Disneyland's Pass de Deux

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
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Almost two decades after Disney debuted the Fastpass program, the service is about to undergo a two-phase transformation at the Disneyland Resort. The first phase is the welcome addition of two additional rides to the Fastpass system: Toy Story Mania in Disney California Adventure and the Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland.

With this change, the list of Fastpass attractions at each park is as follows, though some are only offered seasonally:

Disneyland

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Haunted Mansion [Holiday]
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
  • [Hyper] Space Mountain [Ghost Galaxy]
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

Disney California Adventure

  • California Screamin'
  • Goofy's Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Soarin' Around the World
  • Toy Story Mania

The second phase launches later this year, and has the potential to change the way you use the Fastpass system. The new program is called Disney's MaxPass, and it bundles the existing PhotoPass product with a still-in-development digital Fastpass tool in the Disneyland mobile application.


The Matterhorn Bobsleds is the latest Disneyland attraction to offer Fastpass; visitors will soon be able to claim Fastpass tickets using the new MaxPass service on the Disneyland mobile application. MousePlanet file photo.

MaxPass includes unlimited downloads of PhotoPass photos taken for each day that the entitlement is valid. It also allows visitors to collect and redeem Fastpass tickets using the app, instead of collecting paper Fastpass tickets.

Visitors can add Disney's MaxPass to their theme park tickets for $10 per ticket, per day. Users can choose to purchase the MaxPass for their entire length of stay, or for one or more days. Annual passholders will also be able to purchase MaxPass by the day, or add it to their pass for the year, though pricing has not yet been finalized.

The standard Fastpass system will still be available at no charge to visitors who do not purchase the MaxPass product.

While this is a change for Disneyland's Fastpass system, this is not the West Coast implementation of Fastpass Plus as some rumors have suggested, nor should you expect to be outfitted with a MagicBand wristband anytime soon. Fastpass may be getting a shiny new digital interface, but the nuts and bolts of the program remain the same.

Unlike the Fastpass Plus system at Walt Disney World (whichs allow users to select Fastpass reservations months, weeks or even days in advance), MaxPass does not allow advanced or off-property planning. It is still a same-day program, with users activating the entitlement for the day that they visit the park. They must physically be inside a theme park to collect a digital Fastpass to use the same day, although MaxPass users need not walk to their selected attraction to claim a Fastpass ticket. A MaxPass user can walk onto Main Street, U.S.A. and claim a Fastpass for Splash Mountain if they want, without ever stepping foot in Critter Country. The MaxPass app also allows users to claim a Fastpass for a ride in the other theme park, so a user in Disneyland could claim a Fastpass for Radiator Springs Racers before park-hopping.


Disney managers test Fastpass portals at Space Mountain in spring 2016. MousePlanet file photo.

Regardless of how users obtain their Fastpass, they are still subject to the same policies. Tickets are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis. In general, users cannot obtain another Fastpass until two hours after they obtain the first Fastpass, or at the end of the return window of the first Fastpass, whichever comes first.

When it comes time to ride, MaxPass users will likely scan a barcode displayed from the screen of their mobile app at a new portal installed at the Fastpass return gate. Paper Fastpass ticket holders will scan the barcode on their ticket to access the return queue. Disney has been testing these portals at various times for well over a year, and recent building permits issued indicate that installation is ready to proceed.

There are still so many details we don't know about MaxPass, and Disney acknowledges that the product is still under development. We don't know whether an entertainment Fastpass like World of Color or Fantasmic can be collected using the app, or whether parents can claim and redeem Fastpass tickets for their children using one mobile device, or if one member of a party can manage Fastpass tickets for the entire party. We don't know if the app will allow you to cancel a previously collected Fastpass if you change your mind, possibly freeing you up to collect another Fastpass more quickly.


The current paper Fastpass system will still be available to visitors who don't want to pay for the new MaxiPass. MousePlanet file photo.

The $10 per ticket, per day price point for day guests is intriguing, if only because that is $29 less than the cost of the Disney PhotoPass+ One Day product currently offered. Setting aside for the moment any discussion of the Fastpass element, it's cheaper to add MaxPass onto one member of the party just to receive the PhotoPass benefit.

As for the Fastpass benefit, it's really hard to say right now if that alone is worth the added cost. Signature and Premier passholders who already receive PhotoPass downloads as part of the price of their annual pass will especially want to look at the final pricing for passholders, and decide of the Fastpass benefit alone is worth the add-on cost.

