We’ve just published advice for navigating the new Cars Land attractions at Disney California Adventure. If you’re a RideMax subscriber, be sure to check out this new page in the RideMax Tips & Hints!
For those of you who have patiently waiting, we’ve just published plans for June 15th-30th for Disneyland and DCA. Plans for DCA after June 15th include the new Cars Land attractions, and we expect to be in the park opening weekend looking at wait times and gathering data to help us refine our estimates further.
For those creating DCA plans for these new dates, please pay special attention to the “Arrival” tips at the top of these plans on specific dates, as well as the attractions-specific tips at the bottom of the plan, as we’ve added several new tips related to the Cars Land opening.
We’ve now updated RideMax to show an 8:45am opening time for Disney’s Hollywood Studios on days when DHS isn’t hosting morning Extra Magic Hours.
Although the “official” park opening time remains 9:00am, for all practical purposes the “real” opening time is typically 8:45am now. By reflecting this more accurately in RideMax, I’m hoping it will help with the overall planning process.
Note that Toy Story Midway Mania may be the ONLY attraction that actually opens early, but this extra 15 minutes is huge, especially since the lines for TSMM can build so quickly.
With the new opening procedure guests are allowed all the way into the attraction areas of the park as soon as the turnstiles open at 8:45am, with no more pre-opening ceremony or “rope drop” to hold everyone back. The new procedure causes guests to gradually filter into the park through the turnstiles, rather than forcing everyone into a crazy, crowd-packed mobbed heading over to TSMM.
Although I much prefer the new opening procedure, in order to take full advantage of it you’ll still need to arrive early in order to help ensure a position near the front of the turnstiles.
For our Disney World RideMax subscribers, I hope you’ll find this update helpful.
Just a quick post today.
If you’re a RideMax subscriber, or if you read some of the great Disney-related blogs, you know that Disney’s Hollywood Studios normally allows guests through the turnstiles about 15 minutes before the “official” opening time.
When I visited the Studios yesterday, however, I noticed that the only attraction that was actually open for guests before 9:00am was Toy Story Midway Mania.
While you could get a FastPass for both Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster right away, the standby lines for both of these were held back until the “official” 9:00am opening time.
So, if you’re arriving early thinking you’ll actually be able to visit Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster right away, you’re better advised to visit Toy Story Mania instead. By doing this, you can also get a VERY early return time for the Toy Story FastPass, as shown in the image above.
Still a question in my mind is how best to handle this early opening in RideMax. Would you like to see us actually move the “opening time” in the software to 8:45am? Any other suggestions?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
As I’ve been working on RideMax, I’ve noticed that regardless of how many wait time statistics we gather, or how many Times Guides we collect, if I’m trying to learn how to improve RideMax, there is simply no substitute for simply taking a RideMax plan to the park and trying it to see how well it works.
So in that spirit, I thought it might be fun to choose a group of random attractions, plug them into RideMax, then take the resulting plan to the park. Liesle and I did just that yesterday at the Magic Kingdom, and I thought it would be fun to share our experience here.
The Magic Kingdom Plan: Four Hours, Twelve Attractions
I started this process by using a random number generator to select 12 Magic Kingdom attractions. I should say up front that the list wasn’t *completely* random (and I’ll share more about this in the comments if anyone is interested), but here is the list I used, in alphabetical order:
- it’s a small world
- Jungle Cruise
- Peter Pan’s Flight (twice)
- Pirates of the Caribbean (twice)
- Snow White’s Scary Adventures
- Splash Mountain
- Tomorrowland Speedway (twice)
The options I chose in RideMax for this experiment were as follows:
- Start time: 9:00am (park opening)
- End time: 12:50pm
- FastPass Runner mode “ON” (with the runner willing to skip any attraction)
- “Water Rides” setting to warmer part of the day (10am-4pm)
Without further suspense, here is the plan RideMax came up with for our April 23rd visit:
With a total estimated wait of just 61 minutes (or roughly five minutes per attraction, on average), I thought this looked pretty decent. There is even a nice gap of “free time” that we could use for a lunch break!
