One of the things I like best about Disneyland is its laid-back feel. Compared to the crowds at Walt Disney World, Disneyland park goers seem more relaxed. This may be due to the California atmosphere and attitude, or the fact that locals with annual passes don’t need to rush to enjoy attractions. Either way, we appreciate the feel of the park each time we have visited.
About five years ago, Walt Disney World introduced their Magic Bands and digital FastPass selections. While we enjoyed the Magic Bands on our trip, getting some of our ride selections (right when the Mine Train ride and Anna/Elsa meets were hours-long waits) was stressful. I had to keep checking back for any openings, let alone times we wanted. It worked out in the end, but still took a lot of time.
On our first and second trip to Disneyland, we enjoyed going back to the “old” FastPass routine: putting in your ticket at the FastPass kiosk and getting a ticket with a return time. Deciding when to get a FastPass based on current crowds and wait times worked for us. When on our trip last year we heard about MaxPass, we were a little upset. Anything to potentially ruin our Disney enjoyment is a big ‘no’ from us.
What is MaxPass?
MaxPass is Disneyland’s version of digital FastPass. At Walt Disney World, digital FastPass selections are free. MaxPass is an additional cost of $10 per day per person. Over our trip, it would have added an additional $160 to our trip cost. BUT MaxPass also included access to PhotoPass pictures for that day. At $10 a day (if only I added it), we’d save over the cost of a standalone PhotoPass.
How does it work?
In addition to the PhotoPass and ride photos, MaxPass allows visitors to make FastPass selections from their phones. It only works when you are physically in the park. But if you have a Hopper ticket, you can make selections for either park (as long as you are in one). Unlike the paper FastPasses, it’s not necessary to visit the individual ride kiosks or run from park to park getting the passes you want. It’s also possible to see the return times on your phone, so it’s easier to plan your day as it develops.
Right now, guests can get a new FastPass after the ride’s FastPass window has opened OR two hours from the pulling of the pass (the return times of popular rides can be pretty far out). With MaxPass, the new pull time is shortened to 1 1/2 hours. This can potentially increase the number of passes you are able to schedule.
Not everyone in your party needs to purchase MaxPass. It’s also possible to make different selections for different members of your party.
What was our experience?
Ultimately, we decided that I would purchase MaxPass each day in order to access our PhotoPass pictures. If it seemed the parks were incredibly crowded and MaxPass was necessary, we would add it to the other tickets.
We only needed to take advantage of MaxPass on our final day in the parks. Between the start of the holiday season, Veterans’ Day weekend, and the Avengers race weekend, the parks were hopping. By that last day we had experienced everything we wanted to, with the exception of the Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World. Activating MaxPass allowed us to book it to Haunted Mansion at rope drop as I secured FastPasses for It’s a Small World while we ran. We got a 10 am return time (9 am park opening). IASW had reopened the night before, but it kept breaking down and lines that night were about 2 hours! It’s one of my top three favorite rides, so I was taking no chances of missing it.
Our last day was a shortened day, so MaxPass really helped us maximize our rides. The other days (when only I had it), the app was helpful in helping me determine the current return times for different rides.
Why was I so worried?
The added cost made me unhappy since FastPass is included in regular park tickets. I was worried it would be difficult to pull regular FastPasses (it wasn’t). And, any change in our normal Disney enjoyment makes me nervous. Disney is expensive and I don’t like anything to get in the way of our magic.
I really liked how easy it was to use MaxPass and that it made our touring easier and more flexible. I would absolutely keep adding it for me in order to access our PhotoPass pictures. But, with the added cost, I’d only add it to every ticket if absolutely necessary. I would love if they offered a combo hopper/MaxPass ticket for something like 50 per ticket. It would make it seem like a better value, when we’d probably only save about $20. It’s just nice to pay one time and not feel like we keep adding costs as we go.