The number one mistake that I see by people who have never been to Disney before is going with no plans. Disney is not a regular vacation, and it requires lots of research and plans made ahead of time. You can go with no plans, and since I have been many times I feel comfortable doing that more now, but for first-timers doing research and planning properly is the best way to enjoy it and get the most out of your money.
I will be discussing the best rides to FastPass for your Walt Disney World Vacation, and explaining the FastPass system, to make this article useful for those who have never used the system before. It seems complicated at first, but I promise you planning a trip to Disney is actually fairly simple!
The FastPass system was introduced to help make your vacation more enjoyable by cutting down on some of your wait times. The most important thing to note is that you will still have to wait for things. Plan for that. Accept it. But with proper use of the system, and making reservations as soon as possible, you can avoid some of the longest waits in Disney.
Those who are staying at a Walt Disney World resort can make FastPasses 60 days in advance. FastPasses are released at 8 AM. I like to set a reminder for 60 days in advanced for all the days that I’ll be there at 7:50 AM, so I am prepared to fight for the FastPasses that I want. Those who are not staying at a Walt Disney World resort can make them 30 days in advanced, and still have a fair shot, as they save FastPasses for those guests as well for the all the big rides. So don’t worry, you still have a fair shot at snagging a FastPass for Avatar Flight of Passage.
You can make up to 3 FastPasses a day in one park only. So when you are planning, even if you are going to park hop, my suggestion is to make 3 early in the morning for one park. Once you use the 3 in the one park, you can hop over to any park, and make one from there. You can do so on the My Disney Experience app, or on one of the handy kiosks around the park. Once you use that one, you can make another one at that park or a different park, and so-on. Essentially, you can add one at a time in the same park or any park from there.
Here is where it sounds complicated, but it isn’t that bad. Each park has a selection of rides that you can only make one FastPass for. For example, at Epcot, you cannot FastPass Frozen Ever After and Test Track. That is because the biggest rides in every park with the longest waits they try and make fair. You can try and snag one once your 3 are gone, but unfortunately that can be unlikely. You just have to make the decision, if you are going to that park for one day, which ride you want to FastPass in those categories, and which you want to wait for.
Once you select your “big” ride, everything else is in the “regular” category so you can select the other 2 from there. That’s it! That is how the system works. Simple, right? So now here are my suggestions for the best rides to try to FastPass at each park. Everyone has different opinions depending on what types of rides you like, but this is what I tend to do every time I go.
At Magic Kingdom they do not have a special selection category, but in my opinion the top two waits at this park tend to be Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I tend to go for Peter Pan’s Flight first. This is one of the original attractions at Walt Disney World, and typically has no shorter than a 45-minute wait. Some may think it is not worth it, but it is just a classic and is so cute!
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is not worth it in my opinion. If I can get a FastPass, I usually snag it, but it is a 90 second coaster that has a ridiculous wait time. It has been open for almost 5 years now; I thought the hype would die down by now. I will never wait longer than 20 minutes for this attraction, and if the wait is longer than that (which it is) I will not ride it without a FastPass and can happily enjoy a trip to Magic Kingdom without riding it.
I prefer to use my FastPasses on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. These are 3 of my favorite attractions on property, with Splash being my second favorite attraction of all time. I have a sticker on my laptop that says “the mountains are calling” and has Space, Splash, and Big Thunder. My roommate from my Disney College Program and I both had a strong love for these attractions, so we always tried to hit all 3 mountains in one day. Luckily, even making FastPasses a day before I have been able to typically snag FastPasses for all 3, so they are not super hard to get.
Some other great options to FastPass are Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Typically these rides have long wait times during the day, but if you try to hit these rides in the morning or at night, you can get lucky and get a shorter wait. Once I use up my 3 Fastpasses and go to make additional, I never usually see these 3 on the app, which is why I try to hit them at those times I mentioned. I typically like to snag Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, or Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, as those are typically available. Sometimes I even go for Dumbo if I want to ride an OG classic I will never wait in line for.
Epcot has great options to FastPass but unfortunately gets tricky due to their categories. Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track are all in the same “big” category. Soarin’ is my favorite ride of all time in Walt Disney World, BUT sometimes it has bearable wait times. If you choose to skip Illuminations or hit it up before, during my program I found it could have around a 30-minute wait or be close to walk on. This was how I got to ride Soarin’ all by myself during the program, and it was a memory I will never forget!
