With the recent (and crazy!) opening of Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios behind us, we can now start looking forward to all the NEW attractions coming to Disney World over the next few years.
There are a few BIG attractions on the horizon that we can’t wait to experience! Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind! will bring the first roller coaster to Epcot; and over in Magic Kingdom, we are anxiously awaiting the opening of TRON Lightcycle Run! But with each new ride opening comes the big question:
How will these new experiences change the landscape of FastPass+?
After the announcement that Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run would begin accepting FastPass+ and the subsequent Hollywood Studios FastPass tier changes, we started to ponder how future attractions could affect FastPass.
TRON immediately jumped into our minds. Could it possibly alter the FastPass structure in Magic Kingdom? Let’s take a deeper look!
What are FastPass+ Tiers?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (j/k…it was seriously less than 10 years ago!), guests in Disney World used paper FastPasses they ran around to get that very day. No heavy-duty pre-planning required.
When FastPass+ was fully rolled out in early 2014, things changed. Now, guests were glued to computers and phones 60 days out (for resort guests) or 30 days out (for non-resort guests) hoping to snag their top choices for attractions well in advance of their trip.
Epcot and Hollywood Studios were the first to debut Tiers for the FastPass rides. This meant guests could only choose one of those most popular experiences for their pre-booked FastPass, and must use their other two pre-boked FastPasses for less popular attractions. This distributed the supply and demand.
Animal Kingdom joined in with Tiers a few years later in 2017, once Pandora: The World of AVATAR opened up and brought with it the still wildly popular Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. Those two attractions were, and still are, the only Tier 1 selections available in the park.
Over the years, attractions have shifted from Tier 1 to Tier 2 and vice versa depending on what happens in each individual park. But one thing remains the same: Tiers means having to make tough choices when it’s FastPass-picking time. What do you REALLY want to ride versus what do you not mind skipping or waiting in the stand-by line for?
Magic Kingdom is the ONLY Park WITHOUT FastPass+ Tiers
The one park to hold out introducing Tiers has been Magic Kingdom. Since the first days of FastPass+, every FastPass+ eligible attraction in the park was equally available for all three FastPass selections (initially, they even gave guests a “bonus” fourth FastPass! Those were the days!).
This park has substantially more FastPass+ experiences available than any other park — 25 versus Epcot’s 11, Hollywood Studios’ 14, and Animal Kingdom’s 14. It’s also relatively easy to snag a FastPass for most rides you’re after in Magic Kingdom, with the notable exception being the park’s newest attraction, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. But all of that could change when TRON Lightcycle Run opens in 2021.
How Could TRON Lightcycle Run Impact The FastPass Landscape of Magic Kingdom?
Not only will TRON dramatically alter the look and feel of Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom when it opens, but it could potentially alter the FastPass structure as well.
If it receives anything close to the reception its Shanghai counterpart received in 2016, the Magic Kingdom will be bracing for large crowds wanting a ride on a Lightcycle. What could that mean for FastPass?
Well, as we’ve seen with Rise of the Resistance, crowd control is of utmost importance to Disney. If large crowds are anticipated, the Boarding Group could potentially be used for TRON as it has been for Rise on both coasts. If this happens, then TRON will likely NOT accept FastPasses immediately after opening.
But if Boarding Groups aren’t used, and FastPasses are instituted immediately when TRON opens, Magic Kingdom will have two highly sought after attractions (along with its three other mountains — Space, Splash, and Big Thunder), and many guests wanting quick access to them.
Could that be enough to tip the scales in favor of Magic Kingdom finally joining the other parks in the world of Tiered FastPasses? If so, what would that mean for the future of booking FastPasses in the park?
How Could Tiers in Magic Kingdom Change Your Planning Process?
As we’ve seen with the other 3 parks and their Tier systems, guests may face a tough decision in deciding what their number one “gotta ride it” attraction might be.
For some guests, prioritizing attractions can be as simple as looking at their travel party. IF FastPass Tiers were ever introduced into Magic Kingdom, that could potentially mean choosing between the family-friendly Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and the “big-kids-only” TRON.
This is very similar to the “To Frozen Ever After or Not” conundrum parents can face in Epcot as well. Do you sacrifice a FastPass on Test Track so your Elsa loving child can ride Frozen Ever After, or do you tough it out and hope for the best in the Frozen standby line? Do you book an early Dining Reservation at nearby Akershus in hopes of being near the ride when it opens so you can ride Frozen first, then head to Test Track for your FastPass? Decisions, decisions!
With so much thought centered on Tier 1 and 2, we rarely ever hear mention of a possible Tier 3; but in Magic Kingdom that third tier may make a lot of sense.
With a number of FastPass options that typically have a very short wait, crowds could possibly be better dispersed if required to select one choice form the most popular attractions, one mid-level popularity attraction (e.g. the Mountains, Peter Pan, etc), and one of the least popular.
Strategies for Tackling FastPass Tiers
We stress that this is all speculation at this point, but if it were to ever happen, how would we handle FastPass Tiers in Magic Kingdom? Well, we could start by first looking at how we tackle them in the other parks.
The key to nabbing those sought after FastPasses is planning ahead. Set that alarm for 7AM EST 60 days out from your arrival date at your Disney World resort and be ready to click fast. If you’re staying at a Disney Resort, you can book your FastPasses for the length of your trip on the 60 day out mark from your FIRST day; so jumping to one of the later days of your trip first for those REALLY tough FastPasses can give you a better chance of scoring one.
Have your park days planned out ahead, so you know what you’re doing when you start booking FastPasses. Aim for hardest-to-get FastPasses first, then fill out the days based on what you were able to score.
Do you have others in your group? Make sure you’re all connected in your MyDisneyExperience accounts. If there are other trusted Disney-obsessives in your group, split up the work so you can each go after popular FastPasses for your group at the same time (e.g. you grab Flight of Passage on Thursday for everyone while she grabs Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on Wednesday for everyone).
Now the tough decision: what to do about those Tier 1 rides you DIDN’T get a FastPass for? You have a few options.
Arrive at the parks early! The early bird really does catch the worm when it comes to Disney World. Extra Magic Hours in the mornings, available to all resort guests, are a great opportunity to jump in shorter lines while many guests are still waking up or eating breakfast.
The same applies for later nights. Kids grow tired and guests can head back to get some rest. The later you can hold on in a park, the better your odds of jumping in a shorter line. The crowds will significantly drop off and you’ll find lines MUCH more manageable. Plus, remember that you have up until the minute the parks close to get in line! We’ve jumped in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and more right before the Magic Kingdom closed and waited VERY short wait times!
Be sure to also take advantage of booking extra FastPasses in the parks. Once you use up your 3 for the day, you can immediately book another available option! This means as soon as you scan your MagicBand for your last FastPass, you can immediately open MyDisneyExperience on your phone and book a new one!
Don’t find what ride you want? Keep checking! The available FastPasses in MyDisneyExperience can change frequently, so your vigilance in refreshing the screen can pay off!
Want even MORE FastPass tips? Check out our video below!
The shape of FastPasses in Disney World has changed dramatically in just the past decade alone, so we’re prepared — and will keep shifting our planning suggestions — for anything new FastPass decides to throw our way!
What are your thoughts? Do you think Magic Kingdom will eventually instate a FastPass tiered system or not? Weigh in with your opinion in the comments below!