Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!
I've made several posts in the past about the Fastpass system at Walt Disney World. Until recently, I often encouraged guests to disregard the later time posted on the Fastpass ticket as cast members were only concerned with the initial time.
Well things have changed as they often do at Walt Disney World and now cast members are enforcing the later return time. What this means for you the guest is that now you have to more carefully consider when and for what you get a Fastpass. No longer can you go grab a pass for your favorite attraction and hold on to it for use later in the day when the crowds are highest. Now you have to use that Fastpass during the stated window or not use it at all.
So how does change impact the way you tour the parks? Let's examine a few different scenarios.
To standby or Fastpass. That is the question. Personally, I still say go standby if the posted standby wait is 30-40 minutes or less during the first hour of the day. Keep in mind that you can always get a Fastpass after you come off the attraction, which likely will be for much later in the day - which allows you to enjoy other attractions before using that Fastpass.
Here's where the changes to FastPass may have the greatest impact. I suspect (and time will tell if I'm right) that the more strict enforcement of Fastpass windows may mean that more Fastpasses will be available later in the day as fewer people opt to get a Fastpass early in the day since they can't hoard them anymore. This longer availability of Fastpass may have an impact on standby lines. Some argue that Fastpass actually increases standby line time and less Fastpasses used during the day will help shorten wait times. I'm not so sure. I can see the argument, but I also know that there are only a limited number of Fastpasses allotted per hour, so the total impact on wait times is pretty minimal. The same number of people who were in Fastpass would be in the standby line anyway, so it's a wash.
In any case, you need to be much more cognizant of when your Fastpass windows are open.
By this time, most Fastpasses are usually gone. As mentioned before, there's the possibility that more Fastpasses will be available later in the day, but I think by evening, they should be all gone. So the overall impact by this time should be minimal at most.
Now even though Disney's more strictly enforcing Fastpass return times does this mean you can no longer have more than one Fastpass at a time? NO. You can still hold more than one, depending on when your first Fastpass window opens. See this post from January 2009 for more.
Hopefully the changes to Fastpass won't impact your time and your enjoyment of the parks. Just remember, it's not all about racing from attraction to attraction. Take your time and enjoy the (Walt Disney) World around you!