What to do about rampant line cutting, and the park is indifferent?

June 15, 2018, 8:54 AM

My local park, Knott's Berry Farm, has been having problems with line jumping. The last couple of weeks, a lot of middle school and high school groups have been in the park for their graduation or end-of-the-year parties.

According to other park goers on social media, groups of 6-8 teens have been regularly cutting through the lines, claiming their friends are up ahead in line. Teens in line will spot their friends walking by and call them to join them. A couple of teens will get in line and then a large number of their friends will join them later. And this happens all year to a lesser degree with teens and other groups.

When park visitors tell Knott's employees, the reaction is usually shrugged shoulders or the employee will tell claim to have told the line cutters not to do it any more. On the park guide/map, it clearly says that line jumping is against park rules and may result in ejection from the park.

I've read about fights (shoving matches and worse) breaking out when people say enough is enough and refuse to let people cut in front of them, with bystanders including children being shoved around. I also know from reading discussion forums that, that there are people (this was on a Disneyland forum) who feel like it's their prerogative to cut in line and take it as a personal offense if someone tries to stop them.

I believe this is a problem at many theme parks. Personally, I don't think it's worthwhile to do something that might lead to a confrontation over line cutting. It's better to point out those line cutters to park employees, but practically speaking, oftentimes there isn't an employee anywhere close by to get ahold of.

But if a park like Knott's doesn't seem willing to do anything about it, what can a visitor do? I'm guessing park management trains employees not to force line cutters from the queue or remove people from the park. Is getting enough people to complain to guest services or phone or email the park the only solution?

Replies (19)

June 15, 2018, 9:26 AM

There's nothing you can do unless you really want to ruin your trip with a confrontation and then it can get ugly. Try complaining at customer relations and get a few line cutting passes. That's the other option.

June 15, 2018, 10:13 AM

Reading over my post, I'd also like to ask, What can we expect theme parks and amusement parks to do to curtail line cutting? Is it realistic for the park to have an employee stationed midway in the queue for the more popular rides? Is it realistic to expect park employees, many of whom are high school or college students, to kick adults or families out of line or out of the park based on someone else's complaint?

Also, I think most people would be okay with young kids having to leave the line for a needed restroom visit and then getting back in line? But if that is okay, can you enforce other line cutting as not acceptable?

June 15, 2018, 12:06 PM

I think the key to eliminate line cutting is to keep lines moving and manageable. People only want to cut because the lines are overly long, boring, and stop and start. Also, having lines in areas that are comfortable (climate controlled and with decent acoustics) with narrow passageways that discourage the practice. The "queue house" concept is just an invitation for line cutters.

In the end though, the best way to combat line cutters is to reduce lines and keep them moving.

Edited: June 15, 2018, 1:36 PM

In the recent history of theme parks, has any park anywhere actually kicked someone out of the park for line jumping? I haven't heard a single incident of that happening in years. If it did happen, I cannot believe that some documentation of it wouldn't end up on social media. But I've seen nothing.

Ultimately, virtual queues are the only answer to this problem. "No line jumping" rules by parks seem to be a bluff that some visitors have no problem calling.

Edited: June 15, 2018, 2:58 PM

There's not many long lines I've been in that hasn't had someone push thru saying "friends up front" or some other line to justify the move forward. The biggest culprits are the younger riders who see a line winding thru the 'corals' and dip under, over or thru the lane dividers (must be nice to actually be able to do that LOL ... :) ) to get a bit closer to the front. Happens most when a whole horde of same-colored-shirts appear and no way are you going to stop those anyway. It's not common, i.e. I don't see people passing me all the time, but I think if they could somehow identify those people and don't allow them to get on the ride when they arrived at the station, it may be a good deterrent ?
In reality, it's never going to be resolved 100%

June 15, 2018, 3:42 PM

Robert, so is there no recourse for people who follow the rules and wait in line?

I figure if enough people take their complaints to guest services, then the park management would try to do something about it.

How hard would it be to station one employee at the back of the line of the ten most popular rides, for example, and prevent anyone from getting past the back of the line? If you don't enter with your party, you have get in the back of the line, pure and simple.

June 15, 2018, 3:46 PM

Of the three parks that I spend the most time at (Knott's Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Disneyland/California Adventure), I see hardly any line cutting at Universal. I think the primary reason is that the queues are well staffed, and the employees are trained not to tolerate this kind of behavior.

June 15, 2018, 5:11 PM

A lot of the time, I think it comes down to the fact that employees can't do anything unless they personally witness the behavior, so if the jumping occurs in an unsupervised portion of the queue it's really hard for anything to change. Another issue is that at some parks, ride operators don't have the authority to eject guests from the line and they must call security to deal with it, which may or may not be effective.

Speaking of Knott's specifically, I have occasionally seen the employees at the Fast Lane merge point remove guests from the line, but it is rare and usually only when that employee actually catches them. I'll also note that most are not bothered by one or two guests meeting up with their party, but will stop larger groups if they try to push their way through.

At some parks (most often new rides at Six Flags parks), I have seen cases where a security guard was stationed in the cattle pen to prevent line jumping and would force those who attempt it to join the back of the queue. I've also seen Six Flags use boarding passes, where each rider is given a numbered slip that is collected later, and those out of sequence or without their slip don't get to ride. Both of these seem to be effective, but unless a line is an hour or more on a regular basis I doubt there are enough complaints from guests for most parks to feel these extra costs are worthwhile. However, it is things like these that need to be in place at all times in order to reduce line jumping. I don't think it can be completely eliminated, but it is a problem that could be significantly reduced.

