While waiting in line for Thunder Mountain this past December with a hyperactive 9 year old and a 6 year old that needed to go to the bathroom, I thought to myself, 'I don't want to wait in line for Thunder Mountain ever again.' Although the experience wasn't as bad, I had the same thought in Epcot while we were waiting in line for Soarin.' This got me thinking, there are the few obvious FP+ that you want to get if at all possible, but what about the rest of your FP+ choices? With small children, I'd rather wait 75 minutes in an interesting queue line than endure 60 minutes of, "Are we there yet?"
So with this thought in mind, I'm going to make FP+ suggestions for all four parks. These posts are intended primarily for planning for a vacation with young children. However, I find that I get just as bored or engaged by the queue lines as my kids do, so the adults out there should find this useful as well.
There are plenty of posts about selecting FastPass+ for the most popular rides. However, my blog will be focused on selecting FastPass+ based on ride popularity as well as queue line experiences. When planning our Disney family vacations, I want our kids to have the be experience possible. The magical experience is what we are paying for after all.
So here are my suggestions. You'll find links along the way. Most of these will be to YouTube videos of the rides. I find this very helpful when determining whether a ride is a good fit for my kids. But before watching any videos or planning your FP+ selections, make sure your children are old enough/tall enough by checking out this list of Disney World Ride Age & Height Requirements. Also, check out my post on the FastPass+ Rules.
What to use your FP+ on:
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a super fun, super short ride, that usually has a super long line. It has an okay queue, but nothing to brag about. If you ever see the wait time listed as 60 minutes or below, jump in line even if you have a FP+ scheduled for it so you can ride it twice. The wait rarely drops below 60 minutes and it is a blast for adults and young children. It is also a great first roller coaster for your 4-5 year old as it is quick and very smooth.
Peter Pan's Flight is a Disney classic everyone should experience. It is consistently one of the longest lines in the park, however, this is also my favorite queue line in the Magic Kingdom. While waiting, you move through the Darling's house. The nursery is complete with Tinker Bell darting in and out of drawers and an interactive shadow wall. I still can't wrap my head around how they do this! If you want to experience the queue line without a horrible wait, go right around the time of the evening fireworks show. If you are super lucky, you will emerge from the ride just as the fireworks are going off. Move a few steps towards Prince Charming's Carousel and you will have one of the best views of the fireworks in the park.
Space Mountain is Florida's oldest operating roller coaster. For this reason alone, it is worth riding at least one time. It has been in operation since 1975, but don't let that worry you. It has had refurbishments done over the years including a large scale one completed in 2009. Again, because this is an old favorite, it is always crowded. Get a FP+ if at all possible. The queue line is okay towards the beginning, but towards the end it is very stuffy and crowded. If you have issues with claustrophobia, either skip the line with a FP+ or head to it as soon as the park opens to avoid a long wait. Lastly, as you can see in the pointless linked video, the ride is almost pitch black. This is another ride that should not be your child's first! This was actually the first roller coaster my mom took me on when I was five. She also put me in the very front thinking it would be better for me so I could see what was coming. Uh, total parent fail. I cried and screamed the whole time and didn't ride another roller coaster until I was in middle school. True story... After our kids rode several other roller coasters and were loving them, we took them on Space Mountain. We even went with Nana (my mom). It was the first time I had been on this ride since I went with her as a freaked out child almost 30 years earlier.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was 60 minutes of purgatory in line. There is very little to see or do while waiting and the line was so cramped that when my daughter had to use the restroom 30 minutes into waiting, I couldn't see a way to possible play my parent entitlement card and get out of line to take her then move back into line with my husband and oldest child later. Also, we went during the winter and it was still stuffy waiting in line. Cramped with very little ventilation, I imagine the wait would be hell to endure on a hot, Florida day. All this to say, do yourself a favor and use a FP+ for this ride. The ride itself is great! One of the longest roller coasters in Disney, it is 3.5 minutes of dips, quick turns and speed. We loved it! It is not a smooth ride, but I think that adds to the experience. It would be odd for a runaway train from the 1800's to not be bumpy, wouldn't it?
Jungle Cruise is not worth the wait. However, it is a classic so if your goal is to hit all the rides in Magic Kingdom it may be worth one of your FP+. You will hate the ride if you wait any more than 30 minutes for it (and it rarely drops below 60). However, you will find it an enjoyable experience if you can just hop right on. If you have little ones who like animals, they will enjoy this slow boat ride. This ride may become even more popular in the future as there is a Jungle Cruise movie starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson being released in October of 2019. For more on that and some interesting ride history, check out this video.
Pirates of the Caribbean is a slow dark ride with one surprise, fun drop. Because it is a classic, it also has long waits. As a side note, we regretted taking our four year old and six year old on this ride the first time we went to Disney. My husband and I remembered from our childhood it being one of our favorites (the park's rides have gotten MUCH better since then), so we were excited for it. We DID NOT remember how dark and creepy it was or all the skeletons... It was the first Disney ride we ever took our kids on and an epic parent fail. We had to immediately follow it up with a happy Dumbo ride to earn back their trust in us and Disney. That being said, if you have brave, swashbuckling pirates in your home, they would be probably be fine and may even love it... Just don't make this the first ride you go on and be sure to send them with their pirate swords to protect the voyaging crew.
