Epcot FastPass+ Tiers and Strategy 2018 - 2019

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In this post we discuss how to use FastPass+ successfully at Epcot in 2018 and 2019, including the best rides for FastPass+ at Epcot and how Epcot FastPass+ should fit into your Walt Disney World planning.

We suggest also reading our full Walt Disney World FastPass+ strategy for a complete understanding of the system. For our opinions on the rides, check out our Epcot rides and entertainment guide. We also put all these thoughts and tips to work in our one-day Epcot itinerary.

The Basics of Epcot FastPass+

Again, you'll want to check out the full Walt Disney World FastPass+ strategy post to make sure you really understand FastPass+, but we want to give those of you who are just looking for the basics a quick introduction.

FastPass+ Allows You to Skip the Lines at Walt Disney World

With FastPass+, a person can book an hour window to come back to certain rides and skip the lines. Since waits for some rides at Epcot can get to three or more hours (even six hours on New Year's Eve), FastPass+ is an important part of planning your day at Epcot.

You Can Book FastPass+ 30 or 60 Days In Advance

Guests at Disney hotels can book FastPass+ for their entire stay 60 days in advance of the first day of their stay. If you're not staying at a Disney hotel, you can book FastPass+ 30 days in advance. You can make bookings on the My Disney Experience app or online via the Disney website.

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Advance Bookings Are Limited (And Go Fast)

When booking FastPass+ in advance, you can book three rides each day. Those three rides must be at the same park. At Epcot, you can book one Tier 1 attraction in advance and two Tier 2 attractions in advance (or three Tier 2 and no Tier 1). Tier 1 bookings often fill up 30 to 60 days in advance, though you'll see sporadic availability pop up even on the same day.

Tap / Grab / Modify Gets You The Most Out of FastPass+

Once you've used your three advance FastPass+ bookings, you can get new FastPass+ reservations throughout the day. You simply:

  1. "Tap" your Mickey at the start of the line to use your last FastPass+

  2. Open the My Disney Experience app on your cell phone and "Grab" a FastPass+ for the next ride you want to ride

  3. "Modify" that FastPass+ to the best time you can find

Tap / Grab / Modify will keep you out of lines all day long.

Epcot FastPass Tier 1 Attractions

The 12 Epcot attractions are split into two Epcot FastPass tiers, five rides in Tier 1, seven rides in Tier 2. We'll start by discussing the Epcot FastPass Tier 1 attractions. When selecting your three advance reservations for Epcot, you can only pick one of Tier 1 attraction. The five Tier 1 attractions at Epcot are:

  1. Frozen Ever After

  2. Test Track

  3. Soarin'

  4. Illuminations: Reflection of Earth

  5. Epcot Character Greeting

Best Epcot Tier 1 FastPass: Frozen vs. Test Track

We used to write that Frozen Ever After was undoubtedly the best choice for a FastPass+ at Epcot, now we’re not sure. Frozen’s waits don’t climb up as quickly as Test Track, which makes it worth considering just waiting in the standby line early in the day.

Let’s get out of the way that you can’t go wrong with a FastPass+ for either Test Track or Frozen. Even a FastPass+ for Soarin’ puts you in good position for an easy day.

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But when it comes to choosing between Test Track and Frozen, there are a few questions to ask. First, can all your kids ride Test Track? Test Track has a 40” height requirement, and if not all your kids are going to be on it, you might be better off using the single rider line or using your FastPass+ for Frozen.

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Second, are you actually going to arrive 30 minutes before park open? 15 will probably work, but if you want to walk right onto Test Track, you’re going to need to be there early. If you can’t get there that early, then you’ll be better off with a Test Track FastPass+.

The downside to having Test Track as your Tier 1 FastPass+ is you wind up having to walk all the was to Frozen in the morning and then back over to Future World. Then later in the day you’ll have to come back to Future World for your Test Track FastPass+.

