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Vote of the week: When to visit a brand-new ride or show?

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Published: October 13, 2012 at 10:11 PM

I'm sure that plenty of Disney fans visiting Walt Disney World this week were thrilled to see the Magic Kingdom open its newest phase of the Fantasyland expansion early this week. But would you consider an extra visit to the park just to see the new Little Mermaid ride and the other newly opened locations in the expanded land?

Prince Eric's castle

For that matter, would you ever consider timing a visit to be among the first to experience a new attraction - or would you rather wait, until the bugs often found with a new attraction get worked out and the inevitable huge early waits die down a bit?

What's your take on visiting a new attraction? Let's make that our vote of the week:


Tell us your thoughts about new attractions - your favorite story about seeing a new ride, or your thoughts about the Fantasyland Expansion specifically, if you'd like. And, as always, thanks for reading and supporting Theme Park Insider!

Readers' Opinions

From Nick Orlando on October 14, 2012 at 4:20 AM
For the most part I prefer to visit attractions early, mostly in case significant alterations are made after the first season. True, some of these changes may be for the better; however I would prefer to decide that for myself. Some examples; Feista Texas shortening the Rattler's first drop, Mission Space being tamed down multiple times, the removal of the loop on SOB, or Kings Dominion altering Intimadator 305.

Factors that effect my decision on waiting longer to visit new attractions include weighing the probability of the ride malfunctioning vs how often I could visit/ how close I live to the park; and also the novelty of the experience. Examples- I live on the ears coast, and when Magic Mountain opened X I wanted to ride that one of a kind attraction! However the ride suffered extended down time right out of the gate, therefore I waited a long time before making the expensive trip out west. When Dragster opened at Cedar Point I immediately headed over to ride it, I lived realitivly close and could afford to risk malfunction. In contrast when Kingda Ka opened I waited- it is farther away from me, and very similar to Dragster- so not worth the risk.

From Mike Gallagher on October 14, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Although I voted for "Later," one of the best days I've ever had at a park was the antithesis of that philosophy. In 2008, I included Hard Rock Park in my itinerary for a Southern swing. At the time of my visit, the park had been open less than two weeks. There was also a biker gathering on the days I had set aside for HRP. I set aside 2 days, as I had visions of wall-to-wall people, tens of thousands of them..two-hour lines..lots of downtime and working out the kinks. Show what an expert theme park veteran I am.

THERE. WAS. NO. ONE. THERE.

There literally could not have been 300 people in the park. I rode everything that was open, saw some shows, and came away with great memories of two of my all-time favorite rides...Led Zeppelin and Nights In White Satin.
They didn't even charge me for parking. I still have my guitar-shaped souvenir cup. Great day.

From Daniel Etcheberry on October 14, 2012 at 9:06 AM
I waited until August to fly to L.A. and ride Radiator Springs Racers expecting less crowds and no malfuntion; there was a malfuntion and it was crowded. I crossed the country from coast to coast and there was no guarantee that RSR would be fixed soon or at all. I spent at least 2 hours waiting in line on the same spot. When it opened again, I had still 1 hour of queue in front of me. Once in the ride, the only thing that was not working were the tractor-cows that didn't tip. Still, it was worth all the hassles. To put everything in perspective, that same day I rode Indy and they had to evacuate the vehicles because of a malfunction; Indy has been around for 17 years! So you can wait for years and still have a long line and a ride that goes down. I wouldn't go to an E-ticket ride on the first day though.

From Dominick D on October 14, 2012 at 10:19 AM
I prefer to wait a month or two.
From AJ Hummel on October 14, 2012 at 1:17 PM
It really depends on several factors, the most important of which are how far I have to travel to visit the park and how major the addition is. For local parks (the seven major Southern California parks, all within a two hour drive of me), if it is an E-ticket, roller coaster, or record breaker, I'll make a trip to ride it some time during it's opening season. I will usually wait at least a month just in case there are bugs with the ride and to let the crowds die down, unless I have a pass to the park. If the new attraction is not a headliner and I don't have a pass, I usually just wait until my next visit.

Here are examples for the new for 2012 attractions in my local parks:

Cars Land (Disney California Adventure Park): Openend in June, I visited in September. This was both due to pass blackouts and to avoid insane summer crowds (no ride in existence is worth more than a two hour wait, not even the best ride on Earth).

