Planning your next trip – even your first trip – to Walt Disney World Resort is super exciting, but depending on the wait times for attractions, sometimes it can really make or break your vacation. Luckily, Disney has adopted Fast Pass+ Reservations (here on out I’ll refer to them as Fast Pass or Fast Passes) a system that allows you to choose three Fast Passes per park per day in advance.
These Fast Passes reserve your spot in a special queue and give you a set time frame to return back to enjoy the attraction, so that when you return, your wait is much shorter than the standby line.
Once you finish up those first three Fast Passes of your day, you’re able to visit one of the Fast Pass+ kiosks around the parks to book more, allowing you to get the most out of your vacation. You can read more about the Fast Pass+ system on the official Walt Disney World Resort website.
Before we get into the best attractions for EPCOT, it’s important to note that it’s best to book these attractions in the morning, unless it’s for a special nighttime event. Fast Passes are limited and they do run out quickly depending on the season as well as the time of day.
Using morning Fast Passes allows you to knock out some of your big attractions early and gives you enough time to grab something again in the afternoon before all the Fast Passes for the day are taken.
It’s also important to note that, in certain parks, the Fast Passes run on a tier system: you get to choose one main popular attraction and two smaller attractions. For example, you cannot book a Fast Pass for Frozen Ever After and Test Track in the same group, as they are both top tier attractions.
This is to help balance out smaller parks such as EPCOT, who have a very limited choice of attractions to begin with. The higher tier for EPCOT includes Frozen Ever After, Test Track, Soarin’, and Illuminations: Reflections of Earth (which will end in 2019), so be careful in choosing which one you want to do the most on your next trip.
- 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.
Without further ado, these are my recommended top ten Fast Passes for EPCOT:
1. TEST TRACK
Despite the popularity of Frozen, Test Track typically reigns supreme as the longest wait times in EPCOT. Being one of the only “thrill ride” in the park, as well as the fastest one on Disney property, Test Track appeals to a slightly older audience. The attraction has been refurbished over the years, focusing more on the creation of vehicles rather than the testing of them.
While it might be cool to look at the cars as you’re waiting in line, kids become restless with nothing to do until they reach the vehicle creation stage which, depending on the line, can sometimes take up to an hour. With a Fast Pass, you’re taken to this stage much faster, relieving children of the impatience of waiting to get to the ride and distracting them with the ability to create their own vehicle.
This is something that is usually able to tide them over until you reach the actual attraction, and children typically love seeing how their vehicle scores on the scoreboards during the ride.
Overall, it’s easily one of the best Disney World rides. Just make sure that your children reach the height requirement of 40” before booking your Fast Passes, as they will not be allowed on otherwise.
2. FROZEN EVER AFTER
While the hype for this attraction may have died down some over the years, a normal standby line for this attraction still averages around an hour and a half, depending on the time of year you’re traveling.
The ride itself follows the same track as Maelstrom (if you’re old enough to remember what that is), but has been replaced by a sing-along with the cast of Frozen. With it sitting right beside the Norwegian princess buffet, Akershush Royal Banquet Hall, it’s an easy dash between the attraction and a lunch or dinner rush.
While it’s a cute ride, it only lasts five minutes, which can really be a downer if you’re waiting several hours to get on. While getting a Fast Pass for this attraction is still ideal, it doesn’t hurt to wait until a dinner rush and hop on while it’s at a 30 minute wait.
As much as I adore this attraction, the queue is boring for me, and it’s clear by the screaming children and exhausted parents that it’s the same for others. It’s set up like a stylized airport with large screens presenting prompts for Disney’s online trivia game, Soarin’ Challenge.
While the game itself is a fun distraction, if your phone is dead or low on battery, it’s difficult to play and children often want to move on to the next thing. This is especially difficult for children that struggle with waiting in lines as the wait time can get up well over an hour, and a Fast Pass is usually recommended. Just make sure your child reaches the 40” requirement before booking your Fast Passes.
4. EPCOT CHARACTER SPOT
If you have small children, or even if you like to get autographs and take cute pictures with the characters, a Fast Pass to meet Mickey Mouse and his friends is a must. Because this is on the smaller tier level for EPCOT’s attractions, it’s a lot easier to grab a Fast Pass to meet your favorite pals.
While the queue itself seems pretty plain, there are TV screens up above that play old Donald Duck and Goofy shorts that help distract and entertain smaller children as you get them hyped up to meet the characters. It’s important to note that the Fab Five characters wear different costumes in each park, so if you’re looking to meet Mickey Mouse and his friends in all of their fun outfits, this is definitely one of the places to go.
With the upcoming plans to refurbish Spaceship Earth, effectively closing the attraction for two years, this ride has grown in popularity as people try to hop on for a final trip through time before the big changes come. The queue itself is outside, and if you’re unlucky, it’ll be in the sun.
There isn’t anything exciting during the queue, as you’re all huddled in a maze of metal bars, waiting to get into the globe itself. This can be especially trying for young children, as the queue provides nothing to entertain them.
