AttractionsWalt Disney World (FL)

Posted vs Actual Wait Times – Worst Offenders!

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TouringPlans is all about understanding what’s actually going on with lines for rides. But most guests base their decisions only on what they see in the parks. Part of that might be picking what lines to hop into or avoid based on the posted wait.

Often it seems like Disney’s posted wait times are used to influence guest behavior more than they are meant to reflect reality. If you follow our weekly Disney Data Dump posts, you may have noticed that posted wait times are very skewed, especially in the post-reopening era. Actual vs posted wait times are generally pretty different across parks and individual rides.

So what would life be like if you only paid attention to posted times? Would you be intimidated out of entering actually reasonable lines? Would you be frustrated because you had waited longer for a ride than you expected to? Maybe all of the above, but let’s see what the data say. This post was last updated February 14th, 2023.

It says 15 minutes, but what should I actually expect?

Explain the Math!

Before we get to the results, let’s make sure we all understand what the numbers mean. We’re exploring inaccuracies in posted wait time. But in order to compare across different rides and parks, we need to have some sort of relative measure. In this case, our relative measure is going to be Actual Wait Time/Posted Wait Time.

  • In a perfect, predictable world, I would see a posted wait of 60 minutes outside of Kilimanjaro Safaris and I would walk onto the ride vehicle exactly 60 minutes after entering the line. Our relative measure, actual/posted would be 60/60, or 100%.
  • If I walk up to Space Mountain and the posted wait is 60 minutes and I wait 90 minutes, the posted wait underestimated reality. Our relative measure, actual/posted would be 90/60 or 150%. So any time the posted wait is underestimating reality, it will be over 100%.
  • If I’m outside of Frozen Ever After and the posted wait is 60 minutes, but I end up waiting 15 minutes, the posted wait overestimated reality. Our relative measure, actual/posted would be 15/60 or 25%. So any time the posted wait is overestimating reality, it will be under 100%.

Actual vs Posted – Park Averages

Which park overall has the most inaccurate posted wait times? It turns out to be … EPCOT! On average over the last 3 months, actual wait times have only been 60% of posted wait times. That means if you’re walking around EPCOT and see a 60 minute posted wait time, chances are that if you hop into line you’ll only wait about 36 minutes. Not too shabby! It’s frustrating from a planning perspective, but if you don’t know the data it’s probably a delightful surprise.

The views might be disappointing, and the wait times are inaccurate. At least there’s a lot of walking? (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The other parks actually don’t do remarkably better. Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios actual wait times average 64% of posted times. Animal Kingdom has the most accurate posted times of the bunch, with actual wait times coming in at a whole 68% of what is posted.

So no matter which park you visit, overall you can expect to wait less than what the posted wait time tells you. But which rides are driving these trends?

Actual vs Posted – Worst Offenders

All park-wise averages of actual to posted wait times are well below 100%. But back when we first ran this analysis in 2021, the attraction with the most inaccurate posted wait times was Gran Fiesta Tour, and it severely underestimated wait times. And it wasn’t alone – It’s Tough to Be a Bug and Mickey’s PhilharMagic both also underestimated wait times on average.

But my how times have changed! In the past 3 months, zero attractions at Walt Disney World have actual wait times that average anything over the posted wait time. Does it happen occasionally? Sure. But on the whole, posted wait times at every attraction are overestimating how much time you will spend in line.

Which ride at WDW is the worst at this? Look no further than Peter Pan’s Flight, where the average actual wait time is 45% of what is posted. So if the posted wait time is 60 minutes, you’ll probably only end up waiting 27 minutes. Excellent!

The rest of the rides that severely overestimate wait times are:

  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment (45%)
  • See Mickey in Town Square Theater (50%)
  • Na’vi River Journey (51%)
  • Gran Fiesta Tour (51%) – my how the underestimators have fallen!
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (52%)
  • Rock’n’Roller Coaster (55%)

What Does This Mean For You?

The next time you visit the parks, even if you’re not following a touring plan or checking the Lines app, you at least have a little more information in your back pocket. The vast majority of the time, posted wait times are overestimating the actual wait. Sometimes actual vs posted wait times vary significantly. And when the posted wait times are underestimating, it generally means that some operational “thing” has happened unexpectedly that neither you nor Disney planned on. You got unlucky, but you didn’t do anything wrong. Take those posted times with a grain of salt, or consider your usually shorter wait to be a little bit of Disney pixie dust in your day.

