Walt Disney World is using a virtual queue system to handle boarding the highly-rated new ride in its Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land at Disney's Hollywood Studios. But fans are claiming all spots in that virtual queue early each morning. Disney has backed up the park's published opening time to 7am (as of today), but fans are reporting that they need to arrive well before that to ensure that they get into the virtual queue and on the ride.
For first-person experiences and advice for getting into the Rise of the Resistance virtual queue, please see our Discussion Board thread on Rise of the Resistance. And then set your alarm, because you're gonna be getting up early.
I have argued that virtual queues are a better way for theme parks to manage demand for popular attractions than making people wait for hours in physical queues. But are virtual queues the best way to manage extreme demand for theme park attractions?
Ultimately, theme parks have three main ways to allocate boarding opportunities on their attractions: First-come, first-serve systems such as queues, random-selection lotteries, and "pay to play" systems such as selling or auctioning seats. Parks also can decide whether to open access using any of these systems in advance or to make people wait until they are actually inside the park on the day of their visit to try to get access.
Right now, Disney is using a first-come, first-serve system open only on the day of visit to manage access to Rise of the Resistance. It is managing that line as a virtual queue instead of physical one, but both options would be the same first-come, first-served concept.
Disney could manage the virtual queue by allowing people access to it in advance of their visit. This would provide an advantage to people who did not want to haul their tired bodies out of bed and into the park before dawn to get into the queue. Just set your alarm for whatever time of day Disney opens the Rise of the Resistance virtual queue for your planned day of visit, then log in online and try to join the queue then. It would be similar to how people now try to claim Fastpasses for high-demand attractions at 7am Eastern time 60 or 30 days out from their visit. Or how people try to buy Comic-Con tickets.
The downside to that system would be a massive crush on Disney's servers as potentially hundreds of thousands of people log into attempt to get into the queue at once. It also might cause a decline in park attendance as people who do not get a place in the queue decide to postpone their visit until they do.
One alternative to that would be a free lottery. Log in and request a place in line whenever you want before a set deadline, and then Disney will select at random from the parties that requested access who gets a place in the queue. That would spread the load on Disney's servers and allow people to request access at their convenience, but it wouldn't do anything to prevent the issue with people postponing their trips.
Now Disney could address that with really creative (and potentially massively frustrating) day-of lottery system. You would arrive whenever you would like at the park, register your party in the My Disney Experience app, then request access to the ride. Disney's system would then randomly decide whether you would get that, based on some modeled odds for what percentage of guests can get on the ride on a given day. To prevent people from just mashing the system with multiple requests, each ticket through the gate would get one, and only one, shot at access.
Sound stressful? How about the certainty of just buying your way onto the ride? Disney could decide that Rise of the Resistance can only handle [some number X] number of riders each day, so it makes the attraction an upcharge costing whatever price it decides that number of people would be willing to pay. Guessing precisely what that price should be on any given day is tough, so the easier solution is just to put ride access up for auction and to let the market decide what the cut-off price should be. (Shout-out to my alma mater here, but there's a nifty way to do this called Purple Pricing.)
And if all this just sets your head spinning, there is the old-fashioned method of just making people line up and wait in a physical queue.
So which option would be your choice for trying to get on Rise of the Resistance, or any other wildly popular attraction at a theme park?
Make your case in the comments, please.Tweet
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