FastPass Guides

FastPass Guide to Disney California Adventure

I find that FastPasses are the biggest source of frustration to first-time or infrequent park goers. Many people don’t know what FastPasses are, how to use them, or what to use them on. With this in mind, I’m going to write a guide to each U.S. park on when and where to use FastPasses.

Today we move over to California Adventure with our FastPass Guide. If you are looking for any other park, click here to check out all of our guides! Before getting into which attractions to FastPass at DCA, let’s take a look at how the system differs from Disney World.

Carthay Circle old fashioned

What are the differences between FastPass+ at Walt Disney World and FastPass at Disneyland?

If you’ve read my earlier guides then you probably have a general understanding of how FastPass+ works (assuming I’m a halfway competent writer, a big assumption I know) at Walt Disney World. A FastPass serves the same general purpose in Disneyland as it does on the other coast, the pass allows guests to skip the majority of the line at an attraction.

Eureka Grizzly_edited-1

The difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World is that you can’t reserve the FastPass ahead of time at Disneyland. Hence the lack of +. If you ever have questions about reserving something in advance, just look to see if there is a + included. That always works. In a way, with the lack of advance FastPass+ reservations, Disneyland is much easier to manage when planning out your trip. Along with not worrying about what to reserve in advance, Disneyland Resort also has fewer options to FastPass. That means there is less decision-making and strategy involved.

The way to obtain FastPasses at Disneyland is to go to the attraction (at least in most cases) and insert your park ticket at a FastPass machine. The FastPass will pop out. That pass will have two times on it with an hour between them. You have to return to that attraction within that hour-long window and then you’ll be able to enter the FastPass line. The pass will have smaller font on it, as well. That smaller font will tell you when you can get your next FastPass. Check out the photo below to see one. The Disneyland App will tell you the current window for all of the attractions that feature FastPass so be sure to check in there before walking over to whatever you want to FastPass next.

via Undercovertourist.com

As I said, guests aren’t allowed to get another FastPass until that time in the small font or until you’ve used the FastPass. Aside from that restriction, you can get as many FastPasses as you please. FastPasses aren’t available during early entry but they are during all normal park hours.

What is MaxPass?

While Disneyland doesn’t allow guests to reserve FastPasses in advance they do have a service called MaxPass. This allows guests to reserve FastPasses over their phones instead of doing it with the physical tickets and machines. It will save some time and is nice to have if you don’t have much time in the park.

Having said that, we don’t recommend the service as it’s just one more additional cost to add to your trip. While the pricing can be as low as $20 a day per person, that still adds up and takes a chunk out of the food or souvenir budget. If time is limited, MaxPass might be for you but if you’re at Disneyland Resort for 3+ days then I wouldn’t recommend it.

FastPass Strategy and Rankings for Disney California Adventure

Now that I’ve spent 400+ words on a concept most of you probably already understood, let’s get down to the real point of this post! Here are the attractions that feature FastPass at California Adventure:

  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT!
  • Incredicoaster
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue
  • World of Color

One way that California Adventure is unique is that you can get a FastPass for World of Color at anytime and then get another FastPass immediately. There is no wait time when it comes to that FastPass, so you might as well get it. The earlier you get the World of Color FastPass, the better section you will be in for the show. So, as long as you are planning to watch World of Color then get a FastPass at some point in the morning. It won’t hurt anything!

Mike & Sully to the Rescue Monsters Inc door room DCA

There aren’t many attractions with FastPass availability and there are quite a few quality attractions at California Adventure, so the strategy can be a little tough. The worst attraction on the list, without any doubt, is Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue. For some reason this attraction has FastPass but under no circumstances is it worth that. It’s also not worth waiting in a standby line for more than 10 minutes. It’s simply a bad attraction.

I also don’t think all that highly of Goofy’s Sky School but I do see the merit here. The attraction usually won’t long wait times in the morning(unless you come at a very busy time of year) and I’d recommend skipping riding this attraction if there were long lines. Of course, I’m not a big fan of roller coaster so some might disagree with me. This is a decent use of a FastPass later in the day when other attractions start to run out of availability.

fog grizzly river run

Next on the list is a bit of a toss-up. Grizzly River Run isn’t very crowded when the weather isn’t hot. Of course, that’s not very often in California. If you go in the winter months then you likely won’t need a FastPass for Grizzly River Run otherwise this isn’t a bad option for your 3rd or 4th FastPass. Grizzly River Run is often closed in the first few months of the year for refurbishments, so be aware of that. Grizzly River Run and Goofy’s Sky School do often utilize a single-rider line which is a good way to go if you don’t mind being separated from your group.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! can have some decent sized lines, especially as it’s still relatively new to the park. The attraction does load large groups of people at a time so it’s not that high on this make-believe ‘FastPass Priority List’ . The FastPass for this attraction also doesn’t skip a large portion of the line. If other attractions are out of FastPasses or you’ve done the others ahead of it then get one here.

