Three Tips to Reduce Your Wait at Radiator Springs Racers

Radiator Spring Racers at Disney California Adventure

Even though Cars Land opened almost two years ago, the crowds can still be pretty intense, especially for this new land’s centerpiece attraction, Radiator Springs Racers.

Here are three tips to reduce your wait.

Tip #1: Use FastPass (duh!)

This may seem obvious, but using the FastPass system is a good way to reduce your wait on this ride. The trick, however, is that because the attraction is still so popular, FastPass tickets can run out very early in the day. So in order to take advantage of this tip, you’ll need to get in line for the FastPass machines no later than about 40 or 50 minutes after the park opens. You might get away with later than this on days of very low attendance, but why push your luck?

Another less-obvious point here is that the lines can start out very long just to get a FastPass ticket, with the line forming near the Carthay Circle Theater even before the park has opened for the day. After about 30 or 40 minutes though, the line to get FastPasses will normally start to die down. As a result, if you’re using RideMax to plan your visit, you may find that the plan doesn’t have you get in line for the FastPass tickets until after you’ve already visited another attraction, while you wait for the FastPass line to die down a bit here.

Tip #2: Use the Single Rider Line

Radiator Springs Racers Single Rider Line Entrance

A perhaps less well-known fact is that Radiator Springs Racers offers a separate “single rider” line. For those unfamiliar with the single rider concept, you can use this line to avoid most of the wait, but the cost is that your party will most likely be split up, so that you ride in separate vehicles. The picture above shows the entrance to the single rider line, which is just to the left of the main attraction entrance.

The single rider line likely won’t be an option for you if you have very young children who would be uncomfortable riding with strangers. But for older children and adults, it offers a very viable alternative to standing in a very long standby line. We’ve sometimes found ourselves even lucky enough to either ride in the same vehicle with someone else in our party, or — and this is even more fun — racing against someone in our group who happened to be seated in the car we “competed” with as part of the ride experience.

Tip #3: Arrive Early on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday

Radiator Springs Racers - No Line

You may have read this tip and thought, “OK, I can see the logic in arriving early, but what is so special about Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday?

Disney offers “Extra Magic Hours” (EMH) to its hotel guests, where they are allowed to enter DCA one hour before the “official” park opening time. EMH for DCA takes place on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. So even if you arrive early on one of these days of the week hoping to beat the rush to Radiator Springs Racers, you’ll find hotel guests already in the park, many (most?) of which will try to visit RSR during the EMH hour, making for a long line right at park opening time.

One common misconception here is that park-hopper “bonus” ticket holders sometimes think that their one-day “Magic Morning” privileges apply to DCA — they don’t. Magic Morning is ONLY available for use at Disneyland. If you want access to DCA’s EMH, you’ll need to stay at one of the Disney hotels.

You know I have to save something for subscribers, so if you’re a RideMax subscriber, please also be sure to check out our “Tips & Hints” pages within RideMax itself, where we give some very detailed advice — complete with pictures — regarding this particular tip, including where to position yourself once inside the park. That advice can help you further beat the crowds to Radiator Springs Racers right at opening time.

For those of you who have visited DCA since Cars Land opened, what did you think? Do you like the new attractions? What is your favorite?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Disney Spring Break: Three Tips for Beating the Crowds at Disney’s Theme Parks

It’s that time of year again when folks start planning spring break vacations to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Although crowds during this time of year can be very heavy, there are a few simple things you can do to help beat those crowds. I’ll expand on each of these below, but to cut right to the chase, my three tips are:

  • Arrive early
  • Have a plan
  • Choose the “right” park for your visit date

Let’s hit each of these in more detail.

Tip #1: Arrive Early

Regardless of whether you’re visiting Disneyland or Walt Disney World, it’s very important to arrive well before the park opens for the day so that you’re among the first group of guests in the park right when it opens for business.

Consider the two pictures below, taken last year at the Magic Kingdom during spring break. The first shows what Fantasyland looked like just after the park opened for the day:

Now, check out the following picture taken two hours later:

Magic Kingdom Spring Break -- Mid-morning

Not only are the lines for the attractions lower first thing in the morning, arriving early also gives you an important advantage in using Disney’s FASTPASS (FP) system at Disneyland, or in using the FASTPASS-Plus (FP+) system at Walt Disney World.

