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Let’s make theme park queuing not suck!

Heading into a theme park is a thrilling experience, the anticipation of the adventures that lay ahead can be almost tangible with guests. However, it can often be countered by the realisation that the park is packed and most of the best attractions are shielded by an endless wall of like-minded guests waiting to ride.

Let’s face it, queuing sucks.

Immersive queue lines

With new rides, immersive lands and thrilling shows, theme parks are offering more content to guests than ever before. Whilst the throughput of new rides is usually a large consideration in the design, the sheer amount of people that now visit theme parks make large queues inevitable.

All is not lost however, as theme park designers are coming up with increasingly clever ways to make queuing not suck! But firstly, what are the advantages to an operator in creating more immersive queue lines?

  1. Increase guest satisfaction of ride and park

  2. Connect guest to the story you are trying to tell

  3. Increase visitor spend through concessions and virtual queues

  4. More Instagrammable moments to amplify social media reach

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is a great example of the latter. Who doesn’t want a picture sat at the Millenium Falcon’s chess table?! Here are some ways that theme parks are embracing great queue line design.

Make them jaw-dropping

When designing more modern theme park attractions Disney and Universal generally have a good track record of making the queue line an essential and immersive part of an overall ride experience and I often geek out at the detail, scale and scope of some of them. A few personal favourites of mine include:

Avatar: Flight of Passage: that floating animatronic is just jaw-dropping!

Expedition Everest: Beautifully art directed, layered with theming and story. The Yeti Museum is a highlight too.

Skull Island: Reign of Kong: Incredible rockwork, animatronics and hidden surprises make this queue line a genuinely unsettling experience!

Harry Potter ‘Escape From Gringotts’: This queues is beautiful, richly detailed and grand in scale.

Make them virtual

Universal Studios has been leading the way recently in creating virtual queues where rather than standing in line for ages, guests are given a specific time to come back and enjoy the ride.

This allows guests to explore the rest of the park and either visit another attraction or better still for operators, spend money in the gift shops or various food and beverage offerings. Thus, increasing guest spend per head. Examples of this include Universal’s Volcano Bay (using the ‘Tapu-Tapu’ wrist band), Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York and Fast & Furious: Supercharged.

Make queue ‘plussing’ a priority

Some theme park operators are actually revisiting their existing queue lines and adding new effects, theming and interactivity to make them a much more exciting experience.

Some fantastic examples of this come include: Test Track (Epcot) where you can design your ride vehicle before you get in it, The Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight and Big Thunder Mountain (Disney’s Magic Kingdom) where new effects and interactives (either digital or physical) make the queues much more enjoyable.

These queue lines also allow the story of the ride and it’s characters to be further fleshed out, creating a more holistic ride experience.

A new Viking experience

Katapult recently worked on a ‘queue plussing’ project of our own. We worked with our client Tayto Park alongside Irish Heritage organisation, Failte Ireland, to create an updated queue line experience for their existing Viking Voyage log flume ride.

The brief was to add much more excitement to the queue as well as immersing guests in the historical tale of the Viking Invasion of Ireland in 1014AD. Some of the experiences we added to this queue include:

Theming, written content and art direction on existing assets

A mist apparition of the Norse God Odin, who calls guests to invade Ireland.

Additional theming and content to suit the new queue line story.

War Drums that guests bang along to the new soundtrack we created.

Low-tech interactive experiences, like these horns with a war cry.

Physical games, Batak and a Punch Bag, to test the guest’s Viking skills.

A Viking Throne photo op which featured two mythical animatronic ravens who hurl insults at passing guests.

Augmented Reality ‘Viking Yourself’ stations that dress guests ready for battle.

The reaction?

Early reports are that the new queue line experience has been a hit with guests and has definitely made the sometimes two-hour wait times much more bearable.

It has also helped create awareness of Ireland’s rich historical heritage. As a big ‘queue’ geek I was thrilled to be involved in this project. Now, if only we could only make queueing at the supermarket not suck too…

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