Disney World’s long wait Problem
By Carlye Wisel
In addition to several of the already fine and acceptable responses, Disney spends a lot of money and effort on queuing theory study and practice. Their parks are ideal labs to practice with and to have thousands of subjects for what queuing experiments they may want to try every day. A typical attraction at a Disney park will have a throughput of up to 2000 people in an hour. That gives Disney ample opportunity to tweak little things in their queues and see if the tweaks lead to shorter wait times or longer wait times. There are so many thousands of people who line up to experience Disney attractions that they can predict the expected wait times for almost every attraction at any given time and in any circumstance. They can use their vast tactical database estimate wait times when it is raining, they can estimate wait times when it is over 90 degrees. They can estimate wait times when there is a Super bowl or World Series game going on. They can estimate wait times in almost any circumstance.
With statisticians, programmers and data scientists among its eight full-time staff members and dozen part-time employees, Touring Plan upends trips to Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando resorts with customizable itineraries centered on how to smartly skip the lines at every single theme park. In addition to optimizing which time to board each attraction with its Touring Plans itinerary guides, their free-with-subscription app, Lines, says how long you’ll actually wait in every line, and the freakishly accurate Crowd Calendar recommends the best times to book a trip, even displaying how busy each theme park will be in advance.
Never-ending lines are such a hindrance to theme park enjoyment that both Disney and Universal parks have made strides to eradicate them. Disneyland’s Fast Pass program and Walt Disney World’s Fast Pass+ online booking system allows guests to “skip the line” on certain attractions throughout the parks, with Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort’s for-purchase Express Pass doing the same. Universal Orlando has even begun enabling a “Virtual Line” on newer attractions, with its third theme park, Volcano Bay, going fully queue-less.
With all that time freed up to wander the parks — Touring Plans boasts saving users up to four hours in line each day — you may be wondering where to dine, drink or stay. Good thing there’s a data set for that, too: guest feedback. Test co-authors The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, which reprints annually and gathers hundreds of thousands of reader surveys, outlining trends among some of the resort’s most passionate guests.
What is a problem, i.e., something that’s going wrong, that might be able to be remedied or better understood by creating a computational or mathematical model for the real-world phenomenon? For example, “Customers find wait times for rides at Disney World to be unacceptable.”
On rare occasions, wait times will be deliberately inflated to steer guests to other areas of the park, but they’re usually wrong due to how they’re measured. If a theme park clocks someone’s wait in line from start to finish as forty minutes, the current wait for the attraction wouldn’t be forty minutes, despite that being posted. In actuality, that’s what the wait was if you got in line forty minute ago. Test’s system accounts for this with an “intraday adjustment”, giving Touring Plans times more accuracy in its “actual wait” times.
What is the background on this problem? What information must one understand to be able to understand the problem?
Never-ending lines are such a hindrance to theme park enjoyment that both Disney and Universal parks have made strides to eradicate them. Disneyland’s Fast Pass program and Walt Disney World’s Fast Pass+ online booking system allows guests to “skip the line” on certain attractions throughout the parks, with Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort’s for-purchase Express Pass doing the same. One should have knowledge of about the theme parks and their wait times.
What is the impact of the problem? Whom does it affect and how?
It effects the customer and visitor of the Park and it also effects the annual budget.
Disney queue time data is available on several websites with varying levels of sophistication, but I chose to use a very simple set of average wait times. It’s well known that park attendance is highly seasonal, so I chose to only look at data that matches the predicted crowd level for the days we will be there. We’re also going to focus this particular analysis on my family’s seven must-see attractions at The Magic Kingdom.
A version of this article appears in print on December 28, 2010, on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Disney Technology Tackles a Theme-Park Headache: Lines. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper
Disney Tackles Major Theme Park Problem NYTIMES