The longest I have ever waited for a ride was nearly 4 hours for Jaws not long after Universal Orlando opened, but that was because of near-constant breakdowns.
For roller coasters, I waited nearly three hours for Raptor at Cedar Point on my second visit in the early-mid 90's due to a combination of crowds and breakdowns. I once waited about the same length of time for Ultra Twister at Great Adventure, but that was strictly due to crowds and and a low capacity ride.
But when I realize I once waited 8 hours for Springsteen tickets back in the 80's, these times don't seem so bad. Then I think, hey, that was a three-hour show, these are two-minute rides...okay, Jaws was longer.
For instance, I am a major Harry Potter fan, but you wouldn't have caught me dead within 20 miles of Universal when WWOHP first opened. Instead, I waited until it had been open a month then walked on FJ within 30 minutes.
I did manage to con my husband into waiting about 45 minutes to ride RRR during last year's Horror Nights 'cause I really, really wanted to ride it in the dark. And even he had to admit that the dark and the lights added to the experience -- but that is a major exception for us.
The longest I've ever waited was about an hour for Soarin' and it was definitely NOT worth it!
Even for the "hot new ride" I would try to find a way around queuing. Usually I try to avoid crowds at all costs.
In recent times the longest I waited for something was to ride X @ Magic Mountain-- 3.5 hours-- mostly due to one train operation and people cutting in line. I did not think the ride was worth it at all, and I haven't waited in a line that long since.
I hate lines and only go to parks off season to avoid the crowds. I also get there early before they fill up.
More should be done to make lines so unappealing. At least at Disney most lines are indoors, so they are cool places to take a break from the punishing Florida sun.
Since I was a CM at Disney, I can't bring myself to wait more than an hour for a ride, thought I'll make exceptions now and again.
If the wait time is more than 40 minutes we just bypass and come back later.
The longest I can recall waiting for a ride was the only time I've been to Cedar Point (love, love, love that place!). Top Thrill Dragster had just opened and had been shut down for the first half of the morning due to rain and wind. So when it finally opened back up, of course the line was huge. My husband and I waited 2 1/2 hours in line to ride it. Keep in mind this is a 17 second ride! But in our opinions, because it was so unique and we live about 8 hours away, it was definitely worth the wait!
With kids nothing more than 30 minutes
-15 minutes for a re-ride at a park I visit regularly-30 minutes for a non-headliner attraction at a park I visit regularly or a re-ride at a park I don't visit regularly -1 hour for a headliner ride that I have been on before at a park I visit regularly or a non-headliner attraction at a park I don't visit regularly-90 minutes for a new, non-headliner attraction at any park-2 hours for a headliner ride that I have never been on at a park I visit regularly or a headliner ride that I've been on at a park I don't visit regularly-3 hours for a headliner ride that I have never been on at a park I don't visit regularly
Waiting more than three hours for any one attraction is way too much of an investment of your day. When I typically try to do around 20 rides per day, I can't wait in too many long lines before this becomes impossible. Also, if I am visiting a major out of state park I will usually pay for whatever skip the line pass they have unless I have multiple days at the park. I would never pay for the same thing at a local park, however.
There are a few examples that I can clearly recall. One was the opening of the Vortex at Kings Island in 1987. I was only 7, barely tall enough or old enough to ride, but I remember it because the line started at the front of the park almost right out of the front gate. Those of you who know Kings Island know that the Vortex is located in the back of the park. The other was the opening of Magnum at Cedar Point in 1989. Both were 3 hours plus. Both of those openings were real happenings because they just didn't build coasters of that magnitude back then. Today it's common practice.
I've never really had a problem waiting in line until recently, but not because I hate waiting. Waiting in line isn't the same as it once was, because everyone is impatient and off in their own world with some device. As a kid it was just the way it was. If you wanted to ride the big stuff, you got in line and passed the time with your friends, or with some other random people your age in line. There was nothing to distract you from the wait except conversation. Today that sort of interaction isn't easy to come by, and I sort of miss it when I find myself stuck in a line for a while.
As an adult, I get to choose when I visit, and I choose to avoid crowded days as much as possible because then you can avoid a lot of lines. Gone are the days of running from ride to ride all day. I like to take in the atmosphere, sights, people, and other park offerings, so being rushed to ride everything I want to isn't something I'm fond of. Rarely will you see me at a park on a weekend or holiday. You'll probably find me there on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. I haven't waited over an hour and a half for anything in years.
My personal worst wait was for Splash Mountain in Orlando when it was about one or two years old. I used my EARLY MAGIC HOURS to get there very early only to find out pretty much everyone else staying in the park did the same thing. To make matters worse, the ride ended up opening late, and the result was four hours standing in the hot Florida sun. I HATED that ride for almost 20 years as a result. I was so tired, sweaty (with sweat stinging my eyes) and grumpy by the time I got on the ride that NOTHING would have seemed worth it. I finally rode it again a couple of years ago with only a 20 minute wait and it seemed like a completely different ride.
The amount of time I will wait is highly variable. If I'm at a park that I travelled a long way to get to and the attraction is completely unique, then I would wait up to and perhaps over 4 hours for the ride. However, I would attempt to use every trick in the book (single rider, child swap, FastPass, arriving early, staying late, etc...) to try to limit the wait. If it's a ride I can ride somewhere else or something I've ridden many times before, I draw the line at 1 hour. However, if a park's completely slammed and the lines for every single ride in the park are over an hour, I'm obviously going to stand in one of those lines if I've already ponied up for admission.
My last 3 trips or so I've have planned have been in the off season to help avoid long lines, but if it was summer and that was my only option for going, 90 mins would be the max time for something I've already been on!
Now to answer the question, the longest I've been in line was for Test Track in May 2011. It was a 45 min post time, but then a thunderstorm rolled in and turned it into 3 hours or more! I don't know for sure because I finally got out of line after 2 1/2 because a cast member told us that they have to wait 30-60 mins or something after the last lightning strike to start the ride up again. I wish that they would have announced that to the crowd because I would have saved myself at least 2 hours of my day. This is one of the reasons that I dislike Epcot. It is my least favorite Disney park! I know it's stupid to hold a grudge for something like that, but I just couldn't get past that day. That day the wait time was defiantly not worth it!
A little off topic, but to anyone who works in theme parks, why can't announcements be made to guests in line for a situation like that?
In general if it's a new attraction up to two hours. Anything else no more than 30 mins.