Everything You Need to Know to Make the Most of FastPass+

Everything You Need to Know to Make the Most of FastPass+

FastPass+ is Walt Disney World’s “priority boarding” system. Want to skip the line and hop right onto the ride? With FastPass+, you can!

How do FastPasses work?

Now, it isn’t quite as simple as bypassing every line for every attraction. You can pre-book up to 3 FastPasses per day – for one park per day – in advance. Simply choose from available times, book the pass, return to the attraction at the specified time, tap your Magic Band at the FastPass entrance, and you’re good to go! There is no extra fee.

When can I make my selections?

If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, you can make FP+ selections for your entire trip starting at 7:00 AM Eastern, 60 days prior to your arrival.

Not staying on property? As long as you have purchased a park ticket or an Annual Pass, you can make selections starting at 7:00 AM Eastern, 30 days prior to arrival.

What’s the process?

Disney makes it really simple, thankfully! There are a few things you need to do first:

  1. Make sure your park tickets are linked to your My Disney Experience account
  2. Making FastPass+ reservations for people other than yourself? Make sure you’re “friends” with all members of your party in My Disney Experience. That way, you can grab FastPasses for everyone at once!

Once that’s all set, just log into My Disney Experience online or open your app, tap your character icon, and then select Get FastPass+ under the My Plans section.

Sadly, you can’t pick the most sought-after attractions for all three of your daily FastPasses. You can choose from one “e-ticket” (a throwback term from when Disney actually used ticket books; it means the most in-demand experiences) attraction and two lower-tier rides or experiences (lower-tier does not mean less fun, btw). For example, at Epcot, you won’t be able to get FastPasses for Soarin’, Test Track, and Frozen Ever After all in the same day. You’ll have to pick one. Then, for your remaining two choices, you can select practically any other ride in the park (Spaceship Earth, Mission Space, Gran Fiesta Tour, etc.).

Once selected, your FastPasses are stored in your Magic Band. When you arrive at your FastPass+ attraction, tap your Magic Band to the Mickey on the touchpoint. If it turns green, that means you’re within the correct time window. There’s always a Cast Member present to assist, so don’t worry if the process sounds confusing.

Which FastPasses should I choose?

It depends on your preferences, your travel group, and what your priorities are!

The attractions below generally tend to have the longest lines. For some – looking at you, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – I won’t even attempt to ride without a FastPass because the line is excruciatingly long and tediously boring. Others, like Flight of Passage, I ride without a FastPass all the time. Flight of Passage’s line is usually  completely ridiculous – like 2 – 3 hour waits – but the scenery changes frequently, and that helps pass the time.

Review which experiences are important to you and your travel party, and if you want to experience any of the attractions listed below and can grab a FastPass, do it!

Magic Kingdom

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


  • Frozen Ever After
  • Soarin’
  • Test Track

Hollywood Studios

  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Tower of Terror
  • Rock’n Rollercoaster

Animal Kingdom

  • Flight of Passage
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Expedition Everest
  • Na’vi River Journey

What happens when I use all of my FastPasses?

If you use all three of your FastPasses, head to a FastPass+ kiosk in the park and you can add one more! Use that one? You can keep adding! You can add via the app as well. Do keep in mind, though, that most of the sought-after FastPasses are booked 60 – 30 days out and are unlikely to be available same-day. The FastPasses you’re most likely to find same-day are ones for attractions that don’t usually require a FastPass – like omnimovers (rides that are constantly moving, like Haunted Mansion), shows, or character meet and greets.

Side note: Personally, I prefer to only use FastPasses when necessary. It’s not going to kill me to wait in a 10 or 15 minute line. What I do want to avoid, though, is a 60 – 90 minute line. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen the FastPass line longer or the same length as the standby line because people are bent on using FastPasses even when they aren’t really needed. If the line is such that you can basically walk on, there’s really no need for a FastPass. (If you’re visiting during a high traffic time, though, that’s a different story.)

