Using FastPass+ at the Festival of Fantasy Parade at Walt Disney World

When it comes to choosing FastPass+ experiences, everybody probably considers the following question at some point: “Is FastPass+ at ____________ worth it?” The website attempts to break this question down based on the following criteria:

  1. How much time using FastPass+ at a particular attraction will save.
  2. Scarcity and how likely a FastPass+ experience will be available as a 4th or 5th choice.
  3. How much unpleasantness using FastPass+ at a particular attraction will eliminate.

#1 is fairly straightforward. In most situations, you want to use FastPass+ where it will save you the most time. That’s why most people select Toy Story Mania over Great Movie Ride or Test Track over Living with the Land. Why save six minutes in line when you can save ninety?

#2 takes into account how many FastPass+ are available for a certain attraction on a certain day and how likely an attraction is going to be available as a 4th FastPass+ selection. If you can select an experience as a 4th FastPass+ selection, then there isn’t much use in selecting it as one of your three initial selections. The first two criteria typically go hand in hand. High capacity attractions typically have shorter waits and distribute a greater number of FP+. Muppet Vision at Hollywood Studios and Pixar Shorts at Epcot both have short waits and plentiful FastPass+ availability. But there are other attractions that have a lot of availability and relatively long waits, such Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom or Spaceship Earth at Epcot.

#3 takes into account some intangibles that won’t show up on a wait times chart. For example, would you rather be uncovered, outside, and sucking down exhaust at Tomorrowland Speedway, or inside air-conditioning looking at waterfalls at Journey of the Little Mermaid? Using FP+ at either attraction would save you 20 to 30 minutes in the afternoon, but most people would take hanging out with Scuttle at Mermaid over shortening their lives immeasurably at Speedway.

On Festival of Fantasy, this is how it breaks down:

Using FastPass+ doesn’t save a lot of time. The viewing location is in Town Square around the Flag Pole and the return time is ordinarily 2:40pm to 3:05pm with the 3pm step off in Frontierland next to Splash Mountain. Because the FP+ viewing location is so far away, the first float won’t be visible to FP+ users until just after 3:20pm. To secure a prime spot in the FP+ area looking down Main Street, you’d want to arrive closer to 2:40pm than 3pm, so you’re waiting 40 minutes for the parade to arrive.

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/festival_of_fantasy_fp.jpg

In red is what part of the FastPass+ area looked like at 2:50pm. It’s lined with a row of people already sitting. In green is the general viewing area and nobody is waiting.

That continues around the FP+ area around the flag pole with a solid row of people already present.

Here in the FastPass+ section to the right, it’s mostly filled in, while the area in front of the train station remains mostly vacant. The view from the train station side would be (arguably) better as you’d have a better look at the floats and characters moving towards you.

We’ll discuss intangibles in a minute, but the number of people you see waiting in the FP+ area now is right around the number that are going to be present once the Parade actually arrives. This comes into play later on.

So strictly from a time-saving standpoint, using FP+ won’t save you any and may actually cost you more time if you arrive around 2:40pm. If you found a spot around Pecos Bill in Frontierland at 2:30pm, you’d see the Parade right around 3:02pm and be on your way by 3:15pm. Here in Town Square, I found my spot with FastPass+ at 2:50pm and won’t be on my way until 3:35pm. That’s a 45-minute total experience time versus a 45-minutes total experience time.

On criteria 2, Festival of Fantasy FastPass+ are extremely scarce:

This is looking at January 31st on January 30th at 1:15am and there is no availability for even one person. There is availability at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Anna and Elsa, thanks to some timely cancellations. Looking ahead, there’s no FP+ availability whatsoever for Festival of Fantasy for the next 35 straight days. So if you did want FP+, you’d need to ideally schedule it 60+ days out or have to keep checking continuously for cancellations to open up. It’s not going to be available as a 4th FP+ unless somebody cancels.

Criteria 3 is where FP+ here might shine. The thing about daytime parades at Disney World is that pretty much no matter what time you arrive at a given spot, somebody is going to try to edge you out of it. The likelihood of that happening gets higher and higher as the start time approaches, which can lead to some uncomfortable confrontations.

Using FP+ for a parade mostly eliminates that possibility as the number of people that can occupy the area is capped at a relatively low number. If you were to circle around, you’d basically find a row of people sitting followed by a row of people standing.

I didn’t have any problem getting an ideal spot looking up Main Street just after 2:50pm. And then nobody bothered me, which is pretty rare at these things. You can see that most of Main Street is three or four people deep with more and more people trying to inch closer as the Parade continues.

As far as ideal locations within the FP+ area go, the view is actually a little better down to my left as you have the opportunity to see more of the parade march down the street due to the better angle.

Here with a straight on view of Cinderella Castle, the next float is kind of a surprise until right after the incoming float turns toward Town Square Theater.

OKAY OKAY!!!! So, is FastPass+ recommended here?

