For fun and some personal information, I've been experimenting with Ridemax, the various guides found in the unofficial guides, as well as other helps and hints from various sources, including Micechat and related sites.
Six days. Two days using knowledge gleened from Micechat, personal observation, and the like. Two days using guides from the unofficial guide. Two days using Ridemax.
1. Ridemax is a waste of money. After trying to fit in as many rides as I could, with meals and breaks, it kept telling me that my plans weren't possible. When we did get a itinerary, it was rendered useless after ride breakdowns and unforeseen crowds knocked it out. It had us eating lunch at the worst possible time and (we had a few kids with us) the bathroom breaks were not part of the planning process. Also any spontaneous shopping, gawking, or "hey look at that" was gone. We did more on our free roam days, with more time for meals and leisure, than Ridemax said was possible, without pushing ourselves in any way. AND, using ridemax, we waited in several long lines, much longer than we usually wait in, over 50 minutes.
Let me quote the Ridemax.com page to further prove the worthlessness of it.That's right. According to Ridemax, you can get a fastpass for Star Tours (In Disneyland).Since the spring of 2002, several of the FASTPASS machines have been "disconnected" from the other FASTPASS attractions in the system. This currently means that you can get a FASTPASS for Star Tours independent of any other FASTPASSES you may hold!
Ridemax. Don't use it. Don't get it. Don't spend money on it. Forget it. Worthless. F-. Failure. Bad for you, icky icky.
2. The Unofficial Guide is beneficial, but don't rely on itineraries. Sure, it's filled with useful information (especially the menus, though some were outdated), but the when they make the transition between information and direction, it falls short. I found the maps more detailed than the ones Disneyland hands out, so that's a plus. But, again, the guides are imagining the ideal situation that never exists.
3. Micechat (and other such sources) are the best. They don't tell you to do A, then B, then C, but provide the minutia on as much information as anyone could need. One look at the Fastpass guide from Darkbeer and you have more help than Ridemax and the Guide put together. While Ridemax gives the supposed "statistical" reality of Disneyland (though I am highly suspect of their gathering methods), and the Guide gives the ideal reality, online sources combine the real world experiences of hundreds of guests. While it does take more work than the other two categories, at least initially, it allows for a more pleasant, more fun filled, and more informative time at the parks.
Likened to music.
Ridemax is like a computer program which has the notes from the supposed best songs of all times then, using this data it creates a new piece of music from bits and pieces of various other songs. You then listen to the music.
The Unofficial Guide is like a beginning music book. It shows you the basics of pitch, harmony, and finger placement on a piano. It then provides ten or so simplified popular songs for you to memorize. You memorize the pieces and recite them.
Micechat and online information is like an intense course in the theory of music where thousands of other musicians provide tips and advice -for free- on how to best understand and perform the music. Armed with this information, you are able to jam and improvise while maintaining a strict hold in the theory of music. You create your own songs based on situation, mood, and company.
Unofficial guide = so-so
Online resources = best.
For what it's worth.