What if I can’t get a FastPass+ for the ride I want?

It’ll be ok! Worst case scenario: hit the restrooms, grab a drink, and either read or talk with your family while in line.

Also! People cancel FastPasses all the time, so it’s worth checking the app every day in case something you want opens up.

Since I’m a local passholder and can only book FastPasses 30 days out, most of the in-demand ones (Flight of Passage, cough cough) are gone long before my booking window even arrives. Sometimes, if we have a park day planned in advance, we can get a few FastPasses for our favorite rides. Usually, though, our park days are more spontaneous and we go without FastPasses altogether (gasp!). It helps if you’re avoiding heavy-traffic times (spring break, the holiday season, etc).

There are always strategies you can try to minimize your wait, too. If you want some tips from the community, leave a comment below and let us know which attraction you have your eye on.

Have any questions about the process? Let me know and I’ll be happy to help!


Know Nothing About Disney World? Start Here.

Know Nothing About Disney World? Start Here.

As a person who not only visits Disney World constantly but also writes Disney-focused content in a Disney-focused community, sometimes it’s easy to forget who I write this blog for.


Normal people with lives, careers, families, commitments, and 2.4 million things to juggle. People who don’t always have time to keep up-to-date with every little detail.

Spaceship Earth - Epcot

When I’m always talking with cast members, passholders, and frequent visitors, I sometimes start to think that everyone already knows everything.

But when I overhear conversations (and, let’s be honest, sometimes arguments 😱) in the parks, it serves as a great reminder that there’s a TON of info out there and not everyone has the time or inclination to learn everything beforehand. Heck, if you’re visiting for the first time, you might not realize any of these options are available or even necessary.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror - Disney's Hollywood Studios

So if you’re a total Walt Disney World newbie? I’m here for you.

Let’s start with the basics.

Walt Disney World is located in Orlando, Florida (Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, mostly, if you want to get specific, but technically, Disney property lies within multiple counties).

The Walt Disney World Resort area is roughly the size of San Francisco.

Tree of Life - Disney's Animal Kingdom

There are four parks:

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Epcot
  • Hollywood Studios
  • Animal Kingdom

One shopping/dining/fun district:

  • Disney Springs

Disney Springs

Two water parks:

  • Blizzard Beach
  • Typhoon Lagoon

Two mini golf courses:

  • Winter Summerland
  • Fantasia Gardens

Four “actual” golf courses:

  • Magnolia
  • Palm
  • Lake Buena Vista
  • Oak Trail

And around 25 Disney-owned hotels (this number includes Disney Vacation Club villas). There are also at least a dozen non-Disney hotels on property.

Disney World is often referred to as The Happiest Place on Earth; however, that’s actually Disneyland. Walt Disney World is The Place Where Dreams Come True.

Yes, there’s a lot of info to take in, but we can totally do this the more magic, less stress way: bite-sized blog posts!

What do you want to learn more about next? Let me know in the comments!

How to Snag Those Popular Disney Dining Reservations (and Why it Matters)

How to Snag Those Popular Disney Dining Reservations (and Why it Matters)

Figuring out when, where, and why to book your Disney dining reservations (also called Advance Dining Reservations or ADRs) can be one of the most confusing parts of planning a Walt Disney World vacation.

If you’re staying on Disney property

You can begin booking dining reservations for the length of stay (up to 10 days) starting at 7:00 AM EST 180 days prior to your arrival. For example, if you’re arriving on August 1, 2018, and staying for a week, you’ll be able to book dining reservations for your entire visit at 7:00 AM on February 2, 2018.

To save a few minutes counting days on the calendar, use this handy date calculator, enter your arrival date, and then subtract 180 days. Boom! Save it in your calendar for extra credit.

If you’re not staying on Disney property

Off-property guests can also book dining reservations 180 days out, but only for one day at a time. For example, if you’re arriving on July 15, 2018, you can book ADRs for that date on January 16, 2018. Then, you’ll need to log back in on January 17 to make your reservations for July 16, and so forth for each day of your visit.

