Vote of the Week: What is the longest you would wait for a theme park attraction?

July 11, 2014, 11:13 AM · Universal Orlando visitors have been waiting nearly eight hours to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts this week. The meet and greets for Frozen's Anna and Elsa have drawn waits up to six hours at the Magic Kingdom this summer. Disneyland Paris fans waited up to three hours to get on Walt Disney Studios Park's new Ratatouille ride when it opened officially yesterday.

As one Theme Park Insider reader asked, Have people gone crazy?

Diagon Alley crowds
Thousands lined up for the opening of Diagon Alley this week. Photo by Jared Collins.

New attractions almost always draw huge crowds. That's why parks build them — to grow their audience and bring new customers into the parks. But when the wait time for any attraction passes a certain point, the excitement of a new attraction can morph into the disappointment of a bad customer experience.

So... what is that point? What is the maximum amount of time that you would be willing to wait for a theme park attraction?

Before you answer, let's set up a hypothetical: You're on the last day of your vacation for the year. And today is the day that the world's best attraction has opened (or reopened) at the park you are visiting. It's never been available to you before, and you won't be back to this park for several years, so this is your only opportunity to ride (see it, meet the character, etc.). People you trust have told you that you will love this attraction, and you've already done most of what you wanted to do on this vacation.

Given all that, how long would you be willing to wait to experience this attraction?

In the comments, please tell us what is the longest you have waited for a theme park attraction, and whether you thought that worth the wait.

Oh, and one more thing, would you be willing to take a moment to help recognize Theme Park Insider by voting for us in this USA Today poll? Thank you, as always, for reading and for being part of the Theme Park Insider community!

Replies (43)

July 11, 2014 at 11:21 AM · Wouln't wait more than an hour for a ride, but waited four hours so my daughter could get a photograph taken with rapunzel in the Magic Kingdom. Was worth every second x
July 11, 2014 at 11:31 AM · I waited four hours for Top Thrill Dragster the week after it opened in 2003.

I probably wouldn't have done it other than cedar point is a 12 hour drive and I wouldn't be back anytime soon. (Except I ended up going back next year, but haven't been back since. It's too far away to make that trip with any regularity.)

July 11, 2014 at 11:50 AM · I do believe that when I rode the NEW Texas Giant after it first opened, there was a lightning delay that pushed my wait to over an hour. However, it was better to wait in the covered part of the queue than to get soaked in the rain.

Other than that coaster, I can't remember a time when I waited more than 40 minutes for an attraction (even on RSR at DCA we used the single rider line most of the time and rode in 20 minutes or so). And in this day and age, I don't believe I have the patience to wait more than an hour. There are so many other things to do at parks, why would anyone want to spend multiple hours in one line?

Also, from a financial perspective, folks who are spending upwards of $140 to stand in line five to six hours waiting on a family coaster / dark ride, are really wasting their money!

When it comes to shows like Fantasmic or World of Color, or select meet and greets, I guess I have waited for over an hour to get a certain spot, or see a certain character, but for a 2:00 - 4:00 minute ride... no way.

July 11, 2014 at 11:49 AM · Wait times and how long we're willing to bear it really depend on the attraction. My mom and I will wait an hour or more for Space Mountain since the queue moves pretty quickly, and 45-60 min for Spidey or Hulk is reasonable. We waited 45 for Peter Pan because we figured it would never get much better, though it's so absurd of a wait for that attraction (ET's better IMO). We don't usually mind too long of waits unless it's 6 and everyone's tired.

That said, I convinced my family to wait a half hour for The Great Movie Ride midday; haven't been taken seriously since!

