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Fastpass @ the Disneyland Resort

What it is:
FastPass is Disney's "virtual queue system". What this means is that instead of physically standing in line you can use a computer to make a reservation and it "holds" your place so you can return and wait in a minimal line.

In 2017 Disney rolled out a Digital Version called MaxPass that bundles PhotoPass with a digital FastPass. This is an add on service. Here is some information and my first impressions.



How it works:
You walk to the FastPass attraction of your choice. On arrival you will see a FastPass distribution center. You will also see a board listing the current stand-by time and the current FastPass return time.

After deciding to get a FastPass you must next walk to the distribution machines (shown in the picture below).

Once you select your machine insert your park ticket to receive the FastPass.

The machines are clearly marked on how to insert your ticket. If you are having problems, there is usually a cast member around to help you out or ask another guest.

Rules to FastPass:
  • A FastPass is good for a one hour block of time to return to that attraction, this is now enforced throughout the park.

  • On the ticket will be printed a time you can get your next FastPass. In general you are allowed to get another FastPass after the start of your posted return time (meaning if your return time was between 2:00-3:00 you could get another FastPass at 2:00pm even if you have not used your first one yet). Or 2 hours after the one you just picked up.

  • If you try to get more than one FastPass at a time you will get a FastPass that says you already have one FastPass and it tells you when you can come back (see image on the right).

  • You are no longer able to have an active FastPass at each park. Both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are integrated as of April 2017.
  • You need a FastPass for each person in your party for entrance, but you can send a single person to pick up FastPasses, just give them the entire group's tickets. Note the tickets have to have already been scanned for that park in order to be active. So no sleeping in and sending someone ahead or sending someone over to DCA while you are in Disneyland. Everyone needs to enter the park then you can give your tickets to the "runner" to go get FastPasses.

  • As a general rule, you are currently allowed to hold only one FastPass at a time, there are several exceptions now ranging from shows, characters, and time. Be sure to read your FastPass to see if it impacts receiving another, if it does it will tell you when you can get another. If nothing is listed it means that FastPass is "off network". Examples are World of Color and Fantasmic, neither one effects your regular FastPasses.

Fastpass Offerings

Disneyland:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours - The Adventures Continue
Fantasmic (Note this does not count as an attraction Fastpass)

Disney California Adventure:

  • California Screamin'
  • Goofy's Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Soarin' Around the World
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
World of Color (Note this does not count as an attraction Fastpass)

Discontinued Fastpass Offerings:

  • Autopia
  • It's a Small World Holiday
  • Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters (Discontinued in 2010 started again in 2016)
  • Star Tours (Discontinued in 2005 restarted in 2010)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (Discontinued in 2004)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Discontinued in 2004)
  • It's Tough to be a Bug! (Discontinued in 2004)
  • Muppet Vision 3D (Discontinued in 2004)
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play it! (Discontinued in 2004)
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Attraction closed in 2017)
  • Frozen Fun: Olaf's Snow Fest, For the First Time in Forever Sing Along, Frozen Character Meet and Greet

Geek's Thoughts

There is a never ending debate occurring about the value and effectiveness of FastPass. Like any other system with some careful planning and a little luck it can save you a substantial amount of time. But if you do not optimize it or are unlucky it may end up costing you more time. The reason for this is the system tends to drive up the stand-by times on attractions that feature it. A secondary problem with the system is it means less guests in lines which means more crowds in the walkways or elsewhere in the park including in line for other attractions. FastPass at Disneyland continues to evolve. In 2004 several attractions were pulled off the system. In 2017 some new ones were added on in preparations for a new variation on the system called MaxPlus.

 

Geek's Suggestions
There are several strategies that people employ while using FastPass.

The lazy approach: As you wonder around the park you come upon an attraction you wish to visit. The standby line is long and you see people getting FastPasses, and decide to go for it. You get your FastPass and then look at your group and say, "Now what??"

 

 

 

The two-for-one approach: You send a member of your group to get a FastPass for an attraction (ex. Splash Mountain), while the rest of your group heads to Space Mountain to get in line. Your other member joins you in line at Space Mountain with your FastPasses. You wait and go on Space Mountain together, then all walk over an use your FastPasses to go on Splash Mountain. You get to go on two rides with the wait time of one.

The Geek's approach: What I usually end up doing is getting a fastpass for an attraction and then either wander around the park and watch some entertainment, or go see a classic attraction that usually has a small line (like the Tiki Room, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, or even just ride the train around the park.

Optimization Thoughts: Keep an eye on return times for attractions. With the Disneyland App for your phone this is relatively easy to do and compare that to the stand by lines. Pick your FastPasses wisely based on what you really want to experience. Also take into account that after 2 hours the window opens and you can pick up another round of FastPasses in most cases. Also note you can pick up a new round of FastPasses as soon as your window opens, you do not have to wait until after you ride. So it is usually wise to get a new FastPass before visiting the attraction you hold the first for.