To explain more, first thing in the morning the FP “return windows” for most attractions at Disneyland and at California Adventure are just 40 minutes away, and this is also the time at which you can get your next FP ticket. Contrast this with later in the day, when you may have to wait two hours to obtain your next FP ticket, if they’re even available at all.

Similarly, at Disney World’s theme parks, where the FP+ system is now in full use, arriving early gets you quicker access to the FP+ kiosks which are scattered throughout the parks.

Arriving later in the day could result in a line for the FP+ kiosks that looks like the following picture from the Animal Kingdom, taken at around 11:00am during another busy season of the year (the way some of these folks are camped out makes it look like they’ve been waiting a while):

FP+ Kiosk at Animal Kingdom

Tip #2: Have a Plan

OK, I know this one is self-serving, since I earn my living from the RideMax custom itinerary planning toolBut even if you don’t use RideMax, I recommend you at least do some planning before you leave for the park, even if it’s just to sit down and make a list of priority attractions and their general location within the park. (And if you are visiting Walt Disney World and don’t feel like you need the detail that RideMax offers, you can also find good touring advice at the easywdw website. No affiliation, BTW.)

Tip #3: Choose the “Right” Park For Your Visit Date

Radiator Springs Racers

In addition to arriving early, it’s important to choose the “right” day of the week to visit a given park. For example, the above picture shows the empty line for Radiator Springs Racers first thing in the morning, right after the park opened for the day.

The catch is that for the majority of guests, this scene is only possible on certain days of the week.

What’s important to remember is that both Disneyland and Walt Disney World host some sort of “early entry” program for their hotel guests, which gives these guests access to one of the parks one hour early on specific days of the week. For example, Disney hotel guests are normally allowed early entry to Disneyland on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and to DCA on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Walt Disney World also normally hosts early entry at one or more of its parks on any given day, but the exact day of the week is not always as predictable as it is for the Disneyland resort. (RideMax subscribers can find our “Which Day, Which Park?” recommendations in the RideMax “Tips & Hints” pages, or you can consult the Disney World website for the early entry information as well.)

If you’re not staying at a Disney-owned hotel and still want to get a jump on the crowds by arriving early, the best way to do this is to simply avoid the park hosting early entry on the day of you visit, and go to another park instead. For example, the picture above was taken on a Tuesday, when Disneyland, and NOT DCA, was hosting early entry. Had I gone straight to Radiator Springs Racers when the park opened to the public on a Monday instead, I would have found a large line for this attraction right at opening time. (And don’t even attempt to visit Peter Pan on an early entry day for Disneyland if you don’t have early entry access yourself!)

During a busy season like spring break, a similar scenario can play out at the Disney World theme parks, with hotel guests streaming into the park hosting early entry (or “Extra Magic Hours” (EMH), as Disney calls it) well before the park opens to the public. To start your day with lower crowds, I strongly encourage you to visit a non-EMH park instead.

Do you have a favorite crowd-beating tip you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments below!

“Magic Bands” FastPass+ Support Now in RideMax!

Magic Bands at Disney World
As most recent Disney World guests are aware, Disney has been rolling out a new program called “FastPass+” (note the plus sign – very important)!

This new system allows guests to reserve ride times in advance — before leaving home — for up to three attractions per day. Advance ride reservations can also be made using Disney’s own app, called “My Disney Experience” (MDE). Guests participating in the new system receive special wrist bracelets containing an RFID chip.

These bracelets are called “Magic Bands,” and they allow these guests entrance to the park, as well as admission to the attractions where they’ve made FP+ reservations. Guests touch the Magic Band to the RFID readers, located at the special FP+ entrances, to access these attractions. (Note the reader, emblazoned with a light-up Mickey head, lights up “green” when a valid reservation-holding guest holds his or her Magic Band up to the reader, a shown in the image below.)

Magic Bands at Disney World Attraction Entrance

Eventually, this new system will replace the traditional paper-ticket-based FastPass system, which has been in use for more than a decade now at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. (It’s important to note that the new FP+ system is not being implemented at Disneyland, at least for now.)