July 11, 2014 at 11:52 AM · When Colossus opened at Six Flags Magic Mountain, I drove from Northern California (about a 5 hr. drive), got to the park when it opened, and waited almost 6 hours to ride what was, at the time, one of the largest, tallest, and fastest wooden coaster in the world. They had one train running on one track, and the queue snaked through the park. It was very hot, and more than a few people fainted in the heat and were carried out on stretchers! For me, the wait was worth it, but I doubt I would wait that long for any attraction nowadays.
July 11, 2014 at 12:00 PM · The longest I've waited was for "King Kong" at US back in the 90s. And that was now by choice. The ride had broken down and we were in the first 1/3 of the queue and there was no way out. We had not choice but to wait. People who are waiting 8 hours for Diagon Alley are basically paying almost $100 to ride it. That's insane.
July 11, 2014 at 12:07 PM · I was going to check "two hours" but I bumped my answer up to "three hours" after considering the scenario described. A little waiting and anticipation can be a good thing, but waiting eight hours is just insanity. That's a waste of a whole day, and I have to assume that those folks waiting that long have nothing better to do with their lives and/or have more money than they have sense.

The longest line I ever waited in was for Splash Mountain when it was relatively new. Over four hours! I got there in the "early magic hours" before the park had opened to regular guests, but I think the problem was that the ride opened late. The line didn't move for an hour in the beaming hot sun. The result was that when I finally got to the ride, sun burnt and dehydrated, I HATED it. It took me 20 years to forget that experience enough to enjoy the ride for what it is.

July 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM · I'm sorry, but at the age of 53 I no longer wait in line, (or 'queue' as us UK inhabitants say) for longer than 1 hour. My wife and I will use Fast Pass, single rider lines, or simply skip an attraction. Apart from back-ache from standing for too long I just have better things to do than wait in a line all day. And as for waiting 8 hours for a 3 minute ride? Get some perspective people! It's a ********* theme park ride. It's not the pearly gates! NOTHING is worth waiting in line for an entire day.....
July 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM · I've waited 3 hours for Goliath at six flags magic mountain, was the only time I was going to be visiting for a long while so waited into
The evening to get on it!
July 11, 2014 at 12:22 PM · For some rollercoasters in the UK I have waited around three hours. But that was opening years with technical issues. We actually cheered when Air managed to leave the station!
July 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM · I have a 30 minute rule if the queue is longer
We skip it , however , in euro Disney .. Crusher
When it first opened kept breaking down so quested
Were dreadful .. On the last day my 6 year
Old was desperate so we qued for 1.5 hours
It wAs a great ride .. But that was a one off
I told him
8 hours is just insanity
July 11, 2014 at 12:35 PM · Based on the criteria listed I selected the max wait time. The criteria is faulty because I would not go to a theme park for the opening of a ride. In fact I was going to go to WDW this year, and that would include Universal Orlando. With the opening of the 7 Dwarf ride ride and HP, I am delaying my trip for a year. I am hoping some of the hype will have died down by then.

An hour seems to be the breaking point for me. Also, having an annual pass to the Disneyland Resort, I am unwilling to wait more than 30 minutes for a ride there.

Unless we really want a group photo of a ride, my friend and I will take the single rider option. This can save more than an hour on rides such as Radiator Racers.

July 11, 2014 at 12:41 PM · The longest I have ever waited in line was 3 hours for Splash Mountain when I went the weekend before Easter and was unaware that that was the weekend they taped the Easter Parade. Never again. It was in the high 80's with very little shade on the line and by the time I realized what we had gotten ourselves into, we'd already been in line for 90 minutes so we toughed it out.

But from that date on, I have checked to see if tapings and other special events are going on and avoid the parks if they are.

As for the goings on at Diagon Alley this week, I drove by the park and the traffic outside it was bad enough. I didn't like the books that much that I would risk my sanity standing in those lines...LOL

July 11, 2014 at 12:52 PM · As a general rule of thumb, I would never wait more than 2 hours for a ride. If you spend longer than that on one attraction, you are just investing too much of your day in one place. I do, however, have one (and only one) exception to this: If I am visiting a park I have been to before for the specific purpose of experiencing a new attraction unlike anything I've done before, I'll wait whatever the length of the line is for one ride only.

