We all know the primary goal of standing in a queue at Disneyland is to ride the attraction at the end of that line. You either have to just wait until you arrive at that sweet seat, or you can use a shortcut and get close to the finish much faster by reserving your time to get into that shorter queue. Disneyland started issuing FastPasses in late 1999. According to Wikipedia, FastPass is defined to, “allow guests to avoid long lines at the attractions on which the system is installed, freeing them to enjoy other attractions during their wait.”
Considered a virtual queuing system, FastPass is the same as getting in line once you claim it but then you can enjoy other activities in the parks until your scheduled time to return.
FastPasses used to be slightly better than they are today. You used to be able to have one active FastPass per park at a time. You used to be able to return anytime after the first return time. As soon as that first time passed, you could go get another FastPass. We had quite the strategy going at that time. We dashed into Disney’s California Adventure as soon as it opened and ran straight to Radiator Spring’s Racers to grab FastPasses. Then we ran across to Disneyland Resort to grab Space Mountain FastPasses. At that point, if the queue wasn’t too long, we’d get in line for Space Mountain. Once our first time was up, we would grab another FastPass for another ride, etc. Very rarely did we stand in any queue for longer than about 5-10 minutes. But we sure did do a lot of running back and forth from park to park! By the end of the day we had collected quite the stack of FastPasses for our favorite rides, and we could ride them over and over again. That was the life.
Then Disney made a couple changes. First they changed the rule to be that you had to come back during the time specified on your FastPass (as depicted on the photo above, “Return any time between 1:40 pm and 2:40 pm”). We had to plan a new strategy. This was cause for more running back and forth between the parks. The final twist Disney made was only allowing visitors one active FastPass at a time. No longer could you have one per park!
Since these changes, we now tend to spend longer chunks of time in each park at a time. Instead of going back and forth, we are more likely to spend 3-4 hours in each park before switching back to the other park.
Attractions at Disneyland Resort that feature FastPass are:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Fantasmic! (show ticket; not available via Disney MaxPass)
- Haunted Mansion
- Haunted Mansion Holiday
- Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye
- It’s a Small World
- It’s a Small World Holiday
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
- Space Mountain
- Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
- Splash Mountain
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
Attractions at Disney’s California Adventure with FastPass are:
- Goofy’s Sky School
- Grizzly River Run
- Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!
- Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Toy Story Midway Mania!
- World of Color (show ticket; not available via Disney MaxPass)
Recently, in July of 2018, Disneyland introduced MaxPass, an enhanced and paid implementation of the existing FastPass system. MaxPass allows you to digitally reserve FastPasses via the Disneyland App. As soon as you enter the park, scanning your ticket or pass, you can begin taking advantage of the MaxPass program. At a price of $10 per person, per day, you get the added convenience of not having to physically get a FastPass. This is pretty awesome because now there’s no need to run across the park first thing to get a FastPass. You can also use regular FastPasses in the normal way. One really nice benefit to the MaxPass program is that you can get a new one every 90 minutes. Regardless if you’ve used your current ones, you can reserve a new FastPass 90 minutes after reserving your last one. A regular FastPass (not reserved with MaxPass) is only available until two hours after you’ve gotten your last one.
We used the MaxPass program during our last trip to Disneyland and we weren’t sure how it would be. The plan was to use it once just to try it out. We loved it so much we ended up using it most every day we were there. You can buy them with your tickets, or opt-in while you’re at the park. Also, you get free use of the PhotoPass program. This allows you to use the park photographers and the ride photos and download them permanently. That is a much better option than holding your phone up to the screens at the end of the rides.
In our way To Disney, one of our biggest goals is to avoid standing in long queue lines. FastPass and MaxPass are the way to go and offer a great way to plan out your days at the parks. Some are of the opinion that adding FastPass to rides that didn’t already have them makes the experience worse. There is some current debate on whether Disney should add FastPass to Pirates of the Caribbean. Since that ride is so efficient, perhaps FastPass isn’t needed there. Disney has installed what looks like Fast/MaxPass scanner stations in the queue area of Pirates. Last I heard they are still waiting to see if they should use them or not.
The best advice we can give you about the MaxPass and the FastPass, to help you know how To Disney, is to pay attention to the following:
- The shows – Fantasmic & World of Color: These FastPasses are different. The usual FastPass rules don’t apply. You can have these passes all day long while having other ride FastPasses.
- Return Start and End times – don’t miss these! They are not flexible on this – especially now that everything is electronic. If you try to go early, they won’t let you in. If you show up late, they won’t let you in.
- Next available time: At the bottom of the ticket it says “Another FastPass ticket will be available after X time”. For the most part, as soon as the first “next available time” hits, you are free to get a new FastPass. As mentioned before, you can collect a new FastPass every two hours (or every 90 minutes if it’s by MaxPass). What this means is that if your FastPass return time is between 1:40 pm and 2:40 pm, and it’s only 10 am, you can get another FastPass at noon. You don’t have to wait until 1:40 pm to get your next one.
- Attractions go down. Use this to your advantage! Shhh this one is a secret…If you return to your attraction during your scheduled time and it is temporarily down, your FastPass is now available the rest of the day! Use it during the busiest part of the day!
If you want to maximize your attraction play, take advantage of MaxPass and FastPass. They are great programs and worth the bit of effort it takes to plan and use.