Queues - improving the guest experience.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:26 AM

We know historically parks rank VERY highly (even the regionals) when it comes to guest satisfaction ratings by respected outside agencies. Higher than many of us who attend frequently might have expected.

But why aim for less than 100%, right?

The fact is that we've always had some number of guests who didn't wait in a traditional line - mainly those with handicaps or VIPs. The virtual explosion in the number and variety of queue management programs, together with stronger ADA requirements and the advertising and implementation of more VIP-treatment options, provides a wealth of information we could use to make things better for everyone.

I have typically praised Disney for being forward-thinking, and I've always liked how their "merge points" - where FP and standby lines come together, are staffed by a cast member, virtually(?) 100% of the time. The cast member is often aided by a visual barrier...themed elements to distract people from *noticing* that the lines are being held on one side (typically the standby line, LOL). Even Disney has had to begin a rethink after the publicity over the "millionaire moms' rent-a-handicapped-person scandal" a couple months ago. Even Disney is going to have to adapt to changing markets, varying customer demands and preferences.

I'd really like to see other parks take the initiative to make sure guests don't bump into each other and have to decide who goes first. (This is esp. true in parks that sell alcohol and/or are open late, etc.). Keep guests entertained and distracted, have park staff manage the lines, and keep lines moving. If there's a shaded area of the queue, move ropes/chains to put most of the people out of the sun. Lines are "bad" - but they can be made a whole lot better (more cold water fountains in lines = big plus).

Thoughts?

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:32 AM

If I can't look on at the standby line with contempt and sneer while letting out a cackling, villainous laugh as I take my spot ahead of someone that has been basting in the line far longer than I have, then I don't want FOL access.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:36 AM

^But in all seriousness....Yeah, that's great, I didn't know Disney did that. Keep the two lines separate and hidden from each other and only break it to the poor people right before they get into the station. Then they don't get pissed off because they're so happy they finally get to be on the ride. (And when I refer to the "poor people" I'm including myself, because I have never gotten any kind of fast pass thing).

Last edited by bjames, Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:36 AM
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:38 AM

I always laugh when we refer to the stand-by line as somehow poorer or less fortunate.

It costs $100 for a day ticket to go to Disney World. No one is hurting here.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:47 AM

I meant poor both in terms of money and in terms of, "dammit, I've waited in line for two hours, and I finally get to the gate, and I have to wait until the next train because some fastlane bastard got to go before me." That kind of poor.

Last edited by bjames, Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:49 AM
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1:07 AM

We were at Cedar Point on Friday, it was me, my partner Jim, and our good friend Dean who hadn't been to the park since before TTD went in. I was a little concerned about 3 of us going, as I prefer even numbers for riding. Turns out it was ok, as Jim pretty much refused to ride any ride where there was a substantial wait. And by that i mean more than 2 or 3 cycles. He skipped Maverick, which he's never ridden, because there was a posted wait time of one hour. I came up with the argument that an hour is an hour no matter where you wait then I realized the foolishness of my response. He would rather spend his hour on the bench pecking at his phone, browsing the stores, taking pictures, or people watching. Which is what he did.

I'm not sure what CP, or any of the regionals should do to coax someone like that into a line. We've all seen the theme park pre-show and it's usually dreadful. Then it falls into disrepair with missing elements. Regional themers tend to let people stand in corrals to bake in the sun with nothing to do.

Disney and Universal get it right most often. I think of the Harry Potter ride where the theming is immersive and there's something new around every corner to keep our interest. Even the outdoor area behind the building was themed to the conservatory with scary plants, different levels, and such. But that kind of detail takes money- the kind a year round park with hundred dollar entrance fees has.

I'm not so sure the FastPass thing is all that equitable, or un-noticeable. What comes to mind at Epcot is Soarin', where we suffered a little abuse from patrons who were sick and tired of waiting in that long hallway. We scooted past them and they could see plainly that we were cutting ahead of them. I think space considerations inside The Land's basement keeps them from coming up with anything better. Same with Test Track. We were right along side standby for most of the wait and when it was time to group up it was 2 from this line, 2 from that one, and 1 from the other.

