One term that you will hear often when it comes to rides at Walt Disney World is “Wait Times”. What does that really mean? Is it as simple as it sounds?
Wait Times are just that, the estimated time that you will wait in the Standby Line. You’ll find the time posted outside of the entrance to most rides. If there is a FastPass+ line there will be two times posted; the FastPass+ Return Time and the Wait Time. The FastPass+ Return Time is the current time. The Wait Time is approximately how long you’ll wait until you’re at the front of the line, not how long until you’ll be off the ride.
One of the most common questions is are Wait Times accurate? They’re about as accurate as can be, but they are not exact. I’ve gotten in lines with a 20 minute Wait Time posted and didn’t ride for over an hour. More often, the Wait Time has said 20 minutes and I waited only ten. I think that Disney tends to err on the side of caution. My estimate would be that 98% of the time the Wait Time is either exact or less.
If I’m in a hurry I will often ask a Cast Member if the Wait Time is accurate. Their answer is based on opinion and experience, but they’re pretty good at being able to tell you if a few minutes can be shaved off of the posted time. They also err on the side of caution, and will often use the words “or so” after saying how long the wait should be. I only ask a Cast Member if I’m in a hurry or if the Wait Time seems off to me. There’s no reason to bug people outside of every ride.
The best way to check Wait Times while in the parks is to use the My Disney Experience App. It’s a really helpful tool, and the times are the most accurate that you’ll find. There are other Wait Time apps available, if you want to download something else to be able to compare times there is nothing wrong with that.
Remember that the Wait Times for the most popular rides will only grow as the day goes on. That’s why it’s important to arrive at rope drop, the waits are usually shortest at the beginning of the day.
If you have dinner or upcoming FastPass+ reservations, keep those in mind if the Wait Time is high. You do not want to miss out on something else. If you miss your dinner reservation, you’ll be charged $10 per person, so don’t cut it too close.
It’s never a bad idea to download the My Disney Experience App a few weeks before your Walt Disney World vacation. You can then study the Wait Times. Make a list of your must do rides that you didn’t get FastPass+ for, and then check the Wait Times several times a day. You might spot a pattern, which will help you to better plan your day in each park ahead of time.
One final word, don’t stress too much about Wait Times. Instead, just make sure that you hit all of the rides that are on the must do list that I just told you to make. If there is something that you really want to experience, do it. Don’t let the Wait Time be the deciding factor.