Have you experienced inaccurate posted wait times during your visits? Do you have a strategy about how to handle misleading posted times? 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: or instagram @raisingminniemes

18 thoughts on “Posted vs Actual Wait Times – Worst Offenders!

  • So what happened it goes the other way…I.e. test track posted 65 actual wait 81, Remy posted 55 actual was 83…no recovery plan for non lightning lane guests…lightning lanes now back up and the stand by guests experience is poor.

  • How many Lines App reports will facilitate a change in the wait time on the app? I noticed in MK last Wednesday that a lot of those seemed quite off based on the wait times that I was reporting. Space Mountain was way off on all accounts, which I thought was very strange. I think the posted wait time was 60 minutes, the app was around 40-45. I think and our wait time was actually 10-15 minutes! We were shocked that we were already into the loading area for the attraction before we had to stop.
    I was also a little bummed last week that I had an issue with the app as well when trying to post a wait time for Test Track. The app seemed to crash and not take the time I was trying to submit. That would’ve given me a posted time for all four parks in a single day! Spent the morning in HS, hopped to Epcot for lunch. There was an issue with my ticket not linking correctly, so Guest Relations gave me an “any time” lightning lane to any park attraction (“except THAT one” as she put it). Received notification that our room wasn’t ready yet so we went to AK after that, relaxed a bit when room was ready and then spent the night at MK! Was a looooooong day, but quite enjoyable with our personal TP’s and using the app wait times.

  • Thanks for the update. I have skipped Peter Pan so much because of its posted wait times and will likely give it a go next time out there.

    Question on Line App reporters; do you do any statistical analysis on us like how many of us are out there at any point in time? I go about a dozen times a year but find I usually remember to start a timer, but then forget to turn it off or I click to stop but internet is so slow it does not register and have to cancel them collected wait.

  • I wonder if part of the underestimate for Three Caballeros is that liners are timing the wait to get into the pavilion as well. We were there at the end of March and waited about 25 minutes to get into the actual pyramid. My kids and I rode the attraction three times with minimal waits while mom shopped.

    • Interesting theory, Daniel! I haven’t experienced a wait to get inside the pavilion on my recent visits, so I didn’t consider that angle.

      • I did. It took nearly 30 minutes to get into the Pavilion. The wait for the ride was about 10-15 min (can’t remember) after getting into the Pavilion. I started timing from outside bcuz I thought that was the line for the ride. I assume most not familiar with EP would do the same. BTW love the data nerds post too! ☺️

  • I’m curious what the trending is for universal parks.

    • I’m curious too, Angela 🙂 Unfortunately, we currently don’t receive a steady enough supply of wait times from the Universal parks to be able to pull the same kind of data reliably.

      • As a fellow data and analytics nerd, I really enjoyed this article! I’ll be using the lines app more on my upcoming trip rather than falling back to the MDE app for wait times.

  • This is the sort of nerdy content that I live for… keep it coming, and many thanks!

  • A big issue with Disney posted inflated wait times is that it doesn’t give guests the right information to make decisions about what rides to go on. For example, there are plenty of people who’d get in line for Big Thunder if they knew the wait was 16 minutes, but who balk at getting in line when they see a posted wait of 60.

  • I’m curious, does the ratio of actual to posted wait times tend to vary by time of day?

    • It does tend to vary, Felicia! It also varies with the magnitude of the posted wait. So in general the bigger the posted wait, the higher chance that it’s overestimating the actual wait by a bigger percentage. These are great ideas to dig deeper into in a future blog post.

  • Is this math dependent on Liners reporting wait times on your TP app?

    • It sure is, Kiia. That’s how we get the actual wait times to be able to compare against what’s posted.

  • I’m curious how the park averages, like 60% for EPCOT were calculated. Was it
    1. Average the percentages (50% on ride 1 + 70% on ride 2 = 60% average)
    2. Sum of minutes [(20 minutes ride 1 actual + 40 minutes ride 2 actual) / (40 minutes ride 1 posted + 60 minutes ride 2 posted) = 60%

    • Good question, Matt! In this case, I went with the second option you listed. Sum of all actuals over sum of all posted. I wanted to accurately reflect what guests could expect “in general”. Since rides that attract more guests tend to also have more submitted wait times, this seemed like a better park-wide generalization compared to just giving each ride equal weight, like the first option you listed does.

      • Thanks! That’s how I would have done it, too.

        I’d enjoy seeing a range for each park, something like “66% of estimates are between 45% and 75% of actual”. Maybe a box and whisker graph?

        One drawback of a single average is that if half the rides are 1% of actual and half are 200% of actual, the average will make it look like the park is 100% accurate.

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