Tokyo: Why You Need to Take FASTPASS Seriously

15682571578_b99d37db64_o

Because of this… 

IMG_9099

la magnifique mer de l’homme

It is the one, it is the only, it is every reason to really understand and use FASTPASS to your complete advantage at Tokyo DisneySea (even more so at Tokyo Disneyland because that place is magical… magically mad with people).

DisneySea and it’s magnificent sea of humans is not something you’ll want to navigate through multiple times just to check if the lines at any of the rides are longer than 45 minutes. Yes, they are, and you better bloody get yourself a FASTPASS at any opportunity you can.

WHAT THE HELL IS A FASTPASS?

Disneyland does not have, what we Singaporeans are very familiar with, “Express Theme Park Passes”. At Universal Studios Singapore, we’re used to paying a premium for our ticket so that we can get to all the rides via the shorter express queue system. It works because not many would pay for the express tickets and you benefit from that extra bit you pay for with drastically shorter waiting time of a couple of minutes tops.

But, this won’t work with Disney and the reason is really quite simple: Disneyland and DisneySEA is a magical place. It is so darn magical that even if a crazy premium was levied on a park ticket that would allow the ticket holder to cut their waiting time, every single person in the theme park would most likely opt for it – fanatics (and there are so many of them, you’ll know them when you see them) and regular folks like you and me, who just wants to enjoy a theme park while on holiday, alike. Everyone gets infected with the contagious Disney excitement from the moment you see the grinning friendly park attendants wave to you from afar as you walk over to the ticketing booths. The Disney marketing is so solid that they’ve created a good problem: Too many people are crazy about them.

IMG_8935

Merchandising alone could probably build a small nation – and yes it has, it’s called Disneyland

So, since a ticket with full access to shortened ride times within the entire park wouldn’t work, what Disneyland has in place is the FASTPASS. The FASTPASS allows you to access the express queue of selected rides and attractions between a stipulated time. This is open to every park visitor. The only catch is after obtaining one FASTPASS, it usually takes about two hours (sometimes more) before you can grab your next FASTPASS. If a stipulated time belt has been completely distributed, then the next time belt is issued. As there are only a limited number of FASTPASS available for each ride based on the ride’s capacity, if you try to get your FASTPASS too late, it might not be available.

Essentially, if you really sit down to think about it, this is basically a very effective crowd control mechanism that works for the theme park and the park visitors. You don’t pay a cent for the shorter queues, you just need to be fast about it. They’ve found a really good way to work out crowd flow in the park and created value for the customer.

If you’re wondering how they would know if you’ve waited out those number of hours before your next FASTPASS. They’ve also worked that out. You need to scan your admission ticket at any of the FASTPASS machines before you are issued one and this is how they’ve contained and obtained information for issuance of these express tickets. One admission ticket issues on FASTPASS that is valid only for one person.

IMG_8976

Scanning our admission tickets for our FASTPASS to the Tower of Terror

15682571578_b99d37db64_o

This is a very important ticket you shouldn’t lose

HOW CAN I MAXIMISE THE USE OF FASTPASS?

As irritating as this sounds, some form of strategy is absolutely needed to make sure your Disneyland or DisneySea visit doesn’t drive you nuts or cause you to lose your mind while standing in 300-odd minute queues (it actually does happen). Here are my tips after my first Disneyland experience:

1. Make sure you arrive at the park as early as possible

Both Disneyland and DisneySea opens from 8:00am and closes at 10:00pm with exception of certain days. Check the Park Operation Calendar to make sure you choose a day when it doesn’t close early.

Arriving at 8:00am means getting access to more FASTPASS for the various rides. Within a span of thirty (30) minutes, the time belts issued can vary by an hour or more. For instance, we got our FASTPASS to DisneySea’s Tower of Terror at 10:58AM and our time belt issued was between 2:25PM to 3:25PM. We could only obtain our next FASTPASS an hour or so later. By the time we got our next FASTPASS, the time belts were issued for close to 5:00PM or later.

