FastPass+ – Love It or Hate It?

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About a month ago Carol and I joined a group of AllEars.net readers at Tomorrowland Terrace for a “Meet and Greet”. I really enjoy this sort of get-together; any time Disney fans gather there’s always plenty of friendly chatter about our similar experiences and I usually come away having learned something new about my happy place.

December 2015 Meet and Greet

That particular Sunday morning I spent a few minutes chatting with a couple who read my blogs. I mentioned that I’m always on the lookout for new topics; was there anything they’d like me to write about? “Why yes,” they replied, “How do you use the FastPass+ system? We’ve been here for three days and had three FastPasses each day. We have yet to use a single one of them.”

I rolled that thought around in my mind for a second or two then replied, “I’m not really sure I can help with that. Carol and I seldom use all of ours either. We typically book three each day we are at a park, but we often only use one or two of them.”

We spent a few minutes talking about the reasons why we didn’t take advantage of the passes; as you might expect, our reasons were quite similar.

Let’s take a look back at how the new FastPass+ system has changed our park experiences . . .

FastPass vs FastPass+

Remember those old paper FastPasses? They were introduced in 1999 and gave the holder a one hour reserved time slot for a ride. When they returned during that hour they could enter through an “express lane”. FastPasses were only available for the most popular attractions at each park; the majority of rides or attractions did not have a FastPass line. The most avid guests would arrive at the park for “rope-drop” and as soon as the park opened they would hurry to the FastPass Distribution area for their first ride of the day.

Philharmagic FastPass Distribution

The voucher they received stipulated a time when they could pick up a second FastPass for a different attraction.

Hollywood Studios FastPasses

The system worked very well; guests would often pick up a FastPass then ride another non-FastPass attraction while they waited for their appointed time. It was a simple, but effective system that allowed guests who spent a few minutes planning to enjoy more rides in a short time.

Disney FastPass Logo

Then in 2013 Disney began rolling out the next generation . . . FastPass+ . . . at Walt Disney World. It has not been implemented at the other Disney theme parks yet.

Fastpass+ Logo

It was all part of a huge project code-named “Next Generation Experience”. The project had a billion dollar budget and included MagicBands, FastPass+, My Disney Experience, and PhotoPass Memory Maker, four technology advances we’ve probably all become familiar with during the past couple of years.

So how does FastPass+ work? Well, it’s quite a bit different! There is now a FastPass+ line at virtually every attraction and the passes can be booked in advance. If you have pre-purchased your park ticket and are staying in a Disney resort you can book FastPass+ (3 per day) up to 60 days in advance using the online “My Disney Experience” system. If you have pre-purchased a park ticket or hold an Annual Pass you can use the same system to reserve FastPass+ (3 per day) up to 30 days in advance. There is even a mobile app available for smart phones and tablets which lets you manage and change your FastPass+ bookings.

My Disney Experience app

Day guests, who purchase tickets the day of their visit can also book FastPass+ but they have to line up at one of the kiosks in the park to select their passes from whatever remains available.

Regardless of when or how you booked your three FastPass+, once they have been used, or expired, you can book additional passes (only one at a time) at an in-park kiosk.

FastPass+ Kiosk Sign

So how has this impacted the guest experience?

There are some positive aspects, and there are also some negative ones; let’s look at a few of the good things first!

Very Convenient, Very Easy:
“My Disney Experience” is a wonderful tool to help with your trip plan. All of your resort details, FastPass+ selections, dining reservations, etc. appear in one location. It’s easy to use and accessible from your desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone.

No need to rush:
You don’t have to be there at rope-drop and scurry back to Pixar Place for that FastPass+ at Toy Story Midway Mania. Carol and I always feel pretty smug as we wander slowly through Hollywood Studios to use the FastPass+ which she booked 60 days prior . . . that’s a very good benefit of the new system.

Fireworks and Parade viewing areas:
Special viewing areas have been set aside for guests who book FastPass+ to watch parades, fireworks and the nightly Capture The Magic show. These areas offer great views and are not nearly as crowded as surrounding areas. Another great advantage!

FastPass+ Logo

Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages as well.

Flexibility is restricted:
The new system forces you to commit to visiting a theme park 30 to 60 days in advance and restricts your ability to be spontaneous. For example, you have pre-booked FastPass+ for Animal Kingdom but when you wake up it’s pouring rain. Before the new system you might have decided to go to EPCOT that day and visit Animal Kingdom later in your vacation. It’s no longer that easy . . . it’s really tough to let those FastPass+ go!

Park-Hopping is difficult:
All three FastPass+ must be booked at the same park. This restricts your ability to hop from one park to another. Yes, once your three passes have been used you can hop to another park and book another FastPass+ at a kiosk, but it’s not nearly as easy as it used to be!

You can’t always get what you want:
The day has finally arrived, it’s 60 days before your vacation and you sit down to make your FastPass+ bookings for Hollywood Studios. Naturally you want Toy Story Midway Mania so you book it first. Then you move on to your second favourite and book the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. For your last selection you would like Rock ‘N Roller Coaster . . . but wait . . . it’s not on the list. Why can’t you see it? It’s not available and you will not be able to book it because the attractions at Hollywood Studios and EPCOT have been “tiered” to ensure fairness. Guests can select one Tier 1 attraction and two Tier 2 attractions. Toy Story Midway Mania and Rock “N Roller Coaster are both Tier 1, so you cannot reserve them both. That’s a big disadvantage! To see more detail about FastPass+ and Tiering read the AllEars page HERE.

Longer standby lines:
Imagine when you couldn’t get Rock ‘N Roller Coaster in that example above that you decided to go anyway and use the standby line. Wow — it was slow! Yes, the FastPass+ system seems to be putting more people than ever before into the FastPass line and this naturally slows down the standby lines. Even attractions that didn’t have FastPass lines in the old days now have long and slow standby lines as people whisk past in the new FastPass+ line. Another reason it’s difficult to be spontaneous!

Long FastPass+ lines:
Yes, the FastPass+ lines are sometimes long, very long. When we visited the parks in late October 2015 the FastPass+ line for Kilimanjaro Safaris was contained by a temporary system of posts and ropes. It stretched from the FastPass+ entrance all the way to the standby entrance. During the same trip the FastPass+ line for Toy Story stretched all the way back to One Man’s Dream.

What about inexperienced visitors? Do cast members explain FastPass+ to day guests? It’s difficult for me to imagine myself as a day guest, visiting Walt Disney World for the first time, but I suspect that if I were that day guest, I would be disappointed by what I found in the parks. Huge lines everywhere I looked and people hustling past, right beside me, in an express lane. I’m not at all sure I’d be back.

So how does the new system work for Carol and I? Well, I’d like to tell you it’s fabulous. I’d like to tell you that it’s the best thing ever . . . but that would be a very big exaggeration. If we were to boil our feelings about the system down to a single word, that word would be “meh”.

We would be quite happy to return to the old system.

Peter Pans Flight FastPass

Carol really enjoys planning our Disney adventures and she takes full advantage of My Disney Experience. It’s a good tool for planning and making reservations, but the new FastPass+ just isn’t a perfect fit for us. We all too often find ourselves a bit frustrated that we have three attractions booked at EPCOT and yet the weather is perfect for a trip to Animal Kingdom. We could not accurately forecast the weather 60 days ago and there’s just no room in the new system for the kind of spontaneity or improvisation we’re used too!

Imagine this scene; Carol is booking our day at Hollywood Studios. She has a 9:30 FastPass+ at Toy Story Midway Mania and a 10:45 pass at Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. She asks my opinion, “For our third FastPass+, would you rather have Disney Junior at 11:40 or the Frozen Sing-Along at 12:15?” My reply is quick, “Neither”! So she leaves it at the two she has already booked and the program automatically assigns us a third pass at Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. We haven’t watched that show since 2002 and I don’t think we’ll use that FastPass+ to see it this time. We very seldom use all three of our FastPass+.

So to that couple who asked how to use FastPass+ all I can say is, “We feel your pain and we share your frustration.”

Yes, FastPass+ has some good points, but in our particular case they are slightly outweighed by the bad points.

How about you? Do you love FastPass+ or do you hate it?

Gary hails from Canada and he’s a lifelong Disney fan. In the 1950s he watched the original Mickey Mouse Club and The Wonderful World of Disney on a snowy old black-and-white television. Gary was mesmerized by the Disneyland that Walt introduced to the world during those Sunday night shows! In 1977 he took his young family to Walt Disney World for the first time and suddenly that Disney magic he experienced as a child was rekindled. Since then Gary and his wife Carol have enjoyed about 70 trips to Walt Disney World, 11 trips to Disneyland and 11 Disney Cruises.

