Fast Pass+ Reservations at the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida can be overwhelming for both experienced Guests and first-time visitors; however, with a little effort it can enhance a vacation and take it from good to excellent. Each Guest is entitled to three initial Fast Pass+ Reservations (from now on, I will refer to these as Fast Passes for simplicity sake).
Each pass provides the Guest a window of time in which they can visit an attraction and go through a separate queue line that bypasses the normal queue. This often saves an inordinate amount of time.
For example, if a ride or attraction has a standby line (no Fast Pass) and the wait is listed at 75 minutes, the wait for someone in a Fast Pass lane is often 15 minutes. For most vacations, this can be a significant amount of time used to do other things and make other memories so it’s important to know when and where to use them. While each Guest is given three Fast Passes initially, there are some restrictions.
- Editor’s Note: Disney has begun phasing out their popular FastPass system. You can learn more about how to use the replacement for FastPass, which is Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.
Fast Pass+ Tiers
For example, there are two different tiers that each attraction falls under. In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora’s Flights of Passage and the Navi River Journey both are on the highest tier of Fast Pass options.
That means that a Guest is only allowed to choose one of those to book a Fast Pass for because it is a new or very popular attraction. If you want to ride Pandora’s Flights of Passage with a Fast Pass, you’ll have to wait in the standby line for the Navi River Journey.
Other options in Disney’s Animal Kingdom are available to book in conjunction with Flights of Passage; however, they are lower tiers. Dinosaur, Finding Nemo the Musical and Kali River Rapids are all examples of different lower tier attractions one could book in addition to a higher tier attraction.
For each pass, the Guest will choose a time that is available, and it will automatically link to his or her ticket or magic band. Once all of those passes have been used (not booked!) Guests are able to book one additional Fast Pass at a time. Some Guests become confused because he or she will use one Fast Pass and try to make another one to replace it. That is not how the system works – Guests will need to first use all three and then they can book one more on any tier.
Once that pass has been used, Guests can once again book an additional pass. This may continue for as long as the park is open or as long as there are Fast Passes available. For more information about booking Fast Passes, I would suggest reading the Walt Disney World Resort Fast Pass page here.
Fast Pass+ Availability
This brings us to another point: there may not be any Fast Passes available or they may only be available for rides you may not want to visit. Disney Resort Guests (Guests who are staying on Walt Disney World Property at any hotel) are able to make Fast Pass+ Reservations 60 days in advance. Conversely, Guests who simply buy tickets are only allowed to make Fast Pass+ Reservations 30 days in advance.
Typically, this is enough time to book a reservation for the desired ride; however, during some busier times of year, it can still be difficult. If you don’t have specific days that you must be at one park or another, I would suggest trying to plan your days around when Fast Passes are available.
For example, perhaps you were planning to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom on a Saturday, but no Fast Passes are available until the following Monday. I would suggest booking the Fast Pass for Monday and adjusting plans accordingly. Perhaps Saturday would be a nice day to visit one of Disney’s water parks, stopping at Disney Springs for a movie at the AMC Dine-in Theater or even visiting a less crowded park, like Epcot.
Once you have determined which attractions are worthy of a Fast Pass, time is also an important consideration.
Because Guests are able to make additional Fast Passes after the first three have been used, it’s a good idea to try to book initial Fast Passes for earlier in the day. If all of your Fast Passes are over by noon, you still have the entire day to enjoy more attractions with a higher chance of getting Fast Passes for those attractions.
One of the biggest mistakes a Guest can make when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort is not planning enough. As easy as it is to not plan your day and wander around, you will end up missing so much and standing in line for hours. You are sure to have a lot more fun if you simply take an hour before your trip and decide on Fast Pass priorities.
Now that you know the basics of the Fast Pass+ Reservation system, we can dive into what your preferred Fast Pass selections should probably be. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there is no shortage of rides, shows and various attractions and there is sure to be something the entire family will love.
This park is often described as a theme park within a zoo, but it is so much more. There are animals here; however, it is also home to a nature preserve, a petting zoo, a child-friendly educational “tour,” classic Disney characters, breathtaking rides and incredible photo opportunities.
Here is my list of top ten best Fast Passes:
- Pandora’s Flights of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
- Expedition Everest
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Festival of the Lion King
- Rivers of Light
- Kali River Rapids
- Character Outpost
- Primaeval Whirl
Fast Pass+ Top Tier Choices
The first attraction that should be considered for a Fast Pass+ Reservation is undoubtedly Pandora’s Flights of Passage ride in the Pandora section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This ride is both immersive and beautiful ride. It’s easily one of the top Disney World attractions.
After standing in line, each Guest is taken into a “briefing” room where you are told what is about to happen. You are then assigned a unique Avatar (the tall, blue aliens) body and basically transformed into that Avatar. From there, you are led into a smaller room with motorcycle-like seats that have an arm which goes over your back.
The chair forces you to lean forward and hold onto handles in the front and you are told that you’re going to ride and tame your very own Banshee (friendly dragons, essentially). What happens next is indescribable, but I’ll try to provide the basics at least. There is a screen in front of you that allows you to feel like you’re flying.
