Epcot at Disney World is a great place to transport the whole family away to far-flung corners of planet earth or even beyond as its rides and attractions include multi-national experiences and the chance to explore the final frontiers of space. But some of its rides are so popular queues can be up to two hours long, with some lasting almost half a day during special days like New Year’s Eve. If you don’t want your family to spend most of their time having fun and making the most of everything Epcot has to offer instead of standing around, don’t despair. Fastpass strategies mean you can plan your day to reduce the wait time to a fraction of the queues, leaving you free to pack more into your busy day at Epcot.
What is the Best Epcot Fastpass Strategy?
With Fastpass you can select your favorite attractions and avoid the lines by moving straight to the Fastpass queue which takes you straight to the front in no more than 15 or 20 minutes. Fastpass can be booked in advance and you can choose what time you attend each attraction within a one-hour time slot to beat the queue and manage to fit more rides into your itinerary. It’s impossible to plan your day effectively when you’re not sure how long you might have to wait for an attraction: with Fastpass you can predict with reasonable accuracy how long each ride will take so you can organize the whole family and make sure everyone gets to fit in something they will love.
Not every attraction is included in Fastpass, but all of the really popular events usually are. You can book your Fastpass tickets up to two months in advance so you have plenty of time to think about how you can make the most of what is on offer at Epcot. It is probably one of the most diverse of the Disney parks with experiences that include every country of the world and contain features of all of the Disney films that could be set there. In addition, Epcot is the place to go for sci-fi lovers who want to experience a taste of exploring the universe. With such a huge variety of things to do at Epcot, it is easy to see how waiting in lines can make you feel as though you are going to miss out. Fastpass is a great way to make sure you manage to visit the whole of Epcot without leaving anyone disappointed. It operates on a tiered strategy and covers rides, meet and greets, as well as a huge range of other experiences. One of the best things about Fastpass is that it is not reserved only for those able to spend vast sums on extra tickets. Every guest has the chance to use Fastpass and it is absolutely free so there is no need for anyone to feel left out.
- How Does Fastpass Work?
- Can I Book Extra Fastpass Tickets?
- What is the Epcot Tier system?
- What are the Best Tier One Rides at Epcot?
- What Are the Tier Two Fastpass Attractions?
- What About Character Meet and Greets?
How Does Fastpass at Epcot Work?
Every ticket for a day at any of the Disney World theme parks comes with three free Fastpass passes. The tickets are virtual, so you won’t have to carry any extra bits of paper around. The easiest way to use your Fastpass pass is to link them to your virtual account through the My Disney Experience online account or app. Once registered, you will see a list of all the rides and attractions available for Fastpass. All you need to do is select the ride you want and choose a one hour window from the available times. When you get to the ride, head to the Fastpass entrance and off you go. Some of the more popular rides will still have other people wanting to use their Fastpasses so you can expect there to be some waiting time, but this doesn’t usually last longer than 15 to 20 minutes even on the best attractions.
In order to keep the lines very short in the Fastpass queue, Disney is very careful to limit the number of Fastpasses available for each time slot on every ride. This can mean they go very quickly, so it is best to book well in advance. Fastpass reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance on standard tickets and up to 60 days in advance if you have booked a stay at a Disney hotel, so it is well worth planning in advance if you want to make the most of what is available. If you are too late and you have missed all of the Fastpass reservations, you can still enjoy the attraction but will have to join the main queue and could expect to wait for much longer, in some cases over 90 minutes.
Can I Book Extra Fastpass Tickets?
Everyone has the chance to book extra Fastpass tickets and there is no need to pay. Fastpass is always free. Once you have used up your first three tickets, you can use the app to select another but can only book one at a time. If you don’t use the app, you can also book extra Fastpass tickets at designated kiosks throughout the park. Disney doesn’t sell Fastpass tickets so you can’t pay extra to book up all the best rides. This is probably one of the best things about Disney Fastpasses as everyone has the same opportunities and your wait time is not extended by having to allow people with more Fastpasses to go through before you.
What is the Epcot Fastpass Tier System?
At Epcot, Fastpass is operated on a tier system as rides and attractions are divided into two tiers according to their popularity. This means everyone gets an opportunity as you can’t book all of the popular rides at once. You have the chance to select one attraction from Tier One and two from Tier Two, or if you don’t want to choose a Tier One attraction you can select all three from Tier Two. Once your three Fastpasses have been used, you can select additional passes from either of the two tiers. Disney created this system to give everyone plenty of opportunities to access the most popular attractions. It makes the system fairer than some other theme parks and reduces overall waiting time for everyone.
As you can imagine, the Tier One attractions book up very early and since many guests are booking up to 60 days in advance you need to get in early to make sure you have a chance of pre-booking your ride. If your favorite ride is booked up before you manage to reserve your Fastpass places, there is no need to worry: additional availability appears for every ride over the course of the day; you just need to keep a very close eye on the app. When you book in advance, it is best to aim for some of the earliest times. This way, your Fastpasses will all be used up in plenty of time for you to access more and avoid queuing for the rest of the day. Using a Fastpass for an evening reservation means you won’t be able to access any additional Fastpasses for the rest of the day and will be forced to use the never-ending standby queues.