71 Replies to “FastPass+ – Love It or Hate It?”

  1. I hate Fastpass+. Apparently, it’s not working wonders for Disney either as they have no plans to implement it at any other park. The spontaneity is gone. Being FORCED to pre-plan your days is a total drag, and you literally must do it if you want to benefit at all from the system. Now instead of going to the park and just walking up to rides as we go about our day, I have to wake up at 6:55 AM 30 days prior to my arrival and open the app along with thousands of other guests doing the same thing. To make matters worse, many popular fastpasses are already gone to Disney resort guest’s 60 day window. I absolutely hate it. Also, rope drop may have been a somewhat popular thing to do, but in no way does that compare to the hordes of people going online at the same time to grab fastpasses. I’d rather not have to plan anything in advance and just show up. I am not totally against virtual queuing, but let it happen at the parks and use the app to simply update standby and virtual wait times. Tapu Tapu is a new implementation of that at Volcano Bay, and it has some issues right now to say the least, but I like the spirit of that system much better. In time, I expect that system to be superior to fastpass+ in terms of still being a spontaneous trip to the park, but allowing people to wait outside of a line.

  2. I don’t usually comment on blogs, but I can see pros and cons in the new system. It works for me. We have been DVC members since 1997. There have been times in the new Fast Pass+ system when we walked onto attractions and didn’t even need to wait for our reserved times. There have been other trips when I was very glad we had a Fast Pass to use. I am a planner, so making reservations ahead of time works for us. And I feel we can still be spontaneous if we are realistic. What I think is really making wait times longer is that there are just more and more people in the parks, even in what is supposed to be the quieter times.

  3. I’m confused. I used FP+ this past November and yes, I had 3 FP+ booked each day in a different park (we didn’t hop) and I was able to, on my phone app, change 1 individual FP. Once you have the 3 booked, you can then go and change an individual one as needed for something else that might have opened up that day. That’s how they open up at the last minute. People cancel a single FP and change them for something else.

    I liked the FP+ system as I’m a planner and I had our whole trip scheduled however we made plenty of changes along the way, cancelling ADR’s because it was too hectic to run to Epcot for us at 7:30 in the morning for breakfast knowing we’d be at the MVMCP until midnight. But still you are able to change an individual FP+ after you have all 3 booked.

  4. The entire Disney “World” lives on imagination, wonder and fantasy. The ability to see beyond. This whole FP+ system seems to be in direct conflict with that design. It seems to more aligned with a herd mentality that suits the management of crowds, but at the expense of the carefree magical experience. I have been going to Disney 3 to 4 times per year for almost 20 years and I yearn for the return to the things that worked for us, not the management.

  5. The new system has ruined WDW for my family. Right now we cannot visit while school is in session, and I research wait times year round. The new system has most definitely increased wait times on attractions with traditionally short lines and extended waits on high capacity attractions like Haunted Mansion and Pirates. The old system worked, and this system was made to help Disney and not the guests. As a result, our last visit was exclusively at Universal. I was very disappointed in missing WDW, but we experienced 20 attractions a day at Universal (at least). Watching the wait times while we were there we would have experienced 5-6 per day. I am glad some people like the new system, and I like the arm bands for the room key, restaurant reservations, and charging things to the room, but the Fast Pass Plus has sent me elsewhere for our theme park vacations. I really wish they would change it. They need to only use it for the attractions that need it, eliminate it for the attractions with lower waits, stop the tiered system, and increase the number. Better yet, go back to the old system. If they don’t, my family will not return.

  6. We visited WDW in 2001, 2005, 2007, 2013 and 2015.
    Fortunately for us, we NEVER had to use or even get a Fastpass.

    All wait times at or 4 parks were no longer than 15 minutes, with two exceptions -Toy Story and Soaring, they were 35 minutes.

    I always research and pick a week that will be the least crowded. Hint- do not go any week where Disney has offered the so called “free” dinner plans.

    We have no problems walking up to table service restaurants of even getting reservation. But we skip table service because they are way over priced. We eat outside the park or back at our condo on Disney property

  7. I completely agree with Gary. We are DVC members and AP holders. We are going to Hilton Head this fall for the second year in a row because WDW just isn’t as fun as it used to be. I know there are some people who think I am just another person who does not like change, but that’s not the case at all. I manage change for a living. I like making things better.

    I know some people have commented that ADRs take away spontaneity, but there was still an out. You could go to a less popular restaurant, or chose counter service options. FastPass+ makes a Disney vacation require more planning than my daily work schedule. If I wanted to be tied to a computer, I would just stay in the office.

  8. This may be one of the longest comments sections on this site that I’ve ever seen. It’s obvious this topic draws strong feelings from many.

    I’m firmly in the “hate it” category for FastPass +. Lets face it, for all but the busiest periods of the year, the only problem with the old paper fastpasses was the inability to get them at any time except very early in the day for a few attractions – Soarin, Test Track, Toy Story, and that’s about it (although the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train would probably join that list now). I’m sure Disney was getting complaints about this from those who hated having to get to parks early, and the new system addresses this by allowing them to be booked in advance. The only other possible advantage I see is seating for fireworks/parades, which usually wasn’t that bad anyway on most days.

    In exchange for these two benefits, we have all the negatives that others have mentioned (rigid planning, longer lines, etc.). The really simple solution would be to dial FastPass “Plus” back to just those major attractions (one or two per day, max) and either reinstitute paper fastpasses for everything else (ideal, but probably “pie in the sky”) or get rid of the program for everything else. This decision could still fit very well within the larger My Disney Experience framework.

  9. I’ve taken my children to Disney World at least once a year since they were little. It’s always been my happy place where I don’t have to plan, schedule, organize, be anal retentive. . . I can just go with it, have a good time, be a kid again and forget about being The Adult for awhile. Until fastpass+ came along that is. Now. . . I have to plan, and schedule and organize and do all the other things I find yucky about being an adult.

    This year I’m not taking my children to Disney for vacation. Fastpass + has sucked the joy, the spontaneity, the relaxation out of my visits to the World. I’ll choose a vacation destination where I can truly relax without needing to micro manage my family and our time together.

    To say that I HATE fastpass+ would be a gross understatement.

  10. Fastpass+… NO – it’s a huge minus. Over the years, starting in 1987, we enjoyed over a year in Disneyworld hotels in rooms ranging from DxL to GF and once on the 14th floor at the Contemporary, and of course our home at BCV. That’s over 365 days in hotel rooms… going all the way back to eating at the Gulf Coast Room at Contemporary and enjoying the cafeteria at Crystal Palace. After trying Fastpass+ a few trips, the wife, I and the kids (grown now) decided it was time to bail out. We even sold our points at BCV. We used to go 4 times a year. Haven’t been back since Sept. 2013. Anyone want to buy on an unused DVC PAP voucher?

  11. I am a planner, and I DO NOT like the new FastPass system (as others have said before, there is no “plus” to this system). It makes all lines longer. So many rides that DON’T REQUIRE FastPass now have them, that even those lines are much longer now.

    We were there right after the first of the year, when the largest of the Christmas crowds had left, but the experience was much less “magical” than it had been in the past, with the original FastPass system.

    We had visited many times in the past with the old FastPass system, and really enjoyed what it did for the visit. Now, we’re going to have to think long & hard about going back–not excited about paying the kind of money a Disney trip costs when the magic is so much less.

  12. I for one enjoyed the lines (even before the original Fastpass). Seems like every line was an opportunity to get to know another interesting family/guest. It taught our kids patience, too. I do like the option of avoiding the 90+ minute line for Toy Story or Peter Pan, but I find that I come home from each trip now with fewer memories of nice guests and cast members.

    I like Magic Bands in general and would be happier with FastPass+ if they allowed you to choose less than 3 to start with.

    Another somewhat related topic is that virtually everything at WDW is for sale now. Between FastPass and “special events”, every good viewing area for parades, shows and fireworks is roped off from the general public. Fantasmic without a dining package or FastPass+ is practically not worth seeing.

    I’m glad that the patience I built up in the pre-FastPass days of long lines has now carried over to enable me to still enjoy WDW in spite of all the changes that have been largely detrimental to the magic. At least until they figure out how to apply the FastPass+ to park benches and the WDW transportation system!

