Disneyland’s MaxPass: Is It Worth It?

MaxPass at Disneyland
MaxPass at Disneyland: Is it worth the cost?

If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland in the near future, you may be asking yourself if MaxPass is worth it. It certainly is convenient to arrange all of your FastPass reservations directly from your phone, but it does cost $10 per-person, per-day, so this can add up, especially for larger groups.

I’ve analyzed this in detail below, but if you don’t want to read further, let me summarize my conclusions: MaxPass helps most on busy days, and it helps most those groups who can’t or won’t use a “FastPass runner.”

To be clear, as I posted previously, I think Disneyland’s MaxPass system is far superior to Walt Disney World’s FastPass+ system. But the intent of this post isn’t to compare parks, it’s to help you decide whether MaxPass is worth the cost for your own individual situation, given that you plan to visit Disneyland.

To help you decide, I ran four different RideMax plans for the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend, which is one of the busiest days of the year.

MaxPass for Radiator Springs Racers

Each of the four plans contained the same 23 popular Disneyland attractions, but were created using a different FastPass scenario for each. I also repeated this process for a less-busy weekday, for a total of eight different RideMax plans, and compared the estimated waiting and walking times for each plan.

As you may know, RideMax supports all sorts of FastPass options. You can create a plan which assumes you’ll be using MaxPass. You can also turn the MaxPass option off, and create a plan which assumes you’ll just be using the regular FastPass machines instead. For those using the FastPass machines, you can optionally tell RideMax that you plan to use a “FastPass Runner.” This is someone who is willing to break from your group and do the walking necessary to get FastPasses for the group, which saves everyone some serious walking (except for the runner, of course). And for those using a runner, you can also tell RideMax which (if any) attractions the runner is willing to skip while off gathering FastPasses for the rest of the group. If the runner *is* willing to skip certain attractions, RideMax can schedule the rest of the group to ride something while the runner is away. This theoretically could save time, since the group isn’t waiting around for the runner.

The specific FastPass options I used for comparing the four different scenarios are:

  • MaxPass option is turned ON in RideMax.
  • MaxPass option is OFF (using the regular FastPass machines). In this first of the non-MaxPass scenarios, I set the options in RideMax to indicate that we have a FastPass runner who is willing to skip ANY attraction while off gathering FastPasses for the group, if the RideMax plan calls for it. (This is the most aggressive FastPass setting in RideMax aside from using MaxPass.)
  • Same as above, but with a FastPass runner who isn’t willing to skip any attraction. In other words, the group will wait for the runner to return before riding anything.
  • MaxPass option is OFF, but with NO FastPass runner. The RideMax plan will assume that the entire group will visit the FastPass machines together.

The table below summarizes the expected wait+walking times for each of the four scenarios on the holiday weekend. The first number indicates the total estimated waiting plus walking time for the given scenario, and the second number indicates the percentage increase in minutes over the baseline MaxPass scenario:

Total Estimated Waiting + Walking Time in Minutes MaxPass (baseline plan) Regular FastPass – FastPass Runner willing to skip any ride Regular FastPass – FastPass Runner NOT willing to skip any ride Regular FastPass – No FastPass Runner
Friday of Thanksgiving Weekend 316 min 368 min / 16% increase 357 min / 13% increase 386 min / 22% increase
Less-busy weekday 302 min 303 min / 0% increase 314 min / 4% increase 322 min / 7% increase

As you can see, the estimated wait plus walking times generally increase moving from left to right in the chart above, with MaxPass users experiencing the lowest estimated waiting and walking times, and regular FastPass users with no runner experience the highest.

(As an aside, if anyone is interested, I’ll be glad to discuss in the comments below the anomaly with the middle two columns in that first row, where the RideMax estimated waiting+walking actually *decreases* slightly when going from using a runner willing to skip everything to one who won’t skip anything. Leave a note below if you want to discuss.)

As I mentioned at the top of the post, with the results shown above, it’s apparent that MaxPass is most helpful in dealing with a couple of situations.

First, MaxPass helps the most when the park is busy.

The estimates above show that on the very busy day you’d save between about 40-50 minutes of waiting and walking using MaxPass versus using either of the “runner options” with the regular FastPass machines. On the less busy weekday, you’d only save 20 minutes of waiting and walking, even with the least-aggressive, no-runner FastPass option. This is just seven percent more than with the MaxPass option. And if you DO have a runner for a less-busy day, MaxPass may not be worth the low expected gain of between just zero and four percent.

Second, MaxPass helps most those guests who either can’t or won’t use a FastPass runner.

There are a lot of cases where you simply can’t use a “runner” to go off and gather FastPasses for your group. If you’re the only adult in your group, for example, you’ll need to stick together. So if this applies to you, MaxPass looks pretty good, with an expected 70-minute savings in wait+walk time on the busy day. The twenty minute savings on the slower day may or may not be enough to make MaxPass worth it for you. You’ll have to decide that one based on your own situation.

Of course, MaxPass does provide benefits other than expected time savings. The numbers above only take into account the estimated amount of waiting and walking your “main group” will do — they don’t include the amount of walking your FastPass runner will do. So if your runner is not super-willing or excited to play that role, this would also weigh in favor of using MaxPass.

Once you’ve “checked in” to the park, you can also use MaxPass later in the day to set up FastPass reservations, even if you’re not in the park at the time you make the reservation, so this is another plus with MaxPass. Making reservations while on a rest break at the hotel, for example, could lead to “bonus” FastPass opportunities that wouldn’t be available to you without MaxPass.

In conclusion, I know that every group is different, but I hope you’ve found this discussion helpful in deciding what’s right for YOU.

Have you used MaxPass? What did you think of it? Are there other aspects of the system you’d like to discuss? Be sure to leave a note in the comments below!


2 thoughts on “Disneyland’s MaxPass: Is It Worth It?”

  1. Hi there,
    Your park hours today and for the week are listed incorrectly. You have the park closing at 9pm and the Disney website (and Grand Californian where we are staying) lists closing at 11pm. We really wanted to use your app to navigate rides this evening before closing, and are disappointed that we cannot do so. Can you change the times so we can use your website for rides between 9pm and 11pm for the rest of our vacation?
    Cathy Peters

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