HomeWaiting times at Disneyland and Universal Studios are down a lot

Waiting times at Disneyland and Universal Studios are down a lot

Longtime theme park fan Hastin Zylstra has spent a lot of time waiting in long lines for rides at Disneyland Resort.

So, he was prepared for the worst when he recently got on the waiting list for California Adventure Park’s newest attraction, Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. But to his surprise, the wait was only 20 minutes – an unusually short amount of time for almost any theme park, let alone a Disney park.

“It’s a shock to see wait times are so low,” said Zilstra, who hasn’t seen queues this much since the sweltering heatwave in 2016 that kept most Disney fans indoors.

But Zylstra’s short wait wasn’t an anomaly. Average wait times at Disneyland, California Adventure and Universal Studios Hollywood have dropped — dramatically on some rides — since theme parks reopened after shutdowns triggered by a pandemic that lasted more than a year, according to a comparison by an outside company. Waiting times in August 2019 And the same month in 2021.

Compared to two years ago, wait times are down by about five minutes at Disneyland Resort, while wait times at Universal Studios Hollywood are down by about 22 minutes. The data shows that in some games, such as Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Hollywood and Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland, waiting lists have been cut by more than half.

A combination of factors may be responsible, including the adoption of new reservation systems that give park operators greater control over daily attendance. In the past, park goers and annual pass holders could congregate in the parks until they reached their capacity. But now, no visitor can enter any of the parks without first being online to make a reservation.

Parks can manage the number of people walking through turnstiles—and thus the number who queue for rides—by rejecting reservations when demand is too high. They may draw the line long before the parks reach capacity.

The parks adopted these reservation systems in order to reopen in April in accordance with government health protocols that have limited occupancy. Government occupancy restrictions have since been lifted but reservation systems remain.

“Our reservation system has provided many advantages as it relates to our operations and has become an important tool that allows us to spread visits more evenly throughout the year and improve the overall experience at our parks for both guests and staff alike,” said Liz. Jaeger, a Disneyland spokesperson.

Representatives for Universal Studios Hollywood declined to comment on wait times.

Another possible reason for shorter streaks could be that theme park fans are still reluctant to return to crowded theme parks during the pandemic.

“A lot of people, especially seniors, simply don’t feel comfortable being in a theme park right now,” said Matthew Gutola, a longtime Disneyland fan of North Hills. He said he was at Disneyland last Saturday and didn’t see the line for more than 40 minutes.

But park officials reject the theory that lower demand leads to shorter waiting times.

During an August 12 earnings call with analysts, Bob Chuckle, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, described demand for Disney parks in the company’s third fiscal quarter as “very good.”

“So we remain optimistic about moving forward with our parks business,” he said.

The Disneyland Resort has canceled its virtual parking systems, called FastPass and MaxPass, and ended its annual pass program during the pandemic shutdown. A new annual pass program, called Magic Key, launched on August 25, and a new waiting system, dubbed Disney Genie, is set to begin this fall.

Industry experts and theme park enthusiasts point out that lines are shorter at the Disneyland resort because sales of new annual passes have only recently begun. Others suggest that enthusiasts stay away until Disney replaces the default parking system so they can bypass lines at their favorite attractions.

But these theories don’t explain the reduced wait times at Universal Studios Hollywood, which did not change the annual pass program after reopening or canceling the Express Pass system to avoid long queues.

Keep in mind that the average wait time for Jurassic World – The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood dropped from 109 minutes in August 2019 to about 30 minutes in August 2021.

Theme park fans have been buzzing for weeks about shorter wait times on social media.

Eric Oh, an annual pass holder from Thousand Oaks, said he believes Disney parks empty in the evening because the water and light shows after dark — World of Color at California Adventure Park and Fantasmic at Disneyland — have not relaunched since the pandemic. ending.

That might explain, he said, why he didn’t wait when he got hold of one of the resort’s most popular rides — Radiator Springs Racers — around 9:45 p.m. on a recent weekday.

“I’ve noticed wait times go down at about 6ish,” Oh said.

Long Beach Disneyland pass holder Darren Pardy said he expects long queues to return at Disneyland and California Adventure Park as more fans buy new annual passes.

“I’ve been to both parks a few times since they reopened, and August has been one of the least crowded months yet,” he said.

The most notable exception to the shorter trend was Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise, which was overhauled in July to remove what Disney calls “negative images of Aboriginal people.” The increased interest in riding the remanufactured boat may explain why the average wait time in August 2021 was 23 minutes, compared to less than 11 minutes in August 2019.

Waiting time data was collected and analyzed by Touringplans.com, A website that gives subscribers planning tips and audience expectations for Disney and Universal Studios Hollywood parks, among other tourist destinations. To calculate average wait times, the site relied on wait times posted on Disneyland and Universal Studios apps and on data posted on “wait time” signs installed throughout the parks.

Theme park experts expect wait times to remain low as park operators use reservation systems and other strategies to better manage attendance and disperse crowds during traditional days of low and high demand.

The parks will still be profitable, they say, because the shorter lines will give park-goers more opportunity to buy food, drinks, and souvenirs. Experts also say, happier park fans will be less resistant to higher ticket prices in the future.

Bill Cowan, theme park expert and president of Itec Entertainment Corp.

Tickets for Disneyland and other parks have already been priced Bypassing the increasing cost of other entertainment, Such as concerts and professional sporting events.

Over the years, park managers have been trying to balance pressure to maximize ticket sales with the need to deliver an experience that park goers feel is worth the admission price, said John Gerner, park consultant and managing director at Leisure Business Advisors. He said park managers may be close to finding that balance.

“When you wait in line for an hour or more,” he said, “you will feel bad no matter how great the trip, and it will affect if you come back.”

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