The alternate reality of Disney World’s posted wait times (short, wonkish)

by on January 30, 2017

The alternate reality of Disney's posted wait times

I’m preparing for a talk with UCF data science students later this month on the statistical and machine learning tools we use for our Disney World wait time predictions.

After covering the basics – how we collect wait times, the hundreds of things we consider (everything from Extra Magic Hours to public school holidays, to the state of Brazil’s economy six months ago) – I wanted to say a little about how to handle the situation where you know in advance that Disney’s posted wait times will be wrong.

I’m comparing Buzz Lightyear’s actual wait times and posted wait times using the graph below. If the time you actually spent in line was exactly the posted wait time, every red dot shown below would fall on the black diagonal line.

As you can see, the red dots do not all fall on the diagonal. Some aren’t even close. The dot in the lower right that I highlighted is an example of someone waiting 5 minutes to ride Buzz Lightyear when the posted wait time said they’d wait 70 minutes.

The other dot I highlighted, in the upper left, represents someone actually waiting 65 minutes when the posted wait said they’d be there for 30 minutes.

The average difference between the actual wait time and the posted wait time at Buzz Lightyear is around 40% – roughly 8 minutes, plus or minus – out of 20 minutes (the average posted wait at Buzz). But as you can see, it varies. A lot.

Even a Crystal Ball Wouldn’t Help

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10 Steps to Conserve Wi-Fi Onboard Your Disney Cruise

by on October 20, 2016

I don’t want to brag, buuuut – on the last three cruises I’ve been on, I’ve actually gotten off the cruise and still had free data left. Lots of free data! And I’ve sent pictures and emails! How crazy is that? So it’s possible I’ve cracked the code on keeping usage down. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but it’s possible. So let me share what I’ve learned and what is working for me. Some of these steps may not be necessary, but better safe than sorry, right? Wi-Fi onboard is expensive, people. You start with 50 megabytes free (150 megabytes in concierge), then the price goes up fast. 100 MB is $19, 300 MB is $39, and 1000 MB is $89. We want those megabytes to stretch as far as they can! My disclaimer is that I am an iPhone user. So some of my directions are iPhone specific. The broad principles should still apply though!

img_02401. Use Airplane Mode – Once you leave Port Canaveral, you will definitely want to be in airplane mode. Not being in airplane mode means you are risking using unwanted cell service—like Cellular at Sea. If you have an international plan and want to turn off airplane mode in ports, then go for it. But while you are at sea, I highly recommend airplane mode to avoid any unwanted charges. Once in airplane mode, you can still turn on Wi-Fi and use the Disney Cruise Line app and data as desired.

2. Get Disney’s Helpful Internet Sheet – Sometime during the first afternoon, stop by the internet help desk and pick up their sheet describing how to minimize data usage. They have a sheet for iPhones, Galaxy, Droid, etc. There may not be anyone at the desk the first day, but that’s okay. There’s usually a brochure holder on the desk full of them. Look towards the back of the pile if you don’t see them. Follow the steps. Some are listed below.

3. Turn off Location Services – Location services are a data sucker! Turn that baby off! No one needs to find you while you’re sailing! Not apps, not friends that are stalking your phone, no one! Turn it off. On iPhones, you turn it off in “Settings” and then “Privacy”.

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Magic Kingdom Snapchat Filters

by on October 10, 2016

There are plenty of apps around these days to help enhance a Walt Disney World vacation. From those officially marketed by Disney like the indispensible MyDisneyExperience to third party apps like the Lines app created by a certain purveyor of theme park Touring Plans. Other popular apps can be benefical or entertaining during a Disney vacation like Google Maps, Twitter, or Instagram. Another popular app with some features that may enhance your trip is Snapchat.


Snapchat Magic Kingdom Filter


For the uninitiated (or those without kids) Snapchat is a relatively new social media/messaging hybrid that allows for quickly “snapped” pictures to be sent to fellow app users and displayed only for a short number of seconds or to be displayed as part of a day-long running feed. The app has become increasingly popular as celebrities and brands have hopped on to use it as a means of content distribution. More nefariously the app is also a favorite of teenagers, unfaithful partners, and others who want to send photographs and messages without them remaining stored on a phone for the prying eyes of parents, significant others, etc. For less clandestine uses, the app provides a fun platform to share humorous moments, travelogues, and everyday minutia. Two newer features of the app are types of “filters” that can be applied to photographs. Occasionally sponsored by products and upcoming films/television shows, one type of filter edits the users face in photos and videos to appear like anything from dogs and giraffes to pirates, cartoon characters, or even “face swapped” with someone else.


Me as a dog, me as a pirate, and me as Wilford Brimley.

Me as a dog, me as a pirate, and me as Wilford Brimley.


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Disney Hacks #5: In-Park Personal Tech

by on August 23, 2016

disney-hacksConfession: I am a bit of a gear head. I love gadgetry and I’m always eager to try out the next tech marvel at the earliest possible opportunity. Indeed, Arthur C. Clarke once said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and one of the reasons I enjoy Disney and Universal theme parks so much is the open display of bleeding edge technology to create things that seem legitimately magical.  

At Disney parks, however, technology is leaping from the attractions into the palm of your hand. Read on to find out more about how to best use your personal tech to make the most out of your Disney trip with the latest installment of Disney Hacks!

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