Disney CEO Bob Chapek has continued to stress the importance of a Guest’s experience when visiting a Disney Theme Park, while individual fans and recent Guests have spoken out to the contrary.
While on paper, demand continues to be incredibly high, with The Walt Disney Company recording its highest Theme Park revenue numbers ever, the debate on the realities of a Disneyland or Disney World experience has been mostly concerned with the rise in ticket prices and the Theme Park Reservation System.
But there are two more factors that need to be considered: ride operation and wait times, and a new report from The Wall Street Journal shows that despite Disney’s efforts to maintain an artificially smaller capacity in its Theme Parks, unexpected ride stoppage and wait times have risen significantly.
“Average monthly ride stoppages rose 58% at Disneyland from 2018 to 2022 as of late September and rose 42% at Walt Disney World over the same period, according to WDW Stats, a website that tracks the status of rides at Disney parks and logs how long interruptions last.”
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney World alone has reportedly been stopped unexpectedly for an average of 118 minutes per day, up from the 104-minute daily average recorded by the extremely complex experience in its opening year, according to Thrill Data and Touring Plans. But it has not been the most dysfunctional attraction at Disney World. According to WDWStats, the Prince Charming Regal Carousel in Magic Kingdom Park’s Fantasyland has recorded the most unplanned stops so far this year, followed by Test Track in EPCOT and then the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. Following close behind Rise of the Resistance is Peter Pan’s Flight.
Over at Disneyland, the Indiana Jones Adventure reigns supreme with somewhere between 750 and 1000 unplanned stops. The California variant of Rise of the Resistance recorded 540 unplanned stops, but it does not even crack the top 5 in Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure.
The data collected by WDWStats, as well as Thrill Data, and Touring Plans, also found that wait times were also up significantly despite the limited capacity. Average wait times for rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios alone have reportedly risen by more than 10 minutes this year.
Disney disputed these numbers, saying that the data was incomplete and did not match the Mouse House’s internal numbers, which they declined to share. “Our source data shows that Disney’s ride reliability remains strong and is consistent with prior years,” said a spokeswoman.
It should be noted, at this point, that these unplanned stops do not specify which were caused by technical breakdowns.
According to WSJ, “Disney says most stoppages result from bad weather, maintenance needs and guest interactions with the attractions, such as dropped cellphones or guests who need assistance exiting a ride.”
Disruptions in ride operations and long wait times are, of course, a common part of the Theme Park experience. However, this is a significant increase in disruption, and times are set to have an increased effect on the Guest experience, especially when the complimentary FastPass system is replaced with an extra-cost Lightning Lane.
We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on Disney Parks news and stories as more developments come to light.