As for the longest I've waited for a ride, I remember waiting an exceptionally long time for Indiana Jones Adventure when it was new, although I was very young and don't remember how long the line actually was. The longest confirmed wait I've done was 3 hours for X at Six Flags Magic Mountain the year after it opened due to one train operation and breakdowns. Worth the wait? At the time, yes, but I would never wait that long for it again (an hour is about my max for anything at SFMM now).

July 11, 2014 at 12:52 PM · I think an hour and a half is the longest I have waited for a ride. I think this is about the max I would wait for one as well. Given that wasn't an option I chose 2 hours. No way any ride is worth that. Go do something else, Come back later, do the parks "fast pass" or single rider option. Like the one person said, go on it next time.
July 11, 2014 at 1:53 PM · I actually don't have a specific cut off time. It just depends on that day.

One question I have is how much of the "wait time" distorts (or enhances) the enjoyment of the ride?

The attraction could be a really fun experience, but after waiting so many hours, does that waiting time factor seep into a riders final review of the attraction?

July 11, 2014 at 1:54 PM · The longest that I have ever waited was 90 minutes to get on Soarin and that was in 2010. If it wasn't for the interactive screens that Disney had up it would have been unbearable. We found out later that we could have gotten a guest assistance card, my youngest son has Aspergers, but we never used those and I do not think we will use their new system, he needs to learn patience.

July 11, 2014 at 1:58 PM · I was going to select "one hour", but I re-read the scenario and decided "two" would be a better answer.

My family and I are probably just impatient - we usually will not wait too long (less than 45 minutes) for any attraction, new and/or "hot-ticket" or not. There are far too many other things to do at most of the parks AND if there is a long line at one attraction, it could mean that lines are shorter on other rides.

We make use of the "single-rider" line when available unless it is a first-time ride for one of our younger family members.

Also, we keep abreast of current wait-times using one of the several apps that are currently available for many of the larger parks.

July 11, 2014 at 2:23 PM · 1 hour is my line tolerance and that right there is even pushing it. The longest I've ever waited in line was 90 minutes for Space Mountain at The Magic Kingdom but that was only because I met a girl and she didn't want me to leave. I rarely ever wait more than 30 minutes for any of the major attractions at Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventure because I always take the Single Riders line. At WDW, it sucks that The Magic Kingdom don't have any Single Riders Lines. At Epcot I always use SRL for Test Track, at Animal Kingdom I always use the SRL for Expedition Everest, The SRL for RNRC at Hollywood Studios is slow and I don't like using it.
July 11, 2014 at 3:20 PM · The longest I have ever waited in line for a ride was 4 1/2 hours. It was for Batman The Ride at Six Flags Great America in 1992. It was the first of it's kind and well worth the wait.
July 11, 2014 at 4:01 PM · Waited over 3 and a half hours earlier this year for The Smiler at Alton Towers as it kept breaking down. Was a good ride, but not worth the wait. Had a better experience later in the day as a single rider. Was on and off within 20 minutes, and the main queue was still open and almost as lengthy as before. Probably wouldn't wait that long again, and I only live hour and a half away!!
July 11, 2014 at 5:11 PM · I wouldn't ever wait more than one hour. Its not about planning. I take advantage of short lines and Fastpass and avoid long lines intentionally.

To fail to use Fastpass+ is ridiculous. It is quite easy to plan your day at least 60 days in advance if staying on site. I enjoyed using it to visit Anna and Elsa at the Magic Kingdom meet and greet. No waiting 3 hours. More like 15 minutes after getting thru the rope drop.

I also go to parks on off-season.

July 11, 2014 at 5:14 PM · I waited 3+ Hours for Sheikra when it first opened up. I would be willing to waste a whole day for a new attraction.
July 11, 2014 at 5:41 PM · I said 3 hours, because i can imagine if I have gone somewhere JUST to ride a ride, I'd wait 3 hours for it. I know people who would say less, but get to the park an hour before opening, so they can then get somewhere before main opening so they can run and get on a ride.

I would never want to wait to greet an park employee playing a character. I'm not sure I'd wait 6 hours to meet Kristen Bell (I did however meet her for Veronica Mars, so there's that).

