Less waiting, more riding at Disney parks

This is, granted, a very specialized tool; but most of us will visit a Disney park from time to time…and despite the best efforts of the ride designers to make the lines interesting (Expedition Everest, anyone?), we didn’t pay that outsized admission fee in order to stand in line.

There are unofficial guides, which definitely help; but RideMax is the best way I’ve found to drastically slash my waiting time at Disney parks. Using data assembled and updated by a dedicated cadre of Disneyphiles (and boy, do I want THAT job!), the RideMax creators built an algorithm to calculate an itinerary which delivers the shortest total wait times for the day, the arrival and departure times, and the rides you choose. Wherever the lines are likely to be short at that particular time, that’s where you’ll go. This has a magical effect on your time at the park: you can do many more rides, yet still have time for shows, sit-down meals, and that restorative nap in the lobby of the Grand Californian.

I’m particularly thrifty, so I’m intent on wringing every last bit of enjoyment out of that C-note I had to drop at the gate…and the number of rides we enjoy per day has gone up 30-60% since I stopped using strategy guides and started using RideMax. The generated itinerary also has another salutary effect: fewer decisions to make at the park. Think about it: how much time have you wasted discussing where you should go next? I’ve been in groups where it took 20 minutes to reach consensus. Not now! “Okay, everybody give me your tickets and get in line for Big Thunder; I’ll get the FastPasses for Indiana Jones and catch up with you in a bit.” People tend to argue less when you have an itinerary, especially when they had input on what rides were chosen…and besides, everybody always has the option to break off and do their own thing, and join up later—the itinerary will make it easier to reunite, as well.

You can also make separate itineraries, if part of your group is all about ToonTown but the rest are yearning for E-ticket rides: have two separate itineraries in the morning, and reunite in the afternoon or evening for the rides everybody agrees on. Most of the decision making takes place BEFORE you get to the park: figure out the best date and time to go (they have tips for that), find out what rides and shows everybody is interested in, feed in the information in…and wander off for a few minutes; it takes a little while for the algorithm to digest the numbers. I usually need to run the itineraries through a few times, changing the options, before I get the one I’ll use.

The first few permutations will generally have large gaps of free time in the mid afternoon, so once I’ve planned in meal and nap times, I’ll decide what shows we’d like to see then, or what extra rides we’d like to fit in. The whole process usually takes me an hour or two, so don’t leave it for the last minute… but that small investment in time and planning yields big dividends on “D-Day.” In addition to general strategy suggestions (“We recommend you plan to arrive at the park at least 1 hour before opening”), they also include little tip guides for individual rides. For example: the single rider line at the Matterhorn can dramatically shorten your wait (since each sled seat only fits a single person, why not go for single rider?), and, on busy days, the right-hand line at “Pirates of the Caribbean” can be considerably shorter than the left (the left one has extra loops in it that the right side lacks).

Over the years, we’ve used RideMax on eight visits to Disneyland and two to Disney World; those visits have been much more fun, more relaxed, and less exhausting than our strategy-guide visits, despite the ever-increasing crowd levels at the parks. They offer a 90 day subscription for $15, or a year for $25…if you’re planning a visit, I highly recommend you give it a try. I won’t visit the parks without it!

-- Barbara Dace 11/3/17