Why it matters

Walt Disney World’s most in-demand restaurants book up in literally minutes each day – seriously. If you’re longing to visit one of the more popular venues like Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest, chances are high that you will not be able to get in if you don’t make a point to call at 7:00 AM, 180 days out. Heck, even some people who do get online at the crack of 7:00 AM aren’t able to get reservations. (Pro tip: be prepared for that possibility with a few ideas for backup restaurants.)

Even if you don’t have your heart set on an in-demand dining experience, the probability of being able to walk up to a table service restaurant and actually be seated is low. There’s really no “slow season” at Disney World anymore.

If you’re paying for a Disney Dining Plan that includes table service credits or signature dining credits, you’re letting a lot of money go to waste by not booking those reservations in advance. If no table service restaurants are available, quick service outlets are your only option.

And last but not least: walking from restaurant to restaurant is exhausting, especially when you’re already tired and hungry. (I know from experience! ;))

How to book

Disney offers several convenient ways to make your dining reservations:

  • Book online
  • Book using the My Disney Experience app
  • Call (407) WDW-DINE

Questions? Comments? Hints or tips you’d like to share with The Ear Collector community?

Surviving Summer in Florida

Surviving Summer in Florida

Summertime, like many parts of the year in Florida, can be hot. Like, miserably, sweating-from-places-you-didn’t-even-know-could-sweat hot. And humid. Oh man, it’s humid. If you’re not used to it, you might feel like you’re walking around in a sauna. In hell. A really pretty, fun version of hell.
But guess what? Even though it’s hot, you can still have a totally amazing vacation by being prepared and taking care of yourself.

1. Get used to walking before you go.

I know this is not an option for some, but it’ll help. Promise. You’re gonna be dang tired if you go from 2,000 steps a day at home to 20,000 steps a day at Disney World. Going from 10,000 or more steps a day to 20,000 steps is less of a punch in the face. You’ll be less tired, less cranky, and able to get more done.

2. Hydrate.

You probably already don’t drink enough water, and you’re going to be sweating like mad in the Florida heat. There’s no need to bring in heavy bottled water or spend $4 per bottle of Dasani, either. Any quick service restaurant or counter that has fountain drinks will give you a cup of water at no charge. (Note: if the outlet/cart only has bottled beverages, they won’t be able to give you water.) My favorite method? Packing an empty water bottle to keep the weight of your park bag reasonable. I use a Bobble bottle with a filter and fill it at water fountains throughout the park.

3. Protect yourself from the sun.

The last thing you want on your vacation is a fierce sunburn, and I’m guessing you’d like to avoid damage to your skin and premature signs of aging, too. You need SPF on any exposed skin: face, lips, ears, arms, legs, even the tops of your feet. I use a tinted moisturizer with SPF 50 for my face, an SPF 15 lip balm, then a Coola spray sunscreen for the rest of my body. Also essential? A breathable hat! I have a wide-brimmed, packable, squishable safari-type hat. It helps shade from the sun and keep me a little cooler, plus I can just smoosh it up and throw it in my backpack when it gets dark. Sunglasses are another big one – I literally never make a daytime park trip without mine. And I know you know this, but… you still need to protect yourself from rays even when it’s cloudy.

4. Seek shade.

There are a bunch of good ways to do this! Meals are an awesome opportunity to get into the air conditioning. You can make Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) for a number of table service meals, or you can visit some of the larger quickservice outlets that offer ample indoor seating. Dark rides are another good one: the dim lighting and chilled air on Haunted Mansion feels pret-ty dang good on a sweltering day! Or pop into pretty much any shop for some shade. Cool off and browse the cute stuff at the same time!

5. Rest when you need to.

Seriously. Listen to your body. You don’t even have to miss out on the fun. Attractions like Philharmagic and the People Mover are perfect for getting off your feet while still enjoying the magic.

