Remember those days when guests would line up one by one and wait their turn in line no matter how long or short it may be? Those days where theme parks relied on the old fashioned concept of “first come, first serve”. While that idea may have been old fashioned, it worked, for centuries. But here we are in the 21st century and waiting in line is increasingly seeming like a thing of the past. Something that future generations will have to avoid. Ready or not, is the future of theme parks “virtually queuing” and eliminating lines all together.
Just last week, Walt Disney World announced that to replace now gone Toon Town Fair section of the park, a new Mickey Mouse meet n’ greet would be constructed in Town Square at Main Street USA. The real news was that that the new character greeting would utilize Disney’s FASTPASS virtual queuing system. From the Disney Parks Blog:
Guests will be able obtain a Disney’s FASTPASS specifying a one-hour window when they can return to see the popular character for hugs, photos and autographs – without waiting in the standby queue. This marks the first time the complimentary, computerized service has been utilized for a character meet-and-greet at any Disney Park.
In the past decade, we have seen Disney Parks expand their FASTPASS season to nearly all major (and occasionally minor) attractions in their parks. Guests simply insert their park ticket into a kiosk, which in return redeems a FASTPASS ticket with a 1-hour return time of when guests can return to the attraction. However, Disney ignores the latest available time and allows guests to enter anytime after the window opens up.
While at first glance this sounds like a great idea, the system presents itself with several logistical issues; for guests in the ‘stand-by’ line, as it has come to be called, the FASTPASS system significantly increases their wait time as guests witha FASTPASS filling in ride seats, making the stand by line move slower. What are guests doing before their return window has begun? Racking up additional FASTPASS’s waiting in other attraction lines, or just clogging up the park, reducing the overall capacity of a park.
Last week Disney announced plans to eliminate all lines by allowing park goers to reserve their spots on rides at an additional time. Twitter erupted with guests joking that they were planning their vacations months ahead of time. And while it all may be tongue in cheek, it is a very real issue. Part of the fun of a vacation is the spontaneity of choosing what to do next. However having everything from the next ride on Space Mountain, to lunch at the Carnation Cafe, to even bathroom breaks takes a significant amount of fun out of a vacation. Not to mention a system like this is essientally an expanded version of Disney’s FASTPASS, expanding the problem of the current system along with it.
With Universal, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and Six Flags all getting in the game with similar up-charge systems it appears that we may be heading towards a future where lines are a thing of the past. Some think it’s great! Why would you want to wait in line? But others, like myself, feel that the line is part of the experience, especially if themed correctly.
Whats your opinion? Leave a comment with your Park Thoughts below.