Transformers (Universal Studios Hollywood): Opened in May, I rode in June. Normally, I would have waited a bit longer, but since July was booked, my pass expired in Mid-August, and the ride had been soft-opening for around a month I decided to go as soon as school got out.

Manta (SeaWorld San Diego): Openend in May, I rode in August.

Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom (Six Flags Magic Mountain): Opened in July, I haven't rode yet. I've learned to not trust SFMM's opening dates after they missed announced dates on both their coasters last year, so I would never plan a visit to this park until I knew the ride was running. Additionally, since I didn't get a 2012 pass but am getting a 2013 pass, I decided to wait until they were available before visiting (currently, I'm planning to go in December to try this one out).

Pirate Reef (Legoland California): Opened in May, I haven't rode yet. Since this is not a major attraction, I have no current plans to visit the park (I just visited last year), but will ride it next time I do visit (usually I visit Legoland every 2-3 years, so I'll probably be back in either 2013 or 2014).

For parks outside of Southern California, I won't plan a trip to visit them just becuase they got a new ride, but I will put them back on my park visit priority list if the attraction is major enough (for example, I haven't wanted to go back to Cedar Point since my visit in 2008, but GateKeeper is enough for me to add it back onto my list). I still usually prefer to visit new parks over return visits, but as long as the park is on my list I'm interested in visiting again.

From Tracy Bates on October 14, 2012 at 4:22 PM
It depends on how close it is and circumstances. I went to legoland florida opening day. I figured it wouldn't be too bad since it wasn't in orlando. I was right, it wasn't bad.

I bid in the charity auction for intimidator at Carowinds and won a seat on it opening day. That was a no brainer. Carowinds is the closest park to me, so the drive is only 2.5 hours and nobody was bidding, so it was cheap cheap cheap. I paid $65 for the seat, which came with two admission tickets so my wife and I didn't have to pay to get in, plus a free 'First Run' T-shirt. That was cheaper than if we had paid admission, plug I didn't have to wait in line to ride the ride other than I had to show up before the park opened.

I tend to go in the off season, so if something opens when school is out I'm likely to wait until later.

From 209.142.175.245 on October 14, 2012 at 5:04 PM
I remember going to the advance preview of Magic Mountain. It was almost deserted and a few rides were not open so they gave everyone a free return anytime pass.

Also, first day for Disneyland attractions, back in the day, before Annual Passes.


Remember the truly amazing original EPCOT Center? If not, sorry you missed the best park ever!!!! Nothing since has improved it.

From 98.85.131.225 on October 14, 2012 at 9:25 PM
It is best to go early before special effects are turned off or the line is reworked to handle the crowds. I went to Islands of Adventure about a month before the official park opening and everything was done expect for Toon Lagoon. Spiderman was really amazing with the ride doing its full motions and all the special effects working. Jurassic Park was funny because the Dinosaurs were not programmed right yet and some would just shake. Everest had a fake bubble snow effect when it first opened at Animal Kingdom. The Yeti was really sweet when it lounged at you. Test Track was by far the worst ride to go on early it never worked and the line was forced to leave after waiting for hours. Harry Potter was cool to over hear the ride makers talking about the tweaks that they needed to make before heading California for their next job. Some really tall guy kicked the dragon but was not hurt. My butter beer cup is double the size of the new one. It was made smaller really quick. Soft openings are the best because the attraction is has a limited crowd during preview and the workers are super excited and not burnt out or stressed from the huge crowds yet. An Orlando resident's view
From Mark Hollamon on October 15, 2012 at 4:49 AM
I usually like to experience a new attraction on opening day or during a special preview.

It depends on the attraction, but I'm the guy who will stand in line 60-90 minutes the first time to take in everything. It always makes my wife raise an eyebrow to me, but I want to see everything from the guest's perspective one time when there is a significant line so I can see the queue and how people react and respond to it. After the first time I will not wait in line for anything more than 20 minutes because we live in Orlando, have passes, and can come back anytime when there are no lines.

A good example of this would be the first time I experienced Expedition Everest. I personally feel it is one of the best queues of any ride. Once you hit the entrance to the attraction queue it feels like you have been plucked from Florida and dropped in Tibet. The visual is stunning.

Same (but much more high tech) holds true for FJ at IOA. Incredible queue that everybody should experience at a slow pace a time or two.

From Jay R. on October 15, 2012 at 7:17 AM
Like AJ, I'm in Socal, so I'll try to ride things earlier, but it does depend on what the attraction or ride is (CarsLand yes......Little Mermaid....no)


I rode RSR in June and I waited about 20 minutes (single rider line.....the timing worked out because we just hung out around the single rider line until it opened)

With Transformers, that was in soft opening for awhile, so that was easy.

