The first Star Wars movie (A New Hope) came out in 1976 when I was itty bitty.  I don’t remember if I saw it in its original run or not.  What I do clearly remember is watching The Empire Strikes Back on the big screen and my little brother was scared of the swamp scene with Yoda and had to leave the theater.  I don’t remember if I got to watch it to the end.  Return of the Jedi has always been my favorite of the original trilogy.  Maybe because I was finally old enough for the entire movie to sink in and I wasn’t being asked to escort my brother outside.  I will always remember the shock and thrill when Darth Vader said, “I am your father.”  I did not see that coming!

I’m happy that Star Wars is the crazy phenom that it is today, because so many people share in my happiness over the story and its characters.  But I was an early fan and let’s not forget that!  I had an opportunity recently, Sunday, August 18, to go with some childhood friends to check out the new Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland.  Avalon came with me.  This blog post is a wrap up on Disney’s MAX PASS, which in the words of many, “is a game changer!” 

Why get a MaxPass and is it worth it?

After you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on a nearby hotel, a single park ticket, or even a park hopper, after you’ve gone to the bank to pull out wads of cash for your food and souvenirs, why should you add on even just $15 more for a MaxPass?  Well, why not?  You’ve just spent your life savings anyway.

Let’s back up a minute.  Regardless of whether you get the MaxPass, first you need to download the Disneyland App.  It’s a must and absolutely part of the game changing experience.  Scroll down to “My Tickets” on the home screen.  That takes you to a menu item that says, “Tickets & Passes” and then click on “Link Tickets & Passes.”  You can use a QR code reader on your phone to read the code on your entrance ticket and automatically your personal park ticket has been loaded into the App. 

You can also use the App to check which days you are allowed into the park and which are blackout, with any kind of annual pass, if you are lucky enough to have one.  There’s a little hamburger icon that will bring up a very useful page.  The top of the page says, “Welcome Amy Freyder.”  Then there are 7 main buttons displayed.  The Tickets and Passes choice is also located here.  Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has its own button!  Other selections are My Plans, Photos, Mobile Food Ordering and Play Disney Parks. 

Here’s where the beauty of the Max Pass comes in.  If you bought a Max Pass your phone already knows it because the bar code on your ticket told it so.  With the Max Pass you can make your Disney FASTPASS selections from your phone!  No more wandering around the park colleting tickets for later time slots and then needing to circle back.  You just select “My Plans” from the hamburger icon menu.  Then you can select “Get FASTPASS with Disney MaxPass.” A list of the next available FASTPASS times for each ride will come up.  You can only select one FASTPASS at a time initially.  After that, you need to wait a minimum of 2 hours before you can select another.  Or, you can select your next one as soon as the last one is over. 

There is a choice to “Create a FASTPASS Party.”  If you are with a group of people – we had 6 in our group – one person can scan everyone’s tickets into their phone and link everything together.  That way, one person can be in charge of making sure everyone gets the same FASTPASS time together.  This worked out great because if we had all made individual selections we might not have been all together. 

Here’s a tip: the specific times for getting a FASTPASS are changing all the time!  So if you are trying to squeeze in one more ride before your dinner reservations and the FASTPASS isn’t giving you a good time to make it before dinner, just keep trying.  The FASTPASS reservation time slots are updating constantly.  One minute the next pass will be offered at 5:30 pm and the next minute the ride will be available at 3:45 pm.  It’s kind of wacky!  The lesson is, don’t give up after the first try.  Your ideal time is likely to come up. 

Here’s another tip:  We had a FASTPASS reservation for Radiator Springs over in CarsLand.  The ride broke down just before we arrived.  Oddly enough, I got a notice about the ride being suspended, but my friend with the FASTPASS party on her phone did not get a notice.  Just need to try to keep on top of rides so that you don’t venture all the way across one park – or even to the next park – only to find out the ride isn’t operating.  Mater’s Tow Truck ride was working though.

If you find that your ride isn’t working and it’s your turn, you can return later and hop in the FASTPASS line when the ride is back up again.  Or you can switch your FASTPASS out for one on a different ride.  When this happened to us and I wish we would have known because we had skipped the Haunted Mansion after finishing Pirates, because our Radiator Springs time window was open, but then Radiator Springs was down and we should have stayed in New Orleans Square. We eventually got on when the ride was working again.

