Disney introduces restaurant-style virtual queueing to Magic Kingdom's Dumbo
Published: June 6, 2012 at 9:20 AM
The Big Top Tent, under construction earlier this year. The new Dumbo carousel is to the left, and the original will be installed behind the construction wall to the right.
The Big Top Tent, as the name implies, is an indoor waiting area. But it's not a traditional queue. It's actually an indoor playground, where children can burn off steam while they wait their turn on the Dumbo ride. Parents will be given a restaurant-style pager which will light up when it's time to ride.
Here's a look, from Disney:
Dumbo long was known as the most brutal wait in the park. The spinner ride offers a low capacity (only a couple hundred riders per hour) and used to be positioned in a shadeless place in Fantasyland, with a simple back-and-forth linear queue. Given the huge number of kids who wanted to ride with Dumbo, the wait time for the ride blew up early in the morning, and typically remained among the longest in the park throughout the day.
As part of the New Fantasyland expansion, Disney smartly added a second Dumbo carousel, doubling the ride's capacity. (And causing some of us to dub the new version of the ride "Dueling Dumbos.") That should help to cut the ride's wait time in half, and the addition of an indoor wait area should help make even that wait more bearable.
But here's my question: Will some kids decide that they prefer the new indoor playground to the ride itself? It looks kinda neat, and you can't beat an indoor, air-conditioned play area during a hot, sunny Central Florida summer. Will the play area become an attraction unto itself, drawing even more kids to Dumbo and expanding the wait? Will the need to pry kids away from the play area and onto the ride when their "ticket" buzzes slow down the loading on the ride, negating the capacity advantage of the second carousel?
I'm curious to see how this new wait area concept plays out in the world's most popular theme park. If it is a hit, and does make the wait more enjoyable without making it significantly longer, I suspect that this might be a move that Disney - and other parks - look to duplicate on other child-focused theme park rides.
Update: Hearing that the Big Top Tent play area soft-opened today. Reports?