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First, let me say that I’ve never booked a Disney FastPass.  So, it is certainly possible that the current method is an improvement over whatever existed before.  And, I admit that the process got smoother as I understood it better.  But, for a group that is not doing exactly the same thing each day, it is highly unintuitive.

First, the good.  If you have a group (regardless of size) where everyone is doing the same thing each day, FastPass booking is great – smooth & quick.  Similarly, if your group is split into subgroups where each is doing their own thing with no overlap, it works well.

The real challenge lies when the group wants at least one activity together and at least one activity in subgroups.  And, to make matters worse, this is not explained (only the plain vanilla easy option is).  Really, Disney would do well to set up a tutorial with a mock family of two adults and two kids with a handful of rides to choose from so one could practice / figure it out before the booking window opens.  Because, midnight is not a good time for high frustration.

I’ll lay out the problems.  Then, I’ll present the solution (as best I determined).  Finally, I’ll lay out how it should be done.

  • Fast passes are booked three at a time.  This is highly counter-intuitive especially when the family wants to do one ride together and two separately.
  • It also means that you inevitably end up with extra Fast Passes for the preferred rides, which you may modify or not (if there’s nothing else to switch too), taking space away from properly sized/aged people who would actually use the ride.
  • Similarly, if you only want to book two Fast Passes, the system will stick you on something else anyway.  Why, when there are loads of other people trying to book these things?
  • Then, when you want to modify the Fast Pass so different subgroups can do different rides, you have to change the ride time first.  So, to put the entire family on Toy Story, but not sign your preschooler up for Space Mountain, the first step is to pick a different time to go on Space Mountain with your preschooler.  Then you change rides, and maybe have to change times again.  NO!  The only step should be to pick a different ride in the same Fast Pass timeslot, which you could then modify later if needed.

The Solution (keep in mind that this is my best recommendation given the constraints, it is by no means a perfect solution)

  1. Figure out what attractions everyone wants to go on each day.
  2. Book everyone on the same three attractions – either the ones most people want to go to OR the most popular ones.  Since you can adjust the times later, don’t sweat the assigned Options too much.
  3. Use the modify feature to change the time on the Fast Pass(es) for only those group members who will not use the pass(es) in question.  Note that it doesn’t matter what new time you choose as once you’ve selected a new attraction you’ll have to choose a new time anyway.
  4. Then change the attraction and choose a new time, preferably as close to the original time as possible.
  5. One you have all the attractions and people sorted out its fairly easy to adjust the times to fit your daily schedule as you can see everything on one screen.  It is getting everyone into the correct attractions that presents the challenge.
  6. Note that as far as I can tell it will identify conflicts with Fast Passes, but not conflicts with meal reservations.

The Way I’d Like to See the Fast Passes Work

  1. Keep the current system, because if everyone wants the same thing it is great.
  2. But, allow people to book one Fast Pass at a time.  That way, you could book everyone in your group into The Mine Train without having to grab the same number of Anna/Elsa tickets (for example).  Then let people add Fast Passes, up to three total per person.
  3. This option would also let folks grab the critical (to them) Fast Passes and then think about how to flesh out their schedule later.
  4. Similarly, if you copy a Fast Pass over to another member of your group, you should be able to copy only one ride vs the entire set.  And, you should be able to choose which one of their Fast Passes is being replaced, rather than losing the whole set.  As it stands, if subgroup 1 books critical attraction A and subgroup 2 books attraction B, there is no way to regroup them and switch one of their Fast Passes to a shared attraction without attempting to get overlapping Fast Pass time slots (or losing the critical attractions already reserved).
  5. If you find later that you need to split the group, you should be able to switch attractions before switching time slots.  Ie, your tall preschooler refuses to ride The Mine Train at the last minute – the app should let you quickly see what other Fast Passes you can get for the current timeslot, or slightly later.  Families often want to spend time together so being able to ride in parallel is highly beneficial.