11 Best Disney Fastpass+ Secrets, Hacks & Tiers 2019 Guide

Disney FastPass+ Secrets Middle Class Dad Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

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Looking for Disney Fastpass+ Secrets That’ll Work for You in 2019?

In this post, we’ll dive deep into everything you need to know about the FastPass+ system, the tips, hacks, tricks and Disney FastPass+ secrets you must know to make the most out of your visit. We’ll also get into tiers for the FastPass+ system too.

We’ll also look at the differences between the systems at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Lastly, we’ll take a look at what’s working great in 2019 so you can make the most of your next visit.

My family (pictured throughout this post) loves all things Disney; movies, characters and especially the theme parks. While perhaps not the most knowledgeable in the land; we’re certainly experts.

We have learned how to navigate even the biggest crowds and still avoid long lines while riding all the best rides.  Learning some of these Disney fastPass+ secrets is the key to doing just that, and so much more!

Of course, we know our kids are going to want Disney swag for that next park adventure or just in general. So do what I like to do and NOT buy it at the park.

You can save a boatload and still get great quality Disney Princess Dresses, Disney World Backpacks, and even Lightsabers for a fraction of what you might pay in the park, so click those links to see current options and prices on Amazon.

What is FastPass & How Do You Use It??

FastPass is the system Disney came up with in 1999 as a way for guests of its parks to reserve a spot on the rides with the longest lines.

Traditionally you would insert your park pass into a little kiosk near the ride and it would spit out a paper FastPass ticket. It would display a 1-hour window of time during which you could return and skip the big line often saving hours of time.

The beauty of the FastPass system is that you can return to the ride anytime during your 1-hour window and go right to the FastPass line which would typically be SIGNIFICANTLY shorter than the regular line.

Timed correctly you could literally strategize your park visit knowing which rides traditionally had lines, which offered a FastPass and where they all were in proximity to one another.

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What if I miss my FastPass ride time?

Don’t sweat it!

Disney knows that trekking around the park isn’t always easy. So they built in a buffer on either side of the FastPass+ ride times. You can board your ride up to 5 minutes ahead of time or within 15 minutes after the ride time.

This is definitely one to the top FastPass+ secrets!

Do you have to use a FastPass to enjoy a Disney park?

No is the short answer.

That being said, it can DEFINITELY make your visit more enjoyable.  Last year over 20 million people went to Flordia’s Walt Disney World’s parks. While Hollywood Studios is a little less popular than The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or Animal Kingdom, all of them still got MILLIONS of visitors.

Honestly, it’s crazy that Hollywood Studios gets fewer people than the other parks, so if you want to see some shorter lines, learn  What to do at Hollywood Studios, home of Toy Story Land and the soon-to-open Star Wars Land (called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge). 

But no matter which of the parks you visit, FastPasses, while certainly not mandatory, just make your visit a LOT better!

With a little strategy and maybe some of the free apps available that show you wait times, why wouldn’t you want to use the FastPass+ system? After all, it’s free and can literally save you hours of waiting in line.

What’s the Difference Between FastPass and FastPass+?

Currently, Disneyland in Anaheim, CA still uses the traditional FastPass system whereas in Walt Disney World in Orlando switched to the FastPass+ system.

FastPass+ allows guests to log in to their My Disney Experience (either Apple app, Android app or browser-based) and make reservations; no paper tickets needed!

You can book reservations as much as 30 days in advance of your trip starting at 7 am that day. BUT if you are staying at a Disney resort you can book as much as 60 days ahead of time! That’s certainly a great Disney FastPass+ secret!

FastPass+ allows you to book a max of 3 rides at any given time, but once you’ve ridden or canceled them, book 3 more!

I spoke with Chef Jeff Johnston who also happens to be a Disney expert on his best Disney FastPass+ secrets for navigating the parks and using FastPass+ to the max.

Jeff noted For Walt Disney World, it is essential to plan ahead. While FastPass can be reserved online, having the Magic Bands can make it easier.”

He went on say that “The old school system required walking to the attraction, entering your admission ticket, and a Pass would print.

Planning ahead eliminates this, so you can plan your day going to the actual attractions (and getting into the line) vs walking to each one, to only get a pass for later in the day.”

What is a Disney Magic Band?