In DisneySea, the crowds are not as aggressive and queues are shorter, so FASTPASS just helps to maximise the number of rides and shorten unnecessary waiting time. But in Disneyland, expect a packed theme park and super long queues. Even with a FASTPASS in Disneyland, there may be at least a thirty (30) minute queue! With this in mind, it’s important to get to the park as early as possible to get the earliest time belts for your FASTPASS tickets.

2. Check The Park Information Board

The Park Information Board is probably very useful for you when you plan your route around the Disney theme parks as it helps you gauge which attractions are more popular and require longer wait times. It provides an overview on attraction wait times, FASTPASS ticketing status, and highlights which rides have FASTPASS access. You can then decide by weighing the existing wait time and FASTPASS availability if you’d like to grab FASTPASS for any attraction and which ones you’ll be waiting for in between grabbing your next FASTPASS.

3. Grab a Park Map

Maps in English are easily available from park attendants and staff members around the theme park. Navigating around Disneyland and DisneySea may be a bit confusing at first, so these maps help. Also it highlights which rides have FASTPASS access, so you can take a pen and just note down your route once you’ve figured out your strategically-planned route.

4. Take Note of Wait Times

Most wait times of under ninety (90) minutes for popular attractions are considered a God-send. Grab the chance if it doesn’t rob you of other opportunity costs. Don’t spend too much time second-guessing your decisions as well about how long you should wait. Every second spent wondering if you should or shouldn’t queue for an attraction is time that could have just gone into queuing.

Certain attractions see a tapering down of wait times after 7:00PM. Plenty of park visitors are actually Japanese and a lot of them have an annual pass. They might be just checking out the rides they missed or revisiting their favourite rides. After dinner time, many people start leaving the park and some rides see a drastically shortened wait time from a ridiculous 120 minutes down to around sixty (60) to ninety (90) minutes.

When a parade is on, wait times definitely shorten as everyone crowds to get a glimpse of the Disney characters. If you can live without watching the parade performances, or if you can catch it at a later time, then maybe you’d want to get into the queue, pronto!

5. Stay Away From Insane Crowds

I am not a queue person so I preferred to just do what I could with my time at Disneyland and DisneySea. I also tried to stay away from crowded areas and both The F Man and I made it a point to go against the wave of people. In other words, we noticed where the packed rides were and intentionally stayed away from them and opted to queue and wait for other attractions at a different area.We noticed that with each influx of visitors to the park or each major event like a parade, there would always be a bottleneck at certain places and a particular route that was used. We tried to stay clear if we could and not go in a very “systematic” list to “beat” the crowd. That said, we didn’t manage to get on all the rides (especially at Disneyland).

6. Make Key Decisions About Your Experience Before Arriving

Some of us will think running is completely awesome and do that throughout the day to get to all the FASTPASS machines and beat others who are milling around at a slower pace and there will be some of us who think that this rush is totally not a great way to enjoy your trip to the theme park. You should be the one to decide how your experience will go. Ask yourself if you are you gonna stress out over not visiting all the rides or can you just zen out? Do you actually love the thrill of the chase and think it’ll be fun to go all “Amazing Race”. There is definitely a real possibility that you won’t get to all the rides especially the uber popular ones (e.g. Toy Story Mania), so pick the ones you HAVE to visit and make sure you get the FASTPASS for them.

7. Avoid Weekends if Possible

Always do a visit on a weekday if possible. Even a Friday visit to Disneyland can kill. We checked the Crowd Forecast Calendar and the dates we visited were, according to the legend, yellow (DisneySea) meaning moderate crowds on a Thursday and orange (Disneyland) meaning crowded on a Friday. The difference in experience and amount of people in the theme park was startling.