  13. Its VERY tough to use fast passes when you live here locally! Probably more difficult than tourists who come! You all have that 6 month advantage to book rides and we only get 30 days! We’ve lived in FL 1 year and are yet to get photos with Anna and Elsa for my daughter! They are ALWAYS sold out months in advance! The FP system is a nightmare for our family! And we go to the parks 4 days a week on average! Only been on Toy Story Midway Mania once in a year also!! Its SO frustrating!!

  14. Our first trip to WDW was in ’73 or ’74 — back when the Magic Kingdom was the ONLY park. There were no dining reservations, no fast passes of any kind, reasonably sized crowds, and complete spontaneity. Eventually Epcot opened, and there were even more ways to spend our precious hours at The World. In time, children were added to the mix as our family grew.

    The original Fastpass was introduced and, on our first trip with the system, I really HATED it. By the time we returned a few years later, I had figured out how to make better use of the system and began to appreciate its advantages (although there was a LOT of zigzagging across the parks). New parks opened, but by then I fully understood the system and could use it to maximize our ride time. There was a definite loss of spontaneity, but we could ride everything that our two girls wanted — and that was a priority. I loved Fastpass!

    Now, we have been there twice with the new Fastpass+. The first time was when they were still using both systems — that was a blast! We recently returned from a visit using only Fastpass+. It did not go as well as I had hoped and I still prefer the old paper system, but I can see some of the advantages of the new. I’m going through the same “learning curve” that I had to with the original Fastpass system.

    The immense popularity of WDW has made complete spontaneity almost impossible. I plan out every day of our visits. I make some dining reservations. I make FP+ selections. And away we go! Then we get to The World and the weather (we managed to be there during a tropical storm), or unexpected opportunities, or unplanned problems (we discovered that one of our daughters has a significant food allergy), or any of a thousand other happenings force last minute changes. It always happens — and even though I usually have some contingency plans, Murphy’s Law says that they will have been made for different contingencies.

    On the other hand, situations like that definitely do bring some spontaneity back into our visits! When forced to modify our plans, we go with the flow and do our best….and you know what? It works out! Yes, things that were planned and looked forward to don’t happen, but any day at WDW is still better than a local dinner and a movie, or a local amusement park, and it’s a lot better than a day on the job, or mowing the lawn in the middle of summer, or washing and ironing, or doing household repairs.

    So go to The World. Understand that you can’t do everything (although I keep trying). Accept that plans can’t account for every variable. And HAVE FUN! Make memories with your family and friends. See wonderful things. Try something new. And remember the magic!

  15. I much prefer the old system. My husband and I booked a last minute trip one week out for Dec 28 and 29. We wanted to see the Osborne Lights before they were gone. I did not know what to expect with the new system. First, I was surprised that it was much easier than I feared. I mainly wanted a FP for Toy Story Mania which I got for 8pm. I had to pick two others and chose Muppets and Indiana Jones. Muppets was a total waste. Even the week between Christmas and New Years it was totally unnecessary. The Indy one was nice to just walk in to the arena, but the reserved seats were not good. We saw empty seats a section over and moved as did others

    I have mixed feelings. It was easy to book. I learned something and I think in the future I will book all three back to back just to make the rest of the day more manageable. I do believe after many trips during busy seasons that the standby lines are crazy now for no other reason than they now have FP when before they did not. I have never stood in line for the movie ride and could not believe the standby wait when we were there.

    I think in the future I have a better grasp on how to make it work for us, but I really think I had a good system worked out with the old FP where we rarely ever stood in a line for more than 30 minutes ever.

  16. I am in the don’t like fp line! What have my husband and I done to keep some of the spontaneity alive? I schedule 4 specific, dedicated park days, one for each park. I pick out the 3 fp’s for each park, but usually only want 1 or 2 of them at the most. It is so sad someone else isn’t getting the unused fp with this system. Don’t have a smart phone and can’t delete them.

    Getting back to the “plan”. We go to those parks on those 4 days only and use what fp’s we want to. Usually only 2. Then back to the resort to rest up and go to another different park in the evening. This park is not scheduled; just what we decide to do that evening. The other days of nonpark scheduled visits, we just go where we want to,when we want to. We don’t worry about fp’s, just go at rope drop and ride what we really can’t do without, then stand in lines if we have to. We used to have to stand in line for all attractions. We enjoy talking to others and have met some great people this way.

    Our trips are usually 9 to 10 days with park hoppers, so we can keep some spontaneity alive. It works for us. We don’t do dining plans either. Love the convenience of QS and eating when and where we want, And when we are actually hungry. No waiting and hurrying to adr’s.
    So, we live with this fp era, but on Our terms and it works for us.

    Overall, don’t like it, think it’s a big mistake causing all kinds of problems, but feel Disney spent too much money to go back. We miss the old paper fp’s a lot.

  17. We totally dislike the current system!!

    In the past we found the fastpasses worked to our advantage and allowed us the flexibility to be spontaneous. We’ve had many wonderful surprises at the theme parts, like being pulled into a secret entrance at test track which might not have happened if our schedule was so rigid (and that actually happened while we trying to get our paper fastpasses!!).

    For someone who is completely indecisive and has a hard enough time selecting a resort as well as dinner reservations, this adds a lot of stress to our Disney vacation planning….I HATE IT. How am I supposed to decide what our day is going to be like 60 days in advance…will we want to sleep in, will we want to spend the afternoon at the pool…WDW is a very busy vacation, but VACATION is the key here. It’s supposed to be a time to enjoy yourself and having to rush to your next booking makes it no different than the busy over scheduled days your trying to escape from.

    As well, one other thing we’ve noticed since this new system has been implemented is the number of people walking around with their heads down looking at their electronic devices. The last time we were there, I don’t know how many people bumped into us because they were on their apps…looking to change their fastpasses, checking wait times because the lines are so much longer now…so frustrating.

    This all being said, our close friends love the new system BUT in all fairness they have only been going since FP+ was introduced and don’t have anything to compare it to. They hear stories of ‘back in the good old days’ and roll their eyes at us…but in our opinion WDW was definitely more magical before FP+

  18. I think what is missing under the new system is opportunity for “the magic” to happen. With the new system, everything is too planned. Don’t we all feel that we are all on too much of a scheduled now?

    Lost is the creativity and spontaneity of what is just around the corner to explore in each park. I love the old days when you just explored the parks as you got your FPs for your favorite attractions. You were not stuck with certain reservations for an attraction that you could not stop and enjoy “something” Disney. That might be a character, show, a cast member, animal, and much other. Additionally, what about the fun in sharing FPs? Remember the feeling when you could give unused FPs to another family, or when you would get some?

    There are just somethings that should stay the same with the passing times… FPs are one of them!

  19. I am shocked by all this negativity. I love the FP+ system and much prefer it to the old paper fast passes and the days before fast passes. I agree with everything Kevin said in his post. (Al and Karl too.)

    The goal of FP+ is simply to ensure that guests can pre-book a few of their dream activities. For many people, a trip to WDW is a one-time trip or at most something they do only a few times in their lives. Everyone who goes to WDW should have an opportunity to pre-book the one or two things that they most want to experience. That is what Disney is trying to do.

    Park attendance is up in recent years, which is why there are longer lines. It’s not the FP+ system causing that. My best advice to people is to find a way to go during non-peak times. Get an off-peak promotion package at a moderate resort with at least a 6 day park ticket and you can’t beat the per-day price. Plus, you won’t wait in long lines regardless of whether you are a planner or a spontaneous person.

    My family loves FP+. It’s great to be assured of our reservations and must-do activities in advance.

  20. We will be going to WDW in March and I have already made my FP+ selections (5am on the morning we were 60 days out mind you). This was the 1st time we used FP+ system, having used the ‘old’ FP system twice since 2012. What I was most surprised by was once we entered our ride selections the system spit back 4 options. While I like the technology behind this to an extent(I work in IT) I could not believe that I didn’t get to pick an available time FOR EACH RIDE I wanted – other than the tiered ones which is a whole other issue. Some options were close together in time while others were spread out.

    If anyone from Disney ever reads these posts, how about listing all available times for each ride the user selected for that day/park and let us decide which time works best for us? I’m guessing the FP+ developers thought rolling out 4 options would take less time to book then going through each one separately, but being the planner that I am I was really put-off by the rigidity of this part of the system.

    Worst part of FP+ that I see is that it will force you to take 3 even if one or more of them are not ones you wanted – leaving less availability for other people that wanted those attractions. I’m sure something could be done programmatically to only display times for rides you chose, and if none are available only give you the ones that are.

    That being said, at least I know we will be able to go on the rides we want to go on most as well as preferred seating for 1 or 2 events without waiting 2 hours to get on them. (Has anyone using FP+ had to wait longer than 15 minutes? – please let me know).

