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Theme parks aiming to erase waiting in line

Mar 22,2017
ORLANDO, Florida - At Universal Orlando Resort’s new “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon” ride, waiting in line has been replaced by lounging on couches and listening to a racy barber shop quartet sing until it’s time to enter the ride.

Universal is leading the theme-park charge into “virtual lines” that give visitors options for exploring a park or watching live entertainment instead of the tedium of looking at someone’s back as you inch forward step by step to the thrill ride.

“It’s kind of a bit of a science experiment for all of us,” said Jason Surrell, a Universal creative director said about the “queue-less” waits. “We’ve known for years that waiting in line is one of the biggest dis-satisfiers in our guests’ day.”

Universal is also trying the concept at another attraction. Later this year, when Universal opens its new Volcano Bay water park in Orlando, visitors will be given wristbands that will alert them when it’s their turn to ride.

“I think it represents the future of what we’re going to be doing in themed entertainment,” Surrell said. “I kind of joke that this is the first step on a journey that will eventually lead us to a generation that doesn’t even know about theme park lines. It will be ‘What do you mean, wait in a queue? What’s that, Grandpa?”’

“Everybody is trying to do this, working not only on the rides but how to get you on the rides,” said Dennis Speigel, who heads the theme park consulting firm, International Theme Park Services.

At the Jimmy Fallon attraction, which opens next month, visitors enter an area made to look like the lobby of a Rockefeller Center building. Instead of getting in line, they can meander through the lobby looking at photos and memorabilia of past and present “Tonight Show” hosts and watch TVs playing clips of hosts Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon. Up a flight of stairs are a lounge with couches, half a dozen consoles with touch screens displaying “Tonight Show” videos.

When they enter the building, visitors are given a card with one of the colors in the NBC peacock logo. When it’s their turn to go on the ride, lights in the waiting area will flash their color and the singers will announce the color. If they don’t want to wait in the building, they can return at a designated time.

Universal hasn’t released many details about how virtual lines will work at Volcano Bay, other than to say a watch-like device named “TapuTapu” will be given to visitors. AP


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