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Brian Bennett

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All About Fastpass

Fastpass is a "virtual queue" that is one way to minimize waits in the attraction lines at the WDW parks.  By using Fastpass, you can avoid standing in line (for the time being) and can return at a specific time later in the day to the shorter Fastpass return line.  Some, not all, attractions are equipped with Fastpass.

Here's how you use Fastpass:

  1. As you approach an attraction, you can easily see if it's equipped with Fastpass.  (Note that these photos are from Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at the Disney / MGM Studios, but the concepts are typical at all other Fastpass-equipped attractions at all of the WDW parks.)

A typical Fastpass distribution area.
A typical Fastpass distribution area.

  1. The Fastpass distribution marquee displays current return time for the Fastpass return time.  Here's a hint... Before you decide to get a Fastpass, check to see how long the regular, or "standby," queue wait time is.  You might decide that waiting fifteen or twenty minutes now is better than returning an hour and a half from now if your plans will take you to the other end of the park.

The Fastpass distribution marquee shows the return window times.
The Fastpass distribution marquee shows the return window times.

  1. You insert your park pass or resort ID in the Fastpass distribution machine, and it returns your pass and a Fastpass coupon.

Insert your park pass, the coupon comes out of the machine in the slot down below.
Insert your park pass, the coupon comes out of the machine in the slot down below.

  1. The Fastpass itself has an hour-long return time window printed on it so you'll know when to return.  This time is generated by the system, you can not choose the return time yourself. Do not lose this ticket!  When you come back, you will need to give it to the Cast Member [CM] at the Fastpass return line or else you will not be allowed into the Fastpass return line!

A typical Fastpass Coupon.
A typical Fastpass Coupon.

  1. With your Fastpass coupon now in hand, instead of waiting an hour in line for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster you can use the time to stroll the shops along Sunset Boulevard, enjoy an ice cream break, jump into the standby line for the Tower of Terror (effectively being in two lines at one time), or whatever else you want to do. (Here's another hint... Near all the Fastpass ride entrances there is a clock just in case you forgot your watch.  There are no excuses for missing your window and on busy days, the Cast Member at the Fastpass return line will likely prohibit you from using an expired Fastpass!)

  2. When you come back to the attraction at the designated time, simply get into the Fastpass return line (a different line that the regular, or "standby," queue) and you'll skip a significant part of the regular queue! For those attractions that have some sort of pre-show, the Fastpass and Standby lines are merged at the pre-show, so you'll still have some wait time, but the waiting is still reduced significantly!

You enter the Fastpass return line during your return time window.
You enter the Fastpass return line during your return time window.

Here are some details and rules you need to know:

  • You cannot choose when you want to return and ride, the Fastpass system assigns those return times based on a schedule in the computer.

  • The assigned return times are intentionally spaced-out throughout the day.  You'll notice that early in the morning, the return times are usually within an hour of the time when you made the reservation. However, later in the day (and especially when the park is very crowded) the assigned times can be several hours later. Take careful note of the Fastpass distribution marquee to see what return times are currently being assigned.  If the return time shown on the sign will be inconvenient for you, do not get the Fastpass because...

  • ...you may get another Fastpass after the time that is shown in the lower right-hand corner of the Fastpass coupon (that is more clear on the newer coupons because it says, "You may not get another Fastpass until..." I'll replace that example coupon ASAP). Usually that time is two hours after you last picked up a Fastpass, but it can be as quick as forty-five minutes. In order to maximize your usage of Fastpass, then, you should get that second Fastpass as soon as your window opens up. That way, you can mark time on both Fastpasses for awhile (at least until you use the first one up), and maximize your usage of the system.

  • ...You can not "cancel" any existing Fastpass, so you're locked into a Fastpass once you have it.  There certainly isn't any penalty for not using a Fastpass, but not using them certainly wastes whatever time you've spent waiting for your window.

  • ...I'll also share this comment from MousePlanet reader Anton:

    "...Fastpasses are more useful on some attractions than others, based on where the "merge" point is with the standby line. On some attractions, like the Haunted Mansion and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, you may still have a ten-to-fifteen minute wait once you merge, whereas on Splash Mountain, for example, the Fastpass line goes all the way to the loading area. So using Fastpass when Splash Mountain has a 25 minute standby line is more productive than when Haunted Mansion says it has a 25 minute standby line."

Fastpass Unavailable printout.
Fastpass Unavailable printout.

  • Note that EVERY person must must have their own Fastpass coupon to use Fastpass!  However, if you have a larger group of people, a single person can handle the Fastpass distribution duties (in fact, that is actively encouraged at many of the Fastpass distribution areas), but every person needs their own coupon in hand to return!

  • Note, too, that if your entire party wants to enjoy an attraction together, each member of the party must swipe their passes at about the same time so that the return time windows match up.

  • If a ride goes down, Fastpass will stop issuing "reservation" times.  If you already had a "reservation", you can use it like a rain check when the attraction comes back up.

  • The park guidemaps indicate which attractions have Fastpass.

This is what goes on behind the scenes:

  • The system doesn't operate on how many Fastpasses are issued for each attraction, but rather is based on boarding times.  Blocks of return times are "released" in five minute batches, which insures a steady flow of people to the Fastpass return line. 

  • For example, if you arrive at the an attraction's Fastpass distribution area at some time between 10:25 and 10:30 AM and the wait to ride in the normal line is about 30 minutes, then your Fastpass will most likely be issued for between 11 and 11:30 AM or pretty close to that time window.  Likewise, if you arrive sometime between 1:30 and 1:35 PM, the Fastpass you get then will say it can be used between 2:05 and 3:05 PM.  Get there at 1:45 PM, and the Fastpass window might be is good between 2:15 and 3:15 PM, etc., etc. So the biggest variable in the system that will affect you is how long the regular line for the ride is at the time you get your Fastpass. 

  • If the regular line to ride is about 90 minutes at 1:30 PM, your Fastpass will allow you to come back between 3 and 4 PM - approximately a 90 minute delay or about what it would have taken you if you had waited in line.  The advantage to you is that you were able  to do other things in the meantime, and not just stand in line.

 

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