IAAPA is having is European Attractions Show this week and their “In the Queue” blog covers a session led by Walt Disney Imagineer David Wilson. Wilson talked about some of the secrets Disney uses at its theme parks to manage guest flow into and out of the queues.
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.
My Mom tells the story of my grandfather sitting around their kitchen table with other Imagineers and blue prints and drawings spread everywhere trying to figure out how the queue would work for the Matterhorn, the first steel tube roller coaster with a unique loading system. In the end they invented a unique switch back system where when you enter the queue you’re actually at a lower elevation than when you exit the queue. This has the effect of making the queue look shorter than it actually is thus increasing the guest’s pleasure while waiting. You’ll also notice there is plenty of time for guests in queue to observe how the sleds are loaded to help keep the ride running efficiently.