Personally, I never have luck getting a FastPass for Frozen Ever After. When I live there, I typically snatch it when I can. While I’m at school and only going for a week at a time and usually hitting Epcot more than once, I’ll take it one day if I can or skip out on it. I still personally think Maelstrom was way better than Frozen Ever After, but that is a rant that’s beside the point of this article.
You can take this a couple ways. First, you could FastPass Soarin’ if it’s a crowded day which I suggest because Test Track has single rider. Your party will be split up, but it typically is shorter than waiting with your party. But, during busy times I have seen single rider get up to a 40-minute wait. So on busy days, you have to choose between the 2, and just wait for the other. I usually don’t mind one or two long waits a day anyway. Of course, you could forego both and FastPass Frozen Ever After, but I’ll just judge you for that (LOL kidding).
Everything else falls under the regular category. I personally do not waste a FastPass for Mission: Space because I cannot go on it due to the fact it makes me extremely sick. But, that’s a great option for those who enjoy it since the wait times can vary, sometimes it’s super busy and sometimes it’s walk on. I always FastPass Spaceship Earth as it is one of the most iconic attractions. If you cannot get a Fastpass to Spaceship Earth (which is usually never a problem), hit it up after 6 PM and it usually is walk on. At the beginning of the day, everyone and their mother is in line since it is the first attraction. Then, my third FastPass goes to Living With The Land, a glorious 20 minute calming joy ride that can sometimes have long waits depending on the season!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
So this will definitely have to be revisited and evaluated once Toy Story Land opens at the end of June, but as of right now Disney’s Hollywood Studios is lacking as we all know. At Studios, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Toy Story Mania are in the same big category. Going off that it’s not a busy season, I say FastPass Toy Story over Rockin’ because Rockin’ has single rider. But like Test Track, when it is busy, that can get long, so I would choose to FastPass Rockin’ and wait for Toy Story.
Toy Story also gets short at night, so if you have to wait I suggest checking back in the evening. Then of course, I go for Tower of Terror and Star Tours for my other experiences. I typically never FastPass shows as I don’t find the need too, but if your heart desires to use a FastPass on a show if you don’t care for the attractions, I suggest the Frozen Sing-Along and Indiana Jones as those shows fill up.
Fantasmic! is also in the big category, but I always make sure to get there early enough to get a seat. On low crowd days, I get there 10 minutes before the show starts and still get a spot. During the holiday season, FastPassing Fant may be a good idea, since it gets PACKED. But, I just make sure to get there early enough to get a spot. How early you should get there just depends on how close you want to be. It is my favorite night show, so you shouldn’t miss it!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is my favorite park, and I think Pandora made it that much better. The only rides in the big category are Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. Typically, I can snag a River Journey FastPass and when I can, I do because that ride does not get enough love for how beautiful it is. Obviously, getting a Flights FastPass is like winning the lottery, so whenever I see one I take it and never look back. Most of the time if I want to ride Flights, I get to the park an hour and a half before opening and walk right on when it opens with the rest of the crowd. I know it sounds early, but I promise it is worth doing it that way.
When I can get one the Pandora attractions, I typically also FastPass Kilimanjaro Safaris and either Expedition Everest or Dinosaur, depending on what I’m feeling that day and the crowd levels. Everest has single rider, so that is something to take into consideration. Dinosaur can get long waits at times, but if you keep checking the app it is typically short in the morning and at night. But, you shouldn’t skip Dinosaur because it is definitely one of the greatest attractions on property many people forget about.
In the summer, I like to go for Kali River Rapids. It will cool you off and you definitely will not leave dry. I have never left anything less than completely drenched, but it is worth it in the dead of summer. Some people also like to FastPass Festival of the Lion King, but again that just depends on the type of seat you want. It may be a good option during peak season, but typically I go without a FastPass and end up having great seats. Again, this is one that should NOT be missed!
I hope this was useful to first timers, and even frequent Walt Disney World visitors! When reserving FastPasses on time and understanding the system, you can have a successful trip fitting in everything you need! Also, expect to wait as well. No trip can be made without some wait times, but use that time to bond with your family and friends! Until next time, see ya real soon!