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Since we’re always ready to arrive early, we go with Frozen Ever After. If you do get a Frozen reservation, we suggest starting your day early at Test Track.

The key here is that Test Track's line moves much more quickly than Soarin'. If you go to Soarin' first, you'll wind up letting the Test Track line get too long. You can easily lose an hour of your day on a busy day making this mistake.

Epcot Fastpass Tier 2 Attractions

Epcot has seven Tier 2 attractions. When making your advance reservations, you can reserve two of these (or three if you don't reserve a Tier 1 attraction). The seven attractions are:

  1. Mission: SPACE

  2. Spaceship Earth

  3. The Seas with Nemo & Friends

  4. Living with the Land

  5. Pixar Short Film Festival

  6. Journey Into Imagination With Figment

  7. Turtle Talk with Crush

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There's little to discuss here — Mission: SPACE and Spaceship Earth are the best rides to FastPass at Epcot with your Tier 2 slots. There's no reason to overthink this. Those rides are really the only two of the seven that get meaningful lines and for which you might (might) struggle to find a same-day FastPass. If you can book Frozen or Test Track about an hour after park open and book two of these afterwards, you're in a great position.

Epcot Fastpass+ After Your First Three Reservations

While we always recommend using Disney's official, free My Disney Experience app to snag Fastpass+ reservations, the physical kiosks are located at:

  • At the character spot on the way to Future World West (the side with Soarin')

  • Outside Mouse Gear on the way to Future World East (the side with Test Track)

  • At the "back" entrance to the park between the France and U.K. pavilions

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We suggest checking the Walt Disney World website to confirm kiosk locations in case they change.

If you managed to put Frozen first, once you use it you can probably modify your second two reservations to speed up your day. This is especially true if you get off Frozen and the waits for Mission: SPACE and Spaceship Earth are short, as will often be the case. Epcot is a pretty easy park to cover.

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If you want to avoid any lines, you can usually grab Epcot Fastpass Tier 2 reservations pretty easily throughout the day. Instead, we suggest walking around the World Showcase (or waiting in short lines) and checking the My Disney Experience app for bonus Epcot Fastpass Tier 1 reservations.

Epcot's World Showcase

Speaking of Epcot's World Showcase, what do you need to know about fitting it into your day? First of all, World Showcase usually opens a few hours after the park opens (hours vary by day). This means that you'll have time in the morning to knock out your rides before heading to World Showcase. The only attraction in the World Showcase with FastPass+ is the night time show, IllumiNations.

There are 11 countries in the World Showcase. You can easily spend 30 minutes at each just meandering through. If you stop for snacks or drinks at each, you could spend an hour at each easily. We advocate for no less than five hours in the World Showcase.

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If you're a first time Epcot visitor, we suggest prioritizing the main three Epcot Fastpass Tier 1 attractions and Spaceship Earth, followed by the World Showcase, followed by the other attractions. This doesn't mean you have to do those four attractions before visiting the World Showcase, just that you should have a plan for visiting them before you embark on the a trip around the world.

Rope Drop at Epcot

At Epcot, Soarin', Test Track, and Frozen Ever After are the three Tier 1 rides, so rope drop will focus on riding the two you don't book in advance. (If you’re staying at Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Swan & Dolphin or, once the Skyliner is operational, Caribbean Beach, Pop Century, or Art of Animation, you’ll want to be sure to also read the below section on rope drop from the World Showcase entrance.)

Soarin' can have a very long load time. While the volume can make up for it, we usually find it to be a bad use of time immediately on entering the park. The waits also don’t spike as high as Test Track right at open. Frozen Ever After is located a hike away from the rest of the rides.

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Because Soarin' and Frozen Ever After have these issues, the best ride to get out of the way will often be Test Track.