As a guest, if you're near an employee you can try to get their attention if you're being line jumped, but at other times the best option is to just let the jumpers pass. It is not worth risking a premature end to your day by starting a fight in line when your wait time will only be affected by a few minutes (at most). If the problem is particularly bad, then file a report at guest services and hope the park will take action to control it in the future. Ultimately, it is their responsibility to provide a good guest experience, and if known problems aren't addressed customers will start taking their money elsewhere.

June 15, 2018, 9:11 PM

AJ nails it. (As usual.) As fans, our only real recourse is to stop going to parks that run their queues so poorly that they attract blatant, significant line jumping.

Virtual queues don't have to be high tech. Those boarding pass can do the trick... and perhaps just as well.

June 16, 2018, 4:16 AM

If people in the queue can't see others they can't call them over. Sure they can call them on the phone but the visual and spontaneous aspect is killed.
Having camera's also helps. Just pick out one group, have them suspended from the park indefinitely and make a public statement about it. That should scare a lot of them off.
Will it ever happen again? Sure. It happened to me several times at WDW. Not teens but fathers with kids. Not for a restroom break but they came off another ride that mom and little sis where scared to do and told them when they stood in front of me. Also people shoving you away from a spot you held for hours for parades or firework shows, again families not teens.
I never had that problem at Universal. I'm sure it will happen there too but I haven't seen it. I think when the line moves quick or the queue is amazing (I let people skip in front of me at the Potter lines just to hang around a bit more in some area's) there is less of a need for line cutting I guess.

June 16, 2018, 7:11 AM

Just get over it ... I mean I appreciate that you are supported by the principles of "fair is fair" but while standing in line if six punks bust by you your wait time is increased by how long? Maybe 90 seconds? If an army of teens stroll by (especially at Disney) and you feel the absolute need go to Guest Relations. Nine times out of ten they will accommodate you with some Fast Passes (it happened with me -- although not related to a queue cutting incident). Is this really such a crisis situation?

Edited: June 16, 2018, 10:07 AM

TH, a park-goer can choose not make a big deal of it, but some people will understandably get upset and decide to not let people pass.

It becomes the park's problem when shoving matches or outright fights start breaking out in lines because the park management doesn't do anything (because the park policy and employee culture doesn't encourage the employees to crack down on line jumpers).

June 16, 2018, 1:56 PM

Film it on the phone, tweet and facespace it tagging in the park/chain and ask them if they think this is acceptable.

June 19, 2018, 6:23 PM

Here is a really good way to get them if you can't let it go. When my friends visited a Six Flags park, they noticed a particular group of 9 people politely saying "excuse me" and making their way systematically through the line. One of the members of my friends group filmed it. They then sent another member of their group back to the entry and watched the exit for them. He then anticipated where they were going next and made sure to get in line far head of them.

Not only did he get it right, there they were again and the same tactic. Again caught on film. He text the others to let them know it happened again, when they exited the ride, they went to park security. Everyone had shown their videos of the group. Security was not amused.

A 3rd person had tracked where the were next and got in line as they did. He texted them updates of the location which were being relayed to security. (Once again, filming them line cutting). They stopped them right before they got onto the attraction with the a great fake out. The park employees announced the ride was temporarily down. They turned to go back through the line and exited at the entry. Waiting for them were 3 park security guards (who unfortunately asked them not to film.) BUSTED They did this without causing a confrontation are even alluring suspicion they were being watched. They're park cards were seized and they were escorted out and given a trespass warning. If there is a takeaway it's don't get mad, get clever.

June 19, 2018, 10:21 PM

I noticed that Robert turned the subject of this thread into his weekly column in the Orange County Register:


June 19, 2018, 11:22 PM

the main issue reason line cutting happens is because usually the rides that line cutting occurs on have lines that are so long, there are bound to be things that need to be handled that couldn't have been foreseen. you simply don't know if you'll need to use the bathroom or get food in two hours, so there's no way to plan for that ahead of time, as hard as you might try. the simplest way to resolve line cutting is to try and get those variables in the line queue, like adding food carts, bathrooms, and drink machines in line, even if it doesn't logistically make too much sense. so until every line becomes short enough that you can eliminate the "what if ___ happens and i need to pop outta line", line cutting will always be an issue. and i don't think trying to eliminate those variables is the right solution, i think things as simple as easily accesible little corrals to the side of the queue that your party can pull side in and wait while you run to the bathroom are simple solutions. they cost no money, lower inconvenience of you pushing aside everyone in the queue, and you don't have to have everyone get out of line, you just pull off to the side. there's no foolproof system, although certain parks have tried. that's my $0.02

June 21, 2018, 12:47 PM

What I would do is have the line que with vertical railings, like a wrought-iron fence would have in your yard, from floor to ceiling that would prevent people from cutting. Simple soulution!

June 21, 2018, 1:42 PM

Spaceman. Hopefully you get some royalties.

June 21, 2018, 4:46 PM

David, all I'd ask for is some credit for where he got the idea.

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