Disney is awesome because their FastPass system has always been free! Unlike other theme parks that charge you extra on your ticket to skip the line, Disney has a really effective FastPass system that can add so many attractions to your trip!
Keep in mind, this blog is for the FastPasses in Disneyland, as this system is pretty different from FastPass+ in Disney World, that I will also write about. 🙂
FastPasses are a simple concept. You approach a FastPass distribution kiosk, enter your ticket into the machine, and out pops a little piece of paper informing you of your return window. It will be an hour long period of time when you can return and enter the FastPass line for a shorter waiting period. Keep in mind that this shorter FastPass line may not always be zero minutes! But waiting 10-20 minutes for a current 90 minute + line is still a great benefit, and well worth the FastPass! Think of it as a reservation for a restaurant; you have a time to show up, and there may be a few people still finishing up when you get there, but it is better than showing up without one!
FastPass was recently updated to be connected to your ticket, so when you return you actually will scan your main ticket (not the little slip of paper with the times on it) before entering the line. You can get a new FastPass just as soon as you use your current FastPass OR every 2 hours, whichever comes first.
Keep this in mind when you grab a FastPass! Sometimes an attraction may only have a 30 minute wait BUT may have a FastPass for that same exact time! I would always recommend grabbing the FastPass, going to ride another short line ride or grab a snack, get your *next* FastPass as soon as your FastPass is up (because remember once your FastPass is ready to use, you’re good to grab a new one, you don’t have to wait the full 2 hours) and then riding your ride! By strategically stacking your FastPasses like this you can really accomplish a lot.
On busy days FastPasses may give you times for much later in the day, because they only allocate so many passes per hour. These are days where I would recommend MaxPass.
MaxPass is Disney’s recent introduction which is a variation on the FastPass, and is an additional $10 per day on top of your ticket price. MaxPass not only allows you to grab FastPasses from the Disneyland App on your phone (which is SO NICE! Consider the size of the parks! If you’re in line for Splash Mountain you can get a FastPass for Space Mountain on the opposite side of the park without having to trek all the way over there.) This alone is a great perk BUT you can also get a MaxPass every 90 minutes instead of 2 hours. This, by simple math, allows you to get more FastPasses in a day.
Lastly, MaxPass comes with free downloads from all the PhotoPass locations you use that day, which I am obsessed with. PhotoPass photographers are at all the parks main photo locations, at most character meet and greets, and PhotoPass includes ride photos! You simply let the PhotoPass cast member scan your park ticket when you are meeting Mickey, or enter the code on the ride photo into your app, and voila! Within a few hours your photos pop up on your app. This alone is seriously worth $10 if you are going to do a castle photo or meet a character, because lets be honest, sometimes the well intending stranger who you ask to take your photo is not the *best* at the situation.
Bottom line for me is that learning how to FastPass is essential to maximizing your day in the parks, and for only $10 per person extra, it will often be worth it for the upgrade to MaxPass, especially if you are visiting at a peak time like summer or Christmas. Don’t forget when your FastPass period is up so you can always have one, and have a blast riding as many attractions as you can!