How Long is Too Long to Wait in Line?


We've tackled this question quietly in our minds for years. How long would you really wait for the average ride? What about your favorite must-do ride? We all like to think we wouldn't waste hours upon hours lining up for any attraction, but the truth is, most die-hard Disney fans probably have.

Yes, even you. There is usually at least one occasion where the line became ten times longer than you expected when someone way ahead of you turned in that little red card of doom just moments after you passed through the 20-minute-wait-time entrance. Or, when you committed to exploring a new land on a specific trip and spent hours in the line waiting to enter, before waiting even longer once inside.

One way or another, we have all been caught out breaking our own I'd-never-wait-more-than-X-minutes rules.

Image credit: Michelle Crawford

Now more than ever, we are understanding the value of our Disney vacations. As we re-plan those canceled trips, we do so under new guidelines and regulations, thinner crowds, and lower wait times. I've told you before how the current status of the parks reminds me of the good old days of Disney past when plans were simpler and less complicated. But as travel restrictions inevitably start to lift over the coming months/years, I wonder if this time of quieter conditions and shorter wait times has spoiled us for the future. A little glimpse at what was, along with a taste of what Disney parks could be like at lowered capacity. Ahh, bliss.

Photo by Megann Eichner on Unsplash

When I was a kid, most rides had a fairly short wait, especially in Disneyland during the U.S. school year. As time has gone on, and both domestic and international travel have become more accessible, it can be hard to find that sweet spot of open attractions and lower-than-usual crowds. As a result, many of us now resign ourselves to long queues of up to one or two hours long prior to enjoying that 7-minute attraction.

It's easy to say that's a crazy thing to do, but at certain times of the year, it is the difference between riding your favorite attractions and having to give them a miss altogether until the next trip to the magic.

Image credit: Michelle Crawford

Year after year, I have watched the popularity of attractions shift. On our last trip (prior to COVID), it was interesting to see that in Disneyland, attractions that once carried particularly long lines, like Space Mountain and the Matterhorn, were down to less than 30 minutes, meanwhile, the traditionally quieter rides (back in the day) within Fantasyland were up to 60 and 90 minutes! Peter Pan, I'm looking at you, mate!

I see posts from time to time with varying opinions on the FastPass and MaxPass systems, some feel that they slow everything down, others swearing by them as the only way to make your way around the parks successfully. It is certainly hard to stand in line and watch others zoom past you when their allocated time rolls around, but does it actually help or hinder the flow of crowds?

Photo by Patrick Hunt on Unsplash

So, how do you decide how long is too long to wait? For me, it will come down to a combination of factors like how many days I have left in the parks to try and circle back to hit that attraction. Or, the weather at the time we are visiting alongside how sheltered the queuing area is.

Even though I would love to boast that I would never wait more than 40 minutes for any ride, the reality is that for those few favorites, in the last days of my visit, I would probably wait as long as it takes. Granted, not many attractions make it onto that list of worthiness, but for the staples of any Disney vacation like Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, the Incredicoaster in Disneyland California, or Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, my standards are overrun by my desperation not to travel back across the world having missed the things I love.

Photo by Rodolfo Marques on Unsplash

This week, I have a few questions for you all:

  • What is the longest you would wait for any attraction?
  • What attraction would you wait for the longest to enjoy?
  • Does your answer change from day one of your trip to your final day when you feel the dreaded grip of going home closing in?
  • Overall, do you think wait times are improved by services such as FastPass and MaxPass, or are they more trouble than they are worth?

If you have managed to enjoy the parks during this time of reduced capacity, how will you cope going back to the larger crowds and excessively long queues when you next visit?

And finally, does that precious time in the parks, now more difficult than ever achieve, encourage you to wait longer for the few rides you love, or wait less time in hopes you will fit more in?

Image credit: Michelle Crawford

What it comes down to is the question of how our Disney lives are changing and how we choose to prioritize the time we have there. Personally, should I afford myself the luxury of picturing a one-off, dream day in the parks, I think I might choose to indulge in a long line or two, spread at either end of the day and then going hard on the smaller attractions in between; absorbing as much of the Disney magic as I can in a 12-hour day.

Let me know your thoughts!

**Feature image credit: Photo by Brian McGowan



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