Disney Attraction Satisfaction vs Wait

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You know how some things are just better together? Wanda? Pretty cool. Vision? Adorable. WandaVision? I would watch that every day of the week. Chocolate? Yes, please. Bacon? Absolutely. Chocolate-covered bacon? Well, now I’m just making myself hungry. The point is, combinations are better. And the same holds true with data. We’ve been going through some data silos in the past few weeks. We looked at attraction satisfaction data and compared it pre-closure and post re-opening. And TouringPlans is all about using attraction wait data to optimize your visit. But we don’t do much combination of those two data sets. Doing just that, by looking at satisfaction vs wait time, can unlock even more insight and increase your ability to make better decisions. Sure, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is awesome. But is it technically worth the wait? Or can you get just as satisfying of an attraction experience for lower wait at some other ride? Let’s find out!

Explain the Math!

To inform our analysis, we need to know two things: Attraction Satisfaction and Attraction Wait Time.

  • We collect satisfaction on a scale from 1 to 5 for every attraction at WDW in post-visit surveys. This satisfaction is split out by age groups. But I can combine it all together and weight it to come up with an overall average satisfaction score. For example, we might get the following satisfaction results from folks that rode Alien Swirling Saucers. And the overall satisfaction score would be 2.68 = (1*10+2*27+3*19+4*15+5*4)/(10+10+10+20+20+5):
    • Preschoolers: two 3s, six 4s, two 5s
    • Grade schoolers: one 2, three 3s, four 4s, two 5s
    • Teens: two 1s, four 2s, two 3s, two 4s
    • Young adults: two 1s, ten 2s, six 3s, two 4s
    • Adults over 30: four 1s, ten 2s, five 3s, one 4
    • Seniors: two 1s, two 2s, one 3
  • For average wait, I’m going to make things easy and pull the predicted mid-day wait for each ride on a crowd level 5 day. For Alien Swirling Saucers, that’s an easy 16 minutes.

Visualizing Satisfaction vs Wait

Attraction satisfaction vs wait time for all WDW parks

Woohoo! Plotting the two numbers for every attraction across the property gives us … confetti! The vertical red line represents the overall average wait time – about 22.5 minutes. The horizontal red line represents the overall average satisfaction at all attractions – 4.21. The two red lines divide the graph into 4 segments, or quadrants. And each one means something different.

  • The top left quadrant are the “Winners”! Below-average wait, and above-average satisfaction. It’s easy to recommend experiencing those attractions.
  • The top right quadrant are “Worth the Wait”. Above-average wait, but also above-average satisfaction. You probably won’t be sorry that you spent the extra time in line. (But you should also use a touring plan, especially for these attractions, to avoid as much wait as possible).
  • The bottom left quadrant are “Meh”. Below-average wait, and below-average satisfaction. You might not be wowed, but at least you won’t wait a long time in line to be under-whelmed.
  • The bottom right quadrants are “Don’t Waste Your Time”. Above-average wait and below-average satisfaction. This doesn’t mean you absolutely shouldn’t go on these attractions. But especially if you’re pressed for time, it’s probably best to explore other options. At least on a crowd level 5 day. Remember, in these static views, we are limited by the one crowd level I chose to pull wait times for.

Animal Kingdom Satisfaction vs Wait

Attraction satisfaction vs wait time for Animal Kingdom

Not many attractions at Animal Kingdom record regular wait times. But of those that do, at least one falls into each of our quadrants.

  • The winners here are easily Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris. Waits are pretty low and satisfaction is really high. Put these at that top of your Animal Kingdom list!
  • Flight of Passage, Adventurers Outpost (character meet), and Kali River Rapids all have longer waits, but their satisfaction scores make them worth your wait.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, DINOSAUR draws above-average waits but relatively low satisfaction scores. If you are pressed for time, this is easily the one to skip at Animal Kingdom.

