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Old 01-13-2011, 12:14 AM   #1
GriswoldDisneyMom
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Question RideMax, Touringplans, or TourGuideMike?

Hello all. Just wondering about the differences between these three. I've seen references to them on many threads, and I'm wondering which is better, if they essentially do the same thing, etc.

So if you've used these, which is better, more worth the money, etc.? One I looked at, you had to ask for your refund within 30 days if you didn't like it or if it didn't save you wait time at the park. With my trip 4 months and two weeks away, when should I subscribe to any of these, if at all? Trip dates are 5/27-6/2If a person tried to just work their way through, let's say, MK, without criss-crossing- just rode the things they were interested in as they came to them, could you do MK in a day or even 2?

For example, these are the things I personally am interested in riding at MK. Could I not do all this in one day if I just did them as they come?

the park railroad (not BTMRR)
Jungle Cruise
Agrabah
Pirates
BTMRR
Haunted Mansion
Philharmagic
Peter Pan
Small World
Dumbo
Tea Party
Pooh
Barnstormer
Stitch
TTA
Space Mtn
Wishes
Spectromagic

A couple of these I am reconsidering due to reviews that said they weren't worth it, (CoughStitchCough) but still...

At Epcot, the only things I care about, ride-wise are SE, Soarin, MS-Orange, Turtle Talk, Seas w/ Nemo, Test Track, and Maelstrom. Then most of World Showcase and some of the shows there.

At AK, my see/do list is: Tree of Life, Kili. Saf., Pangini Trl, Kali, EE, Prim. Whrl, Tric. Sp, Dinosaur, Nemo Musical, Greeting Trails (with my son) and Lion King.

At DHS it's: TT, Magic of Dis. Anim., Backlot Tour, AFI Showcase, Great Movie Ride, HISTK playground, Fantasmic, MuppetVision and RocknRollerCoaster. (Maybe TSM, so I can say I did it.)


So except for MK, these don't seem like they would be unmanageable in one day, even without a touring plan. Do they seem like that to anyone else?

??
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:49 AM   #2
CarrieR
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How much time do you want to spend waiting in line?

If you were to attempt to ride things in that order, at least in my experience, starting at 9am rope drop, it would probably work fine until you got to Peter Pan. Would probably be an hour wait on the holiday weekend at 11am. Dumbo is going to be another huge one, along with Space (which could easily reach 90 to 120 mins by dinnertime.)

Conversely, using ride max for example, you will start by doing something like pulling a fast press for space, which will enable you to ride it at any point later in the day with a minimal wait.

I'm familiar enough with the parks and fp usage that touring plans is plenty, but I have to say that at Disneyland this summer, Ridemax was a life saver. If I were you, I would down ml load it a couple of months before your trip and play with it - you'll get a sense of what out does and how it's helpful. note that you might have to use sample dates, as the data doesn't get loaded in until closer to your dates of travel.

I hate lines, so I would never go without a plan. Jmo though
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:49 AM   #3
GriswoldDisneyMom
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So which of the three services does anybody like best? Do you think one is better than the other, gives more for the money, etc? Any particular benefits of one over the other? I'm definitely going to use one when it gets closer to time for the trip, but I'm wondering which one is best.
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:53 AM   #4
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First off, a couple things on your list won't work out -- there is no Spectromagic currently, and the Barnstormer will be closed when you are there.

We have our first family trip to Disney coming up next month, and as an overplanner, I subscribed to all 3 sites...All 3 are very different.. so very briefly..

1-- TGM -- Mostly, a collection of advice articles, from a Disney World "insider." If you read this board and other websites, I haven't found any unique or helpful insights on TGM. Further, many of his articles are outdated. Some people love his park recommendations, but I prefer the free park recommendations from easywdw.com

2-- touringplans -- Great collection of "data" --- By that I mean, they break down projected crowd indexes for each park, for each day, for the next year. Constantly updated. They also have projected wait times for every ride, at every time, for the next year. They also offer a large number of actual "touring plans" -- suggested itineraries, which are claimed to be scientifically proven at saving time. Most people can probably find touring plans that would work for their family and interests. (Example, they have plans for young families, older families, couples with no kids, etc). They do have descriptions and reviews of the attractions, some advice, etc. But not quite as detailed as TGM. (Of course, the "parent" of touringplans is the Unofficial Guide, which is the single most complete resource).

