Poll: How to Display Posted Wait Times in Lines

by 39 Comments

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At TouringPlans.com we use our own research, customer-submitted wait times, statistical analysis, and computer processing power to present our customers with the best wait time estimates in the business. Unfortunately, our results are sometimes difficult to understand, and we are taking steps to mitigate that.

One of the most common sources of confusion with our Lines mobile app is that our wait times do not match the ones that Disney posts outside attractions. This is intentional.

Our goal is to let you know how long you will wait in line. To that end, our wait time estimates are mathematical predictions of the actual time that will elapse from when you first encounter resistance in line until the time you board the attraction.

We are not privy to Disney’s goals, but we have observed that:

  • There is “lag” in Disney’s posted wait times. Disney updates its wait times based on a recent rider’s wait in line, but if that rider got in line 48 minutes ago, this information is 48 minutes old and may be quite different from the wait that someone queuing up now will experience.
  • Near closing, Disney often exaggerates waits to scare off guests, minimizing the number of people in the queue at closing.
  • Disney would rather post waits that are too high than too low; guests are generally happy if they wait less than the posted time, but they get upset if they wait longer.
  • Ride malfunctions increase wait times. (We cannot predict those!)

Having tracked Disney’s posted wait times for more than a decade, we plan to add an estimate of those times to Lines. We seek your input on the best way to show this information.

Please respond to the poll below to let us know your preference! Or, if you have other ideas for displaying this information, please share them in the comments. Thank you!

Option A
Option B  
Option C  
Option D  

Which posted wait time display option above is your favorite?

  • Option A (62%, 894 Votes)
  • Option C (15%, 214 Votes)
  • Option D (14%, 196 Votes)
  • Option B (9%, 136 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,440

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Posted on April 12, 2012

39 Responses to “Poll: How to Display Posted Wait Times in Lines”

  • the words “Actual wait” needs to be as small as possible so that I can get the information as quickly as possible. I think the pole results reflex that.

  • Anything but B (it just takes up too much space). One suggestion would be to use “Est. wait” rather than “Actual wait”, since you can’t exactly calculate the wait (due to malfunctions or other events outside your control).

  • Can you also show what it would look like for Fastpass attractions?

    • by David Davies on April 12, 2012, at 10:26 am EDT

      The way that information about FASTPASS and single rider waits are displayed would not change; where relevant, this data will be underneath the “Posted Wait” line in black.

  • I like C, but with Actual Wait in front of the number instead of behind it.

  • I agree with poster above, option B takes up too much space. Also, can you really call it “Actual Wait?” Since the number is calculated based on many factors, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to call it “Expected Wait” or “Calculated Wait?”
    Keep up the good work! I never travel to DW without your touring plans in hand and researching everything using your info. I’m excited to give Lines a try on my next trip!

    • by David Davies on April 12, 2012, at 10:32 am EDT

      That’s a good point that “actual” could be misconstrued. Of course, everything we display in the Lines app is a mathematical prediction. Maybe putting “Est.” before everything would help.

      I very much welcome ideas on how to convey accurate information clearly and concisely in Lines, where we have a very limited amount of screen with which to work.

  • A is the best of those – don’t like B, C, and D because the first line has the number, then “Actual wait” The second line has “posted wait” and then the number.
    Only A is consistent and clean, but I’d prefer “Actual Wait” to be the same font as “posted wait” (though in blue, of course), instead of smaller.

  • I like A, but see no need to include the word “wait.” We know we’re looking at wait times, and you could streamline it by just saying “Actual” and “Posted.” That would address the previous commenter’s thoughts on consistent fonts, too.

    • I second what Andrew is saying here. We all understand that what we’re looking at is wait times and we all understand the measurement will be in minutes. I like something on the order of
      Estimated: 16m
      Posted: 25m

      I would like to see the most important information, the estimated wait time, be as close to the upper right corner as possible, since eyes easily go to edges.

  • by Andrew Drummond on April 12, 2012, at 10:34 am EDT

    I needed an “all of the above except B” option

  • I rarely make any type of comment to any of the many blogs I read regarding Disney; however this one really has me puzzled. I know that the options you posted are samples, but (call me crazy) is 2-4 minutes that significant that a format change is necessary? Is the actual wait time and the posted wait time that far off that you are actually getting complaints? Don’t get me wrong, I am totally into utilizing your touring plans and apps to work my way around Disney, but I am not going to Disney to have every minute of every day planned down to the very minute (That’s what work is for). I am going to Disney to have FUN!!!

    • by David Davies on April 12, 2012, at 11:07 am EDT

      Especially during busy times of year, the difference between posted waits and actual waits can be far more than a few minutes.

  • I like A, but would make both text prefixes in the smaller size, and leave them short, like “Lines Est.” and “Posted”…. I don’t think “Wait” needs to be included in the text.

    Like this:
    http://www.supersecretprojects.com/lines_example.jpg

    • I like this option Dustin is presenting, but I would go one step more and reduce “16 min.” to just “16m” to get the focal text as close to the right edge as possible.

  • I agree with the above about using “est” or “TP Predicted” instead of “Actual”.

