What to Do When a Disney World Ride Breaks Down

Most Disney World attractions run reliably for days on end. Several Disney World rides break down on a regular basis, from weather, mechanical, or other causes. An unexpected ride closure can throw a wrench into anyone’s day, as this mom notes:

We had a lot of rides that had tech problems. Pirates of the Caribbean, Winnie the Pooh, Flight of Passage, Peter Pan’s Flight and Spaceship Earth. This was VERY frustrating!! We spent over 3 hours in line for FOP because of this. It made the other rides less fun because it would just stop in the middle of the ride and lose the magic.
Mom from Springville, Alabama

It’s not magical to arrive at an attraction that just closed. It’s even worse to have waited in a long line before hearing that the attraction is closed. Compounding that problem is that Disney cast members will not estimate when the attraction will re-open – they’ll only tell you if the ride will definitely be closed for the rest of the day. But we’re here to help you avoid ride closures and handle them when they do occur.

Tools to Avoid Closures

The TouringPlans’ Lines app will tell you when an attraction is closed and estimate when it will reopen. When you re-optimize your touring plan in our Lines app, the software will automatically shift a closed attraction to later in the day.

We’re also working to use weather forecasts to predict attraction closures. When this is running, personalized touring plans will avoid sending you to outdoor attractions in the middle of a storm.

We’ve got advice even if you’re not following a touring plan. Below is a list of attractions that experience frequent closures during the first and last hour the park is open. Use that when deciding which attraction not to visit first or last in the day.

Ride Closure Data

Below are Walt Disney World attraction closure statistics for the past year. The attractions are sorted in descending order by closure rates for each park.

Magic Kingdom Ride Closures

Magic Kingdom Attractions Days with a Closure Mean/Median
Closure Length
(minute)
 Any Time First Hour Last Hour
Splash Mountain 68% 29% 11% 74/60
Pirates of Caribbean 64% 22% 8% 50/21
Winnie the Pooh 61% 18% 9% 34/28
7 Dwarfs Train 57% 12% 11% 55/46
Space Mountain 55% 15% 9% 58/49
Magic Carpets 50% 3% 6% 37/15
Buzz Lightyear 45% 4% 4% 20/7
Peter Pan’s Flight 43% 6% 5% 21/8
Big Thunder Mtn 42% 9% 5% 71/60
Barnstormer 41% 6% 7% 49/39
Jungle Cruise 41% 3% 5% 59/38
Haunted Mansion 40% 5% 3% 29/13
Astro Orbiter 26% 2% 3% 63/53
Under the Sea 24% 4% 2% 31/18
Dumbo 23% 2% 3% 60/52
Laugh Floor 17% 4% 3% 65/39
it’s a small world 16% 4% 1% 52/15
Ench Tales w/ Belle 11% 4% 1% 29/14
Ariel’s Grotto 6% 2% 1% 16/14
Mean is the average of all observed closures.
Median is the 50th percentile: The point where half the closures are above and below.
The mean and median are both statistical measures of central tendency. When the mean does not equal the median the data distribution is skewed. For the closure data, when the mean is greater than the median, that means that there are some very long closures.

Epcot Ride Closures

Epcot Kingdom Attractions Days with a Closure Mean/Median
Closure Length
(minute)
Any Time First Hour Last Hour
Test Track 81% 27% 22% 53/22
Frozen Ever After 59% 11% 15% 59/46
Spaceship Earth 44% 8% 7% 27/12
Jrny Imagination 35% 13% 5% 35/21
Gran Fiesta Tour 32% 10% 4% 179/33
Living w/ Land 25% 8% 2% 24/13
Seas with Nemo 14% 4% 0% 35/15
Msn: SPACE Orange 5% 2% 0% 16/11
Soarin’ 2% 1% 0% 93/25

Hollywood Studios Ride Closures

Hollywood Studios Attractions Days with a Closure Mean/Median
Closure Length
(minute)
Any Time First Hour Last Hour
Tower of Terror 36% 6% 4% 50/28
Rock Coaster 28% 9% 3% 39/25
Toy Story Mania! 25% 6% 3% 51/44
Muppet*Vision 3D 5% 1% 0% 84/35
Star Tours 2% 0% 0% 46/29

Animal Kingdom Ride Closures

Animal Kingdom Attractions Days with a Closure Mean/Median
Closure Length
(minute)
Any Time First Hour Last Hour
Kali River Rapids 64% 12% 11% 45/14
DINOSAUR 63% 14% 9% 40/14
TriceraTop Spin 49% 5% 6% 32/14
Na’vi River 41% 8% 6% 38/11
Expedition Everest 40% 15% 7% 59/38
Primeval Whirl 27% 4% 5% 45/33
It’s Tough to Be a Bug 14% 4% 1% 41/25
Flight of Passage 11% 2% 1% 72/27
Kilimanjaro Safaris 7% 2% 1% 30/7

Test Track at Epcot has the highest closure rate of 81% – that means that 295 of the last 365 days saw at least one closure. Half of the closures at Test Track were 22 minutes or shorter. Attractions with multiple rooms or multiple tracks rarely have a full closure. For example, Star Tours can operate with 4 simulators if 2 simulators are malfunctioning.