Officially FP+ is still just in testing mode, so most guests using the new system will also have use of the traditional, paper-based FastPass system, at least for the next few weeks. (For brevity, I’ll refer to the traditional FastPass system as “FP-” from here on out — note the “minus” sign).

I say “most” guests will still have access to FP-, but there are some guests who have already been moved exclusively to FP+, and who can’t use FP- now. The move to “exclusively” using FP+ appears to be moving from resort to resort, beginning with guests staying at Pop Century.

So for now, there are three categories of guests:

1. Those who don’t have access to the new FP+ system, but who can still use the old, paper-based FP- system.

2. Those who can use BOTH the new FP+ system as well as the old FP- system.

3. Those who have access to the new FP+ system, but not FP-.

So, what does this mean for RideMax?

We’ve added a new option in the web- and mobile web-based versions of RideMax to allow you to tell RideMax if you are using the new FP+ system, as well as which specific attractions you wish to use the FP+ system for. You can also tell RideMax to either include or not include use of “traditional” FP- when it creates your itinerary.

So, what do plans using these various options look like? I thought you’d never ask!  :-)

Just for fun, I’ve created four Magic Kingdom plans for use TODAY — a busy fall Saturday in November — each with the same set of attractions, but with different FastPass settings. The list of 13 attractions I’ve chosen to visit are:

  • Barnstormer
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • it’s a small world
  • Jungle Cruise
  • People Mover
  • Peter Pan’s Flight (twice)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (twice)
  • Splash Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Speedway (twice)
  • Winnie the Pooh

And, here is the screen shot showing my list of plans, taken from RideMax:

RideMax for Disney World - Sample Plans with FastPass Plus Options

Let’s now take a look at each of these plans in detail, starting at the bottom and working our way up!

First, here’s the plan at the bottom, which just has us visiting EVERYTHING standby. No FP+, no FP-. No FastPass at all, of any kind:

RideMax Sample Plan - No FastPass

And sure enough, with NO FASTPASS at all, this plan looks pretty lousy. There is one really long wait — for Enchanted Tales with Belle, as well as some painful waits at the Tomorrowland Speedway. Our total estimated wait is 193 minutes, or just under 15 minutes per attraction, on average. (This average may not seem too bad, but we can do MUCH better, as you’ll soon see.)

Next, let’s take a look at the plan which ONLY uses the new FP+ system. I told RideMax I wanted to use FP+ to visit Peter Pan, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and the Tomorrowland Speedway. (Note that I’m restricted from using FP+ to visit the same attraction twice, so I can use FP+ for one of the visits to Peter Pan and the Speedway, but not for both visits to each of these rides. Since my plan includes each of these attractions twice, RideMax will use FP+ for one ride, and standby for the other, for each of them.)

RideMax Sample Plan with Only FP+

As you can see, just using FP+ has cut down our estimated wait almost in half, to 100 minutes total. There is still a long-ish wait for Jungle Cruise on the plan, but we’ve eliminated that long wait for Enchanted Tales with Belle by using FP+ to visit it. Note also that the plan has us strategically visiting both Peter Pan and the Tomorrowland Speedway using the standby line early in the morning, but using FP+ for our second visit later in the early afternoon, while still respecting the fact that Disney won’t typically let us use FP+ for two attractions during the same hour of the day.

Our average estimated wait, using just FP+ for these three attractions, is now down to just under 8 minutes for each attraction in the plan.

Now, let’s take a look at the plan which ONLY uses the “traditional” FP- system, but with “aggressive” use of FastPass. In other words, we’re using the “FastPass Runner” setting in RideMax, as well as the setting that tells RideMax that our FastPass runner is willing to skip *any* attraction while off gathering FastPasses for our group. (For those unfamiliar with RideMax, we could have also told it which specific subset of attractions the runner was willing to skip, if any. For this test, we’re being aggressive and telling RideMax that our runner can skip anything if it might help our overall wait.)

