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How to tour Disney World without FastPass+

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How to tour Disney World without FastPass+

As more and more people start planning their first trips back they’re reaching out to us with a very important question: “How do we tour without FastPass+?”

The truth is, for repeat visitors it can be very difficult to wrap their minds around the thought of touring without FastPass+ (FP+). It was to us, too.

And while things do look different, even without FastPass+ you can still have a successful day in the park.

Here’s how to do that:

Important Update:
Disney Genie has replaced FastPass+

FastPass+ (at Walt Disney World) and FastPass (at Disneyland) have been discontinued. A new system, called Disney Genie (free) and Disney Genie+ (pay-to-use) are now available at all 4 parks.

  • Disney Genie –> Complimentary in-app service that helps you plan your day.
  • Disney Genie+ –> Basically, it is a paid FastPass that costs $15 per ticket, per day (Walt Disney World) & $20 per ticket, per day (Disneyland). This service replaces the old FastPass service and allows you to choose the next available time to arrive at a variety of attractions. It works very similar to MaxPass at Disneyland.
  • Lightning Lane –> New name for FastPass line. You use this with Genie+.
  • Lightning Lane Select Experiences –> The most high-demand attractions are not available in Genie+; however, you can select up to 2 of these high-demand attractions per day to ride via an individual Lightning Lane selection. These selections will cost you extra (they aren’t included with the price of Genie+), and the prices are dynamic, meaning they will vary based upon the time of the year and attraction.

How to tour Disney World right now

With attendance levels capped and no FastPass+, the need for minute-by-minute plans of any sort are greatly reduced.

Don’t get us wrong, you still need to have a game plan in mind, but you’ll likely find that your plans can be a bit looser.

Empty Fantasyland

But we get it – if you’re a veteran planner this new approach is going to feel very weird and maybe even more stressful than if you had to make 7 days worth of FastPass+ reservations or snag lunch at Be Our Guest over Christmas for 10 people.

We felt that way too. Well, at least we did in the beginning. But then after a few days in the parks we just sort of chilled out and realized that strict touring plans aren’t really necessary right now.

So, gather ’round while we share some of the things we’ve been able to learn on our visits.

A few very important things to know

In all 4 parks we do think that things are some important things to keep in mind:

  • The parks typically open up earlier than the scheduled time. However, even though the parks are open, not all attractions will be operating. In general, you can expect at least a couple of the headliners to be going.

    As of right now, there is no definitive list that will tell you exactly what will and won’t be open, but we do have suggested attractions in each park listed below.

Important note: Keep in mind that sometime in 2021, Disney will be transitioning to what they are calling Early Theme Park Entry.

There isn’t an official start date yet but, when it kicks off, only on-site guests will be able to enter the parks before the official opening time. That is different from how it works now where all guests have an equal opportunity of entering the park early.

  • The first and last hours of the day are the best. This tried and true advice remains the same.

    Just like in the before times (back before the closure, we mean), the first and last hours of the day are going to be the best for touring with the shortest lines.
  • Lines tend to equalize out during the middle of the day. Without FastPass+, what we’ve found is that after the first couple of hours of the day the waits for all attractions start to sort of equalize.

    This can be good for some of the most popular attractions. Instead of 75 or 90 minutes you may find the waits dropping to 45 or 60 minutes. But, it can also mean that some attractions that generally never saw long lines suddenly have waits.
  • Weekends are busier. In fact, they are way busier than weekdays. If there are days when you want a plan, the weekends are it. But, if you can, we recommend skipping the weekends.

    Want to see more recommendations for the best times to visit? Take a look at our Crowd Calendar for additional tips and advice.
  • Wait times can be inflated. Don’t be scared by the wait times you see in the My Disney Experience app. We have found them over and over (and over) again to be inflated.

    We don’t think Disney is doing this on purpose, but it can be confusing. The good news is that we do think Disney is getting better at estimating the waits.
  • Long lines look scarier than they are. In addition to the wait times being inflated, when you’re in the parks it can be very tricky to judge (with your eye) how long the waits are.

