If someone told you there’s a way to skip the long lines at Disneyland and get right on a ride, would you want to hear more? Of course you would! Nobody likes waiting in line for 40+ minutes to get on a ride at the theme parks. The ideal day for anyone would be no lines and getting on everything they wanted. This is possible if you rent the entire park out for just yourself but let’s be real, most people can’t do this.
There is a way however, to skip the long lines on bigger attractions at Disneyland and head right to the fun. The service is called FASTPASS and it’s amazing when you know how to use it correctly. While Disney hasn’t made it complicated, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you utilize this service while on your vacation.
First of all we’re going to dive into more of what FASTPASS is and how the service actually works. Then we’re going to go over how you use the system at the park. Lastly we’ll cover the new MaxPass service that goes hand in hand with FASTPASS and whether this paid service is worth the cost.
WHAT IS FASTPASS?
For anyone who’s ever been to a Disney theme park you’re aware that attractions and shows have queues or lines for guests to wait in before they can experience them. Lines form because guests want to experience the ride and because Disney can only load so many people at a time, they get longer and longer. Newer attractions tend to have the longest lines followed by popular attractions and so on.
Disney can only have these lines get so big before it becomes an issue for them, meaning, a 4 hour wait for an attraction is really crappy for guests to see. Along with that, they simply run out of room to hold that many guests which becomes a hazard and safety concern. Thus the invention of a second line that became FASTPASS. It’s dedicated to moving guests faster through the queue and onto the ride itself.
The idea behind this line is to keep guests away from the attraction and it’s main line by virtually “holding their place in line” so they can go off and do other things. It benefits not just the queue but really the guest too as they are able to get more done in less time. Once the guest returns to the attraction they are moved much quicker through the FASTPASS line as if they had been standing there for the entire time. The FASTPASS line is a priority over the regular line as they must keep it short, otherwise it defeats the purpose.
DOES DISNEYLAND FASTPASS COST MONEY?
This is one of the most common questions asked about the FASTPASS service. While we cover this in more detail in our Cost of FASTPASS Guide, the quick answer is yes and no. That was probably more confusing than anything else. The standard FASTPASS service is free to use for any guest with a valid theme park ticket. In addition to this, the MaxPass service, which is optional, does cost money. Currently is runs $15 per day per guest.
You’ll notice that we mentioned that MaxPass is an optional. It can be added on to enhance the FASTPASS service. We talk about this service in more detail below.
Ever since the inception of FASTPASS, the service has remained free so if you ever come across someone who says you need to pay for it, don’t believe them. FASTPASS doesn’t need to be added to your ticket separately either. It automatically comes with every valid theme park ticket. The only thing you need to do to use it is enter a park.
HOW TO USE DISNEYLAND’S FASTPASS IN A FEW EASY STEPS
FASTPASS is actually quite easy to use, even if it’s your first time doing so. As you read on you’ll notice that not all attractions and shows have FASTPASS available. This is because demand for many “smaller” attractions isn’t as much as bigger ones like coasters.
You should always have your physical tickets on you at all times to use FASTPASS in the parks. Make sure you keep them handy at all times. You’ll need to use them to get your original FASTPASS as well as to redeem it when the time comes. Here’s the process in a few easy steps:
How To Use FASTPASS
1. Visit any of the following attractions at Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Haunted Mansion
- Haunted Mansion Holiday
- Indiana Jones™ Adventure
- “it’s a small world”
- “it’s a small world” Holiday
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
- Space Mountain
- 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
- Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Toy Story Midway Mania!
- World of Color
2. Locate the FASTPASS distribution machines typically found next to or close by the attraction. If you can’t find it ask any Cast Member. At the distribution machines you’ll notice a time sign with two times displayed. This is when you’ll need to return to the ride if you get a FASTPASS then. For example let’s say the machine says 1:00pm-2:00pm. If you get a FASTPASS right then you’ll need to return to the ride sometime during 1:00pm-2:00pm. Cast Members will not accept late arrivals so be sure to make it there on-time!
3. Once you’re at the machines insert one park ticket at a time and retrieve your FASTPASS reminder. Do this for each member in your group. Now go do something fun until your return time comes up!
4. You can only have one FASTPASS out at a time (sorta). So if we go by our example above you cannot receive another FASTPASS until 1:00pm comes around. The service is unlimited otherwise meaning you can do this as many times as you want the entire day.
WHAT IS MAXPASS AT DISNEYLAND?
MaxPass is an “upgrade” to the Disneyland FASTPASS system. It was implemented in 2017 and changed a few things about how the FASTPASS system works as well as added new features.