We will continue to follow any developments about MaxPass as Disney provides more details.

Comments

  1. By olegc

    so I assume that if you use the digital option - that everyone in your party has to have a smartphone - even your 6 year old - in order to get a fastpass for that attraction. Whereas with paper tickets one person can get in line and get fastpasses for the group. I would like to know if there will be an option to scan tickets to the app so you can get Fastpasses for the entire group.

  2. By olegc

    oh and the park's blog announcement stated that the $10 is an "introductory price". It wont be surprising when the price goes up quickly if this is popular - which it will be.

  3. By bumblebeeonarose

    Quote Originally Posted by olegc View Post
    so I assume that if you use the digital option - that everyone in your party has to have a smartphone - even your 6 year old - in order to get a fastpass for that attraction. Whereas with paper tickets one person can get in line and get fastpasses for the group. I would like to know if there will be an option to scan tickets to the app so you can get Fastpasses for the entire group.

    Answered on the blog: they said that you would have to purchase the pass for every member of your party but that one person could manage all tickets on one smartphone.

    This article mentioned that the $10 price was cheaper than one day photopass (which is exactly what I thought). I suppose you could buy it just for one ticket and use it for photos only not using the FP benefit since others in your group would not be able to. It would make for cheap photopass service. That will also mean more people using photopass. I think it's interesting that Disney went with a paid system, and I think linking it to photopass makes sense as it gives the idea of value with the bundle.

    $10 for one person per day doesn't seem bad. But when you consider $10 per person for a family of 4 with a 5 day ticket it's suddenly an extra $200 and that is a lot. This will in some instances create another layer of choosing what to pay for in the way that park hopping does. Park hopping at DL is so easy, but when it costs an extra $40 per ticket many families choose not to pay it. Getting FP on your phone is awfully convenient, but for an extra $50 per person for the 5 day ticket it may be too expensive for some families to justify.

    I'm really interested to see how much MaxPass will cost on an AP as I like the idea of being able to add photopass to my AP without having to purchase the most expensive AP. If it's reasonable I would consider adding it to everyone's pass for the convenience of not running to get FP. But I could take or leave that option really as my husband is a good runner.

  4. By DisneyGator

    Nothing but a filthy cash grab. I think it's time to start looking at WDW again...after my AP expires for DL.

  5. By Dave1313

    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyGator View Post
    Nothing but a filthy cash grab. I think it's time to start looking at WDW again...after my AP expires for DL.

    Not defending it, but at least it's a small scale cash grab.

    This post regarding a new Star Wars "experience" at DHS seems to be very similar to what used to happen during Star Wars Weekends (which were free activities with admission, for the most part), but at $129 for only evening access. (as several commenters on the original DPB write up mention) I bet some people go for it though.

    I'm sure you're just venting a bit, but I'd consider WDW much more in the additional cash grab business for special events or privileges (IMO). Until right before Christmas, there is no such thing as seeing the Christmas parade in WDW without buying tickets to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party after hours. (also - did you see the horrific "cabanas in Tomorrowland" thread a few weeks ago?)

  6. By MonoAutoRail

    There are two minor errors in the article: first, the Attraction at Disney California Adventure is Toy Story Midway Mania!Attachment 9034
    The WDW version omits the Midway. Although the DCA version naming was inconsistent, it has included "Midway" now for many years.

    Second, a Fastpass user at the Disneyland Resort may obtain a second Fastpass for that park when the return time commences, not only when it ends, unless that 15+ year-old condition has changed in the very recent past.

    As others have pointed out, the Photopass benefit either is the main purpose to get a single MaxPass for the day (cheap!), or isn't much of a benefit at all. My family would incur $60 in charges to use MaxPass--far more than the daily cost of non-MaxPass PhotoPass, and nearly the cost for an entire weeks' non-MaxPass PhotoPass. So the question really boils down to paying the money for the added FP convenience. Our last trip was 5 days. We didn't pay the $240 for park hopping privileges, so I doubt we'd be likely to pay $300 for digital FPs, particularly where the Disneyland mobile app already lets you know in real time whether passes are still being issue and for what time at any given Attraction--the key piece of information needed before deciding to trek over to get one.

    As for AP annual pricing, if it comes in under $240 for the year and can be included in the monthly payment, I think lots of APs will snatch it up. How long until APs become like many residential leases--commit for a year, and then it converts to a month-to-month subscription? You never have to decide again whether you will renew--you just keep paying forever.

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