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Vote of the week: How long are you willing to wait?

By Robert Niles
Published: May 1, 2009 at 7:39 AM
It's May, the last of the seasonal parks are (finally!) throwing open the gates, and soon the kids will be out of school. (Okay, here in Southern California, we've got another seven weeks to go for that.) That means that the lines at our favorite theme parks soon will be building, filling queues and testing patience.

And so, our vote of the week. How long are you willing to wait? Not for the latest premier blockbuster, but for established rides, especially ones that you love to ride again and again.

To help answer this question, perhaps it would help to think of a specific situation:

You're ready to get in the line to ride (or see) your favorite theme park attraction. It's your favorite, so you have been on it before. You take a look at the posted wait time, which we will assume is accurate.

At what number do you turn around and say, "uh, maybe later"?

Or, let's put it another way, if the wait time were not posted, at what point during the wait would you start getting mad about the amount of time you had spent in line?

The fact we're talking about re-rides is important. I know that many readers will wait just about any amount of time to go on a hot new ride - so I want to take that situation off the table. What's your upper limit for wait times for established theme park attractions?

Tell us your ideas about wait times, in the comments, please.

Readers' Opinions

From Eric Malone on May 1, 2009 at 7:54 AM
This is a tough one. Really, it depends on the ride. Not to mention, I make a note to get there to the park as soon as the place opens, so I can walk onto the best rides and take it slow for the rest of the day afterwards.
From TH Creative on May 1, 2009 at 8:07 AM
I don't think I've ever gotten "mad" about a wait time. Although I remember being annoyed with that migraine-inducing queue on the Roger Rabbit ride at DL.
From 32.161.44.89 on May 1, 2009 at 8:11 AM
The only ride I've waited for more than 60 minutes for is Toy Story Mania - I've waited in a 90 minute queue for that at least six times - WITH a five-year-old.

My biggest gripe about queues is that Fast Passes A) Make the queue longer and B) Make kids miserable. At the Magic Kingdom I constantly hear children crying because they want to just go stand in line and their parents are like, "No, we come back in THREE HOURS!!" To a child, standing in the queue is part of their instant gratification - they're in the queue, so the ride is really going to happen! It takes away from a child's enjoyment to deny them the queue and the impulsiveness of walking through the park, discovering an attraction, and queuing up.

From Brian L on May 1, 2009 at 8:30 AM
It's a theme park ride. You are supposed to be waiting a long time. Normally, if the line isn't long, then the ride must not be that good to begin with. With the exception of Peter Pan; still can't figure the long waits on that one. And sometimes the queue is awesome all by itself (Spider Man, Tower of Terror, Dueling Dragons) and it helps with the overall experience.

Working the Fastpass merge point at Splash Mountain i would always get an earful from the standby line about how long they had been waiting. I got in trouble once for talking back. It was only sometimes that a guest would stick up for me and yell at the other guests who were yelling at me to be patient and that this was all part of the experience. Had a kid do that once, almost made me cry with happiness. Gave the kid free fastpasses for that too i was so grateful that even a child understood what it meant to be in a theme park; a lot of waiting in lines.

From Tom Faraci on May 1, 2009 at 8:32 AM
I usually expect to wait no longer than 20 minutes per ride, but depending on the time of day and the ride itself, I'll wait 45 minutes to an hour before I start to groan.
From 159.26.240.128 on May 1, 2009 at 8:57 AM
I live near Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, VA and Kings Dominion, Doswell, VA.
At those 2 places, I have a VERY low tolerance for waiting.
Simply because I have already been on every ride they have at least 100 times AND I have the Platnium / VIP passes, so I can come back any day I want.

For Kings Dominion, I have a system, arriving to the park as soon as I possibly can get on a ride. I can ride all of the coasters by lunch.
Then if it is too crowded, I can head home.

For places that I do not live near, such as CA and Florida, I have a bigger tolerance for waiting since I am not there 10 times a year.

But, I still refuse to stand in line and wait more than 1 hour for any ride.

I realize that there are set capacities by the fire marshall, etc for theme parks, but when it is too crowded, I am miserable and I just leave.

My time is more valuable than standing in line.

From TH Creative on May 1, 2009 at 9:25 AM
Brian L writes: Normally, if the line isn't long, then the ride must not be that good to begin with. With the exception of Peter Pan; still can't figure the long waits on that one.

I Respond: Great minds think alike!

Back in February, Mr. Niles asked us: " Which classic attraction should Disney change next?"

