Like many Disney fans, I threw a royal tantrum worthy of a princess when they added FP+ and took away the paper fast passes. I loved the paper fast passes. We got there at rope drop and I knew how to work the system so I could ride what I wanted without dealing with those long lines. Lines are for suckers! We’d been known to use six to ten fast passes in one day on top of getting to walk through empty lines for the first hour or so after the park opened.
And I still look fondly at our Year of a Million Dreams super fast pass lanyard that they used to give away sort of randomly in the first hour or two after park opening. Best bit of Disney pixie dust I’ve ever gotten (sadly I haven’t been selected to stay in Cinderella Castle yet, but I’m holding out hope).
So, when Disney took away my paper fast passes and replaced them with the three per day, non park-hopping, FP+ system they completely messed up my system. Argh! Was I going to have to wait in line like a tourist? Noooooo…..
Well, like most changes in life, after railing against it and stamping my feet a bit, I tried it and between me getting used to it and Disney making some much needed improvements, I have to publicly admit that I actually kind of like it now. The thing that actually changed my mind was the FP+ for the parade viewing.
On our last visit, even though we planned it at the last minute, we were able to get four FP+ spaces in the 9pm Main Street Electrical Parade. Around 7:30pm we noticed people had already staked out the prime spots all along Main Street. I just cannot stand the idea of sitting for several hours just to have a good parade spot, so we typically either skip the parades (the ride lines are much shorter then) or just kind of watch them as we walk out of the park. But I do love the Main Street Electrical Parade, partly because I remember it fondly from my own childhood.
Although the FP+ said to arrive between 8:40 and 9:00, we headed towards the castle around 8:30pm, because I wanted to make sure that we knew where to go. I asked a friendly cast member who actually walked us up to the section. It’s a roped off area in the hub on Main Street, right in front of Cinderella Castle. At 8:30 there was already a line, probably about 20 people deep to get into the FP+ viewing area. We went ahead and got in the line and they started letting people in right then (so about ten minutes before the FP+ said).
As they were letting us in, they had handheld attachments to iPads they were using to scan our MagicBands to confirm we had FP+s. That process went very smoothly and we quickly found a nice spot facing towards the turn into AdventureLand, right behind the rope. There was a bit of a wait (not too bad) and the worst part was having to see the eight zillion people coming up and trying to slip under the rope. There were three cast members stationed there to keep people out and explain that it was a FP+ viewing area, but some prominent signs on or in front of the ropes clearly stating that would have probably reduced the confusion and disappointment significantly (updated to add: on future visits, I did note a lot more visible signage).
Right before the parade started, the cast members took down the ropes in front of us, which made for awesome viewing without any obstruction. It was amazing to see the floats with the castle in the background.
Right after they dimmed the lights and before the parade got to us, a lady from the non FP+ section slipped under the ropes and shoved next to us which was kind of disappointing. She ended up having her phone/camera in a lot of my photos, which only actually bothered me because I knew she was in there illicitly (I’m such a rules follower!). She kept motioning for her party to come and join her, but thankfully they had better sense or better manners because they stayed where they were.
Even with our unauthorized interloper, we had a wonderful time and I will definitely use FP+ for parade viewing again. I think that one of the reasons they were still available so close to the day of our trip is the new FP+ policy of letting people get additional FP+ at the kiosks in the parks once they’ve used all three of their daily FP+. That new policy is discouraging some people from taking late FP+ slots.
One extra benefit that we didn’t use but I am pretty sure would work great is to stay in your parade FP+ spot after the parade and until the Wishes fireworks start. Eli is still skittish about fireworks, so we tend to watch them from a distance (generally near Dumbo) but the Wishes FP+ viewing is in a different area, so you can probably have a great view just by staying put (again I didn’t actually do this, so your mileage may vary but it’s worth a try!).
While I’m really sad the paper fast passes are gone, I do love the expansion of FP+ to other experiences like the parades and fireworks. One day, Eli won’t be afraid of fireworks anymore so it will be great to FP+ those as well.
How do you feel about the FP+ system? Have you tried it for the parades or fireworks? Looking for more Walt Disney World Resort tips, tricks, ride and restaurant reviews? Check out my Disney Days page for lots more magic!