Getting the Most Out of FastPass During High Season (LONG)

Discussion in 'Disneyland (California)' started by HydroGuy, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2005
    All information in this 2005 thread is correct as of April 2012

    BLAB no longer has FP. Those machines are now dedicated to Star Tours. And Radiator Springs Racers at DCA will have FP starting in June, 2012.

    The DLR FastPass (FP) system is regularly changing, with rides being added and subtracted to the FP system, and connected and disconnected. See this comprehensive discussion of (almost) all the FP tricks here on MiceChat: "The Joy of FASTPASS"

    Also see this link on DIS -

    This posting will read a bit like a trip report, but that is only to show how we maximized FP. Check our full trip report to be posted in the next day or two.

    A few upfront facts for context:

    1. This information is based on our trip Aug. 1-4, 2005. We are a family of six (four boys ages 9, 10, 12 and 13). We stayed at the Best Western Park Place Inn directly across the street from DLR. We had Magic Morning (MM) one day, which we used on Aug. 1. We got to the gates before the parks opened. We took afternoon breaks for 4-5 hours to cool off and sleep.

    2. To get FPs you use your entrance media (parkhopper passes, AP, etc). To get FPs for a group, you do not need to have everyone present; you just need everyone's entrance media. This allows the group to send a "runner" with all entrance media to a FP Distribution area and get FPs for the whole group while the group does something else like wait in line, eat a meal, shop, return to the hotel, etc. I was the runner for the family.

    3. The entrance media cannot be used to get FPs until they have been scanned at the gates. Thus you cannot send one person to the park when it opens to go get FPs for the group while everyone else sleeps late. Everyone must physically pass through the gate in order to "initialize" the entrance media so the FP machines will dispense FPs.

    4. Currently, once the entrance media have been scanned at either DL or DCA, they are initialized for both parks. This allows a runner to get FPs for the group at the opposite park even though no one in the group (except the runner of course) has entered that park.

    5. When you get a FP, at the bottom it will clearly show the next time you can get a FP for another attraction. PAY ATTENTION TO THESE TIMES! I will call these the "next available FP time". To maximize FP acquisition and usage, you need to always keep in mind the next time you can get another FP, and then do so as soon as it is practical after that time.

    6. The FP system has a number of idiosyncrasies, many of which are unknown even to some DL and DCA workers/Cast Members. Thus the CMs may tell you that you cannot do certain things that you can in fact do. Again, DarkBeer's link above discusses all of these in depth. The two most important idiosyncrasies are the "late FP rule" and the disconnected FP rides.

    7. The "next available FP time" shown on the most recently dispensed FP ticket is set either by the opening of the one-hour window or two hours from the FP dispensing, whichever comes first.

    During our trip August 1-4, the following DL rides had FP:

    Space Mountain (SM)
    Splash Mountain (Splash)
    Indiana Jones (Indy)
    Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR)
    Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (BLAB)
    Roger Rabbit (RR) -- This was disconnected from the network

    The following DCA rides had FP:

    Soarin' Over California (Soarin')
    Mulholland Madness (MM)
    Tower of Terror (ToT)
    Grizzly River Run (GRR) -- This was disconnected from the network (in 2005, but as of 2009 is connected)
    California Screamin' (this was closed because of the July 29 accident)

    Which FastPasses to Get When

    Certain FP attractions are more popular than others. Right now the most popular at DL are SM, Splash and Indy. This means that SM/Splash/Indy runs out of FPs earlier in the day, and you cannot get any more. If you want to get a FP for one of these rides, it is imperative you do so earlier in the day. SM is still highly popular, and FPs were running out at 1-2PM. Splash and Indy are popular also, and FPs were available longer than SM but still ran out at 3-5PM. BTMRR, BLAB and Autopia FPs were much less popular. You could get FPs for BTMRR until after 10PM at night, BLAB until after 8PM, and Autopia until after 9PM. RR FP was also less popular, but RR was disconnected anyways so it did not matter very much.

