Lines Beta addresses this limitation, resulting in an extremely useful app. Lines was created by the people at TouringPlans.com who also write the popular Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. Lines allows users to log in and submit wait times, which are then visible to other users. Lines goes far beyond other wait times apps, however, in also displaying estimated and forecasted wait times. So for example, if no one has posted a wait time for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, there will still be estimated information about waiting time and fastpass distribution times for that ride for the current time as well as throughout the rest of the day. These estimates are derived from the substantial data the TouringPlans.com people have collected over the years. They are guesses, but highly educated ones.
The Lines creators also use the information submitted by users. With other wait times apps, I have often felt it is a bit futile to submit waiting times which will be out of date almost as soon as they are submitted. With Lines, the data entered by users can be used to refine future estimates, making the app even more accurate in the future. The developers have added a little incentive for users to submit times by awarding “badges” such as “Early Bird” for submitting times during the first hour a park is open or “Park Hopper” for submitting times from more than one park in the same day. The top time submitter for a given ride has their user name displayed on the ride’s page. These are fun and often humorous little ways of acknowledging submissions and encouraging more in the future to see what badges the developers have created.
So how good is Lines in actual practice? I had the opportunity to try it out at Walt Disney World last week. Overall, I was impressed. The estimates and forecasts weren’t always perfectly accurate, but they were generally very close. It wasn’t particularly crowded when I was there, but there did seem to be quite a few people submitting wait times, which was great. Having an idea of waiting times and likely fastpass distribution times was invaluable, particularly at the Magic Kingdom. At Epcot, there are large boards with wait times and fastpass times set up in a few key locations around the park, but at the Magic Kingdom, that information is much harder to come by. Knowing in advance that Space Mountain fastpasses are gone and the wait is 70 minutes, for example, saves a long trudge from Adventureland to Tomorrowland just to find out that information.
The user interface is clean and simple. Within a given park, times can be viewed alphabetically, by time, or by land. When submitting a wait time, the user can submit times for the standby line as well as fastpass and single rider lines if available, all with one submission. Some additional information is given as well, including park hours and Extra Magic Hours, a crowd calendar, and best/worst parks for the day. A 10 day forecast is also available for viewing crowd information for upcoming days.
While Lines works on an iPod touch (or any computer with the Safari browser for that matter), it requires an iPhone for full functionality, simply because WiFi is not widely available in the parks. There are several places in the parks, particularly in certain queue areas (Soarin’ and Nemo come to mind), where an AT&T 3G signal does not reach. This means that submitting wait times or viewing updated wait times won’t be possible until the device is back within range of a wireless signal.
Lines is a web app, meaning you do not purchase it through the app store. It works through the Mobile Safari browser on the iPhone. On the iPhone, the user goes to the address http://m.touringplans.com to bring up the app. The app can be bookmarked to the home screen by pressing the “+” sign and selecting “Add to Home Screen.” The app will then appear as an attractive icon with all of a user’s other apps, indistinguishable from apps purchased from the App Store.
Lines does require a TouringPlans.com account. Initially Lines will be available with a free account, but the developers plan to make it part of a TouringPlans.com subscription, which costs $8.95 for a year (50% off with purchase of one of the 2010 Unofficial Guides). The developers have plans to offer Lines on other mobile platforms in addition to the iPhone in the future.
Lines is a terrific addition to the Disney apps currently available for the iPhone. After using it for a couple of days, I found myself using Lines over any of my other wait times apps, and finally deleted them. What sets Lines apart is its ability to predict waiting times. This valuable information allows the Disney visitor to avoid standing in lines as much as possible.
Other Reviews of Lines: