When my husband and I were dating, he surprised me with Disneyland Annual Passes for Christmas. We remained annual passholders for the next twelve years, and have been hundreds of times. Last year, due to the fact that our kids’ schedules keep us pretty busy, and the ever-rising crowds at Disneyland, we decided to take a break from our passes. We knew we would still visit, but only once or twice a year. Fortunately, as soon as we dropped our passes, my husband was gifted with four single day tickets at a work event. We have held on to those tickets for months. We wanted to wait until we really missed Disneyland before we went back.
Last weekend we woke the kids up early and announced “We’re going to Disneyland!” One child leapt from his bed while the other took a little while to work up to being excited. She’s not a morning person – just like her mother.
As annual passholders, we got really good at gaming the system. We knew exactly when to go (first thing Sunday morning) and which rides to hit first (Space Mountain and Peter Pan) in order to maximize our time in the parks. Since we planned to be in the park for most of the day last Sunday, we knew we would need a new plan.
What is Max Pass?
MaxPass is Disneyland’s new FastPass system which has two features. First, you can get unlimited PhotoPass downloads for the day of your visit. Secondly, you can use your phone to arrange Fast Passes throughout your visit. It costs $10 per person, and you will need to pay for every person in your party who wants to use FastPasses. If you just want the PhotoPass benefits, you can purchase it for just one member of your party, and this is a discount from the previous PhotoPass price, so let’s get a hallelujah for that!
We did a little research before we went and decided we wanted to try out MaxPass. At $40 for our family, it wasn’t a major investment for us, particularly since our tickets were free! For me, the number one selling point was being able to grab a FastPass without having to walk all the way to the ride itself. Paper FastPasses are still available for free, FYI.
How does Max Pass Work?
- Download the Disneyland app and create an account if you don’t already have one.
- Add all of your park tickets to the app. I recommend doing this ahead of time if you have your tickets purchased already, but it’s fast and easy to do if you’re buying your tickets the day of your visit. You can simply scan the ticket with your phone camera and it will be added to your account.
- Once you’re inside the park, you can purchase MaxPasses for everyone in your party. Again, Disneyland makes this easy by allowing you to scan the face of your credit card, so you’re not fumbling with entering 16 numbers while racing to your first ride.
- Start selecting FastPasses!
5. You can create different groups within the app, so if your party splits up, you can all have FastPasses for different rides. This was key for us as my son and daughter have different ideas of fun while at Disneyland.
6.To use your FastPass you can scan your FastPass within the app, scan your physical ticket, or you can send screenshots of the FastPass to members of your party so they can scan those at the kiosk.
But first, a few rules!
- You can still only hold one FastPass at a time with the exception of World of Color and Fantasmic Fast Passes.
- World of Color and Fantasmic FastPasses must be collected in person, and can not be obtained via the app.
When Can I Get a New FastPass?
Typically, you are eligible for a new Fast Pass as soon as the return window for your current FastPass opens, although in some cases, it’s a little later than that as you can see with our Matterhorn FastPass above.
What is a Multiple Experiences Pass?
This is like the golden ticket of MaxPass. If a ride breaks or closes during your FastPass return window, your FastPass turns into a Multiple Experiences pass. This means that you can take those FastPasses to any ride that accepts FastPasses at any time. So, while it’s a bummer when a ride breaks, this can also be a good chance to take advantage of a ride that has a much later FastPass return time, or for which the FastPasses are already all distributed for the day. We ended up with two of these on the day of our trip and I was thrilled to see the balloons pop up in the app.
Is the MaxPass worth it?
In my opinion, the answer to this is YES, particularly for a one day visit. (There is a yearly add-on option for annual passholders, but I think that would be more than I’m willing to spend.) I loved being able to grab FastPasses without having to trek across the park. I also love the option of seeing the return times and planning which rides we would choose next based on those options. This ended up saving us a ton of time, as I would just scroll the app while we were in line for one ride, and make our choices for the next ride. Also, you can grab passes for either park, no matter which park you are currently inside. So you know I felt like a superhero when I managed to pick up Toy Story Mania FastPasses from the Haunted Mansion line!
Keep in mind, $10 per person is a STEAL in Disneyland Dollars. It’s less than two churros and a Coke per person as Misha pointed out!
In addition, anecdotal evidence tells me that the return times via MaxPass were often earlier than when collecting a FastPass in person at each ride.
I think it’s worth noting that by early afternoon, several very popular rides were completely out of FastPasses. I don’t know if they ever open up more passes as time goes on. If there is a ride you absolutely have to hit, I would suggest heading there first or be willing to wait in line later in the afternoon.
I have to say that after skipping so many lines due to our FastPasses, waiting in a couple long lines would be an easier pill to swallow, but there’s also a workaround for these waits. Are you ready for one of our favorite secrets? If everyone in your party is over seven years old, you can use the single rider line. These waits are always shorter than the standby lines. I can almost guarantee you won’t be riding next to someone in your group, because the point of these lines to fill in empty seats on the rides so that they are always full, but that’s really okay! Well, it’s okay with me anyway. I’ll see you in five minutes and then we can go stand in another line together!
A few final tips for MaxPass Success:
- Bring a spare phone charger as you will burn through your battery quickly using MaxPass. (We like the Mophie and the Anker and Jackery.)
- Take a screenshot of your FastPasses just in case you can’t connect to the network to access them. Disneyland DOES have Wifi, but I make no promises about its effectiveness. In addition, data service is spotty in certain areas of the park.
If you have any other thoughts, questions or comments, please leave them in the comments below! We would love for this to become an awesome resource for families considering MaxPass on their next visit!
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