Theme parks are notorious for having long lines and slow waits, yet day after day, month after month, people continue to pack the parks knowing full-well what they are in for. Disney has been considered the master of queue management by numerous sources.
Lines at Disney’s theme parks cannot be avoided so the “Imagineers” of the rides know they have to figure out ways to hold their guests attention and entertain them from start to finish. The ride actually starts during the wait. According to many reports, Imagineers at Disney spend as much time and use as much precision designing the queue experience as they do creating the ride itself.
In fact, they do not even call their lines queues, but instead consider the line a preview to the event or in some situations scene one of the act. They want you to feel like you are becoming part of the show as you transition through the line, like a bridge between reality and fantasy. The physical ride is then considered the crescendo.
Kristen Rooke, a former Walt Disney World Cast Member, writes in her blog about one of her favorite examples of Disney’s sensational queues. “I think one of the finest examples of this can be seen in the queue for The Seas with Nemo & Friends at the Living Seas pavilion at EPCOT. When you first enter the line, you’re in a beach scene with sand dunes and beach signs indicating the possibility of strong currents. As you progress through each room of the queue you realize that you’re transitioning under water! If you look up in one of the final rooms, you’ll notice there are boats above your head and you can see the top of the water glistening.
Now you’re ready to board your clam mobile and continue on your underwater journey with Nemo. So the next time you’re waiting in line, I recommend to look around and take in the details, you get to experience another one of Walt’s incredible before-his-time ideas that is still utilized today.” What if retailers and service providers used the Disney model? Creating a so-called fantasyland waiting line experience out of paper clips and sharpies in an office supply store could prove challenging, but what if you looked at your queue as an experience that flowed from start to finish in a fashion that was not only relevant to the customer, but engaged them every step of the way, positively building attitudes as they approach the point of transaction.
Start by setting expectations. Disney communicates estimated wait times and so should you. If your customers are not left worrying about how long they will be waiting, possible frustration and impatience will ease and they can take in or even enjoy the rest of your queue.
Next, create a waiting line experience that is relevant to your customers. Why do your customers come in to your store in the first place? Your in-line merchandising displays and digital signage should enhance the customer experience by delivering them more of what they came in for and even exceeding their expectations. Think how-to videos on your latest and greatest gadget or additional accessories that will complement major purchases. People tend to get more excited over the unexpected impulse purchases than the items they originally walked in to buy.
Your customers should leave with a smile. Have you ever noticed the people just stepping off one of the attractions at a theme park? Usually they are smiling and exhilarated. Aim for your customers to have similar feelings. Provide them with the best waiting line experience and service agent interaction that leaves them beyond content as they walk out the door. These people are much more likely to share their positive experiences with others. What are you going to do to create your magical queue experience?