RideMax: But What About Spontaneity!??

Disneyland Crowds
A busy scene at Disneyland. How far will spontaneity get you in crowds like this?

I imagine that when someone first hears of RideMax, one question that comes to mind is:

“Wouldn’t following a PLAN take all of the fun out of visiting a Disney theme park? I just want to be spontaneous and enjoy my day!”

Well, there certainly are seasons of the year when you can have your cake and eat it too (the week after Labor Day in September comes to mind). When the Magic Kingdom has a posted wait for Space Mountain of just ten minutes in the middle of the afternoon, why NOT be spontaneous and just enjoy the park?

The problem is, these dates are uncrowded for a reason — it normally just won’t work to take the kids out of school in early September, when school has just begun. So for most folks, the alternative is to visit when the park is more crowded: spring break, the summer, fall break in October, Thanksgiving, Christmas week, or some other school holiday period.

Even when visiting during one of these more crowded seasons of the year, it might be tempting to say, “Who needs a plan? Let’s just go and have fun!”

The question you have to ask yourself is, how much fun will you really have if you’re “spontaneously” moving from one HUGE line to another? Will your kids REALLY appreciate the fact that they were able to be “sponaneous,” when they just finished waiting 40 minutes for Dumbo, followed by an hour waiting for Space Mountain?

Contrast this with a report we received a while back from one of our customers, who was willing to forego some of this spontaneity to follow a RideMax plan. (She was visiting Disneyland during Christmas week, one of the busiest weeks of the year.)

She writes:

I just wanted to write about our wonderful experience with RideMax on my recent trip to Disneyland to my two boys, ages five and eight.

A number of my friends laughed at me because I’m such a ‘planner’ and they thought I was overdoing it, but it was the best plan ever!

The boys and I were there when the gates opened and started following the plan. The rides that we were directed to first thing in the morning were so empty that we rode some of them twice in the time Ride Max had planned for us. We had finished eight rides by 9:00 in the morning! That’s unheard of! We walked by people waiting in hour long lines with our FastPasses and never waited more than ten minutes all day!

We also loved the location recommended for the parade viewing! We did absolutely everything we wanted to do in one day…and then some.

Thank you RideMax!

Now, I’m not going to guarantee that everyone using a RideMax plan will wait less than ten minutes for everything — that’s probably unrealistic. But even if the RideMax plan helps keep you away from just ONE of those hour-long lines, isn’t that worth sacrificing just a BIT of spontaneity for?

What are YOUR thoughts on this?

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Disneyland in Mid-October: Scary Crowds?!!

Disney in October

There’s a mid-October storm brewing at Disneyland, and it’s not related to the weather!

While October at Disneyland might be considered “low-crowd” season by some, I’m actually concerned about the potential crowds next week, with something of a “perfect storm” set to peak on Friday, October 15th.

To see why I’m concerned, consider the following:

  • Columbus Day is Monday, October 11th.
  • Canadian Thanksgiving is also observed on Monday, October 11th. While perhaps not a huge factor, I’m expecting Canadians out of school to add to the crowds next week.
  • Some school districts in Arizona are out on “Fall Break” next week. With the state’s close proximity to California, this has the potential to add to the crowds.
  • The Utah Education Association (UEA) is holding it’s annual convention next week, with many (most?) of the state’s schools closed Thursday and Friday. I’m expect a large influx of visitors from Utah at the end of the week as a result.

So, why the extra concern for Friday, October 15th?

  • Friday falls in the middle of the UEA break, so I’d expect the Utah crowds to peak on Friday.
  • Friday is an OPEN day (i.e., not a blackout day) for ALL varieties of annual passholders, including Deluxe, Southern California, and Southern California Select. With local visitors coming to the park to take in Disneyland’s fall atmosphere, including enhanced versions of the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain, this has the potential for a HUGE impact on crowds, especially Friday evening as the locals get off work and head for the park.
  • Perhaps most significantly, Disneyland is hosting it’s Halloween party Friday evening, with the park scheduled to close at 7:oopm.
  • Visitors moving over to Disney California Adventure (DCA) after Disneyland closes at 7:00pm may not get much relief either, as the attractions around the Paradise Pier area close early to accomodate the World of Color show. This leaves just two major attractions available in the evening hours at DCA, Soarin’ Over California, and Tower of Terror. (Grizzly River Run doesn’t count, as it tends to not be as popular during the cool evening hours.)

Perhaps my fears are overblown, but I think Disney may end up with something of a “revolt” on their hands from the locals who arrive after work, unaware of the early closing at Disneyland, and then have themselves herded over to DCA only to find all of the FastPasses gone for the World of Color show. This also has a strong potential to put a huge damper on the plans of those out-of-state visitors who weren’t prepared for the early closing. (I should note that Disney IS setting up a Tron-themed “party atmosphere” at DCA to help absorb the crowds. Time will tell if this is enough.)

I don’t want to sound too pessimistic. After all, a crowded day at Disneyland is still better than another day at the office, right?  So if you ARE visiting next week, just being aware of the situation might help prepare you. (And for RideMax subscribers, we also offer a few suggestions for next week in the RideMax “Tips & Hints.” Nothing amazing, but perhaps some ideas you hadn’t considered.  :-) )

If you DO visit Disneyland next weekend, please leave us a comment below on how the crowds turned out, and how it affected you. What advice would you give to someone visiting at the same time next year?

Happy Travels!

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Disney World Crowds in Early September: Amazing!

(Note: This post was originally written September 9, 2010.)

If you have the chance to visit Walt Disney World over the next couple of weeks, be prepared to be amazed at the crowds. Or more specifically, at the lack of them!

Here are a few pictures I took during a quick trip to Epcot today, as well as a few from the Magic Kingdom taken last week. (The Magic Kingdom pictures technically weren’t taken in September — they’re from Tuesday, August 31st.)

Disney World wait times in early September. Wow!
Epcot today just after 11:00am. Yes, Soarin' really does show 15 minutes!
Low crowds at Epcot!
Wide-open spaces around Epcot's World Showcase!
Low wait for Dumbo at Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Even Dumbo was do-able. At 11:45am!

Dumbo wait time at Magic Kingdom

Big Thunder wait time at Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Prefer to ride Big Thunder instead? No problem! (Picture taken just before noon.)
Pirates of the Caribbean wait time at Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Pirates anyone?

These pictures help to demonstrate how great this time of year is for a Disney park visit. With the kids back in school, most folks aren’t really planning vacations right now. If you’re willing and able to “go against the grain” and take advantage of this situation, you could really do well in terms of many attractions with low, low wait times.

Of course, this won’t last long. October is just around the corner, and with it comes fall school breaks and larger crowds. In fact, Disneyland in mid-October is shaping up to be a doozy!

More on this in a future post!

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Welcome!

Welcome to the newly updated RideMax blog!

I’m Mark Winters, the author of RideMax. Whether your trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World is days away or months in the future, I hope you’ll follow us here!

I’m currently looking for contributors with an interest in Disney theme parks to share this space with me! This isn’t a paying gig, but if you have a park story, article idea, or Disney theme park strategy you’d like to share here, please drop me a line!

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy!

Mark Winters

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