Disneyland Trip Customer Report – July, 2011

Disney California Adventure - World of Color
World of Color at Disney California Adventure

We recently received a trip report from a repeat RideMax customer from Kefar Saba, Israel. We’ve copied his report here in it’s entirety (with minor editing adjustments).

Enjoy!

Dear RideMax

Let me start my story at the beginning – 23 years ago. In the summer of 1988, my wife (my girlfriend back then) and I visited Disneyland. Although we had fun, the most prominent memory we have from that visit was waiting in endless lines – sometimes up to an hour (and if we remember correctly, even an hour and a half for one attraction). In fact, during our first day, we wanted to ride the “Star Tours” attraction, and the sign posted there claimed that the wait will be 2 hours. Since we didn’t want to wait that much, and we were planning to come back the next day in any case, we returned the following day early in the morning, and were among the crowd waiting at the end of Main street for the rope to drop (at 9:00am, I think). When the rope dropped, we ran towards the “Star tours” attraction – as did everybody else there; We ended up waiting “only” 45 minutes.

The next chapter in the story takes place during July 2009 – when we went on a family vacation (we are now with 3 children) in the USA, including several days in Walt Disney World. We dreaded the expected lines, and I started to look for some tips on how to get the most out of a visit to WDW – that is when I first heard of RideMax, and decided to purchase it. Needless to say, the results were great – our waiting time was minimal for almost all rides, and we succeeded in doing everything we planned (and then some more).

The final chapter (in the meantime), is the family vacation we went on last month, including a visit to Disneyland and California Adventure on July 11th and 13th 2011. Of course, I decided to use RideMax once again, as the challenge in visiting Disneyland seemed to be greater than the parks in Disney World.

Once again, the results were fantastic – we were able to do almost everything we planned to (21 rides, three shows during the afternoon and two shows in the evening), and even succeeded in riding Indiana Jones and Space Mountain twice, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad three times, all in one day, without waiting in line more than 15-20 minutes, and usually much less. To be honest, during the planning we ended up eliminated in advance the peter pan ride, as the projected wait time was too long for us (more than 30 minutes – RideMax “spoiled” us) and during the day at Disneyland, we decided to skip “Finding Nemo Submarines” as the standby wait time was more than 40 minutes (as projected by Ridemax). The same goes for our visit at California Adventure – we were usually ahead of plan, hardly waited in line (except for Toy Story Mania – for which the wait is inevitable), and did the “Goofy’s Sky School” twice and “California Screamin’ Roller Coaster” three times.

But in addition to the planning that RideMax does – taking FastPasses in the correct order, allowing us to maximize the number of FastPasses we collected during the day, scheduling rides at times that there was little to no wait at all, while the same rides had standby lines of 30 minutes or more during other times of the day, the tips the came with RideMax were very helpful – in particular the tips on arriving early and how to plan the arrival (my Wife and kids initially wanted to “kill” me for forcing them to wake up at 6:30am in order to be at the gates no later than 7:20am, but ended up thanking me for doing so) and the tips about the shows and parades (where the best location to view them is, when to arrive for them, how to get a ticket for World of Color).

So once again – I can say without any hesitation: RideMax is worth every cent it costs (and then some more), and I recommend it to anybody planning a visit to Disney’s parks. In fact, I have a feeling that more and more people are using it – during our visit in Disneyland, we met two families that also had RideMax plans in their hands (and had some time to exchange views on this – not too much time, as this was during our waiting in lines, which as noted was usually very short), and another person who saw our plan and asked if it was “from that software that plans the visit”.

Thank you very much, and keep up the good work.

Thanks to this customer for sharing his RideMax experience. We’re glad he had such a nice trip, and that RideMax could help!

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New RideMax Version for iPhone, Android, and Mac!

We’re excited to announce a new web-based version of RideMax that works great on iPhone, iPad, Android, and Mac systems! Access to this mobile beta is free to RideMax subscribers.

