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The Answer is it depends!
Disney World’s FastPass Plus (FP+) has revolutionized the way Disney Guests experience Disney’s theme Parks.
Guests can now make reservations for attractions and experiences well in advance from the comfort of home, thus eliminating the need to get up at the crack of dawn to make it to the park for rope drop.
The timeframe when you are able to make your FP+ reservations varies based upon where you are staying. There are two different categories.
- Those staying at Disney owned resorts, the Swan and Dolphin hotels, Shades of Green, and the Disney Springs Resorts
- Those staying elsewhere such as local hotels, Passholders, and day guests
First, it is important to note that there are several very high demand attractions/experiences which for all available FP+ times are taken very soon after they become reservable.”
Among these high demand items are, Avatar Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, Frozen Ever After, Toy Story Mania, Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Soarin’ Around the World, and big seasonal items like the Christmas Parade.
If you would like to experience one of these during your trip, it is imperative that you make your FastPass Plus reservations as early as possible.
Non Disney Resort guests often miss out on getting advance FastPasses for these items, here’s why.
More Than Two Classes of Guests
Disney Resort guests and those at the Swan and Dolphin, Shades of Green, and Disney Springs Resorts are allowed to begin making FastPass Plus reservations 60 days prior to their check in date for all of the days of their resort reservation including check in and out days, up to the number of days on their ticket (to a max of 10 days worth).
Non Disney guests have to wait until 30 days prior to their desired FastPass Plus date to make theirs and must then wait until 30 days prior to the second date they want FastPass reservations, etc. This continues for each day of their trip, making daily FastPass reservations based on a rolling 30 day window.
So, having to wait until the 30 day mark puts non Disney Resort guests at a huge disadvantage!
At first glance this creates a two tiered system, but it is more complicated than that, here’s why.
While it’s obvious that the 60 vs 30 day window splits park goers into 2 major categories, the way the 60 day window for Disney Resort guests is implemented creates many sub-groups of with in the 60 day group, based upon the length of their WDW Resort stay.
Our family decided to take a short trip to Walt Disney World over the Christmas break. We planned on a 3-night stay with 2 days in the parks.
We know we’ll be paying more for our Disney Resort and park tickets due to the Christmas blockout of the Disney Armed Forces Salute, but we accepted that we’d pay more to experience Disney World over Christmas time.
Crowds will be high, but I was counting on our 60 day FastPass Plus window to allow us to do the few things that we really wanted to do.
I made my resort reservations about 3 or 4 months out though Ears of Experience, then purchased my Regular Military Discounted Magic Your Way tickets from my Base Ticket office. I linked both in My Disney Experience account and waited until the 60 day mark to make those few coveted FastPasses.
We only wanted a few things: the Mine Train, the Christmas Parade, and perhaps the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom and Toy Story Mania at Disney Hollywood Studios (my wife hasn’t tried it yet).
You can begin making your FastPass Plus reservations at midnight eastern the morning of the 60th day before your check in day.”
On my 60th day out I had an early shift on my squadron’s operations desk so had to be up at 4 am central. I logged into My Disney Experience and was immediately disappointed! (Note: when this post was written FP+ reservations opened at 12:01 am, they now open at 7 am eastern)
No Toy Story Mania slots were available at all, no parade or fireworks either! The only Mine Train FastPass available was on Christmas after dinner time and we already had a Priority Seating for dinner at one of the Epcot Resort area restaurants that evening.
All the other items we might have been interested in like the other coasters, Haunted Mansion, Pirates, Soarin’, Test Track were all booked each day until late evening. Nothing was available in the morning.
Why Was This?
It is because Disney guests are allowed to make their FastPass Plus reservations for the length of their trip (up to 10 days) on the 60th day before they check in.
My desired dates for FastPasses were 23-26 December, which I was able to start making FastPasses for on 24 October, there were people out there with 10-day windows which included my park days (24 & 25 Dec), who were able to start making FastPasses on 16 & 17 October.
I wasn’t getting first crack at the FastPasses on my 60 day mark; there had actually been people making their FastPasses for my dates for up to 9 days before I could!
(Those checking in on 15 December could make FP+ through the December 24th on 16 October)
I do have to note that this would not have been as an issue during lower attendance time periods. Christmas is one of the two highest attendance periods!
Multiple Levels of Priority
So rather than the two different priorities for WDW guests using FastPass Plus (the 60 and the 30 dayers), we find that there are actually 10 sub-classes within the 60 day group with the advantage going to those staying longer.
So back to my original question.
FastPass Plus – Does It Really Work For Highly Desired Attractions?
The Answer is it depends on first, your resort choice, 30 vs 60 day reservations and then within the 60 day group, how long your stay is.
As I mentioned for mid to lower attendance you shouldn’t experience too much trouble, but if you plan on going during a busy time (Christmas week, Spring Break) like we did, you could be out of luck on shorter stays.
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