Fret no more!
The fastpass is just Disney’s way of helping you avoid queuing up for hours at popular rides. It was introduced in 1999, and it is Disney’s version of a ride reservation system. Think of it as a “virtual” queuing system.
The service is available to all Disney guests, at no extra charge. Fastpasses are turned into the attendant cast member at the intended ride’s entry point, so it is used only once.
If you want to ride an attraction that offers a fastpass, odds are you should get one – and get one early. Rides like Soarin’, Space Mountain, and Toy Story Mania often run out of fastpasses early in the day.
When you enter one of Disney’s 4 major theme parks, have a look at your park map to determine which rides are fastpass rides. (I have the recent list repeated below). If you want to ride an attraction that has a fastpass, go there first. You’ll see two clocks at the ride entrance. One clock will list the standby wait time, and the other clock has the current fastpass return time. Judge whether you want to just wait in regular standby, or get a fastpass ticket (or do both, so you have two rides scoped out). Just look for the ATM-like machines in front of the ride for fastpass distribution.
To actually receive a “fastpass,” you have to insert each family member’s park ticket, one at a time, in the fastpass distribution machine. The machine spits back a park ticket, along with one admission “fast pass” ticket.
The fastpass normally gives you a one hour return window for expedited entry into that ride. Return to the fastpass queue (not the standby queue – they’ll be clearly marked), and if you’re holding a valid fastpass, you’ll get priority boarding for the ride. (Don’t show up early – the Disney staff/ cast members watch that pretty closely, so you’ll be instructed to wait at the side until your appointed time. However, the cast members are sometimes a little forgiving if you show up a little late to the time window on the fastpass – you may still be given access.)
You can normally hold only one fastpass ticket at a time. The admission ticket you get for your fastpass has a time that tells you when you can get a second fastpass ticket – which is usually at the start of the current fastpass return, or two hours later (whichever happens first).
So, be strategic about getting your fastpasses – get the most popular ones first, and enjoy your day!
Here are the attractions that currently offer fastpass:
Magic Kingdom: Space Mtn, Splash Mtn, Big Thunder Mtn, Buzz Lightyear, Jungle Cruise, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan
Epcot: Soarin’, Test Track, Mission Space, Captain EO, Maelstrom
Animal Kingdom: Primerval Whirl, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Dinosaur, Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest
Hollywood Studios: Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania!, Star Tours, Tower of Terror