I hope this comes in handy if you’re planning to visit Disneyland and DisneySea. These are things I didn’t consider when I visited and it was an eye-opening learning experience for me! Even if you can’t get to all the rides, the park is beautiful – take some time to admire it. I enjoyed the down time when I refused to queue taking photos, eating soft serves (so good) and just popping by the souvenir shops instead. If you’ve got your own Disney adventures, tips and tricks to share, please do leave a comment.

More Tokyo Disneyland Resources

Official information on the Tokyo Disneyland FASTPASS can be found here and if you’re still puzzled, here is one of the most comprehensive Tokyo Disneyland Tips and Tricks article ever!

, ,

20 Responses to Tokyo: Why You Need to Take FASTPASS Seriously

  1. Yuu Okawa August 3, 2015 at 12:27 am #

    This Thursday will be my first time going to visit Disneyland, my friend tell me a lot about fastpass but its hard to understand what actually a fastpass is, and seriously your article really helpful, thank you…

    • Carrie August 15, 2015 at 12:40 am #

      Hey Yuu!
      How did your Disneyland experience go! Hope you managed to grab your Fastpass and this was helpful in anyway!
      Cheers,
      Carrie

  2. Hema Nate December 2, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    Thanks for your detailed review! It’s great! Going to Disneyland in 2 days! Can’t wait!

    • Carrie December 2, 2015 at 11:55 am #

      That’s awesome! Can’t wait to hear about how your trip to Disneyland went! <3

  3. Nicholas cho March 13, 2016 at 7:12 pm #

    How much is a fastpass

    • Carrie March 15, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

      Hi Nicholas,

      Fastpasses cannot be bought and need to be redeemed.

      Cheers,
      Carrie

  4. An April 6, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

    Hi

    Your my hero. That’s what you want me to say right seeing as you’ve displayed nothing but a big song and dance number in your self glorification and worship of overcompilcating a straight forward clear instruction located on the back of the fast pass ( which you have failed to capture via photo ) instead you have subjected anyone wanting to do proper research to a long dribble of how great and brilliant you are for following instructions. Next time save the ramble for your glitter sprinkled diary you pointless

    • Carrie April 6, 2016 at 10:26 pm #

      Hey An,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Totally understand that you may not have found much value in my post and you’re most welcome to share your feedback and opinions of what you think are my intentions of writing this post here in the comments section.

      Well, it honestly didn’t occur to me to photograph the back of the Fastpass (in fact it’s been awhile, but I don’t think there was anything there at that time that I took particular note of) and this was definitely not on purpose, but thanks for pointing it out – hopefully someone else might have done so online and I do hope you get the information you need – though it isn’t available here.

      Also, these tips are free to read, on this personal space of mine, and you’re not obligated to thank me for them. I wrote them based on my first experience to Tokyo Disneyland and I hope people out there find them helpful rather than to get a pat on the back.

      Cheers,
      Carrie

    • Fi April 11, 2016 at 11:48 am #

      How rude. Didn’t anyone ever teach you that if you don’t have anything nice to say to just keep quiet? Just because no one will know who you are on the internet, doesn’t mean that you can act and say whatever you want.

      I came here looking for a specific information for my next Disney trip. It’s not my first visit to Disney park, but living so far from any Disney park, I can’t visit often so there are certain things that I’ve forgotten. And I found what I’m looking for in this post (Thanks, Carrie!).

      So *An*, thank goodness not everyone is like you. And, really, learn to punctuate.

      • Carrie May 3, 2016 at 12:01 am #

        Hi Fi!

        I’m glad you found the post helpful for your upcoming trip to Disneyland. I personally felt a little overwhelmed on my first visit even after reading so many theme park blogs and I just thought this would help! I may not be going back anytime soon – my next trip will be to Universal Studios Japan instead – but if I were to go back, these are the things I’d drill into my and my travel companions so that we get the most of our experience.

        Thank you for stopping by and reading!

