Disney formally announces expansion for Soarin' and Toy Story Midway Mania

Posted Friday, March 6, 2015 9:13 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Good news for fans of Disney's Toy Story Mania & Soarin' attractions: the wait should drop by late next year. Disney confirmed that the two rides with the longest lines at Hollywood Studios & Epcot are expanding by a third.

Read more and see photos from WKMG/Orlando.

Friday, March 6, 2015 9:15 AM

I went to a wedding reception in late January that was at The Living Seas, and the bus took us all the way around the perimeter of Epcot. Construction for Soarin' is very obviously well underway in terms of site prep.

It was my understanding that Toy Story was actually going to double, not add one more path.

Friday, March 6, 2015 9:35 AM

Good move. Although not as flashy as a new attraction, this is great customer service. Even when the parks are totally dead these two attractions have insufferable lines.

Friday, March 6, 2015 10:35 AM

Re: TSMM. Like the Jaws removal, I was just WAYYY to early. Glad they've finally seen the method to my madness....LOL!

Friday, March 6, 2015 9:13 PM

kpjb said:

Good move. Although not as flashy as a new attraction, this is great customer service.

Actually I would say the original predicament should have never happened in the first place. No reasonable estimation of the popularity for those two rides would have yielded only a two theater or two track installation. WDW tried to do it on the cheap.

Friday, March 6, 2015 10:52 PM

I don't think you and I have the same definition of cheap. I think Toy Story has an artificial scarcity problem caused by an extremely high Fastpass ratio likely set because there are only three other rides at that park that really even need a FP. Same problem at Epcot. And really Soarin' standby lines aren't any longer than Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and (for reasons I can't explain) Peter Pan.

Saturday, March 7, 2015 11:47 AM

Do you mean cheap as in, they should have originally installed 3 theaters and 3 tracks? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that at the time they were built, they did what they could do at the time, and like Jeff's Peter Pan reference, you can't truly predict what rides will have the time-tested lure of the crowd for a decade and beyond.

The fact that they are willing to turn around and do this is the opposite of cheap.

What a year for Epcot it will be; a new Soarin' theater in addition to Norway's Frozen upgrade.

Saturday, March 7, 2015 7:24 PM


You are certainly more clued in to the Orlando parks than I am. I have no idea of the FastPass or FastPass+ dynamics for those rides/parks vis a vis the other parks. Artificial scarcity would indicate that there are tons of FastPasses that don't get used, which would result in a shorter stand-by wait. The same number of people cycle through the ride in a day, whether they are FP or Standby.

However, both rides opened in Florida at about the same time. Disney had signifiant operational data in California, at a park which normally attracted considerably less (1/2 to 1/3, perhaps) than the normal attendance of DHS or Epcot. Installing those rides, at the time they did (before any pre FastPast+ issues), with only 2 theaters/2 tracks, was certain to create excessive standby waits.

It should have been the first operational issue to be discussed for those potential implementations. Installing a number one attraction in both of those parks, that is generally rideable (minimal/no height requirement), and in demand for the VAST majority of visitors, yet not a "thrill ride", would have penciled out to a huge capacity issue. Either the industrial engineers completely blew it (a la DCA's WoC viewing area capacity), or they deliberately installed the attractions with less capacity than they needed.

Sunday, March 8, 2015 1:06 AM

I don't think you're giving them enough credit. DHS in particular has a bunch of attractions that literally take thousands of people of the midway at any given time, and it's reasonable to assume given the overall capacity of the park what the demand will be. Those rides were not cheap to build. Even with the R&D "paid for," increasing the capacity by 50% costs 50% more. These aren't off-the-shelf Mack mouse coasters.

The learning from these two parks is that they're not like Magic Kingdom. They're more sensitive to seasonal attendance surges, while one has a lot of midway engagement (Epcot) and the other has massive shows (DHS). Fastpass has a less applicable dynamic because of this, which is why they eventually started adding FP's for things like fireworks viewing areas and shows (which are little more than alternate lines, not shorter lines). I mean, if you have three passes per day, what are you going to get at those two parks?

Sunday, March 8, 2015 5:08 PM

Because we discuss minutiae here at CB:

Actually increasing the capacity for a Disney attraction by 50% would (normally) cost less than 50% more, and certainly would have cost less than adding capacity later (even if you exclude the cost of inflation). A significant portion of any Disney project is the bloat that gets assigned to it. That number is not insignificant. That's why Junkyard Jamboree cost an estimated $50 Million. (for essentially a Cuddle Up and a Whip combo both of which were invented prior to 1930). Having three tracks or three theaters going in at once wouldn't increase the overhead project admin by a linear 50%. The Project management part and other overhead are already mostly baked in and an additional track/theater wouldn't have overtly increased that by a full 50%. There's still only one daily project meeting (whether there's two of three units)

There's also an argument that ride vehicles, screens, guns, PLC sensors and other items would have been procured at a lower unit price for larger numbers (an argument that none of us can quantify). Yes, the third unit wouldn't have been zero, but it wouldn't have been a full 50% more either.

