Which Disney theme park resort does a better job with its Fastpass ride reservation system: Walt Disney World with its Fastpass+ system... or Disneyland with its Maxpass?
Disney's Fastpass allows visitors to claim a return time to go on a ride or see a show, without having to wait in a long standby queue. But for Disney's next generation of Fastpass, the two resorts now offer different systems for making those ride reservations.
At Walt Disney World, the Fastpass+ system allows visitors to make up to three Fastpass reservations per day in advance of their visit. People staying at Walt Disney World's on-site hotels can make their reservations up to 60 days in advance, while everyone else can book theirs 30 days out.
Ay Disneyland, there are no advance Fastpass reservations available. All reservations must be made on the day of your visit, while you are in the parks. But Disneyland offers a $15-a-day Maxpass upgrade on its tickets, which allows you to use Disneyland's official app to manage your Fastpass reservations. You get only one at a time, but with Maxpass, you can see available return times and claim them with your phone, rather than having to walk to a distribution point inside the park.
The differing reservations windows for Fastpass+ at Walt Disney World has created massive loopholes that some fans have learned to exploit. First, you could simply make a reservation for a Disney hotel stay, book your Fastpasses two months in advance... then cancel your reservation. You get an extra month's head start on hard-to-get reservations without the expense of staying on site.
The second loophole is to book one night at the cheapest location you can find on property, which typically is a campsite at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. You don't cancel the night, but you use it as leverage to get those Fastpass reservations two months in advance. Why is this a loophole? Because Disney ties your Fastpass reservations to the length of your park ticket instead of your hotel stay. If you associate a 10-day ticket with a one-night stay, Disney allows you to make 10 days' worth of Fastpass reservations 60 days in advance, not just the one day associated with your reserved stay.
Disney is now said to be cracking down on the first loophole, canceling Fastpass reservations for guests who cancel their on-site hotel stay. But there's no word yet that Disney is addressing the second loophole, which it could by allowing 60-day advance reservations only for the number of days you are staying on site, regardless of how long your theme park ticket is for.
Disneyland's Maxpass system is much more straightforward. It's first-come, first-served to people who are already in the parks for the day. Whether you are staying on site or not doesn't matter.
Now, from Disney's perspective, offering an enticement to book a lucrative hotel stay can make great financial sense for the company. But the relatively limited number of rooms available at Disneyland means that Disney doesn't have to offer as many extra inducements to keep that resort filled. That's allowed it to offer a simpler version of Fastpass at Disneyland — one that offers fewer opportunities for abuse, or confusion.
To me, that makes Disneyland's Maxpass a better alternative to Walt Disney World's Fastpass+. I'd rather pay a little extra for a system that's easier to understand and to use and that is more fair for everyone. After all, Disneyland's system rewards people who get to the park early... get like the "good old days." Disney World's system is more like a lottery... and one that can be gamed.
(For the record, I get Maxpass at Disneyland through my Signature Plus annual passport, which includes the feature at no extra charge. People who hold less-expensive annual passes can add Maxpass to their pass for $100 a year.)
Regardless of how I feel about the two systems, I am certain that many of you hold deeply felt opinions on the matter. So let's put this up for a vote and open the comments for the debate.Tweet
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