The best place to start a discussion of FASTPASSes is the official Disney description of FASTPASS...

Well, it sounds so nice and easy... well, the system is actually quite complex, and keeps changing. The newest change started at the beginning of 2003, with the introduction of a second "tier" of guests with the "Enhanced aka Unlimited FASTPASS" option.

So, we have two types of guests in the park now...

Regular guests


"Enhanced" guests.

I am going to start with the "Enhanced" guests, since regular guests are everyone who isn't an "Enhanced" guest.

So, how do you get the "Enhanced FASTPASS" option?

Well, currently there is only ONE way to get this special benefit...

You must buy an AAA Travel Hotel/Admission package. They have the "Exclusive" on the Enhanced FASTPASS feature. Thats right, you cannot get this feature if you buy directly from the Walt Disney Travel Company (even though the AAA packages are basically an WDTC package with an "AAA" label.)

First, you must buy Hotel and Admission from AAA Travel. Of course, they would love to sell you Air or other transportation, rental car, meal packages, etc... but those are extras and not required.

Second, you MUST stay at one of the three Disneyland Resort Hotels; Grand Californian, Disneyland Hotel or the Paradise Pier.

These packages can be much more expensive than a Good Neighbor Hotel (aka non-Disney), so the question is, is it worth the extra money, especially if you know how the "regular" system works.... Only you can answer that....

Some folks get a split package, in which they stay at the Disney owned hotel for a couple of days, and the rest of the trip at a Good Neighbor Hotel, but get one ParkHopper good for the entire trip. These ParkHoppers have the Enhanced feature that is good for the entire trip

So, you become an "Enhanced" user by buying a special vacation package from AAA.

All other folks in the Park are "Regular" users, that is AP holders, single day tickets, Multi-day tickets, Complementary Tickets and any other type of admission that does not specifically come with the "Enhanced" option.

Since the "Enhanced" option is the easier of the two to understand, let's start there....

First off, the old term "Unlimited" is a bit misleading, you can't get ALL the FASTPASSES you want, but you can get one for each attraction at the same time. A better term now being used is "Enhanced" FASTPASS.

Well, the Disneyland Resort Passports that comes with the AAA package has a special barcode that tells the FASTPASS machine that you are eligible for the special benefit. (So do NOT upgrade to an AP until the end of the last day, because the minute you switch from the passport to the AP, you lose the Unlimited FASTPASS option!) (Though some folks have reported that the CM's at the AP processing center can transfer the special feature, so ASK before you upgrade.)

Now, how does it work, well, think of the FASTPASS machines as a computer network, with each attraction being a "unit" in the network. When a "regular" user attempts to get a FASTPASS, the machine does two things, the first test is that it checks to see if you have a current FASTPASS for the same attraction (that is a FASTPASS whose start time is later than the current time aka not yet valid), and the second test is to see if you have received another FASTPASS in the same park (There are two separate networks, one for Disneyland, and another for DCA). The rule here is you are not allowed to get another FASTPASS until the starting time of the first FASTPASS, or after 2 hours of issuance of the first FASTPASS. The easiest way to check this is to look at the bottom of the first FASTPASS, it will state "Another FASTPASS will be available at XX:XX" Now certain FASTPASS machines have not been connected to the network. In this case, the machine only cares about the first test, do you have another FASTPASS for THIS ride?, and will issue you one only if the starting time has passed. (For example, you go to Indy, and get a FASTPASS for 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM at about 10 AM. The machine will refuse to issue you another FASTPASS until 11:30 AM, at which time, the machine would issue one for say 1:40 to 2:40 PM, once again, you will be blocked out until 1:40 PM, when the machine will once again give you a new FASTPASS for say 3:10 to 4:10 PM....)

Now, with one of the special AAA Hotel package passports, when you stick the passport into a FASTPASS machine, it reads the barcode, and will treat the machine as being "disconnected" from the network, and will only apply the first test, do you have a current FASTPASS for THIS ride?, it doesn't care about any other ride. Also, the machine does print "AAA Travel" on the FASTPASS.

So, what is the best strategy if you have one of the special passports.

Well, lets say you are a family, what I would do is gather all the passports after entering the park, and have one designated "runner", let's say Dad, and then have the rest of the family (Mom and the kids) can go straight to Fantasyland. Or if the kids are too old for Fantasyland, or if it is a group of adults, you could go on the Matterhorn (a non FASTPASS attraction) or just go sit down and have some breakfast. The one "runner" will go to EVERY ride that offers FASTPASS and get FASTPASSES for each member of the group. After he collects the entire set, he/she meets up with the rest of the group.

Now, sit down and sort out the FASTPASSES by area (Tomorrowland - Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Autopia) (Fantasyland/Toontown - Roger Rabbit) (Westside - Big Thunder Mountain RR, Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain).

Now, figure out which way you want to start (the starting times of the FASTPASSES might help make this decision for you!). Remember a big rule about FASTPASSES in general, the Cast Members care about two things, the date of the FASTPASS, and the STARTING time, they will not let you use the FASTPASS until the starting time. What they do NOT care about is the ending time, they will allow the use of the FASTPASS after the ending time!

So, lets say you decide to start at Tomorrowland.. it is now 9:20PM, and you have a (starting time) 10:00 AM Space Mountain, and a 10:30 Autopia, well, walk on over to Space Mountain, at 10:00, BEFORE you go on Star Tours, get another FASTPASS (this is the key of maximizing your use of the feature) The machine will check, and since your first FASTPASS started at 10:00, and it is now a few minutes after 10 AM, the machine will issue you a new FASTPASS). Ride Space Mountain, it is now about 10:15, so go check out the shop, arcade, and the spinning marble until 10:30. Then off to Autopia, and before riding, get a new Autopia FASTPASS. Note, all FASTPASSes will have at least a 40 minute return time, no matter how early you get them, or how quiet the park is.

Now, you move to the next area you want to go to, and repeat the same procedure. This way you will always have a FASTPASS for each attraction, but save a LOT of walking.

To sum up the best strategy if you have the "Enhanced FASTPASS" option....

Have one person in your group go get a FASTPASS for EVERY ride in Disneyland when you first arrive.

Before you use the current FASTPASS, get a new FASTPASS for the same attraction.

OK, now the vast majority of us don't get the "Enhanced" option, so we are Regular users of the system... how does this work....

Well, it is a bit more complicated than the "Enhanced" option, but you can still "collect FASTPASS tickets for multiple attractions at one time", though it is more restrictive.

No wonder that Disney doesn't advertise these "tricks" I am about to talk about. First off, it hurts the marketing of the AAA Disney Hotel Travel Packages, and, second, it is hard to explain to a Guest. You will find out that many CM's have no idea about what is a "Stand-Alone" machine, or other information talked about in this post. They do know the information as described on the official website, and the Enhanced basics, since this is what Disney has taught them. They have no idea about the "secrets".

In the Enhanced section, I talked about looking at the FASTPASS system as a computer network, so let's get an overview of the system.

First off, there are TWO networks, one for the Disneyland Park, and a second for Disney's California Adventure. They are totally separate, so you can always get one FASTPASS for each park. Let's look at the Networked machines....

In Disneyland, the following rides are networked

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Indiana Jones Adventure
Splash Mountain
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Space Mountain

At DCA, the networked attractions are

California Screamin'
Mulholland Madness
Soarin' Over California
Tower of Terror

Now, not every attraction is part of the network, 2 attractions (at present, and these attractions have changed many times) don't look at the network.

Independent Machines (AKA Stand-Alone)

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin(DL)

Grizzly River Run (DCA)

And now we have a new version of machines, one where Disney decides to turn off the machines 7 days a week.

Non-Operational Machines

Star Tours (DL)
Haunted Mansion (DL) Though used from October thru December for the Holiday version

Muppet Vision 3D (DCA)
It's Tough to be a Bug! (DCA)

While the machines and signage are still posted at these attractions, they are no longer used.

A new addition is the decision to not offer FASTPASS on a daily basis on some attractions, but only to offer them on Weekends during the off-season (they should be offered daily during Peak and Holiday seasons).