Splash Mountain is a popular ride that we have not riden as a family. We go to Disney over Christmas break so a water ride has not appealed to us, since the warmest day so far for our trip has been in the 60's. Plus, it doesn't appeal to anyone else on a cool day so if you want to dawn a poncho and go for it, you'll have to wait 15 minutes or less. However, if you are going to Disney during the Summer and want to ride Splash Mountain, it would be a good use of a FP+. During the Summer it will be one of the most popular rides in the Magic Kingdom because everyone is so desperate to cool off.
Last thought, if you have very young girls, 3-5 age range who are more interested in princesses than rides, use a FP+ on either meeting Cinderella & Elena or Rapunzel & Tiana at Fairytale Hall or Enchanted Tales with Belle. There is always a wait (ranging from 20 minutes to 70+), and it is very boring. Lastly, if you want to meet a lot of Princesses, an early breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table is a wonderful experience, but I'll share more on this later.
Now, onto what you shouldn't use your FP+ for...
What NOT to use your FP+ on:
It's a Small World: At the right time of day, this ride will have wait times as low as 5 minutes. It's one of those rides that everyone should do once because it is one of Disney's oldest and holds a lot of nostalgia for people. For a little background on the ride, check out this link. Also, if you eat at Pinocchio's next door, you'll find a window overlooking the loading dock of the ride.
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel: This is almost always the shortest line in the park. It may be the most basic ride in the park, but the atmosphere makes it magical. We have never left the Magic Kingdom without riding it at least once.
Barnstormer: This is a great intro roller coaster for little kids, and if you time it right, you'll find wait times of 30 minutes and even less. Our first year at Disney, we rode it 3 times in a row because the wait time was less than 5 minutes! (I'll be writing another post about timing your route around the Kingdom)
Dumbo: This is a great ride for little kids and is right next door to the Barnstormer. Again, if you time it right you will have a very short wait. Also, this is a great ride for the parents who need to rest their feet and for little ones who need to climb and play for a little while. Even if it is a 45 minute wait for Dumbo, it may be worth it for this reason alone. Halfway through, there is large, fantastic circus themed play area for the kids with benches for the parents. You are given a buzzer just like at a restaurant and when the time is right, it will vibrate letting you know you can get back in line and will place you approximately where you would have been if you had just been waiting in line that whole time. Genius!
Astro Orbiter: A Dumbo style ride with generally low wait times. We haven't bothered going on it because we love Dumbo so much.
Magic Carpets of Aladdin: Another Dumbo style ride with low wait times. There is not much to it and the queue line is boring so we skip this one.
Under the Sea: Consistently one of the shortest waits in the park. Time it around the same time you go to Dumbo, the wait times will be similar.
Meet Ariel: Because of where she is located (next to her ride towards the back of the park), her meet and greet line is always shorter than the ones for the princesses at Fairytale Hall. Also, it is more interesting waiting in her grotto than outside a door in the Fairytale Hall.
Haunted Mansion: If you are taking kids on the Haunted Mansion for the first time, I would definitely suggest going through the queue line. It is highly interactive and sets the tone for a spooky, but also fun ride. You need to amp up the "fun" factor if little kids are joining you on this one. We grabbed a FP+ for this in the evening after using up our first three and I wish we hadn't. The FP+ line just throws you right into the stretching room and it made the ride scary for our kids. They didn't freak out, but they definitely didn't like the ride either. I would suggest waiting on this ride until your child is 10+.
Buzz Lightyear: This ride has waits of about 45 minutes, but with the right timing it could be as low as 5.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor: This is not actually a "ride." It is a theater with a somewhat interactive, digital cast of monsters performing stand up comedy. Most of the jokes were geared towards adults and our (at the time) four year old had to sit in our laps to even see. It was okay, but definitely not worth the a wait or a FP+. We went when there was only a 5 minute wait and it was still only okay. My suggestion would be to skip this one, but if you want to go. Just wait until Tomorrowland is quiet and do it then.
Tomorrowland Speedway is currently closed until this Summer while construction on the new Tron ride begins. So, FP+ isn't even available right now. If it was, I still wouldn't use my FP+ on it, or spend my time on it. If your kids are fans of cars, then take them on Test Track in Epcot instead.
Stitch's Great Escape is supposed to closed for good. We can hope, anyways. Disney has said that before just to reopen it later. If it is closed for good, you haven't missed anything. If they have reopened it again when you are checking out this post, don't, just don't. It is one of the lamest rides in Disney. Just spare yourself the time and the stench of Stitch's stinky chili dog burp.
Disney: The Most Magical Place on Earth
Disney is touted as the "Most Magical Place on Earth." Before we finally decided to take our two princesses, I thought, 'This is going to be a disappointment. There is no way Disney is going to live up to the hype.' Man, was I wrong!