If you just have one or two days at Magic Kingdom, I probably wouldn’t. Using FastPass+ at a very high priority attraction would save you 60 to 120+ minutes in line each. Even when I used FP+ here on the 21st, on one of the least crowded days of the year, I could have saved 60 minutes at Peter Pan’s Flight, 80 minutes at Mine Train, and 80 minutes at Anna and Elsa if I went that route. That’s almost four hours in line. I didn’t really save any time here versus just getting a spot across the way.

Another consideration most of the year is the heat. There’s no shade whatsoever in Town Square and the sun, rain, etc. will be beating down.

My personal preference is still to see the parade in Frontierland somewhere on the side across from Pecos Bill where there’s more room and less traffic flow.

What you want to do immediately after the Parade passes may be another consideration when choosing a spot. Waits for Mickey in particular drop substantially from 2:30pm to 3:30pm as the Parade pulls people away and cuts off traffic flow. Tinker Bell waits don’t peak as high as Mickey and would be a lower priority, but you could walk right in and meet her at the same time. The same is generally true for Big Thunder and Splash Mountain, where you can experience a relatively short standby wait most days immediately after the Parade passes.

Here’s some more pictures from the FP+ area:













































Comments

  1. jenny682 says

    The last few years we have watched the parade from Frontier Land and thinks its a way better choice than Main street. I agree, I would not use a FP for a parade.

  2. Jakey says

    Long time reader, first time commenter. Thanks for doing such an awesome job Josh.

    After using FP+ for both MSEP and FoF parades it is very unlikely I would plan to see the parades without it again. The intangibles are just so far in favor of using it for me now. It is a much much more pleasant experience not having to deal with the push and shove that seems to happen everyday about 2.55pm, perhaps with the exception of these recent crowd level 1/2 days.

    Also just to clarify, I am a huge fan of parades and that may be why I place such a premium on having an enjoyable experience opposed to reducing wait times on the rides.

  3. Mark Rosenzweig says

    Totally agree on watching from across from Pecos Bill. As soon as the parade is finished, a quick dash to Big Thunder/Splash and then escaping the crush of after parade crowds by means of the WDW Railroad works every time.

  4. Lisa says

    I was happy to have FP+ for the Christmas parade though. You get to see things like the dancing reindeer or toy soldiers much longer as they round the circle. And that’s a parade you want to see at ground level versus only catching the tops of floats.

  5. Rod Handler says

    “Using FP+ at either attraction would save you 20 to 30 minutes in the afternoon, but most people would take hanging out with Scuttle at Mermaid over shortening their lives immeasurably at Speedway.”

    LOL.

    I once read on the DIS that Tomorrowland Speedway has the worst line because it’s the only place at WDW where you can develop skin cancer and lung cancer simultaneously!

    • Pat says

      Agree. You continue to amaze with your skills with a camera. I can just leave mine at home and copy yours for my next trip. Of course, you opted for no ‘artistic’ views of the parade.

  6. dusty cheatham says

    josh excellent pics !!! this will be as close to this parade as I will get . being an old fogy am usually back at the room napping or getting ready to go to epcot for the evening . in 20 years this system has always worked for me

  7. John F says

    I was there 3 weeks ago, and just looking at these pictures has that song back in my head. I’m thinking of knocking myself unconscious to make it stop.

  8. Steve Milz says

    “So strictly from a time-saving standpoint, using FP+ won’t save you any and may actually cost you more time if you arrive around 2:40pm. If you found a spot around Pecos Bill in Frontierland at 2:30pm, you’d see the Parade right around 3:02pm and be on your way by 3:15pm. Here in Town Square, I found my spot with FastPass+ at 2:50pm and won’t be on my way until 3:35pm. That’s a 45-minute total experience time versus a 45-minutes total experience time.”

    Typo?

    • Jim says

      It doesn’t appear to be a typo, though it might be a little awkward to read at first. The point is that the fastpass may not save you any time, which Josh supports by saying the experience would have taken 45 minutes either with or without the fastpass. This may be one of those examples where spelling out detail makes it a little more confusing than just saying “both cases would have taken 45 minutes” or something like that.

  9. Dawn says

    I thought you photo shopped that little cloud over the castle in the first picture …at first…until I saw the rest of the pictures…super shot…love it!

  10. Jordan says

    This post ignores a major advantage of the parade FP, which is that you can arrive after the 3:05 return time and still get a great, front row viewing spot for the parade. Just make sure to arrive at the FP viewing area before the parade actually arrives.

    The beauty of the parade is that it clears out lines from Tinker Bell and Mickey. So, you can get in line to visit one of those two at around 3:00 and waltz right into the FP viewing area for the parade at around 3:20, a few minutes before it arrives. You won’t get the BEST viewing spot in the FP area, but you’ll still get a great spot with literally no wait time.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Josh from easyWDW breaks down whether or not you should get a Fastpass+ reservation for the Festival… – This type of analysis is what Josh does best. Theory, numbers, and practical application, all in one excellent piece of analysis. He’s also in the middle of his February 2016 merchandise update, if you want to see what’s new on that front. […]

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