A Crash Course on Disney's Fastpass and MaxPass

A Disney vacation is a huge event for many people. Some people have been planning their dream trip to Disneyland since they were children themselves, and others want to make sure their kids have the best time possible. But when 50,000 people are trying to live the exact same dream, at the exact same time, on the exact same day, those lines can get long. That’s why Disney originally implemented the FastPass program. And to further streamline your Disney vacation, the parks have continued to develop and evolve the program, allowing people to make the most of their vacations and see all the attractions they want to see. So how does it work?

While the FastPass program has gone through several iterations since its inception, the basic concept has remained the same: guests can check in at certain attractions and, instead of standing in line to get on the ride, they can wait in a virtual queue and return at an assigned time to jump to the front of the line. The guest still has to wait for the ride, but they don’t have to stand around in a line while they wait. Instead, they can visit other rides, grab a bite to eat, or just take a break out of the sun. When guests scan their tickets, they will receive a slip of paper with a reminder of the time they can come back to skip the line. That slip of paper isn’t a ticket, though, and it’s not necessary to keep it. It’s meant only as a reminder of the time they need to return. To actually get into the ride, they’ll need to scan the ticket they used to get into the park. (This ticket might be on their cell phones. If so, make sure to keep your battery charged!)

FastPass+

Fastpass Disney World

One of the changes Disneyland and Disney World have made to the FastPass in recent years is the addition of FastPass+. This is a program that allows guests to not only grab a pass to skip the line, but to actually reserve a spot for themselves before ever stepping foot into the park. The FastPass+ service is a free part of admission to the park, whether you’ve purchased a deluxe resort package or have found a deal on some discount Disneyland tickets for your family, though guests with a reservation at a resort hotel can make reservations up to 60 days before the date they will actually be visiting the park. Other guests can begin making reservations up to 30 days in advance. Each guest can have up to three FastPass+ reservations each day, but they all have to be within the same park. Once they use one of the reserved FastPasses, they can go to a designated kiosk inside the park and reserve another. Each ride only has a limited number of FastPass+ reservations available, though, so once all of those slots have been spoken for, FastPass+ won’t work for it. You can still use the normal FastPass system to ride, though, by going to the ride’s entrance, scanning your ticket, and coming back at the time it assigns you.

MaxPass

MaxPass Disneyland

Starting this summer, Disney added a premium addition to the FastPass for visitors to Disneyland, called the MaxPass, for an additional $10 per visitor. (MaxPass is currently not available at Disney World.) Normally, to get a FastPass (aside from the FastPass+ reservations), visitors need to go to the entrance to the rides and shows they want to visit, scan their ticket, and receive an assignment of when to return. With the MaxPass, however, guests don’t have to trek all the way to the ride entrance. Instead, they can use the Disneyland app to check in from anywhere inside either Disneyland or California Adventure. Often, MaxPass return times will also be shorter than regular FastPass times.

In addition to letting guests check in for FastPasses on their phones, MaxPass also allows guests to download their professional photos from around the park for free, as well as the photos taken on certain rides like Splash Mountain. Just remember to download them the day they were taken. (If you have an annual pass, you can download them any time before your annual pass expires.) You can download the pictures by using the Disneyland app to enter the photo identification number from the screens displaying the photos as you walk out of the ride area.

Even if guests have already purchased their tickets, they can add MaxPass to their admissions by logging into their account and purchasing the upgrade for $10. The pass must be purchased for each admission, and each is good for only one day. Season Pass holders can upgrade their passes to include MaxPass for $75 for the entire season.

How to Use MaxPass

To reserve rides from your phone using Disney’s MaxPass, follow these simple steps:

  1. Download the Disneyland app onto either an iOS or Android smartphone and log in to your account.

  2. Make sure your ticket(s) are linked to your account by going to the “My Tickets” tab and scanning them in.

  3. Select FastPass from the home screen.

  4. Choose either Disneyland or California Adventure—you can reserve FastPasses in either, as long as you are inside one of the two.

  5. Select the attraction you want to visit. It will display the next available time. If that time doesn’t work, you’ll need to select a different attraction.

That’s seriously all it takes. Once you confirm your FastPass selection, the app will display how long you have until you can reserve another FastPass. You can only have one FastPass reserved at a time, and you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can reserve another. Keep in mind that while you can get FastPasses for shows like Fantasmic! and World of Color, MaxPass can only be used for rides. Shows will require you to use the paper FastPass system. Also, remember that once you’ve reserved a FastPass on your phone using MaxPass, you don’t need to scan your phone to get in. Because your Disneyland app is connected to your tickets, you can just scan your regular tickets to use your FastPass reservation. If you’ve already got a FastPass reservation, but decide you would rather cancel that reservation and get a new reservation for a different ride, you can also do that via the Disneyland app.

A Few Final Words

One thing to keep in mind is that the Disney parks are very clear that FastPasses aren’t always available for every ride. They only reserve a few openings in each time slot, and when those reservations are gone, that’s it. Each person in your group who is riding has to have their own reservation, so you can’t just have one person get a reservation and then expect your entire party to be able to ride. Make sure to keep your admission tickets with you all day, because they will be required for you to use your FastPasses.

Crowds are basically a guarantee when you visit Disneyland, but with the right planning, you and your friends and family can still enjoy all of the rides and attractions you want. Just remember to plan your routes, get your FastPasses early, and take advantages of days outside of the parks’ peak times. When you do that, it’s just as good as wishing on a star, and you’ll get the same result: “Your dreams come true.”