They also have park recommendations, but they sometimes seem weird. I prefer simply looking at their data (combined with easywdw) to make my park determinations. Overall though, touringplans is well worth the affordable subscription.

3-- ridemax. They do have park recommendations, but I find their park recommendations to be completely off base. (For example, they list Magic Kingdom as a recommended park on President's day, when every other park recommendation out there says to avoid it due to the holiday crowd). So I don't look to ridemax for their generalized advice or park recommendations... but.... Ridemax can be extremely helpful if you want a very specific touring plan. Ridemax is essentially a computer program -- you input all the attractions you want to visit, information about your dining reservations, the day you are visiting, etc--- and it computes the most efficient touring plan.
So if none of the pre-formatted touring plans from touringplans.com work for you, then ridemax lets you create a truly customized touring plan. And for someone like you, wondering whether you can fit everything in --- Ridemax is great. It will tell you whether you have over extended yourself.
If I was going during a period of low crowds, or if I went to Disney more often, I probably wouldn't feel the need for ridemax. But with our first trip as a family, going during a crowded time, I think the subscriptions to ridemax has been very valuable.

I find that on an almost daily basis, I check 4 resources --
ridemax, touringplans, disboards, and easywdw

I subscribed to TGM, but very rarely use it.
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:58 AM   #5
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I've used all three, and will share my opinion, but also must comment that this is the sort of thing that could easily become a holy war.

I've used all three, but right now am pretty much just using touring plans.com because of the Lines app for smartphones. I don't like to stick to a specific touring plan, and would rather wander a bit and hit targets of opportunity at least some of the time. Lines gives real-time predictions for wait times at specific attractions, and is usually pretty spot-on. Plus there's an in-app chat which keeps me company when I'm touring the parks solo, and a game mechanism that awards you badges for reporting wait times yourself, so it's entertaining too.
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Old 01-13-2011, 09:13 AM   #6
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I'm another touring plans fan. My family travels to WDW during President's week and on our last trip, the touring plans saved us so much time waiting in line. Our longest line during the entire trip was a 30 min. wait for the Jungle Cruise. Let it be known that it was not recommended as the next step on our plan, but we were so far ahead of the game that we decided to go for it anyway. I have not used TGM or RideMax. Good luck.
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Old 01-13-2011, 10:33 AM   #7
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I will start by saying that I HIGHLY recommend using at least one of these resources as opposed to "winging it" - you may be able to do everything on your list without them, but as I tell my son when we're using a FP to bypass a two hour wait, I don't pay to go to WDW so I can spend hours waiting in lines. On our trip last month, just before Christmas, we did everything we wanted and never waited in a line longer than 10 minutes. You can't do that without some planning.

I too have used all three for our last two trips, and my perspective on them has changed with my experience. All three of them (TGM, TP, and RideMax) essentially attempt to do the same thing: to provide guidance for park touring that will minimize the time you spend waiting in line and therefore maximize the amount of attractions you can experience. I think the relative value of them at least partially depends on your own level of park touring expertise.

June '09 was our first trip for which I did any planning of this nature, and found TGM to be the most valuable resource for me. The reason is that if you are willing to spend a lot of time reading TGMike's articles, then he will teach you not just how to tour the parks but also WHY to tour them that way. He doesn't give you canned touring plans beyond a handful of "sample" plans - instead, he teaches you how to think about touring the parks so you can then design a touring plan that fits you. The knowledge you get from TGM is also very valuable if your plan goes awry and you find yourself having to tour without a plan - if you absorb what TGM teaches, then you can make educated decisions about where to go and where not to go on your own. Also, TGM's advice on how to use FastPasses is worth the price of the subscription if you don't already "get" it. It's true that many of his articles are outdated where specifics are concerned, but there is still a great deal of value in learning his methodologies.

