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Disneyland General
Topic: Darkbeer's Summer FastPass Guide?

#AuthorMessage
1
mstaft
Thu 6/1/2006 6:59p
Coming soon, I hope.
You always do a great job and help out alot of people...
2
dzy76
Thu 6/1/2006 7:04p
Yes Darkbeer, refresh us that don't get to the parks but every couple of years. I'm going end of July and would like to be refreshed on what is on each network! Last time I went (2003) your advice helped us so much, we were in fastpass heaven, thanks to you.
3
Darkbeer
Thu 6/1/2006 7:31p
Before I post the current info, I have received a heads up, Looks like Indiana Jones will lose its FASTPASS machines after the summer....

Also, while some signage remain, the Star Tours FP machines have been removed and are no longer offering FASTPASS

The best place to start a discussion of Fastpass is the official Disney description of Fastpass from the Disneyland Web site. While it sounds so nice and easy, the system is actually quite complex, and keeps changing. The newest change started at the beginning of 2003, with the introduction of a second "tier" of guests with the "Enhanced" or "Unlimited" Fastpass" option.

So, for purposes of Fastpass, we now have two types of guests in the park: regular guests and enhanced guests. I am going to start with the enhanced guests, since regular guests are everyone who isn't an enhanced guest.

How to get an "Enhanced Fastpass" option

Currently there is only one way to get this special benefit. You must buy a hotel and admission package from AAA Travel. They are the exclusive sellers of the Enhanced Fastpass feature. That's right, you cannot get this feature from anybody else, even if you buy directly from the Walt Disney Travel Company.

First, you must buy hotel and park admission from AAA Travel. Of course, they would love to sell you reservations for air, rental car, meal packages, etc, but those are extras and not required. Second, you must stay at one of the three on property Disneyland Resort Hotels: the Grand Californian Hotel, the Disneyland Hotel, or the Paradise Pier Hotel.

These packages can be much more expensive than staying at a Good Neighbor Hotel (aka local non-Disney hotels). Only you can answer whether it is worth the extra money. Some people have been known to create a "split package," in which they stay at a Disney-owned hotel for a couple of days, and then move to a Good Neighbor hotel for the rest of the trip, but purchase park admission good for the entire trip. These admission tickets will then have the enhanced feature and be good for the entire trip and not just the portion spent at an on-property hotel.

How a Fastpass is "enhanced"

The original term for enhanced Fastpass was unlimited, but that was a bit misleading, since you can't really get as many Fastpasses as you want.

What "enhanced" means is that you can simultaneously hold a Fastpass for each Fastpass attraction. For the regular guest, the expectation is that you will only have a Fastpass for a single attraction at any given time (but more on that to come).

How the Fastpass machines actually work
Think of the all the Fastpass machines in a park as a computer network, with each attraction being a "node" in that network. When a regular user attempts to get a Fastpass by inserting their ticket into the barcode reader, the machine does two things. First it checks to see if you already have a current Fastpass for the same attraction (that is, a Fastpass with a start time later than the current time). If you don't, it then checks to see if you have a current Fastpass for another attraction on the same network (Fastpass attractions at Disneyland and DCA are completely separate).

The rule on what constitues a current Fastpass at another attraction is more complex and is important to getting full use out of the system. The way it works is that once you have a Fastpass for Attraction A, you will not be able to get a Fastpass at Attraction B until either starting time of the Attraction A Fastpass has passed or 2 hours has passed since the Attraction A Fastpass was issued. The easiest way to check this is to look at the bottom of the first Fastpass where it will state "Another Fastpass will be available at XX:XX."

Now, the difference for enhanced Fastpass is that when you stick your ticket into the Fastpass machine it will only apply the first test: do you have a current Fastpass for this attraction? It doesn't care about any other ride. Also, the machine prints "AAA Travel" on the Fastpass.

If you are considering applying your park admission ticket towards the purchase of annual pass, be aware that this can result in the loss of the Fastpass enhancement when you get the actual annual pass so it is probably best to wait until the last day of your trip to do this. Some have reported that the AP Processing Center can add the temporary enhancement to your Annual Pass so be sure to ask first if you want to do this earlier in your visit.

The best strategy for using an enhanced Fastpass

What I would do is gather all the passports after entering the park, and have one designated "runner" and then the rest of the group can go straight to Fantasyland, a non-Fastpass attraction, or just go sit down and have some breakfast. The one "runner" will then go around the park to every ride that offers Fastpass and get a set of Fastpasses for each member of the group. After he collects the entire set, he meets up with the rest of the group.

Now, sit down and sort out the Fastpasses by area and figure out which way you want to start (the starting times of the Fastpasses might help make this decision for you). An important rule to know about Fastpass in general is that the Cast Member taking your ticket at the attractoin cares only about two things: the date of the Fastpass, and the starting time. You can not use a Fastpass until the listed starting time but you can use it even if it is after the listed ending time.

