Your ticket entitles you to Fastpass+ (technically, it’s in all caps), which permits anyone to obtain a timed entry ticket to three attractions a day. You scan your ticket card or MagicBand to check in at the appointed hour, bypassing the main line and cutting out lots of waiting time. Until 2014, you obtained paper Fastpasses in person at each attraction. Now it’s a whole lot more complicated and it will require you to do some work ahead of time. Disney’s always tweaking the rules, but here’s the gist:
Before you arrive at the park (60 days ahead for guests of Disney-run hotels, 30 days ahead for day visitors and non-Disney hotel guests), you may book up to three Fastpasses for each day you’re touring as long as you have purchased tickets first. (Note that if your WDW hotel isn’t linked to your park tickets, you can only book 30 days ahead.) To schedule them, you must register your name, birthday, and tickets on the Disney website or the free My Disney Experience app (MDX).
After you tell the system what you’d like to do, it comes up with a few options for timing your Fastpasses, usually spread throughout the day and of varying popularity. After you accept one of its plans, you may go back and individually revise each reservation—I recommend moving them toward the first part of the day, because you may not obtain any more Fastpasses until they’re all used up. You can’t Fastpass the parade, but you can create a spot for it in your day’s schedule. Once you’re at the park, you’ll find scattered stations where iPad-bearing cast members help you create a Fastpass plan (if you haven’t been able to yet), revise it, or add more Fastpasses after your original allotment is used. There are often lines for help.
Some die-hard Disney fans like Fastpass+ because it gives them a refined way to game the system. But if you’re a casual visitor, Fastpass+ has grave flaws that have junked up the Disney experience. It forces new visitors to pre-research attractions so much that when they finally arrive, the sense of unfolding surprise and spontaneity is spoiled. The system also turns day visitors into second-class customers since Disney hotel guests get the jump on booking times; it’s not uncommon for the best rides to run out of Fastpasses by the time day visitors start their planning. Inside the parks, guests spend their days hunched over mobile phones consulting MDX, anxiously checking the progress of their predetermined schedules. The in-park help stations have also added yet more lines where they were never designed to be any.
Last, it used to be that only the major rides and shows were Fastpass-enabled, but now, Fastpasses are issued for attractions that are never crowded anyway. Use this site's attractions listings to determine what’s worth Fastpassing. But please—don’t succumb to the temptation to get obsessive about planning.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.