Disneyland’s next generation FASTPASS service, MaxPass, is here. There are some big changes from what Disneyland regulars have been used to over the years as well as major differences from FASTPASS+ at Walt Disney World–not the least of which is the new system costs $10 per day per person. A Disneyland regular walks you through how the new paid Disneyland MaxPass system works and offers insider tips for how to use the digital FASTPASS alternative for free.

Disneyland MaxPass: California Adventure Mickeys Fun Wheel

Disneyland MaxPass: California Adventure Mickeys Fun Wheel Photo credit: Leslie Harvey / Frequent Flyer TravelingMom

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Disneyland MaxPass Basics

In mid-January 2017, Disneyland announced it would make changes to its FASTPASS system. FASTPASS is the old cut-the-line service for some of Disneyland’s most popular attractions. The system required guests to scan their park tickets at kiosks outside a participating ride. The kiosks delivered paper slips with a reservation time when the guest could return to ride via an express line to minimize waits.

The new system, MaxPass, is a digital process that pairs the reservation with a guest’s smartphone. MaxPass also throws in a little bit of a bonus, offering Disneyland’s PhotoPass service, previously sold separately.

Of course, this all comes at a cost. Unlike the previous paper FASTPASS option at Disneyland and FASTPASS+ at Walt Disney World, MaxPass at Disneyland is not free.

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MaxPass finally made its debut in summer 2017 and it is off to a great start, even with the extra cost. As with any new system, there is a lot to learn. Luckily, several of Traveling Mom’s writers – including yours truly – have tested the system so you can make the most of it and find out whether it is worth it for your family.

Staying off-property at Disneyland can save you a bundle. But make sure you know what you will compromise - and what you won't - with these insider tips!

Staying off-property at Disneyland can save you a bundle. But make sure you know what you will compromise – and what you won’t – with these insider tips! Photo credit: Leslie Harvey / Frequent Flyer TravelingMom

7 Things To Know about How Disneyland MaxPass Works

Want to really understand MaxPass so you can take advantage on your next Disneyland trip? Here are 7 things you need to know about Disneyland MaxPass.

1. It’s all on Your Smartphone

MaxPass now allows guests to book FASTPASS reservation times from any location using the Disneyland app on a smartphone. No more running from one ride kiosk to the next booking FASTPASSes.

MaxPass doesn’t work until you have scanned your ticket to enter the park for the day (no cheating!). But once you are in the parks once, it’s all digital and works anywhere, even at off-property Disneyland hotels.

Groups or families traveling together can all book on a single smartphone or break up on to multiple devices for more flexibility. Guests can redeem using a barcode on their smartphones or by scanning their physical park tickets. You can even cancel and rebook MaxPass reservations if your plans change.

TravelingMom Tip: Be sure to take a photo of your ticket numbers and barcodes as soon as you get them. If you are going to pull your ticket out a lot for FASTPASS redemption, it’s easy to lose them!

Disneyland Thrill Ride Guide - Matterhorn Bobsleds

Matterhorn was one of two new rides now offering FASTPASS.
Photo credit: Leslie Harvey / Frequent Flyer TravelingMom

2. MaxPass is a Same Day System

Unlike Walt Disney World, where insiders know to book Fastpass+ 30 or 60 days in advance, Disneyland is a locals park. That means a lot of last minute vacation planners. The MaxPass system reflects that; it is a same-day system. There’s no need to stress about pre-planning MaxPass weeks or months before your Disneyland vacation.

3. MaxPass is Not Free

For guests used to Disneyland’s previous free system or Walt Disney World’s FASTPASS+, this fact might come as a bit of a shocker. MaxPass costs $10 per person per day for anyone ages 3 and up. As you can imagine, for a family on a multi-day Disneyland trip, this additional cost can really add up.

Of course, MaxPass comes with additional perks that the old system didn’t have so you are getting quite a few extras for your money. Most notable among these is PhotoPass which is entirely included in the MaxPass cost. PhotoPass is a great way to get the entire family in photos plus get your character dining and ride shots from your Disney vacation.

Disneyland Maxpass - Matterhorn Fastpass

The addition of FASTPASS to the Matterhorn was an early step towards Disneyland MaxPass.
Photo credit: Leslie Harvey / Frequent Flyer TravelingMom

4. MaxPass Is Entirely Voluntary

But never fear – if MaxPass is too big for your budget or you do not feel like you can get value out of it, you are in luck. You can still get FASTPASS reservations for free! You just have to do it the old-fashioned way–by running from one ride kiosk to the next and making a reservation for each ride in person. You’ll no longer get and redeem paper slips as Disneyland offered in the past. Instead, simply scan your park ticket or annual pass for confirmation. Later, you’ll use either of these options to redeem FASTPASSes when your ride reservation time arrives.

Disneyland MaxPass - Paper Fastpasses

FASTPASSes (now in digital form tied to your park ticket) are still available. Unlike MaxPass, the digital FASTPASS system is still free. 
Photo credit: Leslie Harvey / Frequent Flyer TravelingMom

5. Things Have Changed a Bit for Annual Passholders

The highest-level passholders -Disney Premier Passports and Signature Plus – get MaxPass for free, just as they previously received Photopass privileges with their passes. In the past, Signature passes also included Photopass. No longer for new passholders. And Signature passholders now have to purchase MaxPass like anyone else.

As for all other passholders, a MaxPass add-on is available for $75 for the remainder of the pass duration. Single day options at $10 are also available. If you have an Annual Pass up for renewal soon, the single-day pricing may save you money!

6. Disneyland WiFi Can Be a Challenge

Disneyland superfans know that the big elephant in the room for a smartphone-based FASTPASS system is the unreliability of WiFi in the parks. No matter what cell phone provider you have, cell data service in the parks in Anaheim is spotty at best. For quite awhile, the Disneyland app was simply unusable in places for many guests.

Disneyland now has WiFi hot spots in strategic spots in both parks. Unfortunately, the system is unreliable. Disney has made no definitive announcements about parkwide WiFi or improvements to the system. Here’s to hoping the system continues to improve because it’s the only chink in the armor I noticed.

7. MaxPass Is Totally Worth It – For Most Guests

Of course, the major question that guests want to know is whether MaxPass at Disneyland is worth it. Having used the system personally, I would say that it is for the majority of guests. If you want to do any of the major thrill rides, MaxPass saves major time and energy. Now that I’ve experienced not having to run from kiosk to kiosk, I’m not sure I can ever go back.

Unless you are a family with small kids who aren’t going to ride most of the rides offering FASTPASS, I would try to budget for the extra cost, even for a day or two of your Disneyland vacation.

The system is even more valuable on busy park days. Disneyland has had trouble with overcrowding the last several years as visitor attendance has spiked. MaxPass offers yet another way to beat the Disneyland crowds. It offers occasionally superior return times to the regular digital system. It also allows guests to have the flexibility to change and cancel plans to adapt to their own needs or simply to adjust to crowd challenges on the fly.

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Have you used MaxPass at Disneyland yet? Did you find it to be a good value? 

Disneyland MaxPass, Disney's nextgen FASTPASS system, has arrived. Tips, tricks, and insider information on MaxPass to help plan your next Disneyland vacation.