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The Best Disney Fast Passes for 2019

If you’re trying to figure out the best Disney Fast Passes for a seamless 2019 Disney vacation without waiting in long lines, then pull up a chair and start taking notes!

I truly love helping people plan their ideal Disney vacation. I’ve brainstormed with friends who are 2 years away from booking a trip, and I’ve jumped in to help friends who are leaving in a week and haven’t booked a thing.

The mistake I see again and again that makes me die a little inside is people not using Fast Pass! (Cue horror movie sound effects.)

Almost as bad- when people book Fast Passes, but they chose rides that really don’t warrant it or weren’t the best use of their selections.

Since you’re here, I know you won’t make any of those mistakes!

Disney Fast passes 2019

 

Disney Fast Pass FAQs

Let’s start with some of the questions I hear over and over again about booking Fast Passes.

Do you have to pay extra for Fast Pass?

No, no, and NO! Unlike Universal, Disney includes 3 Fast Passes per day for EVERY ticket. You don’t need to be staying on site and you don’t need to pay extra. And after you use those 3 (or let them expire), you can book more one at a time.

Is it really necessary to book Fast Pass ahead of time?

It not a requirement to schedule ahead of time, and most attractions will have Fast Passes available on the day of. However, if you want the best chance at those extremely popular attractions, you absolutely should book your Fast Passes as soon as you possibly can.

There are a limited number of Fast Passes for each attraction, and the most popular rides do run out of Fast Passes well in advance.

When can I book my Fast Passes?

If you are staying onsite at a Disney resort, you can book your Fast Passes 60 days before the start of your trip (and you can book your entire trip on that day). If you are staying offsite, you can book 30 days in advance. You will need to book each day of your trip one by one, abiding by the 30 day window.

The booking window opens at 7am EST, so sit down at your computer at 6:50 on the day your booking window opens and log on to MyDisneyExperience to book!

What’s the best time of day to schedule my Fast Passes for?

There are two schools of thought on this, and it depends on your touring strategy.

Personally I’m in the rope drop crowd (arriving before the park opens to take advantage of the early morning low crowds). With this strategy, I recommend booking Fast Passes starting at 11am. You can take advantage of the low crowds prior to that time while still having them scheduled early enough in the day to then use a 4th, 5th and 6th Fast Pass after your initial 3.

family in matching Disney shirts meeting Mickey at magic kingdom

How can I get extra Fast Passes?

Once all your pre-booked Fast Passes have been used (or expire), you can book another using the MDX app or at Kiosks located throughout the parks. You may only book one at a time with this method. Once you use your fourth Fast Pass, you can book a 5th.

For 4th Fast Passes and beyond, you can repeat one of the attractions that you already FastPassed and you can choose a different attraction from the Tier One category. Just remember these are subject to availability so it’s not incredibly likely that those will be available. People do change plans and cancel Fast Passes last minute however, so it’s worth checking.

What’s this I hear about “tiers”?

At Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, Fast Passes are selected within a tiered model.

This means you may only select ONE of the two or three most popular attractions in that park. You can then select two of the Tier 2 attractions. My recommendation is to choose your most desired Tier 1 attraction and use Fast Pass for that. You can then prioritize the other Tier 1 attraction to be your first ride of the morning if you arrive at rope drop, or your last ride of the night if you take the late shift (both good times to ride a popular ride without a Fast Pass).

Want to know how I afford to go to Disney every year without going broke? Don’t miss this post that dishes all my secrets on how to save on Disney World!

Best Disney Fast Passes For Each Park

Magic Kingdom (no tiers)

Seven dwarfs Mine Train is the top pick for fastpass at Disney Magic Kingdom
Seven dwarfs mine train: the best Fast pass choice for Magic Kingdom

Top 3 Picks

  1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  2. Space Mountain
  3. Splash Mountain

Other Solid Choices

  1. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  2. Peter Pan’s Flight (personally I think it’s overhyped, but the lines get VERY long so if you choose to ride, do it with Fastpass or at rope drop)
  3. Winne the Pooh (slow load times = long lines)
  4. Enchanted Tales with Belle
  5. Meet Mickey and Minnie at Town Square Theater (sadly this Mickey no longer talks)
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean
  7. Buzz Lightyear Spaceranger Spin

Epcot

Spaceship earth at Disney's EPCOT is a fun ride you may want to use tier 2 fast passes on
Inside that giant ball is Spaceship Earth, one of my favorite rides

Tier 1 (choose ONE of these)

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Test Track

If you have a Frozen fan on your hands, go with that as the lines are longest. Otherwise, choose Test Track. Don’t miss Soarin’- ride it first thing in the morning or last at night, or grab it as a 4th Fast Pass if you’re lucky.

Character spot is Tier 1 but probably not your best use of FastPass.

Illuminations is also a Tier 1 choice but nobody should choose it, there are plenty of spots all around the lake with great views of the show.

Also note-worthy is that Illuminations will be replaced by a new nighttime spectacular show at Epcot sometime in 2019. It remains to be seen whether or not this new show will alter the best choice of Fast Pass, but I will keep this updated if it does!

