Last month, my family and I visited Walt Disney World. We decided to visit the Animal Kingdom Theme Park, with its new Pandora World of Avatar attraction.

FastPass vs FastPass+?

Things have obviously changed since my last visit to Disney World over a decade ago.  I was familiar with the FastPass system, where you go to a kiosk to print out a slip and come back during the designated time for expedited entry to an attraction.  At Disney World, this is now called “FastPass+” (you can think of it as a  second generation of FastPass).  It’s the same system, except now you can:

  • Book in advance:  You can now book your FastPass+ for attractions up to 30 days (or 60 days if you are staying at a Disney on-site property) in advance.
  • Book using mobile app:  You can download the My Disney Experience App, link your account to the ticket, and choose up to 3 FastPass+ experiences per day at a theme park.

My Experience at Animal Kingdom

Since this was a last-minute trip (we purchased same-day Park tickets), there wasn’t much to plan ahead on the logistics side of things. We figured we would be happy if we can get just one FastPass+ on one of the headliner rides.  However, when I downloaded the app, the three top attractions showed the following:

  • Avatar Flight of Passage:  FastPass+ no longer available.
  • The Na’vi River Journey: FastPass+ no longer available. 
  • Kilimanjaro Safari:  FastPass+ no longer available.

The standby queue wasn’t any better.  Since we were visiting during the holidays, I expected a longer wait time. But, I shook my head in disbelief when I saw the wait time for Avatar Flight of Passage.  It was some 240 minutes.  Yes, that is a 4-hours wait time.  I passed.  I don’t mind waiting an hour or two for a really good ride (note: the Safari was worth the wait), but I certainly have no intention of spending half a day at a park just waiting for a 5-minutes ride.  It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

We ended up using our FastPass+ on a few less popular attractions.  Compared to Universal Studio’s highly efficient Express Pass, the Disney’s FastPass+ almost seemed like a child’s play.  I didn’t feel like I got a good Disney experience out of it. The FastPass+ is hardly a benefit if you can’t make use of it on the popular attractions.

Bottom Line

If you plan to visit the Disney Parks, don’t make the same mistake I did.  Don’t assume that you might be able to use FastPass+ same-day on the more popular attractions.   If you have any lead time when you are planning your trip to Disney, buy your park tickets early, download the app, and reserve your FastPass+ attractions.  Trust me, you’ll thank me for it later.

While Disney’s FAQ indicated that “We do not anticipate that the attraction standby queues will be any longer than they were before FastPass+ service.“, I can assure you that the FastPass+ certainly doesn’t make the queue’s wait time go any shorter.