Queues for rides like Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder has improved with some inter-activity and that's a step in the right direction. I haven't seen Dumbo to know how that's working for them.

I thought Cedar Point had the right idea when they claimed that FastLane users would have exclusive entrances that wouldn't intrude upon the other guests' experience. Last year MF had a separate entrance and another path to the platform, and it was totally unobtrusive. This year they went back to the old merge point at the bottom of the ramp. Not only does it suck for the standby people, but the FastLaners had a 20 minute wait after all and I dont get it. The same crappy merge experience was pretty much the same for all rides there, some were closer to the platform than others, but all were in plain view of the standby folks. I'm sure, especially when a ride and it's queue is older than FastLane, that it imposes difficulty in reworking the queue to accommodate the FOL folks. It would take a total reworking of the queue by an engineer to fix it.

No solutions here, I know. Just some thoughts, and thanks for asking, Mr. Gator.

Last edited by RCMAC, Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1:12 AM
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1:20 AM

^Separate lines are a polite thing for parks to have. Skipping ahead of people waiting would make me feel bad even if I had the special pass.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1:27 AM

No one likes to see the dirty happen. People are kind of simple like that.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 8:17 AM

I think a good way to handle it with a roller coaster would be to have the lines merge right at the loading platform. Have the ride host that manages the platform crowd switch back and forth between the lines. Since most platforms are elevated and require stair access, you could hold off the regular line below the platform so that the guests waiting don't see when the fast pass users get let in, and then when the guests in the regular line get to the top everyone has mixed together already. This would obviously be much easier to do when building a new ride at a park that already has a fast pass system rather than modifying the queue of an existing ride. Managing the system without pissing anyone off or creating an awkward situation takes some finesse, and having the lines literally "merge" into each other isn't the best way to do it.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 8:54 AM

An hour is an awfully long time to wait in that queue house. It's pretty boring, and kind of cramped. I think that makes the line for that ride seem even longer than it really is. Just my .02.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 9:54 AM

Canada's Wonderland had a good system with a staff member controlling the merge into the station. Universal does the same thing at Halloween Horror Nights. There is always a person staffing the merge and taking people from each queue. That's the only way to do it IMO.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 10:22 AM

The need to conceal from non-fast passers the fact that they are being cut in front of reminds me of the way the pigs disguised their privileges from all the other animals in Animal Farm.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 10:26 AM

FastLane good, standby bad!

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 11:43 AM

I like how Hershey did it. They blocked out a row for FP people, who came up the exit, and everything else worked normally.. no merging hassles. Although you lose your choice of what row to ride with the FP.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 11:46 AM

RCMAC said:

I'm not sure what CP, or any of the regionals should do to coax someone like that into a line.

I think they're more interested in coaxing them to the line at the front gate or lines with cash registers at the end of them... ;)

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:00 PM

billb7581 said:

I like how Hershey did it. They blocked out a row for FP people, who came up the exit, and everything else worked normally.. no merging hassles. Although you lose your choice of what row to ride with the FP.

Isn't that the crappy way Six Flags used to do it back in the day? It sucked because yes, you lose your choice of seat, and also cars would leave empty if there were no FP users waiting. The way they handled it in '06 was far better, with a merge point with the regular queue just before the station. I don't really see the big issue with that.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:38 PM

billb7581 said:
I HATE how Hershey did it.

fixed that for ya...

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:53 PM

Yeah, the 'block a row' method has been pretty universally hated by all over the years,

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1:15 PM

It is a colossally stupid way to do it. Seriously, merging two lines upqueue of the station isn't hard.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1:28 PM

Raven-Phile said:

FastLane good, standby bad!

Not sure whether to read that as Orwell's Animal Farm, or SNL's Frankenstein...

edit: Just saw Ensign referenced Animal Farm earlier....awesomeness!

Last edited by rollergator, Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1:31 PM
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