So, let's say you decide to start at Tomorrowland. It is now 9:50 a.m. and you have a Fastpasses for Space Mountain at 10:00 a.m. and Autopia at 10:30 a.m. Walk on over to Space Mountain at 10:00 a.m. but before you get into the Space Mountain Fastpass line, first get another Fastpass for everybody in your group.

This is the key of maximizing your use of Fastpass. The machine will check, and since your Space Mountain Fastpass started at 10:00 a.m., and it is now a few minutes after that time, the machine will issue you a new Fastpass. Ride Space Mountain, it is now about 10:15, so go check out the shop, arcade, and the spinning marble until 10:30. Then head off to Autopia and before riding, get a new Autopia Fastpass. Note, all Fastpasses will have a return time of no less than 40 minutes, no matter how early you get them, or how quiet the park is.

You can now move to the next area, and repeat the same procedure. This way you will always have a Fastpass for each attraction, but save a lot of walking.

The best strategy for using "Enhanced Fastpass"

When you first arrive at the park have one person in your group go get a Fastpass for every attraction that offers it.

Before you use a Fastpass, always get a new Fastpass for the same attraction.

Issues that affect Fastpass strategy for the regular user

Well, it is a bit more complicated than the enhanced option, but you can still collect Fastpass tickets for multiple attractions at one time, though it is more restrictive.

It is no wonder that Disney doesn't advertise these "tricks" I am about to talk about. First off, it hurts the marketing of the AAA Disney Hotel Travel Packages, and, second, it is hard to explain to a park guest. You will find out that many cast members have no idea about what is a "standalone" machine, or other information mentioned here. They do know the information as described on the official Web site, and the enhanced basics, since this is what Disney has taught them. They generally have no idea about the "secrets".

In the Enhanced section, I talked about looking at the Fastpass system as a computer network, so let's get an overview of the system at more of a close-up level. First off, there are two networks: one for Disneyland Park and the second for Disney's California Adventure. They are totally separate, so you can always get one at least one Fastpass for each park. Let's look at the Fastpass attractions in each park:

Disneyland

Autopia
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Haunted Mansion Holiday (October thru early January)
Indiana Jones Adventure
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
Space Mountain
Splash Mountain



Disney's California Adventure

California Screamin'
Grizzly River Run
Mulholland Madness
Soarin' Over California
Tower of Terror

Now, what is not so commonly known is that not every Fastpass attraction in a park is actually connected to the larger Fastpass network for that park. Currently the two regular (and one seasonal) Fastpass machines that operate on a standalone basis are:

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (DL)

Grizzly River Run (DCA)

Finally, there are a few Fastpass attractions that offer Fastpasses year-round, but only on weekends, and weekdays during peak and holiday periods. The following attractions do not offer Fastpass during the slower weekdays:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Indiana Jones Adventure
Tower of Terror
Mulholland Madness
Grizzly River Run

The Times Guide handed out at the turnstiles when you enter the park does list which attractions will be offering Fastpasses on that day. It has been wrong, though, so I recommend you check the status at the actual attraction.

Note: Fastpass machines are turned off when an attraction experiences a temporarly closure and are turned back on when the attraction returns to normal operation.

So, our first problem is that we are talking about different types of Fastpasses, and there is no easy way to tell them apart.

The strategy for the standalone Fastpass attractions

The independent machines are nice and simple. Each of the attractions has its own machine operating all by itself, and you can get one Fastpass for each of these rides without affecting any other Fastpasses you might want.

Note: All times are an example, and should not be a reflection of the time you really get on your Fastpass.

The trick with the stand-alone machines is to treat them as the "enhanced Fastpass" users treat all the attractions. Always get a new Fastpass for an attraction prior to riding it. For example, it is 11:15 a.m. and you can now ride Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. Before entering the Fastpass line to ride, pick up another Fastpass (the window is now open), and you will be given a new Roger Rabbit Fastpass for 2:10 p.mm to 3:10 p.m., this will allow you to come back later, after 2:10 p.m. for a second ride on Roger Rabbit, and before doing so you should get a third Fastpass for later in the day.

Keep in mind that the ending time on a Fastpass is not important. The cast members check only the start time and the date, but have been told to be very flexible on the ending time.

So what can I have, before I've even used one of the "networked" machines? Well, I can have a Haunted Mansion Holiday, a Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, and a Grizzly River Run. And if you remember to pick up a new Fastpass before using one, you'll always have an current Fastpass for these attractions.