When traveling with children, a Fast Pass for this attraction is especially helpful to bypass the boring queue. If you aren’t able to snag a Fast Pass, though, the best time to go is usually in the evening or right before the park closes, as most guests who have entered the park are usually in the World Showcase by then.
6. THE LIVING SEAS WITH NEMO AND FRIENDS
By far one of the friendlier attractions for children in EPCOT, The Living Seas with Nemo and Friends usually packs up pretty quickly in the mornings to late afternoons. The wait times themselves can go up to 45 minutes, and the aquarium is usually crowded afterward. If you’re traveling with small children, this is usually a good Fast Pass to grab.
While the queue, designed to look like you’re underwater, can keep them entertained for a little bit, during these longer wait times that effect will wear off and a shorter wait time is desirable. The Fast Pass will help avoid this, giving them the excitement of suddenly appearing to be underwater and almost immediately boarding their clam shell through the attraction. It has a more lasting effect, and they will be less likely to throw a tantrum as they’re waiting to see Nemo and his friends.
7. LIVIN’ WITH THE LAND
Being one of the first attractions in EPCOT since its opening, Livin’ with the Land takes you through the wonders and inner workings of agriculture, educating guests on the wonders of plant life and its different forms in nature.
Due to its old age as well as its educational value, a lot of families choose this attraction to educate their children and themselves. If you’re taking children out of school, it’s very useful to put down what is learned in the educational reasoning box.
But, because of this, the line can be pretty long during the mornings and early afternoons, especially during peak seasons, and the queue itself doesn’t have anything very entertaining to keep families, much less children, distracted during longer waits.
There aren’t any videos or games to play, and it’s usually just standing around until you’re able to board the attraction. Fast Passes for this ride are very useful, especially when accommodating children that don’t have the attention span to wait in long lines without something to amuse them in the meantime.
With this attraction, or rather fireworks show, being one of the top tier Fast Pass selections, you might be wondering why it’s so low on this list. The answer is simple: you can see it from anywhere in the World Showcase.
While the Fast Pass area gives you a closer view of the lake, there are several spots around the World Showcase lagoon that can give you a view of the show just as great, if not sometimes better. Some key locations to see the show from are the bridge to France as well as the area by stroller parking in Norway. It’s important to grab seats early, though.
Once the announcement goes off at 7:30PM, people are already claiming spots. Just make sure that you do get a chance to see it, regardless of your seat, because Illuminations: Reflections of Earth will be leaving permanently on September 30, 2019.
Despite being one of the few “thrill rides” of EPCOT, the wait times for this attraction aren’t usually too bad, especially with there being two queues: the mission around Mars for a more intense experience and the mission around the moon for those more prone to motion sickness.
This helps even out the wait times, giving guests a chance to experience more during their day. The queue is also pretty neat. Before you reach the video sections of the ride, there is a lot of memorabilia and information about NASA and previous space missions that are cool to look at, and a fun conversation starter with children as they get pumped for the ride.
Once you begin the video instruction sections of the attraction, they really work to make you feel as though your role in the ride is important. This is especially exciting for children, who are even more hyped up for the ride and usually take their role seriously when they get on. The queue really works to put you in the moment, and sometimes this is lost with Fast Passes. If you do go that route, however, make sure your children are the required 40” to go on this attraction.
10. JOURNEY INTO IMAGINATION WITH FIGMENT
While this attraction is an EPCOT classic, hosting EPCOT’s mascot, Figment, since 1982, it has been through several changes over the years, and the overall popularity of the attraction has dwindled.
This attraction is usually busy in the morning when smaller children are awake and parents are eager to get their little ones on as many rides as they can, but this would be the only circumstances I can understand getting a Fast Pass for this ride.
By mid-afternoon, the crowds have died down and this attraction is usually no longer than a 5-10 minute wait at most- but more often than not, you can walk straight on. If you’re willing to wait out the early bird crowds, this is a quick, easy ride to get out of the way in the afternoon, so you can hit more of the exciting rides during the lunch and dinner rushes.
If you do choose to wait on this ride, be careful to get on before 7:00PM: Figment goes to sleep early, and the attraction will close down before the rest of the park.
While you can still get Fast Passes for Pixar’s Short Film Festival and Turtle Talk with Crush, they’re pretty unnecessary, as both are high capacity shows that run regularly throughout the day. Most of the attractions on the west side of EPCOT, with the exception of Soarin’, will be busy during the mornings to mid-afternoons when small children are most awake, so those would be the prime times to pick up Fast Passes for those attractions.
Otherwise, EPCOT is a pretty relaxed park and Future World is only half of the entertainment. It offers a lot in terms of attractions for children too because most attractions don’t have a height requirement, and this makes it one of the best Disney parks for toddlers.
Older children might not want to wait in line for a cheerful adventure with Nemo but toddlers are sure to enjoy every second. Also, don’t stress too much about getting Fast Pass+ Reservations for everything because as the day goes on, most attractions will be easier to get onto with shorter wait times. Keep an eye out for dinner and last-minute firework rushes so you can make the most out of your trip.
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