Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"YOU ONLY HAVE SO MANY OPTIONS ONCE THE BATHTUB IS FULL":  The NYT explores all the behind-the-scenes stuff they do at Walt Disney World to keep the lines moving.  Two things you might not have known:

  • "In recent years, according to Disney research, the average Magic Kingdom visitor has had time for only nine rides — out of more than 40 — because of lengthy waits and crowded walkways and restaurants. In the last few months, however, the operations center has managed to make enough nips and tucks to lift that average to 10."
  • "Disney has also been adding video games to wait areas. At Space Mountain, 87 game stations now line the queue to keep visitors entertained. (Games, about 90 seconds in length, involve simple things like clearing runways of asteroids)."


  1. Heather K9:46 AM

    Man, I need to go to disneyworld!

  2. gretchen10:25 AM

    The average visitor, who gets to 9 rides, needs to read the Unofficial Guide to Disneyworld.  It's amazingly effective at avoiding lines and getting you to the rides you want to go on.

  3. As I've said here before (I think), the key to WDW is to arrive early and to be VERY strategic in your use of the FastPass.  Get FP for Ride 1, then get your FP ticket for Ride 2 before you get on Ride 1, and then get FP ticket for ride 3 before riding Ride 2, etc.  The effectiveness of this strategy declines as the day goes forward (because the waits get longer and the rides may get farther apart), but on a good day you can do much better than 9 rides using this approach.  (I also continue to believe that if you're with young kids, you should try to leave the park (not Animal Kingdom, but the other ones) for a mid-day rest, and come back in the evening. 

  4. Also, you have to remember that the average visitor probably targets rides that have long lines and substantial bottlenecking due to capacity (Dumbo is notorious for both being small capacity and "must do" for young kids) and doesn't spend more than 6-7 hours in the parks on a day. 

  5. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Amen, Gretchen!  Went twice with my daughter and both times followed the Guide religiously (at least for the first several hours each day).  Worked like a charm.

  6. Genevieve2:26 PM

    The guide I read said that Dumbo takes much longer to load than to ride, and therefore people with small children entering the park (early) should run to Dumbo very first thing.  Worked for us.

  7. This makes me wish I had counted the number of rides we averaged during our November trip. Far better on the first day (one week before Thanksgiving) than on the last (two days before Thanksgiving). I have never (in many visits) seen it more crowded. Of course, we self-selected out of a lot of rides.

    I deeply resent that rope drop run for Dumbo (surely it makes me a horrible person, but I actually don't enjoy Dumbo at all), but my kids love it and the only way not to invest the entire day in line is to do it first thing. Hopefully when they finish the Fantasyland expansion and doubling of Dumbo it will improve--slightly.

    Agreed with Russ on careful Fast Pass use--and that it gets MUCH worse as the day wears on (since you can return any time after you window begins, not just in the times on the ticket). Also, I wonder how many people realize that if your FP return time is for more than 2 hours from the time you get it that you can get a second FP for another attraction. Another fairly painful, non-FP wait, the Speedway in Tomorrowland.

    They'd be geniuses if they could solve the Toy Story Mania opening cluster**** at the Studios. I've never seen more insanity. Within 5 minutes of rope drop, the line just to get a FP was down to the Little Mermaid attraction and the standby line was already nearing 90 minutes. In less than an hour (and probably closer to a half hour) the Fast Passes were gone for the whole day. It's insane.

    It's not such useful advice anymore, now that the double queues are gone on FP attractions, but, when possible, it still pays to queue left. A minor win, but on our last visit we walked right to the front of the line on the left while people stacked up on the right for Small World (see above about the rides we now self-select into) because no one realized there were actually two lines.

  8. Interestingly, Disneyland and California Adventure both apparently were filled to capacity today such that they were turning away people.  And the effort to solve the Dumbo problem by adding additional Dumbo-clones (Astro Orbiter and Magic Carpets of Aladdin) hasn't worked, so perhaps even more important than the long overdue Little Mermaid E-Ticket is creating a second Dumbo ride in the Fantasyland rework they're doing now.  (Though reports indicate it's being reworked to be more "boy-friendly," since it was very Princess-heavy--also why "Tangled" was called "Tangled," rather than "Rapunzel.")

  9. Speaking of advice for which it's probably too late, the best tip I got from the Insider's Guide was to watch the fireworks from Tomorrowland Terrace. A few years ago we got great seats. One year later it was clear that the idea had circulated widely. I'd still try it, but now you need to give yourself a lot more time before the show starts.