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Disney turns to technology to speed up lines

The company finds innovative new ways to redistribute crowds, speed up lines, and cut down wait time

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
December 28, 2010
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/154c

A trip to one of the Disney theme parks can be a magical experience (although I’ve heard Euro Disney isn't so hot).  But the easiest way to kill that magic is to stand in line for half an hour, waiting to take your sunburned and cranky kid on the Tea Cups while everyone else tries to do the same.  But like a loving and ever watchful parent, Disney is on top of it.  Deep below the brightly colored fun (under Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, to be exact), the Disney Command Center is adopting new technology to cut down on wait times, the New York Times reported Tuesday morning.

A trip to Disneyland or Disney World is, in essence, one big wait.  You wait to find a parking spot, then you wait for the tram to take you to the main entrance of the park, then you wait to get in, then you wait to go on a ride, and so on and so forth.  Disney researchers have determined that the average Disney visitor only has time to go on nine rides, out of 40.  

While the company can’t make the park less crowded, it has devised strategies to more evenly distribute the crowd and keep visitors entertained while they wait.  The command center uses video cameras and digital park maps to keep an eye on how crowded attractions get and keep the flow of traffic moving.  Wait times are displayed in different warning colors so that if one attraction goes from green to yellow, and then red, it flags managers to contact attendants to start moving faster. 

For example, the Times reported, if the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is getting too crowded and people are waiting too long, the attendant might be signaled to start deploying more boats to get the line moving.  Or one of the costumed characters, like Goofy or Snow White, will be sent to the line to entertain guests while they wait.

Such tactics, along with other strategies to prevent gridlock in the first place—such as drawing visitors from one crowded area to a less populated section—have managed to increase the average number of rides visitors experience to 10.

In recent months, Disney has been adapting to the rise in smartphones to make its parks more navigable and fun to visit.  In November, Disney partnered with Gowalla to design a check-in service exclusively for Disney theme parks.  Users can customize their Disneyland itinerary so that they only go to rides for children under 44 inches (which would be the Teacups and that Dumbo ride).  Or users can “walk a day in Walt Disney’s shoes” and only visit older rides that were around during Walt Disney’s time.

Gowalla also revamped its pin-collecting feature by creating more than 100 Disney-related virtual pins that users can collect when they visit specific rides.  Visitors can also get customized stamps in their Gowalla passports for visiting specific Disney features, which can be used to earn rewards.

Rumors are also circulating that Disney engineers are considering the implementation of wristbands with an individual’s name and credit card number embedded in it so that visitors can get through lines for restaurants and souvenir shops even faster.  But that just sounds like a fast-track to identity theft.

Image source: blunderland.com


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