Which theme park has the best ride operators?

March 15, 2024, 5:52 PM

Let's hear your picks.

Replies (11)

March 16, 2024, 8:38 AM

This cannot really be accurately represented because it changes a lot, parks have good years and bad years based on a variety of factors, sometimes it depends on the GM at the time, sometimes parks just get lucky and have seasons where they have ride op crews that seem to be made up entirely of ACErs, heck sometimes the morning and night shift can greatly vary. Especially at Magic Kingdom when there is a new CP group that all come in at the same time you will see the hourly numbers that the attractions put through greatly decrease at night compared to the morning. Especially at rides like Buzz Lightyear/TTA/Haunted Mansion where the ride barely stops at all in the morning then constantly stops at night because the new/inexperienced ride ops aren't fast enough to keep up with the guests. And especially again during the school year when they hire a lot of international employees and stick them all at the B-tier rides, so you while a ride (like Buzz Lightyear for example) is getting 1,800/hour in the morning shift, the night shift it is getting like 1,400/hour. Heck I remember going to Kings Island in the early 2000s where they clearly stuck their best employees at their most popular coasters but had and godawful employees at the rest of their coasters.

Of course Disney and Universal have the fastest operations in general, but that's not just because they have the best ride ops, its because they spend way more money on staffing and maintenance.

I will also say that even though I worked for Disney for 15 years one of the most memorable times I ever had operating a ride was Demon at SFGAm on a really busy Fright Fest Saturday, one of those days where all the lines were 90+ minutes. We had a full queue (like full queue house going back to the entrance) and running 3 trains, but the line was moving so fast that even with that huge line people couldn't get in the station fast enough to fill the rows. And Demon has a very big spacious station that is usually packed. We had trains dispatching by the time the train in front of it was in the first loop.

I think we can all agree Mt Olympus is consistently the worst though lol.

March 16, 2024, 8:46 AM

I wonder if we could take this down even one level lower.

Which ride has the Best ride operators? Some parks have great operators, and some might be having a bad day with Rude riders and overwhelming heat.

I have noticed rides like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ore Escape from Gringotts - will have great operators since they are inside and comfortable.

March 16, 2024, 10:42 AM

Don't underestimate the psychology of Fastpass on Disney ride operations as well. When the FP line gets backed up everyone moves faster because they know if they don't they will be screwed for hours because it will only be getting longer and longer, making everyone in the standby line angrier and angrier...and then you basically just get b*tched out all day.

I remember New Years at Epcot, not sure if this is still an issue but back long before the reservation system, working when Test Track was the biggest ride in the park (the original version of course). Epcot being a massive park that everyone goes to on New Years, so there would be over 90,000 people there but with the park having very few rides we would get a 3+ hour wait at Test Track. You absolutely have to maximize your capacity or the people in the standby line will riot as they watch the entire ride be FP.

March 17, 2024, 7:30 AM

I really wonder at the need for fast pass, LL, etc. on many attractions. Take Pirates for example. It can run a lot of people through it in an hour. By stopping this for LL, it slows down the standby. I would bet that without LL, the attractions that constantly move would rarely get below 30 minutes. I kind of wish they either only had LL for the attractions that need it or a much smarter algorithm such as a system that adds or removes attractions based on need. Until FP+ I am not sure any of these types of attractions got to a 40 minutes wait on a regular basis.

Edited: March 18, 2024, 11:15 AM

I love that a park (Mt. Olympus) 30 minutes from my home is universally recognized as having the worst ride ops in the business. This is a byproduct of many things, but the single largest contributor has to be the fact that they routinely sell tickets for as low as $5, and even go as low as $3 (Black Friday week sale amongst other days). Heck, a few years ago they were selling tickets for a buck. We go to MTO ONE (and only one) time a year. We go, have a little fun, get frustrated, and realize we got more than our money's worth when our family of 4 paid a collective $12. We made the monumentally stupid decision to spend a weekend in their hotel/motel complex last winter. (My kids wanted to ride the new rotating slide wheel...the first in the US.) MTO bought up all of these old hotels and motels around the Wisconsin Dells, so you never know where you are staying. Well, they are awful. You know it is bad when your 7 year old walks in and says that it smells and she doesn't like the hotel before even entering the room. If you think their ride operations are poor in the outdoor park, you should experience the indoor waterpark in the winter when they've oversold rooms and the park doesn't have the capacity for the guests. We were supposed to spend two nights, but our kids wanted to go home early because it was so bad. The second night we checked into the Kalahari...no slide wheel, but an actual clean hotel with a functional waterpark.

Edited: March 18, 2024, 12:24 PM

I think it can vary pretty greatly by park and even the time of year you're visiting. It can also vary by the specific ops, some of whom are extremely efficient and diligent while the very next crew on the same ride might be complete slackers.

If we want to paint with broad brushes, I have found that the worst operations are typically found at Six Flags parks. Some of the laziest, slowest, and most incompetent ride ops I've encountered have been at SF parks. The incompetence is magnified at the more popular/crowded parks like SFGadv, SFMM, SFAm, SFoT, and SFoG where many of the biggest coasters are ALWAYS stacking.

