Disney MaxPass: Is It Really Worth It?

(Last Updated On: October 25, 2018)

Disney MaxPass may seem worthwhile at first. It includes Disney Fast Pass and unlimited photo ops. But is it really worth it? That’s a question I was determined to answer during our first-ever Disneyland vacation. After all, I know that Disneyland is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many of our readers so you deserve to have the best possible trip the first time around.

What is the Disney MaxPass?

The Disney MaxPass is an optional feature that allows guests to do two things. First, you can book FastPass reservations for popular attractions right from your phone. Second, you will receive unlimited downloads all of Disney PhotoPass photos from rides and professional photographers.

How much is a Disney MaxPass? It’s just $10 per person, per ticket, per day! Annual Passholders can purchase an annual MaxPass for $75 per year.

I assumed most of the value was in the Disney Fast Pass… but I was wrong.

Don’t get me wrong – Disney Fast Pass is an awesome service. I love being able to quickly board the ride at a specified time instead of waiting in endless queues.

However, I learned an awful lot about the Disney Fast Pass service during our trip. I quickly learned that paying an extra $10 per person per day ($70 per day for our crew) just wasn’t worth it.

Disney FastPass is a FREE service. You don’t have to pay for it.

That’s right! I was not aware of this when we first arrived at Disneyland, but the FASTPASS service is free to use! Anyone can use it without having to pay for it.

The only advantage to paying for the MaxPass is that you are able to book your reservations on your phone instead of visiting the actual attractions. You’ll get the same reserved time as the people who physically walk to the ride to pick up a return time but you won’t have to walk to the attraction.

Disney Fast Pass is available on the following rides:

  • Disneyland
    • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
    • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
    • Fantasmic!
    • Haunted Mansion (inc. Holiday)
    • Indiana Jones™ Adventure
    • “it’s a small world” (inc. Holiday)
    • Matterhorn Bobsleds
    • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
    • Space Mountain (inc. Ghost Galaxy)
    • Splash Mountain
    • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • Disney California Adventure Park
    • Goofy’s Sky School
    • Grizzly River Run
    • Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
    • Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark
    • Incredicoaster
    • Radiator Springs Racers
    • Soarin’ Around the World
    • Toy Story Midway Mania!
    • World of Color

This still seemed worth it to me, so we went ahead and purchased seven MaxPasses for our crew. That’s right, folks. We spent $70 on Disney MaxPasses for a single day. It seemed worth it at the time – and, at the very least, I wanted to be able to provide an honest, experienced review for all of you.

The best part of my MaxPass experience didn’t have ANYTHING to do with the MaxPass at all…

The first ride we booked was for the new Incredicoaster on Pixar Pier. It was an incredible ride. We didn’t have to wait in any lines because the FastPass was boarding immediately. I booked the ride from the front gate, raced to the Incredicoaster and boarded immediately. We even had front-row seats! All this within 15 minutes of arriving at the park.

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Sounds great, right?

Except… we would’ve had the exact same experience without the MaxPass. We could’ve walked straight to the Incredicoaster and boarded immediately. The reservation time I would’ve picked up at the exit would’ve been the exact same time I booked on the phone app. There would’ve been literally no difference without the Disney MaxPass.

The FASTPASS system fills up quickly and has long mandatory waits. You may only be able to make one reservation – or none at all.

It is astounding how quickly the FASTPASS reservations are claimed. We saw several rides that had seven to eight hour wait times for Disney Fast Pass reservations. Rides like Guardians of the Galaxy, Radiator Springs Racers and the Incredicoaster were the worst.

When all the Disney FastPass reservations sell out, no more are made available. That’s why the app states that guests are “strongly advised to check the day’s FASTPASS ticket availability and other Park details before purchasing Disney MaxPass.”

On our first day, there were no passes available whatsoever and a cast member advised us not to buy the pass. We checked with Guest Relations in City Hall before purchasing our passes which saved us a lot of money and disappointment!

On our second day, we arrived early, purchased MaxPasses and had a lot of issues with it. You can only book one FastPass at a time and you’ll need to wait quite a while (up to two hours) between reservations. Book the rides you care about most first because the passes could sell out before you can make a second reservation!

If you’re an Android user, there are “known issues” with the app that can cost you a lot of time to resolve.

Immediately after exiting the Incredicoaster, I was furious because all the FastPasses for every attraction in both Disneyland and California Adventure had been booked solid. There were no FASTPASS reservations remaining on the app at all and it was only 12:30 pm on a Monday!

I fumed about this for about 20 minutes until I realized that my sister-in-law and parents-in-law could still see Disney Fast Pass options in both parks. I went directly to California Adventure’s Chamber of Commerce to find out why.

It turns out that Disney is already aware of a “known issue” with the Disney MaxPass app. This problem occurs sometimes on Android devices. Nobody knows why but they are aware of the issue. They were not, however, aware of a solution.

I wasted an hour and a half in the Chamber of Commerce trying to figure out this problem. Someone eventually figured out that somehow my ticket had malfunctioned and had to be replaced. As soon as my ticket was replaced, the problem was resolved and we were able to use the app normally again.

By the time we finished working on this issue, the park was filling up and many of the attractions I had hoped to ride had long wait times. It was very frustrating.

So… if you’re an Android user and you experience a Disney MaxPass glitch, here’s how we resolved it:

  1. Uninstall the Disneyland app.
  2. Re-install the Disneyland app.
  3. Create a new user account and log in.
  4. Link one ticket.
  5. Test the MaxPass system. If you can see the open reservations, that ticket is functioning normally.
  6. Link another ticket.
  7. Test the MaxPass system. If you can’t see the open reservations, the ticket you added in the previous step is the problem and needs to be replaced. If it works, continue to the next step.
  8. Repeat steps 6-7 as many times as needed until all your tickets have been added.

