Disney Imagineers Work Magic on Wait Times

Guests in Line for Space Mountain

What will those brilliant Imagineers think of next?

Picture this:  You and your family are at Walt Disney World.  You’re having the time of your life…but so are thousands of other people at precisely the same time.  There are so many things you’d like to squeeze into your day.  But where ever you go, the crowds are daunting, and each ride takes an hour with wait times, drastically cutting down on your fun.

Enter Imagineers, who are bravely going where no theme park has gone before.  They are attempting to do the impossible.  They are attempting to speed up your wait times.

And if they can’t speed them up, they’re going to see to it that you don’t care about waiting so much.

According to an article originally featured in the New York Times, Disney is conquering the next frontier – the theme park wait – with imagination and a high-tech approach.  Work has recently been completed on a central command center which will enable cast members to monitor wait times around the park, and to respond accordingly. 

Cast members will have a whole bag of tricks to manage wait times or to divert the attention of guests who seem bored with the wait.  For instance, if the command center notes that wait times are especially long on a “boat ride,” like Pirates of the Caribbean or It’s a Small World, they can send a message to release more boats to speed up the queue.  If the waits are still extra long and all boats are in play, they can direct  a pop-up show to appear – like magic – to entertain waiting crowds.

Entertaining guests with ever-shortening attention spans is something that Disney has been working more and more to do recently.  Earlier this year, when the Space Mountain attraction reopened after a lengthy period of refurbishment, the new iteration of the ride included gaming stations strategically placed throughout the queue.  The games last for about 90 seconds, and involve simple tasks, like clearing asteroids from a landing strip.

More technology to get the guest out of the queue, into the ride, and – yes – back out spending money, are being developed.  And it’s a win-win, for the park, and for guests.  Sure, they make more money.  But anytime that guests can reduce their time standing in a line, or they can enjoy that time if they have to be there, everyone leaves happy.  And after all, that’s the point.

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2 responses to “Disney Imagineers Work Magic on Wait Times

  • The lines could be far more interactive, I agree. It’s the best option, other than adding 10’s of more attractions to spread out the crowds. Until then, I’ll continue to use ‘Things to Do In Theme Park Queues’ to entertain my family.

  • Good point, Scott. Have you been to Magic Kingdom since they re-did the queue for the Winnie the Pooh ride? It’s a really great example of how to make the line almost as much fun as the ride. Thanks for your comment!

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