I responded thusly: ABSOLUTELY, NO QUESTION ABOUT IT, WITHOUT A DOUBT, PERIOD, END OF STORY: Peter Pans Flight! The current ride at WDW CONSTANTLY has a MONSTER LINE! Some might say that means "leave well enough alone. I say that it proves the popularity of the franchise (especially when it comes to Tink). Gut the lame, 1970s funhouse effects. Make it state-of-the-art. Market it loud and long and they will CRASH THE GATES.

Oddly, in the survey results PPF finished dead last.

From Anthony Murphy on May 1, 2009 at 10:11 AM
Usually, I try to keep it at 30 minutes or less. I waited in line for Superman at SFGA for 1.5 hours. I was with a girl I liked, but if it was up to me, no chance of waiting in that line!
From Robert Niles on May 1, 2009 at 11:21 AM
Totally forgot about the whole "theme park lines as a way to get a girl/guy you like to spend time with you" element. Tells you how old I am!
From Jeff M on May 1, 2009 at 11:48 AM
I voted in the 0-20 minute catagory.

Robert, no worries....age before beauty??? We can't remember it all!!! (or can we??? :) )

For me I've been spoiled to be considered well enough to work in some area of the Theme Park industries. I usually now don't wait at all to ride any kind of rides, and if I do, like I said...I voted less than 20 minutes.

I will say that I have, in my past younger than 30 years, waited much longer regardless of the place, ride or time! I could recall many long waits spending time in the queue's with that "special" lady (of the time), or even my pre teens with family. I guess that the time spent waiting with the ladies of my past is just another topic as Robert pointed out.

From Brandon S on May 1, 2009 at 11:55 AM
It depends for me if i'm at my home park,cedar point, or if I'm at a different park such as kings island. At cedar point i wait no longer than half an hour or at the most 45 minutes. I only make exceptions for this if its extremely crowded on a day so I pretty much have to wait an hour plus or of course for the millennium force haha. Also, I know I will be back a couple times in the next week,maybe even more so it doesn't matter if i skip a ride. If I'm at Kings Island I will wait longer like an hour or an hour and 15 minutes at the most because I don't go there more than once or twice a year. But i also want to get on as much as I can too so i keep it under an hour and a half wait time. So that's how i go at my wait time.
From Joe Schwartz on May 1, 2009 at 12:38 PM
I've been known to wait on a new or popular attraction fo over 2 hours if they are haveing mechanical difficulties or rain delays. Especialy if it is one I realy enjoy. My patience wears thin after one hour. That is why I like easy pass at Disney World.
From Don Neal on May 1, 2009 at 1:42 PM
For me it goes like this:
- New Attraction: 90 mins
- Blockbuster on a Busy Day: 60-90 mins
- Established Ride: 45-60 mins
- Low Rating but Fun: 15-30 mins

I have been at KI when a new ride was launching and I couldn't figure out for the life of me why people were waiting 2-3 hours to ride it when the rest of the park was empty!! I rode almost everything 2-3 times. I have flat feet and standing in a que doesn't help that but who wants to just sit there in the heat. Keep moving, plenty to see and do. And that attraction will be there for the next 30 years so I'll catch it next time and each time after that!!

As for blockbusters, I'll wait 90 mins for the likes of Hulk or Spidey at IOA but it takes everything I have in me to do it. Anything under 45 mins is a no brainer if you really want to ride that ride. 45 mins is the sweet spot I guess is what I am trying to say.

From M. Ryan Traylor on May 1, 2009 at 1:55 PM
I have to agree with others; it all depends on which ride. Right now, I don't mind the 40-60 minute wait for Toy Story Mania. Space Mountain, if the line is 5 minutes behind the water fountains, no thanks. Indy, more than 1/3 of outside queue filled, no thanks.

Now, on a hot day, I will wait 30 minutes for Haunted Mansion and Pirates to spend 15 minutes in the AC.

From Tim W on May 1, 2009 at 2:02 PM
honestly i cant stand wiating for more than a half hr. a ride doesnt seem worth it. this past february i was dragged onto a 100 wait time for peterpans flight. hmm for about a 2 to 3 minute ride. it wasn't worth it. anything over twenty is a little insane, thats the great thing about disney fast passes!
From Amanda Jenkins on May 1, 2009 at 2:09 PM
For me, it just depends on how long I am on vacation there. Since there is really no good theme parks around Memphis that can be easily gotten to in a few hours, then the amount of time will depend on how long I am staying in that theme park's city. If I am staying more than five days, then I will come back and see if the wait time changes. If I am only staying around a few days and I really love this ride, then I have no problem waiting in a line that is 60-90 minutes. The reason for that is, I know that I better ride it because it may be another year before I can return to ride it again. Thankfully we have been able to go twice to Disney World within the last five months, so it hasn't hurt too badly if we missed a ride or two due to long lines. We are even thinking of going again in the fall to hit up the rides we missed on our last trip.
From AJ Hummel on May 1, 2009 at 3:38 PM
For me, it really depends on the ride. If it is at a park that doesn't post wait times, I'll usually get in line and wait for about ten minutes. If it moves well or isn't that long, I'll stay there. Otherwise, I'll get out of line and go do something else. At parks that do post wait times, I usually follow the following:

Ride I've never been on or the park's best rides: No upper limit
Ride I've been on several times that is really good: 1 hour
Ride that is good but not excellent: 1/2 hour
Ride that is just okay: 15 minutes
Anything else: 5 minutes at most

I will go on pretty much any ride if it doesn't have a wait as long as it doesn't cause discomfort.

From 71.94.170.226 on May 1, 2009 at 8:42 PM
Last summer, my daughter (14) and I, went to DW for the first time. Now I have been to theme parks before, years ago, but I understand long lines. Still I have health problems, so a long line can be a problem. And We are coming from Oregon to Orlando. We spend a whole day just getting there on a plane. So to me, wasting 2 hours in a line for each ride is like wasting money. There were many rides we did not go on, and having to wait in a line for a character greating! OMG!!! With the cost of entrance to the parks and only getting to go on a few rides after standing in line for hours all day, I don't think we'll be making that trip again.
From James Rao on May 2, 2009 at 4:36 AM
20 minutes is about my max unless the ride is brand new and something I have never ridden before. On older rides, waits exceeding 20 minutes usually mean (for the most part) poor line management by ride attendants, or (in the case of coasters) not enough trains on the course. If possible, I will hop out of line, grab a Fastpass, buy Universal Express or a Flashpass, or do something else and try again later. I just don't have the patience for long waits.
From Iris Hernandez on May 2, 2009 at 5:31 AM
I hated working the fastpass queue on Peter Pan's flight. Man, the guests tend to get vicious when they see how many people from the fastpass line i was told to put thru during the busy periods. 80/20, i cringed every time I heard those words. It meant that I had to let thru in intervals 80, get this 80! fastpass guests go thru and only 20 from the standby line. I honestly dont get why people wait in that line so long, even on a slow day the line can still get a 60 min wait!

Anyways...I personally picked the 45-60 min wait and that has to be on a busy day, otherwise like everyone else i will buy an express pass if i am @ universal or do the fastpasses at disney. But you will NEVER see me in a stand-by line for toy story mania, get there early enough(when the park opens pretty much) and you still have time to grab a fastpass.

From Eli Katzman on May 2, 2009 at 12:23 PM
This is very hard to answer. It depends if you mean while in your in line, after the ride, etc. Also, it depends what the ride is. If it's a ride i've never ridden, and I've really been looking forward to it, I can wait as long is I need to. For KK or TTD, I could wait 5 hours!
From 72.40.92.196 on May 2, 2009 at 1:34 PM
I'm willing to wait at any theme park ride for up to an hour - any more than that would be cruddy. I for one live somewhere between Tampa Bay and Central Florida (more like Tampa Bay, if you ask me), where the theme parks are located up to an hour from home. This area, especially the latter mentioned Central Florida, is brimming with theme parks, and believe me - if you guys traveled to the area in June-August, December, and January, watch out. According to the mentioned months, the wait times don't depend only on when kids are off school, when locals abound, or how popular the ride really is. These are high times (especially July) for those (ahem) Brazilian tour groups (matching tees and some guy holding a flag), which are line cutters and lengtheners. They can make a decent 20-minute wait into a 30-50 minute one, depending on how large or small the size the group is.

I don't just count the Fastpass system as a life-saver; also, I have a Seasonal Pass - the block-out dates to go coincide with those peak seasons, anyway.

From David Sutter on May 3, 2009 at 6:24 AM
Well I voted for the 45 mins. Been know to wait longer fors some over another..AS for the fast pass...It truly sucks...Ive done it several times..And the whole Idea of the 80/20 split makes me mad..And also I hate back tracking in a park..The guests have paid the same gate price..So this tells me the mix on busy days needs to be changed or cut the number issued down..So those who are in the stand by Que..get a chance as well..AS with a recent Test Track encounter..My family and I waited in the que for 55 mins..and it was short..were fast pass was a walk on..Theres time stamps on them why not make that the fast pass wait time..so every gets a shot ..

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