A Magic Band is an electronic wristband you wear with an embedded RFID chip. It seamlessly integrates with your MyDisneyExperience account allowing you to travel lighter.

As Disney states: “Use it to enter the parks, unlock your Disney Resort hotel room and buy food and merchandise. Plus, your MagicBand gives you FastPass+ access to all the experiences you’ve selected online”.

Simply touch the wristband to a card reader and away you go!

It also unlocks special surprises throughout the park which are customized for you. Those surprises get uploaded as pictures to your Disney PhotoPass account and can be pulled up later for saving or printing. They are waterproof as well in case you’re going to one of the Walt Disney World Waterparks.

Desperately wanting to go to a Disney park but aren’t sure how you’ll pay for it? Check out my crucial Vacation on a Budget tips!

Are Magic Bands free?

They are free IF you are staying at a Disney resort property. If you are not staying at a Disney property (or if you want one of the fun customized ones), you will have to pay to get one.

Basic bands cost under $15 at current prices or you can spend $30 or more at park stores for character-specific ones. 

Customize Magic Bands with custom colors too! Or get a fully custom MagicBands on Amazon and link it to your Disney Account!

Among others, they have Belle Magic Bands (my middle daughter’s favorite), Ariel, Inside Out, Nightmare Before Christmas and many more.

Check out all the Magic Band options and current prices on Amazon.

Do you have to use a Magic Band?

The short answer is no; you do not have to use a Magic Band (it simply makes things easier).

How do I use a magic band?

Simply tap the Mickey icon (if using a basic Magic Band) on the face of the MagicBand when you see an electronic reader.

All Walt Disney Resorts use these to access hotel rooms. But you’ll also see them at most restaurants, stores, entrance gates, and at all FastPass+ rides and attractions.

If you’re staying at a Disney hotel, you can also use a Magic Band to charge merchandise or meals to your room by simply creating and using a pin number. You create your PIN at the time you check into your room.

What happens if I lose my MagicBand?

If you lose your MagicBand, go to the front desk of any Disney hotel or to any of the park guest relations offices immediately after realizing it has been lost (or possibly stolen).

Disney will deactivate the band to prevent others from using it to charge to your account, enter your room, or otherwise use it. For this reason, NEVER write your PIN on your Magic Band. Disney will next issue you a replacement Magic Band (a plain one).

You can also deactivate the Magic Band yourself using the MyDisneyExperience website or app. Just go to the manage MagicBand section in the app, tap your band, and then deactivate. You can get a replacement anytime.

Is the FastPass at Disney World Free?

Yes, Disney has never charged for FastPass or FastPass+ at any of its parks (and hopefully never will).

Guests of Disney resorts do get additional lead time on reserving FastPass days and times, but FastPass (at Disneyland) and FastPass+ (at Disney World) are included in the price of your ticket.

What Time Can You Make Fast Passes For?

When staying at a Disney World Resort, you can start making FastPass+ reservations 60 days before you arrive, starting at 7:00 a.m. EST.

Check out all the amazing deals on Disney Resorts in Orlando.

When staying elsewhere, you can begin making your FastPass+ selections 30 days ahead, also starting at 7:00 a.m, EST.

Remember too that FastPass and FastPass+ are only available for select rides at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Want to know which rides are available for FastPasses?

Check the FastPass Rides at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA or

Check the FastPass+ Rides at Walt Disney World in Orlando by park

Campbell girls with Minnie Mouse Middle Class Dad

Speaking of time, the best time to plan your Disney trip is at least 6 months ahead of time (or more)! Check out the most important Steps to Plan a Vacation!

What are the FastPass tiers?

Disney FastPass tiers are something Disney just started doing to help spread out FastPass availability to all guests.

Of course, all of us tend to try and get FastPasses for the above mentioned most popular rides. Thus, they came up with the FastPass tier system to limit guests from just picking the popular rides.

While at Walt Disney World they have implemented this system at Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, they have not (as of yet) introduced it to the Magic Kingdom.

To implement the tier system, Disney has taken the most popular rides and put them into categories they call tiers.

There are currently only 2 tiers. Tier 1 rides are the most popular rides, followed by Tier 2 rides. See my list below of the most popular FastPass+ rides which also list which tier they are in.

