Park Touring Plans Now Handle Ride Closures

by on May 2, 2016 18 Comments

Filed under: Trip Planning

Lines Showing Offline EventWe’ve updated our Lines mobile app to route you around unexpected ride breakdowns while you’re in the parks. If your Magic Kingdom touring plan calls for you to ride Space Mountain soon and Lines learns that Space Mountain is temporarily closed, upon optimization Lines will adjust your touring plan by moving Space Mountain to later in the day, after the time when Lines expects it to reopen.

This new feature keeps you one step ahead of the crowds by finding the best attractions to see now, and by knowing the best time to schedule a closed ride later in the day. It might also save you from walking across the park to find a closed ride.

The idea for this feature came from us testing our touring plan software. Three major ride breakdowns happened in the first few hours I was in the park. My work-around was to just skip those steps in the plan, but it would have been great if Lines detected the ride closures and re-did the plan for me automatically. Now Lines does that whenever I optimize my plan.

We’ve also added a new text field to Lines showing our estimate of when the ride might re-open.

Behind the Scenes

Once Lines learns that an attraction has gone offline, it has to estimate how long it’ll be until that ride re-opens. To help with this, we’ve been collecting data on temporary ride closures for the past few years.

Lines Attraction Closure PageLines starts by using the ride’s median downtime length as an estimate of when the ride will be back up and running. For example, Lines knows that if Big Thunder Mountain closes unexpectedly in the morning, it stays closed for about an hour. And Lines also knows that when Big Thunder closes unexpectedly between noon and 6 p.m., it stays closed longer – around 90 minutes. Lines will adjust your plans accordingly based on the time at which the ride went offline.

Lines also responds appropriately when a ride re-opens earlier than expected. When that happens, Lines will mark the ride as open and start estimating wait times again (including how much longer the waits will be because of the closure). If the ride stays closed longer than average, Lines will continually update your plan with its estimated re-opening time.

If Lines thinks a ride will be closed for the rest of the day, your touring plan will display an appropriate message, along the lines of “We don’t think you’ll be able to get to this today.”

One Important Note: The “re-opening time” estimates that appear in Lines are statistically generated using our own data. This information is unofficial and not from Disney. Although we use sensible estimates, the actual outage duration may vary from what appears in Lines.

FastPass+, Universal, and Disneyland

If you’re scheduled to use FastPass+ on a ride that is closed unexpectedly, Disney should notify you through My Disney Experience and give you some options:

  • Reschedule your FastPass+ for the same ride later in the day
  • Choose another attraction for your FastPass+ reservation
  • If it’s late in the day, get an extra FastPass+ reservation for the next day

You should update Lines with whatever option you choose, and Lines will re-do your plan accordingly when you optimize your plan.

This new ride closure feature also works for the Disneyland and Universal Orlando theme parks we support.

Posted on May 2, 2016

18 Responses to “Park Touring Plans Now Handle Ride Closures”

  • A fantastic product just keeps getting better and better! Thanks for constantly improving things!!

  • Len, I hope there’s an option to *not* re-optimize the plan. For those of us who craft our own plans rather than using the optimizer, we’d likely be happy enough to keep everything else in place and work out the closed attraction on our own, rather than having it all scrambled for the sake of a single attraction.
    (I can’t remember if the app has an “evaluate” button the same way the web site does, but that might be the way to implement an option like this.)

  • Just got back last night from WDW, and we really appreciated this addition to the app. It was quite helpful for us. Thanks!

  • Nice addition; I really could have used it at Disneyland a few weeks ago when Big Thunder seemed to be down every time the touring plan sent me there.

    Have you considered an option to use single rider queues whenever possible? As a single traveler, I use them all the time and would like to see them incorporated in touring plans.

    • Single Rider is on our list, Dennis. The last time I checked, it was hard to get reliable wait times for single rider lines. But with Frozen Ever After coming, we think the Test Track singles line may be a good option for people. I’ll look at it again this summer.

      • I can see where single rider would be a challenge to model because it can be quite variable between attractions. For some attractions, it would be similar to a FastPass wait, while for RnRC, the single-rider line can move painfully slowly.

        Maybe adding the option to submit actual wait times for single rider lines would provide good data. I’m one who uses them a lot, especially at Test Track – I design my car in the exit lobby and then get in line.

        • Yes, the upcoming Frozen ride at Epcot is giving me some heartburn because right now my touring plan for my trip estimates a 40 minute wait. I’ve become way too spoiled using touring plans for that! If Frozen is a tier 1 with Soarin’ and Test Track, I could actually have to wait that long. My thought is to go straight to Soarin on park open, then use the single rider line for Test Track and reserve a fastpass for Frozen if I can. I’m hoping I can get the touring plan to do this for me once Frozen opens and we can make fastpass reservations.

  • Will FP availability be returning to the lines app?

  • Hopefully this makes things smoother for users like me. I was challenged a few months ago trying to optimize an Animal Kingdom touring plan while the park was coping with a one hour delayed opening at Kilimanjaro Safaris. In the park at 8 am, looking for the most efficient way to experience most attractions, the optimize feature kept directing us back to Kilimanjaro Safaris before it reopened. I had to temporarily remove it from our plan to get optimize working again.

    • That’s exactly the kind of scenario this should address, Brian.

      We’ve already heard from folks who’ve used it the past couple of days, and it seems to work. The next time you’re in the parks, let me know how it does for you.

  • Great addition! Thanks Len. Y’all are doing great things here and made my trip last week so much better.

  • Thank you! Temporary ride closures were rampant during our three days at DLR, especially on the DL side. We found ourselves walking to a ride that was closed numerous times.

  • Sounds like a great addition. It would be awesome if there was a way to receive text alerts about ride closures during your trip dates. As a mom with no spare hands,I usually screen shot our touring plan or print it out. I rarely use optimize while in the park unless I am without kids. By the way we love the dining reservation finder!

  • Thank you for all you do and continue to do with this site. My husband was really impressed with how a little research and a great tour plan can help. We went to WDW 4/7-4/14 when the crowds were thicker than expected, but we did not suffer. Most waits were around 10 minutes or less, with only a few 20 minute waits.

    Very helpful learning which ride lines decrease during different times. Who wants to wait 60 minutes for StarTours, Figment, Haunted Manison, etc mid-day when you can easily return later for a 10 minute wait? I guess those who don’t read TP.
    Another gem he liked- taking the resort monorail when the
    MK line was crazy packed 😉 We *almost* felt sorry for the sardines waiting forever on the other side while we got to board the first resort monorail arriving. They should’ve visited TP!

    We’re returning in Sept- will be using all your new bells & whistles. Thanx again 😀