Disneyland – Huge Crowds on October 17th?

Disneyland Fall Break - Scary Crowds?

When I’m working on estimating crowds at Disneyland for the RideMax planner, October is one of those months that is always sort of dicey. One day things can be just fine, but other days can have absolutely crazy crowds.

The past few years, in order to help with these October crowd estimates, I’ve researched school fall break calendars, especially for schools in some of California’s neighboring states. And this year, I’m seeing something of a perfect storm of crowds shaping up for Friday, October 17th.

Why October 17th?

Well, first of all, I expect the entire week to see larger crowds than you might expect for the fall. Both Columbus day and Canadian Thanksgiving are on Monday that week, and sometimes the “holdover crowds” from these holidays can spill into the week. There are also schools in Arizona which will be out the entire week on fall break as well.

The real icing on the cake is UEA break, however, when schools in Utah are on break Thursday and Friday (the 16th and 17th), and Utah’s Alpine and Provo school districts are out on Monday, the 20th, as well.

You may discount the idea that a school break in the state of Utah, which doesn’t actually even touch California, could have a large impact on the crowds, but consider this: Utah has the highest percentage in the nation of homes with children. And you can bet that many of those families will be headed to Disneyland for fall break!

Given that the Utah break doesn’t start until Thursday, I don’t expect crowds to be nearly as bad Tuesday and Wednesday (though I expect the AZ break will make even those crowds larger than normal for fall weekdays).

The crowds should peak on Friday, the 17th, with UEA break in full swing. I flat out expect the 17th to be the most crowded day for the entire month of October. Adding to the craziness, Disneyland itself closes early that night, at 6:00pm, in order to make way for the Halloween party that evening. As such, you can expect DCA to be extremely (extremely!) crowded that evening, as all of the local annual passholders come into the park expecting a nice Friday evening visit, likely unaware of the crowds that await them.

As if this weren’t enough, the other thing that could make the crowds seem larger-than-normal is if Disney itself is unprepared for Friday’s madness, and doesn’t bulk up the staff that day. Some attractions that rely on employees for throughput rate (i.e., Jungle Cruise), could see much longer lines if Disney doesn’t anticipate the crowd levels adequately.

Unlike Friday, Saturday is blocked out for both types of Southern California annual passholders, so the crowds should actually be somewhat lower on Saturday than on Friday. And both parks will be open late Saturday, allowing the crowds to spread out more than on Friday. (Add to this the fact that many folks from AZ and UT will also use Saturday as a travel day home.)

OK, so in an effort to not be all gloom-and-doom here, if you are visiting on the 17th, is there anything you can do to help salvage the day?

I’m sure you expect a shameless plug for RideMax here, so let’s get that out of the way first: Yes, by all means, use RideMax. This will at least set you up with a basic game plan for the day, which sure beats wandering around with your head buried in the park map trying to get everyone to agree on where to go next… meanwhile, the precious morning hours just tick away and the crowds continue to build.

The other, significant thing you can do is arrive early Friday morning, well before the park opens for the day. I really can’t stress this enough, so let me say it again with emphasis: ARRIVE EARLY FRIDAY MORNING!

Because the Disneyland park doesn’t host Magic Morning on Friday, you can especially get a jump on the crowds at Disneyland if you arrive well before opening time. (DCA, on the other hand, will have crowds already in the park at opening time, due to Extra Magic Hours on Friday morning for hotel guests. So the early advantage isn’t as great at DCA unless you have access to Extra Magic Hours yourself.)

As an added “early-arrival” bonus, the parks both open at 8:00am on Friday, and given that many folks have a much harder time getting out of bed for an 8:00am opening than a later one, this is a case where the early bird really does get the worm.

I hope this helps you anticipate and plan your week if you’re heading to Disneyland for fall break. There really are a lot of great things about Disneyland in the fall, and some of my favorites include the cooler weather and the holiday makeover of the Haunted Mansion (something I really wish Disney World would also do in Orlando).

So if you are visiting on the 17th, don’t let the crowds discourage you. Anticipate them, do a little advance planning, and arrive early to beat them!

