Yesterday I talked a little bit about the magic that is Disney World. Well, they call it magic. We call it brilliant engineering and a healthy obsession making every experience as positive as possible. I also already explained that Disney knows you need to have an enjoyable experience to make the effort and money invested worth it. This applies to the wait in line as well. Here are just a few tricks they use that are less common at other parks.
The story: Disney is in the entertainment business. And since their rides are on balance less thrilling than other parks, they know they can create memories with the story. Part of the way they do this is by building up the story behind the ride’s theme while you wait in line. They go all out for this. Everything from the building the ride is housed in, to the sounds, to the art and decoration on the walls builds up the story. These minor distractions are sometimes interactive and while it may seem cheesy, your mind will not remember the wait as much if you were just standing there.
Split lines: The rides will often split the lines in half, sending some riders to another room that them up elsewhere. This has the effect of making it feet like the line moves faster because someone always seems to be moving. By breaking the lines up you are also separated from other patrons who you’ve heard complaining for the last 30 minutes. New faces in line are just another part of the experience.
Turns: When possible, attraction designers will put as many turns into the wait as possible. They would probably love a turn every 50-100 feet. If you can’t see the entire line in front of you, you’ll only be focused on getting around the next corner. Sure it’s just more people (again) but your mind seems to not mind that as much compared to a line that’s 150 yards straight ahead.
Holding areas: This many times goes back to the story but deserves its own attention. Some ride lines will take you to special rooms that help excite you about the story. But you think that after you’re put in the room you get on the ride. But through the room is just another line. But it feels different, and you were just entertained a bit as well. The wait again won’t feel as bad. Your frustrations have been somewhat reset.
Virtual spots: This is of course the smartest of all innovations in queuing at amusement parks. Many have virtual spot systems at this point, and it makes for an enjoyable experience. The system works by giving you a ticket to come back at a certain time and wait in a much smaller line. If the main line is 60 minutes long, your line is likely less than 15 minutes and in some cases nonexistent. Angry waiters may not like this system, but it may make their waits shorter as well. Everyone comes to the ride expecting to ride. With no virtual spot system they will all wait. The line would move to 90 minutes of waiting. But not everyone with a virtual spot will actually come back. If they did, the wait is exactly the same with or without the virtual system. Still, it’s never fun to wait in line and see a bunch of people get to cut in front of you. Rational actors will not have a problem with this, but good luck finding rational actors in an amusement park.
Disney of course doesn’t get credit for inventing these tricks or doing them first. What they do though, is do it best.