Disneyland California Adventure MaxPass and how to use it

Have you heard of the new Disneyland and California Adventure MaxPass yet? Here’s what you need to know about Maxpass, in order to maximize your time in the parks.

disney maxpass

First, the facts of Disneyland California Adventure MaxPass:

Disney’s optional MaxPass designed to do two basic things: 1. take FASTPASS paperless in the parks, and 2. streamline your PhotoPass experience. Here’s how:

With MaxPass, families can reserve FASTPASS tickets for rides on the MaxPass app, which eliminates the need to run across the parks to get FASTPASS tickets out of the kiosks. I know what you’re thinking…how will we get our steps in now? MaxPass does not alter the way FASTPASS works: you’ll still only be able to hold one FASTPASS at a time (unless you’ve reached the window of time in which an new one is available), and the rides offering FastPass are the same as before.

I tried out the Maxpass system recently, and I did notice a few small changes going paperless. The longest period of time between making reservations is an hour and a half with MaxPass (instead of two hours with paper FASTPASS), and the return time windows are often sooner than with paper FASTPASS.

And if you use MaxPass, you can have your park photos (you know, the ones taken by official Disney photographers) and character photos put directly onto your app account, instead of having to buy them later. (You have until your park tickets expire to download them). You can also scan your ride photos and put them in the app, too.

When I used the app, I had trouble with the ride photo option: it notes that it can take up to 20 minutes for ride photos to appear, but I didn’t get mine until the next morning…hopefully this is just a temporary or isolated glitch.

How to get MaxPass:

  1. Download the Disneyland app.
  2. Enter the park you’re visiting using your tickets.
  3. Open the app.
  4. Tap the circular character icon at the bottom of the screen (it looks like a Mickey).
  5. Sign in to the app with your Disney account (or create one).
  6. Tap “Get FASTPASS”.
  7. Select all family members who want to use the Disney MaxPass feature (if someone is not listed, link their ticket or pass).
  8. Purchase the Disney MaxPass feature (right on the app).
  9. Go to the FASTPASS section and reserve.

MaxPass facts and tips:

  • MaxPass is optional and it’s a paid upgrade. I’m disappointed about this, because I loved that Disney resisted adding paid upgrades until now. It’s $10 per family member. (I’ll get to whether I think it’s worth it in a bit.)
  • The regular (paper) FASTPASS system is still in place. You don’t have to upgrade to MaxPass.
  • You can pay for MaxPass as an add-on when you purchase your park tickets, or later, right on the app.
  • MaxPass is unlike Magic Bands (in DisneyWorld) in that you must reserve your FASTPASSes the day-of, in the parks, not before your trip. You can’t even do it in your hotel room….you must be in the parks (though either park is fine).
  • If some members of your group are using paper FASTPASS instead of MaxPass, you can still link those people to your MaxPass. You won’t be able to reserve FASTPASSes for them, but you can see their schedule and return times.
  • If you have problems with MaxPass, any Guest Service location can run tech support.
  • You’ll want to get the app and register as a user before your trip. It’s a hassle to do in the parks.
  • You can’t get World of Color or Fantastic FASTPASS with MaxPass…just rides.
  • You’ll absolutely need a portable charger to use MaxPass, as it drains your phone! And it takes data, because the WiFi in the parks is simply not adequate.
  • If you have kids who don’t have their own phones, one adult can ‘hold’ their FASTPASSES on their device (but the kids will still need to ‘buy’ MaxPass).


Is MaxPass worth the upgrade? It is, if you answer yes to at least a few of these questions:

1. Your family often changes plans mid-day (you can cancel FASTPASS reservations right on the app and start over).

2. You hate running around to physically get passes.

3. You want to see all available ride and return windows at once (the handy map on the app shows you all this, plus your personal reservations for your whole group). If this is your main ‘want’, simply upgrade ONE person to MaxPass.

4. You often buy PhotoPass photos or ride photos (making the $10 worth it for unlimited downloads).

Tip: I recommend trying MaxPass on one or two phones to start with, and if you love the system, splurging for everyone in your group.

How to physically use MaxPass to get FASTPASS:

Follow the prompts one the app to reserve FASTPASSes (you’ll see a list of all available, plus their return windows). If you already have a FASTPASS, it will not allow you to get another one (unless you’re in the time window).

At your return time, go to the FASTPASS return lane and scan your FASTPASS at the computer kiosk at the entrance to the return line (a Cast Member will be there to assist you). Don’t put your phone away yet, though, because you’ll need to scan it again before loading (just like you have to show your paper FASTPASS twice).

After your ride, your FASTPASS will disappear from the app. In the event of a ride closure or breakdown, you’ll automatically receive a Multiple Attraction FASTPASS, which is good for one ride on any attraction with FASTPASS.

Have you tried the new MaxPass system? Do you like it?