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In your experience, how accurate are the wait times on the app?

Shouldigo12

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I got curious today and looked at the app to see what the wait times were. Considering it's New Year's Day and I've been hearing on the thread a lot how crowds and wait times just keep getting worse and worse, I was expecting to see high wait times all around. I was surprised to see that they were actually much lower than I expected. The hot ticket rides were an hour+, but otherwise wait times were very reasonable all things considered. Are the wait times posted just not very accurate, or did I happen to look on a good day?
Edit: So right after I posted this I looked again, and most rides in MK are close to an hour wait now. That's still what I would expect today though, and I'm still curious as to how accurate the app is.
 

Monty

A legend.
Premium Member
In the Parks
No
Any wait times are based on how long someone already waited in line, not how long someone entering standby will wait. First thing in the morning, the more popular rides will post how long they expect the wait to be based on recent days. Obviously, if the park has been open for twenty minutes, a posted 120-minute wait is a guess.
 

Shouldigo12

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Any wait times are based on how long someone already waited in line, not how long someone entering standby will wait. First thing in the morning, the more popular rides will post how long they expect the wait to be based on recent days. Obviously, if the park has been open for twenty minutes, a posted 120-minute wait is a guess.
The website says the times listed are the current wait times.
 

Monty

A legend.
Premium Member
In the Parks
No
The website says the times listed are the current wait times.
The way they measure the wait time is to give a red tag to a guest when they enter standby and then measure the wait when they get to load. So the time reflects how long they already waited. If they waited 120 minutes, that’ll be posted as the “current” wait time. If it discourages people from entering standby, then those who do enter the line will actually wait less.
 

nickys

Premium Member
They will also manipulate the wait times.

If you look on the app say 30 minutes before closing, you can usually halve the wait time to get an accurate picture of how long it really is. Why? To stop people jumping in line, thinking it’ll be too long.

The Touring Plans app is usually way more accurate. You probably need a full (paid) subscription to use it.
 

Shouldigo12

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
They will also manipulate the wait times.

If you look on the app say 30 minutes before closing, you can usually halve the wait time to get an accurate picture of how long it really is. Why? To stop people jumping in line, thinking it’ll be too long.

The Touring Plans app is usually way more accurate. You probably need a full (paid) subscription to use it.
How often are the wait times on the Disney app shorter than they actually are?
 

Shouldigo12

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
No idea, sorry!
No worries! I appreciate the help. I probably won't be subscribing to touring plans, since I have no idea when my next trip will be. If everything goes super well for me, it'll be at least two years. So it doesn't make much sense right now for me to pay to look at wait times haha. I was mostly just curious because, as mentioned, I see people here talk about the unbearable waits pretty often and they just didn't look that unbearable to me. Especially if the main accuracy issue is them inflating wait times. Thanks for the advice though! If and when I go back I'll think about the subscription.
 

nickys

Premium Member
No worries! I appreciate the help. I probably won't be subscribing to touring plans, since I have no idea when my next trip will be. If everything goes super well for me, it'll be at least two years. So it doesn't make much sense right now for me to pay to look at wait times haha. I was mostly just curious because, as mentioned, I see people here talk about the unbearable waits pretty often and they just didn't look that unbearable to me. Especially if the main accuracy issue is them inflating wait times. Thanks for the advice though! If and when I go back I'll think about the subscription.

The inflating is a deliberate manipulation.

The majority of wait times will be based on the cards they hand out in line, which is usually at the actual FP entrance. So for rides like 7dmt, the line usually starts way before that, so the wait time shown on the app will be lower than the actual wait time.

Touring Plans relies on the “liners” who submit their wait times to the app. And they have no reason to lengthen or shorten their wait time, since those wait times are used to optimise their personal touring Plans in real time.
 

Shouldigo12

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The inflating is a deliberate manipulation.

The majority of wait times will be based on the cards they hand out in line, which is usually at the actual FP entrance. So for rides like 7dmt, the line usually starts way before that, so the wait time shown on the app will be lower than the actual wait time.

