Pros and Cons of Epcot Tier A FastPasses
Are you preparing for a visit to Walt Disney World? Do you feel a bit overwhelmed about the concept of FastPasses? You don’t want to pick the wrong ones but how can you know which ones are right if you haven’t visited in a while? Don’t worry! MickeyBlog is here to help. Here are the pros and cons of the various Epcot Tier A FastPass options. We’ll cover Tier B selections next week, but don’t worry! They’re MUCH easier.
Tier A Explained
Five different attractions are available in Epcot’s Tier A FastPass list. One of the attractions is actually a fireworks exhibition, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I’ll exclude that for the sake of convenience. You’ll find plenty of great fireworks viewing areas throughout the park and shouldn’t waste a FastPass for one. Let’s focus on the other four right now.
Frozen Ever After
This is the “newest” E Ticket attraction at Epcot, although it’s a repurposed version of an old ride at the Norway Pavilion called Maelstrom. Due to the sustained popularity of Frozen, this attraction has one of the longest wait-times at Walt Disney World.
According to detailed data evaluations from our friends at TouringPlans, the line for Frozen Ever After often exceeds an hour. With a FastPass, your wait should only take 15 minutes or so. The pro of getting a FastPass here is obvious. You’ll skip a huge line.
That’s the pro for most Tier A attractions, of course, but it applies to Frozen Ever After more than anything else. This is the ride that’s most likely to have a massive wait-time on a busy day. The cons here are two-fold. One is that the FastPass line for Frozen Ever After is longer and slower than most due to the ride’s popularity and throughput. You won’t save quite as much time here as you would with the other Tier A attractions listed here.
The other con is a bit harder to envision. When you enter the World Showcase from Future World, the Norway Pavilion is on the left side and back a bit, past the Mexico Pavilion. It’s not close to any other major Epcot attraction. As such, you’re carving out a chunk of your day to walk to and from the pavilion. That’s not ideal. Despite these cons, Frozen Ever After is still the most popular choice for an Epcot Tier A FastPass at the moment. I suggested it in a four-park FastPass evaluation, too.
Meet Disney Pals at the Epcot Character Spot
This option only recently moved to the Tier A part of Epcot FastPasses. As a point of clarity, you may only book one Tier A FastPass in advance per park day. Out of the four options discussed here, you can’t pick three! That’s why it’s so tough.
The pro of the Meet Disney Pals attraction is that it’s a conveniently located character greeting. It’s in a part of Future World that’s easy to find and simple to reach from anywhere at the front of the park. You’ll get to hang out with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy on most days. The pictures you take during these excursions are unforgettable and will make you the envy of your friends.
The cons basically negate any possible reason to book this FastPass. The average wait-time for this character spot is 30 minutes or less on many days. And since it’s so easy to walk to this character spot, you can pick and choose the times when the line is shortest. There’s no point in spending a FastPass on something that could take less than 20 minutes anyway. This one is the hard pass of Tier A.
Before the arrival of Frozen Ever After, Soarin’ was the clear choice for an Epcot FastPass. It had the longest lines, and frequent park guests knew how to manipulate the system for the other Tier A FastPass option, Test Track. We’ll discuss the how of that in a moment.
Alas, the situation changed over the last couple of years. It wasn’t simply the introduction of Frozen Ever After that changed the calculus, either. Disney recently updated Soarin’ into a new version, Soarin’ around the World. In the process, they added a third Soarin’ theater. This improved ride throughput by 50 percent. Now, Soarin’ has a shorter wait and more competition.
According to Touring Plans, a wait for Soarin’ should take at least 40 minutes most of the time. It could take an hour or more, but those instances are rarer these days. As such, the pro of a shorter wait time isn’t the huge advantage it once was. The con has become a larger one, too. You’re no longer saving as much time with a FastPass. Personally, I recommend a Rope Drop strategy for Soarin’ instead.
Frozen Ever After and Test Track tend to flip flop about which one has the longest wait-time. For that reason, you should evaluate both of them as potential choices. With Test Track, you should wait to go through the full attraction at least once. What I mean by this is that you can build your car in the Test Track simulator. It’s a fun process that you’ll want to do. You’re probably wondering how you could miss it.
Well, the pros and cons of a Test Track FastPass are complex. With an average wait-time that frequently tops an hour, you don’t want to wait in that line. There is a way to skip it. Test Track is one the Walt Disney World attractions that has Single Rider line. When you choose this line, you’ll board the ride much faster, but you won’t get to design your vehicle. Instead, you’ll get placed in a car with someone else who did.
So, the pros of a Test Track FastPass are that you save a lot of time AND you get to design a car. The cons are that the FastPass line has an extra phase to it relative to Single Rider. When you just want to ride Test Track and get out as quickly as possible, it’s flat out better. Also, if you just don’t care about designing a car, Single Rider is better. In short, a FastPass for Test Track depends on whether you want the full attraction experience or just the car ride.
Everyone has (strong) opinions about which Tier A FastPass is best at Epcot. Personally, I would rank them in order of precedence as:
- Frozen Ever After
- Test Track
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Meet Disney Pals at the Epcot Character Spot.
Keep in mind that I don’t even list IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth because seating is so plentiful for the show. Similarly, I would NEVER burn a FastPass on the Meet Disney Pals character greeting. I honestly don’t understand why Disney moved it up to Tier A earlier this year.
Soarin’ used to be my go-to suggestion for a Tier A FastPass. Then, park planners added a third theater that boosted throughput by 50 percent. At this point, you’re most likely to get an in-park FastPass for Soarin’ out of the big three. Even if you don’t, you should have plenty of time to ride the three major Epcot attractions during your single-day park visit. Soarin’ usually has the smallest line, and it’s sometimes less than 40 minutes. That wait is short enough that a FastPass seems like overkill.
Ultimately, I believe that the FastPass decision comes down to Frozen Ever After vs. Test Track. You should want to partake of the full ride experience for each one. Single Rider on Test Track is better for repeated rides, not the first time through. So, you can easily justify a FastPass for either one. I lean toward Frozen Ever After, but both options are tremendous.