Since the FastPass+ system was introduced in 2013, Disney has made big changes, such as moving attractions between tiers, as well as subtle changes. One subtle change that we’ve noticed is that Disney has increased the number of same-day FastPass+ selections that are available while also decreasing the number of FastPass+ selections available in advance.
Giving out more day-of FastPasses can benefit both you and Disney. The benefit to you, of course, is that you might get a FastPass+ that wasn’t available when you made your advance FastPass+ selections 30 or 60 days ago.
The benefit to Disney happens when a FastPass+ ride breaks down unexpectedly. When this happens, the FastPass+ is changed to an “Multiple Experience” FastPass+ (often called an “Anytime” FastPass+). An Anytime FastPass+ can be used at most or all attractions at any time of the current day. This can cause big problems for operations. If a high-volume ride like Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down for several hours, the other FastPass+ attractions in the Magic Kingdom have to accept thousands of unplanned guests via the FastPass+ queue. By holding back on distributing all the FastPasses, fewer “Anytime” FastPasses have to be created and accepted. Basically, Disney will only release the “held-back” same-day FastPass+ inventory if attractions are running smoothly during the early part of the day. If there are technical problems, at least part of that “extra” inventory is used to accommodate the Anytime FastPass+ that had been issued due to operational problems.
For every FastPass+ that is selected, the capacity for the standby guests goes down. Below is a chart showing how long the wait time would be depending on how many guests are ahead of you, and how much of the capacity is allocated to FastPass+.
Peter Pan’s Flight has a ride capacity of 1,000 guests per hour. If the ride operated without FastPass+ and there were 500 people ahead of you, it would take 30 minutes to get on the attraction. If FastPass+ is allocated to 80%, the standby queue only has a capacity of 200 guests per hour. It would take 150 minutes for 500 guests in the standby queue to ride. If an unexpected flood of FastPass+ guests arrive, causing FastPass+ allocation goes to 90%, it would take 5 hours for 500 standby guests to ride!
This scenario can be even worse for attractions that can operate with less than 100% capacity. For example, Tower of Terror can run with only 1 shaft. We have seen where the standby queue at Tower of Terror barely moves because it is running at 50% capacity, and almost all the capacity has to be allocated to FastPass+.
Hollywood Studios after August 29, 2019
Once Star Wars: Galaxy Edge opens at Hollywood Studios in August, the tiering system will change. It should take longer for popular attractions’ FastPasses to “sell out” since guests will only be able to reserve one “good” FastPass in advance. The current tiering allows guests to get one Toy Story Land attraction and two additional FastPasses. The following analysis regarding Disney’s Hollywood Studios is only relevant through August 28, 2019.
The tables below show in blue how many days in advance FastPasses “sell out.” For days were FastPasses do not “sell out” in advance, the cell shows the time when FastPasses “sell out.”
With Disney releasing more day-of FastPasses, it is possible to get a FastPass+ reservation for any attraction on the day of your visit. Attraction availability and time slots change continuously. If you keep refreshing the My Disney Experience app, it is possible that a FastPass+ reservation you want will appear.
Have you seen a change in the FastPass+ system? What is your FastPass+ strategy for Hollywood Studios after Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens? Let us know in the comments.