RideMax Sample Plan using Traditional FastPass Only

As you can see, this plan isn’t quite as good as the FP+ plan, with our overall estimated wait bumping back up to 125 minutes, or just under ten minutes per attraction. This is mostly due to the fact that we’re back to being stuck in the long standby line for Enchanted Tales with Belle, which doesn’t offer FP-.

And as a side note, you may be wondering why RideMax didn’t just have us visit Enchanted Tales with Belle first thing, rather than waiting for later in the day when the line is so long? It’s simple, really. If we had visited Enchanted Tales with Belle right when the park opened, we’d have spent our first 30-35 minutes on just that one attraction. And while the wait there certainly would have been shorter, we’d have sacrificed some of the other Fantasyland attractions and the Speedway, which also doesn’t offer FP-, but which takes less time to ride. We’re essentially trading one long wait for several really short ones. If I were using these plans “for real,” of course, I may make some adjustments to the plan to see if I could reduce this crazy-long wait. Maybe by visiting the Tomorrowland Speedway and Peter Pan only once each for example, the software might have me visiting Belle earlier in the day, and reducing the estimated wait as a result. Experimenting is key to arriving at a good game plan!

OK, finally let’s use BOTH FP+ and the traditional FastPass system — still very aggressively — and see what RideMax comes up with:

RideMax Sample Plan Using Both FP+ and Traditional FastPass

As you can see, we’ve really cleaned up here, with a total overall estimated wait of just 66 minutes, or just five minutes per attraction! This is basically one-third of our estimated wait using NO FastPasses at all, which is pretty amazing.

I guess the bottom line for me is that as long as you have access to at least ONE or BOTH of the FastPass systems during the FP+ rollout, you should be able to do pretty well.

If you’re using the new FP+ system, my suggestion is to experiment with the various settings in RideMax until you arrive at a plan you’re happy with.

Happy Planning!

New RideMax FASTPASS Features Added to Web Version!

Magic KingdomJust in time for fall break, we’ve added two significant new features to the web version of RideMax, both of them related to FastPass.

The new features include:

  • The ability to specify whether you want your RideMax plans to take advantage of FastPass or not (see below for why this might be useful).
  • For plans using a FastPass runner, the ability to tell RideMax which specific attractions the runner is willing to skip, if any.

Related to the first feature, you might wonder why someone might want to NOT use FastPass. This really is in anticipation of the new FastPass-Plus (FP+) system at Walt Disney World, which is currently in testing mode throughout the Walt Disney World parks.

If a customer is using the new FP+ system and doesn’t want RideMax plans using “traditional” FP at all, the customer can turn this option OFF in RideMax, and insert the FP+ activities into the plan using scheduled breaks. This is after his or her FP+ reservations have been secured using Disney’s online reservation system. (And of course we’re working on more complete support for FP+ in RideMax, so stay tuned on that one.)

Note that if someone is testing the new FP+ system and ALSO wants to use traditional FastPass, this customer can simply leave the “Use FastPass” checkbox selected in RideMax, AND add scheduled breaks to the plan for the FP+ reservations, and go from there. So either way, RideMax has you covered.

As I’ve noted above, the second feature we’ve added allows someone to specify which attractions the FP runner is willing to skip, if any, while off running around gathering FP tickets for the rest of the group. This is a feature which is already included in the Windows version, but we felt it was time for the web version to gain this functionality as well, as this can be a very useful tool in planning the day.

And, just to be clear, these new features have been added to both the desktop-based web browser AND the mobile web browser versions of RideMax.

There has also been a bug in the mobile web version of RideMax that prevented someone from adding more than one scheduled break to a plan when creating the plan using Safari on the iPhone, and possibly from other browsers as well. This bug is now fixed with this update.

With fall break just around the corner, I’m hoping you find these new FastPass features, as well as the recently-added support for shows in the Disneyland version of RideMax, helpful in planning your visit!

Software Update: RideMax for Disneyland Now Includes Shows!

Aladdin at DCA is one of the shows now supported by RideMax

One of the most popular requests we’ve received is to add support for the various shows at Disneyland and DCA. While shows have long been supported by the Disney World version of RideMax, they’ve been missing from the Disneyland version — until today!

