Walt Disney World is the childhood milestone of many as the first “happiest day of their life” — or at least half of your day at the park is. During the other half of a trip to Walt Disney World, you’re waiting in line. But a new ride is demoing a system that Walt Disney World wants to try out in the future to evade the obnoxiously long wait times — allowing guests to make a reservation in advance to assure they will land a ride.
Toy Story’s Midway Mania will be the first ride to feature a schedule that only guests who have previously reserved a slot will be able to get on. That means Walt Disney World lovers will have to think ahead in order to catch a spot on their favorite ride — especially one as popular as Midway Mania that is associated with one of Walt Disney’s most popular movie franchises.
Dennis Speigel, the president of International Theme Park Services, told The Orlando Sentinel that Disney’s new strategy isn’t that surprising. Theme parks have long tried to combat what most visitors see as the biggest problem — spending hours waiting for a 15-minute ride.
“Everybody’s striving to improve the flow of the guest. That’s the wave of the future in our industry. It would not surprise me within the next 10 years that we see rides that are totally reserved.”
Walt Disney is only running their test for a few days this week, ending on Thursday in time for the big weekend crowd to approach the ride as they normally would. How Disney World saw customers react will dictate whether or not they continue with the updated approach to corralling the millions of people who visit the park each year. John Gener, founder of Leisure Business Advisors, says that Walt Disney may have found a cure for the the biggest issue theme parks confront.
“If visitors have to wait more than an hour, It almost doesn’t matter how good the ride is – they’re upset.”
On the other hand, Walt Disney risks angering guests who don’t snatch up reservations before they run out. This conundrum, says Gerner, is what the experiment would shed some light on — which of these trade-offs is better for business.
“You’re essentially making people reserve in advance and are taking away this really long line at the scene. The trade-off is that people willing to wait six hours don’t get to do so.”
Hardcore Walt Disney World fans sounded off on a Theme Park Insider article that announced the reservation-only change for Midway Madness, many of whom were negative about the prospects of Walt Disney World with on-the-dot appointments.
“It doesn’t matter how long the line is, if guests are willing to wait in it, then they should be able. If guests are not waiting in line at TSM, then they will be waiting in another line somewhere else or clogging the open space within the park. The theoretical elimination of standby lines essentially reduces the effective capacity of the park. I think this is a horrible idea.”
What do you think about Walt Disney World’s new policy?
[Image via Flickr]