6. It’s probably gonna rain.

Acceptance helps. Daily afternoon thunderstorms are simply a part of Florida summers! Get a rain poncho. You can either bring one of these with you or purchase in-park for around $10 (they’re not on display, so you’ll have to ask at the counter). Five years on, our Disney ponchos are still going strong! It’s money well-spent if you’re able to continue throughout the park instead of hover under an overhang, too. Most park operations continue as normal during the rain, but outdoor attractions will temporarily close if there’s lightning in the area. Keep in mind: parades and outdoor shows may also be adjusted, delayed, or canceled.

7. Get plenty of sleep.

When you’re tired, it’s easier to get cranky and forget to hydrate and rest.
There you have it: hydrate, rest, and take time to cool off. It’s gonna be hot, but taking good care of yourself will go a long way in helping you have a great time.
*obviously I’m not a medical professional, so seek guidance from yours should you have any concerns 

D23 Roundup: Changes and Updates Coming to Walt Disney World

If you’re a person on the internet, chances are you’ve seen lots of chatter regarding D23’s Parks and Resorts panel. Rumors run rampant all year round (vom), but this panel is where the official announcements come from.

Disney Parks Blog has a page of updates and information here, so you’re welcome to hop on over to read the full story. Buuuut I always want to know one thing first: what’s closing. Disney Parks Blog – understandably – tends to bury that information in favor of highlighting the new and exciting. Some of the updates are related to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, too, and may not necessarily be of interest to our WDW visitors. So below, I’ll outline the changes coming to our parks at Walt Disney World.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Great Movie Ride is closing for good on August 13, 2017. I’ve heard rumors that GMR would be replaced by a Mickey-themed ride for a while, but this one was still the biggest surprise to me. While GMR was definitely dated and in need of an overhaul, it’s a Hollywood Studios icon! It’s also one more attraction that’ll be closed at Hollywood Studios while Star Wars Land (Galaxy’s Edge) and Toy Story Land are completed.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will replace the Great Movie Ride. This will be a “2.5-D” ride based on the new Mickey animated shorts. The description leaves me feeling a little underwhelmed, but I’ll try to reserve judgement until I actually experience it.

Toy Story Land, currently under construction, is set to open in the summer of 2018. Attractions will include the Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. The concept art gives me Dinorama vibes… I can’t say I’m anxiously awaiting the opening, but I’m sure it’ll be fun.

Star Wars Land, or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as it will officially be called (does that sound super Michael Bay-ish, or is it just me?), opens in 2019. Galaxy’s Edge is evidently set in a “remote trading port” which totally screams Hondo to me. The land will offer “two major attractions” – one that involves piloting the Millennium Falcon, and the other “will make you feel like you’re on a destroyer inside a hangar bay” and “is built on a scale we’ve never done before.” The word “immersive” is used a lot, and there’s going to be a cantina.   I love Star Wars, so while I’m excited for this one, I’m going in with few expectations.


Mission: SPACE is getting a themed restaurant! This should be fun, as eateries are less abundant in Future World than they are in the World Showcase.

Ellen’s Energy Adventure will close on August 13 and will be replaced by a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction. This has been rumored for years, so I’m surprised it’s actually happening! I was hugely pleasantly surprised by how much I loved both Guardians movies, so I’m excited for this. I’ll miss the dinosaurs and the opportunity to sit in the dark and air conditioning for 40 minutes, but it was time for a change.

The France Pavilion is also getting a Ratatouille-themed attraction that’s similar to the 4D -ride in Paris. Evidently there are food smells, so please pass my Thanksgiving pants.

Both rides are scheduled to open in 2021, in time for WDW’s 50th anniversary. No word on the Mission: SPACE restaurant yet.

Magic Kingdom

Main Street USA is getting a theatre inspired by Kansas City’s Willis Wood theatre. It’s hard to tell by the concept art exactly where this will be, but I’m thinking behind Tony’s-ish.