    One can thus think of two groups of FP attractions. The popular group (SM, Splash, Indy) and the less popular group (BTMRR, BLAB, Autopia and RR). If you get a FP from the popular group any time later than early in the morning, the return time will almost certainly be at least two hours later and thus the two-hour rule will apply. This means you will not be able to get another FP for anything for two hours. The less popular group is different. For these almost any time of day you can get a FP and the return time will be less than two hours. Thus the next available FP time will be less than two hours away, sometimes only an hour. The only exception is BLAB, which seems right now to be the most popular of the less popular FPs. Once you get to the late afternoon, the FP return times are two hours away, but the FP machines are still up into the early evening.

    Note that from late Sept to early January the Haunted Mansion Holiday version (HMH) offers FP and this usually falls into the popular group category.

    Since DLR does not enforce the end of the FP one-hour window, I will talk here only in terms of the FP window opening, as that is the only time that matters both from a FP usage point of view as well as when you can get your next FP.

    The basic FP strategy we used and I recommend is this: get FPs for the popular rides in the morning, and get FPs for the less popular in the afternoon or evening. Use a runner to collect the FPs while the group you are with does something else.

    There were two days when we got into DL at the 8AM opening. One was the MM day when we were in by 7AM. On these days I made a beeline to one of the popular FP rides (it was SM on both days) to get FPs. Being that it was early in the day, the return time on one day was 8:45AM and on the other day was 8:55AM. Thus I could get another FP at these times. Note that I never intended to actually go on SM during the FP window. We then proceeded to go on rides and pick up FPs as soon as we possibly could. By the time 1:30 rolled around and we left for a break, I had a whole bunch of FPs to use after our break.

    To help folks understand how to use this information to their advantage, let me summarize what we did on Mon Aug 1 and on Tue Aug 2 when we went to DCA. Note than on each day we went on rides in both DL and DCA.

    Here is how we maximized FP on Mon Aug 1:

    1. We were in the park for MM (did seven rides during MM but not SM or BLAB), and at 8AM when the FP machines opened I was at SM and got FPs for a window that opened at 8:45AM. Next available FP time was thus 8:45AM. While getting the SM FPs, my family was making their way over to the Indy standby line.

    2. After getting the SM FPs, I hoofed it back over to Indy where we walked on thru the standby line at 8:05AM with a 3-5 minute wait.

    3. We then walked onto Jungle Cruise.

    4. After JC it was getting close to 8:45AM when I could get another FP. While my family made their way to BTMRR I scooted over to Splash and got FPs. The FP window for Splash opened at 9:30AM, so the next available FP time was 9:30AM.

    5. We walked onto BTMRR thru the standby (a 2 minute wait), and because the line was still so short we did BTMRR again with another 2 minute wait. Because BTMRR is a less popular FP ride, it was not worth thinking about getting FPs for BTMRR in the morning. After the second BTMRR ride it was 9AM.

    6. We decided to do Splash in the standby line, which took 19 minutes. It was nearing 9:30AM (the next available FP time) when we finished Splash, so I scooted over to Indy to get FPs while my DW looked at and decided to buy the Splash picture. I got Indy FPs which had a return opening of 10:30AM. We met at Haunted Mansion at about 9:35AM. And I had FPs in hand for SM, Splash and Indy, with the next time I could get FPs at 10:30AM.

    7. We rode Haunted Mansion with a 2 minute line, and finished at about 9:50. We then rode POTC, which had a 5 minute line. Then we spent some time shopping in the store at the exit of POTC. By this time it was 10:30AM, which was the next available FP time. We made our way to SM, where I got another set of FPs for SM at 10:50AM with a return window opening of 3:30PM. Thus the two hour rule applied for the next FP, and the next available FP time was 12:50PM.

    8. We rode SM (with our first FP set from 8AM) and then Monorail, because there was almost no line for Monorail.

    9. By this time it was nearing noon. While my family stopped to get slushy drinks and made their way to Small World, I scooted over to ToonTown to get FPs for RR, which I could do before the next 12:50 window because RR is disconnected. The RR FP window opened at 1:00PM. I met my family in the Small World line at about 12:15.

    10. We waited 15-20 minutes for Small World, and by the time we finished it was about 12:50.

    11. We walked to Toontown and shopped until 1PM, and then used the RR FPs. After RR it was about 1:10PM.

    12. It was now after my next available FP time of 12:50PM, and it being about 1PM I could still get FPs for any DL ride (although time was getting short for SM). I decided to get FPs for BLAB since I had them already for SM/Splash/Indy. The BLAB FPs had a return time of something like 2:45.

