We return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to assess the FastPass+ situation now that Toy Story Land has opened. In this post, we’ll check in on how hard it is to acquire Alien Swirling Saucers, Slinky Dog Dash, and Toy Story Mania FP+ at 30 and 60 days out and see what we’ll skip in the standby queues when using FastPass+ at the new rides.
Calling the Toy Story Land FastPass+ situation “dire” is probably hyperbole, but the state of affairs is similar to what we still see at Pandora over at Animal Kingdom. Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+ is akin to Avatar – Flight of Passage with FastPass+ routinely unavailable even 60 days in advance of a date. That means if you’re staying on-site or at an eligible resort, that you want to get on your computer or the My Disney Experience app at exactly 7am Eastern exactly 60 days out from your arrival date and book Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+ first thing on the day you plan to visit Hollywood Studios furthest from your check-in date. 7am Eastern is when FastPass+ booking opens up for the next day.
So if you’re checking in on October 1, 2018, and staying for six nights, then you can book FastPass+ beginning 60 days in advance of that check-in date, or August 2, 2018. But not only will you be able to book for October 1st, but you’ll also be able to book FastPass+ for October 2nd through 7th at that time since Disney allows you to book up to 14 days of FastPass+ from your check-in date when you’re staying at an eligible resort. You’ll see the most availability for Slinky Dog if you book right at 7am on one of the days later in your trip.
That’s because the closer you get to 60 days away from your check-in date, the more people that will have already had an opportunity to book that date because they’re staying even longer than six nights. In the example above, we’re able to book out to October 7th as early as August 2nd with the 6-night trip. But there’s going to be another family that booked a 13-night trip beginning September 24th. They’ll be able to book FastPass+ for October 7th 60 days out from the start of their trip, which falls on July 26th. Because they’re staying seven more nights, they’re able to book FastPass+ for October 7th at their convenience for a full week before our initial chance to make selections. And if I’m trying to book Slinky Dog Dash for my arrival date or the day after, then even more people will have the ability to book that date before me. If acquiring Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+ is important to your group, then you may want to plan on visiting the Studios on a day later on in your trip. Of course, you’re probably avoiding Hollywood Studios for a number of other reasons.
I wouldn’t expect to find much availability for Slinky Dog less than 60 days in advance outside of cancellations, which do happen. When someone cancels a FastPass+, that experience becomes available for anyone else to book. I was able to acquire Slinky Dog FP+ for July 15th by intermittently refreshing availability on the Disney World website on the morning of July 2nd. Since none of us really understand how ratios work, Disney included, they also tinker with the number of FastPass+ experiences that it distributes for newer rides. There should be several times over the next year when Disney opens up a lot of availability on a seemingly random day.
I often mention those drops on the website’s Facebook page.
The other opportunity to grab additional FP+ will be when Disney extends the operating hours for the fall and beyond. If Disney changes the Studios’ closing time from 8pm to 9pm or the opening from 9am to 8am, then they will eventually begin distributing FastPass+ during that extra time. So if you notice that the hours have changed for your date, be more diligent about refreshing availability.
Alien Swirling Saucers should have availability at the 30-day mark, but those experiences will go quickly. Below is what’s available in Toy Story Land 31 days in advance:
The earliest FP+ available is 2:05pm, which means all of the earlier slots were taken by guests that are able to book 60+ days in advance, but were either unable to get Slinky Dog and took Swirling Saucers as a consolation prize or choose the spinning ride over the roller coaster. No Slinky Dog FP+ are available 31 days out.
Those early afternoon return times for Swirling Saucers are going to go fast once 30 day booking opens at 7am Eastern, which is when most off-site guests can book FP+ for their trip for the first time:
Here at just a moment or two past 7am, the earliest return time is out more than five hours to 7:25pm.
This is 7:01am, 30 days out, and Alien Swirling Saucers is no longer available to book.
But don’t give up. I refreshed again 15 minutes later and there was availability for several time slots as people moved their plans around.
Note that I’m checking for a party of four in these screenshots. You’ll have more luck if you’re booking for fewer people and/or break your party down into smaller groups.
The good news is that 30 days out, FastPass+ for rides that aren’t Slinky Dog Dash or Alien Swirling Saucers are still wide open. I could book any of these priorities for just about whatever time I wanted, though Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster does see more limited availability with just one advertised time before noon here.
