Guy Selga, our trusty Disneyland in-park guru has confirmed that the queue leading guests to the back row of the Pirates of the Caribbean loading area is unavailable to guests. How does that affect the wait time?
Let’s say, on average, a Pirates of the Caribbean ride vehicle accommodates 20 guests including 2 adults in the back row. So, we can assume that on average, this new procedure means that Pirates will operate at 90% of its usual capacity (18 out of 20 = 90%). So what is the impact on the amount of time that guests will wait in line? Well, if you are like me you say that a 10% reduction in capacity should mean a 10% increase to the wait time. But that doesn’t work. Why not?
The capacity of an attraction and the amount of time you wait in line are inversely proportional. If capacity goes up, wait time goes down. If capacity goes down, wait time goes up. So, in our example, the Pirates ride vehicle went from holding 20 guests to 18 guests or 18/20ths (90%) of its usual capacity. The change in wait time is therefore 20/18ths of the normal wait time or 11% longer.
Hunh? a 10% reduction in capacity means an 11% increase in wait time?
Yes. Let’s look at a different example. Suppose the Magic Kingdom’s Dumbo: The Flying Elephant has a mechanical problem and only one of the Dumbos is working. That represents a 50% reduction in capacity. Makes sense. Would we expect to wait 50% longer in line because of the mechanical problem? No. We’d expect our wait to double, or be 100% longer than usual.
Same goes for an attraction like Tower of Terror. If one of the three elevator shafts becomes inoperational, that represents a change of two-thirds (2/3) the original capacity. To get the effect on wait time we flip it around and get three-halfs (3/2) the wait time or a 50% longer wait. If we are in line with an expected wait time of 60 minutes when one elevator shaft is shut down, our wait immediately jumps to 90 minutes.
In practice, the wait time at Pirates of the Caribbean may not change that much because the math comes with a lot of assumptions. Cast members may be able to make up the difference by seating guests more tightly in the other rows or by increasing efforts to match odd numbered groups together. Or perhaps that rear row isn’t used as often as we think and the impact will be negligible. No adjustments will be made to our estimates of wait time until we can observe the impact of the new procedure for a few days.