    13. At 1:15 we headed back to the hotel for lunch and an afternoon break. Since we were leaving the park for a long break, the next available FP time did not matter anymore because we would be returning at least two hours later and we could FPs as soon as we returned. However, no more SM FPs would be available, and probably not Indy or Splash either. The only FPs we could get after returning would be for the less popular FP rides.

    14. After exiting DL and getting our hands stamped, my family walked to the hotel. But I entered DCA. Because all entrance media were initialized at DL earlier that morning, I did not need anyone to actually enter DCA with me in order to get FPs. Note that the DCA FP system is independent of DL, and thus the DL FP availability does not apply at DCA. I took all entrance media with me, and got FPs for ToT at about 1:30PM. The return window opened at 2:30PM. I also got FPs for GRR since it is disconnected [NOTE: GRR was disconnected in 2005 but as of 2009 is connected so you can no longer do this]. I did not think we would have time for GRR, but I got them just in case. We ended up not riding GRR that day.

    15. I headed back to the BWPPI where my family was eating lunch and getting ready for a quick swim and nap. We did not reenter the parks until 6PM that evening, but by 1:30 we had already used one set of SM FPs and the RR FPs, ridden Indy, Splash and BTMRR (twice) on standby, and had in hand FPs to use after 6PM for SM, Splash, Indy, BLAB, ToT and GRR. We ended up using all of these except GRR.

    Over the four days, I tended to follow similar plans as above, collecting as many FPs as possible. Except for the first day when we used almost all our FPs, we usually ended up with a number of unused FPs each day. I reasoned that having FPs for all possible rides gave us the flexibility of going on whatever rides we wanted to in the evening. We usually gave away the extra FPs. On one evening my family split up and some used the FPs for SM while others used the ones for Splash and Indy.

    At DCA, I paid most attention to the FPs at ToT, GRR and MM. I did not pay attention to Soarin' as we rode that during the morning when they opened DCA early, and of course California Screamin' was down so I got no data there. The GRR FP seemed to be the most popular out of this group, but even so you could easily get GRR FPs in the late afternoon. It appeared to me that all DCA FP attractions behaved similarly to the less popular DL FP attractions, whereby you could still get FPs later in the day and into the evening. This makes the collection of DCA FPs fairly easy.

    Here is how we maximized FP on Tue Aug 2:

    1. This was our "DCA day". After being out until after midnight the previous evening, we decided to sleep in a bit and skip DL in the morning. We arrived at the DLR gates at 9:15AM. We all went thru the DL gates to get the entrance media initialized so I could get FPs in DL before we went into DCA. My family then immediately exited DL, got their hands stamped, and got in line at DCA.

    2. I hoofed it over to SM and got FPs at about 9:25AM with a return time of 12:25PM, but the return time did not matter because we were not planning to re-enter DL itself until after our afternoon break - some time after 6PM.

    3. I then hoofed it out of DL, got my hand stamped, and joined my family in line at DCA at 9:30AM. They opened the gates for DCA at 9:30 even though official opening was 10AM.

    4. We got in the standby line for the only open ride, Soarin' Over California.

    5. We exited Soarin' at about 10:05AM, and went to Paradise Pier by the GRR route. We stopped by GRR and got FPs with a 10:50AM return time [NOTE: GRR was disconnected in 2005 but as of 2009 is connected so you can no longer do this] and proceeded to MM, where we got FPs with an 11AM return time. Our next DCA available FP time was thus 11AM, except for the disconnected GRR.

    6. We then got on the Maliboomer at about 10:10AM with a 5 minute wait time.

    7. We decided to ride the Sun Wheel inner gondolas next.

    8. By this time it was 11AM. We used the FPs for MM right at 11AM.

    9. We then returned to GRR and used our FPs. When we finished I got another set of GRR FPs in case we wanted to ride it again later that day, but we never used them.