Strategies for Avoiding Ride Closures

Keep an eye on the weather. Assume outdoor attractions will be closed if a thunderstorm is in the forecast. Expect crowds to be higher on a nice day after a storm.

Also, watch out for closed attractions. Be prepared to jump in line as soon as an attraction re-opens. For example, if Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is closed, but you see Disney running empty trains, it is likely ready to re-open.

You may want to avoid the attractions with a high rate of first-hour closures if you are choosing an attraction to rush to at park opening. Prioritize attractions with a high rate of closure for FastPass+.

FastPass+ Strategy

At first, it might sound counter-intuitive to get FastPasses for attractions that have a high rate of closure. The FastPass+ rule is generous for attractions that have a closure. A FastPass+ reservation for a closed attraction automatically turns into an Anytime FastPass+. An Anytime FastPass+ can be used at almost all attractions in the park. If the closure is late enough in the day, the Anytime FastPass+ is good for an extra day and good at any park. An Anytime FastPass+ does not count against your available FastPasses. You can book another FastPass+ while holding an Anytime FastPass+.

The Final Straw

Let Disney know if you’ve experienced several closed attractions in a park. Be polite and acknowledge that it’s not the cast member’s fault.  You may get some pixie dust.

Historic Closure Rates

The Crowd Calendar daily pages show weather and closure (offline) rates.On the page, you can see each attraction’s predicted and observed average wait time and the closure (offline) rate.

Have attraction closures impacted your day at the parks? What rides always seem to be down when you want to ride them? Let us know in the comments.

 

Steve Bloom

By helping TouringPlans.com continue to reach the most accurate crowd level predictions, Steve finally found a way to meld his training in statistical analysis with a lifelong passion for Disney. He first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1972, just a few months after it opened. Now he enjoys frequent trips with his two kids. At age four his son insisted on wearing cowboy boots to reach the height requirement for Test Track, and his daughter believes that a smoked turkey leg and Dole Whip make a perfectly balanced meal. Even though she doesn't quite get it, Steve's wife is supportive of his Disney activities.

10 thoughts on “What to Do When a Disney World Ride Breaks Down

  • May 7, 2018 at 10:44 am
    Permalink

    Oh how I love these number/stats heavy posts. Very interesting information to dig through. And I had never clicked on the link for stats showing closures on a given day. Yet another feature of your great service!

  • May 7, 2018 at 11:30 am
    Permalink

    Our last trip to Magic Kingdom started with Splash, Space and 7 Dwarfs Mine Train all down at the same time at the beginning of the day for about 2-3 hours. It left the whole park a mess with lines everywhere else. I gave up- got myself a nutella waffle and waited it out. Luckily, I visit often enough for it to not kill my whole trip- but I felt really awful for people who don’t have the luxury of going back the next year.

    • May 8, 2018 at 1:19 pm
      Permalink

      We had this, but were lucky enough to have park hoppers. I went to guest services, explained the situation and that we were going to give up and go to Epcot, and asked for a Soarin’ fastpass. The cast member totally understood and gave it to us no problem.

  • May 7, 2018 at 2:48 pm
    Permalink

    Nicole, thanks for the empathy. I wish it would have made my one day trip to Magic Kingdom better. On top of paying a premium for that ticket, because…….it’s just one day, we had so many ride closures. 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Those closures made getting FP to other rides near impossible and the stand by lines were ridiculous. Other than getting my money back, there would have been nothing a CM could do to provide anything I would think was “pixie dust”. This was my first visit since 2015 and I doubt I’ll be back anytime soon.

  • May 7, 2018 at 6:43 pm
    Permalink

    Are these just unplanned closures, or do they include scheduled closures?

    • May 7, 2018 at 7:34 pm
      Permalink

      Yes, the stats are based on unplanned closures.

  • May 8, 2018 at 2:59 pm
    Permalink

    These numbers are for complete closures, e.g. for Soarin’, all three theatres are shut down?

    • May 8, 2018 at 4:15 pm
      Permalink

      Correct. Disney does not report when attractions are running at less than 100% capacity.

  • May 15, 2018 at 3:14 pm
    Permalink

    Last time we were there (2016) Pirates of the Caribbean was down twice and Expedition Everest for several hours. Other than that, we have been very lucky. So you said if a ride closes for which your fast pass time window has begun, you don’t need to see a CM, you just go to any attraction where FP is available and scan your band?

    • May 15, 2018 at 3:26 pm
      Permalink

      Yes. Your FastPass+ will change to an Anytime FP automatically. You will receive an email with what attractions the FP is good for and the date(s) it is good for. The Disney app will also change the FP from a specific time and attraction to an anytime FP.

Comments are closed.