The addition of Cars Land has been an incredible boost for Disney California Adventure. The new rides, the ambiance, the details have all been exquisite. And as you can imagine – very crowded. I was fortunate enough to go during opening weekend and it was like a pressure cooker! Just pure body-to-body standing. Waited an hour and a half for Luigi’s Flying Tires and another hour for Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (lines have since significantly gone down, but definitely higher wait times than in other areas of the park). Now, keep in mind that Disney is the MASTER at line management. They have it down to a “T.” And they don’t just incorporate line queue attractions like interactive poles at Indiana Jones or video games like Space Mountain at WDW, but they offer alternative experiences to draw down the lines – Fastpass, photo opportunities, street performers, food and merchandise locations, etc. But despite their best efforts, I was shocked to see the wait time for Radiator Springs Racers at upwards of 195 minutes. I didn’t know the wait time clock went up that high.
We even got a Fastpass at 7:45am, 15 minutes before they officially opened and the line for a Fastpass was 30 minutes long already. Our scheduled time? 1:30pm. And this was 15 minutes BEFORE the Park opened!
But then Disney did something amazing. They offered annual passholders the opportunity to enter the parks an hour earlier than everyone else. Not only did this help the lines during regular operating hours, it helped local passholders feel special and included in the Disney magic. It probably convinced many of the passholders to spend extra money in the parks, whether on food or drinks or souvenirs. But what a brilliant idea.
I took advantage of this early entry just last week and it was fabulous! Going in the single rider line, I was able to ride Radiator Springs Racers four times in a row before the 8am regular operating hours began. I actually could have gone on one more time, but I had my fill. Can you believe that? The wait time was less than 30 minutes for standby and everyone got to go on at least once. From what it looked like most people got to go on everything at Cars Land at least once and traffic the rest of the day was noticeably less.
I love how Disney can turn a negative experience into a positive one. Few companies are as good at doing this as Disney is and it’s one of the reasons I love Disney! Because I think the one thing we all want in life is to feel special and needed. As big as they are, Disney always seems to keep this in mind.