We’ve already seen a flurry of price increases and changes today at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. More can be added to that list, as we have a few changes to MaxPass. In this post, we’ll detail the changes and whether the paid FastPass service is still worth the money.
For those unfamiliar with it, MaxPass is the paid digital FastPass service available exclusively at Disneyland Resort in both Disney California Adventure and Disneyland. Essentially, MaxPass is the West Coast equivalent of FastPass+, but for same-day ride reservations only, with an added fee, and PhotoPass image downloads also included.
Free paper FastPass kiosks remain available as an alternative at Disneyland Resort, meaning guests are not confronted with the Sophie’s Choice of spending money for MaxPass or waiting in nothing but long standby lines. However, as we’ve stressed in our Guide to FastPass & MaxPass at Disneyland, the two services are not equal–MaxPass has a definite advantage…
Let’s start with the good news, which is that Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will soon be added to the MaxPass and FastPass lineup at Disneyland. This was to be expected, and comes shortly after the same occurred at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
It also follows the addition of Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue in Disney California Adventure and Autopia in Disneyland to FastPass and MaxPass. Both attractions are aimed at families with kids, which is a type of attraction underrepresented by the the ride reservation services. We expect more additions like this as Disneyland tries to make MaxPass more appealing to guests with small children.
With the latest additions, FastPass and MaxPass are now available at over 20 popular attractions in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, including Space Mountain, Radiator Springs Racers, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT, Toy Story Midway Mania, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, and Indiana Jones Adventure.
The most conspicuous omissions from the MaxPass and FastPass lineup are now all in Disneyland. First, there’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which is using a different type of virtual queue that results in a daily boarding pass dash right at park opening. Once this attraction is more reliable and operating at full capacity, we anticipate it being added.
Then there’s all of the Fantasyland dark rides, and it’s fairly unlikely that these will ever be added to FastPass or MaxPass. These quaint attractions were all built half a century ago, when Disneyland operated very differently.
There’s barely enough physical space to accommodate the current lines, and it seems highly unlikely that these could be retrofit in such a way to add another line for FastPass returns. (Fortunately, you can knock out all of them pretty quickly with a solid Disneyland Rope Drop Strategy.)
The bigger news with regard to MaxPass is that the price is increasing from $15 to $20 per person per day, representing a 33% jump. In the span of a little over a year, the cost of MaxPass has now doubled from $10 to $20.
The MaxPass add-on cost for Annual Passholders has also increased from $100 to $125.
We’ve slowly become fans of MaxPass and, ironically enough, more vocal advocates for its purchase just in the last few weeks since returning from our most recent visit to Disneyland.
When MaxPass first became available, we opted against adding it on to our Annual Passes (much to the consternation of our friends, all of whom had it). While we knew we could get more done with MaxPass, the upcharge rubbed us the wrong way and we felt fine with how much we were accomplishing via paper FastPasses.
Since upgrading to Premier Annual Passes, we’ve used MaxPass a ton more, and it has been a revelation. The ability to minimize walking, book MaxPasses during midday hotel breaks or while eating lunch, or simply using the refresh method to score MaxPasses that are unavailable via the kiosks were all huge advantages.
We also far prefer early mornings and late nights at Disneyland. Using MaxPass allowed us to do rope drop and then head to Laguna Beach or Los Angeles to relax for the day–booking MaxPasses while there–before returning at night with our stockpile of MaxPasses ready to go.
Of course, this changes the equation. Twenty dollars per day is a lot of money, especially for a family doing multiple days in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
For a party of four spending three days in the parks, that amounts to a total cost of $240 for choosing paid MaxPass over free FastPass. Whether it’s worth the PhotoPass downloads and additional 3-5 attractions per day over legacy FastPass is a tough question to answer that will vary depending upon budgets and priorities.
Walt Disney World fans will be quick to point out that Florida’s digital FastPass+ service is free (…for now…) for all to use. We’d counter that this is an unfair and unapt comparison. You can get reservations for all of the best attractions via MaxPass.
In order to score the “best” FastPass+ ride reservations without refreshing or checking obsessively for cancellations, you need to stay on-site at Walt Disney World, and there’s a significant price premium for that. Much like Disney’s Magical Express or park transportation, the ostensibly free service has a cost that’s built into hotel reservations.
In California, you can easily book an off-site hotel that’s a 10 minute walk from the parks (closer than Paradise Pier Hotel or Disneyland Hotel!) and put the money you saved over staying on-site towards MaxPass. In fact, in terms of strategic advantage, you come out significantly ahead by staying off-site and paying for MaxPass over doing an on-site hotel and using FastPass.
This isn’t to say MaxPass is or is not worth the new $20 per day per person price point. It’s more to illustrate that there are multiple ways to approach a visit to Disneyland, and no direct comparison can be made between the systems in Florida and California. There’s also no one size fits all answer to the question of whether MaxPass is worth it. For those willing to splurge with only a couple of days at Disneyland, probably. If we had to pay the per-day cost (rather than having it included with our Annual Passes), we would not do it. However, we’ve also done all of these attractions countless times, and are more interested in the atmosphere and being there.
Will you use MaxPass now that it’s $20 per day? Even with the added cost, do you prefer this to FastPass+ or would you rather have Walt Disney World’s “free” service? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!