  • Well, I like anything that looks more uniform such as wait time digits, below Actual time digits and Actual Wait and Posted Wait to be both smaller font.

    A is my choice of these, but I would still like to see
    Posted Wait” to be in small font and look (except for color) just like “Actual Wait”

  • I agree with Dustin and Adam, the language could be tweaked a little to reflect the fact that, although probably more accurate, Lines wait times are estimates. Also stating ‘times’ is probably redundant, but sometimes it’s best to state the obvious to avoid questions.
    I really like Option C, it put the amount of time first for the Lines estimate, and the number is what I’m looking for anyway.
    Great work all at TP, love your products :)

  • I voted for A as you really should have the two times in the same general area and edges and corners work well. Once we acclimate to the change, a user will know instinctively that the top, blue number is actual and the bottom, gray number is posted. The other options all make your eyes to a little searching, instead of picking it up in one glance. I do also like the comments above about removing “wait” from the labels and changing “Actual” to “Estimated,” or something like that.

  • I voted A and my personal opinion is I would prefer two data columns, with both columns having the same font and same size, but a different color would work. The first (or time posted to the left) would show Actual and the second time (to the right) would be the Posted. Only using the description one time in the column heading I think makes it more efficeint to quickly scan all attractions. Eventually everyone will just know which column is which, especially if keep the two numbers a different color. Also, I think might be cool if could sort all attractions by either the actual or posted wait time to quickly see the current attractions with the shortest line.

  • I voted for A because the Actual and Posted times are aligned so you can easily compare then without having to scan the rest of the works.

    How about ‘Likely’ rather than Actual or Est., i.e.

    Likely: xx min.
    Posted: yy min.

    with xx and yy in a larger point size.

  • A thought..

    Doesn’t the system record reported wait times as well? Why aren’t we seeing inline displays of:

    Posted: XX
    Predicted: ZZ
    Last Actual: YY (RR mins ago)

    To me that would make the most sense.

    • by David Davies on April 12, 2012, at 4:20 pm EDT

      We do receive customer-submitted wait times, and we take those into account in calculating our predicted actual waits and posted waits. Because of that, including this as a separate line wouldn’t offer different information.

      • I guess i’m coming at this from having watching Disney roll out the FLIK system. On the back end the user display grid functioned much like how Lines does now – except it reported what the FLIK system was reporting.

        At the time, instead of it being auto-reported by the RFID FLIK cards, it was being manually input by managers, leads, etc.. “every 10 minutes” but that of course wasn’t exactly practical and so there was a “staleness” that crept in.

        And Disney liked to color code things.

        Green meant a wait time had been updated within 15 minutes, orange meant it was >15 and 45. Dark maroon was like hours old.. or worse… things like the tree house and Making of Me on peak days got regulated to that status.

        Because someone had to manually walk to a computer and type it in and at a bigger attractions that was easy enough – at little ones? It just wasn’t worth it. Overall tipboard still works that way, and that’s why many Epcot attractions just say “See Now” most of the day.

        Anywho, that in mind – freshness/staleness of the “Last Actual” lets you know if the feed into the “Predicted” is up to do date or not. Most of the time it’s not going to matter – but some of the time it’s going to come in handy.

        Also, color coding might provoke more “please update me” type responses from App users too. That’s essentially what the sad blinking Red color did for managers in the virtual tipboard system.

        Hopefully they wont default to just filling in meaningless numbers like parks management started doing to “make it go away”.. The ability of the Disney Co to circumvent their own best intentions never ceases to amaze.

        • I like this idea too:
          Posted: XX
          Predicted: ZZ
          Last Actual: YY (RR mins ago)

          And I agree that there should be colour differences between the three lines! Pun intended. :-)

        • by David Davies on April 12, 2012, at 8:48 pm EDT

          Thank you for sharing this! It’s great information and history. We use colors right now, but using them to denote data freshness and/or to encourage updates is a nifty idea.

          In general, I’ve been very pleased by the comments that everyone has shared today. Thank you all!

  • I voted for A.
    I think Dustin’s graphic is perfect, that it says Lines Est instead of Actual, and that the posted wait is in a smaller font, and also in a bland color. After all, aren’t we all here because we want the 10 years of research on our side? I trust Lines more than Posted, and prefer it to be demoted to a lesser position.

  • by Donna Coughlin on April 13, 2012, at 7:56 am EDT

    I like A

  • A is my preference because both of the times are stacked directly one on top of the other. I can take this information “in” much better with a quick glance being lined up this way.

  • The cleaner the better…A is the best choice. But why not: Estimated and Posted (drop the word wait…anyone who spends 1 min in the Chat room on Lines quickly knows you have to do some homework to become familiar with acronyms, we don’t need to see the word “Wait” everytime we see the screen). Better yet, give us a button at the top of the screen “Estimated Wait” vs “Posted Wait”, so we can toggle back and forth and see just one set of numbers at a time for the park rides (people over time will choose to go with the current #s you use, and posted wait times will rarely be used), rather than being stuck with seeing 2 numbers everytime for a full list of park rides