Review of Ridemax’s Custom Touring Plans for Disney World

by Gray Cargill on May 20, 2009


Before my most recent solo trip to Walt Disney World, I decided to purchase Ridemax, a software program I’d been reading about that allows users to create custom touring plans to help maximize their time at the parks, while minimizing wait times.  (Read: No standing in long lines!  Yay!)  The customization is a real selling point over print guides–YOU determine the rides and shows that go into your plan, pick the dates and times you want to visit the park, and the program tells you what order to do things in. It also gives estimated waiting times for each ride and walking times between rides, which is really useful.

In order to create this software, Mark and Liesle Winters spent a lot of time in the parks on various days of the week and times of day, noting wait times for all the rides and shows.  The software only cost $20 for a 3 month subscription, so I figured why not? If it saved me just an hour of time, it would pay for itself. And wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to spend countless hours creating my own touring plans?

At least, that was the theory. In reality, I did actually spend several hours playing with it.  It was fun, but frustrating: At times, it seems counter-intuitive.  The first plan I created was to start touring at Magic Kingdom at 2:30 on my arrival day and leave the park around 8pm.  Ridemax suggested I go straight to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for a FastPass. . . .and then wait around for the expected 5pm ride time doing NOTHING in the meantime.  WHA–?  Stand around for 2.5 hours at the Magic Kingdom doing nothing when there were numerous rides I could go on while waiting for that FastPass time? That’s just crazy.

So I tweaked the plan by adjusting my arrival and departure times, inserting rides I really had no interest in doing, and creating “breaks” I knew I wouldn’t need just so it would change the plan around to something more reasonable. I also didn’t care for Ridemax‘s persistence that I get a FastPass for Kiliminjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom and riding it mid-day; everyone knows the animals are more active first thing in the morning. So I had to “trick” Ridemax by starting my touring plan at 9:45, but in reality, planned to arrive at the park at 9am to ride Kiliminjaro first thing.

This went on for every park I had to create a touring plan for.  I needed to tweak every plan in order to get a ride order that made more sense to me, based on what I know of the parks.  But eventually, I had custom touring plans for each park. I downloaded them into Excel spreadsheets and printed them so I could give them a try and see what happened.


So how did Ridemax work out?

At the Magic Kingdom, I wound up an hour ahead of schedule. The wait times weren’t as long as Ridemax expected and oftentimes, the lines were so short I could ride something immediately when Ridemax had advised that I get a FastPass. I also didn’t need the built in breaks.  On the plus side, I was able to squeeze in a ride on the Liberty Square riverboat, which hadn’t been on my list, but was very enjoyable.

At Epcot, I wound up being behind schedule immediately, because Ridemax had me riding Test Track before going to get a Soarin’ FastPass (I should have done it the other way around).  Test Track has a Single Rider line, which meant I was able to walk right on the ride, whereas by the time I got over to Soarin’ for a FastPass, the return time was 45 minutes later than my Ridemax plan called for.  So I pretty much had to discard the Ridemax plan and just go with my gut instincts at that point.

Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest

At Animal Kingdom, I was able to walk right onto Expedition Everest using the Single Rider line, whereas Ridemax would have had me getting a FastPass and riding it after lunch.  Because of that, I again wound up being an hour ahead of schedule.  That was when my overconfidence caused me to miscalculate. I decided to squeeze in both Maharaja Jungle Trek and Pangani Forest Trail–neither of which were in my plan–before my scheduled time to see Festival of the Lion King.  Unfortunately, I tarried a little too long on Pangani and rushed over to the Festival of the Lion King 5 minutes before show time.  It was packed, no seats to be had.  But on the bright side, I was able to get out of the park–and the 90-degree heat–much earlier.  (And I went back to see Lion King on a different day, so it all worked out.)

At Disney Hollywood Studios, I immediately deviated from the plan by following my own instincts:  I got my FastPass for Tower of Terror before riding RockNRollercoaster instead of after, since I knew I could use the Single Rider line at RNR.  This strategy worked well.  I was far enough ahead of schedule that when I saw a short line waiting for pictures with Donald Duck, I went ahead and got my photo taken with my favorite Disney character; and again, I was able to get out of the parks earlier in the afternoon as the crowds and heat were getting intolerable.

One of the drawbacks of Ridemax (for me) was that it only has 2 touring speeds–Slow and Normal.  As a solo and someone who is used to walking quite a bit, I knew I could tour at a faster speed, but there wasn’t that option.  The other drawback (again for me) is that the purpose of this software is to reduce walking time as well as waiting time.  So it won’t suggest that you go to Tomorrowland from Adventureland and then back to Adventureland later on.  It suggests you stay and do everything in one area, and then move on to the next area.  Finally, the only Single Rider Line it offers as an option is Test Track at Epcot, but I was able to take advantage of Single Rider Lines at RockNRollercoaster at Hollywood Studios and Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, too.  This definitely makes a difference when it comes to wait times for those rides.

The inevitable next question is:  Was it worth it?

Well, it was an interesting experiment, let’s just say.  I do think it’s worth the $20 price, but only for certain types of visitors. Clearly, I am not the ideal user of this software program.  The ideal user is a Disney World newbie, someone who has never been there or hasn’t been in a long time, has limited time and a long list of things they want to see and do in each park; and/or the ideal user is part of a family or group traveling together–the “plan” would help keep the group moving in a focused way instead of standing around debating what to do next.

But for me, as a solo traveler with some experience at the World, a whole lot of research under my belt, and the flexibility and freedom to do what I wanted on the spur of the moment, it just wasn’t necessary.

If you enjoyed this article, please check out my other blog posts on my solo travels to Walt Disney World.

SoloFriendly April 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Thank you, Hedy. It's good to have some confirmation on this.

Hedy April 26, 2010 at 1:31 pm

As a solo traveler, I had much the same experience with Ridemax

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