Breaking Disney News: The first stage of Disneyland’s next generation FASTPASS service, MaxPass, is here as of June 21, 2017. Find out how the new digital FASTPASS system works. Plus, details on what will be coming next when Disneyland MaxPass is fully implemented later this year.
If you’re headed to Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 2017, big changes are already afoot for the Disneyland FASTPASS system. Ever since Walt Disney World unveiled FASTPASS+ at the end of 2013, the rumor mills have been abuzz about what Disneyland would do with FASTPASS. Would Disneyland also go electronic? If so, would Disneyland implement its system differently?
In mid-January 2017, many of those questions were answered. Disneyland announced its plans for a revision to FASTPASS called MaxPass. MaxPass would combine smartphone driven FASTPASS reservations with a little bit of the PhotoPass service now offered separately. This unique system for the California parks seemed to work better for locals and weekenders on shorter trips.
As of late June 2017, MaxPass isn’t here yet. But Disneyland has made the move to a digital system that indicates its arrival is likely coming soon. Here’s what we know so far.
Early Implementation: What Disney Has Done So Far
1) New Rides Offering FASTPASS
Disney’s first steps to bringing MaxPass to Disneyland involved bringing two very popular rides into the FASTPASS system. In April, two rides that had previously not offered FASTPASSES – the Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland park and Toy Story Midway Mania in Disney California Adventure – were added. Early reports were that both were working well. This change, however, has had the effect of increasing wait times for the rides in the standby lines.
2) Disneyland Goes Digital
On June 21, 2017, Disneyland took even more significant steps towards the implementation of MaxPass in moving to a digital system. This new system ties your FASTPASS reservation time to your park ticket or annual pass. Under this transition system, you still go to the FASTPASS kiosks at each ride and insert your ticket or pass. Instead of a FASTPASS being distributed, however, you get a “reminder” slip with your return time. When it is time to ride, you scan your ticket to redeem the FASTPASS. Handing over the reminder slip is not needed.
Early users have pointed out a few possible downsides to this digital interim system. It means more times you have to pull out your ticket or annual pass and risk losing it. Families who split up to ride different attractions will have to make sure to each take their own tickets with them.
With something so new, the details still are not all entirely clear. Some guests reported still being able to scan the barcode on the FASTPASS reminder slip to access the FASTPASS line. Your miles may vary. Ideally, this system is supposed to work for Annual Passholders who have their AP barcode on their smartphone app, but early reports are that this feature is not yet working either. These kinds of details will certainly be evolving.
What We Know About Disneyland MaxPass (Coming Soon)
The full MaxPass system moving this process to smartphones is still weeks or maybe even months off. Thanks to the new digital Fastpass implementation and Disney’s own announcements, we have some details about how it will work in the end. Here is what we know so far about Disneyland MaxPass.
1) Prepare to Pay
Unlike FASTPASS+ at Walt Disney World, you’ll need to pay for the privilege of MaxPass. MaxPass will cost $10 per person per day (children under age 3 won’t need to pay since no ticket is required).
What bang will you get for your buck? The most obvious is the convenience of booking same day FASTPASS reservations in the Disneyland app. If you’ve been to Disneyland before, you’ve probably experienced the process of having to send a runner in your group to the various paper FASTPASS machines located in front of each ride in order to make a FASTPASS reservation. You will now be able to do that from the app while in the park. Disney has said that one person can manage the reservations for an entire group on a single device.
The other benefit for the money is that MaxPass will include unlimited PhotoPass downloads.
2) MaxPass Will Be Entirely Voluntary
If you still like and use the old FASTPASS system at Disneyland, you’re in luck. You can still get FASTPASS reservations under this system without paying for the privilege of using MaxPass. MaxPass doesn’t change the rules under which the FASTPASS system works (same day reservations, one FASTPASS at a time, etc.). Instead, it just offers a second electronic method of accessing the existing system. Most likely, however, those little paper tickets will be gone forever. These new Fastpasses will be tied to the barcode on your park ticket or Annual Pass.
Similarly, if you like the old PhotoPass service, it appears Disneyland will continue to offer PhotoPass products without having to opt into MaxPass.
What We Don’t Know Yet About Disneyland MaxPass
1) How MaxPass Affects Annual Passholders
Currently, certain higher level signature annual passes at Disneyland come with included PhotoPass offerings. Disney has not yet announced whether discounts for MaxPass will be available to APs to account for the fact that they already pay for PhotoPass or whether some other AP pricing structure will be available entirely.
2) How Disneyland WiFi Will Handle it All
The big elephant in the room for a smartphone based FASTPASS system at Disneyland is WiFi in the parks. No matter what cell phone provider you have, cell data service in the parks is spotty at best, making the app currently unusable in places for many guests. Disneyland has been experimenting with WiFi service all spring and early summer this year, but it has been unreliable and guests have reported notable dead spots. Disney has made no definitive announcements about WiFi quite yet so we will have to wait and see.
3) How Crowds Will Change
Disneyland has had some trouble with overcrowding the last several years as visitor attendance has spiked. Certain walkways, particularly in Disneyland park where thoroughfares were built to accommodate smaller crowds decades ago, can get choked on peak periods on peak days. With more rides offering FASTPASSES and keeping people roaming the parks instead of in line, what remains to be seen is how these FASTPASS changes will affect crowding.