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On June 21, 2017 Disneyland activated a new digital fastpass system. My family headed to Disneyland June 24-June 30 and we tested out everything with the new system so we could share everything with you. From how it affects the DAS, to changes in game plans, and what we think it means for the new MAXPass coming soon. Plus even some of the confusing things that we have not seen any other blogger mention (like how many times will you have to scan your pass) and also some downsides and tips to make using Disneyland’s Digital Fastpass system easier for your trip.
Disneyland’s Digital Fastpass- The Basics
In theory, Disneyland’s Digital Fastpass system works the same as the paper fastpasses. You take your tickets to a fastpass distribution machine, scan them, and get a FP return time. You then can not get another fastpass until your return time or two hours later (whichever comes first). You will still get a stub that prints out with your return time and yes, it will have a barcode on it that matches your ticket (more on this later). When you return to the ride, you will still enter through the fastpass line, except now you will scan your park admission ticket or annual pass. You do not need your fastpass stub, and it will not gain you entry to the fastpass queue. And yes, the digital fastpass system is still FREE to all park guests with a valid admission ticket.
Disneyland’s Digital Fastpass- Scanning Your Ticket
For guests that have visited Walt Disney World, the fastpass scanners (or should we call them ticket scanners?) will look vaguely familiar. Yes, they look a lot like the scanners for Magic Bands.
When you go back to a ride and enter through a fastpass line, you will scan the bar code on your ticket. Be sure to hold it under for at least a few seconds but preferably until the light turns green (hopefully). Then you will continue on in the line. Here is where it can get confusing. SOME RIDES will require you to scan your ticket a second time. Other rides only require you to scan your ticket once. Thunder Mountain has two scans, where California Screamin’, Matterhorn, and a few others only have one. This can get confusing to guests to know which ride you need to keep your ticket out on, and I think this is something that needs more consistency.
Once you scan your ticket one (or two) times, you can put it away and continue on to the attraction.
Disneyland’s Digital Fastpass and the DAS
The biggest question I have seen is regarding Disneyland’s Disability Access Service (DAS) system. Another Disneyland focused site reported in a facebook live that she did not believe the DAS and a fastpass could be obtained at the same time. She let her readers know she had no personal experience with the DAS. As I shared earlier this year, my oldest has cognitive disorders, so we do utilize the DAS. This trip, we had a large group though, and so we did not plan on utilizing it but we chose to utilize it for a few rides to test how it works with the new digital fastpass system.
I am happy to report that DAS and fastpass are still considered separate. You CAN hold a current DAS return time as well as a fastpass return time. This is a huge relief for those of us who have children with cognitive disorders where the wait is an issue.
While the DAS and the digital fastpass system are still separate, the new digital fastpass system has changed how you use the DAS at attractions with fastpass machines.
Before, every attraction, a cast member would use a hand held scanner to scan tickets and check the DAS. This is still true at non-fastpass attractions. At fastpass attractions however, the fastpass scanners will be used to scan the tickets. It is important that the person that has the DAS accomodation has his/her ticket scanned FIRST! Otherwise you will get an error when you scan your ticket. Then the remaining party members can scan their tickets afterwards.
Looking at it, the DAS has bascially been a digital fastpass system for a little while (since they switched to scanning tickets) and the only real change for this is using the machines on fastpass rides.
Disneyland’s Digital Fastpass and Rider Switch Pass
Disneyland’s digital fastpass system has raised a lot of questions about the Rider Switch Pass. At this time, the change has no effect on the rider switch pass. You will still notify a cast member at the fastpass entrance that you need a rider switch pass. We have noticed that almost every single ride is now asking that all members of the party be present at the entrance to verify who is waiting and see the child they are waiting with. In most cases, that first attendant will hand you the rider switch pass. There are a few rides where they will direct you to get the pass from a cast member later in the queue. The rider switch pass is still a piece of paper and still works for 3 guests. At this time, nothing has changed here. I don’t know if it will change to digital (the logistics of that seems a bit difficult as any 3 riders may return with that pass, even if two already rode) but if it does, I will update this post.
Downside of Disneyland’s Digital Fastpass (And Solutions)
There are several downsides to Disneyland’s Digital Fastpass system, but thankfully, after a full week of being in the parks, I think I have found some solutions to most of the downsides.
- No paper fastpasses means no giving away extras. This is a big change for locals or other regular park visitors. While fastpasses were never meant to be a share system, there were times when we knew we just wouldn’t be able to get to our fastpass. It was always fun to hand off your pass to a family in the standby line, or to a random person. There is no work around to this. For the first few days, cast members were allowing guests to scan the fastpass reminder tickets, but by the third day of our visit, they had stopped allowing that, so you definitely can not give away your FP without giving away your ticket- which you don’t want to do.
