DL vs. DCA: Total Wait Time

I am working on one-day plans for my mom and siblings for their upcoming trip. I have managed to get their DL plan down to just under 200 minutes total wait time (29 steps in all). There is also almost 3 full hours of free time scattered throughout the day, which is great.

I am not having similar luck with DCA. Fewer rides (24 steps in all) but I can’t seem to get the total wait time down below 270 minutes. Plus there is only 41 minutes of free time, which I know for a fact is not realistic for this group. Changing the “walking vs waiting” setting doesn’t seem to help and even adding MP into the mix doesn’t make much difference. Is DCA really that much harder to tour efficiently than DL?

ETA: I just realized that part of the problem is that DCA opens an hour later than DL, shortening their day by 60 minutes. Also, Frozen eats up a big chunk of time (more than another solid hour for that one attraction alone). Those two elements alone probably make a huge difference . . . :confused:

DCA and a TP are not a great mix. I really struggle to make one every time I sit down to do it. The best strategy for DCA is to come early & tackle headliners in the AM but the TP software doesn’t seem to agree that the FPs are necessarily available when they really are & that throws off any plans I try to make. That said, any plan for DCA that I do usually ends up being really more like a checklist.

And on the Frozen show, it is a HUGE time commitment. They could eat lunch while waiting in line for the show (maybe plan for the noon show, pick up lunch at 11:15, carry it over by 11:30 /11:40 eat while they wait for the doors to open (which is like 5 min before the ‘Noon’ show).

That’s actually good to hear . . . I thought I must be doing something wrong, haha! I am having a really tough time getting my DCA TP to make sense and I was starting to doubt my sanity!

Two quick questions:

  1. no matter what time of day I put GotG, it always tells us to get a FP and then use it immediately. For example, arrive at GotG FP booth at 2:30, get FP return time of 2:25 to 3:25, then use it immediately. Is this realistic? I have a hard time believing that the return times are so close. This happens whether I put GotG early, mid, or late in the day.

  2. should I try to convince my fam to spring for MP at DCA? Does it make as much of a difference as at DL?

Appreciating all the tips! And I know my family will too! :wink:

I’m so happy to help! I love imparting my knowledge of the parks as it keeps me connected to them when I can’t be in them, so anytime :slight_smile:

And as for your questions:

  1. GotG is really hard to predict since it’s still newer & it really depends on the type of crowd at the parks that day. For example, we had a couple of grad nights on our trip recently & I noticed on one of them that GotG had insane waits & was all out of FPs earlly. Since that’s a ride that really appeals to that target audience & is the newest ride in DCA, it made sense. If the crowd is more a mix of locals who have been a bunch since it’s been new then it can go very slow & have some close availability. Although, I would think that immediate is pretty optimistic after an hour or so of the park opening! Maybe 30-40 min in advance, but immediate sounds way too good to be true. It does also depend on if they run at full capacity or not (they have a total of 6 loading areas & if they run all 6 the lines are very smooth, but if some are down/not operating then the lines can get bogged down, both FP & standby). Also- the FP return line for GotG almost ALWAYS seems to spillover past the scanners/out the door. The way they combine the FP & standby just pulls in people faster than they can scan in so there are times when the FP line looks like it’s going crazy nuts out the door (& on busy days they have a little roped area to keep the spillover queue off of the trolley tracks just next to the tower) but it always clears relatively quickly.

  2. As for MP, I loved it for DCA as the headliners are all kind of spread out but if your group is willing to run around to the kiosks then they can save some $$$ (RSR kiosks located just before Bugsland entrance, GotG located just across from the tower itself, TSMM - right now located over by Ariel’s but presumably once the pier is open again will be back across from the ride entrance at the back of the pier- & Soarin which is tucked back next to the ride standby entrance). So it will all come down to which do they care about more, saving some money or saving energy/time. And I should add that I really feel like MaxPass is too expensive to add straight-up to my family’s annual passes (especially since we don’t need to see everything every time we go & we have little ones that don’t ride everything). But for a short trip where you want to do as much as possible, it’s SO convenient! And relatively affordable with only 2 park days total.


As always @lolabear_la handled your questions like a pro. The only thing I can add is, let your family know they can try MP for one day and then figure out if it is worth the investment for a second day. For us I know it is. We only go 4 times a year (usually 3 to 4 days per trip) and want the most out of each trip. For them it may be different. I would rather save that $ else where. I would be willing to forego a meal in order save $, rather than give up MP. I have been spoiled.


Thank you both so much! This is all super helpful. I was very skeptical about the GotG return times, so it’s good to know that I’m right to not trust those.

I am going to work really hard to convince my mom to spring for MPs for both days. I think it will be well worth it to save them the hurrying around to try to grab FPs at the kiosks. I assume it is like FP+ at WDW, where you can see what the return times for all the different rides are on the app before you book a FP, correct? If so, that’s so much better than criss-crossing the park for a FP, only to discover that they are either all gone or the return window conflicts with a show or meal.

And I just read on the DL website that Photo Pass is now included for the day when you pay for MP?!? Is this true? :open_mouth:

Very true - one could argue it is worth the $ just for the photo pass access.

And yes, you can always see the times when booking the next FP. For the most part, we were normally able to grab FP’s that allowed us to immediately walk on the next ride. There are some exceptions like Cars, Guardians, Indy, Matterhorn and sometimes Splash/Space but most of the rest we were walking straight into the FP line after getting off the last ride. When we needed a break to eat, finding a ride with a bit of a delay was useful. Also note that if you grab a ride with a delay, you can book a 2nd FP after an hour so you can have multiple FPs outstanding…

MaxPass is amazingly convenient! And as for the return times, anyone with the app on their phone can see what the current FP return times are (even me with no MaxPass and if you were to download the app on your phone you could too) but in order to be able to pick up a FP at that return time, MaxPass must be attached to your ticket/pass.

What I have found is that the kiosks distribute FPs 15 min later thanwhat the app is saying so with MaxPass you get better (or at least sooner) availability than those hoofing it to get their FPs. Also, as touched upon above, if you have a FP with a delay on MaxPass you only have to wait 90 min. to pull your next FP whereas without it you have to wait 2 hours before getting your next one.

Lastly & one of the biggest advantages (especially if you are booking one that’s immediate or within the next 30 min) once you scan in you can book your next one while in line (a lot like getting 4th+ FPP at WDW) but only if you have MaxPass. If you don’t, then you have to wait until you’ve finished utilizing your FP before booking your next one, give you even more efficiency in the parks.

The bottom line on MaxPass is for them to pay attention to when it says they can next make a FP & stay on top of booking the next one at that time (set an alarm on your phone- I like to do it about 5 min. before so I can have a few min to pull up my phone, start looking at what’s available and/or get to a spot where I can look at that & not be in the way).

And yes, the photos are a total bonus & if they are more interested in that & not the FP part, they just need MaxPass purchased on one of their tickets to get pictures.

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My husband can be a bit of a scrooge when I talk about purchasing “extras” at Disneyland. After using MaxPass one day, he never complained when I talked about purchasing it again. We ended up purchasing it for 4 of our 5 days there. It is well worth its cost!

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