    I will definitely post again after our trip and give my verdict. In the meantime, try and enjoy your magical time – for the $ we are all spending it’s worth remembering we going there to have fun and get some quality time in with our family/friends 🙂

  21. Fastpasses have made the rides so much slower.. I have been going to disney since 1985 and I never remember the lines being so long. I’m a dvc member and an annual pass holder, so lucky for us we know our way around the parks, I feel so bad for first timers, I’m sure it is not a good experience for them and I could see where they never would want to return. To me it was easier when everyone waited in the lines with their families where they got to talk and laugh and just have fun,isn’t that what Walt had visions of ? families being together? fastpasses have made that impossible now, because everyone is on a tight schedule and looking on phones to see where they have to be next ,gone are the days where you woke up in the morning and made your plans, lets be honest here how many people really know where they will be in 60 days or where they want to eat in 180 days… I understand making the dining reservations in advance , any good restauraunt even at home you have to do that. I also, could see where there would be no need to buy a park hopper, by the time you get to that second park you are not going to see anything, all them fastpasses will be gone…. And the standby lines will be 2 hour waits.. Take away the fastpasses and let Walt Disney World go back to how it was meant to be, a time for connecting with your family’s! Isn’t that what Vacation is supposed to be about, I have actually heard people say ” I will be glad to go back to work” this is tiring and a lot of work figuring everything out..

  22. Tried it, don’t like it. I don’t plan 60 days out. I go to whichever park I feel like going to according to weather or other circumstances. When I did try it I picked the ONE ride I really wanted and it gave me 2 others that I could care less about, therefore I was holding Fastpasses that someone else could have used. I had trouble trying to figure out how to cancel those that I didn’t want so they basically just went to waste. The lines at the kiosk were too long to ask anyone for help, I really miss being able to give my paper Fastpasses to another family and be able to give them a little “Disney Magic” as I have been blessed with people giving my family their unused paper Fastpasses. Also don’t like being tied to a phone or any electronic device. I am there to spend time with my family in a fantasy world where we can leave the real world behind. I know Walt was a very forward thinker and always tried new things but some things are better left alone. I love Disney World but I miss “Walt’s” Disney.

  23. Here are some FastPass Minus (FP-) tips for those staying on property.

    Book your room and buy your tickets more than 60 days in advance. You’ll only need $200 down to hold your reservation. The balance won’t be due until 30 days prior to check-in.

    At midnight ET (11 pm CT, 9 pm PT) 60 days prior to check-in, log on to My Disney Experience and book all of your FP- selections. You’ll be able to book FP- selections for your entire stay, not just the first day of your stay that’s 60 away.

    Keep in mind other people will be doing the same thing. A person checking in one or more days before you had the opportunity to make FP- selections for their entire stay. By the time you’re eligible to make FP- selections, other WDW guest have already made Toy Story Mania, Dwarf Mine Train, Expedition Everest and Rock’n Rollercoaster reservations on the days that might have been desirable to YOU.

    A castmember advised us to book our FP- selections as early in the day as possible. That way you’re eligible to start using the kiosks for 4th, 5th, etc. FP- selections ASAP. That strategy doesn’t work for everyone. I’m the only early riser in our family, especially when we’re on vacation.

    We try to book our FP- selections for early afternoon. The parks are guaranteed to be most crowded from late morning through late afternoon. That’s the time of day I like to avoid a standby line whenever possible.

  24. I HATE, HATE, HATE FASTPASS+! Just in case I didn’t make my feelings for FastPass+ clear let me clarify. I think it’s the worst thing the decision makers at Disney have ever done. To quote my husband “If it ain’t broke, fix it till it is” and that is exactly what Disney did, they took a system that worked perfectly and broke it.
    Unfortunately I think we are stuck with it as they have invested too much money in FastPass+ to scrap it even if most guests dislike it.

  25. Love it or hate it?

    Hate it.

    Hate is a bit too strong, but given the binary structure of the question, I have to go with, “Hate it.” My wife and I call it Fastpass- (i.e., Fastpass Minus).

    My wife and I have been visiting WDW regularly and frequently since 2000. Our first child was born in 2004 so we experienced the old system with and without children. We became experts at working the old system.

    We actually made a game…how many Fastpass tickets could we collect in a day? If we left the park early and we still had Fastpass tickets, we’d give them away as we exited the park. After we had children, we’d send a runner for the next Fastpass as soon as we were allowed to get the next one. With the old system we spent more time riding than waiting in line.

    The most advantageous feature of the old system was that the paper tickets did not expire. If you inadvertently or purposely missed your Fastpass window, the cast member still allowed you to enter the Fastpass line. If we needed a break, we’d stop for rest, snack or a meal without the specter of missing a Fastpass window and wasting a Fastpass. It was organized spontaneity if that makes sense.

    With the old system, we’d easily use Fastpass tickets on more than a half a dozen attractions per day. Sometimes it’d be the same attraction multiple times in a day. Try doing that with Fastpass-.

    With the new system, the most Fastpass selections we’ve used in a single day has been 4. By the time you use up the initial 3 selections and are eligible to go to a kiosk, all of the desirable attractions are gone. You’re offered unappealing attractions and/or attractions where the standby lines are typically short anyway; i.e., that 4th Fastpass doesn’t gain you much benefit. That 4th Fastpass- isn’t going to get you on Toy Story Mania or Rock’n Roller Coaster.

    I’m sure Fastpass- has been a great success from Disney’s perspective. Get people to make commitments earlier/sooner. Manage crowds and traffic flow. Anticipate/project per park attendance. Distribute people across more of the parks because Fastpass- availability for high-demand attractions is finite.

    For us, Fastpass- has been a step backwards. We loved the old system, but the new system hasn’t stopped us from visiting WDW. We’ve adapted and work the new system as best we can.

  26. I am a planner as well and I might be the only one on here that does not like the FP+ system. In the old days I would plan every single ride into a schedule and hold pretty fast and true to it. I would include in our schedule something like ride toy story mania and fast pass immediately after. Then we would work in whatever time it said into our day or, if it was too late and we were leaving we would move on with the schedule and try to grab something else that would fit in. Now I try to plan our trips with my scheduled fast passes and find it super difficult to schedule in other rides not knowing how long it will take to get through them. Before I could fall back on “Well, if this line is too long we will fast pass it for later” and now you are not able to do so. I understand the kiosk system but there has rarely been anything available that I needed/wanted for later. We loved the paper system and have decided to plan a trip to Disneyland just so we can use this system again. One of my wife and I’s finest moments was standing in line for star tours with paper fast passes for toy story mania, rocking roller coaster, and tower of terror that were good in an hour time. AWESOME!!

  27. We have used the FP+ systems twice now and really like it. It works for our family as none of us liked the rushing around to get the fast pass tickets – such as Toy Story Mania. We worked our schedule around our FP+ times and no one complained. We did however not always use all of them either but managing to get book the ‘priority’ ones we wanted is a plus for us. As for longer wait times, I think it depends on when you go. We’ve found off-season best for us.

  28. The last time I went to Disney was in 2012. There was a time when I went every year. Now, I’m not so keen on going.
    Firstly, I’m sad because of all the closures at the Studio. I like Star Wars, but now it seems like it’s Star Wars everywhere, all the time.
    Secondly, I’m not keen on having to plan so much before heading down. I don’t have the internet at home, nor do I have a smart phone. That puts me at a disadvantage.
    Will I go back to Disney? Probably, some day. But it is no longer my number one vacation destination.

  29. My sister and I are visiting WDW in September 2016. It’s taken 2 years of hard saving to get the airline, hotel, park tickets (and free dining) organised, but we’ve done it. Now it seems we have to pre-book practically everything. So, we’ve decided we’re NOT doing it! We’ll book dinner for one night (my birthday) and wing the rest. Ditto with FastPass. I am on holiday and I want to enjoy my time in WDW and relax at our ‘home’ – the Wilderness Resort. I want to rekindle the spontaneity and magic I felt when I first visited WDW in 1987 – I do not want to spend my time fussing about dinner reservations, and fretting about FastPass. If we don’t get on the Mine Train when we want on a particular day, we’ll try another day. If I can’t get to Narcoosees on my Birthday, we’ll go somewhere else. The weather’s always been great when we’ve gone and I am hopeful for this year. Sis and I are there for 2 weeks – and nothing is going to spoil our fun and enjoyment. There is a LOT to be said for winging it!