“Frozen Summer Fun” Added to RideMax

Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios has added a set of “extras” this summer, all under the banner of Frozen Summer Fun. I stopped by earlier this week with Liesle and my daughter to check it out, and we found that we enjoyed it more than I had expected to. Although it’s nowhere close to a Star Wars Land, it adds to the experience of a park that’s long overdue for some sort of update.

(Note: Click on any image in this post for a larger version.)

Get tickets before the show for the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

Our first stop of the day was to get tickets for the lengthily-titled show, For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration. At 10:45 there were still plenty of tickets available for the first show of the day at 12:30.

A short line to get tickets for the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

The line to get tickets for the show is in the Streets of America. Look for the green umbrellas set up on the “side street” off the main thoroughfare. Based on the queue set-up, it looked like they were expecting much larger lines for this than actually existed.

Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios

We planted ourselves off to the side of the Sorcerer’s Hat for the 11:00am Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome, which turned out to be sort of lame, actually, and was our least-favorite activity of the day. It consisted of Anna and Elsa in a carriage, along with Kristoff and a handful of dancers, all making their way down Hollywood Boulevard to the Sorcerer’s Hat. Granted, we didn’t have a great vantage point from where we stood, but I’m not sure being up-close would have helped that much.

Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios

The festivities included Anna and Elsa being handed flowers by someone dressed up like a Disney manager. Not sure what more to say about this.

Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios - Sing Along

On the bright side, we did get to sing-along with Let It Go. (This is sarcastic or not, depending on your own level of Frozen fatigue.)

Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios - Finale

And the guy in the suit helps wrap the whole thing up.

Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios - Kristoff

With the brief festivities at the hat concluded, the processional continued down toward Star Tours, where I could see the characters a bit better. If you don’t care about the stage show, this location offers a better view and is less crowded. To give you an idea of the overall brevity of the show, this picture was taken at 11:12am.

Anna and Elsa's Royal Welcome at Disney's Hollywood Studios - Say Goodbye

“Say goodbye, to the…” well, you know the rest.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen T-Shirt Red

I thought these Olaf t-shirts were pretty cool (sorry). $21.95.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Olaf T-Shirt Blue

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Olaf T-Shirt White

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Summer Fun - Wandering Oaken's Frozen Funland

We next made our way over to Wandering Oaken’s Frozen Funland. This is located in one of the old “sound stage” buildings between Toy Story Midway Mania and the Backlot Tour. We didn’t have to wait at all to go inside, but the individual activities inside did include some waiting.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Summer Fun - Wandering Oaken's Frozen Funland

The longest wait by far was for the “snow ground” playground area, which included real snow. This was a real treat in Florida in July.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Summer Fun - Wandering Oaken's Frozen Funland

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Summer Fun - Wandering Oaken's Frozen Funland Ice Skating

Folks also seemed to be enjoying the small ice-skating rink in this area, which is available for an extra $10.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Summer Fun - Wandering Oaken's Frozen Funland

Frozen-themed treats are also available here.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Summer Fun Treats

Disney's Hollywood Studios - Frozen Summer Fun - Cupcakes

A close-up of the cupcakes.

Disney's Hollywood Studios - For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

By now, it was time to use our tickets for the 12:30 show of For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.

As someone who downloaded the soundtrack for this show before I was even home from the movie theater — two days after the film was released — (and before every 9-year-old girl in the country had the lyrics memorized), these songs are near and dear to my heart. We really enjoyed this sing-along. It was fast-paced and fun, despite the fact that they left out one of our favorite tunes, Fixer Upper.

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

The show included segments of live acting…

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

…as well as a bouncing snowflake for the lyrically-impaired. (Not us!)

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration - Anna

Sounds good, Anna!

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

The grand finale…

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration - Finale

As I said, all in all, we really enjoyed the sing-a-long. (And hopefully we didn’t annoy anyone around us too much with our boisterous rendition of the lyrics.) I’ve given this one a fairly high rating in RideMax, and would definitely recommend adding it to your RideMax plan.

Note that the actual showtime came in at around 30 minutes, and this is how we’ve listed it in RideMax, despite Disney’s Times Guide indicating a 20-minute show length.