        Cheers,
        Carrie

    • Leng May 9, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

      Carrie’s being extremely diplomatic in her reply to you, considering what a jerk you’ve been. I found her post helpful as a first time visitor to Disneyland (thank you Carrie).

      • Carrie May 16, 2016 at 1:09 am #

        Thanks Leng! And you’re most welcome. Glad you found the tips helpful! <3

  5. Cindy May 17, 2016 at 8:50 pm #

    Hi Carrie,

    I want to ask you what does the “time belt” mean? (14:25 ~ 15:25 in your fastpass ticket) Does it mean you can only use that particular fastpass for Tower of Terror between 14:25 and 15:25 ? Thanks a lot 🙂

    • Carrie May 22, 2016 at 12:54 am #

      Hi Cindy, yep, it means you can access the attraction within the period of time stated and utilise the Fastpass to skip the regular queue. It shortens the waiting time significantly. 🙂

  6. Meghanw August 28, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    Carrie,
    There is a vacation package that includes Disney ambassador hotel, 2 breakfasts, 3 day park pass, and 6 fast passes per person which can be used any of the days (only one of the fast passes may be used on toy story) Unfortunately, though I’ve scheduled myself to go during the weekdays, that week is spring break, and the forecast is extremely busy. (The second most busy in the color chart) The total package is $700 total more than buying tix, hotel, and breakfast a la carte. We have two small children and won’t be running, we will likely be jet lagged but want to make the most of it. Do you think it’s worth it? I would be interested to know if you felt some rides/shows were not entertaining because of being fully in Japanese ? Also, breakfast at the hotel isn’t until 7am, do you know how early you need to line up for the happy 15 early entry/did you see early entry people walk in? Thank you for any/all of your input!!

    • Carrie August 29, 2016 at 1:51 am #

      Hey Meghanw,

      I arrived pretty late to the park. It was 10am when we entered the park and by then, the Toy Story FastPasses were totally redeemed.

      For the thrill rides, doesn’t matter if the introductions were made in Japanese. I was able to just read up about them before hand to get a general gist. However, there are some performances like the LILO and Stitch Tiki room which I ended up not understanding and felt was just a stop for me to rest my legs.

      I had a tough time queueing at Disneyland as it was significantly more packed than my experience at Disneysea. I guess if this secures you some FastPasses, this may be worth it. The FastPasses knocked off a lot of waiting time.

      No matter what, it’s best to prep something for the kids to do while waiting because it can be anywhere from 1 to 2.5 hours without a FastPass! If you’re lucky you’ll get in within 45 minutes on a busy day.

      Also I only attempted a day at Disneyland and it definitely wasn’t enough at all!

      I’d say it depends what you want from your experience there. If just the ambience, a couple of rides and catching the parades are good for you, it may not be necessary to do the full works with the $700 add-on. But if you’re a huge Disneyland fan, I’d say go for it. It’s a small price to pay to get to as many rides as possible.

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Carrie

  7. Mark October 30, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

    Perfect article!! Reading it in preparation for my trip to Tokyo next week – deep breaths!

    • Carrie November 1, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

      Hope you had a ton of fun and that this was helpful somewhat!

  8. Ny January 10, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

    OMG I read your article too late…..today was pretty bad, but my timings were lucky? I honestly did not know what a Fastpass was. I have been to many theme parks all over the world including Disney World and Disneyland in US and to be honest, Tokyo takes the cake for the MOST crowd in a theme park I have ever seen. I went today on a Tuesday and I had to queue 75mins for Toy Story Mania, 30 mins for Journey to the centre of the earth, and about 45mins for Tower of Terror all without using FastPass as I did not have a clue what that was.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tokyo Day 2: DisneySea – The Kalex Project - July 14, 2016

    […] Tip: try to get FASTPASS if you can! Here’s an article that tells you what’s a FASTPASS and how to maximise its use: Tokyo: Why You Need to Take FASTPASS Seriously. […]

Leave a Reply