The best place to start a discussion of FASTPASSes is the official Disney description of FASTPASS...
Well, it sounds so nice and easy... well, the system is actually quite complex, and keeps changing.
Note: The "Enhanced" FASTPASS option that was available from 2003 thru 2006 has been discontinued.
Now, how does it work, well, think of the FASTPASS machines as a computer network, with each attraction being a "unit" in the network. When a "regular" user attempts to get a FASTPASS, the machine does two things, the first test is that it checks to see if you have a current FASTPASS for the same attraction (that is a FASTPASS whose start time is later than the current time aka not yet valid), and the second test is to see if you have received another FASTPASS in the same park (There are two separate networks, one for Disneyland, and another for DCA). The rule here is you are not allowed to get another FASTPASS until the starting time of the first FASTPASS, or after 2 hours of issuance of the first FASTPASS. The easiest way to check this is to look at the bottom of the first FASTPASS, it will state "Another FASTPASS will be available at XX:XX" Now certain FASTPASS machines have not been connected to the network. In this case, the machine only cares about the first test, do you have another FASTPASS for THIS ride?, and will issue you one only if the starting time has passed. (For example, you go to Indy, and get a FASTPASS for 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM at about 10 AM. The machine will refuse to issue you another FASTPASS until 11:30 AM, at which time, the machine would issue one for say 1:40 to 2:40 PM, once again, you will be blocked out until 1:40 PM, when the machine will once again give you a new FASTPASS for say 3:10 to 4:10 PM....)
First off, no wonder that Disney doesn't advertise these "tricks" I am about to talk about, as it is hard to explain to a Guest. You will find out that many CM's have no idea about what is a "Stand-Alone" machine, or other information talked about in this post. They do know the information as described on the official website, since this is what Disney has taught them. They have no idea about the "secrets".
There are TWO networks, one for the Disneyland Park, and a second for Disney's California Adventure. They are totally separate, so you can always get one FASTPASS for each park. Let's look at the Networked machines....
In Disneyland, the following rides are networked
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Indiana Jones Adventure
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Haunted Mansion Holiday (October thru early January) Regular version does NOT offer Fastpasses
At DCA, the networked attractions are
Soarin' Over California
Tower of Terror
Grizzly River Run
Now, not every attraction is part of the network, 1 attraction (at present, and these attractions have changed many times) doesn't look at the network.
Independent Machine (AKA Stand-Alone)
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin(DL)
And now we have a new version of machines, one where Disney decides to turn off the machines 7 days a week.
Haunted Mansion (During the Regular version from February thru September)
While the machines and signage are still posted at this attraction, they are not being used.
A new addition is the decision to not offer FASTPASS on a daily basis on some attractions, but only to offer them on Weekends during the off-season (they should be offered daily during Peak and Holiday seasons).
Some of the following attractions do not offer FASTPASS during the week:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Tower of Terror
Grizzly River Run
The TIMES Guide handed out at the turnstyles does list which FASTPASS attractions will be offered that day. Though it has been wrong, so I recommend you check the status at the actual attraction.
Also, FASTPASS machines are turned off when an attraction has been temporarly closed down to fix a problem. They are turned back on when the attraction returns to normal operation.
So, our first problem is that we are talking about different types of FASTPASSES, and there is no easy way to tell the difference..
The independent machines are nice and simple, each of the rides has its own machine, and you can get ONE FASTPASS for each of the two rides without affecting any other FP.....
PLEASE NOTE : All times are an example, and should not be a reflection of the time you really get on your FASTPASS
One trick that is important is that the ending time is not important, the CM does check the start time and the date, but they have been told to be very flexible on the ending time, who knows why you have been delayed, you could have been stuck on another ride, etc.... so they almost always never say anything when you show up late with a FASTPASS...
The trick with the independent machines is to get a NEW FASTPASS prior to riding, for example, it is now 11:15 am, and you want to ride Roger Rabbit, before going in the FASTPASS line to ride, pick up another FASTPASS (the window is now open), and you will be given a new Roger Rabbit FASTPASS for 2:10 pm to 3:10 pm, this will allow you to come back later, after 2:10 pm for a second ride on Roger Rabbit, and get a third FASTPASS for Roger Rabbit later in the day.
So, what can I have, PRIOR to even accessing the "networked" machines...
Well, I can have a Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, and a Grizzly River Run FASTPASS.
OK, now to talk about the "Networked" machines, you can have (in most cases) one DL and one DCA networked FASTPASS in addition to the above FASTPASSES...
Once you get one networked FASTPASS, you are not allowed another "networked" FASTPASS within the same park (either DL or DCA) until the earlier of these two events happen...
1. The time window on the FASTPASS becomes valid
2. Two hours have passed since receiving the FASTPASS
OK, lets look at some examples...
It is early in the day, and you go to get a Splash FASTPASS at 9:15 am, the FASTPASS issued to you is valid from 10:20 am to 11:20 am...
In this case, the next FASTPASS would be available at 10:20 am, and that would be the time printed on the bottom of the FASTPASS
But, lets say it is a bit later, say around 10:30 am, you get a Splash FASTPASS, but now it is good between 2:40 pm and 3:40 pm...
In this case, the next FASTPASS would be available at 12:30 pm. (Two hours after the FASTPASS was issued), and the bottom of the FASTPASS would state 12:30pm... there is one additional rule, you would NOT be allowed to get a Splash FASTPASS, you cannot get a new Splash FASTPASS until the window opens at 2:40 pm, but at 12:30 you could get an Autopia, BTMRR, Indiana Jones, etc.....(any networked ride OTHER than Splash)
And one of the most important tricks to maximize your FASTPASS usage is to get a NEW FASTPASS prior to using the current active one, let's say at 11 AM you got an Indy FASTPASS good for 12:35 pm to 1:35 pm, at 12:30, I would head over to Splash Mountain, and at 12:35, get a Splash FASTPASS (say good for 2:50 pm to 3:50 pm), then ride Indy... at 2:35 pm (don't forget the two hour rule), I would pick up an Autopia FASTPASS, then ride Splash.........
OK, so now you can have a Roger Rabbit, GRR, HMH, plus one or two DL networked rides, and a DCA ride...
Another thing to think about is the Single Rider Passes available on Splash, Grizzly River Run, Soarin', California Screamin', Mulholland Madness, and Maliboomer. If you are willing to use Single Rider Passes (Which in most cases are quicker than FASTPASSES, with the exception of Soarin', which in many cases can have a longer wait than a FP)... you won't need to pick up FASTPASSES for these rides, and can use the FASTPASSES on other rides, such as Autopia.
To Sum up the FASTPASS system....
Think of the systems as DIFFERENT, and that there are THREE sets of FASTPASS machines, Roger Rabbit, the DL networked system, and the DCA networked system....by thinking in this manner should help you make the most use out of the FASTPASS system.....