The other awesome reason to have a MaxPass is that it allows you to get your Disney photos right on your phone.  After you whiz through the Incredicoatser and get your photo snapped, you can enter in your photo code and it automatically appears in your photos on the App!  We got our group photo taken by the Disney photogs at the park entrance, in front of the Millennium Falcon (during the day and at night!), in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and on the sidewalk while waiting for the Main Street Electrical Parade.  Every time they scanned our phones, the photos went right in.  From there we could save them to our phone, share them or even order fun photo products like mugs, magnets, ornaments, coasters and more. 

Here’s another tip: At the park, I immediately downloaded my Disney photos from the app to my phone.  After all, I had to download them to my phone in order to use them immediately in my social media posts.  If it’s not posted it didn’t happen, right?  Much later, while writing this blog post, I wanted to download the photos to my computer.  When I logged on to Disney photos, it told me I had to pay to download them!  And it wasn’t cheap.  I had already put them in my phone so why would I pay to get them in my computer?  It doesn’t make sense to me. Am I doing something wrong here?

I also realized that you need your bar code from the photographers or photo codes from the rides to bring them up on the computer.  Since a lot of time has passed since I was at the park, I only had one code still with me.  I’ve thrown out or lost the others.  So I was only able to retrieve some of my photos online via computer and the rest I can’t get access to.  Thank goodness I immediately downloaded everything to my phone at the park.  Otherwise I would have to pay for them AND I wouldn’t have even had access to see all of them.  Since everyone in our group got the photos in the app, if even one person paid to download them what’s to stop them from e-mailing them around to everyone else? 

Regardless of whether you get the Max Pass or not, a big difference that the Disneyland app makes is the ability to manage your food orders.  Heaven!  You can place a mobile food order right from your phone.  The beauty of this is that there’s minimal waiting in lines.  If you feel like an ice cream cone from Main Street, just click on Mobile Food Ordering and order it.  You can even enter in your credit card information and pay for it from the phone.  Then, as you make your way across the park you can say, “I’m here” and when you arrive it will be ready for you. It’s a great description for fast food.  You can also make dining reservations from here, too.  It’s so great.  I tried it out while waiting for the Main Street Electrical Parade to begin. 

We decided we wanted some treats so we went to our phones and ordered 2 root beer floats and 2 sundaes.  We walked down Main Street to pick them up and they were ready within minutes.  We were barely away from our curbside seating.  Yum! That root beer float was exactly what I’d been craving all day! 

The other genius use of the Disneyland app is that it allows you to see how long the wait times are for each ride in each area of the park.  You can map out your plan of action as you go along, based on wait times in the palm of your hand.  It’s absolutely a time saver.  How accurate is it?  I’d say give or take some time on it.  It’s pretty good but not excellent.  Still, it’s close enough that you know what to expect.  On Smugglers Run in Galaxy’s Edge, the app said a 90-minute wait but we only stood in line for 60 minutes.  That was awesome.  For Big Thunder Railroad, which some of us tried to squeeze in before the parade, it said 25 minutes.  But 25 minutes later we were clearly not getting on the ride any time soon.  We had to snake our way out of line, like salmon swimming upstream, to get out and over to the parade before we’d lose the seats on the curb that our friends were trying to save for us.  

One thing to note is that MaxPass and FASTPASS are not available in Galaxy’s Edge.  When we went it felt like off season, with thin crowds and relatively nice wait times.  But I can see how it would be such a bummer not to be able to use it there.  Even though we went on a Sunday, my friend planned it so that the Southern Cal passholders were still on their blackout days and for the most part, many schools were already back in session. 

Overall, I’d rate the MaxPass as highly valuable.  It really gives you the opportunity to maximize your day.  We don’t go to Disneyland very often so we tend to stay from the minute it opens to the minute it closes.  In between those minutes, we want to experience as much as possible!

By the way, you can get VEGAN food at Disneyland now in Galaxy’s Edge! Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo has vegetarian and vegan options, and they’re not just a few bits of lettuce tossed to make a salad.

And we all loved the fun design elements inside Docking Bay 7. Here’s my vegan Felucian Garden Spread. It was delicious. Even Avalon thought it was tasty. The “kefta” is made with Impossible burger. And if you want to skip the pita for a lighter snack of just vegan “kefta” it is also gluten-free. (Did I take this upside down from across the table? This view is disconcerting.)

Every summer night at Disneyland has to end with the fireworks show. What a day!