But if I had a kid who had to see the characters, what else can you do? Except hate Disney, because you know that for about another $1000 in costume, and $10 an hour for two more employees, they could cut the wait time in half. It's not like a coaster that costs them $20 million -- meet and greet, unless it is the real actors, is a totally artificial scarcity.

July 11, 2014 at 6:03 PM · I waited 2 hours to get into Diagon Alley plus 8 hours for of 10 hours.
That was a one time deal. Normally I've never waited more than 2, and being an Orlando local, for stuff I've been on before, rarely more than 30 min.
A lot of factors went into why I waited
1) I had already seen the rest of Diagon Alley in soft opens. My only plan for the entire day was Gringotts and I was in a mind set it might take half the day.
2) It was only supposed to be about a 5 hour wait but broke down a lot. Once you're at 5 hours, you don't turn around and give up. What's another 3 hours from there?
3) I had read up on how many problems it had, so again...I was just in the right mindset. I just really really really wanted to have ridden it.
4) I am a local annual passholder so there was no value or cost lost by missing out on the rest of the park for the day. I can afford to just waste my whole day on one ride. I would never have done this for example at Tokyo Disney Sea which I only get to visit once a decade.

I will not be going again until it gets fixed and wait times dramatically reduce.

July 11, 2014 at 6:32 PM · I've never waited much more than an hour, and very seldom that. My husband and I were probably in line almost an hour the second time we rode FJ, which was a month after it opened. We got in early as hotel guests and whizzed thru the line pretty fast the first time. But the ride stalled for a bit on our second time thru, so we were in the section with the headmasters' photos long enough to hear the whole script almost three times. But it was okay 'cause it gave us time to take in all the detail in Hogwarts. I'd never wait that long for that ride now.

On my last trip to Disney with my mother, I reluctantly agreed to wait in a 60 minute line for Toy Story 'cause she really, really wanted to ride it. The wait only turned out to be about 40 minutes and then I decided I really, really liked the ride, so we got suckered into the going back thru the line. That 60 minutes turned into about 75. At Disney, it all depends on whether you get in line AFTER a big glut of FP folks have gone thru, or right BEFORE they show up. After is much better timing :-).

We'll be trying Gringotts for the first time in September.... hopefully the crowds will be a bit more sane and most of the bugs will be worked out.

July 11, 2014 at 6:40 PM · At the age of 62, I have neither the stamina nor the patience to wait longer than an hour and 15 minutes for a ride. If the wait time is 2 hours or more I either skip it or buy a Flash Pass/Fast Lane. I recently paid $79 for Fast Lane Plus at Canada's Wonderland b/c I wanted to ride Leviathan and the queue was so long that I couldn't contemplate dealing with it. I got 7 rides on it plus access to multiple other attractions so it was worth it. Sometimes, however, this strategy backfires. Last week I went to Six Flags Great America in order to ride Goliath and purchased a Platinum Flash Pass, as I knew that that was the only way to get quick access to the ride. What the people at the Flash Pass station neglected to tell me is that even with this pass I was limited to one ride on Goliath! A serious omission. I raised hell and they added a second reservation for Goliath to my pass. Even so, it was hardly a satisfactory resolution. As good as Goliath is, it's hardly worth $55 a ride! I returned to the park the next day and did not buy another pass; the wait for Goliath was already 3 hours so I simply skipped it.
July 11, 2014 at 7:34 PM · So long as it is a good ride, the capacity isn't bad, and the line is somewhat themed, I'd be willing to wait out three hours max for my maiden voyage on an attraction. After all, after that first ride, all subsequent rides are diminished, so at least the anticipation in waiting such a line will be fun.
July 11, 2014 at 7:58 PM · The longest I've ever waited for an attraction was 100 minutes for Radiator Springs Racers. Was it worth it? Definitely. With that said, I usually don't wait more than an hour for any attraction. The only other two exceptions besides the one just mentioned would have to be Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad when it re-opened and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (both we 90 minute waits). But, at least the nice thing about all three attractions is that their lines move pretty quickly.
July 11, 2014 at 8:21 PM · I waited 3 Hours for my second ride on Goliath at Six Flags Great America today.

