Earlier this week, I spent a day at Disneyland with my brother, something we do together a few times per year. This time, we decided to shell out an extra $15 each to try the resort’s new MaxPass feature.
MaxPass will be familiar to those who’ve used Disneyland’s FastPass system, introduced in 1999. Like FastPass, MaxPass gets you tickets into fast-moving VIP ride lines if you commit to showing up at an attraction during a specific time slot, usually spanning an hour.
Our verdict? The app is certainly worth the $15 splurge, but it's not perfect.
How It Works
MaxPass, so named because it helps park visitors maximize ride time, turns the cost-free FastPass system entirely digital. The key benefit is that you don’t have to walk all the way to the attraction to get a paper FastPass only to return at a later time to actually ride.
Instead, you just need to download the official Disneyland app on your phone and choose one of 16 major rides. A barcode will appear on your screen, along with an assigned time. When you get to the ride, scan your barcode to enter the fast lane.
Even better, this works between parks: If you want a FastPass for a ride at California Adventure, for example, you can book it while you’re in line for a ride at Disneyland. No need to exit and reenter.
MaxPass could even negate the need to buy multi-day tickets, leaving you with a good deal more money in your pocket than the $15 you spent for the feature. The longest line my brother and I encountered lasted 25 minutes, which meant that we hit every ride we wanted to, in both parks, in a single day.
The MaxPass also includes digital access to any photo of your party taken by a Disney photographer or camera. Those exhilarated faces your little ones make cascading down Splash Mountain? Yours to keep. The same goes for those pro photos of you posing with Pluto.
The main glitch we encountered was that we couldn’t link our tickets together as one party, a basic functionality of the app. When park employees couldn’t fix the problem, we devised a workaround—using separate phones to click the same ride at the same time—which worked fine.
Another consideration for potential MaxPass users is your phone’s battery life. Like most iPhones, my phone couldn’t last a full day at Disneyland without demanding a recharge. I used my brother’s portable charger, but otherwise, my phone would have died in the evening, leaving me without MaxPass access.
It’s also important to note that you can only hold one or two FastPasses at a time. To truly maximize the MaxPass, you need to monitor when you can click through for your next available reservation. Depending on your diligence, you may spend time checking your phone when you’d prefer to be interacting with the other members of your party or simply enjoying the atmosphere.
Still, drawbacks and glitches aside, MaxPass remains a highly worthwhile purchase, transforming your Disneyland experience from a series of extended waits to a ride-fueled rush.
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