One of the nicer things about traveling for work is getting a break from whatever is going on at the office for a bit. Fortunately for me, that meant I could focus on my next big deadline for our upcoming Disney World trip: FastPass+ reservations. Unfortunately, that meant praying to the WiFi gods for a strong connection in a hotel right before I needed to leave to actually attend the conference. Priorities really get you sometimes, don’t they?
I had everything I thought I needed to get ready for one of the more stressful moments of our planning. Wishlist discussions were over, Disney dining reservations were made and we knew who wanted to go on what rides. I had a spreadsheet showing all our names and each day of our trip with a park assigned to each day. Looking at the list we made for our trip of can’t miss rides and attractions, I chose the ones most recommended for FastPass+ reservations and assigned them into 4 possible FastPass+ slots for each park, each day. This really helped when it came to figuring out what to do with Miss O when everyone else was on the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (hopefully).
If anything, I felt like I had a quick list to look at when trying to grab FastPass+ reservations as quickly as possible, especially with the new Toy Story Land rides being available for the first time and completely changing the Hollywood Studios tier system. Grumble, grumble.
The night before our reservation window opened up, I tested my log in on the Disney website to make sure I could get access the MyDisney Experience section. Since I was making the reservations for our whole group, I made a test reservation, even though it was for the wrong date, then immediately cancelled it so I could make sure I understood what to do the next morning. I am not messing around with my family’s FastPasses!
I pulled up my Excel spreadsheet so it would be ready to go and then read a few chapters in my trashy travel book to help me sleep and not freak out about FastPasses all night. I swear I set three alarms to make sure I woke up with plenty of time to get ready for conference sessions the next morning and get on those FastPasses.
I slept as well as anyone can in a hotel room so I was clear headed and ready to pounce. I got dressed and started stalking the website. FastPass+ reservations are available at 6:00 AM EST on the 60th day prior to your trip arrival date, if you’re staying at one of the Disney World properties. I debated multiple devices, like I did with dining reservations, but I felt I needed to really focus in on this through the website. I had the Disney World app ready on my phone just in case, though. I’m not crazy enough to not have a backup.
I am crazy enough, however, to set another alarm on my phone for 6:58 AM to make sure I was sitting at the aforementioned laptop, actively logged in and on the FastPass+ section of MyDisney Experience, ready to start clicking like a madwoman. The second the clock hit 6:00 AM, I was diving in ready to grab what I could.
I used the same strategy I used for dining reservations and prioritized what I thought would be hardest to get. For this trip, that’s any of the new Toy Story Land rides, so while we had Slinky Dog Dash on our list, since those rides are now all in the same Tier one group for Hollywood Studios, I would have taken anything in Toy Story Land.
I’m sure the timing of our trip helped a great deal. We’re going the last week of August, so a lot of families will be back in their school routines. We managed to everything we hoped for. I was even able to line up FastPasses for meet and greets with Cinderella and Elena and Rapunzel and Tiana for Miss O and me while everyone else is on the Big Kid rides. PERFECT!
We opted to rope drop Pandora’s Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey on our Animal Kingdom Day. The kids and I will have breakfast while we wait for the others who want to ride it, then hop on the River Journey together when their finished. I did grab a FastPass for the River in the afternoon just in case we want to ride it again. We can always change it in the MyDisney App when we’re in the park.
We are also going to try and rope drop Toy Story Mania and the alien Swirling Saucers at Hollywood Studios. We don’t really get a rope drop opportunity at Epcot because of our morning breakfast at Akershus, but we’re definitely getting in the standby line for Frozen Ever After as soon as we’ve met our last princess. I’m sure a wait for Elsa and Anna will follow, but we’ll see.
We scheduled two days at Magic Kingdom, and we have FastPasses for the most popular rides that we want to go on, so those days will be more about what the kids want to do. I tried to divide the park in two sections, focusing on Fantasyland and Tomorrowland one day and Frontierland and Adventureland the last day. We’re doing Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party our last night as well, so we have a lot more flexibility when it comes to the Magic Kingdom. That didn’t stop me from getting a FastPass for Peter Pan’s flight or Pirates of the Caribbean, though. Miss O is definitely going to want to repeat Pirates, especially since they’ve added Captain Jack and he’s her current favorite.
I felt like I had the final piece of the Disney planning puzzle and spent time over the next week refining our park plans. I shared them out with our group and will refine them as needed. These plans are a framework in which to work. Flexibility is still key. We still get a fourth FastPass+ if we want, so we know we could still get lucky with a shorter wait for a repeat if we’d like. We’ll see how the kids and my in-laws hold up!
Did you score a FastPass+ win? What strategies do you use to get the rides you’re hoping for?
Featured image photo credit: Michael Gray