This is how FastPass+ priority should break down at the Studios, moving forward:
Toy Story Land Attractions (Choose 1)
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Toy Story Midway Mania
Other Attractions (Choose 2)
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Star Tours
- Frozen Sing-Along
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
- Disney Junior Live on Stage
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Muppet*Vision 3D
These days, Toy Story Mania FastPass+ typically see more availability than Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and sometimes Tower of Terror because so many people are booking either Slinky Dog or Swirling Saucers in advance. So if for some reason you have no interest in the new Toy Story Land rides, the current FP+ situation benefits you because you can book both Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in advance. Previously, they were part of the same Tier and guests could only initially select one.
From Tier 2, the list is prioritized largely based on how much time using FastPass+ will typically save at that attraction. We’ll revisit it in about a month’s time to see if anything changes, but it’s reasonable to assume that Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster will continue to see the second highest wait times in the Park, behind only Slinky Dog Dash. Tower of Terror should continue seeing the third or fourth longest waits, perhaps behind Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania, though it wouldn’t surprise me if waits at the Sunset Boulevard drop tower beat one or the other out by the end of August. From there, Star Tours should prove to see the shortest average wait of what is now a whopping six rides at the Park. Celebrate good times. Come on.
From there, the priority list is based on scarcity, or how difficult it is to acquire a FastPass+ for that particular attraction as a 4th, 5th, 6th etc. selection, in addition to how much time using FP+ will likely save. It might be surprising to see Fantasmic so far down the list, but the show offers several thousand FastPass+ experiences and it’s typically available all night as show time approaches. If it isn’t initially available when you check, refresh availability. And because the return time is the same, you can easily break your party down into smaller groups. But that shouldn’t be necessary unless you’re booking for 30. The bottom line is that for most shows, arriving in the standby queue 20 minutes before showtime is plenty. But the security blanket that is FastPass+, and a guaranteed seat for a particular showtime, is always nice.
Over at Pandora, one of the big bummers about using FastPass+ at Flight of Passage is bypassing the very cool standby queue, where there are a number of neat elements that help build the story.
“Luckily,” at Slinky Dog Dash, using FastPass+ bypasses very little of interest in the standby line.
You’ll miss a long, winding queue full of switchbacks that’s 100% outside, 100% not-air-conditioned, and at least 50% uncovered. If the wait was 15 minutes or less, then it might be worth walking the Slinky Dog standby queue just to see the artwork. But you’re not going to be in any rush to see it again.
With FastPass+, I’d expect to wait less than ten minutes before boarding your slinky. I’ve used FP+ there four times so far and waited three minutes, three minutes, six minutes, and seven minutes. If there’s substantial downtime, then the wait to board will be longer, but it will also be much, much, much longer to wait in standby, regardless of how long the two queues look. Note: It’s always, always funny to say, “I thought this was the FastPass line. It’s more like SlowPass!” So funny I forgot to laugh.
You’ll miss even less at Alien Swirling Saucers.
This picture was taken from the FastPass+ line and you’ll be able to get a quick glimpse at what the poor standby riders see as they wait outdoors, in Florida, in July.
There are no interactive elements in either queue.
Because of Swirling Saucers’ abysmally slow loading time, my average wait with FastPass+ is actually longer here than Slinky. Still, it’s right around a nine-minute wait, which is a lot better than the 45+ minute average standby wait.
So what have we learned?
- Slinky Dog Dash FastPass+ are currently the most difficult to obtain on property. Book them first thing at 7am 60+ days in advance. With fewer than 60 days to the day of your visit, the only Slinky Dog availability that you’ll find will be cancellations. Try booking with smaller parties – ideally one or two people – to find additional availability.
- Alien Swirling Saucer FastPass+ availability is minimal at 31 days out, but the ride should be available at the 30 day mark, most of the time. Continue refreshing on day 30 in hopes that people will change their plans around and you may be able to secure a time that works better.
- It makes sense to book Alien Swirling Saucers FP+ when it’s available as it will save quite a bit of time and help protect you should one of the two sides of the ride goes down, as has been the case most days so far. Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania may prove to have similar wait times, but the great majority of your time in line at Toy Story will be spent indoors in the air-conditioning.
- Toy Story Mania FastPass+ are easy to acquire even a day in advance.
- Tier 2 attractions will have plenty of availability 30 days out. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster will be the most limited as the day of your visit approaches.
- The standby lines at Slinky Dog and Alien Swirling Saucers are nothing to write home about. You can get a good idea about what they offer from the FastPass+ line.
- Expect to wait just a handful of minutes with FastPass+ at Slinky Dog. The wait could be ten to twelve minutes at Alien Swirling Saucers.
This was supposed to be a post about visiting Toy Story Land at night, but I got carried away. We’ll check that out next. Probably.