Hollywood Studios Satisfaction vs Wait

Attraction satisfaction vs wait time for Hollywood Studios
  • Biggest news at the Studios is that no attractions with regularly tracked wait times fall into the “Don’t Waste Your Time” category.
  • But … it’s also the park with the highest overall average wait. There are tons of above-average satisfaction attractions that have above-average (and very above-average) waits. It makes Hollywood Studios days a little harder to plan, and therefore really good candidates for using optimized touring plans.
  • The obvious biggest loser in this park is Alien Swirling Saucers. The wait is low compared to the rest of the park, but the satisfaction scores are pretty awful. If you wait for it, don’t expect to be blown away by a spectacular experience.
  • Interestingly, Meet Chewbacca, Rock’n’Roller Coaster, and Slinky Dog Dash have remarkably similar satisfaction scores, but increasing wait time commitments. If the wait looks too long at Slinky Dog Dash, it may be worth your time to try listening to some Aerosmith while strapped into a limo instead.

EPCOT Satisfaction vs Wait

Attraction satisfaction vs wait time for EPCOT
  • EPCOT has the lowest overall average wait time of any park. But it also has the lowest overall satisfaction scores. This means a lots of attractions end up the “Meh” category. Waits are short, but those attractions might not be your favorite.
  • Only one attraction that’s a short wait for above-average satisfaction in this park – meeting Anna and Elsa, of course! Ha.
  • And only one attraction comes in as not worth the longer wait – Mission: SPACE Orange. So I guess if you want to go to space, try out the shorter wait at Green first with less time commitment.

Magic Kingdom Satisfaction vs Wait

  • Now things start getting really busy. There are more attraction options at Magic Kingdom than any other park, and so there are more decisions to be made about what to spend your time on.
  • Several interesting tradeoffs exist in this graph – for example, Astro Orbiter and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin have almost identical wait times, but very different satisfaction scores.
  • Many Fantasyland staples appear in the “Don’t Waste Your Time” quadrant. But don’t tell that to my kids. They’d be devastated. Instead, maybe make your kids happy by working around the higher wait times. For Fantasyland especially, this likely means hitting it early in the morning if you can, instead of dealing with those nastier mid-day waits.

What Does This Mean For You?

  1. Getting in line for any attraction is always a trade-off. You’re spending time waiting in order to hopefully experience something awesome. But you can be more sure of what you plan for your day if you know a little bit about the trade-offs you’re making.
  2. At Animal Kingdom and EPCOT, DINOSAUR and Mission: SPACE Orange are the riskiest trade-offs. Maybe it’s something to do with capitalization? Just know that these rides in particular are, on average, not worth their wait.
  3. At Hollywood Studios, almost everything garners a lengthy wait. But at least you can know that most of the attractions are worth that wait.
  4. And at Magic Kingdom, there are many more attraction options than any other park. A lot of the Fantasyland attractions don’t have high satisfaction given their high mid-day waits. Some easier bets include Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, The Haunted Mansion, and most of the character meets.

Did any attractions surprise you with which quadrant they appeared in? Does having the combined data help you in decision-making? Would you replace either of the axes with different metrics? Or would you use an interactive, filterable version of these graphs, like with crowd level or age group selection? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/

21 thoughts on “Disney Attraction Satisfaction vs Wait

  • May 6, 2021 at 9:20 am
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    Love this analysis! Such a great article. Thanks!!

    Reply
  • May 6, 2021 at 9:43 am
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    This was such an interesting analysis! Do any of the Touring Plans specifically maximize this approach? How would a touring plan change/be created if one wanted to contemplate this quadrant approach into their plan?

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    • May 6, 2021 at 9:47 am
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      Wow, Michael, it’s like you’re an audience plant or something. For now, you’d have to refer to these pictures and populate a personalized touring plan with whatever attractions you want from whatever quadrant. A next step would be an interactive tool that lets you filter based on crowd level, etc – but there are even more opportunities to populate a touring plan with this sort of information. Hopefully more to come! But at the very least, I could write a follow-up post about how to use this to set up your own touring plan.

