***UPDATED JUNE 2016
The most common complaint I hear about Disneyland is about wait times. No one likes standing in line. And, while we can’t control the crowds at the parks, we can control how we navigate through them.
Utilizing FASTPASSES at Disneyland and California Adventure can make all the difference in your visit. Take a few moments to learn how this works and you’ll be glad you did while you’re at the parks.
In this article
- What is a FASTPASS? This is a paper pass given to you at FASTPASS distribution points at each park’s busiest attractions.
- How does it work? Insert your ticket or annual pass into the machine if the time slated to return works for you. Go enjoy another part of the park until the time frame printed on your ticket arrives. Then, return to the ride and skip ahead to the ‘FASTPASS’ line to cut out a considerable wait time for this attraction.
- Can I save my FASTPASS for the next day if I didn’t use it? No. FASTPASSES are only good for the day of issue.
- How much do FASTPASSES cost? Nothing! They are included in the cost of your ticket.
- Where do I find these FASTPASS distribution machines? Most distribution points are located near the entrance of the attraction. There are a few exceptions, listed below.
- What if I lose my FASTPASS? Replacements are not available.
- Can I schedule FASTPASSES for the entire day at once? No. You can only hold one fast pass at a time.
- Are there exceptions? Yes. If you have plans to see World of Color at California Adventure, absolutely grab this FASTPASS upon entering. The World of Color FASTPASS gives you priority seating for the show that arrives much later in the day. (This FASTPASS is distributed at Grizzly River Run.) Holding this pass will not stop you from retrieving other FASTPASSES. The Fantasmic! FASTPASS is another priority seating pass that will not stop you from retrieving other FASTPASSES. (This FASTPASS is distributed along Big Thunder Trail in Frontierland.) ***Fantasmic! is on hiatus until mid-2017.
- Are there any other exceptions? Kind of. If the FASTPASS you pull is for a much later time in the day, a message at the bottom of your FASTPASS will include the time you may pull another FASTPASS. See this example:
(More often than not, you will not see this added message on your FASTPASS. In this case, the guest arrived at 8:30am and the soonest she was able to ride this attraction was over four hours later. Disneyland does not want you waiting for four hours. So, they open up this next FASTPASS window. Grab your next FASTPASS and be happy you have two scheduled attractions!)
Disneyland FASTPASS Attractions:
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters – disconnected – grab this whenever you want!
- Haunted Mansion
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
- Space Mountain – with the Hyperspace Overlay
- Splash Mountain
- Star Tours (distributed next to Buzz Light Year’s distribution point)
California Adventure FASTPASS Attractions:
- World of Color (distributed near Grizzly River Run) – disconnected – grab this whenever you want!
- Frozen – Live at the Hyperion Theater – disconnected – but very popular. More here.
- California Screamin’
- Goofy’s Sky School
- Grizzly River Run
- Radiator Springs Racers (distributed near It’s Tough to Be a Bug)
- Soarin’ Over California
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- ***What does ‘disconnected’ mean? If a FASTPASS is disconnected, you are permitted to grab another FASTPASS while holding the one that is disconnected. Otherwise, you may only hold one pass at a time.
Here’s a short video showing how the FASTPASS system works. Note: Some attractions shown here do not use the FASTPASS system. They seem to come and go, as they’re needed to move guests through popular attractions in the most efficient way possible. For example, the FASTPASS option was removed from The Haunted Mansion because it simply didn’t make a huge difference in this already fast-moving line.
- Everyone in your group must have a FASTPASS to ride. I recommend nominating one person in your group to hold all tickets or annual passes for the day. At the distribution point, have one person collect all the FASTPASSES. My kids like to pull their own FASTPASSES, but they all return their annual passes and FASTPASSES to me before we leave the distribution point.
- Little ones (ages 2 and under) do not need a FASTPASS for attractions since they were not granted a ticket upon entry to the parks. (They wouldn’t have a ticket to insert for a FASTPASS.)
- FASTPASSES are available on a first-come, first-served basis and they do run out. Start your day early and utilize these passes as often as possible.
- The most common attractions from both parks that run out of FASTPASSES are Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Radiator Springs’ Racers and California Screamin’.
- The FASTPASS system works independently for both parks. Meaning, you can grab a FASTPASS at Disneyland, leave the park and immediately grab one at California Adventure. So, if park hopping is your thing, go between the parks to accomplish the least amount of wait time possible.
- FASTPASSES are not accepted AFTER the time frame on your ticket. Disney used to be flexible on this, but they have grown strict with the rules recently.
- Finally, my Plan Park Touring page includes itineraries designed for little and big kids, with 1 and 2 day plans for Disneyland and 1 day plans for California Adventure. I have listed the most popular attractions at the parks with a schedule for when to ride what and included in that list is when to grab FASTPASSES. Take a look to see if this works for you.
*Helpful tip: To avoid missing the time frame on your FASTPASS, set an alarm on your phone for your start time.
FASTPASSES work well for groups, but if you’re OK with riding separately, consider the Single Rider option. This works well if you have one person in your group who wants to ride and you don’t want to wait the standard time for the attraction. Single riders must meet attraction height requirements and be at least 7 years of age.
Rider Swap (or Rider Switch or Child Swap) might work for you. Here’s how it works: As you approach the line, let a cast member know you’d like to do a Rider Swap. Everyone (adults and children) will then stand in line together. When it’s your turn, one adult will ride (with an eligible child) and the other adult will stay with the remaining child or children. Then, the other adult will get a turn to ride without having to wait in line all over again. This means the eligible child can ride twice!
Rider Swap is available at these attractions in Disneyland:
Big Thunder Mountain (Frontierland)
Gadget’s Go Coaster (Toontown)
Indiana Jones (Adventureland)
Space Mountain (Tomorrowland)
Splash Mountain (Critter Country)
Star Tours (Tomorrowland)
Rider Swap is available at these attractions in California Adventure:
California Screamin (Paradise Pier)
Goofy’s Sky Skool (Paradise Pier)
Grizzly River Run (Grizzly Peak)
Radiator Springs Racers (Cars Land)
Silly Symphony Swings – tandem or single (Paradise Pier)
Soarin’ Over California (Condor Flats)
Tower of Terror (Hollywood Land)
Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies (a bug’s land)
I can’t think of many reasons why you shouldn’t pull a FASTPASS if it’s available. If there’s a short wait time or you’re leaving the park early and can’t wait for the next available time, go to the Standby Entrance. Otherwise, grab the FASTPASS and plan around it.
And, as with any crowded day at Disneyland, follow these three rules for the best results:
1. Arrive at least 30 minutes before the park opens and have a strategy in place for your day. Take a look at my post on how to start your day.
2. Use FASTPASSES.
3. Take a break mid-day and return after a few hours.
No need to mingle during the meltdown hours with kids (and parents) falling apart. Go back to your hotel for a swim or a shower and return refreshed for the evening.
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