Before I give the play-by-play (with pictures!) of our day at the Magic Kingdom, I’ll go ahead and share the overall actual results of our test:
- Total Wait: 48 minutes
- Average Wait: Four minutes per attraction.
- Shortest Wait: 0 minutes (Tomorrowland Speedway, both visits)
- Longest Wait: 9 minutes (Jungle Cruise)
The play-by-play account of our visit follows, and I’ll conclude with some thoughts I had on improvements to RideMax as a result of this trip to the park.
Ready… Set… GO!
We begin our day at the monorail gate, waiting to board. It’s 8:33am. I know this is an exciting picture, the kind of thing most folks dream of when planning that Disney vacation. Save this one for the scrapbook!
Once through the turnstiles, we wait near the left entrance for the park to open, while watching the opening ceremony. “Good Morning… Good Morning… to YOU (and you, and you and you)!”
We’re walking down Main Street USA, just before 9:00am. Liesle volunteered to be the FastPass “runner” for the first FastPass on the plan, so she’s going to get our Peter Pan FastPasses, while I make my way to the first attraction on the list, the Tomorrowland Speedway.
The early-morning crowds are headed toward Space Mountain…
…while I turn left after passing Stitch and move toward the Tomorrowland Speedway. I’m all by myself as I walk over here.
I’m the very first rider for the day.
It’s 9:02am. Actual wait is 0 minutes, versus the 3 minutes on the RideMax plan. It’s a nice start — I’m slightly ahead of schedule.
Meanwhile, Liesle acts as our “runner” and grabs that Peter Pan FastPass (she didn’t care for *two* rides on the Speedway anyway ). The FastPass has a “ride window” of 9:40am-10:40am, which works well for our planned visit time of 9:56am.
I’m in the first car on the Speedway, taking in the fresh morning air!
Liesle joins me for the second ride on the Speedway. Red car this time!
We entered the line for this second ride at 9:09am, and again we walked right on, for a wait of 0 minutes. This time the plan had an estimated wait of 5 minutes, so we’re even a bit more ahead of schedule now.
After exiting the Speedway, we’re still ahead of schedule, so on the way to the Barnstormer, I stop to take a picture of the construction on the second Dumbo.
The line for Dumbo is already starting to build. It’s 9:19am.
The Barnstormer is next up on the plan. We arrive at 9:20 — 10 minutes early. We wait for 3 minutes, versus the 1 minute shown on the plan. This is the first time we’ve been on this attraction since the recent re-theming. I like the view from up here!
A view of the Dumbo queue from up high on the Barnstormer track.
A view over the wall of the construction going on at Storybook Circus.
Dumbo as seen from the Barnstormer. Note the Fantasyland construction in the distance. It’s coming along!
No line here as we exit the ride. They’re sending this one out with empty seats.
It’s 9:25am, and the line for Dumbo is already getting a little ridiculous!
We’re still ahead of schedule, and now seems like a good time for a restroom break. The new restrooms here at Storybook Circus are nice.
I stop to take a picture over the construction wall. Progress continues on the new Fantasyland!
It’s 9:34am, and next up, Liesle visits Snow White while I take my turn as “runner” and get the FastPasses for Splash Mountain. Liesle waits for a total wait of 8 minutes versus the 2 minute estimate on the RideMax plan. (I had the iPhone — with the camera — so we didn’t get a picture of Snow White. Sorry! )
On my way over to get the Splash Mountain FastPasses, I notice there are empty seats on Splash. It’s pretty cool this morning — in the 60′s — so that may be contributing to the lack of crowds. I’m glad we used the RideMax option to visit this later in the morning when it should be warmer!
Not much going on here at the Splash Mountain entrance. It’s 9:40am.
I pick up our Splash Mountain FastPasses a few minutes earlier than shown on the plan.