Incredicoaster in motion DCA night

What I wrote for Tower of Terror is often the same for Incredicoaster. While the attraction has recently been redone, the queue is still hot and fairly boring. Therefore this ranks higher than some others on this list.  I think it settling in around fourth or fifth place on the list is fair

Toy Story Midway Mania is a good use of a FastPass, especially if you can wait until mid-morning or early afternoon to get it. While a fairly popular ride, the wait times ebb and flow. A fair warning: this line can be miserable during the day as the sun beats down on guests.

Grizzly Peak Airfield Soarin'

That leaves Soarin’ and Radiator Springs Racers for the coveted top spot in the Wandering in Disney – California Adventure – FastPass Rankings, also know as the WiDCAFPR Award. This decision is really a no-brainer. Radiator Springs Racers is the superior attraction and is almost always more crowded. Right now, Soarin’ Around the World may even fall third or fourth on this list but the attraction is loved and will end up closer to second over time. Over the last year, Disneyland Resort has brought back Soarin’ Over California at different times throughout the year and if that happens then this is an easy second place and may even jump to first.

Radiator Springs Racers is still the easy winner at California Adventure. There are a few things to know about Radiator Springs Racers though. First of all, it’s the only attraction where the FastPass isn’t directly next to it. The FastPass is right by the entrance to Cars Land. If you are there at park opening, the line for the FastPass will likely be around Carthay Circle. Follow signs for that FastPass, there will be many Cast Members around to help you out. One other item of note is that Radiator Springs Racers has an extremely effective single-rider line. In my experience, going as a single-rider hardly takes anything away from the attraction. Often times the people you go with end up in the same car with you or in the car you’re racing against. I highly recommend the single-rider line especially since you’ll want to ride this attraction more than once. Unless you have no soul.

RSR rock

As I’ve already said, all of this could change do to personal preference. I tried to go by order of popularity while also factoring in how interesting and hot the queue gets. Below is a quicker version of my rankings along with what time of day I’d try to get a FastPass for this attraction.

  1. Radiator Springs Racers – The best and most popular attraction at Disney California Adventure (maybe in all of Disneyland). I’d get a FastPass for RSR at park opening and then do Soarin’, Toy Story Mania, or Guardians immediately. To get a FastPass for it, you’ll have to go near park opening or else they will run out of FastPasses. Also, try the single-rider line around dusk for a great experience.
  2. Soarin’ – While finishing second, Soarin’ is quite a ways behind Radiator Springs Racers on this list. I would get a FastPass for this as soon as the previous one allows you to. That would put getting this FastPass sometime in the late morning (depending on park hours). While over in this direction pick up a FastPass for World of Color, as well.
  3. Toy Story Midway Mania – A very fun attraction with wait times that ebb and flow. I’d FastPass this in the late morning to skip the outdoor line (much like Incredicoaster). If the line is under 30 minutes though, just stand-by and get a repeat FastPass elsewhere.
  4. Incredicoaster – Once available, I’d head over to Paradise Pier and get a FastPass for Incredicoaster. This finishes above Mission: BREAKOUT! due to its boring line and the heat. If it’s really hot out, get a FastPass for Grizzly River Run in this slot instead. That said, wait times here can be fairly low so if they are just go standby.
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! – Only slightly behind Incredicoaster, I’d FastPass this in the afternoon assuming there were still some available. While I miss Tower of Tower, Mission BREAKOUT! is a lot of fun. The line does move fast if you have to go stand-by. Again, if it’s really hot then skip this one in favor of Grizzly River Run.
  6. Grizzly River Run – This is the wildcard. I love this attraction, as it’s much better than your average river rapids theme park attraction. If the weather is less than 80 or 85 degrees then the line isn’t terrible. But, if it is then this attraction would jump up to number 3 or 4 in my rankings.
  7. Goofy’s Sky School – I don’t like this one but I guess if nothing else is available and you’re in the area then FastPass it if the wait is over 15 minutes long.
  8. Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue – I’m sure someone somewhere likes this attraction. That person is not me and I do not advise getting a FastPass here. You can probably avoid the ride altogether unless it’s a walk on.

Cars Land night as you go rock

So, there you have it. I’ll try to keep this post up to date as the park changes.  If you have any questions or disagreements, leave them in the comments! Thank you for reading!

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6 replies »

  1. This all seemed about accurate. Totally agree with the single rider line for the Cars ride – I went with my husband and another couple and ended up in the same car with one friend, racing against the other friend and only my husband ended up in the car behind us. So it is very likely you’ll end up with your group being pretty close together.

    Liked by 1 person

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