But really, rope drop will come down to what you booked in advance with FastPass+:

  • If you booked Frozen, start your day with Test Track and then head to Soarin'

  • If you booked Test Track, start with Soarin’ then Frozen Ever After

  • If you booked Soarin', start with Test Track then Frozen Ever After

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If you're staying at a Boardwalk-area resort (Yacht & Beach, Boardwalk Inn, Swan & Dolphin), you'll be in a better position to rope drop Frozen Ever After than Soarin'/Test Track, as those resorts can enter the park through the World Showcase.

Epcot Rope Drop From World Showcase Entrance

If you’re entering the park from the World Showcase entrance because you’re staying at Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk, or Swan & Dolphin (or, once the Skyliner is operational, Pop Century, Art of Animation, and Caribbean Beach), you’re really going to prefer to have a FastPass+ for Test Track. From that entrance, it’s pretty easy to be the first in line for Frozen Ever After.

That said, if you don’t have a FastPass+ for Test Track and you’re using that entrance, you’ll only be at a disadvantage on busier days. We’d particularly try to avoid rope dropping to Test Track from this entrance on weekends.

On a recent Friday, we rope dropped from that entrance to Test Track. The rope was dropped at 8:55AM for a 9AM open. By the time we got over to Mouse Gear at 9AM, we were near the back of the Test Track rush.

We were in line at 9:01AM and off the ride at 9:35AM, when Soarin’ had a posted 20 minute wait, Test Track was at 30 minutes, and Frozen Ever After was at 40 minutes.

(You might be looking at those times and thinking, “you said Test Track waits are longer!” First, they’re not always going to be longer. Second, Frozen is inflated relative to Test Track for the first 30 minutes or so because of the rope droppers from World Showcase. As crowds start pouring through the main entrance, Test Track jumps up.)

How To Fit Epcot In Your Walt Disney World Trip

Since you can only schedule advance FastPass+ reservations for one park on a day, you may wind up on a shorter trip needing to pick what parks to skip FastPass+ at (at least until you're at the park and can grab whatever FastPass+ slots are available). This is really only a problem for trips of fewer than five days. Anything five days or more and you want to give each park at least one day of advance FastPass+ slots.

This analysis is partly subjective, too. If riding Frozen is more important than anything else you'll do at Walt Disney World, prioritize Epcot as high as you'd like.

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As of the opening of Toy Story Land in 2018, it is best to prioritize all three other parks over Epcot. This means Epcot shouldn't get a FastPass+ day unless you have at least four days at the parks.

An exception can be made if you really want to ride Frozen Ever After but wouldn't mind some difficulties fitting in Test Track and Soarin'. In that case, you could book a Tier 1 FastPass+ on Frozen Ever After and plan to rope drop Hollywood Studios to see Toy Story Land.

Finally, the best Disney crowd calendars seem to expect that Toy Story Land will bring crowds to all the other parks as well, so you might expect Epcot to be a little more crowded this year than it was during your past trips, especially during summer.

Epcot 2018 - 2019 Events

While not strictly relevant to your Epcot FastPass+ selection, you should know when Epcot will be having events that will draw higher crowds (you should always confirm these dates with the Disney website before planning around them):

  • August 30 to November 12 - Food & Wine Festival

  • November 18 - December 30 - International Festival of Holidays

  • January 18, 2019 through February 25, 2019 - Festival of the Arts

  • March 6, 2019 through June 3, 2019 - Flower and Garden Festival

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Generally, you don't need a full strategy for FastPass+ planning around these events. Most festival goers aren’t too concerned with rides, and few are going to get there before 11AM. Your afternoon, however will see a bit longer lines once the festival crowds pick up. On a personal level, it’s up to you how much time you want to spend at a given festival versus ride hopping.

All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered

Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.

When it comes time to book, we've got you covered with posts on how to book cheap flights, how to get the best deal on your Disney hotel, and where to find discount Disney World tickets.

Don't forget to master your Disney World FastPass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! We've got park-specific guides as well: Magic Kingdom FastPass, Epcot FastPass, Animal Kingdom FastPass, and Hollywood Studios FastPass.

Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides!

Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.

Do you have any tips for Fastpass+ at Epcot?