Notice these “expire” at 11:20am, but our RideMax plan doesn’t have us scheduled to ride this until 11:26am, or AFTER the official window is over. That “GP 11:35″ in the lower right corner indicates our “grace period” for these should allow us to ride until 11:35am, but we may still be cutting it close. I’m mentally prepared to adjust on the fly if necessary, but we’ll see…
Even though our plan had me skipping both Snow White and “it’s a small world” while I ran for FastPasses, I was able to make it back before Liesle finished Snow White.
We entered the line for “small world” at 9:47am, and wait for 6 minutes versus the 0 minutes shown on the schedule. This puts us slightly behind schedule for Peter Pan, which is up next.
(Sorry for the crummy picture. It’s just a phone, folks! :-) )
We arrive with our FastPasses for Peter Pan at 10:08am, which is a bit later than the 9:56am time shown on the plan. We’re still well within the FastPass “ride window” though, so this goes smoothly. We wait for just 2 minutes, versus the 5 minute estimate.
Since we’re still running a bit behind schedule, I’m starting to worry just a little that we’ll end up waiting longer for the Jungle Cruise, which is next on the list…
That doesn’t prevent us from taking a quick break, though. :-)
On our way over to the Jungle Cruise, we also stop and grab our favorite trail mix at the fruit stand in Liberty Square. This is really good stuff, and helps tide us over until lunch!
We arrive at the Jungle Cruise 8 minutes later than the time shown on our plan, but the estimated wait is still just 15 minutes, which matches the RideMax plan’s estimate exactly.
We only end up waiting 9 minutes, though. This would be our longest wait of the day!
Skipper John did a nice job…
…and I think these guys will get the point… in the end.
Here is a picture of the Jungle Cruise queue at 10:43am, just after we exited the ride.
I’m sure glad our RideMax plan had us avoid this mess! (Shameless plug, I know…)
Next up, Liesle will go and get another set of FastPasses at Peter Pan, while I go do the first of two rides on Pirates of the Caribbean.
At 10:44am, I wait 5 minutes for this, versus the 7 minute estimate shown on the plan. I’m glad I’m shaving some time here, even if it’s just a bit, as it makes me feel more comfortable about making that Splash Mountain FastPass return time.
By the way, since we didn’t really recognize this guy shown above on the water mist screen in the Pirates attraction, it makes me wonder if we’re the only ones who just never got around to seeing the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies?
WHO IS THIS GUY?!!
Meanwhile, Liesle picks up our next set of FastPasses for Peter Pan. These should work well for our scheduled return time of 12:36pm, right after our lunch break.
After grabbing the Peter Pan FastPasses, Liesle meets me for round two on Pirates. We enter the queue at 11:00am, for a total wait of 6 minutes, compared to the 8 minute estimate on the RideMax plan.
We exit the ride at 11:16am, which gives us just barely enough time to get over to Splash Mountain before the FastPass “expires” at 11:20am, without having to cut into our 15-minute grace period.
Even though we could have entered the FastPass line on time, I decide to test the “grace period,” and wait until exactly the time shown on the RideMax plan before entering the queue, at 11:26am. (Liesle lets me brave Splash alone, since she didn’t feel like getting wet.)
As I presented my “newly-expired” FastPass to the Cast Member at the entrance, our conversation went something like this:
Me: <Hand cast member my FastPass ticket, and proceed to enter the queue.>
CM: “You know you’re late for this, right? I’ll let you in, but you should try to be on time next time.”
Me: “I thought I had a grace period.”
CM: “You do. Do you know how long it is?”
Me: “15 minutes.”
CM: “You’re smart!”
Me: < Proceeded to continue into the queue, thinking that the CM’s must not see too many guests who actually know about this grace period. >
I ended up waiting just 4 minutes in the FastPass line, versus the 9 minutes shown on the plan. And honestly, I think the FastPass may have only saved me a minute or two over the regular queue, if that, due to the cool weather today.
In retrospect, it probably wasn’t worth the walk over here this morning to get the FastPass. Better taking into account “cool weather” and its effect on the wait at Splash Mountain is probably something we could improve in RideMax.
