Not all queue lines are created equal
Not all queue lines are created equal. Anyone who’s spent their time in an amusement park can attest to this fact. In popular theme parks like Universal Studios and DisneyLand, it’s not uncommon to spend more hours standing in queue lines than you spend on the ride, eating, meandering, and in some cases, driving. This issue gave managers an incentive to deal with the boredom of excessively long lines. Their solutions have varied in success and applicability, but modern technology appears to offer a more concrete solution to the burden of every amusement park.
History of change began when park managers replaced metallic fences with physically interactive atmospheres populated with themed toys and trinkets. Physical interactivity, however, was a liability. Having easily accessible objects in a line crowded with curious toddlers is a quick way to create unsightly messes, and at worst, injuries. There’s a good reason why Legoland doesn’t have open boxes of Legos at every corner of their lines. Next on the table was the use of costumed characters. This solution, however, wasn’t very applicable to amusement parks without a revolving theme. The addition of televisions served as a fairly successful form of entertaining guests and acted as a catalyst for virtual interactivity.
Since many amusement parks base their rides off animated characters, virtual interactivity in queue lines is an especially promising feature. Disney has become an industry leader in their use of interactive displays. Any journey to DisneyLand will almost always include a ride on the famed Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Unfortunately, waiting times for Winnie are often in excess of an hour or more. To mitigate this issue, park managers opted for a ‘Hunny Wall’. The display allows those in the queue line to touch and interact with an animated flow of honey that keeps the kids entertained and the parents happy. To the park managers, displays like the Hunny Wall are a solution; to the guests, it’s magic.
On the northern side of Los Angeles stands DisneyLand's fierce competitor, Universal Studios. Much like DisneyLand, the atmosphere is based off popular Hollywood movies and TV shows. Vying for market share, both theme parks remain in constant competition. As DisneyLand began to incorporate interactive components into their queue lines, so followed Universal Studios. Their most notable example is their Transformers ride; sparing no expense, Universal Studios spent over 100 million dollars on ride development. The result is a deeply interactive experience that defies the conventional idea of having to “wait in line”. While it’s clear the Universal Studios has a budget that far exceeds those of standard amusement parks, they remain one of many who have begun the experiential transition.
The days in which park attendees look forward to queue lines seems to be a world away, but dominant players in the amusement park industry are gradually shaping that world into reality. Their goal is simple and their path is clear: a queue line so well adjusted that it feels like an extension of the ride itself.