Monday, July 19, 2010

FASTPASS and Rider Swap

Ever wished you could walk right onto your favorite attractions without waiting in line?   With FASTPASS, you can come close to making that dream come true.

FASTPASS allows you to save a place in line while you go enjoy something else.  When you come back at your "return time," you'll have little to no wait.  The more popular attractions and some shows offer FASTPASS.  It is a service offered at Walt Disney World for all park guests and is complementary with your park admission.  Check the guidemap at the park you are visiting to see where they are being distributed and for which attractions.  According to Disney's web site, this is the current list:

Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park:
Primeval Whirl
Kilimanjaro Safaris
Kali River Rapids
Expedition Everest

Disney's Hollywood Studios Theme Park:
Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Toy Story Mania!
Star Tours
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Magic Kingdom Theme Park:
Space Mountain
Splash Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Jungle Cruise
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Peter Pan's Flight

Epcot Theme Park:
Mission: SPACE Pavilion
Test Track
"Honey, I Shrunk the Audience"

How do I get a FASTPASS?  When you approach the FASTPASS distribution area, look up and you'll see what return time is currently available.  The one-hour time period showing is what will print on your ticket and is when you should come back to this attraction and enter the FASTPASS queue.  If this time works for you, choose a FASTPASS machine and enter your park ticket.  A FASTPASS will be generated and your park ticket will be returned to you.  NOTE:  The official policy on FASTPASS is that you have to return during the one hour window on the ticket.  Unofficially, many attractions will honor them later as long as you don't try to come back before the FASTPASS time.  You're taking your chances on that one, so if you're late, they technically can refuse to honor the FASTPASS, although it is unlikely.  (UPDATE MARCH 2012: Disney is now enforcing the time printed on the pass within a few minutes either way.)

Can I have more than one FASTPASS at a time?  Once you obtain your FASTPASS, take a look at the bottom of the ticket.  It will tell you at what time you'll be eligible for another FASTPASS.  The time period you need to wait varies based on the crowd levels on that day.  Once that time arrives, you are free to go to another FASTPASS distribution area and get an additional FASTPASS. 

FASTPASSes are only valid on the day they are issued, so please don't buy them on EBay.  There are only so many given out at each attraction per day.  Once they are gone, your only option for that attraction is to wait in the stand-by queue.  Be sure to spend some of your wait time checking out the details the Imagineers put into those areas.

TIP: You can send one member of your party ahead to get FASTPASSes for the rest of the group once everyone is in the park.  Just make sure that person has everyone's ticket.  This is especially important at rope drop for very popular attractions.  In October 2008, I was the designated FASTPASS person at park opening for Toy Story Mania.  Me, 4 months pregnant, running ahead with 3 able bodied young men (hubby, brother, cousin) lagging behind. =)   Since thrill rides were not an option for me, I kept their tickets and later on got them FASTPASSes for Tower of Terror while they were riding Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.

FASTPASS is a great service that can really help you maximize how much you can see and do in a day at the parks since you spend your wait time somewhere other than in line.


RIDER SWAP  If both parents want to experience an attraction for which the kids are too small, you also have the option of Rider Swap.  This allows for one of you to ride and then swap with the other adult without waiting in line twice.  The procedure varies from attraction to attraction, but essentially, if it has a height restriction, they will offer Rider Swap.  Check with the Cast Member at the entrance of the attraction for details.  Sometimes you are given a FASTPASS-like ticket and other times you'll be asked to wait in a certain area.  If you already have FASTPASSes for an attraction, Rider Swap is unnecessary; you'll just take turns entering through the FASTPASS line.

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