Every single day, bright and early at 7 am, US EST, thousands of men and women go into a complete and utter panic, terrified to see their well thought out plans sink or swim. If you ask any of them what day of the week it is, you won’t find your average Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday answers, as this is not a day that occurs in a 7-part rotation. This is the day you have been counting down to for the better part of an entire year. This day is the one that kicks off a 60-day countdown towards the first moments of your vacation. This is the day where dreams are made and broken.
What day is it? FastPass Day.
It begins up to 48 hours before your big day with an inability to sleep or general restlessness. Sometimes plagued with terrifying nightmares of sleeping in till 8 am, booking the wrong passes for the wrong day or the ultimate disaster entirely out of your control, the My Disney Experience app going down. It feels like your entire Walt Disney World Resort adventure is hanging by an unreliable thread.
This will often be followed by shivers or sweats; nervous behaviors can also manifest in anxiety-related tendencies such as fiddling, scratching or rocking back and forth in the fetal position. With so many emotions at play — excitement, fear, aggression — it’s a melting pot of conflict with the extended cast of Inside Out at the control center. Every emotion is present and accounted for with everyone from Nauseating Apprehension to Stoic Determination ready to bust out into the spotlight at any second. You hold your breath as the last sixty seconds countdown, desperately waiting for that defiant clock to move on from 6:59 am.
It’s on. Right now it’s you versus the thousands of other people around the world, navigating their local time zones to battle it out in a clicking war for the best FastPasses on offer.
Before I get to this point, I like to have a few things sorted out in advance to maximize the odds of getting what I want, when I want it.
- Have at least two different browsers installed. When your login doesn’t work, or an error shows up, clearing your cookies and cache might do the trick, but sometimes all it takes is the two clicks required to open a different browser, and off you go.
- Write down your login information. I know, I know, it is saved in your browser. But what would you do if, at the most inopportune moment, it wasn’t working or simply wasn’t there? Write it down and double check it by logging in with it so you can cross this issue off the list of possible obstacles between you and that perfect Avatar Flight of Passage time slot.
- Write down your FastPass goals and your alternates. Save yourself from that chaotic moment of panic and have your schedule on hand. If you make a list of what you are aiming for alongside your calendar of when you will be in each different area, it makes it easier to adjust things if your first choices are not available.
- Make a list of your dining reservations. Write down the times of each reservation, allowing a buffer on each end to get to and from the restaurant. In the haste of frantically trying to get something locked in, you don’t want to accidentally book FastPasses in time slots where you will already be elbow deep in your favorite food.
- Update your app. If you are using a mobile device, make sure your app is up to date with the latest version, alleviating any technological compatibility issues.
Once you have everything ready — your notes, your tissues, any calming medication required and lucky charms or any other comforting items you deem necessary — wait for that highly anticipated time to roll around and strike while you can. If you got what you wanted, well done. But slow your publicly ecstatic roll because it’s kind of like getting the lead in the school play; we are happy for you, but we wanted it too. Be sure to tone down the exclamation marks when you announce your victory to the world.
Did you miss what you were looking for or settle for FastPasses you weren’t that keen on? There is light at the end of this emotionally charged tunnel, standby.
- Keep checking. Things change, and other people’s plans change. When this happens, they change their FastPasses. What does that mean for you? You can take the ones they had. Keep checking before you leave and more often than not, some other options usually appear. It might not be exactly what you were after, but you may be able to get something much closer to your goal. Don’t give up!
- Stay flexible. Sometimes what you thought was the perfect plan was doomed from the beginning. If your FastPasses take you in a different direction, just go with it. Perhaps the Disney gods are stepping in to save you from a disastrous series of lines and ride failures. You never know. Make adjustments and see where they take you.
- Consider shuffling your days. If you have your heart set on one particular ride, be prepared to shuffle around which days you were planning to be in each park to try and jag what you want. Just be cautious of those 180-day dining reservations you made a few months ago, especially if you don’t have a park hopper ticket.
- Just chill. Even if nothing changes and you didn’t get what you wanted and the whole FastPass experience has left you depressed and melancholy, cheer up. It isn’t actually the end of the world and anything you don’t get the chance to do is just even more incentive to go back.
In the event that My Disney Experience won’t even book your FastPasses, make sure to have some stress chocolate on hand to cope with the on-hold wait time when you phone Disney impatiently at 7:01 am. Maybe even wait until 7:02, sometimes it just needs an extra minute.
Take a breath; you’ve got this. It’s FastPass Day.