Is Disneyland's new Maxpass service worth the extra price?

August 4, 2017, 3:06 PM · Disneyland last month introduced its new "Maxpass" service, which allows visitors to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to get and manage Fastpass ride reservations via Disneyland's mobile app, instead of having to walk to a distribution machine at (or near) the ride to get a return time.

Unlike Fastpass itself, the Maxpass add-on is not free: Visitors must pay $10 per person per day to add it to a Disneyland Resort ticket, and Annual Passholders must pay $75 to add the feature for the duration of their pass. In addition to providing mobile Fastpass management, the Maxpass service also includes Disney's Photopass service, giving users unlimited downloads of on-ride photos and pictures taken by Disney's Photopass photographers throughout the parks.

So is Maxpass worth the extra money?

Let's start by acknowledging that Disney came up with an awful name for this product. Either Disney didn't have enough women on the team that developed the name, or it's decided that it can live with the incessant "Maxipass" jokes. I guess Turbopass and even Fasterpass were off the table as options, since others had registered those trademarks, but even Fastpass Mobile would have been a better — and more descriptive — name for this service.

If you're a fan of Photopass, Maxpass is a must-get, simply because the new $10 a day charge is less than what Disney had been charging for a one-day Photopass. When does Disney ever cut a price? But it did here, and added functionality, as well. It's a Festivus miracle!

But what if you either don't care about photos, stick with selfies, or are happy to hand your cell phone or camera to a Photopass photographer to take your picture for free, as they are always happy to do? Is the mobile Fastpass management worth the extra $10 a visit?

Of all the upcharges that Disney has offered over the years, I think that Disneyland's Maxpass rates up there with Walt Disney World's Express Transportation as upsells that are most worth the extra cost. Like with Express Transportation, Maxpass allows a visitor to avoid a now-unnecessary hassle that sucked up valuable time in the parks before the new service was available.

To use Maxpass, you must have the (free) official Disneyland app. Then you will need to create an account, log in, and scan or enter the ticket number for each person in your party into the app. You should at least get the app and create the account before visiting Disneyland, and if you have tickets in hand in advance, go ahead and enter that information, as well. You buy Maxpass for an existing ticket or pass through the app (or add it as an option when buying a ticket or pass for the first time), and once it is activated, you use the "Get a Fastpass" link on the app to choose your Fastpass selections for your group.

The app will show you all the available Fastpass return times in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, minus Fanstasmic! and World of Color Fastpasses, which remain "off the grid" and must be obtained in person. In my experience using the app over the past week, I have found many attractions offering return times within 10-20 minutes — about the time it would take me to walk over and get in line anyway. Unlike Walt Disney World's Fastpass+ system, you can make only one reservation at a time with Maxpass. But you can make another one in 30 minutes or upon the start of your return window, whichever is later. And if the start of the return window is greater than two hours, you can go ahead and make your next reservation in two hours, instead.

Keeping track of when you can get another Fastpass is the key to maximizing your value from the system. But with Maxpass and a timer alert on your phone, getting your next reservations becomes ridiculously easy. No more handing over all your tickets to one person to go running across the park when it's time to get another Fastpass. A couple taps on the phone, and you're done.

Also unlike Disney World's Fastpass+, there are no advance reservations available through Maxpass, so everyone starts the day with full inventory available. You don't need to be on Disneyland's wifi network to use the service, but you need to appear to be inside the park to activate it for the day. Maxpass doesn't require you to change your strategy for visiting the parks, but it does allow you to accelerate it.

Before, when a return window opened — allowing you to make another Fastpass reservation — you had to decide whether to go run and get another reservation before heading into the return queue, or riding before getting another Fastpass. Now, you can eat your cake and have it by doing both at once. It's not just that tapping the app to get another Fastpass as you enter a return queue is easy, it's that Maxpass allows you to forget about second-guessing the decision you no longer need to make.

Maxpass allows you to book Fastpass return times on:

And before I forget, allow me to mention one additional benefit of using Maxpass that paid off for our family. One of us dropped his/her admission ticket when exiting a ride. Even though that person (who shall remain nameless) did find the ticket lying on the ground, its loss would not have been as devastating as it would have before, since we'd scanned the ticket into the app. That meant that we could continue to get Fastpasses, and even go from park to park, without having the physical ticket in hand.

