How would you fix the "endless line" problem at amusement parks?

Clearly, having people in line is the worst part of an amusement park, for both the patrons and the park. Instead of cooling your heels, you could be in the cafes or shops while you wait for your turn.
There seem to be a couple of systems that some parks have tried, but there must be better ways.

Perhaps this is counter-productive, but the first answer that springs to mind is “stop going there”. This sounds flippant, but the reason that parks have long lines is that people have shown an amazing willingness to stand in them… and this AFTER having shelled out sawbucks by the fistful to get through the gates.

As long as the parks have no financial incentive to solve the problem, they won’t.

Perhaps this is counter-productive, but the first answer that springs to mind is “stop going there”. This sounds flippant, but the reason that parks have long lines is that people have shown an amazing willingness to stand in them… and this AFTER having shelled out sawbucks by the fistful to get through the gates.

As long as the parks have no financial incentive to solve the problem, they won’t do it.

A fluke discovery from the past might be of interest. Scroll down to see zut’s comments.

Actually, Six Flags has already addressed this problem by selling these things at the front gate that basically save your place in line. I don’t remember how much it cost… I think it was like $50 for the first one, $30 for the others if you bought more than one, or something like that…

Anyway, you basically tell them what time you want to go on each one of the nine (or however many there are) roller coasters/main attractions and as long as you make it there within a 30-minute window you can just walk right up to the front of the line. You scan the thing they give you and it keeps track, of course.

Standing in line for two hours to ride the Superman ride and seeing people waltz to the front of the line made us frustrated, but it was probably just jealousy… we didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late in the day to take advantage.

Go up to the first person in line and wave your hand.

“You will let me go ahead of you.”

“I will let you go ahead of me.”

See?

:smiley:

But if everyone did that, then we’d just have a bunch of people walking in a big circle waving their arms at each other.

Disney World has a “fast pass” system for selected rides like the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain, where you can get a ticket for a specific ride at a specific time in the future (wait is usually ten or fifteen minutes in my experience, although it varies with how busy the ride is). The pass is only good for like a five minute window or less, IIRC, and you can go wander around until your time comes up. Then you go back, get in a separate fast pass lane, return your pass and get on the ride without waiting in the line. I think it works well.

Yes, Disney has patented the FastPass system. It works quite well, although a little differently than described above, at least at Disneyland in California.

Most of the larger drawing attractions have it. You insert your ticket and it gives you a pass that give you a one hour window to return. If the wait is approx 90 minutes for the ride, you will be able to return and ride in about 90 minutes. This gives you the opportunity to get a bite to eat, shop, or go on another ride with a shorter qeue.

Normally, you cannot get another fastpass until the end of the one hour window issued on the previous pass. All of the fastpass machines are networked together and share information. I have found though that you can usually an additional one for another ride, depending on how busy the park is.

When you go to the ride, you generally have priority over those standing in line. The wait is usually 10 minutes or less. A couple of weeks ago, the “Nightmare before Christmas” version of the Haunted Mansion opened and the park (and the ride) was packed with people. The lines were almost 2 hours long. We got a fastpass though and when we came back, we got on in less than 5 minutes.

I think the system works really well and people seem to love it.

I’ll second the Fast Pass system, it worked great when I was there last.

Plus, “Fast Pass” is the name of our bus pass in San Francisco, so it’s like a little slice of home in the middle of Southern California. :smiley:

I went to Disney World in '99 or '00, so I’ll bow to others who have been more recently for an accurate description of how it really works!

Yeah, i was there just 2 months ago and it works as described by musicguy. Also, even if you’re late with the fastpass, they’ll still honor it (though if everyone did this, it would enate the system). Anyways, it’s a brilliant addition that works fantastically most of the time (though some rides such as Test Tract run out of tickets within a few hours).

Just to be safe though, you should be on time. With the popularity of the haunted mansion ride, for example, they stated that they could not accomidate anyone who showed up after the time window. On a slow day though, it’s not usually a problem.

This’ll probably never happen, but I think the ideal solution is to limit ticket sales. Sell the tickets in the same way concert and sporting event tickets are sold. Ticket prices will need to be raised to compensate for the lower ticket sales, of course, but in return everyone gets shorter lines. The Studio Ghibli anime museum in Tokyo works that way; the ticket is available one month in advance through a nationwide convenience store chain.

Perhaps this is counter-productive, but the first answer that springs to mind is “stop going there”. This sounds flippant, but the reason that parks have long lines is that people have shown an amazing willingness to stand in them… and this AFTER having shelled out sawbucks by the fistful to get through the gates.

As long as the parks have no financial incentive to solve the problem, they won’t do it.

sorry about all the posts, gang… I kept getting “The document contains no data” so I didn’t think it worked. This server needs a serious upgrade.

Years ago I went on a school trip to one of the big UK amusement parks (I forget which one exactly; I think it was Alton Towers). After a group of us spent over an hour in a queue for one of the big modern rides we decided that it just wasn’t good enough. We wandered around the park for a bit and made an amazing discovery: old rides.

It seems that a lot of the older rides still run, but sort of in the background, away from the main thoroughfares of the park. As new big name rides are added they must adjust the main flow of patrons around them.

One of the current big attractions was a blacked-out rollercoaster. Version one of the ride had been dismantled and moved outside behind the hangar that had originally contained it. It was a damn good rollercoaster too, and nobody was queueing for it. We could ride it, get off, walk around the corner and get straight back on again.

Later on we found a really old rollercoaster. It was a proper wooden frame and rusty steel contraption. Not all that big, or all that high, but it made the most of its limited space. In many ways it was more terrifying than the more modern 'coasters since we all knew they’d been built with a million pounds of computer hardware running the numbers of the design. This thing had probably been put together thirty years before I was born by some guy with nothing more than a slide-rule, hacksaw and a steely glint in his eye.

These days, if I’m in an amusement park, I look for the old and unappreciated rides. Maybe they’re not quite the cutting-edge thrill, but I figure the new rides aren’t so much better they’re worth two hours of queuing or a small fortune spent to skip the line. The old rides are still pretty good, too. The ominous creaking, showers of rust flakes and odd lurching motions just make it all the more thrilling.

I haven’t used a fast pass, but being both poor and cheap, I probably wouldn’t buy one. I’m afraid I would then be stuck in line forever and become resentful. I counter that by attending during ‘off peak’ hours (which means, of course, fewer operators, but also fewer patrons).

I do know that our local amusement park, it seems as though more cars could be run than are usually running. I suspect the have some kind of rule about the numbers of patrons and the numbers of employees required. Since most of the ride operators seem to be teens who are probably working pretty cheaply, I wish the would just have more operators working all the time.

One ride at the local park lasts exactly 34 seconds. I hate standing in line for 30 plus minutes of a 30 second ride. Another park in the state has an amusement that lasts 20-25 minutes. I don’t mind that line as much as I feel I’m getting my ‘waits’ worth.

I’m still trying to figure out why people will wait 90 minutes to be seated in a chain restaurant like Outback, then wait 45 more minutes for the food.

I wonder if the profitability of these parks is somewhat dependent on your being in there for a long time. That means you’re around to buy food and drinks, and also gifts and souvenirs. If you could blast through every ride in record time, more people would be “done” with the park more quickly. On the other hand, maybe they could get more people into and out of the park in a day, making up for it.

But I think at some point, the only way to avoid lines is to have fewer people in the park at any given time. That’s gotta hurt the bottom line no matter how you look at it.