Tier 2 Solid Choices

The other attractions rarely get long lines so Fast pass should not be necessary.

Animal Kingdom

Everest at Disney's animal kingdom is a good use of fastpass
If you’re brave enough for Everest, you’ll want to ride it with a FP!

Tier One (must choose one)

  • Avatar Flight of Passage- The most sought after Fastpass in WDW. Get one of it you can!
  • Na’vi River Journey (only pick this if you can’t ride Flight of Passage due to height or other restriction!)

Tier Two Solid Choices

Hollywood Studios

Child and mother in front of tower of terror- tier 2 fastpass choice for Hollywood studios
Tower of Terror: A great choice for your Tier 2 FP

The addition of Toy Story Land has completely rearranged the Fast Pass tiers for this park. I imagine that, after the newness wears off, they will restructure the tiers again. For now, they look like this:

Tier One (must choose one)

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Toy Story Mania

Your best bet is to get a Fast pass for Slinky Dog and try to ride the others standby or with a 4th Fast pass or higher. The wait times for Alien Swirling Saucers have died down recently so should be the most reasonable of the three. Also, the queue for Toy Story Mania is a fun one, which helps if you choose to ride it standby.

Tier Two Solid Choices

  • Rockin’ Roller Coaster
  • Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours

Check out this post for a closer look at the best rides at Hollywood Studios!

Still have Fast pass questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do another Fast pass FAQ in my next Disney post.

If you are planning the ultimate family Disney vacation, don’t miss my picks for kids’ favorite Disney resorts and kid’s favorite Disney restaurants!

And don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest:

 

How To Beat Walt Disney World Crowds In 5 Steps

Are you planning the ultimate Disney vacation and trying to figure out how to best manage Disney World crowds? Your ultimate guide is here!

Disney World Crowds

 

1. Go in the off season

Thinking of a Disney vacation when the kids are off of school for Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, or summer vacation? Unfortunately, so is the rest of the world! These are when you will find peak crowds at WDW.

The week from Christmas to New Years sees the absolute highest crowds of the year, frequently causing Magic Kingdom to close due to capacity (Magic Kingdom holds an estimated 100,000 guests!) Even minor holidays like Columbus Day and Presidents Day will surge crowds for that week.

Disney World crowds

Christmas crowds at WDW Photo credit: MouseSteps

Are you telling me to take my kids out of school?

That’s a personal choice that depends on a lot of factors. Consider things like: how many other absences your children have, their age, ability to catch up on missed work, and the school’s policy on absences. It may or may not be a good choice for you.

Also consider how big a vacation this will be for your family. Is this your one and only Disney vacation where you want to fit as much in as possible? Or do you go every year and plan on taking it easy?

If you’re still on the fence, sit down and look at your child’s school calendar. Are there any days off that most of the country won’t have off? A random fall break, teacher development days, or February recess? That might be your opportune time to go without missing as much school.

What if I have no other choice than to go during these peak times?

In my book, a crowded day at Disney World still beats a regular day at home. If you must go during high crowds, follow each my other points to the letter, and make the best of it.

So when is the best time to go according to Disney World crowds?

Gone are the days when the parks are ever “empty”. Even during the low crowd times of year you will see substantial wait times for the most popular rides. But the average wait times will be significantly lower if you go in: January, February (except the week of President’s Day), April (except Easter week), early May, late August, September, October (except Columbus Day), November (except Thanksgiving week), and the first half of December.

Disney World crowds

For more specifics, including which park is the best to go to each day, I highly recommend Undercover Tourist’s crowd calendar.

2. Avoid the park that has Extra magic hours

You’re staying in a Disney hotel and you want to take advantage of all the perks. I get it. But the key to avoid crowds is to zig when everyone else zags.

For those who don’t know, each day one of the four parks has “Extra Magic Hours”, or EMH, meaning it opens early or stays open late for guests who are staying at a Disney hotel. People love to feel like they’re part of something exclusive! They also want to take advantage of all the perks that go along with the big bucks they dropped on their Disney hotel. That means the park that has Extra Magic Hours is going to be the most crowded park that day. Avoid that park!

The funny thing is, most people don’t even end up at the EMH park during the bonus hours. They either end up sleeping through the early morning hours, or being too tired to stay out for the evening hours. But people still see EMH as Disney telling them which park to go to that day, and they listen!

The only exception to this rule: There is ONE situation where I recommend EMH parks. If you have park hopper tickets, and you actually get up early enough to enjoy the early morning extra hours, by all means go to the that park for those hours. You will enjoy a couple low-crowd hours. Then, once the rest of the pack arrives, hop over to a less crowded park.

3. Rock rope drop

In the first hour the park is open, you will be able to accomplish as much as you would in 3-4 hours in the afternoon. Unless you are a family of super late risers whose vacation would be ruined by setting an alarm, I’d recommend putting the effort in to arriving at the park 30 minutes before it opens.

avoid crowds at Disney World
T and Z in empty Animal Kingdom after arriving 30 mins prior to rope drop!

