I first heard about RideMax software in January while researching Disneyland information prior to Z’s birthday trip there with her mother. My early impressions were both positive and exciting – software to schedule your day at the Disneyland Resort (Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park) in such a way to maximize the number of rides while minimizing the wait time. All based on historical data gathered over the last six years. Absolutely brilliant! However, I also knew that it wasn’t going to be useful to X on their trip, so I simply filed it away for when Z and I visited the “Happiest Place On Earth” ourselves.
That time came about a month ago as we neared our July 20th visit to Disneyland and California Adventure as the last stop on my California CoasterQuest. Although the $14.95 price for a 90-day subscription seemed pretty reasonable, we needed every free cent for our trip so I did more research before actually plunking down my cash. Whenever I’m researching a new (to me) product or service it’s always the negative reviews that I seek out the most. People who are happy with a product typically gloss over any problems it may have. For RideMax, however, I couldn’t find a single negative review, no matter where I looked. So, I visited RideMax.com and ordered the software.
It installed easily enough, but I was immediately struck by what would become my biggest problem with the software. You can schedule your day at Disneyland or your day at Disney’s California Adventure, but not both, simultaneously. Given the proximity of the two parks and the ubiquitous nature of “park hopping” passes, this makes absolutely zero sense to me. We weren’t just visiting one park, but both and had “absolute must” rides in both. But apparently we had to decide in advance what times we would be in each park instead of taking true advantage of the data at hand and hopping back and forth as necessary.
But this wasn’t actually the first problem I had with the program. No, that was brought to my attention by the following blurb on the official website-
Planning a Sunday Visit?
We’re still just a small, family-owned business, and have made the personal decision not to gather wait time statistics on Sunday, so you will not be able to select a Sunday visit when using the RideMax software. For planning a Sunday visit, you should be able to select the previous Saturday when creating your itinerary. Just be sure to change your plan’s starting and ending times to correspond to the actual park hours if they differ from Saturday.
We apologize for this inconvenience!
Unfortunately, we were visiting on a Sunday. Frankly, the “small, family-owned business” excuse just doesn’t hold water for me. if you’re going to charge for a product that you advertise with lines like “[t]his schedule is tailored to the expected crowd patterns on the day of your visit, for the attractions you want to ride”, then it should actually be able to create a schedule based on the day I wish to visit! All of the reviews I could find that mentioned this (serious) flaw in the program mentioned that they wound up ahead of schedule when using Saturday data for their Sunday visit. Personally, I don’t see much difference between waiting in line for a ride and waiting in the park for my itinerary to get back on schedule – either way we’re waiting.
Speaking of unnecessary waiting, that brings me to my third problem. Take a look at the screenshot to the left. It’s the output when selecting Toy Story Mania in California Adventure. At first glance it seems like Toy Story Midway Mania should be the first stop on our visit to DCA as the wait will only be 25 minutes at that point. However, the mentioned tip reads as follows-
1. In order to board Toy Story Mania with minimal waiting, we recommend arriving at the front turnstiles no later than 9:10AM. When the turnstiles open at 9:30AM you should then be directed to a separate waiting area for this attraction, which should open with the rest of the park at 10:00AM. If you arrive late enough to find the line already too long for your liking, and you’re willing to be separated from the rest of your group, we recommend asking the Cast Member at the attraction entrance if you may use the “single rider” line. This may help reduce your wait considerably. For more details please press the “Tips & Hints” button in RideMax, and review the page titled “Toy Story: The Mania!”
In other words, RideMax recommends that you be in line nearly an hour before the park opens for the day. But, somehow this isn’t counted as waiting time! If you follow RideMax’s advice you’ll actually end up waiting (at least) 75 minutes for your first trip on Toy Story Mania, rather than the 49 minutes it lists for later in the day. For our itinerary the wait time was listed as 15 minutes in the first slot (65 minutes total) and 40 minutes throughout the rest of the day. How, exactly, is this saving us time?
Our final major problem with the RideMax program is really the reason I’ll be taking advantage of their 30-day guarantee and asking for a full refund. After running about 50 different scenarios for the day of our visit I started to notice a pattern – the “big rides” had the exact same wait time throughout the afternoon and evening. What are the odds of this being realistic? And even if it is, then I certainly didn’t need to pay someone to find this out. The first piece of advice given to anyone visiting an amusement park is to hit the E-ticket rides early in the day as the lines just get longer after lunch. I’ve used California Screamin’ in the example screenshot at right, but it held true for the vast majority of major rides at both parks.
Those four problems were the reason this software gets a failing grade from me. All of them can be resolved rather easily by the programmers if there’s a genuine will to do so. While their at it they might also want to make the program far less clunky, add shows to the list of attractions one can select, allow multiple break times (to mimic shows and parades that aren’t included), permit schedules to be made without FastPasses, and write up a little documentation to guide people through the best use of the program. Unfortunately, despite all the rave reviews on the web and my personal excitement over the program, RideMax was a complete waste of money. Even though I hadn’t been to Disneyland in more than a decade and never been to California Adventure I was able to schedule our time much more efficiently on the fly at the park then any of the itineraries generated by RideMax.
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