Inside Look: How Accurate Are Disney Wait Times?

  • By: pdstamp
  • Date: January 18, 2023

When you go to Disney World, there is one thing that you should be prepared for in advance. If you plan on going on any rides, you should be prepared to wait.

Fortunately, Disney provides us with an opportunity to know in advance how long we will wait. That leaves many people wondering, how accurate are those Disney wait times?

Disney tries to provide a relatively accurate estimate of the time you will be waiting to enter a Disney ride. That being said, there are always going to be variations, including some that may be built into the system.

In the Queue for Guardians Of The Galaxy 2022

Sometimes, those variations may work in your favor. You might be standing in line, thinking that you will be waiting an hour to get on a ride and 20 minutes later, you are hopping on board. That is an amazing feeling, but it is also one that leaves you wondering about wait time accuracy.

The opposite can also be true. Due to unforeseen circumstances, there may be delays that cause even a brief wait in line to extend to a considerably long wait. Although frustrating, it does happen.

That is why it is important to understand how to get the most out of your visit to Walt Disney World. You don’t want to spend all of your time waiting in line and if you are in line, you want to maximize your time while you’re there.

Does Disney Over Estimate Wait Times?

One of the questions that often comes up about Disney wait times is if they overestimate them. It often seems that they might, but what is the truth behind it?

According to many people who are in the know, Disney may inflate the wait times at various rides up to 20% higher than what they should be. Since the wait time is live throughout the queue, the adjustments will be made as you go along so that it will eventually reach a zero at the proper time.

There have been a variety of studies done throughout Disney that really make it seem plausible that the ride wait times are inflated on purpose. This includes over 100,000 families that used the Lines app while they were visiting Disney World.

According to that app, which has a lot of data behind it, an overestimation of internal wait time was seen some 75% of the time that people were standing in line. There were also times when it was underestimated.

Interestingly, the underestimated amount of time was about 25%. This means that there are rarely times Disney nails the wait time specifically. You’re either going to be waiting in line longer than expected or get through it faster than expected.

This may leave you wondering why a theme park would overestimate the amount of time needed to get on a ride on purpose.

If Disney gets you through the line faster than anticipated, it is going to make your overall experience better at the park. The opposite is also true if they keep you in line longer than anticipated.

Disney may or may not build in some extra time into the wait in case of unforeseen problems, such as the ride temporarily breaking down or other issues that would cause it not to run as expected.

Waiting in line for Mickey and Minnies Runaway Railway August 2022

How Does Disney Calculate Wait Times?

In order to get as accurate of a wait time as possible in line, Disney has various means that allow them to do so. This involves camera tracking and the length of the queue. There is also something else that has become somewhat of a Disney legend.

One way that Disney ride queue lines are calculated is through the use of the Flik card. These are small red cards that are handed to somebody waiting in line. They can then put the cart around their neck using the black lanyard. In a perfect world, these would work very well.

The Flik card was reported to have been going away a number of years ago. They were going to go to more of a digital or electronic system to help maintain the queue timeline. This upset many people who love Disney and were excited when they were the person selected to hold a Flik card.

Now that the pandemic is winding down, it seems as if Disney is starting to use the Flik cards again. There are reports of people getting handed one of these cards at the beginning of the queue and some pictures are even shown online.

The Flik card system is relatively simple. Every 10 minutes or so, a cast member at the beginning of the queue is given a Flik card, and they will scan it and hand it to the next person entering the queue.

When that person reaches the front of the line, they are supposed to hand it to the cast member prior to boarding the ride. That card is then scanned and the wait time is accurately calculated.

There are a number of issues that can keep the Flik card system from working properly. This includes cast members that get distracted and don’t scan the card immediately after receiving it. There may also be some who forget to hand it in before they get on the ride.

Shortest Wait Times At Disney? Does It Ever Say 0 Minutes?

If you just want to get on a ride at Disney and you don’t want the wait, there are a few that consistently offer short wait times. It’s a great way to get out of the weather and get on a ride in some cases.

Carousel of Progress: This ride typically has a five-minute wait or less. It’s short, but it’s worth the experience (once).

Mad Tea Party: This is a fun ride that typically has a wait time of 15 minutes or shorter.

Dumbo The Flying Elephant: If you visit Disney, you have to get on this ride. Fortunately, you will likely wait 15 minutes or less to get on it.

Mickey’s Philharmonic: With 15 minutes or shorter wait in most cases, this is an attraction well worth visiting.

Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover: Try this one on for size with less than a 20-minute wait in most cases.

Also a fun fact at “Haunted Mansion” is the lowest wait time will always be “13 minutes”

How To Avoid Standby Lines At Walt Disney World

If you want to avoid the standby lines at Disney World, there are a few ways to do so.

Rope Drop: This is a popular option for many people visiting Disney. You plan out your trip so that you drop into the park near the ride you want to visit first. Get there early and you can get in a shorter line.

Ride Late: If you get in the queue immediately before they close the queue, you are likely to get through quickly.

Genie+: There is no longer an option for the Fast Pass. You can now get the Genie+ option attached to your My Disney Experience app. You have to pay $15 a day at WDW, but it gives you early access to rides through the lightning Lane.

In the end, the Disney wait times are a flawed part of the visit. That being said, they also give you a general indication of how long you will wait. Let’s just hope they are estimating longer than expected.

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