Disney has updated the Animal Kingdom’s park hours to include early morning Extra Magic Hours (EMH) for most dates from April 28th through June 30th, and we’ve just updated RideMax (and our park recommendations calendar) to reflect this change.
Unfortunately, this also calls for a re-run of any Animal Kingdom RideMax plans for the affected dates, so if this includes you, hopefully this gives you ample notice to get that done before your visit.
Just attempting some brief armchair analysis here, this is an interesting move on Disney’s part. With the huge crowds in Pandora since its opening, I can see how Disney might think this will help to reduce the overall wait there, and they’re probably right. Think about it: There will now be one hour almost every day of the week where guests can get in the standby line and not be slowed down by FastPass+ guests — provided they’re staying at a Disney hotel, of course.
If a lot of Disney hotel guests take advantage of this, it should also help reduce pressure on the ride during normal operating hours as well, so hopefully non-hotel guests will benefit too, even if not to the same degree as will those who are eligible for EMH.
We may also make some tweaks to the RideMax standby estimates for the Pandora attractions once we see the daily EMH in operation, so stay tuned for that as well.
If this is your first time visiting the RideMax website, you should know that RideMax is planning software designed to save you time in line at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. You enter the date you’ll be visiting the park, as well as the attractions you want to visit, along with your preferred touring options. RideMax takes these into account, crunches on our estimated wait times for the date of your visit (possibly comparing *millions* of potential itineraries), to create a custom, optimized game plan which you can then take to the park.
RideMax was initially released in the pre-smartphone days, when folks actually printed their RideMax plans on paper and took them to the park.
Although you could still follow this procedure today, a lot of technology has been introduced since those early days which can assist the visitor to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Some of these innovations include smartphones in general, FastPass+ at Walt Disney World, MaxPass at Disneyland, and the parks’ own apps, which give users insight into current wait times in the park. Third-party apps also abound.
Given all of the tools available to theme park visitors these days, I thought it would be helpful to outline ten reasons why I STILL think you should be using RideMax to help plan your next Disney park visit.
Reason 1: It saves you time in line (and time is money!)
This may seem obvious, but the whole point of RideMax is to save you time standing in line, while also reducing the amount of walking you need to do to make this happen. (It’s optimization algorithm is specifically designed to minimize your estimated waiting AND walking time.)
So, how much is that time savings worth to you? Let’s assume for a moment that you are a family of four is planning a three-day visit to Disneyland, where you expect to spend an average of eight hours each day in the park, at a total cost of $2,000 for everything, including park tickets, hotel stay, and travel.
If you divide that $2,000 by the 24 total hours you expect to spend in the park, you’ll see that the cost per hour of park time is just north of $83. At that rate, RideMax will only need to save you eleven minutes(!) in line before you break even on your $14.95 RideMax investment. And that’s not eleven minutes per day, but eleven minutes TOTAL for your entire vacation.
We’ve had customers report saving HOURS of time in line thanks to RideMax, so this advantage seems pretty clear.
With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays quickly approaching, I thought a quick “PSA post” was in order today.
Those of you who use RideMax to plan your day at Walt Disney World or Disneyland know that along with a custom itinerary, RideMax plans include several tips for helping you get the most from your day. Some of these relate to our recommended arrival time for each park, as well as tips for certain individual rides to help you save time in line and/or get more from a particular attraction.
If you’re visiting Walt Disney World, however, there is ONE TIP that many first-time visitors, or guests who haven’t visited in a while, need to know, and that tip is simply to BUY YOUR PARK TICKETS IN ADVANCE. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that you should buy those park tickets as soon as you’re sure you’ll be going on that trip.
Let me repeat: BUY YOUR WALT DISNEY WORLD PARK TICKETS IN ADVANCE!
If you read my recent post on the 10 advantages the Disneyland MaxPass system has over Walt Disney World’s FastPass+ system, you’ll know that the main reason you need to buy your park tickets ahead of time is because you need those tickets in order to make your FastPass+ reservations. (This is different from the Disneyland FastPass or MaxPass system, where you make your FastPass reservations on the actual day of your visit.)
If you’re not familiar with the FastPass+ system, you’re allowed to make advance FastPass+ reservations for your group for up to three attractions for each day of your visit. Those with FastPass+ reservations skip the normal “standby” line and are usually able to board the attraction much more quickly than those who don’t hold reservations. If you’re staying at a Disney-owned hotel, you can make those reservations up to 60 days in advance of your trip. Otherwise, you can make those reservations up to 30 days in advance.
The catch is that these FastPass+ reservations are given on a first-come, first served basis. So the sooner you make your reservations, the better your choices in terms of attractions and available time slots.
As I’ve said previously, I’m not a huge fan of the Disney World FastPass+ system (quite the opposite, in fact), but as long as it works the way it does, we might as well take maximum advantage of it.
If you ARE visiting over the holidays and don’t yet have your park tickets, the easiest way to purchase them is through Disney’s own app. Just search the app store for “My Disney Experience,” download the app, and go from there. You can tie your tickets directly to your account in the app, then use the app to go ahead and make those FastPass+ reservations. (Buying tickets through the app, you won’t have physical possession of the tickets until you get to the park, but you can still make those FastPass+ reservations as soon as you’ve purchased them.)
A final note is that if you’re using RideMax to plan your Walt Disney World visit, be sure to pay attention to the “FastPass+ Options” section of the main RideMax planning screen. There you can tell RideMax which attractions you want to use FastPass+ for. You can also have RideMax tell you the time at which it would be optimal to set up your FastPass+ reservations in the context of your own individual RideMax plan. (If your time slots are limited and you can’t change your FastPass+ reservation times, you can also tell RideMax the time at which you want to use them, and it will work these into your plan accordingly.)
So… buy those Disney World park tickets in advance, get those FastPass+ reservations set up EARLY, and have a great trip!
While visiting Disneyland recently I posted something on Twitter that seemed to cause something of a stir:
I tweeted the above as I was making my way through Disneyland actually using the MaxPass system. The tweet came from my own emotional response to the new Disneyland system after using the WDW FastPass+ system for a long time now. And I really liked what I was seeing at Disneyland.
And yes, several weeks later I still stand by the statement that the MaxPass system at Disneyland is superior to Walt Disney World’s FastPass+ system in almost every possible way. Here are 10 reasons why: