Saturday, June 15, 2019

Is the Disneyland MaxPass Worth it?


The MaxPass was introduced at Disneyland/California Adventure since we last went. It's one of the changes at Disneyland in the last few years (read about other Disneyland changes here). It’s currently $15 per person per day. We are FastPassexperts, and the FastPass is free, so we debated whether to spring for the extra cost. We are so glad we did. Here’s why.
You can see Galaxy's Edge in the background. The app's listing of our FastPasses. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Benefits of the MaxPass
The MaxPass is part of the Disney app, and provides these benefits:

FastPass reservations: The MaxPass allows you to make FastPass reservations on your phone, instead of having to go directly to the FastPass distribution spot. Typically, our family has a FastPass runner (that’s me), and I run to the chosen ride’s FastPass spot when it’s time for the next one. I hold everyone’s tickets. It’s not usually a problem to physically get the new FastPass within a short amount of time after we’re eligible, but sometimes we’re in line and one person getting in/out of line is either impossible or feels like cutting, so we have to wait until we’re out. With the MaxPass, you do it from your phone. So even if you’re in line, you can get it. Unless you’re entering a ride’s covered area where you may not have internet access (that happened a few times).

MaxPass or not, the FastPasses are now stored electronically on your tickets (if you use MaxPass you also store them on the app, which can be scanned), so you don’t need the paper FastPass tickets. They will distribute those paper tickets at the booths, but they’re for reminder only, not for scanning. So they’re saving paper, which is good.

The app's listing of our FastPasses. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

When you set up the app, you add your tickets (you should be able to scan them with the app, so you don’t have to enter every number), so you can manage your group on there (including meal reservations). Multiple people can do this. Not everyone has to get the FastPass. When you go to select a FastPass, you click which members of your party want the FastPass.

For the first time ever, we got a ParkHopper pass, which allows you to go back and forth between the parks on the same day. The MaxPass was really helpful with that, as you can make a reservation in one park, while in the other. That was a key benefit for us.
If the ride breaks down during your FastPass time, you'll get a replacement FastPass. Here you can choose another.  Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
If you’re not going to use a FastPass, you can cancel it on the app, making it available for others, and allowing you a shorter window of time before getting a new FastPass. That’s probably why a FastPass may appear for an earlier time than expected, and then when you click on it, it has already been claimed and now you only have a later option.

We used the FastPasses first thing in the morning for rides that were immediately available (or within an hour) for the first few, as there was a very short wait to get the next FastPass. Then we started scheduling them further out, because then we knew we’d have to wait longer to get the next one. Apparently the maximum times in between getting another FastPass are shorter for the MaxPass (90 minutes) compared to the traditional wait (2 hours). So there’s another benefit if you’re going to be using the FastPasses a lot, which is what we did.

You can’t book the same ride twice in a row, without having ridden it already. If your ride is not available during your return window, the FastPass turns into a Universal FastPass, which means you can use it for any ride at any time. That happened to us once. It converted on the phone and we got a message about the change. We ended up using it for Space Mountain.



Photo downloads
The other great thing about the MaxPass is that you can get unlimited photo downloads. In the olden days, this unlimited download was $99, then it dropped to $39. Photo downloads includes all those ride photos, as well as any Disney photographer photos. Normally we don’t take advantage of those, but we did with the MaxPass. Not only did we get really nice photos from the rides (rather than me taking a picture of the screen with the number on it), but we sought out the photographer to get family photos.

Guardians Against the Galaxy official photo.
Some of the family photos turned out really well, and it was like having our own photo shoot with different family configurations. We saw a ton of photographers at California Adventure, but hardly any at Disneyland. I’m sure they were at the character areas, but we didn’t go there at Disneyland. We saw one photographer by the teacups (and at the entrance – long line), but otherwise they were not around. Here were the best spots for these photos at California Adventure:

-Carsland by Radiator Springs ticket distribution site
-Carsland by the entrance sign
-With characters (Toy Story, Incredibles)
-The main walkway’s Grizzly Run photo spot (it’s on the right – the Golden State area) – by the waterfall

The official photographer is nearby. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

They scan your MaxPass bar code and the photos appear on the app within the hour. Or they’ll give you a scan card just in case. Also, take pictures of the ride photos, so you can get the number and add them in manually.

If you’re using the MaxPass primarily for the photos, your entire group does not need to buy the MaxPass. One person can do it, and the photographer can scan the buyer’s code or you can just manually enter the number. They are fine with that. Also, you can only get free photos from the day you bought the MaxPass, so if you buy it for one day but are there for two days, you’ll only get free downloads from the purchased day.

We call this lady the Turkey Leg Lady. She insisted on bringing her turkey leg on the ride with her, even though the cast member told her to put it away. She emerged from the ride clutching her dangerous turkey leg in her paw.
The photos live on the Disney app (you can access them from your computer) for a month or two – so download them before they disappear.

Setting up the MaxPass
You can buy the MaxPass when you buy your tickets ahead of time on the Disney site, or on Undercover Tourist, where we got our Disneyland tickets. Disneyland tickets are sold at a slight discount on Undercover Tourist, plus I clicked on my Rakuten (formerly Ebates) link first, and got money back from the purchase. Yes, this is an affiliate link, but I earn money back every year – a $5 minimum for the check to be sent each period, which is easy to earn with online shopping. There’s my ad.

There is no savings for buying the MaxPass ahead of time on either Disney or Undercover Tourist, but if you know you want it, it’s easier to do that. They do not offer refunds. We did not buy the MaxPass ahead of time. It was not a big deal, but once we entered the park and they scanned/activated our tickets, we went to a bench to enter my credit card number in the app to buy them each day. At that point, we could schedule FastPasses – basically from the gate. Apparently you can access the FastPasses as soon as your ticket is scanned in from any official location, so even the Monorail would work. There was a line for the monorail at Downtown Disney, so we didn’t try that.

Whether or not you have the MaxPass, the Disney app will tell you what the FastPass times are, so you can decide what you want to get. We found that getting the FastPass on the MaxPass a little wonky at times, in term of when we were able to get a new one.  Basically, there’s a time listed on the FastPass that says when you’re eligible, but it wasn’t always very intuitive.

This has nothing to do with the MaxPass, but check out the awesome Haunted Mansion cake we got. More details about the Haunted Mansion cake with churro frosting here. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Bring a spare battery or charger for your phone. They do sell rental chargers at Disney, and you can use the charger and then return for a fresh one – I read somewhere that it’s $30. Undercover Tourist has an extensive post on the MaxPass – it’s worth a read.

In our two days at Disneyland and California Adventure over spring break (e.g. peak prices/crowds) we hardly waited in lines. We managed to hit all the big rides – sometimes multiple times – in one day with our Park Hopper, and still had plenty of leisure time. We would definitely get the MaxPass again.

Here are more tips on how to make the most out of your Disneyland trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment