RideMax Turns Fifteen!

Disney California Adventure - Dusk

It seems sort of hard to believe, but 2016 marks the fifteenth year since our very first RideMax sale.

To this day, I still remember the feeling I had on that first day we opened for sales in 2001, when we had TWO customers purchase subscriptions. I was still working at my 9-5 job as a software developer for a large company, and walked the halls that day very excited inside for what had just happened.

Little did I realize that this little idea would become as popular over time as it has, eventually allowing me to pursue RideMax as a full time job. Since those early days of a Windows-only program, where customers would typically print their plans and take them to the park, RideMax has evolved into the web version that exists now, allowing customers to create RideMax plans both at home or on-the-fly from mobile devices as they head out to one of the parks.

For all of this, let me say THANK YOU to all of the thousands of you who have supported — and continue to support — the RideMax concept as it has developed over the years. The fact that RideMax resonates with so many of you is truly gratifying!

Since we’re celebrating our fifteenth anniversary, I thought it would be appropriate to share an unsolicited email we recently received from a very loyal customer, who has been a RideMax subscriber off and on for several years now, having used RideMax successfully at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

So with that, I’ll turn the remainder of today’s post over to Dean, a RideMax customer from Chicago. (And thanks for the note, Dean. It’s stuff like this that keeps us going!)

I am embarrassed to say that I have been meaning to write you for nearly a decade now to thank you for RideMax and to tell you how much it has meant to me and my daughters (my wife won’t set foot in a theme park!).

I first discovered RideMax when planning a trip to Disneyland in the summer of 2007.  We’re from Chicago and most of our vacations had been confined to family-related trips in the Midwest.  That summer we were doing college visits with my younger daughter.  Our final visits were to schools around LA and I figured capping off the trip at Disneyland and fulfilling her lifetime dream to visit a Disney park would be a great way to celebrate.  Since it would be her first visit and my second (the first in 1970), I was really anxious about managing the trip and being able to fully experience the parks.  Nosing around the internet I came across an article on RideMax and decided to give it a try, figuring we could abandon the plan and fly by the seat of our pants if it didn’t work.

We did our last college visit in the morning and then drove to Anaheim, getting into the California Adventure about 2:30.  We did 13 rides before the park closed, even taking time out to go check into our hotel.  We also saw FANTASMIC, drifting into seats more perfect that we realized by following your instructions.  The next day we did 23 attractions (and took a five hour break for lunch and a nap).  We started the day following your instructions for the NEMO submarines (Editor’s note: This was the time when Nemo was new  :-) ) and as we jogged through the switchback line on our way to board the 2nd sub of the day the herd came charging out of Tomorrowland.  My daughter looked at me and said, “Whatever you paid for RideMax, it was worth it” and we’ve been RideMax evangelists ever since.  The next day we did 20 attractions before we had to leave for the airport at 2:30 in the afternoon.

In the summer of 2009 my older daughter was back in Chicago for the summer and on a day together at the local Six Flags when I continually groused “They’d never get by with this kind of service/cleanliness/maintenance/etc at Disneyland, she always replied, “I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been there.”  Figuring I had an obligation to remedy that, I started planning a WDW trip for August with both daughters.  We created a spreadsheet and ranked the attractions that were most important to us, I created a number of RideMax plans, and we had the fun of sharing our opinions about the best plans in anticipation of our trip.

We flew out on a Friday morning, got to the Magic Kingdom about 12:45, and were able to do 14 attractions before finish the day viewing fireworks from the bridge between Main Street and Founders Circle.

On Saturday the buses were running late out of our resort and there we faced long lines at our arrival at Hollywood Studios.  However, we stayed calm, followed your instructions, and new turnstiles opened to the left just before they began letting guests in, so we ended up at the rope for rope drop and were on the heels of the Toy Story Mania ride operators as they led the crowd to the FastPass machines.  We were able to do 17 attractions (4 times on Tower of Terror) before heading over to the Magic Kingdom for the Spectro Magic Parade.

On Sunday we headed to Animal Kingdom and did 12 attractions before taking the bus to Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic (and 1 ride on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and two more trips on the Tower of Terror).

On Monday we headed to Epcot where we started the day with a celebrity sighting (you) and had a quick chance to shake your hand, say thank you, and promise you this long delayed letter of appreciation.  Though this was our hot and tired day, we did fifteen attractions, strolled the World Showcase, and capped off the night with Illuminations.

On our final day, we headed back to the Magic Kingdom and visited 17 attractions.  We saw you again at the rope drop for Mickey’s Toontown Fair – and following your rope drop instructions we were ahead of the crowd and when the mob went left for Tinkerbell we continued to Mickey’s House and, as the first arrivals, were greeted out front by Mickey and honored with a guided tour through his house, and surprised by Minnie waiting for us in the tent and able to have group pictures with both Mickey and Minnie.  Though we were all adults, we were giddy with excitement at this unexpected magic.  Before we left the park at 2:15 that afternoon we finished our stay with a break for coffee and dessert on Main Street because, thanks to RideMax, we felt like we’d done everything we wanted to!

I have a good friend who grew up in Florida and considers himself a WDW expert.  When I showed him my journal of what we’d done, he said it looked impossible.

Those trips were lovely times with my daughters that none of us will ever forget.  Because of RideMax they were stress free.  We never bickered about what to do next, we never worried that we wouldn’t get to experience attractions that were important to us, we never really had to interrupt the enjoyment of our time together to deal with anything mundane.  Throughout that week we kept repeating that the most important individual to the success of our trip to WDW was Walt Disney and the second most important was you.

The past four years I’ve had the opportunity to travel to LA each fall for business and snuck in a visit to Disneyland each year.  In 2012 it was just a Saturday evening visit (a recipe for disaster, I know) with annual pass holder friends who “knew the secrets.”  Never waited in such long lines in my life!  Fortunately we had a lot of catching up to do.

In 2013 I spent a day park-hopping alone with my RideMax plan and did 26 attractions.

In 2014 & 2015 I met up with friends for the day and the Halloween Party.  We kind of started the day with RideMax and then free-lanced in the afternoon and during the party, doing 28 attractions one year and 23 the next.

Though it may not sound like it I do stop to eat, shop, and relax.

My daughters and I are planning a trip to Orlando this year right after Thanksgiving,   First to Universal (we’re a little nervous about not having RideMax) and then the Magic Kingdom.  Our great RideMax experiences have given us very high expectations for how great a theme park visit should be, so we are starting to make plans with great excitement.  We’re a little nervous about the changes in FastPass and we’re making advanced dining reservations to work around this time, so things look a little more complicated – but my daughters keep repeating the same thing to me, “Trust RideMax!”

It is also looking like I will have to (get to) go to Los Angeles for work on February and will have two days free this year.  If that works out, my daughters are going to come to join me so that the older one can have her first visit to Disneyland.

A couple of observations – We have always gotten ahead of our plans, so we don’t worry about scheduling breaks.  Usually we not only have time for breaks and meals without scheduling them into our plans, but have always been able to add bonus rides not included in our plans. The only times we’ve had a wait time longer than predicted has been because rides went down.

Rather than our plans removing spontaneity from our days, the security of having the plan has allowed us to be spontaneous without the worry that our change in plan would keep us from doing other things that were important to us.

So this is my very lengthy and long-delayed effort to thank you for what you do.  It’s not only a convenience and a service, but for us it has facilitated delightful and stress-free family time together.  You’ve also turned us into Disney Parks fanatics by allowing us to enjoy them to their fullest.  It really is surreal to be sailing through the day while seeing other families in misery because they are stuck in the herd.

What you do is valuable and important.  I hope you find satisfaction in it and have some sense of the positive impact it has on families.

