Disney FastPasses & Restaurant Reservations

Why go to Disney World when you can see a new picture from there
every week on my blog?!

I'm going on week 6 talking about planning a trip to Disney World! Can you believe that? I was serious when I said it was complicated! I'm looking at an additional 2 posts after this one before I've finished preparing you. So far we've talked about choosing your hotel, which parks to visit, the intricacies of each type of ticket (more involved than simply knowing which park you want to visit!), which rides are the best(!), connecting your magicbands, and using transportation to get to, from, and around Disney World. Today we're going to dive into fastpasses and restaurant reservation! Excited yet? :)

Before we get started, be sure to have your magicbands connected to your Disney account. If you choose to wait to get a magicband until you are at the parks, this post may not be of much help to you.


After buying your tickets and picking your parks, it's time to decide on FastPasses! Obviously my post from last week about rides will be useful to you here. Rollercoasters, fast rides, and classic rides are typically the first to go.

But what is a Fastpass+ anyway? And why do you care if all of the best rides are gone?

Well, a Fastpass is your way of securing a time to ride those best rides without waiting in line. After signing into your Disney account, you can schedule your FastPass+ rides up to 60 days before your trip. You can choose up to 3 rides per day that you want to skip the line for in one park. If you have Park Hopper passes, you are out of luck on this one; FastPasses cannot be booked in one day for more than one park, unfortunately. You can, however, go to a kiosk at a different park, after you have used your first 3 passes or their time has elapsed (or you have cancelled them), and schedule one extra ride at a time per person.

FastPasses for firework shows still have you sitting/standing with lots of
other people.

So, an example:

I did not book my FastPass+ experience until I was in Orlando. By then, my choices were pretty slim. Classic and rollercoaster rides were typically already FastPass+ed out for the day. (They only allow so many people per day to ride specific rides using the FastPass system.) However, I did attempt to book fastpasses through the Disney Experience app on my phone. (You can do that. Download the app here.)

On day one, we started off at Animal Kingdom. I attempted to book a fastpass for Spaceship Earth while in line for Expedition Everest. When I did that on the phone, it suggested I make Fastpasses for Living With the Earth (a ride I did want to do) and Under the Seas with Nemo (a ride I didn't think I wanted to do). They also gave me specific times to be at each of the rides that didn't necessarily work for me. Inevitably I decided not to get a fastpass for the ride. It ended up working out in my favor since Spaceship Earth was only a 5 minute wait and we didn't have time to do any of the other Epcot rides. However, something worth noting is that if I had decided to accept the rides and times Disney suggested, I could click on each ride individually and change it or the time. I also had the option to cancel, but canceling one ride would cancel all of the rides. In my experience, the fastpass+ system has a few flaws and needs to be tweaked a bit to be exceptionally useful, but you can get some use out of it if you have some idea of what you are doing, so that's good.

Justin and I ended up using FastPass+ to reserve a spot to see the Illuminations fireworks at EPCOT, which, in case you are wondering, actually gets surprisingly crowded with people and you have to arrive early despite using a fastpass+. :( We also used our fastpass to ride The Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom, which didn't really have much of a wait … and no one was really checking to see if we did indeed have a FastPass+. Go figure. Having said that though, most rides (specifically the popular ones), cast members check multiple times to be sure you have a FastPass. So don't get in a line for FastPass+ thinking you are going to get through to the front without being checked. There is a 50/50 chance you will, and then you will have to go back and wait in the longer line … even after having waited in the shorter FastPass+ line. Not exactly how you want to spend your vacation I presume? :)

The Osborne Dancing Lights were a magical experience at Hollywood Studios,
but unfortunately this year is the last to see them. :(

We did not use a kiosk to reserve more fastpasses while we were at Disney World, because there wasn't really a need. Obviously, if you are going during a popular time of year, like summer or Christmas, FastPasses will be very beneficial to you. They just weren't for us. *shrugs*

Restaurant Reservations

Alongside FastPasses, you can make reservations for restaurants up to 180 days in advance. You can either call Disney (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) or use their online system. If you sign up for My Disney Experience, you can book your reservations without providing credit card information, otherwise credit card information will be needed to confirm your booking. Something else worth mentioning is that you need a Disney Park ticket if you make reservations (and/or dine) at a restaurant inside a specific park. It is not enough that you have reservations, you also must have a ticket to the park. Of course, restaurants outside of the park but on Disney property, such as in the hotels, do not require anything special.

If you do like I did and wait until you get to the park to find a restaurant to eat, don't be surprised when the Disney app tells you that every restaurant you want to go to is fully reserved. In our case, this didn't matter and we were able to eat where we wanted. I have no idea what this is like in the summer though and how much those reservations matter. Restaurant reservations fill up fast, but more can become available the closer to your date you get (as people change their mind or cancel … or whatever). Be sure to check back frequently. Also, there are plenty of places to get "fast food" that should not require reservations. Just walk up, get your chicken leg (or hot dog, burger, pork sandwich, whatever), and go. Fast and easy.

Having said all of that, please keep in mind that restaurants outside of the Disney property can be just as unique as on property without the high expenses. If you have picky children or are on a budget, it may be worth enjoying a big breakfast before going to the park and a big dinner upon leaving and just snacking during the day as needed. Consider getting a Disney gift card to be better aware of how much you are spending since snacking can also add up quickly.

SciFi Restaurant at Hollywood Studios now offers breakfast!

The restaurants Justin and I enjoyed:

• San Angel Inn (Mexican) at EPCOT ★★★ $$
• Boulangerie Patisserie (quick service, French) at EPCOT ★★★★ $
• Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café (fast food) at Magic Kingdom ★★ $
• Cafe Rix (quick service) at Coronado Springs ★★★★ $
• Riverside Mill Food Court at Riverside Port Orleans ★★ $$
• Planet Hollywood (American) at Disney Springs ★★★★ $$
• Keke's Breakfast Cafe (breakfast) outside of Disney property ★★★★ $

The following are recommended and are hard to get into:

• Be Our Guest (French) at Magic Kingdom
• Cinderella's Castle (American) at Magic Kingdom
• Chef Mickey's (buffet, character dining) at the Contemporary Resort
• Crystal Palace (buffet, character dining) at Magic Kingdom
• Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada at EPCOT
• Victoria & Albert's (American) at Grand Floridian Resort

Now that you know so much about FastPasses and restaurant reservations, what are you waiting for?! Get to booking! :)

What are your favorite rides and must-eat-at restaurants on or near Disney property? Did I miss any good ones?

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