Sunday, August 22, 2010

Doing a Disney Park? Do RideMax

As I said in my last post, we significantly improved our Disney park experience by using a private service called RideMax.

RideMax is a small family owned business that constantly gathers data on attractions at Disneyland and DisneyWorld. Using the software you download from RideMax, you plug in the attractions you want to visit on a given day. Add any attraction more than once if you want. For example, our family wanted to ride Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones twice. Schedule the breaks you want to take. Plan your walking rate and choose a few more options. Then the software spits out an itinerary that will minimize the time you spend waiting in line while maximizing your fun at the park.

I was a bit skeptical at first, but the RideMax website has many helpful general tips on visiting Disneyland and DisneyWorld. (Arrive early, avoid early entry days, ways to keep track of your irreplaceable entry passes, how to get the most of each ride, don’t eat breakfast at the park, etc.) For $15, we figured it was worth a try. It was worth every penny and more.

When we told our kids that we were going to stick to the RideMax schedule no matter what, one of my sons quipped, “So, this is like the Nazis do Disneyland?” But keeping to our RideMax schedule worked. In fact, we got ahead of schedule at one point so that we were able to pick up a couple of attractions that weren’t planned. Part of the magic of RideMax is its scheduling of gathering FastPass passes that allow you to come back later and jump ahead of everyone in line.

Doing Disneyland can be difficult for a family like ours, where the kids span early elementary to college ages. The older boys simply aren’t going to enjoy riding Dumbo like their little sister. We could have split into two smaller groups and used two itineraries, but there’s no guarantee that the groups would even run into each other during the day. Since family togetherness was one of our goals, we opted for a single itinerary. The older kids split off to hit other attractions during some of the little kid rides.

You can also plan multiple RideMax itineraries and then choose the one that tickles your fancy on the day of your visit. Since the service is constantly updating its data, it is best to plan your itinerary close to your trip — no more than two weeks before your visit. We finally settled ours four days before our visit.

Thanks to RideMax, we only waited in a couple of longer lines. Most other times, we walked right onto attractions or waited only a few minutes. Bear in mind that this was during peak season at the park. We did see lots of other people waiting in long lines. RideMax schedules you for rides that others are not riding while they’re all waiting in long lines at other rides. You skip those rides until later when the lines are shorter or when you can use a FastPass.

During our visit to California Adventure, we deviated from our RideMax itinerary quite a bit because a couple of the rides on our schedule were temporarily shut down. We also managed to ride some rides earlier in the day than was planned. We were quite pleased with that. We were able to split up more often and got to ride Soarin’ Over California twice.

I’d suggest printing off a copy of your RideMax itineraries for each person in your group that is old enough to comprehend the schedule. Not only will you avoid having everyone pester the only person holding the schedule, it will this make deviations (or partial deviations) from the itinerary work out better. It will be easier to get the group back together afterward.

RideMax does not offer itineraries for Sundays. Their website says that they decided to give their employees Sundays off.

If you’re planning a visit to Disneyland or DisneyWorld, you should definitely spend the money for a RideMax subscription. It will increase the value of your visit by many times the cost of the subscription. Make sure to read all of the tips on the RideMax website. You’ll be glad you used RideMax.

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