I exit Splash Mountain at 11:46am, and meet back up with Liesle, who has been enjoying the big rocking chair in the nearby Briar Patch store.
We decide to head over to Columbia Harbor House for lunch, since it’s near Peter Pan, our first scheduled attraction after lunch. On the way over, I take this picture of the raft returning from Tom Sawyer’s Island.
We both decide on the salmon. It was a bit dry and overcooked, but still seemed like a better choice than some of the other “breaded” items on the menu.
I also noticed this merchandise discount coupon on the back of our food receipt. Good for 20% off several of the merchandise locations around Walt Disney World, as long as it’s used before noon.
A view from the top floor of the restaurant of the construction going on outside.
As we leave the restaurant and head over to Peter Pan, we notice the queue here for “it’s a small world.” I’m glad we visited this one earlier!
We decide to head over to Peter Pan a bit early, but either way we would have still been in the official FastPass return window, which was good from 12:05pm to 1:05pm.
We enter the FastPass line at 12:26pm, for a 3 minute wait versus the RideMax estimate of 5 minutes. This is a NOT the time of day for the standby queue!
As we exit Peter Pan and head over to Tomorrowland for our final attraction, I take this picture of the crowds in Fantasyland. Why do people do this to themselves?!! :-)
I also paused for a quick picture of the castle, taken from Fantasyland.
On our way to the PeopleMover, I notice the crowds now for the Speedway. I’m glad we visited this early in the day!
We arrive for our last attraction of the day: The PeopleMover!
At 12:42pm, our actual wait is about two minutes, versus the one minute shown on the RideMax plan.
The view of the castle from the PeopleMover.
“PeopleMoving” over the Speedway!
What Did We Learn?
As we finally wrapped up our day, there were a few things I want to observe:
- We could better take into account “weather” factors as they relate to Splash Mountain. (This would also apply to Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom.) The standby line was so short that I really didn’t need that FastPass.
- For this particular plan, the FastPasses worked out really well, despite Disney’s recent enforcement of the FastPass window. We obtained three FastPasses, and the RideMax plan had us using all of them within the allowed timeframes, though one of them crept into the “grace period.”
- I’m guessing if we had a plan that extended LATER into the day, we may have run into more FastPass timing issues, which could have caused us to manually adjust our plans on the fly. Given that timing the standby lines isn’t nearly as critical later in the day, however, this may not have been a big deal — though it could cause problems if shows or parades were involved. This is a case where using the mobile version of RideMax to “recalculate” with those shows in mind might be helpful.
- We received “surprise” FastPasses for PhilharMagic along with the Peter Pan FastPasses. We may need to add a “tip” to the RideMax plans advising customers to ignore these things, since they normally aren’t needed, and trying to fit this in during the time shown on the FastPass could really mess up a schedule!
Twelve attractions in four hours, including a nice break for lunch, with an average wait of just four minutes per attraction. What a great way to spend a Monday morning!
What about YOU? As you read this report, did you have some ideas for improving RideMax? Are there suggestions you have?
Please post your ideas below!
Just stopping by to post a link to a few scenes from around Epcot yesterday. Enjoy!
Today we’ve updated RideMax with an important change for California Adventure customers!
As the FastPass machines for the California Screamin’ roller coaster are now “disconnected” from the rest of the system, RideMax will now take this into consideration when it creates plans for DCA. As a result, don’t be surprised if RideMax has you obtaining a FastPass for this attraction even if you recently obtained another one elsewhere.
We messed up this past week!
Disneyland decided to hold Magic Morning (early entry) every day of the week, but we didn’t catch (and adjust for) this until later in the day Wednesday. That means that plans for Disneyland on Monday, April 2nd, and Wednesday, April 4th, would have missed the “EE factor.” (Friday plans created BEFORE the afternoon of April 4th would have had the same problem.)
For those who visited on Monday and Wednesday especially and felt that you didn’t receive sufficient value from RideMax, please contact us at “support at ridemax dot com” and let us know!
(And obviously, our goal is to avoid missing this next time!