  30. This is spot on! I felt similarly about FP+s and actually emailed Disney guest services about the entire new system, including the My Disney Experience App. It definitely lessens the magic and spontaneity of a Disney trip. I understand the pros, but there are cons that are easily fixable. It feels as though it is a system that should still be in the beta testing phase as opposed to fully operating at it’s “fullest” potential.

  31. Fastpass+ is a detestable chore for someone in each travel group. This year it fell to me to book fast passes for a group of seven, age 15 to 58. There were exactly two times this group wanted to do the same fast passes in a six-day stay. I had to make a spreadsheet of everyone’s choices, then pretty much enter everyone individually. Rarely did I get the same FP time window offers when preferences overlapped. We are DVC members, so will continue to visit Disney yearly, but those 50+ in our group will spend our $350+ ticket money somewhere else from now on. We’re through with this.

  32. We’re a curious bunch here on allears.net, aren’t we. On one hand, we long for the old days when the parks were less crowded and you could have a fairly spontaneous vacation. At the same time, here we are online, getting our “Disney fix” in between trips, but also looking for some tips on all kinds of things.

    I don’t recall exactly when ADR’s became the norm, but it surely goes back to 2002. I don’t see how FP+ inhibits spontaneity any more so than planning meals in advance. That holds true if you make ADR’s even a week in advance.

    For me, the ideal use of FP+ is to plan them around a dinner with ADR. Take your chances and hope for shorter lines in the early mornings

    If you approach a typical 6 day vacation with 10-12 “must see” attractions, FP+ helps you to accomplish that. Think of it this way, if 10 years ago, you were told that you could “make an appointment to experience (INSERT FAVORITE ATTRACTION HERE), wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity?

  33. I like the new system. Knowing I have 3 attractions secured let’s me relax. Yeah, the tiered system is kind of frustrating, but I can live with it.

  34. We (aunt, uncle, hubby, and I) are planning our first trip to WDW in 20 years. Needless to say, we are super excited. My AAA agent told us about this website and we so appreciate all the information. I must say, reading about the FP program is really giving me a feeling of dread!

    [Gary writes: Relax Kim, you’re going to have a great time! No reason for dread! Just be sure to open a My Disney Experience account and make those FP+ bookings and Advanced Dining Registrations for your entire party.]

  35. We went to WDW in October with our youngest daughter and our grandkids. It was the grandkids first trip and our first experience with ANY fast passes. Our agent booked our meals for us and we booked our fast passes 60 days in advance. My wife and I have been to Disney world many times when we lived in Florida during my Navy service. So anytime we had friends come down, that’s where they wanted to go (1973 – 1976). I was not a big fan of the FP due to reasons already stated….made all lines longer. As I said, I have been many times, peak times and nonpeak times, and I felt the waits were longer than in the past. All that being said, WDW is still a wonderful, magical adventure for any age! Our agent was an “allears.net” and did a wonderful job. It was our first experience with the dining plan and staying at a Disney resort and it won’t be our last!

  36. I think the pros and cons of the FP+ depend on how you like to travel, spontaneous or planned, what time of year you go, and which park. I think it works best in MK where there are a lot of rides. We are regulars too, DVC, annual passholders, etc. My kids can tell you how many times they have been to WDW by their ages (and they are both teens). I have used different strategies for different trips. It has taken me a few trips to “perfect” it to the way we like it.

    We go in the summer when the kids are out of school. I make our FP+ for early afternoon. We get in the park earlyish, about 1/2 hour after normal, not EMH, opening. We can usually see all of one Land without wait then do lunch, then do our 3 FP+ when the MK is getting busy. We can still get FP+ for the evening.

    We just did a trip between Christmas and New Year’s because my daughter’s High School Marching Band performed in the MK parade (one of the most crowded times of the year). She toured with her band friends. Myself, husband and son toured separately. I changed my FP+ strategy and made my 3 FP+ for morning, finishing by lunch. We will ride anything in MK! So my son’s strategy was visit a kiosk and pick any ride that had the next available time! It did lead to some park criss-crossing, but you would have that with the old paper system anyway. We were at Buzz and got a FP+ within 10 mins for Dumbo. Then we would do it again (visit kiosk, ride, visit kiosk, ride..), by the end of that day, in a packed MK we had used 10 FP+! We rode 3 mountains, and other biggies like HM, JC, Buzz, etc.

    My daughter and band didn’t get their tickets until 2 weeks before the trip! She commandeered her friends tickets and made every ones’ FP+. They did everyone’s “must dos” including Space Mountain, Test Track, Everest, etc. Her strategy was to make all the FP+ as single guests but made sure they had overlapping times, ie. 10:20, 10:30, etc. Guess all those years of taking her finally paid off!

    So I guess my point is keep trying until you fine what works for you. I’m not saying I love the system, I think we just have to get accustomed to it. Anyone remember running to Spaceship Earth to make dinner reservations at World Showcase?? Glad we don’t have to do that anymore!

    Everyone have fun on your next trip!

  37. I can see how FP+ would not work well for folks who want to be spontaneous, but I am a planner and overall I like FP+. I’m not always thrilled with staying up until 2am when the window opens, but at least it gets done in one night. Then there is still some flexibility to move things around, depending on the ride. We usually do our FPs in the AM, have lunch, then take a break before the evening. But lately we have been experimenting with going to 1 park in the AM without FP, having lunch/taking a break, then going to a different park with FP for the afternoon/evening. This has worked well too, and allows for park hopping. I like not needing to race to Toy Story or Everest FP machines for paper passes, while being afraid of being trampled, only to get stuck behind a tour group leader who is getting 200 FPs at once!I will say I don’t think it’s worth using FP on fireworks/parade viewings. Plenty of space for that, especially with the new courtyards in the MK in front of the castle. My only wish would be making the 4th FP available on the app, instead of waiting at a kiosk, which is sometimes tough to find. The app would be so much more convenient for that!

  38. I think most of the people commenting on here are Disney ‘regulars’… we go at least once a year or more. I do think about the day-trippers and the uninformed who have done NO planning or think they have to pay extra for using fastpasses. I can’t even imagine what they must think or what their experience is. I guess we are all looking for different experiences as well.

    I enjoyed the old system as I feel we always managed to get more than 3 or 4 fastpasses in a day. Yes we were running through the park but it worked for us…even when we went with our children. I have used the new fastpass system several times and it does have its good and bad points… most already stated. I plan my 3 fastpasses but I’m usually still at a park at rope-drop too!

    Have a magical day everyone!

  39. Hi Gary,

    This will be my first attempt at using FastPass+ but given what I’ve read and how it will be difficult to make changes, I’m already cringing at this new fandangled operation.

  40. The technology of the Magic Bands tying room keys, park tickets, dining reservations, etc. is great and I am sure Walt would love the idea. I do not think he envisioned a park or group of parks where you have to plan what time you want to go on what ride/attraction. This is something I am sure he would frown upon.

  41. Add our family of three to the “thoroughly dislike FP minus” (sorry, we just can’t call it a plus) category. We like to be spontaneous at WDW. We used to decide which park we were going to the night before; now we have to pre-plan two months in advance.

    We used to be able to get FP’s for both Test Track and Soarin’, but with the tier system, we can’t any more. And then we could hop over to another park and get FP’s for something we wanted to go on. Now the only ones available are the attractions that no one cares about or needs a FP on.

    Having FP on everything makes for longer waits for attractions than they used to have such as Haunted Mansion or Pirates.

    We realize that there are planners who like this system, but for those of us who don’t want to be locked into our schedules, it doesn’t work.

    And then there are all the steps we don’t get walking from FP machine to another. Yes, we did enjoy the “thrill of the chase”. Weird, I know… We also enjoyed giving our unused paper passes to guests entering the park as we were leaving. Can’t do that anymore.

  42. I have always loved the thrill of getting to use the Fast Pass system. It feels a little special to be able to move in a quicker line like you are a VIP or something. I am usually all for new technology and I loved using the magic bands, but when we were there last time Oct. 2014, the cast members in the Fast Pass lines were extremely rude and unforgiving. I only encountered one who made it a positive experience. He was at the thunder mountain railroad and commented to give it “mouse to mouse resuscitation” to get it to work. Every other person we met was clearly over the ignorance of the public. It was a real bummer to my magic. 8( 🙁

  43. My wife and I are long time fans of WDW. We’ve averaged vacations there better than once a year since 1974. Our trips average 10 to 11 days, our kids and now grand kids join us for most. I would hate to think of all of the money that we’ve spent over the years. We never had any real problems with the original Fast Pass system and used it routinely. Honestly we can’t find anything positive to say about Fast Pass Plus. We stopped using the Dining Plan years ago because we had to plan our entire vacations around meals and now Disney has done the same thing for the attractions. If anything FP+ has increased the wait times for all of the attractions at the same time Disney has killed off a great deal of the live entertainment to boot. We voiced our opinion at Guest Services and wrote letters, but we really believe they don’t much care anymore. FP+ always seemed like a solution in search of a problem that didn’t exist. It has come to the point where we’ve decided that our vacation money is better spent elsewhere and we aren’t returning. Sometimes you are just better off letting your wallet speak for you.

