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Disney's app more accurate than Universal's

Local 6 tests theme park wait time apps for accuracy

Local 6: Morning News at 5:30a
Local 6: Morning News at 5:30a

ORLANDO, Fla. – Waiting in line for your favorite ride can be exhausting.  The parks want to keep people in the parks as long as possible, so they developed their own smartphone apps that give estimated wait times for all of their attractions. 

So if Peter Pan's Flight has a 55-minute wait time you can plan to stay in a different part of the Magic Kingdom until the wait time is shorter. Theoretically this could help you plan your day, but only if the wait times on the app are actually accurate.

For years, theme park enthusiasts have posted estimated wait times for rides on third party apps by having people at the parks update their wait time in lines.

Finally, park guests have the old-fashioned option of just looking at the sign of the front of the line to get an idea of how long they'll be in line.  

To see which method guesses best at actual time spent waiting in line, Local 6 reporter Evan Lambert and Theme World blogger Ken Pilcher headed into the parks to wait in line. They took an undercover producer with them to document their experiment. 

[WEB EXTRAS: Disney Ride Time Apps | Universal Ride Time Apps | Best times for line

At Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, Lambert checked times and waited in line over the course of two days for six rides: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott's, Despicable Me, Transformers, Dudley Do Right's Ripsaw Falls and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  

The third-party app "Universal Studios Wait Times" was on average a minute more accurate than the official park app, with the third-party app averaging a 10 minute difference between estimated and actual wait times.

The sign time was the best predictor for wait time but was still off from the actual time spent in line by an average of seven minutes.   

The official app at Universal also underestimated the actual amount of time Lambert spent in line about 60 percent of the time, while the third-party app overestimated it around 60 percent of the time.

At Disney, Pilcher visited three parks over a two-day period and rode Soarin', Mission Space, Space Mountain, The Seven Dwarfs' Mine Train, The Tower of Terror and Aerosmith's Rockin' Roller Coaster. 

The official Disney parks app was just as accurate on average as the sign time for predicting actual time spent waiting in line. Both methods averaged a seven minute difference.

At Disney parks, all three methods overestimated the actual time spent waiting in line at least 60 percent of the time.

On several occasions at Universal, the park's official app listed rides as closed but in actuality they were up and running and Lambert was able to get right in line and get on the ride.

At Disney, Pilcher documented instances where the wait time on the official app differed on his iPhone from the producer's Android phone.

Representatives from Disney and Universal did not return requests for comment on this story.