      Reply
      • May 7, 2021 at 6:07 pm
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        That would be great idea! People can take some representive graphs, overlay their own “axis of satisfaction vs wait” and make some plans from it all. A paid Touring Plans account could offer an interactive website tool for that kind of planning for custom plans. Might take some coding skill to get it done, but it would be a good value add for paid Touring Plans customers. 😉

  • May 6, 2021 at 9:44 am
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    Fascinating read, very cool data insights!

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  • May 6, 2021 at 9:48 am
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    Excellent job! How do you track RotR wait times?

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    • May 6, 2021 at 10:29 am
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      Ricardo, we still predict how long it will take you to wait in line and actually ride the attraction when your boarding group gets called. So that’s the number that shows up in this analysis.

      Reply
  • May 6, 2021 at 10:22 am
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    Great work. Love this analysis. Very useful for first-timers trying to plan a trip.

    I’m still going to object to any geometry, such as perpendicular lines, that exclude Living with the Land from the “Winners!” section. My heart says there’s a time and a place for “magical polygons”, and this might be it.

    Reply
    • May 6, 2021 at 10:31 am
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      There’s an easy answer there – filters! No need for polygon. Maybe if you filter down to your age group and number of times you’ve visited, Living with the Land would be a winner!

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    • May 6, 2021 at 12:18 pm
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      I suspect everyone has a favorite ride that they believe shouldn’t be in the bottom right quadrant. I’m sure there is a large segment of the population that doesn’t believe Peter Pan’s Flight belongs there. For me, I don’t think Dinosaur deserves the score that the rest of the population gives it. But to each their own.

      Reply
  • May 6, 2021 at 10:31 am
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    Touring Plans combine two of my favorite things: math and Disney! It’s why I love this site, their Twitch feeds, and the Unofficial Guide. It is actual statistical analysis and not just the author’s or website creator’s personal opinion.

    Reply
  • May 6, 2021 at 11:28 am
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    Thanks, Becky. This is freakin’ AWESOME!! Excellent use of the data at hand and certainty helps adjust any touring plan for best ROI on a time-adjusted basis. Now if only we could see how this would play out for the adult-only segment (after all, who brings children to Disney World??? )
    Also, have to agree with Len and amplify to add Spaceship Earth. Perhaps readjust the quadrants per overall park satisfaction (since EPCOT is not getting the love it once did)?

    Reply
    • May 6, 2021 at 11:59 am
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      Excellent ideas here – there would definitely be a different set of attractions in each quadrant if I narrowed things down by party type. And I also considered readjusted quadrants within each park. But for this first article I wanted to be able to compare things across parks, so I opted for keeping them the same. Lots of different ways to slice and dice this data to make it useful!

      Reply
  • May 6, 2021 at 2:04 pm
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    I would definitely like to be able to filter with age, especially since the attractions in the “golden quadrant” seem to be ones that would be more attractive to young children and their parents.

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  • May 6, 2021 at 6:13 pm
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    Good work, Becky. Thanks!

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  • May 6, 2021 at 7:33 pm
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    Great analysis! Really enjoyed it!

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  • May 7, 2021 at 8:12 am
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    Best article in a while. Thanks! It was fun to try to guess an attraction for each quadrant before looking at the graph.

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  • May 7, 2021 at 8:36 am
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    Now you just need to have the option of adding the satisfaction rating (adjusted for age?) to a touring plan, which already takes wait time into account. Then it would no longer be a static chart with “perpendicular lines”.

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  • May 14, 2021 at 10:11 am
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    I love this analysis!!! I’m bookmarking this blog post.

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  • May 14, 2021 at 10:42 am
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    I used this in my statistics class yesterday. Thought it would lead to a short discussion, but we wound up talking about it the whole period!

    Reply

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