  44. I have a bigger issue with the ADR’s so far in advance and trying to coordinate those with FP+ times. This became a big problem last trip (2014) with elderly parents, one who is diabetic. Not to mention, I seldom eat on a set schedule, let alone know what that schedule is 3 months ahead of time.

    We always visit off peak season so I’m not too opposed waiting in the standby line (don’t forget the single rider lines) however trying to work ADR’s with FP+ selections in groups of 3 was awkward at best. Maybe if we could choose FP+’s one at a time. I’m sure there could be a system/algorithm/software that would limit the tier 1 rides, if that makes sense.

    I do love the convenience of the magic bands and being able to tie everything to it and not having to keep track of cards.

  45. I love the Top Tip idea! posted by Al. Will definitely try that next vacation.
    Had a response for Greg – you CAN change just one FastPass+ at a time. Simply choose, “Modify My Existing FastPass+ Selections” and then choose “Change FastPass+ for a New Selection or Time.” Choose the FastPass+ you want to change, pick a new attraction or time and you can change it without changing your other two.
    One final note to get around the tier system. At Epcot, we book Soarin’ since it’s the hardest to get, along with 2 other attractions. As soon as we got off Soarin’, we cancel the other two, go to a kiosk and FastPass+ Test Track. That way, you get 2 tier 1 attractions. Sometimes, there are even FastPasses left for a second ride on Test Track (rarely for Soarin, but maybe once the third theater is put in!).

  46. To echo Jason’s lonely sentiment above, I prefer the pre-FastPass days to either system. One or two (as in right/left) standby lines that move uninterrupted will help prevent 2 hour wait times in most cases, holidays notwithstanding. The FastPass system by its nature ENSURES longer standby times and STILL dictates guest itineraries by necessitating them to be in a predetermined location at a specific time. Not only does this hamper the oft-mentioned spontaneity which so many clearly value,, but ricocheting around the parks like a pinball dictates (and for some of us, diminishes) one’s overall park experience-something Disney has traditionally excelled at. I’m accustomed to the necessity of hotel and table service restaurant reservations, but ride reservations? Fireworks reservations? How long before we have shopping and restroom reservations? (“The app says there’s a stall available in Town Square! I’ll catch up to you later!”) Is this the way a Disney Parks day is shaping up to be in the future? The overall verdict for me, a billion dollars later, is Not As Fun As It Used To Be. Great topic, Gary-thanks!

  47. I have found good use of FP+. I (grandpa) travel with a young granddaughter and her two grandmas. Getting the grandmas to the park for RD or even mid-morning is nearly impossible. So granddaughter and I do RD without the grandmas. Then we use the FP+ I scheduled for late morning or afternoon when the grandmas arrive. FP+ works well for us and is a lot less wear and tear on the grandmas.

  48. I have two answers. On the first day of a trip, and the last, when I usually have limited time, fastpass+ is awesome. Knowing what I can do even if I just have a few hours is awesome.

    On really busy days, when Toy Story would be a max of 1 fast pass anyhow, it isn’t too terrible, but not being able to grab a pass to Rockin Roller Coaster also is a downer. If we could get 1 floating pass, and one pre-selected major ride that didn’t interfere with the ability to get the floating pass, it would be excellent.

    On medium days is when I feel it is less good, particularly if we want to use a pass for the fireworks. The strategy to get more than 3 fastpasses is to start with passes from 9-10,10-11,and 11-12 (or starting at 8, on some days)… but this generally precludes you from using a pass at the later events.

    3 would be great if they could be for 2 or 3 big rides, and ideally duplicates. Even if the window for signing up was the day of in the park for the duplicates, or more than 1 major tier fast pass.

    It all boils down to the fact that it is great that I know 99% that I can ride one major ride per day visit with minimal wait. But since 80% of the time, that was already true, I do wish there was some tweaking done…

  49. i will always fondly remember the paper system for all the reasons details – allowed for greater spontaneity, you could put the phone away for a vacation day, etc. i also know it’s never coming back – so i try not to be too frustrated about it. i would love a hybrid system where you could reserve 1 or 2 FPs in advance but a select # of paper tickets were also available each day.

  50. Top Tip!:

    After you’ve used your first three FP+ slots or they have naturally expired, go to a FP+ kiosk for your extra fourth FP+ slot as normal. Select and take ANYTHING that comes up, don’t be picky (unless of course you see something you fancy). Don’t pick anything too close to the current time as this may expire and you have nothing to ‘play with’. (keep your fourth slot ‘in play’)

    Here comes the clever bit…..Once you have your extra FP+, go onto your app on your phone or tablet. Take a seat with a cold drink and check for options. I’ve seen a mixture of situations at this point:
    1. There are the very same attraction and time options as you’ve just seen at the FP+ kiosk.
    2. There are different attractions and/or times as you’ve just seen at the FP+ kiosk.
    3. There is a mixture.

    The reason I think the above is occurring, is mainly that folk ‘hand back’ slots into the system when swapping choices on MDE. I see this happen ALOT especially in the evenings and around evening show times – such as parade viewing time slots appearing a few minutes before the Electrical Parade in MK etc.
    On average, I’ve seen wider choices on MDE (via the app etc) then at the kiosks. I’ve also been able to get some amazing slots, such as firework viewings, tier 1 and E-ticket attractions. (remember that tiering at HS and EP is not applicable for fourth/extra slots onwards).
    The spare ‘hand backs’ tend to be most available as singles. So if you are a group or family, my tip is less likely to work for you. Consider working each MDE account separately, but time-slots may therefore end up different for each person.
    I also wonder if Disney add or release additional FP+ slots into the system at various points in the day. I think this happens when attractions have temporary pauses/technical issues. I’ve been able to get a later in the day slot for SDMT 2 mins after park opening because I reckon slots were opened up at a specific time (perhaps for day guest allocation).
    My top tip is, KEEP CHECKING MDE to see what hand-backs pop up later in the day. If the attraction you want is not on the kiosk at the time you take your extra fourth or more slots don’t assume ‘all the FP+ for that attraction have gone for the day’. The availability of hand-backs does vary, but I’ve usually exchanged a rubbish FP+ slot for something amazing and with a 60 min+ wait time. I find hand-back availability best at MK.

  51. One of the core issues causing disagreement here seems to be one simply of parkgoers who prefer spontaneity, vs. those who groove on planning.
    Each group would like to support their own side with shorter lines/longer lines whenever it might best back-up their argument. But without specifics of weeks attended, and whether park attendance itself hasn’t risen since the FP+ system went into effect, it’s all conjecture, I think.
    My family falls firmly in w/ the Planners.
    We go perhaps once a year, and we like to plan in hopes of seeing and doing as much as possible.
    *I am glad we don’t have to send someone running toward Toy Story Mania the minute we enter the park, I will say that.
    For me, I would see the shortcomings of the FP+ system as follows:
    1 – Agreed, inability to hand off unwanted FP+s is a sad loss. As is being assigned FP+ you have no plans of using.
    2 – The odd notion that anyone should ever need a FP+ for rides like It’s a Small World, that are large-capacity rides, that (at least when we go) never having any true wait (as in stand still and wait for more than 2-3 minutes at a time). I assume this must be to appease first-time travelers who aren’t savvy enough to realize they don’t need a reservation for that attraction, but who recognize its name, and feel like they wouldn’t want to miss it.
    3 – The online reservation system, which puts you in fear of losing the FP+s you’ve gotten/been offered by making it seem like you might lose them if you append your choices, or attempt to get a different time for your FP+s (which if I recall you cannot just re-do/re-request a time for just one–the three are linked, or at least it has seemed like it on the page.)
    4 – My own conjecture would be that toward the last days of the old paper FP+, more parkgoers were understanding how to use them and there were longer lines in the FP line due to that. I think the shorter lines early-on in FP history were largely driven by the fact the system was a curiosity for many parkgoers (especially those who didn’t have Stacey in their resort room on TV explaining it to them). Those not in my immediate family never understood for several trips how to make use of the system, and so never did.