I know that even contemplating such a thought is considered heresy in the “expert” world of touring the Magic Kingdom, but is there ever a time when you might want to NOT visit Dumbo first thing in the morning?
I ask because in experimenting with a few RideMax plans for this very busy week before the Easter holiday, I noticed that some of the Magic Kingdom RideMax plans were coming up with Dumbo LATER than first thing in the morning. Assuming that some of you may be seeing the same thing and thinking RideMax must have gone nuts to *not* recommend Dumbo first during such a crazy-busy week, I thought I’d take you on a photo tour from Monday morning’s EMH at the Magic Kingdom.
Keep in mind that later today, Disney itself would report the line for Dumbo at 130 minutes!
The above is a picture of the line for Dumbo at 7:36am. More than half of the EMH hour is gone, but Dumbo is easily still just a one-cycle wait.
The above shows the line for Barnstormer at the same time in the morning. The ride is down right now, but there are just a handful of folks milling around.
Fantasyland at 7:46am. Nice wide-open spaces!
Winnie the Pooh at 7:46am. The 10-minute posted wait is high. :-)
The above picture shows the line for Dumbo at 7:50am. STILL just a one-cycle wait!
The Barnstormer queue at 7:52am. The ride is open now, but still no line here.
Random picture of the Tomorrowland Speedway just before the park opened for regular guests at 8:00am.
Dumbo at 8:04am. Finally a line here! I’m estimating it’s still just between 10-15 minutes though.
Just to recap at this point, we could have arrived a full HOUR after the EMH began, and still visited Dumbo without much of a wait. (See my summary at the end for the HUGE caveat though!)
A quick hop over to Adventureland shows no line for Aladdin at 8:15am.
Pirates is looking pretty deserted too. Disney would report the wait here at 50 minutes later this afternoon!
Another deserted walkway at 8:15am!
8:20am. What’s not to like?
Back to the Barnstormer at 8:31am. A 10-minute posted wait, but…
Still no line to speak of!
Now, let’s take a break and come back for more pictures later in the morning, shall we?
Here is the area around Space Mountain at 10:16am. The line on the left is for the FastPass machines!
Back over to the Barnstormer area at 10:23am. The posted wait still shows 10 minutes, but I’m guessing it’s more like 30 now…
The line for the Teacups at 10:29am. Yikes!
Random shot over the construction wall.
And another one. Being tall does have a few advantages, I suppose…
Fantasyland at 10:37am. Why would anyone do this to themselves??!
“it’s a small world” at 10:41am. Wow.
Peter Pan’s not looking too great either.
More crowds over here…
Magic Kingdom main gate around 11:00am. I’m leaving now. :-)
So, back to my comment previously about Dumbo. As you can see, the crowds didn’t really start building until around an hour after the EMH began, when the park opened for regular guests. I have to stress, however, that I wouldn’t expect to see this pattern on a day when the park opens later. This week is unique, because the EMH begins at 7:00am, and further, morning EMH is being held every day of the week, further diluting the crowds taking advantage of the EMH on any given day.
There also seems to be something about a 7:00am start that simply makes it hard for people to get there in time for the really low crowds.
So, if you’re visiting the Magic Kingdom this week and next, be sure to arrive early and enjoy the lack of crowds while you can.
And if you are visiting during the EMH at this time of year, don’t be surprised if RideMax has you NOT visiting Dumbo first. With crowds this low first thing in the morning, it might save you some walking time to hit another area of the park first, and circle around to Dumbo a half-hour later or so. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest this at another season of the year, but 7:00am openings are amazing and unique, and worth taking advantage of if you can!
Have a great time at the parks!
OK, you’ve all probably heard by now the FastPass rumor that Disney plans to start “enforcing” the FastPass windows at Walt Disney World beginning March 7th, 2012.
Is the rumor true? I’m not sure just yet. But you can be sure I’ll be in Walt Disney World on March 7th to check this out, and I’ll report back here on my findings!
Since some of you have asked how this might affect RideMax, I’ve included this short video to help explain what this change means, and how you can use RideMax to help plan for it.