Since I didn't actually fit the second time, I would have to say it was not worth it. But someday after I lose some weight it'll make a great story!

July 11, 2014 at 9:04 PM · I waited 6 hours for King Da Ka when it opened at Sixflags. Ride was only 30 seconds long. But I was a teen then and it was very important for me to ride it opening day.
July 12, 2014 at 7:33 AM · I waited 2 hours for testtrack last month.
July 12, 2014 at 9:53 AM · I waited over two hours when Test Track first opened and it kept breaking down. The ride sucked it was just riding in a lame GM car and asinine tests.

The people I was with didn't believe me that they had a single rider line. Seeing the empty single rider line after waiting two hours was icing on the cake. To this day I still hate that ride

July 12, 2014 at 10:00 AM · I said two hours, simply because a lot of times during peak season, rides have wait times listed at 75 minutes or so. It's over 1 hour, but not by enough to where I'm going to turn around and look for something else.

I think DHS has such potential, but to do any kind of massive update or expansion, they're going to have to shut down LMA and I heard they're closing the Indiana Jones stunt show, which are two big storage areas for people who need to rest their feet, thus getting them out of the interior of the park. Without those two holding areas, I imagine it'll make DHS feel more crowded and therefore make lines longer at Rock N Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, and Tower of Terror that much longer. But they have to do it.

And when they finally do a massive overhaul of the park (I'm looking at you, Star Wars), I will still wait no longer than 2 hours.

July 12, 2014 at 2:21 PM · The longest I've ever waited is 2 hours for Forbidden Journey about two weeks after it opened. It was worth it, as the line didn't seem near that long and the line was steady moving. Even living in Florida, I won't wait more than that and that wait was only because I was with a group that wanted to ride and wasn't waiting outside for them to finish for the same amount of time.
July 12, 2014 at 4:48 PM · 3 hours for Indiana Jones when it first opened. The line elements were all brand new. It was worth every minute, and it makes me sad that they hold the line now and you just walk through a lot of that stuff.
July 13, 2014 at 7:33 AM · By walking thru the queue, there's less chance of damaging the Indiana Jones queue. At least that's my theory, plus the line seems to move faster, and the hold-up is primarily to allow Fastpass users a head start.
July 13, 2014 at 7:44 AM · Left my hotel room at 6am on 7/9, was in the Gringotts queue at 7:01am, and got to ride at 12:15pm. However, the ride didn't start operating until around 11:30am, so I guess I waited 45 minutes, not 5 1/4 hrs. ;-)
July 13, 2014 at 6:16 PM · ^That kind of logic keeps Universal execs smiling! They get your full day of admission and you get your one ride! ;)
July 13, 2014 at 11:58 PM · I waited 9 hours for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey on opening day when the original Wizarding World at IOA opened in 2010. 7 hours to get in the land, and 2 while on queue for the Forbidden Journey, not counting the hour outside the park, so it could be considered 10 hours.

9 hours is a lot but it's nothing compared to the year and a half I would've waited until the next time I visited the park. Definitely worth it!

July 14, 2014 at 2:59 PM · My answer last week would have been one hour, but yesterday we waited 75 minutes for the escape from gringots ride at universal in the single rider line. It was worth it, but the ride was just ok, the mummy is better . I would not wait more than thirty minutes for gringots in the future
July 15, 2014 at 4:09 AM · I waited 150 minutes for the 7 dwarves mine train June 7th and I had a fastpass+ for it but I was with 3 friends that didn't, that is the longest I've waited that I can remember.
July 17, 2014 at 1:04 PM · It depends on the circumstance. If it's one park, one day, full admission, I wouldn't wait any more than an hour and a half. However, I had a season pass to Six Flags, my bro and I got to Arlington, TX around 7 at night. We thought, "Why not ride Texas Giant on opening day?" We didn't lose any money, we got to everything we wanted over the next few days, and if we hadn't gone to Texas Giant, we would have been in the hotel room, not riding other rides.

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