I’m excited to announce that RideMax for Disneyland now includes support for the following shows in RideMax itineraries, with exact showtimes specific to the date you’re planning to visit:

  • Fantasmic!
  • Disneyland Fireworks
  • Disneyland Parade
  • Jedi Training Academy
  • Mickey and the Magical Map
  • Billy Hill and the Hillbillies
  • Aladdin
  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
  • Pixar Play Parade
  • World of Color

As an added bonus, we’ve also updated RideMax to now include the single rider versions of both Indiana Jones and the Matterhorn Bobsleds.

This is by far the largest update we’ve done to RideMax in a while, and my hope is that this will give a significant boost in your ability to use RideMax to map out your day at Disneyland and DCA.

Because these features are so new, please let us know if you see anything unusual with the new features. You can do this by either by emailing us directly, or by sending us a message on our Facebook page.

How about you? Will you find this useful? Let me know in the comments below!

DCA Tower of Terror FastPass Update


Tower of Terror at DCA

Just a quick note here on an update to our DCA estimates.

While preparing our Disneyland RideMax update for the remainder of July today, I noticed on the Disneyland refurbishment list the following note:

Now – January 1, 2014: Tower of Terror will operate at reduced capacity during routine maintenance.”

This reinforces the feedback I received recently from a customer, who indicated that on the date of his visit, Disney wasn’t offering FastPasses for Tower of Terror. My guess is that Disney had actually run out of FastPasses before the customer arrived at the attraction that day, rather than not offering them at all. (Luckily, the customer ended up OK, as he was given his choice of FastPasses when another attraction he was riding broke down during his ride.)

In looking at recent FastPass return times for Tower of Terror, they do indeed seem to be running quite a bit later into the day than what I’d normally expect to see. It’s quite likely that Disney has cut back on the number of FastPasses they issue for this attraction, which of course causes later return windows, especially in the late morning, afternoon, and evening hours.

As a result of the reduced capacity here, we’ve updated our Tower of Terror FastPass return time estimates for all dates currently on the RideMax calendar. I recommend for those of you who have already created plans which include Tower of Terror, that you create new plans instead.

Happy Planning!

Cars Land Advice — Summer 2013 Update

Radiator Springs Racers and Cars Land at California AdventureWe’re recently back from another extensive multi-day Disneyland Resort visit. And with Cars Land approaching its one-year anniversary, we’ve made an important update to our Cars Land advice, available to subscribers from within the RideMax application itself.

The real focus of the update is on Radiator Springs Racers (pictured above), as right now it’s the most difficult attraction to board without a significant wait in the entire Disneyland Resort. The update is focused on strategies for reducing your wait — and the strategy can change depending on the day of the week and time of the day. Along with the advice, we’ve included pictures, which I hope will make the advice more clear, especially for those who might be visiting Cars Land for the first time.

For RideMax customers, you can find the updated advice in the RideMax “Tips & Hints” area. Look for the page simply titled, “Cars Land Advice.”

And finally, if you’ve visited Cars Land since its opening, what did you think? Did you enjoy these new attractions? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Visiting Disney California Adventure Tomorrow?

Cars Land at Disney Calfornia Adventure

If you’re planning to visit Disneyland, Disney California Adventure (DCA), or Disney World’s Magic Kingdom on Friday, May 24th, you probably already know that the parks will be open for 24 hours straight, from 6:00am on Friday morning all the way through until 6:00am on Saturday morning.

What you might not know, though, is that the Disneyland resort is also hosting Grad Night on Friday evening as well, with the Grad Night festivities centered at DCA. As a result, even though DCA is technically “open” for 24 hours, many attractions will be open to regular guests for much less than that. According to the Disneyland website, for example, Radiator Springs Racers won’t open until 9:00am, and will close to regular guests at 10:15pm Friday evening.

We’ve built this assumption into RideMax, of course, but thought you may want to know this if you’re visiting tomorrow. It could be very crowded, but fun too!

What about you? Are you planning to brave the crowds and visit one of these three parks tomorrow? How long do you plan to stay? Let me know your plans in the comments below!

Disney Spring Break 2013 – Avoiding the Crowds!

