As Cars Land attractions at Disney California Adventure and Fantasyland attractions at the Magic Kingdom get closer to official opening, we find ourselves revisiting the question:
How long do new attractions stay popular?
We did a similar analysis before the opening of Star Tours 2 in 2011. See that blog post here.
Disney theme park enthusiasts love nothing more than the anticipation of a new attraction. Although the vast majority of park guests are relatively unaware of the new stuff, those in-the-know arrive in numbers large enough to make new headliner attractions incredibly busy in the early months after official opening. Star Tours 2, Toy Story Mania, Mission: SPACE, and Expedition Everest all experienced peak wait times over 100 minutes every day after opening. Only Toy Story Mania has maintained that level of demand.
So the question is: what happens to new attractions at Disneyland and California Adventure? Are the popularity lifespans of new attractions at the West Coast theme parks different from their Florida counterparts?
I was at Disneyland Park for the opening week of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in June 2007. The crowds were very large! Wait times were in the 90-minute range within the first hour of park opening and increased to 120+ minutes by mid-day. Lines filled the switchbacks at the loading area then wrapped completely around the lake and halfway around The Matterhorn. It was difficult for us to fit the attraction into a Touring Plan without a 30-minute wait. This attraction, although interesting and unique, is a slow loader. As a result, even arriving alongside the first 100 guests of the day meant a 20-minute wait in those early weeks.
This continued for about 6 weeks before slowly decreasing, even though I, for one, was convinced that Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage would be a super headliner with high peak waits for years to come. But we see from the chart that by the second year after opening, wait times had decreased significantly. Compared to the first year of operation, this attraction experiences peak wait times about half as high. In fact, we see that the Nemo Subs are a good example of our rule of thumb that new attractions take about 6 to 12 months before leveling out to their true wait time potential. You can add Finding Nemo Subs to your Disneyland Optimal Touring Plan, and you shouldn’t have a wait of more than 30 minutes, even during busier times.
So, if you are as excited as we are to see Cars Land at Disney California Adventure and the New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom but not keen on waiting for hours, plan a trip about four to six months after official opening. Preferably, visit during a slower time of year. Fall 2012 would be perfect for Cars Land! And the good news is that whenever you do manage to visit, the attractions will still be brand new…to you.