Wait Times Change When Rides are Rethemed

At the Essence Festival in New Orleans, Disney released more information about the plans for the Princess and the Frog themed retheme for Splash Mountain at Disneyland and Disney World. While a closure date has not been announced for Splash Mountain, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open in late 2024. This is not the first retheme that Disney has done on a classic ride. This raises the question: how will wait times change when rides are rethemed? Let’s look at how other ride redoes have changed wait times. To compare, we’ll use the average wait time between 11:00 AM and 8:00 PM on a day rated 8 out of 10. The change in wait time shows something about how the ride’s popularity changes with the theme. If you want to keep an eye on how wait times can change in real time, check out our wait times page. We watch graphs like these when attractions are rethemed to understand what’s happening in the parks.

California Screamin’ vs Incredicoaster

26 min vs 40 min

This retheme of the largest roller coaster at California Adventure was pretty light on theming. There are only a handful of show scenes. Cosmetically, most of the long track remains unthemed. The displays are static, other than lighting effects. The soundtrack is much higher energy. The retheme has consistently increased the wait time.

Space Mountain is periodically rethemed at Disneyland.

Space Mountain vs Ghost Galaxy vs Hyperspace Mountain

64 min vs 63 min vs 70 min

In all three versions of Space Mountain, the ride is mostly the same. As with Incredicoaster, the major changes are lighting and soundtrack. The changes here are less dramatic, but there’s still a difference. It appears people prefer Hyperspace Mountain.

Soarin’ Over California vs Soarin’ Around the World

59 min vs 55 min (California Adventure)

58 min vs 45 min (Epcot)

Soarin’ is a mild motion simulator with synthetic smells on a large screen. The idea is to take an aerial tour. The change between the two versions of the ride is just the destinations of the tour. The wait time changed much more at Epcot than at California Adventure. It is interesting that the wait times decreased. This is probably part of why the keep bringing Soarin’ Over California back to California Adventure for limited runs.

Snow White’s Scary Adventure vs Snow White’s Enchanted Wish

17 min vs 24 min

In this case, Disneyland’s Snow White ride wasn’t even rethemed – it was simply updated with new show elements. Those elements included physical sets, basic animations, lighting, soundtrack, and multiple additions of the princess Snow White in the ride. The 7 minute change here is a 40% increase in the wait time.

Flik's Flyers
Flik’s Flyers has now been converted to Inside Out: Emotional Whirlwind.

Flik’s Flyers vs Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind

13 min vs 22 min

This attraction is an interesting example. It’s a simple spinner ride that was rethemed, but it was also moved from one side of the park to the other. That move across the park took it from the kiddie-area of the park to along a major walkway. The big change here was probably due to the move.

The Great Movie Ride vs Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

38 min vs 61 min

This is another interesting example. In this case, it wasn’t just a retheme. The ride was entirely replaced with a different ride system. It is housed in the same building, but not much else is common between the two ride experiences. However, the hourly capacities are similar. This shows how drastic a change a new ride can have in the same space. In this case, the 23 minute change is a 60% increase.

Tiana performs at Mickey and the Magical Map.

Splash Mountain vs Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

58 min vs ??? (Disneyland)

73 min vs ??? (Magic Kingdom)

At this point, we don’t have enough information about the attraction to make a specific prediction. However, updating the Intellectual Property for an attraction makes it more relevant to modern audiences. In general, that means more popularity. Since the new theme will center around a Disney princess, it’s likely that younger audiences will be more interested in the ride, even if the large drop scared them away from Splash Mountain. Disney has said that the ride system will remain the same, so the hourly capacity is unlikely to change. With higher demand and the same capacity, we expect that at each park, the average queue time will increase by 10 to 15 minutes.

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