If you have a disability or you’re a single rider (and you’re spending most of your time in Disneyland), there’s no point in using the Fast Pass.

Disneyland has incredible disability accommodations. If you are wheelchair-bound, you can visit the exit of most attractions to pick up a return time that is roughly equivalent to the standby return time. This is much faster and easier than the MaxPass system, although you must visit each attraction to pick up your return time.

This system does not exist in California Adventure. The California Adventure Park is much more accessible than Disneyland, so they do not allow disabled visitors to enter through the exits. In California Adventure, it’s a FastPass or the standby line. There are no loopholes.

Single Riders may also be better off without a Fast Pass on certain attractions.

Large groups that want to stay together often leave space for one or two additional passengers. That was certainly a problem for us, with our group of 10-12 people. We frequently divided into two groups of five, which left a single extra seat on many attractions.

That’s why Disneyland uses a Single Rider line. If you’re travelling alone (or you don’t mind splitting up from your friends), you can jump in a Single Rider line on many attractions. You’ll be seated in those extra seats that large groups leave behind. This can help you board much faster than if you waited in the regular Standby line.

Not all rides have a separate Single Rider line. However, it’s common for the most popular and busy attractions to offer this feature.

These rides have confirmed Single Rider lines:

  • Disneyland Single Rider Lines
    • Matterhorn Bobsleds
    • Splash Mountain
    • Indiana Jones Adventure
    • Space Mountain
  • California Adventure Park
    • Grizzly River Run
    • Incredicoaster
    • Goofy’s Sky School
    • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Walt Disney World
    • Expedition Everest
    • Test Track
    • Rock ‘N’ Roll Coaster

If you’re doing it for the photos, plan ahead and be smart!

Now that we’ve established that the Disney MaxPass isn’t worth it for the FastPasses, let’s talk about the unlimited PhotoPass.

What photos are included in the Disney MaxPass?

The Disney MaxPass includes attraction photos, select Character Dining photos, and even magic shots from professional PhotoPass photographers! These photographers are located throughout the park at specific scenic locations.

It’s free – and fair – to take your own photos.

Disney allows guests to take their own pictures in their park. You can even take a picture of your official ride picture! I have heard from several guests and Cast Members that Disney allows you to take pictures of your official ride photos. The quality is not as good and there may be text over part of the image. However, it’s free!

Now, here’s how to save money on a Disney MaxPass…

You can save a lot of money on the Disney MaxPass, espeically if you don’t care about the FastPass feature (for reasons described above). If you don’t care about the FastPass, then you only need to worry about the photos.

You can just purchase one MaxPass to get photos for your entire group, as long as your group stays together. The attraction photos show everyone in your ride vehicle, so you’ll all show up in the photo! You can also have more than one person in a professional PhotoPass photographer photo. One person can download the photos and share them to the other members of your group.

Get all the on-ride photos in one day.

You will want to prioritize all the photo-generating rides on the day you buy your MaxPass. These are the rides that generate attraction photos:

  • Disneyland
    • Space Mountain
    • Splash Mountain
  • California Adventure Park
    • Radiator Springs Racers
    • Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
    • Incredicoaster
  • Magic Kingdom (WDW)
    • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Splash Mountain
    • SpaceMountain
    • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
    • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
    • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Epcot (WDW)
    • Test Track
    • Frozen Ever After
  • Hollywood Studios (WDW)
    • Tower of Terror
    • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Animal Kingdom (WDW)
    • Dinosaur
    • Expedition Everest

Get all the professional photos in one day, too.

You can also seek out all the photo ops from the professional PhotoPass photographers in the park on that day. Each park has several PhotoPass photographers in various locations.

You can find Disney PhotoPass Photographers here:

  • Disneyland Park
    • Partners Statue
    • Minnie’s House Character Experience
    • Main Street USA Train Station
    • Royal Hall Character Experience
    • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
    • Pixie Hollow Character Experience
    • Town Square
    • Mickey’s House Character Experience
    • Sleeping Beauty Castle
    • Winnie the Pooh Character Expeirence
  • California Adventure Park
    • Buena Vista Street
    • Cars Land Entrance
    • Route 66
    • Cars Land Character Experience
    • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail Character Experience
    • Toy Story Character Experience
    • Storytellers Statue
    • Grizzly Peak Airfield Character Experience
    • Monsters University Character Experience
    • Hollywood Boulevard Character Experience
    • Buena Vista Street Character Experience
    • Carthay Circle Character Experience
    • Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome Character Experience
  • Magic Kingdom
    • Main Entrance / Train Station
    • Town Square
    • Main Street
    • Castle Hub
    • Adventureland
    • Frontierland
    • Fantasyland
    • Tomorrowland
  • Epcot
    • Main Entrance / Spaceship Earth
    • Character Spot
    • Wolrd Showcase Locations
    • MISSION: Space
    • Test Track
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
    • Hollywood Boulevard
    • Sunset Boulevard Attractions
    • Sorcerer Mickey’s Hat
    • Al’s Toy Barn
    • Avenue of the Americas
    • Animation Courtyard
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    • Main Entrance
    • Tree of Life and Expedition Everest Locations
    • Character Boat Landing
    • Africa

You can also take your own photos in these locations, so it may not be worth it to wait in line for the professional photographers. However, if you want to take advantage of the photoshopped magic of Magic Shots, you will need a PhotoPass or MaxPass to do this.

Save even more on your Disney vacation!



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