Some of the following attractions do not offer FASTPASS during the week:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Mulholland Madness
Grizzly River Run

The TIMES Guide handed out at the turnstyles does list which FASTPASS attractions will be offered that day. Though it has been wrong, so I recommend you check the status at the actual attraction.

Also, FASTPASS machines are turned off when an attraction has been temporarly closed down to fix a problem. They are turned back on when the attraction returns to normal operation.

So, our first problem is that we are talking about different types of FASTPASSES, and there is no easy way to tell the difference..

The independent machines are nice and simple, each of the rides has its own machine, and you can get ONE FASTPASS for each of the two rides without affecting any other FP.....

PLEASE NOTE : All times are an example, and should not be a reflection of the time you really get on your FASTPASS

One trick that is important is that the ending time is not important, the CM does check the start time and the date, but they have been told to be very flexible on the ending time, who knows why you have been delayed, you could have been stuck on another ride, etc.... so they almost always never say anything when you show up late with a FASTPASS...

The trick with the independent machines is to get a NEW FASTPASS prior to riding, for example, it is now 11:15 am, and you want to ride Roger Rabbit, before going in the FASTPASS line to ride, pick up another FASTPASS (the window is now open), and you will be given a new Roger Rabbit FASTPASS for 2:10 pm to 3:10 pm, this will allow you to come back later, after 2:10 pm for a second ride on Roger Rabbit, and get a third FASTPASS for Roger Rabbit later in the day.

So, what can I have, PRIOR to even accessing the "networked" machines...

Well, I can have a Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, and a Grizzly River Run.

OK, now to talk about the "Networked" machines, you can have (in most cases) one DL and one DCA networked FASTPASS in addition to the above FASTPASSES...

Once you get one networked FASTPASS, you are not allowed another "networked" FASTPASS within the same park (either DL or DCA) until the earlier of these two events happen...

1. The time window on the FASTPASS becomes valid

2. Two hours have passed since receiving the FASTPASS

OK, lets look at some examples...

It is early in the day, and you go to get a Splash FASTPASS at 9:15 am, the FASTPASS issued to you is valid from 10:20 am to 11:20 am...

In this case, the next FASTPASS would be available at 10:20 am, and that would be the time printed on the bottom of the FASTPASS

But, lets say it is a bit later, say around 10:30 am, you get a Splash FASTPASS, but now it is good between 2:40 pm and 3:40 pm...

In this case, the next FASTPASS would be available at 12:30 pm. (Two hours after the FASTPASS was issued), and the bottom of the FASTPASS would state 12:30pm... there is one additional rule, you would NOT be allowed to get a Splash FASTPASS, you cannot get a new Splash FASTPASS until the window opens at 2:40 pm, but at 12:30 you could get an Autopia, BTMRR, Indiana Jones, etc.....(any networked ride OTHER than Splash)

And one of the most important tricks to maximize your FASTPASS usage is to get a NEW FASTPASS prior to using the current active one, let's say at 11 AM you got an Indy FASTPASS good for 12:35 pm to 1:35 pm, at 12:30, I would head over to Splash Mountain, and at 12:35, get a Splash FASTPASS (say good for 2:50 pm to 3:50 pm), then ride Indy... at 2:35 pm (don't forget the two hour rule), I would pick up an Autopia FASTPASS, then ride Splash.........

OK, so now you can have a Roger Rabbit, GRR, plus one or two DL networked rides, and a DCA ride...

Another thing to think about is the Single Rider Passes available on Splash, Grizzly River Run, Soarin', California Screamin', Mulholland Madness, and Maliboomer. If you are willing to use Single Rider Passes (Which in most cases are quicker than FASTPASSES, with the exception of Soarin', which in many cases can have a longer wait than a FP)... you won't need to pick up FASTPASSES for these rides, and can use the FASTPASSES on other rides, such as Autopia.

To Sum up the "Regular" guests FASTPASS system....

Think of the systems as DIFFERENT, and that there are FOUR sets of FASTPASS machines, Roger Rabbit, GRR, the DL networked system, and the DCA networked thinking in this manner should help you make the most use out of the FASTPASS system.....