So even if you don't spring for Maxpass, do get the app and enter your tickets. It makes losing a physical ticket so much easier to recover from than if you do not take that step.

Again, if you're happy using the traditional, free Fastpass service and not upgrading to Maxpass, that's fine. Just remember if you have not visited recently that you will need to present your park ticket to get into the return queue. Fastpass paper tickets are now just reminders. It's the park ticket that gets you into the return line now. (One more reason to back up your tickets!)

Disneyland has said that the $10 charge for Maxpass is an introductory rate and that the price of the service could rise at some point in the future. However that changes the calculus remains to be seen, but for now, Maxpass is an extra expense worth considering for anyone looking to maximize the number of popular rides they can get on in a single day at the resort.

Rate and Review:

Replies (19)

August 4, 2017 at 3:30 PM · Robert, what do you think the chances are of this coming to WDW?
August 4, 2017 at 3:31 PM · Robert, Do you know if you have to buy Maxpass for the whole duration of your ticket (5 days for a 5-day pass) or can it be bought just for specific days?
August 4, 2017 at 4:28 PM · Have you considered the Annual Pass add-on? Since my SoCal AP will expire in one month after blockout dates are lifted on August 20th, its not feasible. Better to wait until renewal.

The name is nothing new. The same thing was said about Apple iPad. People got over it.

Not being able to get Fantasmic and World of Color Fastpass is a setback. I'll wait to see if they add them to the system later.

August 4, 2017 at 4:33 PM · The website is selling Maxpass only for the duration of your ticket. Buying in the park via the app, I've only had one-day tickets and APs, so I don't know if there is a one-day option on a multi-day ticket. Disney says that Maxpass is "subject to availability" on same-day purchases.
August 4, 2017 at 6:41 PM · Maybe you'll have to visit the ticket booths to inquire about the Maxpass add-on for APs.

"Disney MaxPass for Annual Passholders

Guests who have a valid Disneyland Annual Passport may purchase the Disney MaxPass feature as a daily add-on for $10 through the Disneyland app or as an annual add-on for $75 at a Disneyland Resort Ticket Booth. The Disney MaxPass feature is an included benefit with the Disney Signature Plus Passport and the Disney Premier Passport.
The cost of the annual Disney MaxPass feature cannot be pro-rated for passes expiring in less than a year and expires when your Annual Passport expires."

August 4, 2017 at 7:52 PM · My girlfriend and I will be visiting from Orlando in early January (before the decorations and overlays come down), and I'm heavily considering purchasing this, as we're very accustomed to the convenience and ease of FastPass+. I apologize if you've answered this, but does your entire party need to have MaxPass? Or can one person manage the entire party's tickets?
August 4, 2017 at 8:42 PM · You only get Fastpasses for tickets with the MaxPass benefit, but one person can manage multiple tickets.
August 4, 2017 at 10:02 PM · So I will have to pay the upcharge for each member of my party, but only one person's app is required? Makes sense. Thank you Robert!
August 5, 2017 at 8:05 AM · Does anyone remember the snarky comments about Apple's new "iPad"? Similar to MaxPass, in exactly the same way. If it's a good product, nobody will think of that connection.

Now, if you are using MaxPass on an iPad, that could be a thing.

August 5, 2017 at 9:15 AM · Given that the paper fast pass system is still operating, this seems like just a disguised way of selling more Photopass services.
August 5, 2017 at 11:44 AM · MaxPass sounds good. But WDW's Magic-Band-Fastpass system is better.
August 5, 2017 at 2:26 PM · Once again Disney favors the money spender?! Mo money, mo money, mo money. This stinks and no one can smell it? The king isn't naked he has on "new clothes."?!? Everyone is deaf, dumb and blind? Trust me; I LOVE Disneyland. I've been associated with it for its entire life. But the cost now, for a family of 4 is just unbelievable. No, its not "worth it". It stinks.
August 5, 2017 at 3:27 PM · This is what FP+ should have been. A reasonable upcharge, much less limitation on the amount of Fastpasses a guest can acquire and use in a day, no need to make ride reservations 30-60 days in advance, and (in a somewhat good use of technology even though I hate using my phone on vacation) the elimination of all these paper tickets.

