I recently published a post on how to book FastPasses but I thought I’d give a little more advice on what rides you actually need FastPasses for and which ones you can skip. Of course, this is subjective since you and I may not have the same interests. However, I’m going to start with the rides that typically have the longest lines that you would want to use your first three FastPasses for and go on from there to rides that I enjoy but just don’t want to wait for and a little strategy to be able to experience the most rides in one day. I’m also going to focus on The Magic Kingdom since it’s the most visited park and has the most rides. For info on how to get more than 3 FastPass+ per day, see this post.
If you want to make the most of a day at the Magic Kingdom I would absolutely recommend being there before the park opens. I am not an early bird at all, I much prefer the Magic Kingdom at night, but this is really the best way to get to ride most or all of the big rides before the crowds get too big. My family usually enters the park and then heads to Adventureland which I think makes us a little weird. It’s a habit from when I was a kid and my dad always headed there first to get a Citrus Swirl. So, yes, he had ice cream for breakfast. And then we always hit Pirates of the Caribbean after that.
I’ve read other blog posts that recommend to absolutely, always hit Fantasyland first but I have teenagers and they just aren’t all that interested in what Fantasyland has to offer outside of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We’re much more interested in Pirates, Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain and I can say that even on a really busy weekend (President’s Day) we were able to ride all of those plus The Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World before 11am. Then we used our FastPasses to ride 3 other rides. So we were able to do 7 big rides by early afternoon. Whichever land you choose to do first, I would do the ones that your family is the most interested in. I’ll give you a little breakdown by land and which rides fill up the quickest.
Fantasyland- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will be at least a 30 minute wait shortly after opening so if that’s one that you love (I do!) then I’d head there straight away. Next is, Peter Pan’s Flight. It doesn’t matter that this ride is only about 2 1/2 minutes long, the queue fills up quickly and stays around a 70-80 minute wait for most of the day or really, most of the year. But busier times mean higher wait times so I’d snag a FP+ for both of these if they’re a must see on your trip. The queues for these two move *slowly* so if you can’t snag a FP+ and aren’t a morning person, the next best time to ride them without a wait is during, Happily Ever After.
Tomorrowland- Space Mountain is usually about a 30 minute wait shortly after opening so if you love that coaster I’d head there first. This one stays busy for most of the day, just like any ride that ends in “mountain” in the park and FP+ can be hard to come by the day of so if it’s a must see for you then book a FP+.
Adventureland- Thunder Mountain & Splash Mountain are about tied here. We don’t seem to have any trouble getting on both of these first thing in the morning but later in the day, depending on crowds, you can easily wait a couple of hours for these two so I recommend a FP+ for both of these past 11am.
Here are my recommendations for anything other than the rides I mentioned-
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin can get surprisingly backed up with wait times of at least an hour. Personally, I love this ride but I never want to wait an hour to ride it. My family doesn’t love it like I do so I don’t get to ride it all that often which is very sad. I would get a FP+ for this one.
The Jungle Cruise often has wait times of 70 minutes or more. This isn’t my favorite ride so if we do ride it (the rest of my family loves it) I get a FP+. It’s usually after my first 3 choices but I’m often able to get them the same day unless the park is really crowded.
I imagine that my next pick is debatable but I only ride Goofy’s Barnstormer with a FP+. The reason is that the line is barely shaded and super boring plus the ride itself is only about a minute long. On the plus side though it’s a small coaster that smaller kids can ride and it’s really fun for adults too, I really like it. But, again, only with a FP+. The same goes for Aladdin’s Magic Carpets or even better ride it at the end of the night when the wait time is 5 minutes.
If the wait time for Winnie the Pooh is a half hour or less I get in line. The queue is very interactive and fun and the line usually moves pretty quickly.
The Haunted Mansion can go either way, I think. If it’s super busy wait times can be over 90 minutes but I usually find that the line moves very quickly and the wait times tend to be inflated- I usually wait about half the posted time. Really, any of the rides with cars that move continuously have lines that move quickly. Plus, the line for Haunted Mansion is interactive, shaded and there is plenty to look at so I don’t mind that queue at all. The same goes for Pirates of the Caribbean & Voyage of the Little Mermaid. The queues for all of these make the line part of the experience and even if you have a FP+ I still think it’s worth doing again in the standby line.
Here’s a portion of the queue for Pirates of the Caribbean and Voyage of the Little Mermaid-
I think that Voyage of the Little Mermaid is probably the prettiest queue for any of the rides in any of the parks.
The Astro Orbiter doesn’t offer FP+ but keep in mind that (surprisingly) the line is often long and it’s a 1 minute ride. I think that the Teacups line moves fairly quickly and doesn’t need a FP+ or just wait until the line is a bit shorter. Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor is a really fun show but I’ve never used a FP+ for it.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant is wonderful these days because there are two rides now instead of just one plus an indoor air conditioned play area for littles to blow off some steam while they’re waiting. Parents are handed a pager to let them know when it’s their turn to get in line and can rest and cool off for a bit while they’re waiting. When my oldest daughter was little I just had to wait- forever- for the one little Dumbo ride that they had. I like this system much better. But during busy times you’ll probably want a FP+.
So, my list isn’t exhaustive, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something and this might look different if you have small kids but this is how we approach The Magic Kingdom on a regular basis with our teenagers. I haven’t even covered the FastPasses for meet-and-greets because, well, teenagers.
The Magic Kingdom is also the only park that doesn’t have tiered rides. The other parks make you choose one out of a list of most popular rides then your other two selections have to be from the ones that are less popular. But that is a post for another day. So, what say you? Sound off in the comments.