And the big one: Magic Kingdom is getting a TRON ride similar to (or the same as?) the TRON Lightcycle Power Run from Shanghai Disneyland. Contrary to what many clickbaity headlines shouted last week, this is not replacing the Tomorrowland Speedway. Based on the concept art, it’ll be located behind Space Mountain. Like the new Epcot attractions, this is scheduled to open in 2021 for the 50th anniversary.


WDW is getting a Star Wars-themed resort. Yay, fun! Disney Parks Blog uses that word over and over again: immersive. Apparently it involves a view of space from every room, special attire, and an experience that will “touch every minute of your day.” Well… okay. I’m totally onboard with a Star Wars resort, but I want to be able to see daylight from my room, wear my own damn clothes, and maybe not have an experience “touch 100% of my day.”

There was also talk about the two towers going in at Caribbean Beach Resort. Evidently they’re DVC oriented.


The Skyliner has been confirmed. Gondolas will connect Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach Resorts, plus Hollywood Studios and Epcot’s International Gateway. I have a hard time imagining how efficient this might be, but I’ll prepare to be pleasantly surprised. I’m still holding my breath for a different route into/out of Magic Kingdom that allows one to skip the ferry or monorail.

WDW is also adding Minnie-themed vehicles to take you anywhere on resort property. I’m envisioning something like a Disney uber.

So there you have it. What do you think? Did any of the news surprise you? What are you most looking forward to?

Staying on Disney property: is it worth it?

Is it really a better value to stay at a Disney resort? Won’t staying off-property be cheaper?

Yes, you should stay on property. No, offsite hotels aren’t necessarily always less expensive or a better value.

The Orlando area is abundant in hotels. Literally any type of property you want, we have it.

Because of this, I get lots of questions from friends visiting the area who want economical lodging close to Disney property. You might be surprised to hear that I always encourage them to look into Disney resorts rather than budget-tier off-property hotels and motels. 

Why? Well:

  • Generally speaking, the closer to Disney Property, the more expensive the hotel. With Value and Moderate resorts, I think you you get more for your money if you stay on property.
  • Rates for Value and Moderate resorts are comparable to what you’d find off-property, plus you get the super-fun Disney theming and magic!
  • Complimentary transportation to all parks, resorts, and Disney Springs is yours for the taking when you stay on property. This is especially amazing for trips to the Magic Kingdom if you’re staying at a resort that’s not on the monorail loop – you can skip the TTC and monorail or ferry trip! There are few things worse than being exhausted, sweaty, and having to wait an eternity for the monorail or ferry in order to get back to the parking lot and drive yourself home.
  • Extra Magic Hours! If you’re an on-property guest, you get to take advantage of earlier park openings and later park closings. Parks tend to be more crowded on EMH days (based on my non-scientific observations), but I personally find evening EMH totally worthwhile.
  • No worries about driving in Orlando traffic or trying to navigate the mahoosive Disney complex
  • Disney Dining Plan option (and fellow Diet Coke addicts will appreciate that resort refillable mug option)

The All Star resorts are your most budget-friendly option. I’ve seen rates at this tier as low as $87 per night, which seems like an amazing deal. These Value resorts are heavily themed. 

The next tier up are the Moderate resorts. Structurally, these are very similar to the Value resorts, but theming is a bit more subtle and grown-up. This is where I always opted to stay during our visits, as they feel a little more peaceful than Values and Deluxes.

Disney’s top tier hotels are the Deluxe resorts. Proximity to parks is usually excellent, but these aren’t the luxury hotels I expect for their price point. Imagine something in the realm of a nice Hilton or Marriott, but with way more character, amazing restaurants, and stunning outdoor and pool areas. Personally, I think the rates are a little high for the rooms you get, but would I happily stay in one? Absolutely. The common areas are excellent.

So, if you’re visiting Disney World and your hotel budget is not huge, don’t forget to check rates at your Value and Moderate resorts! Pricing might be better than you’d expect, and the on-property perks are totally worth it.

Like this post? We have lots more hotel-related content coming up! If you have any questions, please leave them below.