Wald Disney World Magic Kingdom Castle - Spring Break

Early morning at the Magic Kingdom. Arriving early during spring break is one key to beating the crowds!

Spring break is here!

Whether your trip includes Disneyland and the new Cars Land on the west coast, or Walt Disney World on the east, there are a couple of keys to beating the crowds:

1. Have a game plan (OK, you knew I’d say this, and yes, it’s a shameless plug — RideMax can help.)

2. Arrive early

If you’re an “old hand” at Disney and are already convinced of these two points , go ahead and quit reading now. If not, then this post is for you! I’ll even share some pictures to help illustrate this for you.

The thing is, you really need to consider BOTH of these tips for a successful day at your favorite Disney theme park. One without the other just doesn’t cut it.

For example, if you arrive early but don’t have a plan, you could waste your early-morning time visiting attractions that you could see later in the day without much wait (maybe with FastPass), but then you find that some attractions have huge waits by the time you get to them.

And, if you have a plan but don’t arrive early, well, there are some attractions that are just plain hard to see without a wait unless you’re in the park right when it opens. FastPasses for some attractions can also run out early in the day (Radiator Springs Racers, anyone?). No plan — not even RideMax — can save you here if you’re not in the park early when the lines are short and FastPasses plentiful.

Consider some pictures that I took yesterday at the Magic Kingdom to help illustrate the importance of arriving early.

Magic Kingdom Monorail - Spring Break

The park opens at 8:00am today, and here I am at 7:51am in line to board the monorail. You can see that the crowds are already starting to build, but this is nothing compared to the masses you’ll see here in a few hours (more on this below).

I don’t actually recommend arriving this late, but I got lucky and was able to board the monorail quickly. I arrived at the front turnstiles just as Disney had opened the park for the day.

Entering the Magic Kingdom - Spring Break 2013

Here I am making my way through the entrance tunnel into the park, at 8:02am. As you can see, there are large crowds ahead of me. It would have been better had I arrived earlier!

Fortunately, I’m a fast walker, and was able to make it to the end of Main Street quickly. (I was also by myself today, so I’m sure I walked faster than most families with children would.)

Fantasyland Magic Kingdom - Spring Break, 2013

A largely-deserted Fantasyland right after the park opened. Folks, this is why you arrive early! (Below I’ll show you a striking comparison photo taken later in the morning.)

I was mostly focused on Fantasyland today. And even though I was slightly delayed getting into the park, I still had time to get a FastPass for Peter Pan, and then make my way over to the current big bottleneck in the Magic Kingdom.

Enchanted Tales with Belle - Magic Kingdom

Enchanted Tales with Belle, posted at a 15-minute wait. My actual wait would be shorter.

This is where the importance of PLANNING comes in, and my RideMax plug. If I didn’t have a RideMax plan with me telling me to go here early, I might have visited one of the “big” rides instead, even though the lines for the big attractions don’t build nearly as quickly as the line for Belle does. This would have resulted in a crazy wait here later, or maybe even caused me to miss this altogether.

Belle's Cottage - Magic Kingdom

The line for Belle’s Cottage isn’t bad at all. Yet.

Enchanted Tales with Belle - Magic Mirror

We go through the Magic Mirror…

Belle - Magic Kingdom

And of course, Belle is charming as always.

Belle - Crowds - Magic Kingdom

By the time I exit the show, the lines here are already huge. I’d estimate about a 45-minute wait, and it’s not quite 8:45am!

Little Mermaid - Magic Kingdom

Next stop for me was the new Little Mermaid attraction. It’s posted at a 20-minute wait, but it was still basically a walk-on.

This is where having RideMax helped. Had I visited Little Mermaid first, and then Belle next, my total wait for these two rides would have been close to 50 minutes, as opposed to the 10-minutes or so total I waited by following the plan.

Ariel's Undersea Adventure - Disney World

The line for Ariel’s Undersea Adventure takes a while to build in the morning, thanks to it’s rather large capacity. No need to rush here first thing, and RideMax knows this.

Barnstormer - Disney World

It’s 9:07am, and the wait for Barnstormer is posted at just 10 minutes. The real wait is actually shorter. (Have I mentioned the importance of arriving early? It’s likely that some folks visiting today are still in bed!)

Teacups - Disney World

It’s around 9:15, and the Teacups are still very do-able!

Fantasyland - Disney World

Here is Fantasyland at around 9:20am, or one hour and twenty minutes after the park opened. The crowds are starting to build, but it’s still somewhat do-able here.

Peter Pan's Flight - Disney World

Still around 9:20, there is virtually no wait for “it’s a small world,” but as you can see here, you’d have to wait a while for Peter Pan now. (Thanks to RideMax, I’ve already got a FastPass for this one.)

Enchanted Tales with Belle Disney World - Crowds

OK, it’s later in the morning, but still not quite 10:00am, and it already starts getting crazy. The wait here for Belle is now posted at 60 minutes.

Aren’t you glad you got yourself out of bed early this morning, AND you followed that RideMax plan?

Fantasyland Magic Kingdom Disney World - Spring Break 2013 Crowds

OK… Here’s that comparison photo I promised earlier, taken just before 10:00am. Please don’t do this to yourself, folks!

Haunted Mansion Disney World - Spring Break 2013

Even the line for the Haunted Mansion is getting a little ridiculous, and it’s still just 10:00am! (And if you were wondering, I’m not waiting in this one, just taking the picture. ;-) )

Liberty Belle Riverboat - Disney World

It’s about time for me to leave the park, but I couldn’t resist stopping for a picture of the Liberty Belle. What can I say? The light here is nice this early in the morning!

Disney World Spring Break 2013

It’s just after 10:00am, and I’m on my way out of the park, while the crowds are pouring in!

Disney World Monorail - Spring Break 2013

Finally, here is the monorail entrance, at 10:30am. I know everyone has different tastes and opinions, but why would someone spend $1,000′s on a Disney vacation and then do this to themselves!

Spring break is survivable, but my advice remains:

Arrive EARLY, and have a PLAN!

OK, I’d be curious to see your thoughts on this. What are YOUR favorite strategies for surviving spring break at Disneyland or Walt Disney World?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

And have a great spring break!

FastPass Enforcement Comes to Disneyland!

Disneyland FastPass

FastPass: After February 18th, you'd better show up on time!

If any customers have created RideMax plans for a park visit on February 18th or later, we strongly recommend creating new plans instead, at least if you made your plans prior to February 14th at 9:00am PDT.

The rumors have been circulating for a long time, but now that Disney has placed signs on the FastPass machines asking guests to return within the one-hour window printed on the FP ticket, it seems like it’s time to take this seriously.

As a result, RideMax for Disneyland has been updated so that any plans created for dates on or after President’s day, February 18th, will no longer have the option to use FastPass late. (For those who are new to Disneyland and RideMax, up to this point Disney allowed you to use your FP ticket after the time shown on the ticket, even if you arrived several hours “late.”)

The other effect of this change is that we’ve updated our FP estimates themselves to better take this change into account. It’s always been easy for us to err on the late side with those estimates, since this was allowed by Disney and gave us more “wiggle room” in the plans. Now that the wiggle room is gone, we thought it best to pull the estimates back.

What does this mean for you? We hope the change isn’t earth-shattering, but you will, of course, have the annoyance of re-creating your plans if you’ve already made them for the affected dates. Once in the park, you will also need to double-check the return time shown on your ticket to make sure it fits within the time indicated on your RideMax plan, and adjust your day on the fly if necessary. (This is especially the case for FP return windows in the afternoon and evening, when predicting FP return windows can be more difficult. Fortunately, the afternoon and evening is also the time of day when the timing of the plan is less critical, so we’re hoping this will still work OK for most cases.)

With this update we’re also releasing a new version of the Windows application. This new version includes the ability to schedule more breaks (up to five), and also allows you to specify the location of those breaks. It also allows you to specify which specific attractions your FastPass runner is willing to miss, if any.

Note that we’ve implemented this change quickly enough that the RideMax “Tips & Hints” pages haven’t yet reflected these changes. We expect to get this done over the next few days.

Please let us know how these changes work for you, and happy planning!