your MDE and you are up early to make your selections. Since you’ve done your homework and have your wish list in hand, this will be a quick and easy task.
If you are staying on property your instinct may be to do them by day and start with day one. I highly advise against this approach. Instead, make your selections based on popularity, not by date.
Why? Many of the most popular FastPass reservations will go quickly, especially for Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash and 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. If any of these are on your must-do list, you’ll want to grab these first regardless of what day you are hitting that park.
For example, say you want to ride Flight of Passage and Animal Kingdom is the last park you’ll visit on your trip. Even though it’s the last park day of your trip, make that reservation first. If you wait to make that reservation it could be all gone by the time you get to it.
That’s also a big reason you want to put a reminder in your calendar and be on your computer right at 7am ET on your booking window opening day. If you don’t, you might miss out on those more popular rides.
Step 8: Enter Your Reservations Into Your Overall Daily Scheduler
Now that your reservations are made, plug them into your Disney daily itinerary planner. Now you have the roadmap for your Disney vacation all set!
Step 9: Go On Vacation And Have Fun!
All your reservations are made and it’s time to go on vacation. Insert happy dance.
Pro tip: Each morning before you head to the parks open up your MDE app, hit the three-line icon on the bottom right of the screen, and choose “My Plans.” Screenshot that day’s reservations and save it as your phone’s home or lock screen. Then you can refer to it during the day without unlocking your phone and wasting precious phone battery. You’ll also still be able to refer to it if the app goes down or has technical issues at any point of the day.
If you are like most people, there were several rides you couldn’t get an advance FastPass+ for, but still want to make sure to ride. Plan on how you will go on these rides. Rope drop? Get in line at the end of the night? Stalk the FastPass app during the day? All great options!
And if you planned smartly, you’ll have lots of downtime in between dining and FastPass reservations to go with the flow and see where the magic of Disney takes you that day.
Because experiencing all that magic is the real reason why we love going there so much in the first place.
I am a travel agent with Magical Vacation Planner and can help you plan an unforgettable vacation with your family. Email me, head to my Facebook page, submit a quote request, or set up time to chat if you’d like to start planning your magical vacation.