    Physical distancing procedures mean that the lines may snake out into the walkways, which makes those waits look terrible when really they aren’t bad at all.
  • Boats often have some of the longest waits. To keep guests physically distanced on rides, the boat attractions (things like Pirates of the Caribbean in Magic Kingdom and Na’vi River Journey in Animal Kingdom) can develop longer lines than some traditionally popular attractions in the parks.
  • Park hours are sometimes reduced. In many cases, Disney has begun to extend park hours. But in general you’ll still find that the park hours are reduced from what we saw in previous years.

    This makes it more difficult to leave and come back or even to Park Hop. But if you’re traveling when the temps are high a break still isn’t a bad idea – and we do still recommend you schedule one, even if it is just a long table service meal during the middle of the day.
  • Attractions may will close temporarily for cleaning. Attractions are on a cycle to be sanitized throughout the day and when that happens boarding may be temporarily suspended or delayed.

Touring plans for each park

Take everything you know about touring plans and, at least for now, toss that out the window. There’s some new stuff to learn but we promise it isn’t too difficult.

Your primary goal will be to identify which attractions in each park garner the longest lines, and then try to do those whenever the lines are shortest (which will typically be at park opening or at the end of the day).

All other attractions you should be able to fit in wherever it works best or makes the most sense. 

Slinky Dog

To help, we’ve put together charts for each park that identify the attractions that will see the highest waits. If you’re a veteran Walt Disney World visitor some of these may be somewhat surprising – they were to us.

Do you still need to arrive before park opening?

If your goal is to tour with the shortest waits we still recommend you arrive for before park opening (aka Rope Drop).

Yes, things are “easier” right now, but for optimum touring it still makes sense to arrive before the park officially opens. Doing that will likely allow you ride 1-2 headliners before the official “opening” time.

In addition, if you are visiting on a weekend or on a holiday, the answer to whether you should arrive early is also an emphatic “YES.”

Epcot parking lot

But if you’re planning on a more relaxed day, our answer is a bit more nuanced. Truth be told, you probably don’t need to rush around to get there.

We’ve personally tried arriving all different times of the day, and we still prefer arriving before park opening, but a close second was arriving late afternoon and staying until the park closed. If you can’t make up your mind, go ahead and stick with park opening so that you have plenty of time to do everything that you want to do before the end of the day.

How much should we plan on doing per hour?

When touring, we find that we can typically complete about 2-3 attractions per hour. This allows for plenty of time for restroom and drink breaks.

What about characters and entertainment?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any traditional character meets or entertainment offerings right now, but Disney does have some fun alternatives that are definitely worth checking out.

They aren’t scheduled, though, but we still think it is worth it to try to catch one (or more!).

Buzz Lightyear

We recommend you set aside some time during the afternoon when the lines are the longest to character hunt.

Read more about where you can find the characters in the parks.

Magic Kingdom

Important things to know about touring Magic Kingdom right now

  • Magic Kingdom has been letting people into the turnstiles (or tapstiles, if you’d rather) about 30 – 45 minutes before the park opens. That means the parking lots open up and the buses and monorails all typically start operating earlier than that.
  • If you want to be at the front of the lines to get into Magic Kingdom, plan to arrive to the bus stop about 90 minutes before the park opening and to the monorail stop or parking lot booths about 1 hour before the park opens. You may have to wait a bit, but it shouldn’t be long. If you are walking from the Contemporary, aim to be to the security checkpoint about 1 hour before the park opens.
  • If Magic Kingdom does open up earlier than the posted time, not every attraction will be available. We recommend heading to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train first.
  • Magic Kingdom has the most attractions of any park. You can see and do a lot in 1 day, but for an even more relaxed experience, 2 days will be better.

