Comparing Posted Times To Your Actual Wait In Line - Disneyland Edition

by Fred Hazelton, contributing writer

Last time, we looked at how posted wait times compare to your actual wait in line at Walt Disney World attractions. Today, let's look at Disneyland Resort.

Many of the comments in the previous article mentioned that Disneyland's comparison may prove to be different, that your actual wait in line at the Disneyland Resort parks (both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure) is more likely to be close to what is posted. This, it turns out, is true.

Comparing the posted time to your actual time waiting in line at Disneyland Parks. [Click the graphic to see a larger image]

Granted, the sample size we have to make the comparison at Disneyland is smaller (we have 14,000 pairs of posted times and actual waits, whereas for Walt Disney World we had more than 2 million) but we still have enough to make a reasonable comparison.

At the Disneyland parks, the actual time you will wait in line is about 80 percent of the wait time posted outside of the attraction; 15 percentage points higher than the ratio at Walt Disney World. Plus, at Disneyland, your wait times are much more likely to be greater than the posted time. At Walt Disney World, we almost never see a wait time exceed the posted time by more than 10 minutes, whereas at Disneyland, we have hundreds of examples of actual wait times that far exceed the posted time—sometimes even double!

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have more attractions than their counterparts in Orlando. This spreads guests out a little thinner at each attraction. Also, Disneyland in particular has many more minor attractions that attract guests and keep wait times lower. It is also worth noting that posted signs are a little different at Disneyland. Many attractions have markers along the queue that indicate the estimated wait "from this point." These types of markers are more accurate because they represent the real average wait time according to the processing speed and capacity of the attraction. They do not, however, account for any delays that the attraction may experince while you are in line, in which case you are at a higher risk to wait longer than the sign suggests.

The difference between the posted time and how long you wait also depends on the attraction. [Click on the graphic to see a larger image].

Attractions with high average wait times like Radiator Springs Racers, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Tower of Terror, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad tend to have wait times that are lower than what the posted time reads. Cycle rides and attractions that appeal to younger guests, like Gadget's Go Coaster, Astro Orbitor, Autopia, and Flik's Flyers seem to have wait times that can be much longer—even as much as double the posted time. This is an important fact to know for parents of little impatient ones; prepare them and yourself to wait a little longer than what the sign says.



  1. By goalieump413

    Thank you for posting this. Interesting information...

    A couple of thoughts: I wonder if Disney Parks buffers their cue lines by overestimating wait times on the E ticket attractions to help weed out guests who might be "on the fence" about standing in that line right now. For example, as the Matterhorn routinely sees long cue lines wrapping around the attraction, does Disney report a longer than expected wait time so that only the more dedicated guests will spend that amount of time standing? Inversely, the Astro Orbiter, placed at the mouth of TL where the cue line can't be all that long, so as you walk by, read the wait time, and commit you and your kid(s) to the shorter wait time since it's a "better deal"?

    Another thing: Could it also be that the ride operators at the attractions with longer cue lines are the more experienced cast members? I don't remember how many ride operators work the Matterhorn, but with 2 tracks, I'd guess more than just 1. But in the case of the Astro Orbiter, isn't it just 1? I could be wrong, but training, experience, and the number of operators per attraction surely play a role in these numbers.

  2. By DisneyGator

    I'm actually surprised about Matterhorn having shorter lines than posted. I've never been in that line where we didn't wait MORE than what was posted. That probably has to do with the attraction constantly going down, but who knows.

    I'll agree with the premise of this article. DL definitely has their wait times closer to actual, and many times under-shoot.

  3. By olegc

    interesting data. In the first chart - the fact that the longest waits have the shortest actuals in comparison (% of estimated) makes me think that these are numbers just thrown out there when the park is at high capacity. (although a study of RSR opening weeks estimated to actual would be interesting). Kind of like "we're not sure - but lets prepare people for the worst" and it never materializes.

    I am also surprised that Peter Pan was not chosen as an attraction sample to look at actual versus estimated. That's usually one that's always long and you wonder how close it is.

  4. By TouringPlansFred

    I think both of your premises are possible explanations, especially the first one. We know that the posted time has been used to discourage guests from getting in line for various reasons (the ride is about to close, the ride is expected to have technical difficulties, etc.).

  5. Discuss this article on MousePad.