  52. We just got back from a trip to WDW last week, and had mixed results with FP+. On some days, it worked great. It got us on a couple of our favorite attractions during the middle of the day when the standby lines were really long. But other days it was frustrating, especially when our last FP+ was late in the day, so we could not hop to another park and get a FP+ there. But the worst was the effect FP+ has on standby lines. We had a bonus FP+ and wanted to ride both Rockin Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. RRC had a standby time of 20 min, TOT was 110 min (one elevator was down). Naturally, we decided to standby RRC and save the FP+ for TOT. Well, RRC got flooded with FP+ users, and that slowed down the standby line so much, we ended up waiting 60 min. If that was not bad enough, by the time we finally got off RRC, the standby at TOT was down to only 30 min. We used the bonus FP+ at TOT anyway, which helped, but we wish we had used it at RRC instead.

    After 3 week long trips to WDW with FP+, I still have mixed feeling about it. I’ll live with it, but I also would not mind seeing the old system return (minus the paper tickets, the Magic Bands are so much better).

  53. One problem we’ve encountered with the new Special Needs passes is those longer FP lines that you mentioned. It negates the benefit of the pass if we then have to wait on a long FP line upon our return. On one visit to Test Track, for example, my son’s pass was given a return time of 90 minutes later (to match the standby wait time). When we returned we were sent to the FP lane (as is typical) where we had to wait an additional 45 minutes. The reason we get him the pass is his difficulties in waiting in lines like that. I’m afraid we’re probably going to have to put him back into a wheelchair on our next visit so he has a place to rest while on line – a step backwards for him that makes me a little sad. I love progress and I really like the app and planning ahead but it seems like something’s broken.

  54. While I am not a huge fan of the FastPass+ system (especially around Christmas-time, when I’ve booked FastPasses in October, and then EVERY SINGLE MORNING is a 7am Extra Magic Hour at Magic Kingdom, meaning my FastPasses aren’t nearly as helpful as I thought….!), my bigger question is – if Disney spent a billion dollars on this system almost 3 years ago for Orlando….why haven’t they rolled it out anywhere else?

    I can’t imagine that it will never be rolled out in California, France, Shanghai, Tokyo….(and at the same time, after investing that much money, they would simply turn around and say “nah, we’re gonna do it the old way after all…”), but I think the “trial period” in Orlando is well over.

    To be honest, my favourite trip was the year they were “testing” FastPass+ (December 2013), and still had the old paper FastPasses….you could double dip and get on everything! 😉

  55. We enjoy the fast pass plus system. We like being able to plan out where we will be in the park so we can have an idea of what we want to do for lunch that day. We usually have most of our trip planned at the 180 day mark and just have to insert the fast passes and other must do’s.

    We are going to Disneyland in March so I will get to see how the old system worked. So far, I’ve only been disappointed with having to wait until 60 days out to start planning. I like to be prepared.

  56. I neither like nor dislike the current system. It is what it is.
    When the original Fastpass was introduced there were complaints. Very similar complaints. People didn’t understand it, it took away the spontaneity, some people didn’t even know it existed, and sometimes the only Fastpass you could get was for seven hours later. Times were changing and we just had to adapt. Then, as now the parks were getting busier and Disney tried something different.
    It has disadvantages but to be fair to Disney they have tried to address some of the issues such as introducing the tier system. Its not good for spontaneity but no major theme park in the world is very conducive to spontaneity. Too many people and only so much ride capacity.
    There are advantages too. I know I’ll get to ride at least one or two of my favourites even if I arrive late. I also don’t need to charge off to the other end of the park to get a Fastpass that I can only hope won’t clash with my lunch reservation.
    In time we’ll all get used to it then in another decade or two we’ll get Fastpass Ultra or whatever and we’ll all complain about it too until we get used to it. Its the circle of life or something.

  57. I like Fastpass and the “Magic Bands”. When you are spending about $4,000 to 5,000 to go to WDW (my spending habits), you need to plan in my opinion. You cannot do spontaneous when you spend that much. Enter Fastpass, i.e., you need to plan every single day of your trip. You need to write an itinerary out and Fastpass is perfect for that.

  58. I prefer the old paper method as well. I hate trying to plan around a selection of rides well before arriving at Disney. Before, Mom and I would wander over to whichever ride, get the fastpass, ride stand-by and then go do whatever and then come back for the fast pass. It’s too rushed trying to get to whatever section of park by the time the fast pass comes up.

  59. I am also in total agreement with the original post. And the people who went in October and never saw wait times more than 20 or 30…what park did THEY go to? I would have loved to find lines that short. We flew down 4 times last year – Jan/Mar/Oct/Dec – and every trip wait times were longer than that every day.

    Another downside to getting a third FP that you DO NOT WANT, is now that slot is gone for someone who DID want to experience that. And should you use one of your FP for either fireworks position or evening parade or such, you never use all three FP to then be able to go to a kiosk and try to get a fourth or fifth…and that would be even if there was something desirable available.

    As others indicated, one of the most feel-good moments, used to be (when our kids were still kids) – our boys would get tired and really want to go back to the resort to swim or sleep – and finding a family with kids and handing off the unused FP slips and watch everyone’s faces light up. Salve for the soul. Now? They just are one more time slot going to waste.

    I know attendance in the parks has steadily increased (no slow time we can find) currently while in DHS for example, there are fewer and fewer attractions as they close existing attractions in the effort to build this-land and that-land, making the existing lines are longer and longer.

    We tried to be positive we we first started using the new system – but I agree that the old system was better, allowed more flexibility, and made park hopping – an expense in itself – more viable.

    Oh, and anyone interested in some of the 40 or so magic bands we have? Once they made it easier to reuse (they are good for up to three years I have found) we do not have them shipped every trip. But all the boxes and bands – there’s an expense the company didn’t have before with the old system.

    I’ll stop now, I fell off my soapbox and need medical care.

  60. Hi Gary –

    We used FP+ for the first time on our Aug 18-27 WDW trip. Our results were mixed. Some days FP+ worked well, others it didn’t. I planned our trip using the TouringPlans.com Lines app to create my own touring plans, which, based on ADR’s and attractions I chose, suggested what attractions needed FP+. Some days we chose FP+ when not needed just to use up the initial three FP+’s. We tried getting additional FP+ at park kiosks and found what was offered were useless to us, whether or not we were still using the touring plans. Some days we skipped many touring plan steps since the parks were so crowded during the first 1/2 of our trip and the standby lines too long just to go to our FP+ attractions. We also had days where we ignored some FP+. My wife felt like we were “marching to the FP+” and is not a fan.

    As for me, I miss the semi-spontaneity of the old way, but I don’t miss hurrying to Soarin’ in 90 degree heat at rope drop to get the old FP. We found FP+ worked well when we would choose our FP+ to the park we would go to/hop to arriving late afternoon or early evening. I’m not a fan of picking out what I want to ride 60 days out, however, getting ADR’s 180 days out for a sit down meal in a park really was the beginning of the end of full spontaneity. We’ve changed our touring to work with ADR’s, we’ll find out what works best for us with FP+ and use it in that manner, though it may take a few trips to find what that is.

    – Jeff

  61. I agree with you, Gary, 100%. . . . and, along the same line – NOW you even need reservations for a counter service restaurant – Be Our Guest. Who knew?

  62. First, I love reading Gary’s articles. But, I also agree with Kevin’s extensive counterpoint. I have been to WDW maybe a dozen times since 1975 and never used the old fastpass system when it was available. I just didn’t understand the point of rushing to an attraction on the opposite side of a park only to have to return in 2 hrs or whatever the window was at the time. We used the new system on our Nov 2014 trip and it was great. We loved it. It just takes a bit of planning and common sense to utilize all the fastpass + system advantages. There are plenty of recommendations on the best plan at various sites including this one to make a good plan for each day.

  63. I agree with everything Kevin said in the third comment above. Yes, it’s different. You just need to be willing to change with the times.

  64. Last time we went, we selected 2 FP+ and because we had to select a third I picked meet and greet the Frozen princesses. When we got to the meet and greet we saw that the standby line was about 2 hours and little girl was crying because her parents wouldn’t wait in line that long. Had we had paper fast passes we would probably have given them away but we couldn’t! Having said that the experience of the meet and greet was really good and we are able to tell our grandchildren that we met the real Anna and Elsa and have the photos to prove it so I am glad we did it after all!

