Monday, July 7, 2014

Queue Review - Introduction

I'm weirdly obsessed with the design of theme park ride queues, both the theming and load efficiency.  To really appreciate a Disney queue, go to a Six Flags park.  Watch as a single coaster train goes through the whole cycle of loading, safety, climb hill, ride, brake run, and unloading, where Disney would have twenty trains safely on the same set of tracks.  Observe trains with a third of the seats empty and you'll appreciate the "how many in your party?" and the two finger pointing.

And stand in an unthemed set of switchbacks, unprotected in the summer sun in a dug out rock quarry, watching a single TV set with a two minute loop of commercials, for two hours before being unceremoniously dumped into a pretty good thrill coaster, and only figuring out it was a Superman ride from the gift shop you exit out of.

With the possible exception of Ellen's Energy Adventure, you'll spend the longest stretches of time at Disney in line.  My longest line was the Splash Mountain soft opening at Disneyland.  Three hours in the sun, delirious, finally reaching the front only to have Wil *&$%ing Wheaton and his #@%&ing entourage cut in front.

Disney's been experimenting with ways of reducing or even abolishing the queue, from fast passes to the pager system at Magic Kingdom's Dumbo.  But until then, different parks with similar rides often have very different queues.

Over the coming weeks we'll be sizing up the four different Disney locations and Hong Kong (if it doesn't have Pirates, it's not a real Disney park).

For our purposes, a line begins at the point it would be rude to cut in front of someone, though that standard might not work for Disneyland Paris.  It ends when your butt goes in the ride vehicle.  So we're including pre-shows.

Plusses for:
  • Theming
  • Indoors
  • Being able to see parts of the ride
  • Level of overlap with other rides
  • Load and unload in different areas, preferrably out of view of each other
I'm pretty indifferent to various interactive elements being introduced.  Playing a mediocre video game for thirty seconds doesn't improve on a two hour wait.

Minuses for:
  • Unthemed outdoor switchbacks
  • Loading and unloading being within view of each other, or worse, at the same station
  • "Cheater" queues, when you think you're near the front before turning a corner and seeing a hundred people in front of you.
Spoiler alert - California doesn't do well.

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