SAVE the image below to the camera roll on your phone:

Magic Kingdom when to visit attractions
wdt_ID Land Attraction When to visit
1 Adventureland Jungle Cruise First 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
2 Adventureland Magic Carpets of Aladdin Anytime
3 Adventureland Pirates of the Caribbean First 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
4 Adventureland Swiss Family Treehouse Anytime
5 Adventureland Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room Anytime
6 Fantasyland Barnstormer Anytime
7 Fantasyland Dumbo the Flying Elephant Anytime
8 Fantasyland "it's a small world” First 3 OR last 3 hours of the day
9 Fantasyland Mad Tea Party Anytime
10 Fantasyland The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Anytime
11 Fantasyland Mickey's PhilharMagic Anytime
12 Fantasyland Peter Pan's Flight First 3 OR last 3 hours of the day
13 Fantasyland Prince Charming Regal Carrousel Anytime
14 Fantasyland Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Before park opening or first OR last hour of the day
15 Fantasyland Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid Anytime
16 Frontierland Big Thunder Mountain Railroad First OR last hour of the day
17 Frontierland Country Bear Jamboree Anytime
18 Frontierland Splash Mountain First 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
19 Frontierland Tom Sawyer Island Check MDE for attraction opening time & visit as close to that as possible.
20 Liberty Square The Hall of Presidents Anytime
21 Liberty Square The Haunted Mansion First 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
22 Liberty Square Liberty Square Riverboat Anytime
23 Tomorrowland Astro Orbiter First 3 OR last 3 hours of the day
24 Tomorrowland Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin Anytime
25 Tomorrowland Space Mountain First 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
26 Tomorrowland Tomorrowland Speedway First 3 OR last 3 hours of the day
27 Tomorrowland Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover Anytime
28 Tomorrowland Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress Anytime

Epcot

Important things to know about touring Epcot right now:

  • The parking lot and International Gateway are opening up about 30-45 minutes before the official park opening, with guests being let through the tapstiles shortly after.
  • If you want to be at the front of the lines to get into Epcot, plan to arrive to the bus stop or Skyliner Station about 90 minutes before the park opening and to the parking lot booths about 1 hour before the park opens. You may have to wait a bit but it shouldn’t be long. If you are walking, plan to arrive to the International Gateway about 1 hour before the park opens.
  • If Epcot does open up earlier than the posted time, not every attraction will be available. We recommend heading to Frozen Ever After first.
  • Limited versions of the Epcot festivals continue to be held throughout the year. Unlike regular years, you’ll likely find it a lot easier to find a place to eat, though – just remember you have to be stationary and following physical distancing guidelines to remove your mask. 
  • The front of Epcot has been undergoing a lot of construction and although there is still work to be done, if exiting that way at night don’t forget to check out the beautiful new lights and fountain.

SAVE the image below to the camera roll on your phone:

Epcot when to visit attractions
wdt_ID Land Attraction When to visit
1 Future World Mission: SPACE Anytime
2 Future World Spaceship Earth Late afternoon to park close
3 Future World Test Track First OR last hour of the day
4 Future World Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience Anytime
5 Future World (Imagination pavilion) Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival Anytime
6 Future World (Imagination pavilion) Journey Into Imagination with Figment Anytime
7 Future World (The Land pavilion) Awesome Planet Anytime
8 Future World (The Land pavilion) Living with the Land First 3 OR last 3 hours of the day
9 Future World (The Land pavilion) Soarin' Around the World First 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
10 Future World (The Seas) The Seas with Nemo & Friends Anytime
11 World Showcase (America) The American Adventure Anytime
12 World Showcase (Canada pavilion) Canada Far and Wide Anytime
13 World Showcase (China pavilion) Reflections of China Anytime
14 World Showcase (France pavilion) Beauty and the Beast Sing Along (shares theater with Impressions de France) Anytime
15 World Showcase (France pavilion) Impressions de France (shares theater with Beauty and the Beast Sing Along) Anytime
16 World Showcase (Mexico pavilion) Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros First 3 OR last 3 hours of the day
17 World Showcase (Norway pavilion) Frozen Ever After Before park opening or first OR last hour of the day