Touring Plans relies on the “liners” who submit their wait times to the app. And they have no reason to lengthen or shorten their wait time, since those wait times are used to optimise their personal touring Plans in real time.
I know it's deliberate. My point was, if the main thing I have to worry about with their wait times is that they're going to be shorter than they say, then I'm not that worried. If they're frequently posting wait times that are are shorter than what I'll be waiting, then that's an issue. Touring Plans is not an option for me right now though. I'm sure it's accurate, but it's kind of silly to pay for a subscription to look at wait times for a place I'm not even going to for at least two years.
 

Rob562

Well-Known Member
The way they measure the wait time is to give a red tag to a guest when they enter standby and then measure the wait when they get to load. So the time reflects how long they already waited. If they waited 120 minutes, that’ll be posted as the “current” wait time. If it discourages people from entering standby, then those who do enter the line will actually wait less.

I thought I'd read semi-recently that they retired the red FLIK cards. At the time it was postulated that Disney has decided that there are enough people wearing MagicBands that simply putting long-distance readers at the start and end of each Standby line would give them enough data.

I'm not a number-cruncher, but such a system could in theory give them more accurate projected wait times. They'd be able to see the increased arrival flow of guests, compare that to the flow of guests at the front of the line, and use a calculated rate-of-change to get a more realistic wait time for someone entering the line at that moment.

-Rob
 

TPSou

Member
I don't know for Disney, but in other parks around the world they only do the card thing for new rides or when they have modified something substantial. Otherwise they know roughly what the current wait time will be based on how much of the queue is open/being used and how far back it goes. That way they can post the wait time as what it would be if you got in right now compared to having to post what the wait time was for someone who joined tow hours ago.

I'm pretty sure Disney do this too, as you regularly see super short queue times (Star Tours does this all the time) like 5 minutes suddenly leap to 25-45 minutes because everyone joined when it was 5 minutes and now the queue is out of the entrance.
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
I’ll add to say that there is sometimes a difference (longer or shorter) due to the time it takes for wait times to be updated.

We were in WDW last Thursday evening (2 January) and had a late-ish FP for Splash Mountain. Right after we got out of the fireworks crowd, we looked at wait times and it was showing 20 mins for Pirates. We had about 45 mins to wait before our Splash FP started. We headed over to Pirates, and it seemed rather crowded for a 20 min wait so I asked the CM about the accuracy of the posted time; she said that the wait time hadn’t yet been updated with the post fireworks influx, and that it was going to be at least double the posted time. We decided not to get in line, because we weren’t willing to wait. When I checked the app a bit later, the updated wait time was reflected at 45 mins.

On the opposite spectrum, Saturday we had an hour to kill after getting off Mine Trains before our Big Thunder FP. We saw that Splash had only a 35 min wait, so we headed that way. On our way over to Splash the sky was getting darker and darker and by the time we got to Splash it had started raining ... which soon turned into a deluge and lots of people bailed out of the line. I don’t think we waited even 20 mins. And because of the rain, there was no line for Big Thunder, so we rode it quickly once before our FP window opened up.
 

JustAFan

Well-Known Member
I haven't been handed or seen one of the red cards in a few years. I have absolutely zero confirmation on this, but I strongly suspect there's a much more sophisticated algorithm than the old red card system. There is so much room for error there and so much more opportunity in current technology. I have seen that wait times can be slightly overstated, similar to when you check in at a restaurant. They'd rather overstate the wait than understate it. I've noticed the moments that those times are the most wrong is during a rush, such as rope drop or immediately after a parade or big show. The app is great, but common sense is helpful too. If the app says Tomorrowland Speedway is 15 minutes and the line is out to the sidewalk, I know that time will change soon. My suspicion is that the wait time algorithm relies heavily on the magic bands that most guests wear. They track all kinds of stuff with those things.
 

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