Disneyland differences with fast passes vs WDW

We’ve been to WDW several times and have grown accustomed to the FPP, so in planning a trip to Disneyland, we’re confused about line time savers. We read about Maxpass, but does that really save time or does everyone do it? Do we need to stay on resort? Are the only benefits in staying on resort the extra magic hours (and not being able to book rides days in advance like WDW)? Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Maxpass is a game changer for DL fastpasses. It will feel like how you get FP at WDW. But there are different rules. First, all are first come first served, same day. Nothing in advance. If you start early, you can do almost anything and much more per day. there are some exceptions, but generally you can get a new one every 90 minutes. You just take the time it gives you. i.e. for a popular ride, you might try to get a FP at 9am. It might give you a time of noon. then at 10:30 (90 minutes later), you can find another FP. maybe its sooner, maybe its later, etc. There is no limit to how many you can hold. You can do this without Maxpass, but then you have to literally go to each ride to scan your ticket to get a return time. Maxpass saves you running and doubling back and forth to get the fastpasses.

Staying onsite gets you some of the extra early entries (there is also an early entry option with each 3 day ticket). the other advantage is convenience, a more manageable security line, and more being in the Disney bubble. at a price of course. We have found it as immersive or moreso than WDW, since you can easily walk everywhere and don’t even have to get in a car or bus, let alone see a car or bus. It is a little different staying in the Good Neighbor hotels on Harbor Blvd. Even walking, you’ll be across a busy street, etc.

Hope this helps. We usually go to DL (going back this summer), changed it up and went to WDW last year.

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Thanks! All good to know!

@nslappin gave a great explanation. The nice thing is that everyone gets a chance at the toughest to get FP. The toughest run out the fastest so you have to keep an eye on return times. If a ride you want has a late return time you might want to go ahead and grab it as there may be none left next time you can pull one. There is a pattern to it that is different from WDW but you can pick up on it quickly.

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MaxPass not only saves time, but is super convenient. Even if everyone did it, Disney has set limits of how many FastPasses they distribute to keep the FastPass queues under 20 minutes (most of the time). So, when all FastPasses are distributed for the day, both those who purchased MaxPass and those who use the free FastPass system are unable to select a FastPass. Even though MaxPass doesn’t guarantee any number of FastPasses, our experience has always been that we have more than we are capable of using with 3 small children so it’s a great option if you have a family who love prioritizing riding headliners as much as possible as a part of their Disney park experience.

As for staying on resort, the benefit of the bubble is nice but definitely pricey. If you don’t think that you’ll be back and it won’t break your budget, it’s worth looking into staying at the Disneyland Hotel as it the original, classic, on-site hotel and has a great theme. If you don’t spend a ton of time in the room and having to cross by some real-life city sights won’t put a big damper on your experience then there are plenty of cost-effective options many of which are much closer than Disneyland Hotel (but will have to use the much busier Harbor security stations that can back-up super quick so being an hour or more early to get through is very important).


I lived within 25 minutes of DL for 45 years of my life. Since DLR is much, much more compact, you can save money and stay at a nice hotel offsite and still walk to resort. I recommend staying at The Springhill Suites by Marriott Anaheim Maingate. WHY? Because it backs up to the DLR employee parking lot. You can walk through the employee parking lot and then use the ramp that takes you through the Mickey and Friends parking structure and then ride the DLR tram to the main entrance to both parks or Downtown Disney. If this clean, nice, and reasonable hotel is full, there are plenty of hotels within walking distance. Last October, we stayed at the Hyatt Place on Harbor Blvd. and Ubered each day for less than $7/trip. Spend your money on the MaxPass system instead.

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