Changes: Machine and ticket use was the biggest change that happened with MaxPass. Guests still enter their park tickets into a machine to get a FASTPASS but instead of the paper slip being your FASTPASS entry the FASTPASS now goes directly on your ticket. This means that when it’s time to use your FASTPASS you actually just scan your ticket on the FASTPASS entrance. You don’t need to show or hand the Cast Member your paper slip anymore. It’s just a reminder.
New Disneyland FASTPASS scanning machines were added to the FASTPASS lines of each attraction that offers FASTPASS. The machines are barcode readers so when you put your ticket onto the barcode reader it will either light up green or light blue. Green means you’re good to go and light blue means there’s something wrong. You may be too early or you may not have a FASTPASS for that ride. The Cast Member will let you know.
These changes are available to everyone at no additional cost.
New Features: Just to get this out of the way, the new features do cost money. They’re currently $20 a day per person. MaxPass allows guests to purchase convenience for their Disneyland FASTPASS experience. It allows you to make a FASTPASS reservation through the Disneyland Resort app without having to visit a FASTPASS machine. Let’s say you’re getting ready to go on the Matterhorn and you want to ride Splash Mountain soon cause it’s getting hot. Typically you would have to walk over to Splash Mountain and scan your ticket to get a Fastpass for it. Not with MaxPass! Just open the app, choose your FASTPASS party, and select the next available FASTPASS time.
It’s saves you a lot of extra walking time and helps you utilize more FASTPASSES throughout the day.
MaxPass also includes unlimited PhotoPass downloads of your attraction photos and any other photos taken by a Disneyland PhotoPass photographer. That Splash Mountain photo you’ve always wanted? It’s included with MaxPass!
We think it’s worth buying MaxPass even if it’s just for 1 day.
DISNEYLAND FASTPASS SECRETS
This is the juicy part you’ve all been waiting for. How to use FASTPASS to the MAX! In all seriousness there are ways to get more out of the service than just using it one at a time. It takes a bit of planning and remembering but from our experience it can help you get on 3+ more attractions per day than the average user.
HAVING MORE THAN ONE FASTPASS
There are times and situations where a guest may hold more than 1 FASTPASS at a time:
- World of Color show tickets are considered FASTPASSES. You can have a World of Color show ticket FASTPASS AND a ride attraction FASTPASS at the same time.
- Any show that offers Disneyland FASTPASS distribution will allow you to have more than one FASTPASS at a time. You could have 2 show ticket FASTPASSES AND a ride attraction FASTPASS at once.
- Currently, Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters allows you to have a FASTPASS for that attraction AND another attraction such as Star Tours or Space Mountain. This is the only case we’ve found where you can have 2 ride attraction FASTPASSES out at the same time. This may be discontinued at any time.
CHECK RETURN TIMES FIRST
One of the biggest oversights with FASTPASS is the return time. Many guests simply load whichever attraction they want to ride and pick a return time even if it’s later in the day. What they are missing out on is the opportunity to ride a FASTPASS attraction right then or within several minutes. We call it Fastpass trolling and it helps utilize your time, helping you get more attractions done in one day.
The idea is simple: Load up FASTPASS on the Disneyland app and look to see what attraction has the closest return time. Typically attractions like Buzz Lightyear and Haunted Mansion will have almost immediate return times. Just look at what the current time is and then compare FASTPASS return times.
The only reason you wouldn’t want to do this is if there is an attraction that you’re worried won’t be available later in the day. This is especially true if you’re only there for 1-2 days. Radiator Springs Racers and Guardians of the Galaxy are pretty high on this list.
Keep in mind though you can use this tactic once a new FASTPASS becomes available. Your app will tell you when this time is.
Most guests just return when they’re told to. If the FASTPASS says return at 1 pm, they show up at 1 pm. There is a trick however with Disney’s system that you can show up 5 minutes early and still use the FASTPASS. We say this with utter cautions as 1. This is subject to change at Disney’s discretion and 2. Don’t try and abuse the system by trying to get in 10 minutes early or 7 minutes early. As it stands, it’s just 5 minutes early on the dot and nothing before this.
One thing to consider if you plan to arrive early is to think about the other guests using FASTPASS. You’re not the only guest with a return at 1 pm. In fact there are going to be guests who overlap your time because theirs started at 12:50 pm. What we’re trying to get at is don’t just stand at the entrance of the FASTPASS line until your time has come. It causes crowding and congestion and becomes really annoying for the Cast Member’s there. Just wait your turn and when it’s time head up and have your tickets ready to scan.
Dean has been writing and blogging for over 10 years. He specializes in Disney theme park news including updates, openings, special events and general advice for travelers. He doesn’t shy away from the good, the bad and the ugly. His previous work includes being a Cast Member at Disneyland and working as a travel agent.