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Theme Parks and Technology: Review of the MouseWait iPhone Application

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Published: February 3, 2010 at 9:19 PM

In this day and age, having information immediately and fast breaking news seems to be the key. With many new fancy gadgets, our time has become less precious while we multi-task. And with MouseWait App for iPhone, you literally have time in your hands.

I’ve been to Disneyland four times in the last month to try out this new app as it has been going through some programming adjustments. The basic concept of the app is to provide users with accurate wait times for rides. This is based off of user inputs (currently over 33,000 and growing by about 300 per day), historical data, and guest attendance. MouseWait has a central command that collects the data and verifies the information before computing an estimated time. (i.e. you can only input in 5-minute increments, but the results are not so limited)

Unlike other wait time applications, MouseWait doesn’t just rely on users’ input. (There is one app that only displays the last user input as the wait time) MW differs from other apps in other ways too: they provide tips and suggestions, food and restaurant menus, park hours, and a message board. Some of this information simply links you to the Disneyland website, but there is no delay in navigating to another program. Other information is in-house like tips that helped me raise my Buzz score to 300,000. (Personal best today at 547,800, partly achieved because the ride stopped at the Zurg loop)

MouseWait also claims that they are a social game, which just went through an overhaul according to MW. They give each registered user a “MouseRank”. The ultimate goal is to reach the highest rating of 10. The ranking is based on wait time inputs and message board postings. Wait times are given weight based on their importance. A wait time input given one minute after the previous input with the same time will be worth less than an input given an hour after the previous. It seems inputting a wait time after a ride re-opens scores the most points.

In the recent trips I’ve become slightly obsessed with giving information, trying to raise my rating and provide a better experience for other users. However, my last trip I decided to finally start reading the wait times. At one point, in Disneyland, I saw that California Screamin’ had a wait time of 10 minutes. I walked straight over to that attraction, and it still had the 10-minute wait time. I also witnessed a 10-minute wait time for Toy Story Mania. Later on in Adventureland, Space Mountain was showing a 10 minute wait at around 2 p.m. I went Straight across the park, got in line and did not stop waking until I reached the loading platform.

What could improve this program? Wait time predictions. My drive to Disneyland could be anywhere between 30 minutes and one and a half hours. Sometimes I feel like I wish I knew how crowded the park will be when I get there. Also, notices have been popping up asking users to not enter times unless they are in the park or have special permission. A GPS indicator could be added to insure that a user is actually in the park.

Some additional thoughts:

I still need to try this program out on a very busy day to see the results.

Of course this app won’t be necessary for TPI readers during their first few hours in the park because you follow the rule of arriving early when the park opens and wait times will be at the minimum.

Readers' Opinions

From Pyra Dong on February 3, 2010 at 10:35 PM
Who monitors this app? Disney itself? If yes, wouldn't it make sense to turn it over to the guys who project the wait times all over the park on those boards? I figure some of the best wait time info comes from those guys.
From Joshua Counsil on February 4, 2010 at 12:04 AM
At first, I saw this and thought, "Oh, great - another gadget that will cause us further impatience." Then I saw the whole bit on "MouseRanking", and it swayed my opinion. The idea of rewarding people for helping other people seems like a good premise.

And then I really thought about it.

I typically enjoy theme parks as a getaway from everyday life, an escape from meetings, deadlines, clocks, computers, and cell phones. And Blackberrys. And iPhones. And every other hand-held device that distracts the general public from simple things, like watching where you walk, or acknowledging other pedestrians.

I rarely see people on cell phones in a theme park because unless they're from the area, they'll get roaming charges. And besides, who do you need to call when you're on vacation? But with this new app, I can just see people buried in their iPhones, missing the surroundings, bumping into people (even more so than usual), texting during quiet presentations, and on it goes.

It will be the worst use of theme park technology since Heelys.

Sorry to gripe, but it's late and I'm burnt.

From Brandon Mendoza on February 4, 2010 at 8:26 AM
I agree with the above poster. Whenever I'm on vacation somewhere, I tend to not use my phone or the internet as much as possible. I want to get away from my little bubble called "home". I just feel like we're becoming a society that can't put a phone down for a day... NOT look at your e-mail or step away from work for at least 24 hours. Put simply, stop and smell the roses.

It's why I don't own a "smart phone". Sure, there are times when I wish I could look up something really quick, but it doesn't bother me that I don't remember the name of a certain actor or movie or song. And yes there are instances where a "smart phone" would help such as first aid, or GPS... but that's what learning is about... not relying on a computer or phone.

About this App... what's to stop someone from typing in a bogus wait time? Or how some people have the worst concept of time? "Oh it only takes like half an hour to get there" when talking about driving from San Diego to Disneyland. Really??? You and what time machine?

I think this is a good application to have as long as it's properly maintained.

From M. Ryan Traylor on February 4, 2010 at 10:09 AM
Pyra: the app is not associated with the Disneyland park.

Brandon: nothing can stop someone from entering a bogus time. However, the way their system is set up, if the time is aggressively different and unexpected, it will not be computed into the program. Also, the program asks you to enter the time posted at the ride entrance.

As to the thought of people being buried in the phones. I had the same thought myself. But after the four trips, I never found another person in the park using the application. You can see a time be updated and realize, hey they are in the same line as me, and never find them. I also make sure that I never walk and text/type/read phone at the same time. Why? Because I never want to be that guy that slams into someone else.

From Brian Emery on February 4, 2010 at 11:40 AM
Thanks for Posting this info..
From Joshua Counsil on February 4, 2010 at 12:13 PM
I'm probably overestimating its popularity. Even some of my obsessive iFriends (my term for Apple enthusiasts) would probably not know about this app when they arrive at the park. Is it heavily advertised?

Good article, regardless, but I just think it's an unnecessary technology.

From M. Ryan Traylor on February 4, 2010 at 3:30 PM
I haven't seen it advertised at the parks at all. Again, the park and Disney has not endorsed this app at all. I only came across it after finding another less useful wait time application.
From 76.220.239.138 on February 4, 2010 at 7:18 PM
I am an avid mousewait user, and I love it! The chat lounge is really helpful to us locals who are wondering if it's worth going down for just a couple hours or not. It's also helped me make new friends to go to the park with!

While in the park, I do not obsess over my phone. I usually have it in my pocket, and as I go into an attraction line, it takes less than 2 minutes to pull out my phone, enter the posted time, and put it away again. It's easy, and of you are stuck in a forever line, you have something to entertain yourself.. AND you can warn the other users to maybe try that attraction later.

All in all, I love mousewait, and I think it can only improve from here!

-Lacey

From 24.90.249.214 on February 4, 2010 at 8:13 PM
Yes what a cool idea but do you have to by the App before you go down to disney?

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