Taking an idea from the established “pager system” long in use at restaurants across America, Disney has announced that Fantasyland’s new Dumbo ride will attempt to alleviate long lines and cranky children. The new system will provide guests with a restaurant-style blinking pager that will allow them to enjoy an air-conditioned, interactive playground rather than standing in long railing-lined queues.
The new system combines with the installation of a second circle of flying pachyderms in Disney’s attempt to make the notoriously popular ride more accessible to guests. Dumbo the Flying Elephant, an opening day attraction at Florida’s Magic Kingdom, has retained its popularity with wait times for the ride often reaching well past 30 minutes. Since that popularity is greatest with young children, that wait time, even if shorter than half an hour, can seem interminable. Disney is actively seeking to make guest’s experience more pleasant, adding a second Dumbo attraction and a new queue system to the new Fantasyland expansion.
The revised ride, scheduled to open in July, will require guests to “check in” as they arrive, with each guest providing the number in their party to receive a ticket-themed pager. Guests will then be able to enjoy an air-conditioned playground area inside the circus tent themed building between the Dumbo rides while they wait. In theory, the system will also allow the computers to ensure that the correct number of guests to fill the attraction are called, making the ride perform at maximum efficiency.
The new system is the first of its kind for a Walt Disney World attraction, and it reflects the rising focus on using technology to improve guest experiences. The enclosed, air-conditioned kids play area will provide a far easier wait for families, keeping children from becoming impatient and/or cranky in line for the attraction. Furthermore, the strongly Dumbo-themed playground reinforces the idea that the queue for any Disney ride should be the first “act” of the attraction and should be used to heighten the ride experience.
The new system for Dumbo follows in the footsteps of recent revisions to classic queues such as the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain. Throughout the renovations, Disney has emphasized interactivity and a focus on making the new waiting area an introduction to the attraction itself. The new Dumbo ride system offers both of those things, enhancing them with simple, but proven technology in an attempt to streamline the ride experience.
No details have been released about the capacity of the playground area or the time frame for guests to arrive at the loading area for the ride. Both of those aspects of the new system will no doubt be tested as the ride opens and cast members find out whether young guests will want to leave the Dumbo playground to ride the ride.
Disney has not made any comment about potential expansion of this pager system or its integration with the FastPass system, but if it proves effective, it seems unlikely that its use will be confined to one attraction. The pager system could be implemented in other rides as well as offering a potential alternative for Disney attractions with “single rider” lines, allowing cast members looking for specific sized groups to fill a ride vehicle to easily find the needed guests.
Take a look at Disney’s preview of the new playground:
What do you think? For what attraction would you prefer a pager to a queue?