Maybe this is the appropriate time to comment on something that I picked up on during my recent vacation to Orlando. Being theme park fans my wife and I obviously wanted to visit all the theme parks, not just Disney, so Universal (both Studios and Islands of Adventure) was high on the list. And yet we left both parks early...
Partly it was low season so everything was quiet and lines were short for the most part. But what really got to me was the Universal Express Pass system. We paid good money to get into the parks and yet, as is well documented, at every attraction we were made to stand back whilst an unlimited number of Universal resort guests were ushered in in front of us, irrespective of how long the lines were behind us. I love the Fast Pass system at Disney and never object to people getting onto a ride before me but that's mainly because it is administered on an equitable basis and the numbers of people able to jump the lines are limited each hour. At Universal I was made to feel like a second class citizen. I'd use a stronger word but I might get moderated! And this was low season - God only knows what it's like in the busy season. I can imagine the lines for 'ordinary' visitors barely moving at all as unlimited numbers of the privileged few get to march past and jump the line, and that stinks big time. It really soured our whole Universal experience and to my mind fits exactly with Robert's comments today about how organisations treat those people who pay good money. I knew this was how the system worked at Universal and I expected it, but I wasn't prepared for how crap it made me feel and how annoying it was. Universal may be spending money on attractions but they are now bottom of my list of places I want to visit in Orlando. Thank God for Mythos. It redeemed the day. But only just.
Btw I think it's amazing how Univesal is managing their customer during peak season at the Potter land at IOA.
Point 1: As a part of the darkest 8 months of my life to date, I worked night shift cleaning floors at a Walmart. I worked Black Friday opening and almost had my hand broken when a guy stepped on it trying to get to a low quality DVD player. Walmart is negligent and should be cited by OSHA. They do want people to get in a frenzy. They want the buzz and the hype of having people rampaging for $1 towles and $5 crock pots. The air or ridiculousness created by the frenzy seems to encourage the ridiculous belief that these people are in fact getting good deals, which in general they aren't. Walmart doesn't care about it's customers or it's employees safety or satisfaction.
Point 2: One of the reasons I go back to Disney and Seaworld parks so much more than Cedar Fair and Six Flags Parks is because they appear to want my business, not just my wallet. Business is not just money, but an agreement on working together for mutual benefit. Much like Walmart, Six Flags appears to only offer up the bare minimum to avoid backlash. But people like us who pry a little deeper and keep our eyes open see the disparity. Ever person who enters these parks is a walking ATM. I don't mean to overlook the committed employee or the specific parks that take special pride, but as a whole, these brands don't appreciate what we as customers want from the transaction unless it directly results in more profit.
Black Friday sales (and their stores) can implement crowd control concepts very easily. Someone mentioned ticketed products. You get in line at the store, they pass out tickets for their inventory. It's a queued system. But revealing a bin of products will just cause chaos.
I am a person who hates being around people and in crowds, yet I love theme parks. How does this work? Because the crowd at a theme park has a general common goal.
Black Friday shoppers are like drivers in Los Angeles, they have a singular goal. When you put a mass of people with singular goals in the same place, problems will occur. This is why the surface streets of Los Angeles flow so much better than the freeways.
At a theme park you will have the person who speed walks/runs to an attraction. But rarely do you see a hoard of line cutters/jumpers. You get the standard parent return from restroom with or without child. Occasionally you will get the group of teens trying to cut (mostly at those Six Flags parks), and if you're surrounded by a group of decent people, those cutters will not be able to cut.
Going back to the stores for a moment, look at Best Buy. In last couple of years their stores have implemented a one checkout line system. All the customers line up in one queue when they are ready to purchase their stuff. This feeds them to a "loading platform" of registers. Barnes & Noble are the same way. Grocery stores, Target, Walmart do not have this system. Nor should they really. They don't have the floor space and it allows Best Buy to sell those last minute items like batteries and cheap movies.
Good commentary today. Do you think Wal-Mart really cares about you or your money? They don't have to, because millions of our fellow citizens could care less about what you or I think. I think our country has hit the tipping point where there are more immoral than moral people among our citizens. This plays out in a variety of ways. One is the constant stream of news stories over at least the past decade uncovering wrong-doing, dishonesty and criminal behavior among leaders of businesses (large and small) and government officials at all levels. At one time not too long ago, people in positions of power and authority would weigh the consequences of cheating against the possibility of being caught and punished (or shamed) and conclude it was better to be honest. No more. Now, it seems, people care only about enriching themselves; to heck with everyone else.
This value (if one can call it that) is greed, and among businesses, Wal-Mart is one of the very worst. A recent news item of a clothing factory fire in Bangladesh which killed more than a hundred people because the fire exits were locked should shock and shame American consumers, but again, most don't give a darn. For, you see, those factory workers were making clothing for Wal-Mart and Target stores. But this affects the theme park world, too. Look on the bottom of any trinket the next time you're in a Disney, Universal, Six Flags or SeaWorld park and spot the sticker that identifies where it comes from. In a word: China. For me, that's enough to leave the item on the shelf. How about you?
In the parks, we get there for rope drop and then head for rides that will get crazy later in the day (like Fantasyland). We usually head for the exit around 3 when the crowds and lines get crazier. We're happy and relaxed the whole time we're there. If we wanted to be stressed, we'd go back to our former jobs where we were stressed everyday. Life is too short...
No thanks. I'll do most of my shopping online like I've done for the last 5 years, thank you very much.
The difference between WalMart and Disney is the fact that there really isn't a limited supply of what Disney delivers. Sure an attraction can only deliver so many rides in a day, but in reality everyone there at opening will get the chance to ride whatever they are going after.
People will run if given the chance which the cast members walking the crowd prevent, but the mob mentality isn't really there since you aren't really going to be denied what you're after.
I really hope WalMart doesn't change their practices because that would deny me the entertainment of watching morons fighting over nonsense. It just makes me feel better about myself since I don't partake.
Let me get this straight... you won't go back to Universal because they made you feel bad about not having Express?
The whole idea is that you can spend less time in the parks and more time enjoying the hotel, pools, shopping, visiting the CityWalk etc... as opposed to waiting in line for rides.
I remember Universal doing the same with crowds for Harry Potter. We were all to stay behind the chaperones...and the lead made it very clear that anyone running past them would be expelled from the park. Needless to say, we were all orderly.
Btw, the lead was forceful, but respectfull in her warning, so no stun-guns were brandished.