    10. By this time is was approaching noon and we wanted to attend the 12:30 Aladdin show. We made our way to HPB. My family got in line for the mezzanine area right after 12 Noon, and I snuck over to get FPs for ToT in case we wanted to ride it afterwards. The ToT FP return time was 12:45PM.

    11. After the excellent Aladdin show we went to the Animation Studios, where we ended up spending 90 minutes. We thought Turtle Talk With Crush was a hoot.

    12. It was now approaching 3PM. We were ready for a break. I had ToT and GRR FPs in case we wanted to return to DCA, but we wanted to do the Remember fireworks show and the 10:30PM Fantasmic! show at DL that night, so we never used these DCA FPs.

    13. While my family returned to the hotel at 3PM, I again re-entered DL to get FPs for another attraction which we could use during the evening after our break. I got FPs for BLAB with a return time of 7:25PM. Then I exited DL and returned to the hotel for a nap with my family.

    14. We took a long nap and re-entered DL at 7PM as the POD was starting (I wish we were 5 minutes earlier to get down Main Street before the parade!). We fought our way down Main Street. We wanted to go to SM, but we were stuck on the AdventureLand side of Main Street until the parade finished. While my family waited in the line to cross Main Street, I scooted over to BTMRR and got FPs at about 7:15PM with a return time at 8:05PM. I then rejoined my family, the parade finished, and we crossed into TL to ride SM and use our FPs before the 9:25 fireworks. SM had had problems that day and had been down a lot, and the line to get on SM thru FP at 7PM was about 30 minutes long. So we did HISTA and returned to SM later that evening when the FP return line was shorter. After HISTA I got FPs for Autopia (at about 8:15PM) with a window opening at 9PM. We never used these.

    15. We then made our way out of TL into the hub at 8:25PM to see the fireworks show. We ended up using the FPs for SM and BTMRR, but not the BLAB or Autopia FPs, or the ToT or GRR ones I had from DCA.
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  3. CindyH

    CindyH Mouseketeer

    Jan 21, 2005
    Okay, not that your analysis is already amazing, but what I find incredible is that you remembered so many details! I couldn't even remember where we ate, let alone when we left one land and went to another. :)
  4. Redcon1

    Redcon1 Mouseketeer

    Aug 18, 1999
    Great post HydroGuy. Thanks for taking the time to 'splain this information for those who may not know the ins-n-outs of FP.
    Tho I still can't fathom the hate that some posters on other boards have for FP. :confused3
    I can only assume they're frequent visitors to the park and don't understand that those of us who can only visit once every few years want to get the most out of our visit to DLR. FP is extremely helpful in maximizing our limited time and enabling us to see and experience more of the park than we could before it was implemented.
  5. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2005
    My memory is not that good. As related in another post on the RideMax software, I made up Excel spreadsheets with data for each ride. I made notes on my spreadsheet several times a day about what we had done when we got in a longer line or were waiting for a show.
  6. CindyH

    CindyH Mouseketeer

    Jan 21, 2005
    I'm still impressed! I too had a spreadsheet, but it got left behind in the room every day. :)
  7. Snurk71

    Snurk71 DIS Veteran

    May 17, 2001
    I don't know when DL introduced FP in relation to WDW, or if DL had this "benefit" in the beginning. But when WDW first rolled out FP there was nothing in the program to only recognize current day tickets. You could put in old, expired tickets or even a regular credit card. Any card with a magnetic strip took and gave you a FP. Word spread on RADP about the benefit at the time and Disney soon modified the program.

    I'll admit that in Dec99 I took a bunch of used passes and created our own "enhanced FP".
  8. Mary Jo

    Mary Jo Techarita Moderator

    Dec 15, 1998

    I really like the idea of getting FPs early in the morning, and then taking advantage of windows of opportunities as they come up. I hadn't thought of that strategy. Good going. :)
  9. manchurianbrownbear

    manchurianbrownbear <font color=green>Not very concise<br><font color=

    Jan 29, 2002
    You need to write a book! This is great stuff.

