Disney World Wait Times Explained

As you walk into an attraction at Disney World, you will notice the wait times published. If you are using the Disney World app, MyDisneyExperience, you can also view the wait times that match the times listed at the attraction entrance. The app makes finding the best attractions to visit easier to plan by being able to filter to the theme park you are visiting in the app, then sorting the wait times with the least wait to the longest wait.  My family often uses the app to find which attractions have the lowest wait times and do those first.  If we have an attraction we want to visit that always has a longer wait time, we use the app to find when the wait times have decreased to a more manageable wait time before ending that attraction’s queue.

But how are those wait times determined?  Are they reliable?  Let’s answer this one question at a time:

How are the wait times determined?

Throughout the day, Disney will ask guests if they can assist with determining the wait times.  They ask that the guest take a card that is attached to lanyard.  As the lanyard is handed to the guests, it is first scanned into a system that records the time.  Later when you see the last cast member before boarding the attraction, you will be asked to hand over the lanyard.  Again, the cast member scans the card into the system.  This records the second time. The difference between the second time and the first time scanned into the machine creates the number of minutes you stood in line and assists Disney in determining the wait times to post. Disney uses this information and other data such as peak hours for attractions and low times such as during parades to determine the ultimate wait time minutes to publish for each attraction.

Are they reliable?

The wait times area reliable to a point. These wait times are a fairly close estimate provided by Disney with the assistance of Disney guests who were given the lanyards. Just because you see a wait time of 40 minutes for an attraction, there is no guarantee that you will get through the queue within those 40 minutes. The attraction may have to close for maintenance issues during that 40 minutes. Conversely, the wait times may dramatically decrease especially during the nighttime shows such as Fantasmic when so many of the guests leave the attractions to attend.  My experience with the published wait times is that the typical wait is nearly always less than the time that is published. Very rarely have I ever waited in the line longer than the time that is published outside the attraction or on the app.

What is your experience with wait times?

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