What Are the Best Tier One Rides at Epcot?
There are four Tier One rides at Epcot which include Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, Test Track, and IllumiNations. The most popular ride of all is probably Frozen Ever After and it is best to use your Fastpass on this if you can find some availability. Alternatively, the queues at Test Track can be very long so this is another great choice if you want to use your Fastpass to avoid a long wait.
Frozen Ever After Fastpass
Most people head to this ride at the beginning of the day before the wait times reach their maximum, as it is hugely popular with families and children of all ages. There is no height restriction which means it attracts more families and large groups. The ride itself is a gentle boat trip that takes you to the magical world of Arundel where Elsa is about to create a snowstorm in the hot summer sun. You meet all the characters from the movie along the way, including Cristoff’s friendly troll family and all of the stars of the show. When Elsa flicks her wrist, all of Arundel enjoys a shower of sparkling snow and you are treated to views of the sisters’ castle home as well as Elsa’s ice palace in the mountains. Although most of the ride is very gently, there is a brief forward plunge followed by a splash as you slip down a little waterfall but it’s not enough to scare any of the smaller children on the ride. In fact, they are usually delighted by the chance to get wet! Parents might like to prepare for this by bringing ponchos, spare clothes, or a towel. If you can’t use your Fastpass for this ride, it is best to get there at the very start of the day or wait until the crowds die down after about 7 pm. Frozen Ever After is open throughout the day to give as many guests as possible the chance to enjoy the ride.
Test Track Fastpass
If Frozen isn’t of huge importance to someone in your party, you may be better off using your Fastpasses on Test Track as standby waiting times for this ride tend to be longer than Frozen Ever After at certain times of the day. Some guests have had to wait up to two hours to get on Test Track, even though there is a height limit of 40″ which means not all families are able to join. As you might expect, Fastpasses for this ride go very quickly. If you have failed in your quest to secure a Fastpass for Test Track you might want to take advantage of the Single Rider line which is dedicated to people riding alone. Since most groups want to go on the ride together, this line tends to move much more quickly. The ride itself is a simulation preceded by the chance to design your very own custom car. It is supported by Chevrolet, so guests can choose different body styles and engine models to achieve the most powerful outcomes. When you enter the main part of the simulator, you find eight seats designed to replica the driving seat of the car you have just designed. The ride is meant to emulate a test drive for your vehicle, as you push it to its highest speeds while trying out sharp corners and emergency halts. At the end, you will see everyone’s custom car from your group and there is also a post-ride experience which allows you to design advertisements and have a go at racing your vehicle on a computer game.
Fastpasses for Test Track become available throughout the day, you just have to keep checking. Otherwise, anyone can join the single rider line even if you are in a group – you will stay together until the end and just have to accept that you won’t all be in the same car. Since each car takes 3 people, you should find that most small groups will always ride with someone they know. Test Track opens at the start of the day so you should also have a good chance if you aim to get there first. Something to remember is that the line on Test Track moves more quickly than some of the others so getting there early can mean you enjoy the ride and still be off in time to get a good place at another ride. Going somewhere else can lose you at least an hour as, by the time you reach Test Track, the line will already be too long.
Soarin’ is another fantastic ride at Epcot and still a great use of a Fastpass reservation if you haven’t made it onto Frozen Ever After or Test Track. Soarin’ is another simulation that allows you to fly through the sky with the wind in your hair as you gaze down at the wonders of the world. As well as visual effects, you will feel the wind and also smell different fragrances as your glider takes you to the very top of some of the highest mountains before letting you swoop down across open plains and spectacular harbors. There is a height restriction of 40″ but overall this is a gentle ride and a feast for the senses which can get very busy.
This firework show takes place in the evening once darkness falls so it is probably not a good idea to use one of your first three Fastpasses on this attraction or you won’t be able to release further Fastpasses over the course of the day. While Fastpass will guarantee you a good view, you can see this outdoor show from many different parts of Epcot and you might still be lucky enough to pick up a Fastpass towards the end of your day. But, if you don’t want one of the other Fastpasses or you spend a couple of days at Epcot then it might be worth it.
What Are the Tier Two Fastpass Attractions?
There are seven other attractions available in Tier Two and you will be able to reserve two of these in advance, or three if you haven’t managed to make a Tier One reservation. They include Mission: SPACE, Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Living With the Land, Pixar Short Film Festival, Turtle Talk with Crush, and Journey into the Imagination with Figment.
The lines are longest in Mission: SPACE and Spaceship so these two should be your first choice with your two remaining Fastpass Tickets. We usually use one Fastpass later in the day for Nemo since our littles love it so much although if you time it right Nemo can have a very short line sometimes.
What About Character Meet and Greets?
You can also use your Fastpass to access a shorter queue for character meet and greets which is a great option if you have little ones with their hearts set on meeting a particular character. They used to count as a Tier Two and were a good way to use your Fastpass if Mission: SPACE and Spaceship Earth are not available as the standard queues for the other rides tend to be much shorter.
However, recently they got moved to tier 1 which meant they were competing with Anna and Elsa. There are opportunities to meet characters throughout the park at Epcot but you can only use a Fastpass reservation at the Epcot Character Spot which is closing temporarily. The characters will be house temporarily in locations throughout Epcot.