Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Talking Queues at EAS 2008

IAAPA Chair Bob Masterson cut the ribbon this morning on EAS 2008-Munich, allowing attendees to start heading into the trade show floor. I spent most of my time today, though, up in a series of excellent educational sessions, so I'll be posting about those as I finish writing them up, starting with …

The last educational seminar of the day examined queue lines and methods for managing them. Presenters included Leonard Sim, founder of digital queuing system Lo-Q, and David Wilson of Walt Disney Imagineering for Euro Disney.

Sim’s Lo-Q system is in place at several amusement parks including Six Flags and Dollywood. It allows customers to use a Q-Bot to reserve places in line digitally without having to actually visit the ride or wait in its line. When their time is up, they go to a special entrance and get on the ride.

Sim said managing queues is essential to running a successful park, because the technique walks a razor-thin line: full lines mean a park is having a successful day in both attraction demand and overall attendance, but overflowing queues can detract from the guest experience. He believes as our culture gets more and more comfortable with personal digital technology, guests will fully expect to reserve all their rides electronically in the future.

“We’re in a changing industry, and we’re going to have to embrace technology,” he said. “Queuing technology is one of those areas.”

Wilson spoke primarily about how Disney uses queues to its advantage to help enhance the company’s storytelling within each attraction. Referencing such classic rides as “Expedition Everest” and “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror,” he said: “The story doesn’t just start with the attraction. It starts with the entrance and exit sequences. … We look at queue lines as an asset. We entertain our guests and walk them through the narratives of our stories.”

More than that, though, Wilson said Disney queues are designed to increase capacity. They allow guests to preview the on- and offload procedures so they know exactly what to do when arriving at the loading platform.

Disney also utilizes several other tools to help manage the flow of guests and keep wait times down, including: Fast Pass; tip boards that show wait and show times from one central location; Bluetooth applications that allow guests to receive queue info on their mobile units; and Extra Magic Hours, where parks open early or stay open late for select guests.

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