Disney RideMax Plan for iPhone and Android
Your RideMax plan in a nice portable format for display on iPhone and Android devices!

This new version of RideMax is in “beta” mode right now (which means we’re still testing it and improving it before final release) but even in it’s current “unfinished” state, it’s very usable, and provides new capabilities to the RideMax system as well!

RideMax Planner - Adding Breaks, Options
Many customization options included. Add up to five breaks and decide how you want to utilize FastPass!

Since the new version of RideMax is web-based, there is no need to install an “app” if you want to use RideMax on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Simply point your mobile web browser to the application’s home page:

http://ridemax.com/webapp

Here are some of the important features provided in this new release:

  • Create and view your RideMax plans right on your mobile device or web browser.
  • RideMax now saves your plans for later use. Create a plan using a standard web browser and view it later on your mobile device, or vice-versa!
  • Add up to FIVE breaks to your plan for meals or other activities.
  • Report wait times to RideMax. More wait time data allows us to improve the RideMax estimates over time.

Here are some additional screenshots:

RideMax - Share Wait Times
While in the park, report wait times!

Q: I just subscribed to your service. How do I access the new beta version on my iPhone, Android, or iPad?

A: When you subscribed, your download instructions contain a link you can use to activate the beta. Click on this link, choose a username and password, then point your mobile web browser to http://ridemax.com/webapp. Now sign in with the username and password you just selected and start planning!


Q: Will RideMax work on my particular mobile device? What devices are supported?

A: Given the number of mobile device models being produced these days, it’s impractical to test RideMax on all of them. We’ve done extensive work with RideMax on iPhone, and though we haven’t tested it extensively on other systems, it also seems to work on some other mobile “touch-screen” browsers that are based on newer versions of WebKit, such as that found in newer Android models. We’ve also had specific customer reports that RideMax runs on the Motorola Cliq and the HTC EVO, but that it does not work on Windows Mobile devices. We had one Blackberry customer report success, but that was on a very new touch-screen model device, and we don’t believe it will work on the “click-based” Blackberries that are still fairly popular.


Q: What are the pros and cons of using the mobile or web-based version rather than the Windows version of Ridemax?

A: One advantage of the web/mobile version is the ability to modify your plans right from the web or a mobile device. No more need to take the laptop on vacation just to access RideMax! Another advantage is that you don’t need to carry a paper plan with you if you have access to RideMax on your mobile device. With a mobile device, you can also share wait time information and comments with us. This allows us to improve the RideMax estimates further.

A disadvantage of the mobile version is that it’s still in “beta” mode — meaning that it’s incomplete and some of the formatting is less than ideal. Most of the “tips” still need to be added as well.


Q: Aren’t there lower-cost applications for the iPhone and Android that work just as well as RideMax does? Why do I need this?

A: It’s true that there are “wait-time apps” produced by others, but sometimes you get what you pay for! Planning in advance — not just supplying current wait times — is a RideMax specialty, and in our opinion, this is vital to minimizing your overall wait, especially when the park is busy.

Does it really help you to know that right now the wait for Indiana Jones is 60 minutes rather than 90? Either way, you don’t want to stand in that line, right? What you really need is help avoiding that 60-minute-long line, and that’s what RideMax is designed to do!

Take a look at how much you’re spending on your Disney vacation, and we think you’ll agree, the cost of RideMax is tiny by comparison.

This summer we celebrate our 10th anniversary of providing customized itineraries for Disney theme park customers. Why take a chance with some random iPhone wait-time app, when you could be using RideMax instead?

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Disney World: December Dates Now Available in RideMax

Disney's Hollywood Studios Lights in December
The Christmas lights at Hollywood Studios -- Amazing!

For those planning a December trip to Disney World, December dates are now available in RideMax.

Based on our experience from previous years, we still expect several changes in park hours from Disney, especially during Christmas week itself. We wouldn’t be at all surprised to see 8:00am openings at the Magic Kingdom — that’s a 7:00am Extra Magic Hour!

Stay tuned!

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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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