You can guarantee that circling back years later, will cost more than 50% of the first project (even excluding inflation) simply because you have a full new project team now focused on just one unit, rather than overseeing the first project of two (or three) units. That is a HUGE dollar number for a Disney project.

Project bids for concrete pours, etc, naturally have a "setup" component baked in. That's the cost for getting your crap out to the Disney site to start with (and the removal). Once you're already there, the incremental labor time and materials for a pour for a third unit is not 50% more, thus the bids would have been less than an additional .5X more.

The second pass at site-prep, development etc, would have a more than 50% cost (excluding inflation) simply because you now have a second setup/tear down component added in. A second pass at setting up construction walls, new rental of construction trailers, installations of utilities to those trailers, etc, and the added complexity of whatever else has been done around the new work area during the intervening years .

All of which just means that yes the cost would have been more, but not 50% more. The argument about "well, what three fast passes would you get" is not germane to the issue that currently the standby lines are too long for both attractions, (and arguably miserable for Soarin'), even years after their openings.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Sunday, March 8, 2015 5:09 PM
Sunday, March 8, 2015 7:36 PM

I don't care what the percentage more is... that wasn't really the point. The point was that they weren't being "cheap" as you put it. They made their best guess for adequate capacity, and they were wrong.

And actually, I'm not even sure they were wrong for the reasons you think. The standby lines are long because they commit most of the capacity to FP. They do that because there is already a perception that there's "nothing to get a FP for" in those parks. As someone who participates in that system weekly, I agree with that perception.

At the end of the day, your suggestion that they cheaped out originally is just an opinion, and I disagree.

Sunday, March 8, 2015 8:14 PM

I agree. Disney is awfully good about analyzing and predicting such expectations, but they're not perfect.

Monday, March 9, 2015 12:41 PM

What year were these attractions installed? There was definitely a "cheap" period at Disney. The period of time that they built Pooh at Magic Kingdom and installed canned Reverchon, Vekoma and Mack coasters.....Fortunately that period appears to be over.

Last edited by super7*, Monday, March 9, 2015 12:43 PM
Monday, March 9, 2015 1:02 PM

Soarin' was built during the Eisner period. Though I'm not sure you can compare two large theatres with custom-built, um, ride vehicles(?) to canned coasters and call Soarin' cheap.

Monday, March 9, 2015 1:15 PM

They were expensive attractions no doubt. But entirely possible that they built them at lesser capacity than they knew that they should have had in order to cut $, especially if it was during that period.

Monday, March 9, 2015 1:31 PM

I thought this was an interesting article over at Theme Park University. He's suggesting that Disney may be moving to having attractions where the Fast Pass and stand by lines never meet; rather, those lines go to separate rides/theaters/Princess meet-n-greets.

Monday, March 9, 2015 1:54 PM

In practical terms, that's already going on at Space Mountain. I've never hung out at the "merge" point for Soarin', but if it's not the case, I think it's pretty close.

By the way, I ballparked Soarin' at 2,000 people per hour. That a pretty high capacity for anything that isn't a stadium show.

Monday, March 9, 2015 4:58 PM

California's Adventure features both of those rides, Soarin went first on the west coast and both domestic TSMM rides opened around the same time.
Am I wrong in thinking that overall capacity at the Anaheim park is greater than at Studios or EPCOT? In other words, there's many more D and E ticket attractions there that would serve to spread the crowd a little thinner. While Soarin is wildly popular in California as well, maybe they don't get the standby nightmare that we find in Orlando. While Disney may not be known for many grievous errors, perhaps they were calculating capacity based on California figures which may not work the same at EPCOT or Studios.

Last edited by RCMAC, Monday, March 9, 2015 4:59 PM
Monday, March 9, 2015 6:37 PM

It helps that both attractions are at DCA. Unlike in Florida, the two parks are right next to each other (even closer then the two Universal parks in Florida) and a vast majority of visitors have hoppers. Disneyland has the most attractions of any US park, which really spreads everything out. People in general hop to DCA at some point, but between the people wanting to do Cars Land first thing, seeing Aladdin: the Musical, escaping the midday crush at Disneyland, and wanting to see World of Color/Mad Tea Party they dont go to the park in droves at any one time, spreading out the crowds.

Instead of in Epcot where the only other "E-ticket FP" is Test Track, Soarin competes with Radiator Springs Racers, Tower of Terror, California Screamin, and Grizzly River Run. This spreads out the demand, and due to this you can almost always get a Soarin FP that will be good in 1-2 hours. The only ride that runs out of FPs early in the day is Radiator Springs, and that ride has a single rider line.

Toy Story doesnt have a fastpass, the wait will be 30-45 the whole day, unless of course you go there first thing in the morning.

Monday, March 9, 2015 8:56 PM

I agree with Jeff's ballpark Soarin' capacity of 2000 / hour. That's cranking some serious throughput.

I've never studied TSM. Anyone have a best guess on that attractions' hourly capacity?


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