I have a confession to make. I prefer Disneyland to Disney World.
Before you get out your pitch forks, know that I LOVE Disney World too.
But Disneyland has my heart for so many reasons. It’s Walt’s original park. (You can literally walk in his footsteps and sit on the bench where he came up with the idea for Disneyland.) It has Cars Land, my personal favorite. The characters still wonder around to interact with spontaneously.
And most importantly: it uses MaxPass.
Unlike at Disney World, you can go to Disneyland on a whim and almost guarantee you’ll get on all the rides you want without standing in long lines all day.
How is this possible? Because instead of the FASTPASS+ and reservation system, they use MAXPASS. And its glorious!
You can roll out of bed that morning, hop to whichever park you feel like going to that day and make your first FASTPASS selection for any attraction as soon as you walk through the gates. No guessing which park and which attractions you’ll feel like doing months in advance. You can see where the wind (and kids) take you that day and still get the most out of your vacation.
Yes, it costs extra. $20 per person, per day to be exact. But it’s so worth it, especially if you take a few simple steps to really make the most out of that purchase.
What are those steps you ask? Well, get pumped because I’m about to spell it out all out for you.
So read on, follow these 7 tips, and you’ll come back from your Disneyland trip singing MaxPass’ praises too.
What is MaxPass
MaxPass is a special add-on that gives you the ability to make FASTPASS selections on your mobile device using the Disneyland app.
No more hiking from attraction kiosk to attraction kiosk. You just hop on the app, see what return times are available for the attractions, select the FASTPASS you want, and be on your way.
It also gives you unlimited Disney PhotoPass photo downloads from the day. This includes all the character encounters, select dining locations, MagicShots, attraction photos, and more.
This is similar to Disney World’s Memory Maker but is included in the MaxPass purchase. The PhotoPass inclusion is worth the purchase of the MaxPass alone, in my opinion.
By the way, click here to read a previous blog post about maximizing your Memory Maker purchase. Most of the same tips can be applied to Disneyland’s PhotoPass.
Do You Need MaxPass?
Yes! Okay, not really. You can still go to Disneyland and have a fantastic time without using MaxPass.
But your experience will be greatly enhanced using MaxPass. You’ll get on more rides and see more things because you are maximizing your time. And maximizing your park time means maximizing the value of your vacation.
Even if you have young kids, I still recommend getting MaxPass. Some of the rides that use MaxPass don’t have a height requirement, including Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, it’s a small world and Toy Story Midway Mania.
And don’t forget you can now get a FASTPASS for World of Color and Fantasmic using MaxPass.
Even if they do have a height requirement and your child is too short to ride, that doesn’t mean mom and dad must miss out!
There is this great thing called Rider Swap. It allows those who are tall enough to ride the ride without waiting in line twice.
For example, mom and an older sibling can ride while dad hangs back with the shorter kiddo. Once mom is back, she takes over with the shorter kid and dad goes on the ride and the older sibling can ride a second time without getting in the stand-by line again. Score!
How Do You Get MaxPass
It is super easy to get MaxPass. You can either include it in your vacation package purchase or add it to you tickets day by day through the Disneyland app once you get inside the park.
I’m a big fan of adding it to your ticket purchase ahead of time to save you the extra step of purchasing it at the park. You can literally walk through the turnstiles, pull out the app, and make your first FASTPASS selection before you even get past the Main Street, USA Railroad Station.
However, it is important to note that MaxPass is nonrefundable. If you decide you don’t need or want it for all days you have park tickets, or there are technical difficulties with your phone or the app, you cannot return it and get a partial refund.
How To Maximize Your MaxPass Purchase
Okay, now that we’ve gotten the boring stuff out of the way, let’s get down to what you really want to know: how to maximize that MaxPass purchase.
Use your Physical Park Ticket to Redeem Your FASTPASS
You’ve made your FASTPASS selection through MaxPass and are super excited because it’s time to redeem it. Woo hoo!
You head to the attraction and make a beeline for the FASTPASS line. The Standby line is super long and you’re feeling like a Rockstar because you are about to breeze past all these people and get on the ride first.
But which of these scenarios would you rather live out each time you redeem your FASTPASS?
Scenario A: You get to the front of the FASTPASS line, have to fish out your phone from your pocket or bag, find the Disneyland App, open it, open the correct FASTPASS barcode, scroll to it, scan it, then scroll to the next person’s barcode, scan it, and then the next person’s, etc.
Scenario B: Everyone has their physical park ticket in a lanyard pouch around their neck. They flash it at the scanner to redeem their FASTPASS and everyone is in the FASTPASS line and riding the attraction in record time.
Scenario B is the best!
If you use your physical park ticket instead of your phone to redeem your FASTPASSes, you’ll be breezing past all the folks still pulling it up on their phones. Better yet, you’ll be in line and making your next FASTPASS selection during your (short) wait to get on the ride before they are even standing behind you.
Also, if there is a technical issue with MaxPass, the Disneyland app, or your phone is short on battery life, it won’t stop you from getting on the ride. Just pull out your ticket, scan it, and go!
This is a big reason I am a huge fan of having physical park tickets, not E-tickets that print you out a little piece of paper after you redeem them at the gate.
I’m talking the sturdy ones that Disney sells you and that my clients receive in all their vacation packages. They also have fun designs on them and make great souvenirs to include in a scrapbook, if that’s your thing.
Another bonus for booking a vacation package with me is you get a free lanyard and souvenir pin for every person in your party. You can pick them up from the Disney Store in Downtown Disney and a few other locations.
This is the #1 way to maximize your MaxPass purchase and thus maximize your park time. You’ll also save your phone battery, which is extremely important for a full day at Disneyland. Win win!
Pay attention to the time you can get another FASTPASS
One of the biggest benefits to MaxPass is the ability to hold more than one FASTPASS at a time.
After you choose a FASTPASS, the app will tell you what time you can make another FASTPASS selection. Make sure you pay attention to that time! Even set your phone alarm so you don’t forget.
Sounds simple, but people forget to make a new FASTPASS selection all the time. The more FASTPASSes you select that day, the more attractions you’ll get to experience. The happier you’ll be.
Don’t Use the Park WIFI
Disneyland has free WIFI available for use, but I have found when using MaxPass through their WIFI it slows the app down, I get more error messages, and it sometimes shows incorrect information on the park map.
This could vary by phone and cell phone service carrier, but I still recommend using your data plan while inside the park if you can.
Get a FASTPASS for the More Popular Rides Early in The Day
A FASTPASS for Radiator Springs Racers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Toy Story Midway Mania typically go quickly. Make sure to grab your pass for those early on so you don’t miss out.
You can tell when an attraction’s FASTPASS allotment is about to run out. Pay attention to the return times the app is giving you for that attraction. The later the return time, the fewer the FASTPASSes that are left.
Don’t Forget about World of Color and Fantasmic!
Disneyland recently made it possible to get a FASTPASS for World of Color and Fantasmic! through MaxPass. Major benefit to getting MaxPass!
Get one of these as early in the day as possible to guarantee yourself an amazing seat for that night’s show.
Change Your Mind? Return your FASTPASS for Another!
Another benefit to MaxPass over the traditional FASTPASS system is you can change your mind.
Say you get a FASTPASS for Splash Mountain but decide later you’d rather go on Big Thunder Mountain. No problem! Just drop it from your MaxPass selection in the app and grab another one. Easy peasy.
Get a PhotoPass Card from a Disney Photographer
When you have your first picture taken by a Disney PhotoPass photographer, ask them for a PhotoPass card. Then scan the barcode on the card into your account through the app by scrolling down and choosing “Link Photos” under the My Photos section. This will link the pictures you just took to your MaxPass account.
Keep this same card in your pocket or lanyard and present it to all the photographers to scan each time you have your picture taken. Your pictures will automatically sync with your app and it will save your phone battery.
Don’t Forget to Get Your Ride Photos
All the ride photos are included in your MaxPass purchase. To redeem them, look for your photo on the monitors at the ride exit. Take a picture of it using your cell phone, making sure the code on it is legible.
Then simply enter this code into your Disneyland app under "Link Photos" and then "Link Attraction Photo."
There you have it, 7 ways to maximize your MaxPass purchase on your next trip to Disneyland.
Do you have a MaxPass tip? I would love to hear it in the comments.
And be sure to Pin this article for your future Disneyland vacation and share it with your friends.
I am a travel agent with Magical Vacation Planner and can help you plan an unforgettable vacation with your family. Email me, head to my Facebook page, submit a quote request, or set up time to chat if you’d like to start planning your magical vacation.