What is Disney MaxPass and is it Worth Getting for Your Next Trip to California?
If you’re a Walt Disney World regular, like me, this service that Disneyland offers can be a bit confusing since we’re so used to booking FastPasses through My Disney Experience. So in today’s post, I’m sharing what Disneyland’s MaxPass system is, if it’s worth getting and how it works.
First is all, I love both Disneyland and Walt Disney World! Although I go to WDW significantly more often, every time I’ve visited Disneyland I’ve been blown away by the experience. It’s such a different feel but it’s a welcomed change of pace. If you haven’t been, I recommend checking it out for yourself :) That being said, if you’ve spent more time at WDW, the processes throughout the park will feel different at Disneyland but in a somewhat familiar way. I personally feel that the vibe at Disneyland is significantly more relaxed probably because there’s much less that you can plan in advance when it comes to FastPasses for attractions, shows and character interactions. I enjoy the day-of flexibility :)
When my sister and I were booking our park tickets, we noticed there was an option to add MaxPass, and since I didn’t know what it was I did quite a bit of digging before purchasing.
But, since there wasn’t a lot of helpful info out there, I compiled the info below so you can make an informed decision to see if this option would be a good fit for you and your party.
What is MaxPass?
It’s Disneyland’s digital FastPass booking option. It costs $15 per day per ticket and you can’t book any FastPasses until you enter the park for the day.
At WDW the FastPass+ service is free. At Disneyland, paper FastPasses are also available for free for any park guest, but you can’t book them on your phone. You have to physically go to a FastPass distribution location for the ride you’re hoping to book. It’s doable to stick with the free option, but it requires a lot of extra work and planning. If you’re only there for a day, you might as well let the app do the legwork for you :) MaxPass is something in addition to the standard service, and allows you to book your FastPasses digitally all day long.
Was MaxPass worth it?
I’ll be honest, I was turned off at first by the fact that we had to pay for this service. But I’m so glad we did! Not only do you get to book FastPasses throughout the day, but you get to download all of your PhotoPass photos from the day as well.
If you’re visiting for only a day or two it’s definitely worth the investment. You can see and do just about everything on your list. We were there for one day only and we ended getting on nine attractions (six of which were MaxPass attractions, three were standby only), watched the Christmas parade, saw a show, meet Minnie, took lots of pics, had time for a nice leisurely dinner and walked around exploring the park as a whole. We didn’t feel rushed and we did everything we wanted to. That’s a big win in my book! I’m sure you could do way more attractions that we even did but that choice to do only nine was intentional for us. We wanted to take in the overall ambiance (while enjoying the best churros and treats on the planet) more than anything after we rode our “must-dos“.
How does MaxPass work?
You book FastPasses at both parks through the Disneyland app and you can book new FastPasses either when the next booking window opens (this time frame is assigned based on the current wait time for that attraction) or directly after you scan into your current FastPass.
Basically, it’s like you’re using the day-of paper FastPass system without having to run to each ride to grab a FastPass. You make the selections on the Disneyland app.
As soon as you enter one park for the day you can book FastPasses for either park if you have a park hopper pass. This is different from WDW because Disneyland’s two parks are only a thirty second walk from gate to gate as opposed to having to take on-site transportation to park hop like we do in Florida. To use your MaxPass to the max (sorry, had to hehe), I recommend getting to the park early even if it’s just to scan in to be eligible to book your FastPass. (TIP- You can enter the park roughly 30 minutes prior to park open at each park which means it’s helpful to arrive 40 minutes before official opening time so you can scan your park ticket at the main gate and book your first FastPass before the park even officially opens.)
(TIP - It seems that California Adventure is less crowded in the morning and gets busier at night. Where Disneyland is the opposite, so I recommend visiting accordingly :).)
There are two ways to book your next FastPass...
1) When you use your FastPass. As soon as you scan in during your return window at the entrance of your selected ride, you can immediately book your next FastPass. I recommend booking it while you’re in line to maximize your options for the day.
2) When your booking window opens again (this aligns with the current wait time/ how popular the ride is). Basically you don’t always have to use your first FastPass before you can book another. It’ll show you when you can book your next pass in the app.
One of the great things about this system is that you don’t have a limit on how many FastPasses you can book for the day. There may be fewer attractions with availability later in the day, but if you hit your must-dos first, you can essentially hop from ride to ride with minimal wait. Since not all rides are MaxPass eligible, the lines for the rides that don’t use MaxPass seem to move quickly because there’s only one line as opposed to a FastPass and/or single rider line feeding into the queue.
All in all, for our one day at Disneyland, a MaxPass ticket add on was totally worth it, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again the next time I visit :) It’s a great way to make the most out of your park experience!! You can enjoy all that the park has to offer while you wait for your FastPass return time instead of being stuck in a standby line all day or running from distribution center to distribution center for paper FastPasses.
If you’ve used MaxPass at Disneyland, what are your favorite rides to book? (I love getting on Radiator Springs Racers with no wait!)