When picking your 3 FastPass+ rides at Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios, you can pick one ride from the FastPass+ Tier 1 list and 2 FastPasses from the FastPass+ Tier 2 list. 

What FastPasses are the most popular?

One of the best Disney FastPass+ secrets is knowing which rides are the most popular.

These rides naturally get the most demand from the FastPass+ system. Thus, knowing that, you’ll either want to hit those rides right when the park opens (when the lines are short or non-existent) or build your FastPass+ strategy around getting FastPasses for these rides.

Since these can be hard to get, let’s review the most sought after ones, by park location:

EPCOT

  • Frozen Ever After – Tier 1 (this will only get worse when Frozen 2 opens in November 2019)
  • Mission: Space – Tier 2
  • Test Track – Tier 1
  • Soarin’ – Tier 1
  • Spaceship Earth – Tier 2

MAGIC KINGDOM (does not use tiers)

  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Thunder Mountain
  • Space Mountain
  • Thunder Mountain

ANIMAL KINGDOM

  • Na’vi River Journey – Tier 1
  • Avatar Flight of Passage – Tier 1
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris – Tier 2
  • Expedition Everest – Tier 2
  • DINOSAUR – Tier 2

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS (these will no doubt change when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens in late 2019)

  • Slinky Dog Dash – Tier 1
  • Toy Story Midway Mania! – Tier 1
  • Alien Swirling Saucers – Tier 1
  • Star Tours – Tier 2
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster® Starring Aerosmith – Tier 2
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – Tier 2 (yes, they still have this! They only closed the one in Anaheim)

Can you only get 3 FastPasses?

FastPasses have no limit!

Where people get confused is that you can only hold 3 reservations at a time. Your initial 3 FastPass+ bookings are done in advance (30 days normally but up to 60 days in advance if staying at a Disney hotel).

You also have to make those 3 at the same park. By that I mean you can’t book Star Tours at Hollywood Studios and then also book Peter Pan’s Flight at the Magic Kingdom. 

Once you use your 1st FastPass, book another one. Then use another one, and book another one. You can literally keep going all day until the park closes. 

Using the Park Hopper option (which my family always does), use your 3 FastPasses at one park, then book some more at another park and head on over to use them.

What is a Park Hopper?

A Park Hopper is an option you have when you buy your tickets.

This option allows you to switch back and forth between all of the parks at Walt Disney World on the same day – Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Or if you’re in Anaheim’s Disneyland, you can switch between Disneyland and California Adventure.

Without a Park Hopper, you can only visit 1 park per day for however many days you purchased when you bought your tickets.

BUT, with multi-day tickets, after you use your 1st-day ticket, you generally have 7 more days to use the remaining tickets, thus, you can take days off in between park visits.

My family LOVES the Park Hopper option and we always get it even though it does raise the costs (but then no matter what you do, this isn’t a cheap vacation).

With current prices listed on the Disney website, a 4-day ticket for ages 10 and up is $340, or $85/day.  If you add the Park Hopper option, however, it will cost anywhere from $113 to $121 per day (varies based on the day you choose).

Thus a 4-day park hopper on the most expensive day would be  $484.

A family of 4 doing that will spend a total of $1,936 instead of $1,360 without the Park Hopper, or a total of $576 more.

In my experience, that’s totally worth doing!

We find the kids sometimes need a nap midday (especially if you visit in summer when it’s beastly hot). Thus, you can head back to the hotel and relax and then head back out later and go to any park you want. 

It’s also true that some families prefer 1 park over the other and may not want to spend an entire day at one when they could be riding Star Tours. My family, for instance, gets a little bored in Animal Kingdom and usually find a few hours is just fine.

Every Disney park is different in terms of the size and how long it takes to enjoy. Want to know Which Disney Park is the Biggest? Or maybe which is the most crowded or how different parks compare to one another? Definitely take a moment and review one of my newest posts on that.

Love all things Disney?

You won’t want to miss Mickey Monthly! Mickey Monthly was the first and is still the most popular monthly Disney mystery box company, exclusively for diehard Disney fans.

These monthly Disney subscription boxes can include Disney pins, officially licensed Disney items, or a Disney Parks items, and are delivered to your door every month. 
Learn more at Mickey Monthly!

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