Tips for making Rope Drop work for you:

  • Carry breakfast with you and eat it outside the park entrance while you wait for it to open. We get groceries delivered through Garden Grocer so all we need to do is grab a banana, yogurt, granola bar, or single-serving dry cereal box and throw it in our bag.
  • Don’t light the candle at both ends. Plan your days so the ones that start early, end early. It’s not enjoyable to try to do parks from open to close, especially if you have little ones.
  • If you are trying to do morning and evening hours, make sure to take that afternoon nap/break.

4. Use FastPass wisely!

I have an in-depth post about Fastpass, but here are just some quick highlights:

Do NOT miss your booking window to select FastPasses! Book your FastPasses 60 days from your check-in date if you’re staying on Disney property, or 30 days from the start of your trip if you’re staying off site. Log on to MyDisneyExperience to book your FastPasses starting at 7am EST.

Hit that sweet spot when selecting the times of your FastPasses. You don’t want to use them the first hour or two in the morning, because crowds are already low then. Wait too late in the day, and you won’t be able to take advantage of the extra FastPasses you can get after using your initial three.

11am to 2pm is generally the ideal time to book your FastPasses.

It’s also critical that you’re making your selections wisely. Your kid might love It’s a Small Word, but don’t waste a FastPass on it! Use your FastPasses on attractions that have the longest waits so they save you the most time.

FastPass priorities for each park:

Magic Kingdom

  1. 7 Dwarfs Mine Train
  2. Splash Mountain
  3. Space Mountain
  4. Peter Pan’s Flight
  5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  6. Enchanted Tales with Belle

Epcot

  1. Frozen Ever After
  2. Soarin’
  3. Test Track  (note you can only choose ONE of these three due to the tiering system)
  4. Spaceship Earth
  5. Mission Space
  6. Character Spot

Animal Kingdom

  1. Avatar: Flight of Passage
  2. Na’vi River Journey (choose ONE of these two due to tiering system)
  3. Expedition Everest
  4. Kali River Rapids
  5. Kilimanjaro Safari

Hollywood Studios

  1. Rockin Roller Coaster
  2. Toy Story Mania (choose ONE of these two due to tiering system)
  3. Tower of Terror
  4. Star Tours
  5. Frozen Sing Along
Disney World crowds
You want to be in the line on the RIGHT. Photo credit: The Mouse for Less

Not sure if your children are tall enough for these popular rides? I’ve outlined every height restriction in Walt Disney World as well as which rides are potentially scary for children or may induce motion sickness!

5. Make a quick getaway

Last but not least! Some of the longest, most stressful lines are not for attractions at all, but for buses back to your hotel after the park closes. After the evening spectaculars, you along with tens of thousands of others are all trying to exit at the same time. When you’ve had a long day and the kids are falling asleep in their strollers, the last thing you want to do is get elbowed in a sea of people and have to wait an hour for a bus back to your hotel. Here are some tips for an easier getaway:

Strategically place yourself near an exit

The train station balcony by the exit of Magic Kingdom is a great place to watch fireworks and puts you right by the exit for an easy getaway. Another good option is the hub at the beginning of Main Street by the flagpole. This is also a good place to see the parade.

At Epcot, you can watch Illuminations from the entrance to World Showcase (by the two merchandise buildings) and you’ll make it out of the park before the herd.

Take a different route to the exit

If you do find yourself by the castle for the fireworks, here is a trick to get to the exit faster. Most people don’t know that the shops all along Main Street are interconnected on the inside. When everyone is making their way down at a snail’s pace, you can walk right through from shop to shop.

Epcot has an advantage because it has two exits. In addition to the main entrance, there is the International Gateway located in between the France and UK pavilions of World Showcase. For anyone staying at the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan, or Dolphin hotels, this exit puts them at an easy walking distance to their hotel. Even if you aren’t staying at one of these, exiting via the International Gateway and then calling an Uber to your hotel might be a good option for those looking to avoid a crowded bus.

Consider getting an Uber

Getting around Disney World via Uber can be a great option if you’re in the time crunch. Typically rides from place to place within the World will cost $8-$13.

Be sure to download the Uber app before your trip if you’ve never used an Uber before. This will save time and have you all set to go when you’re leaving the parks.

If you want to get $5 off each of your first 4 Uber rides, (and support Real Mom Recs!) use the code johnp37188ue when you sign up for your Uber rider account.

If you’re taking an Uber from Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to meet it at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Only Disney authorized vehicles can drive right up to the entrance of the park.

For those who need a car seat, it is possible to order an UberX with a car seat for about $8 more than the regular rate.. Check out Uber’s website for more details on this.

Disney has also partnered with Lyft and launched the new Minnie Van service but at this time it is only available to guests of the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, and Beach Club. I will update if/when they expand to all the resorts.

A final note about Disney World crowds

Don’t be that parent that lets the stress of crowds ruin a good time for you and your kids. Some amount of people-herding is inevitable during this type of trip. The more relaxed you are about it, the better your children will deal with it, too.