I've generally been pretty impressed with ops at Cedar Fair parks, but there are exceptions from time to time. I do think the dispatch screens installed on their newer attractions serve as a good "kick in the pants" for ops who start losing track of their timing near the end of their shift. The crews I've encountered at both Fury 325 and Banshee have been some of the fastest, most efficient coaster crews in the chain.

Sea World ops can be pretty hit or miss, but I have found that they are shorting crew numbers of late (coasters that used to always have a 5-6 person crew, regardless of crowds, are now down to 4).

Obviously Disney and Universal have the toughest jobs not only dealing with heavy crowds, but always-complaining guests who feel like they're owed something. Of the 2, I think the Universal crews tend to appear more efficient while staying in character. Some of the best are the Mummy crew and the MIB crew. The way those crews can integrate single rider, UE, and standby guests (along with disabilities from the exit side) that all merge at the load platform is pretty impressive. However, when a Universal crew is off, you definitely notice it.

March 18, 2024, 1:48 PM

Mt Olympus Resort on google reviews might have the worst rating I have ever seen for any business ever, the vast majority of the 1,500 reviews are 1 star. Its rating is lower than my local DMV. I have never stayed at a Mt Olympus hotel but knowing how they run their park, combined with their hotels appearances from the outside, I would never stay at one out of fear of bed bugs and herpes. I will say the low advertised prices do seem to be false advertising, out of pure curiosity I went through the screens to book a room once and the advertised price went up like 50% on the last screen when presented with the convenience fee.

When his house got struck by lightning and was in the news I couldn't help but think "that's exactly what I imagined his house to look like." You can all draw your own conclusions lol.

In regards to Fastpass on attractions that don't need it, those attractions like Haunted Mansion and Pirates did not have it until mymagic+ was created, and then they added FP to almost all attractions for the sake of inventory. If those attractions didn't have FP then there wouldn't be any FP for people to get because all the FP attractions are out all the time. And yes it does make the lines artificially longer.

March 18, 2024, 3:26 PM

Back to the best… some examples:

Years ago an operator at Disneyland on the Tower of Terror had to be a budding actor trying to break into Hollywood. All the guests on the elevator were in stitches in how this person was incredible.

The line operators on Rise of the Resistance, especially the First Order ones were great and very good at ad libbing.

Recently the boat captains of the Jungle Cruise were outstanding.

Most recently the Universal operators were a touch overwhelmed, but one of the Butterbeer servers could not be beat on really deep Porter trivia.

March 18, 2024, 7:34 PM

VelociCoaster probably takes the cake for me — they are routinely very quick and very polite on an attraction that faces incredible popularity.

March 18, 2024, 8:24 PM

I’d like to hear more horror stories of Mt. Olympus to be honest. A park that charges $5 for admission sounds like the premise of a straight-to-streaming Wrong Turn sequel.

March 19, 2024, 9:56 AM

@fattyackin - Mt Olympus is a "theme" park in the Wisconsin Dells (the Waterpark Capitol of the World). Mt Olympus was created when two companies merged a couple of decades ago. Familyland was a budget outdoor waterpark and Big Chief was a go-kart park that started installing a few wooden roller coasters. The companies merged and created Mt Olympus Water and Theme Park. (I put "theme" in quotes because the theming is minimal.) Ironically, nearly all of the old waterslides from Familyland have been removed. The Wisconsin Dells is much like Branson, Mo. or even International Drive in Orlando. Much like Harris Rosen buying up older hotel properties, Mt Olympus has done the same thing in the Wisconsin Dells. There are now thousands of rooms (old hotels and motels) that are owned and operated by Mt. Olympus that include "free" access to the park. Under no circumstances should you ever stay at the hotels.

Mt. Olympus is the "bargain" park in the Dells. Noah's Ark is America's Largest Waterpark and the far superior waterpark in the Dells. Mt Olympus routinely runs specials/sales selling tickets for as low as $3 or $5. I have seen them as low as $1, but $3 appears to be the new low price. Operations at Mt. Olympus have taken on a nearly mythical level of incompetence, particularly on their four main coasters. All four run with only one train, at all times, no matter the crowds. ONE TRAIN ONLY. They are also run nearly uniformly by J-1 visa foreign workers who speak minimal English. Additionally, with the exception of Hades 360, are run by one operator at all times. One worker, who speaks minimal English, running one train... 100 riders in line is now a 30 minute wait to ride. Mt Olympus is the anti-Holiday World. Both are family owned, regional parks with a few world class attractions, but their operations could not be more different. (Ironically both sit on very hilly terrain, which adds to the comparison.)

Mt Olympus is a dichotomy. They are willing to spend money on attractions, but spend nothing on their operations. Hades 360 is a genuinely good roller coaster, Poseidon's Rage is a unique (and one of the largest in the World) wave pool with 9 foot waves. Medusa's Slidewheel waterslide is the 1st in America and second slide of its kind in the world. And, for 2024 they are building the tallest waterslide in the world. But...the rest of their waterslides are off the shelf low cost junk. The other three roller coasters are meh at best. And, you genuinely take your life in your own hands on their go-karts.

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