FASTPASS: A pass any Disney Park Goer can get and use while in the park. This pass allows you to go in the FASTPASS line, cutting off a major portion of the line which then helps you get to the ride faster. FAST...PASS get it?
Not every ride has a FASTPASS. Here are the rides that do...
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
In Disney's California Adventure:
Goofy's Sky School
Grizzly River Run
Radiator Springs Racers
Soarin' Over California
Tower of Terror
World of Color
I'm not sure about other Disney Parks, this is only info for Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.
These rides have a spot designated for FASTPASS Distribution. Each one is themed for the attraction, and there is always a Disney worker there to help you if needed.
All you need is your Park Ticket...
Slide it in, and Ta-Dah! Out pops a FASTPASS...
The FASTPASS will tell you when you can come back to the attraction and enter through the FASTPASS line.
It will also tell you when you can get another FASTPASS ticket down on the bottom.
This is where the 'Runner' comes in...
Runner: a person in your group that is in charge of all the Park Tickets and FASTPASSES. This person takes special care in learning when new FASTPASSES are available and even though the group is headed to the FASTPASS line at (ex.) Splash Mountain, if your FASTPASS says it's time to get another ticket, you run to whatever attraction you want to do next to get more FASTPASSES.
Our family establishes a 'Runner' for the day. And we get to ride the 'long-lined' rides countless times a day.
Note: You CANNOT get a FASTPASS for someone who hasn't entered the park for that day.
For Christmas, we had a Family Reunion with 17 peeps! I wanted to get Racer FASTPASSES over in Disney's CA Adventure, half of the group was in Disneyland, and there were still a couple coming from the Hotel on the bus. I could only get FASTPASSES for everyone who was already somewhere in the park...even though I had those couple's Park Tickets, I couldn't get them a FASTPASS because they weren't there yet...make sense?
The 'Runner' has a big responsibility, they have to be a good multi-tasker, and not lose everyone's Park Tickets especially...that would be tragic. :)
So, when choosing a 'Runner'-handle with care!
In December, the line for the FASTPASS Distribution for the Racers started at Disney Junior Onstage and ended over by Bug's Land. It was long! (But seriously, worth it.)
The one-hour return window moves forward throughout the day, and it moves forward in five-minute increments every time a certain number of FASTPASSES are distributed. So, you could miss out on a FASTPASS, if you wait too long.
I went to get one right after Disney's CA Adventure opened, and our hour return window wasn't until 4:00 that afternoon!
Even then, the FASTPASS line was still a 40 minute wait, but again helped...the regular entrance was a 2 hour wait. :)
Also good to remember that World of Color FASTPASS Distribution is over by Grizzly River Run, and you can still get FASTPASSES throughout the day after receiving this ticket.
(images and information from Google and my own experience) :)