    We consistently used FPs after the window had closed. I don’t think most CMs even look at the times. However, we were chastised by a CM at Soarin’ ! :guilty: It was about 8:30pm and I think our window had closed at about 11:45am. The CM accepted the FP, but said, “you’ve got to be kidding!” or something to that affect. He told me he would take “expired” FP, but I should try to use them as close to the window as possible.
  10. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2005
    Write a book? What do you think I just did here? :teeth:

    Regarding late FP, I have heard of this happening to people, but it has never happened to me. On Aug 3, I got FPs for SM at 8:05AM with a return window of 8:55-9:55AM. BTW, this would have been right before we saw you on StoryBook Land! We used the 8:55AM SM FPs on our last ride of the night at 11:50PM, when the SM standby wait time was 100 minutes. 100!

    DLR would have a hard time being forceful with the one-hour window, as there are some legitimate reasons for being late. Examples are:

    1. Rides break down, which messes everything up when it is a major ride
    2. Fighting thru crowds during Fireworks or Parades
    3. Getting stuck in a long line Peter Pan or Dumbo mid-day.

    If they really tried to enforce it, they would have a lot of irate customers. But it is confusing when all the CMs are not on the same page. Glad you got on Soarin'. That is my favorite at DCA.
  11. paulh

    paulh <font color=blue>likes to have a beer<br><font col

    Oct 10, 1999
    we have been told by CM at WDW that you can return anytime after the first time indecated up to park closeing .You might have wanted a meal or left the park and come back there is no problem ussing them (we have used fast passes 1 year after getting them :rotfl: DW held her head in shame)
  12. JadeDarkstar

    JadeDarkstar Dis Veteran Pirate dragon mom

    Jun 2, 2007
    hehe wow this si gona help alot on our trip. Im suprised at all the tips and tricks ive learned from this site
  13. Mendoza5

    Mendoza5 Loving Disney Since the 70's

    May 3, 2007
    hi, i just have a quick question, what is the standby line?

    we are coming in sept, but we have to go on a saturday!! but i'd take a saturday over no day at all.

    thank you for your informative thread.
  14. quadaunt

    quadaunt Disney Devotee

    Jan 18, 2005
    That's definitely not recommended. Only a certain amount of FPs are given out each day and to use FPs on a day (or year!) after they are issued could throw a serious wrench in the works if enough guests did it. I have been in line behind guests where their FPs from the previous day were rejected.
  15. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2005
  16. TeamTnC

    TeamTnC Mouseketeer

    Jul 23, 2005
    To anyone going to DL, make sure to read the first post here. I would read it now and again just before you leave. This information allowed my family and I hit 13 rides in 3 hours and have four other fast passes in place on a EE day. We walked on EVERY ride that morning. Just hit the FL rides in the order everyone else has posted and then keep on going.

    HydroGuys info in FANTASTIC:yay:
  17. Liverlips

    Liverlips Earning My Ears

    Apr 7, 2005
    Is the enhanced fastpass given on AAA booked trips? I looked on the AAA website to book a trip to Disneyland June 2008 and there is no mention of an enhanced fastpass perk.
  18. DLR29

    DLR29 We create happiness

    May 30, 2006
    This perk was discontinued late last year. Around the time when Disney started the Year of a Million Dreams promo began. Now (if you're lucky enough to be chosen) you can win a Dream Fastpass, which is a lanyard with tabs for each FP attraction that you can pull off at any time and redeem them for basically a FP (you use the FP line). But no more enhanced FP
  19. kcbedo

    kcbedo Narbles

    Mar 8, 2008
    Does anyone know if this still works?

  20. dewdrinker19

    dewdrinker19 Earning My Ears

    Apr 1, 2008
    As far as arriving late for fastpasses, it is an OFFICIAL Disney policy that you CAN NOT show up early to use your fastpass but you can be AS LATE AS YOU WANT. If a cast member gives you a hard time you can either deal with it and get on or let guest services know about your trouble. I use the get fastpass early and use them in the evening trick all the time. In fact, sometimes if we spend a Saturday out of the house we'll stop at DLand until noon, collect a bunch of fast passes and go spend a few hours at the beach, then come back and ride our rides during the night time when Disneyland has a special magic to it! :)
  21. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

    Jun 5, 2005
    I have not tried it personally since last June. But others here have. And I have not heard of this not working anymore. When things like this change someone invariably posts it to the forum. So I am quite confident it still works.

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