The best strategy for the "networked" machines

You can have, in most cases, one Disneyland and one DCA networked Fastpass in addition to the above standalone Fastpasses. Once you get one networked Fastpass, you are not allowed another "networked" Fastpass within the same park (either DL or DCA) until one of these two events happens:

It is later than the beginning time window listed on the Fastpass; or
Two hours have passed since receiving the Fastpass
Examples

It is early in the day, and you go to get a Splash Mountain Fastpass at 9:15 a.m., the Fastpass issued to you is valid from 10:20 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. In this case, you could get your next "networked" Fastpass in Disneyland at 10:20 a.m., and that would be the time printed on the bottom of the Fastpass

But let's say it is a bit later, around 10:30 a.m., when you get a Splash Mountain Fastpass and it is instead good between 2:40 p.m. and 3:40 p.m. In this case, the next networked Disneyland Fastpass would be available to you at 12:30 p.m., two hours after the Fastpass was issued. There is one additional rule in that you would not be allowed to get another Splash Mountain Fastpass, until the window opens at 2:40 pm. At 12:30 you could get a Fastpass for Autopia, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Indiana Jones Adventure, etc.

One of the most important tricks to maximize your "networked" Fastpass usage is to get a new networked Fastpass prior to using the one you already have. Let's say that you have an Indiana Jones Adventure Fastpass that will become good at 12:35 p.m. At 12:35, I would get a Splash Fastpass (let's say it is good for 2:50 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.) and then go back to ride Indiana Jones Adventure. Then at 2:35 pm (don't forget the two-hour rule), I might pick up a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Fastpass, before riding Splash Mountain. Continue this throughout the day.

So, at any given time a regular Fastpass user can theoretically possess one Fastpass for each of the stand-alone Fastpass attractions plus one or two of the networked attractions in each park (depending on return times in relation to the two-hour rule).

Another thing to think about to maximize the number of rides you get into a day are the Single Rider Passes available on Splash Mountain, Grizzly River Run, Soarin' Over California, California Screamin', Mulholland Madness, and Maliboomer. With the exception of Soarin' Over California, use of single-rider lines is generally faster than Fastpass, so if you are willing to use them this will free up the list of attraction for which you will want Fastpasses.

The best strategy for using a regular Fastpass

Rather than thinking of Fastpass as two systems (Disneyland and DCA) think of it as four systems (Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, Grizzy River Run, the Disneyland networked system, and the DCA networked system) and that you can have one or two from each sytem at any given time. Never use a Fastpass for one of the four systems before getting a new Fastpass from that system.
4
mstaft
Thu 6/1/2006 8:08p
^^^ Thanks again!
I am taking my church's youth group to DL for the day after working at the rescue mission for four days. Most of these kids have never been to DL.
This will help alot.
Thanks!
5
ni_teach
Fri 6/2/2006 12:12p
> Looks like Indiana Jones will lose its FASTPASS machines after the summer....

That is great news! I hope they also fix the pole and other items in the line.
6
berol
Fri 6/2/2006 12:18p
The pole stays fixed for about as long as it takes to break it again.
7
sjdimon
Fri 6/2/2006 12:59p
We've done this both ways - stayed at the DLHotel with AAA Travel; and at the Marriot (also with AAA Travel - but without the "Enhanced FP"). One other tip - if you get there early enough - the FP start time(s) will be very early - some as soon at 15-20 minutes after they are issued. That means that by keeping close tabs on the various time windows - you can really maximize your collection of FP's (even without the enhanced feature - we managed to collect 6 FP's early one day (within the first hour we had Roger Rabbit; Autopia; Buzz Lightyear; Space Mtn; Big Thunder Mtn and Splash Mtn)). Since we already knew about the ending-time "trick", we didn't stress over that and enjoyed a number of the non-FP attractions. When we were close to one of the FP attractions we used our FP's - and of course, we would also replace them when the time window opened again. Did we "abuse" the system? No - we simply used it to the fullest extent possible (and it was all totally "legal" within the rules of the FP System). Since I chose to be a FP Runner, criss-crossing the park several times, it worked out great.
8
dzy76
Fri 6/2/2006 4:08p
Thanks again for posting all this Darkbeer. Now I'm ready to hit the FP machines this summer.

Why are they getting rid of Indiana"s FP machines? That line is always so long!
9
bhbob
Fri 6/2/2006 4:28p
>>Why are they getting rid of Indiana"s FP machines? That line is always so long!<<

They hold up the lines outside near the entrance so the fastpass people can enter then it is a straight walk all the way back to the safety movie. If there was no fastpass then everyone would be inside the first door, seeing the BEST line any any Disneyland attraction. There's no more need for fastpass on this attraction. IMHO





10
dr jones
Fri 6/2/2006 7:36p
Greetings Darkbeer, Sorry if I'm missing the obvious, but I still don't know what a "Stand Alone" FP machine is.

Also, We just bought APs online for our trip starting on Sunday, Do you give up the Fastpass option when you buy an AP, or can it be added each day when you go into the park?
Sorry if these are stupid questions.

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