Thursday, November 19, 2015

FastPass + Reservations - Step-By-Step

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How To Get Those FP+ Reservations!
A Picture Tutorial
And a really important link. 

As mentioned, I have been to Disney World once, and that was 20 years ago. (Wait. What? That can't be right.)

However-long-ago, you showed up and got in line. That was it. I waited in line for over an hour to ride the Tower of Terror the year it opened.

Not today. Today, you get a FastPass +. You can use a card or a MagicBand to keep your FastPasses. Disney started this to decrease wait time, so people could enjoy more attractions by having a faster shot at their "must do" attractions. When you show up during your time slot to check in, you get to join a shorter queue, cutting time off your wait. Thanks, Disney!

But if you are here, you probably know the basics - you get 3 passes per day in one park (as of the time I'm writing this). Choosing rides and, if possible, time slots is key. If you think you are simply going to show up and choose a ride, you will wait in the longer lines, so use the three you can skip wisely. And don't wait until the last minute. Here is a list of all attractions featuring FastPass. (Disney World)

Here is the how-to of getting the passes you want. I hope. Because this has reached a crazy fever pitch. 

First, know the most popular, hard-to-get passes. Currently, Elsa & Anna Meet and Greet at Princess Hall reigns supreme. The internet is riddled with tales of parents logging on at exactly midnight and having the passes for the day they wanted be completely gone already. A close second is the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. Both are Magic Kingdom rides. If you want either of these or are visiting during a peak week, be ready to log on at midnight 60 days before your check-in date for those staying on-site and 30 days for off-site ticket holders. (Note that if the park is open late the day you make reservations, log-on might be delayed.) The third longest line Disney currently features is usually Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios. Again, if it is on your "can't miss" list, be ready. 

If you do not choose 3 FastPasses for a day, the system will automatically fill them in with lesser rides. You can change this later, but it is better to have a list, by park and date while being mindful of the tiering system at Hollywood Studios and Epcot, of the passes you hope to reserve. You can choose all three right there and go on through to the next screen. Parades and fireworks sometimes do no open for FastPass reservations until 30 days out. 

Make your ride ranking list by order of desire and difficulty of obtaining the FastPass.

Pin this site to your toolbar: Current FastPass Availability 

This site gives you all the FastPass dates for about 80 days out as well as listing the 60-day and 30-day marks. The blessed Brit who made this is operating on GMT, so keep that in mind when you see your date highlighted and get terribly excited. Check this right before making your reservations, so that if you need to tweak anything you don't need to do it in real time. Your best chance at the more difficult to get FastPasses is to make them towards the end of your trip.

Also helpful for on-site guests: Know when Magic Hours are for your trip, and if you want to take advantage of that.

The Process

It is 11:50pm the night 61 days out from check-in. If you are up at this hour, kudos on your dedication. You are probably a hot mess of anxiety right about now. What to do?

Have the above FastPass Availability window open. Make any last-minute adjustments to your requests based on their predictions. Have Plan B rides written down, because something might not be available or closed for refurbishment. Ask me how I know.

In another tab, have My Disney Experience up and logged in.

Have your reservation or ticket number on hand, just incase the system gets a little crazy on you. (It probably won't.)

You may want to have your daily plan (if you made ADRs) out so you can see rough estimations of time. But these are fast choices, so you don't need to worry too much about this.

Go pee, take a few sips of tea, and breathe.

Then start refreshing the page. And refreshing. And refreshing until the little lock sign on your "Make Selections" button disappears. You're in.

Go for the jugular. If you want one of those high-demand attractions, especially on a specific day, go right for it. We are going during one of the lowest weeks of the year. I logged on at 12:01am, grabbed the reservation for 3 people to see Elsa and Anna. There were 5 time slots available the first time I went to edit it at 12:15am, none earlier than I had already selected. By 12:35am, the only one left was during Wishes. And this is a low week, nearing the end of our trip. They go fast for the slow days, people. Get the reservation. If the attraction you want is offered, take the time.

Here's how it looks.

While logged into My Disney, click on "Make Reservations" under the FP+ symbol (above photo, minus the lock).

The next screen allows you to select all riders (which I've circled in red) or individuals (which I've pointed green arrows towards) if not everyone wants the same ride or if you are trying to just get one person in and go from there. Pick your people then hit "next" to get to the date screen. 

Choose your park and date. You will need to arrow over to find your ticketed time highlighted. It is helpful in both the rider select and the date select to know exactly what you are going for. Have all this written out next to you!

Now comes the rides!

Choose your three attractions. The rides are in alphabetical order. Rides that are unavailable or full will be greyed out. Usually they give a reason for this, so you know if you have a chance later due to capacity or if the ride is just under maintenance. Epcot and Hollywood Studios will have their attractions separated by tiers.

At this point, if you have selected the attraction, you have a potential spot. It isn't promised until you confirm and see the end screen, but you at least have the option to decline now. Next screen is time options:

After you have chosen the rides, options will be displayed. If you only chose two rides, one will be autofilled. Be careful to check the actual attractions; if times are limited, they may substitute a chosen attraction for a different attraction of a similar theme. Look carefully! If the times are not exactly as you like, you may be able to change it later.  The important thing is that you get the reservation, if they are high-demand.

If you see this screen, you made it. You survived. Now you can choose to edit your reservations to fit around your ideal schedule. The reservations you just made will appear in your itinerary and are linked to your ticket or MagicBand, once that appears.

Now go to bed.

Tricks for the Missed Reservation

Couldn't find a slot for four people to get in to see Elsa and Anna? Try getting FP+ one person at a time. If you can get even one person in, take the slot. As time draws near, spots will open. Keep an eye on the FP+ availability tool linked above (just keep it open on your computer or phone) and book them as you can, as close in time as you can. If you get everyone's rides to overlap by just a few minutes, you can all check in together. Sure, it makes for a narrow window, but it is better than a 5 hour wait. After the reservations are made, you can try tweaking the time by editing your FastPass+ reservations, too, right up until you get ready to go in the queue. Keep trying!

You can run like the dickens. Be there at Rope Drop or, even better, get in early for a meal and have the jump on everyone going to the park.  Politely bolt to the attraction you most want. Remember, this is the happiest place on earth. Don't ruin someone's day by throwing elbows or getting mean over a line. It feels important to get to the place you most want to be and not waste the day in line, but humanity and kindness are more important. Smiles go further than trod-on toes.

Take advantage of Magic Hours and those spare FP+. Once you use your first three FP+ reservations, you can make a fourth right from your smartphone or park kiosk. You just might luck out and get one. People change and cancel reservations. Crowds lessen during parades. Being able to stay a little later or miss a show could get you into the attraction you've been wanting.

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