Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter Google Plus Email Newsletter

Come to Disney... and skip the cool stuff?

Written by
Published: October 17, 2012 at 9:35 AM
Here's what I don't understand about Walt Disney World's recent development strategy:

Why is Disney spending millions to develop and promote new, interactive queues for its attractions… at the same time it's spending millions to develop and promote new Fastpass+ systems to allow people to skip those queues?

Interactive queue at the Haunted Mansion
The interactive queue at the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion

Does anyone else see a conflict here?

What's the message we're supposed to take away from this: "Come to Disney, where we're making it easier to skip our cool new stuff"?

Readers' Opinions

From Tracy Bates on October 17, 2012 at 9:42 AM
That's easy enough. No one wants to wait in the queue, but there will always be a queue, so it might as well be entertaining.

I do like the additions to the haunted mansion at Magic Kingdom because you have the choice in the line whether to take the slightly longer queue with the new stuff or skip it in favor of a slightly shorter line.

From 24.55.252.175 on October 17, 2012 at 9:44 AM
As the number of fastpases you can take are limited, you will still find yourself spending time in the queues of rides that you still want to experience.
From Jacob Sundstrom on October 17, 2012 at 10:06 AM
I don't see anyone clamoring for lines to get longer so they can experience interactive queue features on attractions like Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion.

Most guests will gladly take the shorter queues over a musical mausoleum, but if there's a long wait at least the interactive elements are there...so no, I don't see a conflict here at all.

From 184.78.46.110 on October 17, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Robert, I hear what you're saying but I think this just shows us once again why Disney is the leader in this business. With Fast Pass they are making it easier for guests to ride and see more attractions/shows, overall giving the guest a better opportunity to have a memorable and positive experience. However, if you don't pick up a Fast Pass and wait in what can be at times rather lengthy lines, Disney is keeping guests entertained and at bay from (dare I say it) boredom. Humans are always happy when occupied and these interactive queues do just that.

-JEFF in Chicago

From David Brown on October 17, 2012 at 10:55 AM
I think the message is 'we know there will always be queues/lines so we're going to try and make them more interesting for you if you have to endure them'.

That strikes me as good customer service, not a conflicted policy....

Fast Pass, (whether plussed or not), is a different beast entirely as it's a premium skip-the-lines option available to a certain proportion. And if it really matters to you to experience the interactive line then no one is forcing you to take the fast Pass option.....

From Dominick D on October 17, 2012 at 11:56 AM
I agree with JEFF in Chicago.
From 82.45.192.233 on October 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM
I also see no conflict here - Disney want its guests to have the best possible experience at all times so that they will choose to return. No one likes queuing, so these two measures are a double pronged measure to keep guests happy - either keep them from having to queue in the first place via fastpass, or entertain them when they do have to queue via interactive entertainment.

Interactive queues aren't the 'cool stuff' that they want you to come and see, they're simply a measure to distract those who do end up queuing in an effort to keep them happy. As Jeff in Chicago states, this dual measure just goes to show just why they are the best in the industry.

From Anon Mouse on October 17, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Fastpass does not mean no lines. There are still Standby lines. The nice new queues will blunt the effect of waiting twice as long. Isn't that the reason? The Standby lines are twice as slow. You'll have time to enjoy the interactivity from the new elaborate queues.
From Robert Niles on October 17, 2012 at 2:09 PM
Let's think marketing messages. You can't be out in the market with messages that say "come see the queues" and "skip the queues" at the same time. At best, you're reduced to using these as conditional messages ("if you don't want this, we have that"), but that's the sort of secondary argument you use when you're trying to close a sale. Those messaged don't get people in through the door, looking to buy.

I don't have a problem with Disney doing both of these. But Disney used to be better at message discipline than this. I'm about to post another piece, with a similar topic.

From Brandon Townsend on October 17, 2012 at 2:14 PM
I was at Disney all week last week and avoided any long lines by utilizing Fast Passes or getting to the parks early.
We did, however, intentionally go through the standy-by line at Space Mountain to try the video game wait attraction. It was pretty cool. And late one night we go to experience the Haunted Mansion interactive stuff by ourselves. That was cool as well.

What Disney needs to invent are nap pods installed on a movable conveyor system such as Haunted Mansion. 2 hour wait for Soarin'? No problemo. Just hop in the nap pod and take a little snooze. When you wake up you are boardin' with Patrick.

A crazy idea for sure, but it would keep people in the parks as many leave for naps at some point in the day.

From 82.45.192.233 on October 17, 2012 at 2:41 PM
I live in the UK so I may well not be exposed to as much WDW advertising material as you guys over that side of the Atkantic, but are they really out in the market with messages that say "come see the queues"?

If so, it seems like a totally bizarre thing to market to try and attract guests - I just thought it was an added bonus that guests would discover in the parks.

From Dominick D on October 17, 2012 at 3:19 PM
^When you wake up with him, have some churros! It's one of those funny words that always puts a smile on your face! If you know what ride I'm talking about, 2 points to you!
From 81.70.136.4 on October 17, 2012 at 3:28 PM
The only reason Disney introduced Fastpass is that they can earn more money. Make no mistake, I like it, but Fastpass costs the company money and Disney isn't known for giving something away and that is ok.

With Fastpass you stand virtually in line. During that time you need to shop and eat to put more money in Disney's pocket. It works otherwise they system would have left the parks. Disney likes it and most guests like it except for the fact that the different queue's get more and more divided so the different cattle doesn't meet.

Disney had quite some time tweaking and playing with the system resulting in a strategy to spread the cattle out to attractions that don't get enough customers when in other parts of the park it's crowded. They introduced extra Fastpasses to spread that crowd in another direction.