Hollywood Studios

  • Hollywood Studios has been letting people through the tapstiles 30-60 minutes before park opening. At that time, guests are allowed to line up for their first attraction of the day and oftentimes they will start running the attraction a bit before the official park opening time. 
  • If you want to be at the front of the lines to get into Hollywood Studios, plan to arrive to the bus stop or Skyliner Station about 90 minutes before the park opening and to the parking lot booths about 1 hour before the park opens. You may have to wait a bit, but it shouldn’t be long. If you are walking, plan to arrive to the gates about 1 hour before the park opens.
  • If Hollywood Studios does open up earlier than the posted time, not every attraction will be available. We recommend heading to either Slinky Dog Dash or Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway first.
  • Guests with a valid theme park ticket and ParkPass reservation for Hollywood Studios can try for a Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group at 7 a.m. from anywhere (you do not need to be in the park). If you don’t snag one in the first drop, you’ll have another chance to try at the 1 p.m. drop, but you must be inside the park for this.
  • The Frozen Sing-Along is back open, however, it fills up fast. If this is a priority for you make sure you double-check the show times in the My Disney Experience app and plan to hit up one of the earlier shows.

SAVE the image below to the camera roll on your phone:

Hollywood Studios when to visit each attraction
wdt_ID Land Attraction When to visit
1 Animation Courtyard Disney Junior Play & Dance! Anytime
2 Animation Courtyard Walt Disney Presents Anytime
3 Echo Lake Star Tours – The Adventures Continue Anytime
4 Echo Lake Vacation Fun (at Mickey Shorts Theater) Anytime
5 Echo Lake Frozen Sing-Along First 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
6 Grand Avenue Muppet*Vision 3D Anytime
7 Hollywood Boulevard Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway Before park opening or late afternoon to park close
8 Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run First 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
9 Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance When Boarding Group is called
10 Sunset Boulevard Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy Anytime
11 Sunset Boulevard Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith First OR last hour of the day
12 Sunset Boulevard The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ First OR last hour of the day
13 Toy Story Land Alien Swirling Saucers Anytime
14 Toy Story Land Slinky Dog Dash Before park opening or first OR last hour of the day
15 Toy Story Land Toy Story Mania Anytime

Animal Kingdom

  • The Animal Kingdom parking lot typically opens up 30-45 minutes before the official park opening, with guests being let through the tapstiles shortly after.
  • If you want to be at the front of the lines to get into Animal Kingdom, plan to arrive to the bus stop about 90 minutes before the park opening and to the parking lot booths about 1 hour before the park opens. You may have to wait a bit, but it shouldn’t be long. 
  • If Animal Kingdom does open up earlier than the posted time, not every attraction will be available. We recommend heading to Pandora to ride either Flight of Passage or Na’vi River Journey first.
  • You should easily be able to complete everything at Animal Kingdom in 1 day.

SAVE the image below to the camera roll on your phone:

Animal Kingdom touring plan
wdt_ID Land Attraction When to visit
1 Africa Festival of the Lion King Late afternoon to park close
2 Africa Gorilla Falls Expedition Trails Anytime
3 Africa Kilimanjaro Safaris First 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
4 Africa Wildlife Express Train Anytime
5 Asia Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain First 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
6 Asia Kali River Rapids Anytime
7 Asia Maharajah Jungle Trek Anytime
8 Asia Up! A Great Bird Adventure (modified and without characters; temporarily titled "Feathered Friends in Flight") Anytime
9 Dinoland, U.S.A. DINOSAUR First 3 or last 3 hours of the day
10 Dinoland, U.S.A. TriceraTop Spin Anytime
11 Discovery Island Discovery Island Trails Anytime
12 Discovery Island It's a Tough to be a Bug Anytime
13 Oasis The Oasis Exhibits Anytime
14 Pandora Avatar Flight of Passage Before park opening or first 2 OR last 2 hours of the day
15 Pandora Na'vi River Journey Before park opening or first OR last hour of the day
16 Rafiki's Planet Watch The Animation Experience at Conservation Station Anytime

Related News
Click here to cancel reply.

Maygan

Friday 15th of October 2021

Do the recommendations for HS still apply now that ROTR doesn’t have boarding groups anymore?

Lindsey

Thursday 10th of June 2021

Does the advice to arrive early apply only to guests staying onsite? We are staying offsite, but would love to try to get there early.