  65. Pretty much agree with all you listed. We find the My Disney Experience app great for planning, dinner reservations, and a one stop source for info while at the parks. While the new fast pass system is great for advance planning, especially when trying to maneuver around a dining reservation, but the biggest downside for us has been the loss of spontaneity as a passholder. We could plan a last minute trip and still manage to get to ride our favorite rides. Our normal routine was get to a park before rope drop, I would hustle to get fast passes at the high demand ride for that park, then meet up with my wife and son at another ride. We would then strategize the day and get new passes as soon as possible and would typically end up having fast passes for more than 3 per day, and park hopping was never a problem. Another thing that happened every so often with the old paper tickets was deciding to leave while still having a set of fast passes to use. We always made a point when that happened to scope out for another family, usually trying to find non-Passholder tourists that likely aren’t there as often, and hand off the passes. I loved the look of thanks those parents and excitement those kids would give. I miss that.

    [Gary writes: Yes, we used to “pay-forward” our unused passes too. The smiles you received as you left the park sure felt good!]

  66. Take me back to the days of absolutely no Fast Pass system. I loved having the spontaneous trips. The only things I feel that need planning are hotels and sit down meals. I am afraid you are soon going to even need to pre-plan where you are going to have a quick service meal. This whole problem started unfortunately with my generation. We did not teach our children how to wait in lines and be patient and I think that is what led to this whole mess.

  67. First, we love the new system. We have been going to WDW since long before the old FP system, and the old system didn’t work for us at all. So to your “bad” points.

    Flexibility is restricted:
    The new system forces you to commit to visiting a theme park 30 to 60 days in advance and restricts your ability to be spontaneous.

    We disagree. Yes, you can decide in advance what park you are visiting, if you have FP+ for that park, but most people did before due to making ADRs well in advance. You can always be spontaneous, change your mind, get to a park at rope drop, and ride the popular attractions before it gets too busy. While we typically do get to a park at or near rope drop, being older, we can’t run or even rush to an attraction to get a FP. So what happened to us is that by the time that we got there, the return time was either during a lunch ADR, or sometimes even during a dinner ADR! So now you get the paper FP, and you are committed to returning to that attraction up to several hours later, and how is that spontaneous at all? It’s not. So we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

    Park-Hopping is difficult:
    All three FastPass+ must be booked at the same park. This restricts your ability to hop from one park to another. Yes, once your three passes have been used you can hop to another park and book another FastPass+ at a kiosk, but it’s not nearly as easy as it used to be!

    Actually for us, it makes it easier. Many days we decide that we want to finish our day at EPCOT, so we make our FP+ selections for later in the day. We then head to MK or HS at rope drop, visit our must do’s first thing in the morning, then head over to EPCOT where our FP+ has guaranteed that we can ride our most favorite ride at WDW — Soarin’ — in the late afternoon when all of the normal FP paper tickets would have been long gone. You are out of luck under the old system, unless you want to stand in a 2 hour line! Yikes and no!!

    You can’t always get what you want:
    The day has finally arrived, it’s 60 days before your vacation and you sit down to make your FastPass+ bookings for Hollywood Studios. Naturally you want Toy Story Midway Mania so you book it first. Then you move on to your second favourite and book the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. For your last selection you would like Rock ‘N Roller Coaster . . . but wait . . . it’s not on the list. Why can’t you see it? It’s not available and you will not be able to book it because the attractions at Hollywood Studios and EPCOT have been “tiered” to ensure fairness. Guests can select one Tier 1 attraction and two Tier 2 attractions. Toy Story Midway Mania and Rock “N Roller Coaster are both Tier 1, so you cannot reserve them both. That’s a big disadvantage!

    Again we disagree that it’s a “big” disadvantage. Yes, it is an inconvenience, but you can easily get to the park at rope drop, head to RnR, and then have your FP+ for TSMM ready for when you want to ride, and not when an arbitrary FP paper ticket time says to return. Much more relaxing for us as we stroll around, instead of having to rush around getting paper FP that didn’t work for us anyway.

    Longer standby lines:
    Imagine when you couldn’t get Rock ‘N Roller Coaster in that example above that you decided to go anyway and use the standby line. Wow — it was slow! Yes, the FastPass+ system seems to be putting more people than ever before into the FastPass line and this naturally slows down the standby lines. Even attractions that didn’t have FastPass lines in the old days now have long and slow standby lines as people whisk past in the new FastPass+ line. Another reason it’s difficult to be spontaneous!

    We were there the end of September/beginning of October for a week, and never experienced this. Even the attractions that didn’t have FP before were never more than a 20-30 minute wait. That’s our max, and since we go so often, if we miss something on one trip, we’ll see it next time. Again, if it’s important for someone to visit an attraction, get there at rope drop, and go there before it gets too busy.

    Long FastPass+ lines:
    Yes, the FastPass+ lines are sometimes long, very long. When we visited the parks in late October 2015 the FastPass+ line for Kilimanjaro Safaris was contained by a temporary system of posts and ropes. It stretched from the FastPass+ entrance all the way to the standby entrance. During the same trip the FastPass+ line for Toy Story stretched all the way back to One Man’s Dream.

    Also something that we never saw during our visit there. Certainly not saying that it doesn’t happen, and maybe we’re just lucky, but the lines were always quite short for FP+.

    Carol really enjoys planning our Disney adventures and she takes full advantage of My Disney Experience. It’s a good tool for planning and making reservations, but the new FastPass+ just isn’t a perfect fit for us. We all too often find ourselves a bit frustrated that we have three attractions booked at EPCOT and yet the weather is perfect for a trip to Animal Kingdom. We could not accurately forecast the weather 60 days ago and there’s just no room in the new system for the kind of spontaneity or improvisation we’re used too!

    So why not book your FP+ selections for the afternoon or early evening, and visit a different park in the morning? Still keeps your options open for each morning, but guarantees that you can still get the most popular rides later in the day, when you would never even have the option of a paper FP in the past. Yes, it can change your touring habits a bit, but spontaneity is not gone by a long shot.
    It seems like y’all commando the parks still, despite being veterans. Since becoming DVC members many years ago, we have never done the commando routine. FP+ allows us to go at our pace, so if we decide to get there at rope drop, we can, or we can wait until later to stroll to the park, and know that our favorites are just waiting for us.

    As far as the day guest goes, well, WDW is not a place to just “go to” and expect everything to be ready. Would you take a trip to New York City and not do any planning or research? You certainly wouldn’t get into any Broadway shows or popular restaurants without advance planning. Why would someone go to WDW, and not do any research beforehand to at least get the lay of the land and learn some things? Crowds are heavier than they have ever been, which has nothing to do with FP+, so lines are going to be longer no matter what. Disney has stated that they are setting attendance records the last few years, and there isn’t a slowdown in sight. Lines are only going to get longer, so for us, it’s better to know that we can at least visit our favorites, rather than getting to do not much of anything.

    I hope this isn’t too long a read, but we feel very passionate about this. People complain about change all the time without taking the time to realize that some things are for the better. Also remember that Disney is still looking at tweaking the FP+ system. Much easier to do than with the older system. So I’m sorry that the new system may not work for your method of park visitation, it works great for us, and might work better for you with a few tweaks to how you visit the parks.

    Hope you have a great time on your next visit!

  68. I prefer the old paper ticket FastPass system. The FastPass+ did not work well for us on our last Disney trip. In some cases all that was available were attractions where a FastPass was not needed.

    We lined up (the wi fi at the parks never worked!!) to get new FastPasses and found that nothing good was left. It was a waste of time. Also we found that having to choose the park 60 days in advance and also around dining reservations was difficult. I would be happy if the old system came back!!

  69. Hi,I saw your blog question and had to post. My husband and I are Annual Passholders since 2005, we like to visit WDW about 4x a year. But the truth is that it isn’t as fun as it used to be.

    We miss the old days of waking up and deciding which park to go to that day, some days we even hit all 4 parks. We may be at EPCOT and decide to head to HS for a bit. We no longer find our trips as fun and enjoyable. There are always huge lines and wait times it’s sad. To think we always could walk right on the Haunted Mansion and now we always have a wait. There is no need to have FP for certain attractions. Attractions like HM, Pirates, Jungle Cruise, the Great Movie Ride, you could always get on with mostly little to no wait. Why change it? We also sometimes plan our trips at the last minute due to a good airfare deal. That leaves us no time to plan ahead, guess what rides are available to book then? Lol.

    We have very good friends who are avid Disney fans like us who will no longer visit WDW because they hate the new system and the spontaneity is gone. I truly miss the old FP system, it wasn’t broke so I’m not sure why they had to “fix it”. Personally I think its broken now, and probably will stay this way.

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