Now there is one group of guests that is the ultimate cash cow and that are the nice folks that stay in Disney's pricy hotels and have a tough time to exit Disney's realm. They eat, drink, shop and do everything at Disney. What if this group could do that even more? They could stay even longer in their hotel and have more character breakfasts, lunches and dinners? And they also could go to the parks and benefit from that wonderful Fastpass? Awesome, let's do that, Disney must have thought, because now there is a group that picks those tickets up and at 11 am they are all gone. But, someone else said, what about the locals and the not so nice folks that rent homes or stay off property? Will they feel second rated? Yes they will.

Disney only has Fastpass at the most popular, often e-ticket rides, and there are not a lot of them. At least not enough to make everyone happy. So what to do? Build more e-ticket rides? Nice but too expensive, the investors said, we have a lot of old attractions and our guests don't want us to take them out and we don't want to spent the money. Why not install Fastpass at more attractions, also the once who don't need them? We can give out more passes, spreading people between c-d-e-ticket rides. We know where they are and can manage them that way and they still feel appreciated. Great idea but still there are rides that will get more people than they can handle. Install something of a distraction so people won't notice we treat them as cattle, is the solution.

This is a investment in the future. Now it feels retarded (and it is) but people get used to manage their vacation like they manage the rest of their lives. At that point a Disney is managed from start to finish. The time you wake up, get a character breakfast you booked, get to Magic Kingdom at 11 am to be on time for Stitch, go to Dumbo, meet Ariel at 1 pm, eat at 1:30 pm at the beasts castle, etc.

Disney has an easy time to manage their staff and maintenance and the guests will have a "perfect" vacation, managed and predictable but perfect.

From Mike Gallagher on October 18, 2012 at 6:54 AM
"Disney will reveal more weeks in the coming weeks."

For some strange reason, that line made me laugh.

From 75.150.205.114 on October 18, 2012 at 7:46 AM
I actually haven't seen much marketing related to promoting interactive queues aside from maybe the new Dumbo ride. I see those investments as a way to keep people entertained, distracted, etc while waiting for rides. This may help keep people from becoming frustrated or at least help them make the most of a long wait. I think there are people that want one or the other experience. Some want immersion and the queues help to give that while others want to maximize ride time and get through the park quickly. Disney understands their diverse consumer base and markets appropriately.

When millions of people consume your products you can't market to only one segment or market the same message over and over. I see no problem with them marketing both things and catering to the different groups. People will embrace the offerings that are meaningful to them and make their visit more enjoyable.

From Don Neal on October 18, 2012 at 7:47 AM
Sorry for double post, I wasn't logged in earlier...

I actually haven't seen much marketing related to promoting interactive queues aside from maybe the new Dumbo ride. I see those investments as a way to keep people entertained, distracted, etc while waiting for rides. This may help keep people from becoming frustrated or at least help them make the most of a long wait. I think there are people that want one or the other experience. Some want immersion and the queues help to give that while others want to maximize ride time and get through the park quickly. Disney understands their diverse consumer base and markets appropriately.

When millions of people consume your products you can't market to only one segment or market the same message over and over. I see no problem with them marketing both things and catering to the different groups. People will embrace the offerings that are meaningful to them and make their visit more enjoyable.

From Anon Mouse on October 18, 2012 at 7:58 AM
The more I think about "message discipline", the less I think it matters.

Disney does all sorts of things and it tries to make it work. Elaborate queues were always the selling point of Disney attractions. Despite it, not everyone wants to wait a long time to ride something. Just because there is Fastpass doesn't mean you skip out on all that interactivity.

For some rides at Disneyland, you skip the bulk of the switchbacks and only see the last 30 minutes, which usually contain the best parts of the elaborate queues like for Indiana Jones and Space Mountain. For Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain, you walk in the same queue in a separate line, but at a faster pace.

Of course, the Haunted Mansion skips the switchbacks and the elaborate queues entirely. You merely go to the very front. At Disneyland, they don't have the new queues yet, but they have installed more decorations for the Halloween/Christmas verson.

From 84.56.71.220 on October 18, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Uhm, the message is simply that ppl are far less willing to wait long in line for a 5 min attraction these days. So Disney does both try to make the line less like a line and try to make line standing less like line standing.
From Tom Rigg on October 19, 2012 at 7:43 PM
I don't think this is an issue of message discipline. But, I do think it makes more sense in a place like Disneyland. I see it much like offering a variety of options on a menu. ( I get the irony of talking about menu variety and Disney World at the same time.) Some people enjoy the experience of a meal, while others eat solely for the biological purposes. Some people could care less about what type of beef their burger is made of, while others want Wagyu beef with crimini mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, bib lettuce, house made ketchup on an artisinal role. In the same way, some people stand in line solely as a function of getting to the ride. Some people want the experience to begin the moment the step in the queue.

I like it both ways. If I never had to stand in line for Big Thunder, Space, or Splash Mountain again I would rejoice. But if I had fast passes to the Haunted Mansion I would pass them over every time to walk through the new cemetery.

From 172.221.116.107 on October 21, 2012 at 1:18 PM
At the risk of sounding naiave about the inner workings of Walt Disney Imagineering, it seems as if park designers are missing a HUGE opportunity to pull the interactive effects OUT of the queues and place them into the streets. Four or five months ago, WDI compiled a plan to scatter interactive effects throughout Adventureland (at the Maggic Kingdom in Orlando). As torusists moved through the park they would discover a variety of entertaining effects -- pulling the theme park experience out of the attractions and enhancing the objective of immersion.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Previous article: Tip of the week: Buy convention participant tickets for discounted admission to major theme parks