Always a RideMax evangelist,



RideMax Updated with New Epcot Arrival Tips and Rope Drop Strategy for Frozen Ever After

Visiting Frozen Ever After at Rope Drop Epcot

Just a quick note today for RideMax subscribers

I was out at Disneyland in late June and earlier in July, and missed the opening day for the new Frozen Ever After ride at Epcot. I had the chance to visit the ride at rope drop earlier this week, and as a result of closely watching how Disney runs the opening procedure, we’ve updated the arrival advice shown on RideMax plans for those who are visiting Epcot first thing in the morning on non-EMH days.

We’ve also added a new tip to Epcot RideMax plans which gives very specific advice on how to navigate yourself to the new Frozen Ever After ride at rope drop, should you be following a RideMax plan which has you visiting that ride as soon as the park opens. You should see both the updated arrival advice and the new Frozen tip by just refreshing the RideMax plan in your web browser or on your mobile device.

Note that we’ve also made some adjustments to our wait time estimates for Frozen Ever After, so if you have a RideMax plan which includes this attraction, we recommend creating a new plan (which will pick up the new estimates) before you visit the park.



Update: RideMax Disneyland Dates Available Through the End of July

Disney California Adventure Trolley

Just a quick update to note that for those who’ve been asking, RideMax now has planning dates for Disneyland and DCA available through the end of July. This brings us current with Disney’s published park hours for Disneyland.

Also note that Disney hasn’t yet published showtimes for dates after July 4th for the new Frozen show playing at the Hyperion, so you won’t see it listed in RideMax for dates later in July just yet. After the showtimes are available, you can expect to see it listed in RideMax for planning purposes.

Disney has already expanded the number of showtimes for Frozen from three to four, and my guess is that they’re waiting to see how the new schedule works out before committing to showtimes for future dates.

Hopefully the dust will settle soon on this!


FOUR TIPS for Beating the Disneyland Crowds — Summer 2016 Edition

Disneyland Summer Crowds

As the author of RideMax for Disneyland, I sometimes have friends ask if I have any “tips” for visiting Disneyland. Sometimes these friends are using RideMax to plan their visit, and sometimes not.

With the busy summer season now upon us, I thought I’d share some of the same tips I give to these friends who are visiting Disneyland. Some of this is advice that I don’t think you’ll see in more “mainstream” publications, so I’m hoping these will make a difference for *you* if you plan to visit Disneyland this summer of 2016. (And if you’re visiting Walt Disney World this summer, stay tuned. I plan to do a separate post on that topic in the next few days.)

With that, here you go…

Continue reading FOUR TIPS for Beating the Disneyland Crowds…


Arendelle Construction Progress at Epcot, Say Goodbye to the Flower & Garden Festival

Liesle & I stopped into Epcot yesterday to catch a few of our favorite Flower & Garden dishes one last time before the Festival wraps up on Monday.

I’m heading out to Animal Kingdom this evening to catch the new nighttime happenings there, but before we start focusing more on that park in some upcoming posts, I thought it might be worth a quick, three-picture blurb showing construction progress around the Arendelle area at Epcot.

Remember, the new Frozen ride is scheduled to open there in less than a month.

Arendelle at Epcot - New Frozen area near Norway

Above is the scene with the camera peeking over the construction wall just past the Mexico area. For those who are familiar with this area, this is almost directly across the main pathway from the spot where Mariachi Cobre performs.

As you can see, things are moving along nicely on the exteriors here. The small meet and greet building just to the left of center is much more finished than it was in my previous post covering the Arendelle construction.

Arendelle at Epcot!

Here we are viewing the scene over the wall from the right-hand side of the previous image. (And yes, I did get some “looks” taking these pictures. All in the line of duty lol…)

I’ll actually be out at Disneyland when this area opens, so you can expect my next blog post covering this scene to be available after the new Frozen Ever After attraction has been open for a bit — probably mid-July.

It will be nice to have the new attraction open, but I’m expecting it will add to the complexity of an efficient Epcot tour, especially if Frozen, Test Track, and Soarin’ all remain “Tier One” on the FP+ list.

We’ll see.

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2016

With that, here’s wishing a final goodbye to the Flower & Garden Festival.

And next year, Disney, please consider upping the portion size on those shrimp tacos. Madame Leota will thank you!