However, in planning for our trip last month, I found TGM to be less valuable to me, mostly because I had already learned and retained much of what is there. I still consulted his Least Crowded Parks charts and gained some value from his forums (where you can discuss information specific to his site and find wisdom and resources from TGM experts), but whereas in '09 I had found his site to be remarkably eye-opening, this time I just found myself referring to it for specifics on things that I mostly already knew.

As has already been said here, TouringPlans contains a wealth of information based on extensive statistical research, and it's well worth the small price of a subscription. It also offers a wide range of touring plans that are mostly excellent, but because they are "canned" plans, you will probably want to adapt them for your own use (e.g. you might want to work in a second or third ride on something that is only included once), and maximize your use of FP's more than those plans indicate, and that's where TGM's wisdom comes in handy. As an added bonus, their Lines mobile app is an excellent resource while you're in the park, but you have to have a TP subscription to use it.

RideMax is a lot of fun to play with, and you can produce touring plans that are perfectly customized to what you want to see and do. But personally, I like some of the TGM and TP plans better than what RideMax typically spits out, so I tend to use them. But RideMax has its place, and those who really follow it rave about it.

The bottom line for me is that all of them have some value in planning your vacation, but their value might diminish for you has you get more experience under your belt. I'm not sure I will subscribe to TGM for our next trip, even though I think it's a terrific resource, simply because I feel like I already know most of what it contains.

On the other hand, none of the three are very expensive, especially relative to what you're spending on the vacation overall. And if they can provide greater returns on your vacation dollars - i.e. more bang for your vacation buck - then they're all worth your money and time. If you haven't used them before, then I would recommend TGM first, TP second, and RideMax as an optional third resource. But I would also recommend that you do all three and see what works best for you.

Sorry for the disjointed response, but I hope it helps. Happy planning!!
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Last edited by Maxwell42; 01-13-2011 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:34 AM   #8
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I have used Tour Guide Mike, Unofficial Guide/touringplans.com, and RideMax on various trips. I used and compared all three for one of my trips.

In my opinion, touringplans.com is the best value, offering the most benefits with the lowest subscription cost. If you get the companion book, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, the overall cost goes up but the cost of the website subscription is cut in half, and you end up with a useful reference book too.

Tour Guide Mike is useful if you have a lot of time to plan (several months) and can take your time reading everything on the site and interacting on the private forums there. The disadvantage is that a lot of his material is outdated and hasn't been updated in a long time. The advantage is that he has an active community of subscribers on the private forums who are willing to help you work out a plan. And that's the other advantage or disadvantage, depending on what you want to get out of it. He doesn't provide actual step-by-step touring plans. You will build them yourself using his recommendations and touring philosophy and probably some help from the forum regulars.

Touringplans.com offers actual touring plans in lots of "flavors." You pick the plan that best matches your available time and preferences, and it gives you the steps. 1. Go here, and do this. 2. Go there, and do that. ... I have used their touring plans to great success, and can assure you they do work well. In fact, I would say that the touring plans, and not the crowd calendar, is the single most valuable resource available on the site. I think too many people get too wrapped up in the crowd numbers, when really it's following a touring plan that will make a much bigger difference in your wait times than picking a "low-crowd" day.

Paid subscriptions to touringplans.com also allow use of the Lines app on smartphones, which gives real-time updates to wait times at all the attractions in WDW.

RideMax is designed for the person who wants to customize a touring plan to the nth degree. You enter what rides/attractions you're interested in, and the number of times you want to do each thing, and it comes up with a down-to-the-minute plan for your park day. You have to remember to plan things like potty breaks and lunch. It's good for control freak/commando touring, and if you want to try to find a way to ride a favorite ride several times in a single day, but little else IMO.

TGM and touringplans offer other useful information such as recommended parks/avoid parks each day. Touringplans has also implemented a new per-park crowd calendar that estimates crowd levels at each park each day.

I like touringplans.com best, but all of them work (keeping in mind what each one is designed to do).