I sure hope this does come to WDW. FP+ is a billion dollar abomination. My wife and I get about half as much done in a park day since it has been implemented. Lines for rides that were more or less walk-ons for years (POTC, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, etc.) are now consistently a 35+ minute wait and rides where we would expect a significant wait of about an hour or so (the Mountains) now have standby lines pushing 2-3 hours. Not to mention that on average, we used to get around 8-12 Fastpasses per day to a variety of attractions and enjoyed wherever that particularly day took us. Reserving specific rides up to 60 days in advance kills the entire feel of freedom and adventure in a park visit.

Most importantly, if the goal was to get visitors out of line to spend more money, I don't see how it could possibly be working. Post FP+ we have been wasting more time on a line and not out spending money than ever before.

August 7, 2017 at 11:42 AM · I take advantage of FastPass when I go but I don’t think of myself as a power user. Today I went with the intention of exercising MaxPass to see if it is worth the additional cost. I think that it absolutely is – at least at the current price.
Setting it up was a little time consuming but it was fairly simple. Once it’s on your phone the app is easy to learn and use. The greatest thing about MaxPass is how it lets you relax. It prevents you from making unnecessary trips across the park to make reservations - and then the trip back to ride. Here’s an example. Consider the amount of time it would take to go from Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin to Toy Story Midway Mania. If you wanted to get a TSMM FastPass, you would need to spend a lot of time to travel all that way to scan your ticket at the TSMM distribution center. Now imagine scheduling those FastPasses using MaxPass for your entire party while standing in the queue at Roger – easy peasy, Mac & Cheesy!
FastPass has been a great system, but with shorter wait times it brought the frustration of running around the park to make plans for the rest of your visit. Now, it’s all in the palm of your hand. There were only two of us so the $20 investment was marginal. I felt it was well worth the price to save us from the need of running around on a very hot day. If your party is larger the price might be more of a consideration.
I know the mouse sees this as a way to charge for convenience but I feel like this ought to be a free service. If I didn’t get PhotoPass with my AP, I’d flip it in my mind and think that I’m buying PhotoPass for ONLY $10 and getting the ability to make mobile FastPass reservations as a bonus. That would be much easier to justify in my mind. Our APs are up for renewal in October and based on our experience I feel pretty sure I’ll be adding MaxPass to our APs. That is contingent on the price not rising significantly.
August 7, 2017 at 2:54 PM · If your staying on property can you start making fastpass reservations from your hotel and does the app open the same time gates open to the park?
August 7, 2017 at 5:08 PM · When is Disneyland going to give an "advantage" to the very lucrative out-of-town visitor?

It's disappointing to see that Disney is offering this service as a fixed price add-on for Annual Passholders. If they want to offer the fixed price upsell then it should be limited to the Signature, Signature Plus and Premier passholders.

For Deluxe passholders Disney should offer a discount , possibly $8-9 per passholder per visit, but not a flat price add-on. They could make it automatically charge a credit card on file when you put it to use.

For the lowest level passes they should charge full-price. Why discount an already discounted service?

Disney needs to learn how to get additional revenue out of their Annual Passholders, while providing additional value to their most important guest.

August 7, 2017 at 8:23 PM · Do you know if this will be available during the Mickey Halloween Party?
August 8, 2017 at 10:32 AM · "When is Disneyland going to give an "advantage" to the very lucrative out-of-town visitor?"

Why do they have to give discounts to one-time visitors? Tourists are going to pay whatever it costs (within reason) to see the sights, so no discounts are needed to make the "captive" audience more accommodated.

I think Disney is merely testing what MaxPass can generate in terms of revenue and how acceptable it is among its users. It does appear that the free PhotoPass perk is likely just a carrot to get the most users to sign up and test the system. At some point I would either expect prices to increase to somewhere above where Disney currently charges for PhotoPass or the PhotoPass perk to be dropped completely from the MaxPass add-on.

This has been Disney's M/O for over a decade now to introduce a new service with wide-ranging capabilities, and then slowly close the loopholes and increase prices right up to the breaking point. MaxPass will be no different.

August 10, 2017 at 12:06 AM · If a ride breaks down or isn't available while you have a Max Pass for it, the pass automatically turns into a any ride pass (even if it doesn't have Fast Pass).

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive