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Fireworks at Walt Disney World, photo courtesy of Disney.

There's no place in the world quite like Walt Disney World. With four different theme parks, two water parks, and more hotels, shops and restaurants than you can count, there is so much to do and so much fun to be had. However, to get the most out of your Walt Disney World trip, you need to plan in advance, and that includes using the FastPass+ system to book your wait times early at the theme parks.

Nobody likes to wait in line, and while you probably won't be able to avoid standing in a queue at all, you can severely cut down on your standing around time by using FastPass+ to its full potential. In this guide, we'll be talking how to make the most of your trip using Disney's helpful FastPass+ service.

Epcot Monorail

What Is Disney World’s FastPass+?

FastPass+ is Walt Disney World's system that allows you to skip the line on most of the attractions that you'll find at all four Walt Disney World theme parks, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. It's linked to your park ticket or MagicBand and allows you to book up to three FastPass+ windows per day of your Walt Disney World vacation in advance of your trip. This means you can schedule when you want to visit certain attractions, and you'll end up in a much shorter line.

Epcot Festival of the Arts at Walt Disney World

What Do You Need To Book FastPass+?

The first thing you need to do to use FastPass+ is sign up for an account on the Walt Disney World website. Each member of your party will need their own registration, but if individuals won't need to access their account themselves, like minor children, their account can be set up so that one person will manage the account, like mom or dad. Once all the accounts are linked together, one person can book FastPasses for the entire group.

Next, each member of the group will need their own theme park ticket linked to their Disney account.

Finally, the third thing you need to consider is optional, but is quite valuable: a reservation at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. If you have one, you can sign up for your FastPass+ times 60 days in advance, and you can sign up for every day of your vacation at once. If you're not staying on property, you can only sign up for your FastPass+ times 30 days in advance, and you'll need to sign up for each day of your trip separately.

Some of the most popular attractions like those at Disney's Animal Kingdom's Pandora - The World of Avatar, will see all or most of their FastPasses get snapped up before the 30-day window opens.

Soarin' Around the World at Walt Disney World Epcot

How To Sign Up For FastPass+

FastPass+ opens up each day at 7:00 AM eastern time. This means if you live on the west coast, you'll need to get up at 4:00 AM to get the first shot at the best times on the best rides.

On the day that you can sign up for FastPass+, 60 days before the first day your ticket is active if you're staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, 30 days before if not, go to the Walt Disney World website, sign into your account, and then, under the My Disney Experience menu, select GetFastPass+.

Select every person in your party that you want to book a FastPass+ for, then select the date you want to book, then which park you want to book your FastPass+ for. All three of your FastPass+ selections have to be for the same theme park, so if you first book a FastPass+ for the Magic Kingdom, all three FastPasses for that day will have to be there as well.

After you select the park, you'll be shown the list of available attractions and available times. Each attraction will give you a window of time that is one hour long. Simply select the first FastPass+ time that you want on your favorite attraction, confirm it, and then do that two more times.

There's no way to book more than three FastPasses per day before your trip. However, once you've used your three scheduled FastPasses each day, you will be able to book more, one at a time, via either the Disney World app (more on that down below) or via the kiosks located within the Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios parks.

It's a Small World at Walt Disney World

How FastPass+ Works At The Different Parks

Signing up for FastPass+ at Magic Kingdom is easy, because all FastPasses are considered equal, but that's no longer the case at the other three parks. At Epcot, Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios, attractions are broken up into Tier A and Tier B attractions, and you can only use one of your daily FastPasses on a Tier A attraction when signing up in advance. Here are the Tier A attractions at the three parks, anything not listed is in Tier B. It can get a little complicated, so please make sure you take a look over the list.

Epcot: Frozen Ever After, Test Track, Soarin', Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, Character Meet and Greet
Disney's Animal Kingdom: Avatar Flight of Passage, Na'vi River Journey
Disney's Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash, Alien Swirling Saucers, Toy Story Mania

Walt Disney World Fireworks

How Do You Use FastPass+ Best?

FastPass+ can be intimidating, especially if you've never used it before. There are so many options, and if this is your first trip to Walt Disney World or your first trip with FastPass+, it seems impossible to know a month before your vacation just what you're going to want to do. So how do you know what to schedule? Here are some tips to keep in mind.

What to schedule first: Those Tier A FastPasses are all for the most popular rides, so you'll want to be sure to grab those first if they're available. Specifically, grab Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom and Slinky Dog Dash at Hollywood Studios as those are the most popular rides at those parks with the longest lines.

At Magic Kingdom, be sure to grab the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, as that will be the first to go there. At Epcot, you can grab either Test Track, Frozen Ever After, or Soarin,' whichever is the more attractive ride to your party.

Book early in the day, but not too early: It's tempting to book a FastPass+ for right when the park opens, but if you're going to be there at rope drop, the lines will be shorter. Instead of wasting a FastPass+, when the park opens, go straight to something you would use a FastPass for. You'll still have a bit of a line, but it will be shorter than normal and you'll be able to save that FastPass+ for something else.

Having said that, try to book your three FastPasses for as early in the day as you can. Since you can only book additional FastPass+ times after your initial three have been used, the sooner you're done with the them, the more time you have to potentially pick up others. This is also why you probably don't want to waste a Tier A FastPass+ on Illuminations. Since it's an evening show it locks out additional FastPasses for the entire day.

A Pirate's Adventure: There is one way to get a specific FastPass without booking it online. If you find the A Pirate's Adventure building between Adventureland and Frontierland, you can go on a number of different treasure hunts that will take you all over Aventureland. They're full of fun interactive elements and and are a great way to spend down time. If you complete three of the treasure hunts you'll actually be given a FastPass for Pirates of the Caribbean. This way, you don't need to spend one of your precious FastPasses on the attraction, and you have a lot more fun than you would standing in line.

Alien Swirling Saucers at Walt Disney World

What App To Use With FastPass+?

You'll want to download the My Disney Experience - Walt Disney World app from your smartphone store of choice. From there, you can make and manage your FastPass+ times. It's useful for scheduling additional FastPass+ times after you've used your first three, but it's also good for checking to see what's available at any given moment. People frequently cancel or reschedule their own FastPass+ times, so it's always possible that a FastPass for a particularly popular ride that wasn't available when you made your your initial FastPasses bookings might show up later.

The app is also very convenient for booking your initial FastPass+ times if you live on the west coast so you don't need to get out of bed at 4:00 in the morning, just reach over and grab your phone.

Wonderful World of Animation at Walt Disney World

Is Disney’s FastPass+ Worth It?

There is no question that FastPass+ is worth it. It costs nothing and if you don't use it then you're just resigning yourself to standing in lines that are much longer than is absolutely necessary. If you're not staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, it can certainly be a pain to get up for several mornings in a row to book your FastPasses, ( I know) but it's a small price to pay.

The only downside is that using FastPass+ does lock you in on what you're doing on any given day weeks before your trip. If you book your FastPass+ times for Disney's Animal Kingdom on any given day, but then somebody feels tired after three days of running around the parks or just falls unexpectedly ill, or the weather sucks, you can't get those FastPasses back.

Images Courtesy: WDWNews.com/Disney

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