- Taking tickets and passes out more = bigger chance of a lost ticket. This happened to our group. One of my friends teenage son’s lost his ticket during the constant taking it in and out. Some tips for helping this: Have a pouch or designated ticket spot. A phone case that can hold credit cards are a great solution. Or a waterproof pouch. Having a specific spot you put your ticket when you are done scanning it will help rather than just sticking it in any random pocket. Also, take a picture of the back of your ticket. Be sure the entire bar code (and the numbers under it) are visible and clear. Our friend’s son had heard me say take a picture, but he accidentally covered the numbers. It made it a huge ordeal to get it replaced. Finally, if you have littles, have a designated ticket holder. In fact, we saw several groups where mom and dad would scan all the tickets at the scanners and have each child walk through as they scanned their ticket. This is a great way to keep all tickets together and usually adults are less likely to lose a ticket than a child.
- Water rides. I strongly believe that if Disneyland is going to have us scanning our tickets to gain access to water rides that all tickets should be plastic/hard stock. I have gone on vacations with five day tickets, where we have done Splash Moutain and Grizzly River Run over and over, and by day 5 our tickets won’t work in the fastpass machines anymore. BUT, since Disneyland is most likely not going to start giving everyone hard stock tickets, your best bet is to have a waterproof pouch to store your tickets in. Bonus is that we saw several people that realized their tickets could be scanned through the pouches at the machines. So you don’t even have to take them out (and risk losing them). I am currently ordering these ones for our family. (Click the picture to order on Amazon)
- Keep track of return times. Yes, Disneyland is currently printing out fastpass reminder tickets. However, this is a huge waste of paper, and honestly, if they want to be digital, they really need to make it so that ALL guests can see fastpasses linked to their tickets within the Disneyland app. This feature will most likely be available to MAXPass users (I will be talking more about this in a moment) but I really hope it is available to ALL guests.
- Who has what fastpass? If you like to utilize fastpass and rider switch pass together, you still can, but now it is going to be important to really keep track of which ticket/annual pass is linked to what fastpass. They do not check the names on tickets when you scan, so yes, you can still use your “too small kiddos” to get fastpasses and use them, but you must be sure to scan the correct tickets to enter the fastpass lane. This is also an issue when you want to split up for rides. Be sure you know what tickets were used to get which fastpasses.
- Running to get more fastpasses. The biggest drawback we found with the new digital fastpass system is that we could no longer gather all the tickets and run and get more fastpasses while some of our party went through a fastpass line. With paper fastpasses, guests would show their fastpass return reminder to access the line, meaning another member of their party, could carry their ticket and go get more fastpasses while those guests were in the fastpass line. This was pure genius on Disneyland’s part to release the digital fastpass system now because of this. Why? Well, that is what I am going to talk about next.
Disneyland’s MAXPass is Coming Soon
When Disney first announced the new MAXPass system coming to the parks I rolled my eyes. There is no way I would pay $10/day per person to be able to avoid walking to the fastpass machine. Nope, wasn’t going to do it. I mean, for a family of 5 that is an extra $50 a day. And while yes, it does include all photopass pictures, you can purchase Photopass deals for cheaper than $50/day.
After utilizing Disneyland’s Digital Fastpass system…. I think this is a genius marketing idea. I also think it was very smart of Disney to release Digital Fastpass first. My family, as well as most of the park goers we talked with, were just so annoyed that they couldn’t send someone to run and get their fastpass while they were in line. People are really frustrated with this. And yes, this is total conditioning because if we had never done that before, we wouldn’t care. But so many locals and other regular park visitors have gotten used to this….and MAXPass will solve this problem. Honestly, before this trip, I thought MAXPass was going to be a really hard sale for Disney. NOW- I think they may actually make some good money off this system.
The $10/day is an introductory price. When first announced, people speculated that the extra cost would go away. I now wonder if it will go up. I think it will all depend on demand. Disney is currently the only park that offers a free “front of the line” type system. Knott’s charges $75/day per person and Universal is quite spending as well, so even at $10/day, this is price will seem like a steal. Will Disneyland guests take the bait and pay for a chance to be lazy (kidding…you already walk a ton) or to book while in line? Only time will tell but my guess is YES, they will. And so will annual passholders if the price is right.
Disneyland has not given an official launch date for MAXPass, but it is rumored it will be released sometime in July. There are a few issues that need to be addressed first in my opinion, such as WiFi (it is slow and spotty at best) and AP pricing- especially for those with higher passes that include photos already, but it is coming soon.
Overall, the digital fastpass system is not that different. There are some added concerns, but in general, it works the same as the regular fastpass system. One thing we noticed, with the new system, the fastpass return times seem to be sooner. Like we could get many fastpasses and use them within 5-10 minutes (so we would run and get another one before entering the ride). I am not sure if this was a glitch in the system or if they are allowing more fastpasses per time slot. The park was very crowded the first several days as locals were using their APs before the summer block out, but we still could often use our fastpasses immediately (except extremely popular rides like Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout).
The digital fastpass system was defintiely something to get used to, but it really isn’t that much different than the paper system.
Did I miss covering anything you have questions about? Let me know in the comments.
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