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Disney World's wait time system

Walt Disney World: Do the ride times lie?

From Greg S
Posted August 31, 2006 at 10:36 AM
So, I just came back from a 10 day trip to WDW resort. I had a blast, and I believe I got lucky in that in all the days we were there, the LONGEST we ever waited for a ride was 35 minutes. Not bad at all. Some nights rides were litrally EMPTY (See: Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Mission: Space, etc). But I digress.

What this topic is about is, the little bit of information given to you prior to your entrance to the ride. It's the wait time. Yes, it's very helpful, and I believe one of the better inventions since sliced bread, but WDW's times were 9/10 inaccurate. Were they underestimating the ride times? No. Were they overestimating the ride times? Yes, yes, and yes!

Their new system(correct me if I am wrong) goes as such. They have these cards that they hand to one of the guests once they step foot in the line. Once this said guest is given the card, it starts to count how long the person is waiting until the person gets to the station, hands the card to a cast member for them to put it on this machine, that then states the length of their wait. This wait time is then considered the length of the wait out front of the ride. These are the problems with the system.

1. The guests with the card may be careless, and not give the cast members the card until AFTER the ride. I've seen this happen most often.
2. The cast members don't do it right when they're given this card.
3. Cast members don't ALWAYS hand out the cards. They just watch one person ride, put the card on the machine out front, and wait for them to come through the exit of the ride. So, that calculates the wait time, the ride, and the people then walking off the ride. This almost doubles the wait to what it actually is.

Dinosaur stated it's wait was 60 minutes. We waited 20.

Splash Mountain said a 45 minute wait. We waited 15 minutes.

Test Track said 160 minute wait! We waited 35 minutes!

Mission: Space stated 20 minutes. I walked on.

Obviously, this system is annoying(it beeps very loud when it needs a card) and it seems very ineffective. The concept is clever, it just needs to be executed properly.

Now, to get to my questions:

1. When was this system distributed in the park?
2. Does anyone else see this problem at WDW often?
3. Am I accurate on the "card" system?

I am just curious about this, and if anyone else has seen this.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Tom C
Posted August 31, 2006 at 12:49 PM
When I worked at MK we did not have that system yet, we based the wait time by the amount of Queue we had open, or how many people were in the queue. We tended to over estmate, but for the most part we were pretty accurate. I'm not sure why disney went away from that system. It worked. But then again, so did rotational bumps, and they replaced that with CDS..... so go figure.

From Erik Yates
Posted August 31, 2006 at 1:54 PM
Its not only at WDW, but at all parks. You can usually get a walk on ride if it says anything less than 20 minutes, and if you get 20 minutes or over expect 35 to 45 minutes.
I dont know about the system, but I think a big thing that has an effect on it is the amount of people who use the fastpass system at disney. If they get a lot of fp's then I think the system takes in account for that, and if you have people that dont show up until their later time it probably effects the queue a bit.

From Sean Rust
Posted August 31, 2006 at 3:07 PM
They calculate them by sending a guest through with an electronic card, so the wait time is actually the wait of a person that just waited in line, so it can be delayed.

From David Kirby
Posted August 31, 2006 at 6:40 PM
I agree - it seems that rides displaying a 20 minutes wait often have a wait much shorter. They only time I found any wait time to be really innacurate was Mission: Space, which I waited for for 2 hours when the wait time said 85 minutes

From Greg S
Posted August 31, 2006 at 11:09 PM
Well, considering I've seen this at other parks, I know Walt Disneyworld isn't the only park with this problem, but they were drastic differences most of the time. As compared to Disneyland, Knott's, Six Flags, or Canada's Wonderland.

I do believe it's the new system. I assume they just have not completly nailed it.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted September 1, 2006 at 6:11 AM
I also believe it is based on the overall distribution of the park as well! If there is very big attractions in the same area, the lines and wait time will be insane. I think this is the problem around Splash and Thunder Mountain. Tower of Terror and Rockin Roller Coaster has this issue too.

For the most part, the lines have always been shorter than the wait time for me.

From Kimberly Johnson
Posted September 4, 2006 at 8:26 PM
We would prefer you be pleasantly suprised than stuck in line when you think you should be off doing something else. ;)

For the most part, line times are based on the # of people in line BUT we use the cards as a general tool to see how long that is.. It's not the best method but it's used as more of a check.

Also, we can never be truly accurate on Fastpass rides-- we don't know everyone is going to ride when they're "supposed" to. :)

From Tom C
Posted September 5, 2006 at 5:54 AM
"Also, we can never be truly accurate on Fastpass rides-- we don't know everyone is going to ride when they're "supposed" to. :)"

Again, another flaw in the Fasspass system.


From Scott Seal
Posted September 5, 2006 at 3:54 PM
But something that could be fixed easily. It's not a flaw in the system, it's a flaw in the enforcment.

From Greg S
Posted September 5, 2006 at 5:43 PM
"We would prefer you be pleasantly suprised than stuck in line when you think you should be off doing something else. ;)"

This is very true, yes, but ride times can be intimidating to some, and they might not want to wait in a line they THINK is x amount of mins when it is actually LESS. This happened to me 4 times. I would see a line wait, say to some of my friends and family, "Lets do this!"

"No, the wait is too long."
"I'm sure it's not THAT long."
"Why don't you just go alone, and we'll meet up with you somewhere else."
":("

This happened more than once with me. Actually, this happened about 5 times with me. I also see people who WANTED to go on rides see the wait, and just say, "Oh forget it."

I know it's there choice, but, they are not riding because of WHAT you guys tell us the wait is.

Although I'm having some issues with this, I feel WDW is better with this than DL. Reason? I was TOLD Monster Inc. ride was a 60 minute wait. I waited 80 minutes. It was terrible. That type of ride length issue has happened many-a times at DL. Especially during Summer.

From Rachel Schneider
Posted April 16, 2009 at 1:47 PM
You can use CoasterQ.com to find the wait times for all attraction at the Disneyland and California Adventure parks. That way you can plan your itinerary for the day around the times of the lines. It may require walking a bit more, but at least your are in line a lot less. I used it, and if everyone enters wait times into CoasterQ the times will become very accurate. It is an excellent tool to have, you can create an itinerary and view the wait times of the rides in your queue.
Go to http://www.coasterq.com/

CoasterQ has a list of all of the theme park rides AND the best part is, CQ provides the attraction wait times for all lines in the park. You can create an itinerary of rides and watch the wait times for all of them. CoasterQ works off of user inputs of times, so the more people that use it, the more accurate the times will be. They currently have all Disney parks and Universal parks, and every week are expanding to include more parks. You can use the web browser on your phone to find and enter line wait times. CoasterQ works well on almost all browsers and works great on the iphone.

From Tim W
Posted April 16, 2009 at 2:10 PM
somethin about these times seem a bit wierd to me. its still sprink break and only 40 minutes for soarin? and only 50 minutes for toy story mania. when i last went in february both rides were always over 2 hrs long. this site seems a little off...

From steve lee
Posted April 16, 2009 at 2:33 PM
I'm waiting for the Disney approved iPhone ap. It's only a matter of time. The only problem is, I'd sit at my desk and look at it all day long.

From Yen Sid
Posted April 17, 2009 at 5:42 AM
I feel the need to stand up for the Fastpass system. This system has literally revolutionized the experience at WDW. If you utilize the system properly, you can now experience many more attractions than you could without it, without waiting in nearly as many lines. Plus, let's give Disney some props for keeping it FREE, even as the imitators (Universal, Six Flags) charge big bucks for their knock off versions.

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