From Anon Mouse on October 15, 2012 at 8:19 AM
I'm a late adopter. I go after the hype has gone down and there are plenty of things to see.

On my list of new items to see at Disneyland Resort are... Carsland, Little Mermaid, World of Color.

At WDW, not much. Heh!!!

From Russell Meyer on October 15, 2012 at 11:09 AM
If it's a park that I have a season pass to within 3-4 hour drive, I'll make a special trip to ride as soon as I know it is open. However, if I'm shelling out money for admission or extraordinary travel expenses (plane and/or hotel), I'm going to wait until the ride has operated cleanly for a few weeks.

I almost got burned the year Top Thrill Dragster opened. I waited until after it had been opened for a month, and even then I wasn't sure I would get a ride. Luckily I had planned to be in the park 3 days, and Dragster ran intermittantly one of the 3 days I was there. It didn't run at all the other 2.

From Dan Barnes on October 15, 2012 at 1:23 PM
Only twice have I waited in a long line for a new ride. The first time was in 1984, and I waited 3 hours for the Big Bad Wolf on opening day. It would be 21 years before I found myself at a park on the opening day of a ride, and I waited four hours. Four hours for Curse of DarKastle :/

That was the last time I will ever stand in an hours-long line for anything.

From 198.228.216.157 on October 15, 2012 at 1:30 PM
I'd wait till all the bugs where out and the crowd dies down. We are pass holders at Disneyland in California and I saw a lot of people visiting just to go on the "Cars" ride. I also saw a lot of disappointed families that didn't get to ride it before they left to go home from their visIting trip because the ride kept breaking down.
From Charles Reichley on October 15, 2012 at 5:32 PM
I voted later, and it really is mostly because of crowds, although I admit I did do Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion on it's opening weekend.

I also find that no matter how long I wait, rides are closed if I only have 2 days to see them. Like "Demon" at California's Great America, the Raging Wolf Bobs at Geauga Lake, or this last weekend at Hershey Park and their "Sky Rush". I also went to Kings Island the summer they closed Son of Beast to remove the loop.

So I don't have much luck.

From Stevo B on October 15, 2012 at 10:53 PM
I can wait these days. When I was younger not-so-much. I once waited 3 plus hours for a crappy bobsled ride at Six Flags MM two weeks after opening - and to think I could have gone on Log Jammer 9 times...RIP.
From 74.212.249.18 on October 16, 2012 at 2:01 AM
As most everyone has said, it depends. At Disneyland, I've been on everything at least once, just for bragging rights. At DCA, not so much. But I went on Space Mountain during soft opening before I knew what that meant - pre internet. They had free (!) Bumper stickers on a table at the end saying something like "I conquered Space Mountain." I only took one and ended up giving it away because I didn't have a car.l

If I'd only known how much Disney memorabilia was going to be worth…

From Brian Bauer on October 16, 2012 at 6:20 AM
I was basically going to say what Nick Orlando said about possible early changes to the ride. And also add as an example, perhaps the most famous early ride change, the Hatbox Ghost.
From Dionne Oliver on October 16, 2012 at 9:16 AM
I will be in Orlando from 24th November,just as it opens. I'm excited to get a look about,but won't be bothered if i don't get on the rides. I'm more bothered about getting on the new version of Test track. Cann't wait =)
From Amanda Jenkins on October 16, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Usually I like to go later and that was what I voted. This year though, we planned a vacation back in Jan. for WDW in December. We will be there Dec. 8-16th, just after the official opening of the new parts of Fantasyland and the update of Test Track. It's kind of exciting to be there for the first days. I just hope that there won't be a lot of break downs during this time.
From Aaron McMahon on October 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM
I'm very happy that I got to get on Skyrush in it's opening season it eventually gets trimmed. Sure the restraints still hurt but the insane airtime was worth it.

In the age of youtube, it is very painful to have POVs of Forbidden Journey, Transformers and Radiator Springs Racers on every theme park site and then have to wait more than a year to ride them spoiler-free.

From Mike Gallagher on October 16, 2012 at 1:18 PM
^^So don't watch 'em.
From Aaron McMahon on October 16, 2012 at 3:52 PM
That's like putting a huge bowl of crack in front of an addict and wondering if they're gonna smoke it.

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