You can feel the banshee breath underneath you, you can feel wind in your hair as you soar through the air, you can feel your stomach drop when your banshee decides to dive, and you can look around and see each scene as if you’re actually in it. It’s amazing and unlike any ride you have ever been on. In fact, many people cry after getting off the ride not because it’s scary but because it’s incredibly breathtaking.
Unfortunately, because this ride is so unlike any other, the lines are outrageously long. On average, the standby line is about two hours, which is why I suggest getting a Fast Pass+ Reservation for this one. The line is interesting and has some excellent photo opportunities; however, two hours is a long time to be waiting for one ride.
Even with a Fast Pass, you could still be waiting in line for half an hour. Many Guests claim it is worth the wait in the standby line but if you’re able to get a Fast Pass for any ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, this should be at the top of your list. It is an upper tier attraction, so you won’t be able to book Fast Passes for other top tier attractions for the last two. Thankfully, there’s currently only one more of those.
If you’re not able to get a Fast Pass for Pandora’s Flights of Passage (or easily get motion sick), I would suggest trying to get a Fast Pass for Pandora’s Navi River Journey; however, it’s not because it’s an amazing must-see ride – it’s because the ride itself isn’t worth it’s typically long wait. This is a short boat ride through the magical world of Pandora.
The most impressive part of this attraction is the animatronic of the tribe leader. It is exceptionally realistic and has multiple moving parts in her face alone. If you want to learn more about arguably Disney’s most impressive (and expensive!) animatronic, this is a good place to start. Unfortunately, the ride is surprisingly short.
With the wait normally being over an hour, from getting in the boat to leaving the boat, the entire ride is less than five minutes. It’s a beautiful ride but the general consensus is that it is too short and not worth the wait. It’s also very dark so while it’s beautiful, it’s easy to miss a lot of stuff. I wouldn’t bother riding unless you have a Fast Pass.
Fast Pass+ Second Tier Choices
The next ride I’d suggest using a Fast Pass for is Expedition Everest. This is arguably one of the best Disney World rides on offer partly because there was an entire story crafted specifically for this attraction! The full story can be found in the queue line for the attraction; however, if you in the Fast Pass queue, you’ll likely miss some of it.
If you want to know what to look for, this is a great article to get you started. Typically, the ride isn’t too bad for this one, but I list it above the Kilimanjaro Safari because it is always good while the safari is dependent on if the animals can be found.
Obviously, Kilimanjaro Safaris is my next pick for Fast Passes in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This is a great attraction and lets you see animals close up. You’ll get into a safari truck driver by a knowledgeable Cast Member.
These Cast Members have a spiel about each animal but are also open to questions. Since this ride is not on a track, the drivers are free to linger in certain spots while Guests take pictures or wait for a lion to stretch. Occasionally, some of the animals wander onto the trail and the truck has to wait for them to move. It’s very safe and all of the dangerous animals have natural barriers that segregate them from the truck.
Unfortunately, the level of enjoyment on your ride is entirely dependent on something the Cast Members can’t control – the animals. These animals are not chained and are entirely free to go wherever they like. Sometimes, this means that you won’t see any of a particular kind of animal, which is why I would suggest using your Fast Passes for a few other attractions before this one.
After Kilimanjaro Safaris, I would suggest getting a Fast Pass for Festival of the Lion King. It is a high capacity show so if you don’t have a Fast Pass, you still probably won’t have to wait long but the Fast Pass does guarantee a good seat. It’s a show filled with lights, music, singing, animatronics, dancing and acrobatics plus it is air conditioned! It’s a must see and it certainly won’t be a waste of a Fast Pass. After The Festival of the Lion King, I would suggest Rivers of Light but only because it’s not worth it without one.
Rivers of Light is a poorly designed show because the only place you can really see everything is in the Fast Pass seating area. All other viewing areas may as well skip the show. It’s pretty but not spectacular and while a lot of other Guests are watching the show, if you don’t have a Fast Pass you can probably sneak in another ride on Expedition Everest! The only other downside to getting this attraction with a Fast Pass is that it is the ending show (it technically starts when the park closes), so you won’t be able to get additional Fast Passes if it’s in your initial three.
After Rivers of Light, I would suggest Dinosaur. This queue is inside a museum, so the wait is mostly air conditioned and contains interesting things to look at. If it’s a busy day though, the wait can be upwards of an hour so it certainly won’t be a waste. In this ride, the Guests are enlisted to help a scientist go back in time and help retrieve a dinosaur.
Guests are loaded in a “vehicle” and it’s a bumpy ride to get to the right era. Eventually they make it out unscathed after being mildly scared by animatronic dinosaurs. It’s definitely entertaining and a good choice if you have an option to grab it.
Kali River Rapids is a fantastic ride, but I keep it lower on the list because you will get soaked. So, if you go on this ride, be sure to bring a change of clothes or wear some form of swimwear. On hot Florida days, this has a long line so a Fast Pass is nice.
Aside from Kali River Rapids, I would have to suggest a Fast Pass for the Disney Character Pals at Adventurers Outpost. You can meet Mickey and Minnie dressed as adventurers (aka head to toe khaki) here and take any number of pictures. It’s a fun meet and greet and children will certainly appreciate not having to wait in line. It’s often upwards of an hour so a Fast Pass is a good choice.
The most important Fast Pass is Pandora’s Flights of Passage and everything else is simply a matter of preference. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to have a *wild* time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
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