When you visit Walt Disney World one of the best ways of saving time standing in line is to use the Fast Pass system. The Disney Fast Pass system is very simple, and it is completely free. How it works is that for certain popular attractions in each of the parks, Disney Magic Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot all guests can get a Fast Pass to return to the ride at a particular time. They will then use their Fast Pass to join the Fast Pass line, which is almost always much shorter than the regular stand by line.
All photos by expressmonorail
There is a lot of confusion about the Fast Pass system but really it is very simple. If you do take some time to plan using the system then you will save yourself hours of standing in line. Some other theme parks do charge for their priority line system (like Universal Orlando Express Pass) but the Disney system is completely free.
When you arrive at any park then a priority should be to get a Fast Pass for a popular attraction. The Fast Pass attractions are marked on each Walt Disney World map that you will pick up when you arrive at the park. Also so that you can plan before you go, here is a list of all the Fast Pass attractions in Walt Disney World.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Peter Pan’s Flight
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Kali River Rapids
Disney Hollywood Studios
Toy Story Mania!
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Frozen Ever After
Each of these attractions will have a Fast Pass ticket kiosk station somewhere close to the entrance to the ride. The current Fast Pass return time will be displayed above the ticket kiosks. You simply insert your Key to the World or Disney ticket into the machine and it will give you a paper slip with a return time on it. Each ticket will have a return time with a window of an hour. So for example you go to the Soarin’ Fast Pass ticket machine and you are given a return time of 1.00 to 2.00pm.
There are certain rules. The system doesn’t allow you to just go around and get lots of Fast Passes. You can usually only have one at any one time. So if you have your Fast Pass for Test Track it will also show on that Pass the exact time that any machine will give you another Fast Pass.
All members of your party have to have a Fast Pass. An exception to this is for a child under the age of 3 who does not have an entrance ticket.
When the time posted on your Fast Pass arrives then go back to the attraction and show your pass to the Cast Member at the front of the attraction. They will then allow you to join the Fast Pass line.
The Fast Pass line does not mean ‘front of line’. Most likely there will be other guests there with you and often there will still be a wait. This wait is usually short but can be up to 20 minutes. It will definitely be shorter than the stand by line though! As an example the line for Soarin’ can reach 120 minutes. Yes that is 2 hours. But if you have a Fast Pass the wait will likely only be around 15 to 20 minutes.
The Not So Good Recent Changes to the Fast Pass System
It used to be that even though you had a Fast Pass for 1.15 to 2.15 if you missed that window you could go to the attraction and still use it when it had expired. The Cast Member would most likely not even bat and eyelid and would wave you on with a cheery smile. You could even go with Fast Passes from weeks or months ago and still have them honored.
Now a Cast Member will politely tell you that your time has passed. Will they stop you entering the Fast Pass line late? That is for you to try and I would love to hear of your experience of this in the Comments below.
Are Some Fast Passes Better Than Others?
The very simple answer to this is yes. Some attractions have formidable wait times (Soarin’ comes to mind). So when you arrive at Epcot my advice is always to go to get either a Test Track or a Soarin’ Fast Pass first and then ride the other attraction. Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain are the equivalent in Magic Kingdom, as are Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. In Hollywood Studios it is Tower of Terror and Rock and Roller Coaster.
Use the Disney Fast Pass system and you definitely will spend less time in line. Is it a good system? Well that is another question and I would love to hear your views in the comments below.
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Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.