Travelling to Disneyland for the first time was exciting but daunting for our family. Being such a dream destination, we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss a thing. I read lots of books and did plenty of planning. We had a wonderful adventure and definitely felt we’d experienced every bit of Disney magic. But since our first trip much has changed and now there’s plenty you can do to maximise your time in the parks. Books are so yesterday with on-the-go technology offering up to the minute guidance. The Disneyland app and the MaxPass have both been designed to streamline days at the parks.
In this era of mobile phones and technology, most of us are fairly savvy with apps. But if you are familiar with how to use the Disneyland app and MaxPass before you arrive, your Disney days will be even smoother.
THE DISNEYLAND APP
On my most recent visit to Disneyland with AJ, I downloaded the Disneyland app before we left home. I wanted to be familiar with the app before using it, so I spent some time checking out the features and its abilities. The app allowed us to plan some elements of our visit and to get a feel for what was happening in Disneyland and California Adventure Park before we set foot in either.
The app allows you to see what’s on in the parks, book Disney dining, buy tickets and more. I particularly like the ability to read a brief description of the rides, the accessibility and any ride restrictions.
One of the most valuable features is the ability to see the current wait time for rides.
I still used the paper map we received at the entrance but I did find it easier to have everything on my phone including the timing of parades and performances throughout the day. For first time visitors the app can also direct you to toilets and other amenities around the park.
On our return visits to Disneyland I have developed my own strategies to beat the queues for food by avoiding peak times. We usually choose to eat earlier than the masses, so lunch for us is at 11.30am to avoid the 12-1pm crush. But AJ and I found the Disneyland app a game-changer for beating the queues at food outlets.
A great example is the pictured Dole Whip, somewhat of a Disney institution. As much as I wanted a Dole Whip, the queue was long and with only 2 days to explore both parks we decided to try ordering through the app.
We literally stood opposite the queue, ordered the Dole Whip via the Disneyland app and within a few minutes our Dole Whip was ready. The queue had barely moved in that time. We were sold on the feature after that experience.
Menus for the various outlets are available on the app so it’s just a matter of checking what will satisfy your appetite and you can order it to have ready when you are.
Food allergies are well catered for within the parks and detailed information is available on the menus within the app. This helps guests make an informed decision about what’s right for them.
The Disneyland App is a good place to go to get a price guide for food in the parks if you are looking to work out a daily budget.
The MaxPass is an additional pay for use feature, which you can purchase on the day of entry.
When AJ and I were travelling in peak season, just prior to Christmas, we decided to splurge the additional money on the MaxPass to ensure we could do everything we wanted to do in the two days we had allocated to Disneyland and California Adventure Park. The cost of the MaxPass is USD$15 per person and this allows guests to book FASTPASSES for rides and gives you the ability to download the photos taken by the Disneyland photographers.
A FASTPASS allows guests to avoid queuing by booking a time slot to return to a ride. For example, we were keen to do the Radiator Springs Cars ride but the wait time was in excess of 90 minutes. As much as I love this ride, I can’t think of anything worse than standing in a queue wasting valuable Disney time. Instead we booked a return time and this way we could enjoy other rides while we waited for our allocated time slot.
Being a popular ride we booked our FASTPASSES earlier in the day to ensure we didn’t miss out.
Key points about the MaxPass
A great tip we were given was to have all your details including your credit card in the Disneyland app prior to arrival at the park. Once your ticket is scanned at the gate you can then purchase your MaxPass and book your first FASTPASS.
On particularly busy days it will save you time, even if you use the Disability Access Service (DAS). When we travelled to Disneyland as a family we used a combination of the DAS and paper FASTPASSES available at specific rides (at that time the MaxPass wasn’t an option).
To maximise your investment make a decision about purchasing early in the day. If you decide at midday to buy one, the time slots available for FASTPASSES will be limited or possibly unavailable for some rides.
Paper FASTPASSES are still available for free at some rides but keep in mind, you need to physically walk to the individual rides to get the tickets thus wasting time.
You can book FASTPASSES in either park via the app so you can be in Disneyland in the morning and book a FASTPASS for Radiator Springs in California Adventure Park for the evening.
Now all this using the Disneyland app does drain the battery of your phone, so make sure you pack a battery pack or two to keep you on the move and in the know.
Disneyland photographers are happy to take photos with your phone and camera but also take photos with their cameras. We take advantage of the photographers and like some of the fun Disney magic they add to the photos. With the Disney MaxPass you are entitled to unlimited downloads of these photos throughout your visit.
The photographers scan the code on your phone and not long after the photos are taken, they appear in the Disneyand app.
By the end of our two days we had a wonderful record of our time at the parks and it was lovely to have photos of us together. Usually I’m the one behind the lens.
The MaxPass is one of those extras I can imagine people baulking at buying. I get it, that extra USD$15 per person seems a lot when you’ve already bought your tickets, but we found it worth every dollar. When AJ and I were visiting in a peak season we were amazed at how booking FASTPASSES allowed us to experience all the rides on our must-do list and some of them we rode multiple times. We had planned to buy a third day’s entry ticket to the parks if there was anything we didn’t fit into our two days. I didn’t want to leave feeling we hadn’t done it all but with the MaxPass that wasn’t necessary. We easily fitted in everything. As a family we would have needed more time because of the extra time BJ spends meeting all the characters and the additional time it takes us to get around with the wheelchair. But for AJ and I the MaxPass ultimately saved us money. You can read more about the MaxPass on the Disneyland website.
My final tip for making the most of Disney days is to stay at a Disney Hotel. Guests receive an additional magic hour at one of the parks with each of the parks alternating the extra magic hour. I’ll be enlarging upon this when I do my hotel review posts.
I was hosted at Disneyland but paid for AJ’s entry and for our MaxPasses. If you’ve read our previous blogs on Disneyland, you’ll know we are raving fans so my opinions are my own.