A visit to the most magical place on earth is something many families save for and dream about. We all have fanciful imaginings of skipping through the parks and smiling big at characters. And yes, that can be real life, and Disneyland can be magical.
But you can get much more out of your trip with a bit of planning and advance preparation. Using Disneyland FASTPASS and Disney MaxPass are some of the best ways to make sure you’re not spending all day in lines, giving you time for those skipping and smiling memory moments.
Be sure to read my BEST Disneyland Tips!
And check out my Disneyland posts page to help you plan your trip.
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How Does Disneyland FASTPASS and Disney MaxPass Work?
It’s good to know that there are two different programs you’ll hear about at Disneyland, FASTPASS and MaxPass. My goal is to help you know the difference and know how to use each before you even get in the parks.
Disneyland FASTPASSES are available for free to anyone with a park ticket (and kids under 3 that don’t need tickets). Disney MaxPass costs money and is a method of booking FASTPASS reservations via your phone and allows you to get PhotoPass pictures.
What is Disneyland FASTPASS?
A FastPass is Disney’s way of helping people skip long ride lines. When you get a FASTPASS you receive a “ticket” for a one-hour return time window for that ride. Note, FastPasses used to be paper tickets that were printed out and redeemed. Now FASTPASS reservations are linked to your park ticket and you use your park ticket to redeem your FASTPASS.
Proper use of the FastPass system can save you hours and help you ride more rides. It’s also free to use. MaxPass is not free which I’ll discuss below, but the FASTPASS system is free for anyone with a park ticket.
Disneyland has a full list of what attractions have FASTPASS.
How Do Disneyland FASTPASS Work?
FastPasses are linked to your park ticket. You use your ticket to obtain the FASTPASS and you use your park ticket to redeem the FASTPASS at the ride.
Your FastPass will be valid for a one-hour timeframe. When your time window is valid you can return to the ride and go in the FastPass line instead of the standby line. The FastPass line will be much shorter than the standby line.
The idea is that you can only “hold” one FastPass at a time, and can only get one every 2 hours or so. This does not include the FastPasses for shows like World of Color or Fantasmic. However, you can maximize FastPass usage if you know a couple of tricks.
You can get more FastPasses if you use the current FastPass you have. Perhaps you get a FASTPASS for a time that is only an hour away. You can quickly use that FastPass and run over immediately to grab another or if you’re using MaxPass you can book another FastPass just after entering the line for your current FastPass attraction.
You can also check the next “available” time on your current FASTPASS and make sure to get a new one right after that hold time ends. The default time between FastPasses is typically 2 hours, however, this might be less depending on time and availability.
FASTPASS reservations are limited and will run out. Especially for popular attractions.
Tips for Disneyland FASTPASS
Everyone has to have entered the park (scanned their ticket) to be able to get FASTPASS tickets. You cannot send one person in to get the FastPasses with everyone’s tickets unless everyone has been scanned into the park. However, if some leave for a nap or break, as long as they have activated the tickets into the park once, a runner or manager can keep booking them FastPasses as long as they have their tickets (or are linked on MaxPass).
Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure are linked (they weren’t in the past). If you have a FASTPASS at Disneyland, you can’t go obtain another one at DCA until your allowed time.
Check your FASTPASS for your next available FastPass time and set an alarm. They’re not always 2 hours apart and this strategy can pay off if you arrive early since you can grab multiple reservations through the day.
If you use a FASTPASS, you’re now eligible for another one so book a new one while in line for the current ride.
Have one person get everyone’s FastPasses instead of having the whole group go. It moves much faster this way and can save time.
Everyone in your group needs a FASTPASS, you can’t try to bring another friend or family member in with your group.
If a ride is down during your FASTPASS return window, you can talk to the cast member to ask if your FASTPASS has become a “multiple experiences” FastPass that will work for other attractions. With MaxPass you’ll see that it will be called Multiple Experiences.
If you’re looking for great deals on your Disneyland vacation, look at Get Away Today for their discounted tickets and vacation packages. Use the promo code ‘StuffedSuitcase’ to save $10 on a package.
What is Disney MaxPass at Disneyland
Disneyland also offers guests the chance to purchase Disney MaxPass. It’s an electronic add-on that lets you book your FASTPASS reservations on your phone.
Once you add MaxPass to your ticket you can view available FASTPASS attractions and times and book your time. The benefit is that you no longer need to run around the parks getting FASTPASS tickets.
Your ticket can be loaded on your phone and you can use your phone to scan your ticket at the attractions to “redeem” your FASTPASS. This works well if you don’t want to deal with digging your paper tickets in and out of your pocket or purse, but also means you need to make sure you have strong battery life for your phone. You can still use your paper ticket once you’ve purchased MaxPass in case you prefer not to use your phone for scanning.
MaxPass also gives you access to all your PhotoPass photographs, including ride photos, taken on the day you have the MaxPass. The app will give you a PhotoPass scan code that PhotoPass photographers use when you’ve taken photos with them. If you have a ride photos you’ll note (or take a photo) of the code on your ride image and then input that code number into the app.
How Much Does Disneyland MaxPass Cost?
MaxPass costs $20 per day, per person. A family of 4 will be paying $80 per day to use MaxPass, $240 for a 3-day vacation. Each family member needs to have MaxPass to book FASTPASS tickets that way. If you only want to take advantage of the PhotoPass perk you could have only one person buy MaxPass.
Tips for Using Disney MaxPass at Disneyland
You can purchase MaxPass as soon as you enter the parks with your ticket. You use the Disneyland app to add MaxPass to your ticket. MaxPass can be purchased in advance if you buy your tickets direct from Disneyland.
BUT! FASTPASS reservations can’t be booked until you enter the parks. If you get discounted tickets at Get Away Today you can add-on MaxPass with your ticket price savings. Then you can use MaxPass when you enter the parks.
Make sure you’ve created or logged into your Disney account and have the Disneyland app already installed and ready to go before you enter the parks.
Use your phone to set timers for when your FASTPASS return time is starting as well as alarms for when you can book a new FASTPASS. It might sound a bit extreme, however wise use of your time can easily get you one or two more FASTPASS rides during your day.
It might take a bit of time for your PhotoPass images to show up in your app, but keep your photo codes just in case there is a glitch and you never get the image.
Be sure to pack a portable charger for using MaxPass since you’ll use your phone a lot. We love traveling with our myCharge portable chargers. I have the HubMax and the girls like to use the mini GO models.
These tips for using FASTPASS and MaxPass will hopefully help save you time on your Disneyland vacation. I’ve been to Disneyland many times and hopefully, I’m sharing my best secrets to help you.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer them! Here’s hoping you have a magical Disney vacation!