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Cast Members aren't your only clue as to what's going on if a ride is down

It’s not at all uncommon to find a popular attraction at Walt Disney World suddenly closed when you’re ready to queue up for the fun. If you’d like to talk like a Cast Member, you can refer to these inoperable attractions as 101. The more complex the ride system, the more often the attraction will go down. As a guest, you may not see this side of the park so clearly. Lucky timing could result in smooth sailing through your entire visit.

As a Cast Member, however, you quickly realize how much time an attraction can spend in that troublesome 101 state. You never quite know when it will happen, but big attractions will usually go 101 for one reason or another at least a few times a month. If you hit a glitchy period, you might find you’re dealing with these issues on an almost daily basis.

Approach a Cast Member outside the ride to ask what’s wrong, and you’ll never get a straight answer. CM’s are trained not to disclose these details to guests even when they do know the answer – and in many cases they truly don’t. However, with a little detective work you can often narrow down the possibilities and make a smart guess about what’s going on.

1. Count the Cast Members out front

Cast Member at the entrance

You should always see at least one Cast Member outside an attraction. When things are running smoothly, there’s a minimum of one greeter out front to answer those pressing questions like ‘where is the bathroom,’ ‘when is the 3 o’clock parade,’ and ‘what is this, anyway?’ If the park is particularly busy or the attraction is overstaffed, you may see two greeters.

In general, the more Cast Members you see outside the attraction, the more severe the down time is. If the attraction is expected to resume operation soon, Cast Members will stay in position, waiting for the all clear. However, if maintenance is working on a serious issue that’s known to take an hour or more, those Cast Members will get the boot from their cozy quiet indoor positions, joining the ranks outside to politely turn away hopeful guests.

If you approach an attraction and see half a dozen Cast Members explaining that’s it’s closed, it’s probably going to be closed for awhile. If it was getting ready to reopen, those CMs would be inside cycling vehicles and getting things ready. The fact that they’re out front means maintenance is most likely inside taking over the building and dealing with a bigger issue.

2. See how far you can get in the queue

Attraction entrance

If you’re turned away before you can even enter the queue, the attraction is completely 101. If you can get into the queue but the Cast Members are warning you about technical difficulties, you’ll have a longer wait but they do expect the ride to resume normal operation shortly.

The key word, of course, is “expect.” If you’re not totally committed to the ride experience, it’s often better to bail in these situations. Once a ride starts down the path of glitchy operation, it often stops and starts several times before things smooth themselves out again.

If you’re in the queue already but you notice Cast Members turning guests away behind you, that’s actually a good sign. This means they’re “cycling out” the queue. This is standard operation for minor faults (things that present absolutely no danger, and you probably won’t even notice are wrong). Guests who are already in line still get to ride, but the front of the line is closed off. When the queue is finally empty, the attraction will close briefly while the issue is handled. If you’re in line, you’re in luck. You’ll still get to ride.

If you can see people in the queue but you’re turned away at the entrance, however, you’ll have awhile to wait before you can get on again. The entirety of the queue will need to empty before the issue is addressed. If there’s a 40-minute wait, that means 40 minutes plus the duration of the ride before maintenance begins their work. Come back in a few hours, but not before.

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