Travel Hacking Disney: Disneyland FastPass System

This post will focus on the FastPass (FP) system at Disneyland and California Adventure and the best ways to utilize it. This FP system is little bit clunkier than the one at Disney World. You can read more about our experience with Disney World’s FastPass+ system in this post. Here are the main differences:

  • In order to get a FP for a specific ride, you must physically go to the ride entrance and use the ride-specific FP machine.
  • You can not get another FP until your current FP time. I’ll explain this more later.
  • FP are transferable.
How To

Getting FPs is pretty straightforward. You go to the entrance of the ride that you want to FastPass (keep in mind only certain rides have FPs). There will typically be a sign that states when the FP return time is. It’ll say something like 1:15pm to 2:15pm. This means you can return to the ride and use your FP between 1:15pm and 2:15pm. The biggest thing to note is that you can not get a new FP until that window starts. In the case above, you wouldn’t be able to get a new FP till 1:15pm.

  • You want to time your FPs as best you can. If you’re getting a FP for a 4-5pm window and it’s only 9am, that means you won’t be able to get another FP until 4pm. That means you’ll have to ride in standby lines from 9am-4pm. Probably not the best use of a FP.
  • In the early morning hours, the FP return times are often only 20 mins out. This means you can get a FP for the ride, wait in the standby line, enjoy the ride, then ride it again using the FP line.
  • Since you physically have to go to each ride to get a FP, be sure to look at a map for other rides in the area that you could ride via standby.
  • FPs for certain events/show (i.e. World of Color and Frozen Show) do NOT count as a normal FP. Therefore, you can get these FPs and still get other FPs on rides even though the time window hasn’t hit for the World of Color show.

My Strategy

I am going to be under the assumption that you have park hopper tickets for Disneyland and California Adventure. The main rides you will probably want to get a FastPass for are the following:

  • Disneyland
    • Space Mountain
    • Indiana Jones
    • Big Thunder Mountain
    • Splash Mountain
  • California Adventure
    • Radiator Spring Racers
    • California Screamin’
    • Soarin’
    • Toy Story Mania

The rides listed above can have ridiculously long standby lines. For instance, I once saw Radiator Spring Racers have a standby time of 120 mins. I’m not sure who would be willing to wait in line for 2 hours. No ride is worth a 2 hour wait in my opinion.

If there are certain rides on the list above that are must-rides be sure to prioritize these rides. Also, certain lines have more interesting stand by queues (primarily Indiana Jones) so waiting in those lines might not feel as long. It’s also helpful to use the phone applications to look up the wait times before you head towards a specific ride.