David
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:56 AM   #9
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We used Ridemax and Touringplans on our last trip. Like others have said, Touringplans, especially if you buy the Unofficial Guide is a great overall reference source. Also, if you have a smartphone, the Lines app, which comes with a Touringplans.com membership, is great for getting accurate wait times for each ride. There were several times that the Lines app gave was more accurate wait times than the times posted at the rides.

Ridemax will give you a good touring plan that is tailored to exactly what you want to see and you can play with it and figure out what you can accomplish if you miss rope drop and start later in the day too. Ridemax is the one that offers the refund withing 30 days if it didn't work for you. I'd wait until a few weeks out to buy it so that when you get back from your trip, you're still withing 30 days of buying it, if that make sense. Ridemax is constantly updating data and the most accurate data isn't in the system until a week or two out anyway. The plans you make are for the exact calendar day you're planning on going.

If you were only going to buy one, I'd say Ridemax. I hope this helps!
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:09 PM   #10
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I've used all three and also prefer touringplans.com to the others.

TGM was outdated
Ridemax, doesn't offer you the option to plan on a Sunday, you have to pick another date with a similar crowd level. And wouldn't let me factor in parent swaps and other options I wanted to customize into my plans, so I found it less than useful.
Touring plans was accurate, updated regularly, and even has a section where I can map out my own custom touring plan if I want.
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:54 PM   #11
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I've never used Tourguide Mike, so I have no experience there.

The thing for me, at least my understanding, is that Touringplans gives you gobs of data. If you have a reference frame, you've been to the parks, you know where things are, what you like, how your day breaks up, that's awesome. But OTOH, a lot of raw data without a framework isn't helpful.

The analogy used a lot on here for TGM vs. RideMax is that TGM teaches you how to fish, while RM gives you the fish. For a FIRST trip, I would lean towards RideMax. Because you don't have that framework, being told 'go here do this' is going to be more valuable than knowing the rates at which lines build, and when fastpasses run out. It is also highly customizable, as others have said -- literally a computer program where you say I want to ride A, B, C, and E (but not D,) and it tells you to ride B, get a fastpass for E, ride A, get a fastpass for C, ride E, have lunch, and lastly ride C. Or whatever.

On the other hand, if you are an analytical type, and are willing to take the time to learn the WHYs and apply the data, Touringplans might work fine for you. More than anything, I suggest you learn as much as you can about the fastpass system. It can be the key between an awesome day and a frustrating one.

The services can be complimentary, too. I went during Christmas/NY week '08-'09 without any touring plans, and managed to make one on the fly with my BFF. We waited in maybe two substantial lines all week. But we had a good understanding of how fastpasses work, how to use them to our advantage, and knew what rides would likely have long waits when. This year, I'm going a few times and already have a TP subscription -- I will be getting a RideMax as well. I want another "opinion" on how to handle the crowds. I consider the money to be a small investment on an already-expensive trip. :twocents:

HTH
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GriswoldDisneyMom View Post
So which of the three services does anybody like best? Do you think one is better than the other, gives more for the money, etc? Any particular benefits of one over the other? I'm definitely going to use one when it gets closer to time for the trip, but I'm wondering which one is best.
I am so glad you posted this! I am considering subscribing to touringplans for our December trip!
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:39 PM   #13
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Lots of good info on this thread as to which companies offer which services and how they may benefit you.

For me, touringplans is what suits me. I take their canned itinerary and then customize it (which is kind of a cross of the small children and of the tweens itineraries).

I really considered RideMax for the next trip, but as someone else pointed out, I might want to deviate from my plan a bit -- and as structured/organized as I am and like to be, I need some impromptu moments, as well. I think RideMax would make me tour in a fashion that's a little too rigid, even for me.

I think someone else already mentioned this, too, but there is a great free website: easywdw.com -- very valuable information there, as well.
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:03 PM   #14
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We've used Ridemax and Touringplans. Ridemax was too much for me. I feel like you get more flexibility with touringplans. Plus TP is cheaper and I like the crowd calendar and the park recommendation.
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:16 PM   #15
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I used all 3 and liked Touring plans the best.
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