As a bonus, both the sing-along and Wandering Oaken’s Frozen Funland are a great way to get out of the heat and enjoy some *very* cold air-conditioning. In fact, both Liesle and my daughter were downright cold by the end of this show.

Frozen living up to it’s name, I guess.

We didn’t stay for the evening Frozen version of the fireworks, but I hope to see that in the near future.

For RideMax customers, you’ll find four of the “Frozen Summer Fun” activities listed in RideMax now through September 1st, so feel free to add these to your RideMax plans:

  • Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome
  • Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Wandering Oaken’s Frozen Funland
  • Frozen Fireworks Spectacular

What about you? Have you seen or do you plan to see the new “Frozen Summer Fun” activities yet? Do people really smell better than reindeer? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below!


“The Disneyland Book,” by Betsy Malloy, Plus a RideMax Review


The Disneyland Book

Along my journey with RideMax, there have been a few significant milestones, and I have Betsy Malloy to thank for one very important one. For those who aren’t familiar with her work, Betsy is the California Travel Writer for About.com, and very early in RideMax’s life, she discovered it, put it to the test at Disneyland, and wrote about her positive experience with RideMax on her website. Though most of our RideMax “PR” has been word-of-mouth advertising from satisfied customers, Betsy’s early review helped to kick-start this process, and I’m grateful to her for being willing to write about RideMax before it was well-known.

Betsy has released a unique guidebook for Disneyland, titled The Disneyland Book: 101 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Add Wow! to Your Vacation. One thing I like about Betsy’s book is that she relies a lot on pictures, rather than lengthy text, to drive home the tips in the book. It covers a lot of basics for those not familiar with Disney’s parks, including one tip from yours truly, and even contains some information that was new to me. Be sure to check out her book if you’re planning a trip to Disneyland this summer.

Earlier this spring, Taren, Jason, and Terrance over at the EarzUp! podcast also did an episode which included a RideMax review. Check it out if you’re on the fence about subscribing to RideMax, and while you’re there, check out the other fun Disneyland-related podcasts and blog posts on their site as well!



Beating the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Crowds at Park Opening. Festival of the Lion King Opens in New Harambe Theater.

Magic Kingdom - Seven Dwarfs Mine Train CrowdsAs you can see in the image above, Disney is now using a new “follow the rope” procedure when they open the Magic Kingdom in the morning. This is used to help prevent guests from running to the very popular new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride, as well as to the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.

I visited the Magic Kingdom yesterday, and followed pretty closely behind the Cast Members leading the way, as the picture above — and the one right below — shows.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Park Opening

What may not be obvious from these pictures, is the HUGE crowds following behind. I somehow managed to hold my camera over my head, pointing backwards, and caught the following amazing sight (click on any image for a larger view):

Magic Kingdom Crowds

With most of these folks attempting to get to these new attractions, you can see how important it is to both arrive early and to know what you’re doing once you get there. The first one is up to you, and if you’re a RideMax subscriber, we’ve added an in-plan tip (our longest one yet) to help with the second one.

New Lion King Theater in Africa

I also hopped over to the Animal Kingdom yesterday to check out the new Festival of the Lion King theater, which has been built in Africa, replacing the old location in Camp Minnie-Mickey. As you can see in the picture above, the standby entrance is on the left, with FP+ access on the right.

Festival of the Lion King - New Theater Location in Africa

Just to put the new location in context, this is the wide-angle view from the bridge leading into Africa. Kilimanjaro Safaris is straight ahead on the right-hand side of the picture, with the new Lion King theater on the very far left-hand side of the image.

New Lion King Theater

Once you’ve crossed the bridge, just hang a left here to get to the new theater.

New Festival of the Lion King Theater in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Here’s the view of the theater building taken from the far end, looking back toward where the previous picture was taken.

Festival of the Lion King

Festival of the Lion King

It’s the same great show as before, one I consider a “must see” attraction!

A final note is that in my observations yesterday, there is no need to use FP+ to visit the FOTLK. For the noon show, you could still get in standby by showing up just 15 minutes before showtime. Arriving a half-hour early should be a safe bet on all but the busiest days of the year.


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!