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New Disney Patent Details Dynamic Virtual Queues That Could Replace Lengthy Standby Lines

Disney patent applications often provide a glimpse into how the company may address what it sees as operational issues. A patent application published May 20, 2021 addresses something theme park visitors dread: waiting in a standby queue. “Dynamic Management of Virtual Queues” provides a possible solution.

The patent application clearly explains why Disney wants to reduce wait times.

One drawback of requiring guests to wait in a queue is the psychological and physical toll that a prolonged wait can impose on those guests. As common experience will testify, waiting in line is at best tedious and, depending on the length of the wait and environmental conditions, may be physically uncomfortable.

US Patent Application 2021/0150421

In addition to the psychological and physical concerns, long queues can also lead to guest dissatisfaction and loss of revenue for the theme park.

Another drawback of physical queues is that they prevent a guest waiting in line from enjoying other attractions available in the same venue, which may further frustrate the waiting guests while also depriving other attractions of traffic and potential revenue. Depending on the length of the queue, a physical queue can also have unpleasant consequences for other users of the venue, for example, by congesting public spaces and restricting freedom of movement for non-queueing users of the venue.

US Patent Application 2021/0150421

The dynamic virtual queue management system uses data from across the theme park to determine when a guest is able to return to an attraction. The scenario described in the patent application mentions a guest that has a virtual queue reservation for a second attraction. The guest would like to ride the first attraction before his return time. The dynamic queue management system would take all available data, including average wait times at the first attraction, and attempt to find a return time for the first attraction. This return time will not interfere with the guest’s virtual queue at the second attraction.

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Fig. 1 shows how the system (100) works in a venue (150). The venue is the entire theme park. Four guests (116a-d) are shown, but the patent explains that the virtual queue management system could support up to “millions of guests” at a venue. Note that guest 116b has a mobile device (160b) such as a smartphone.

In this example, two attractions (152, 154) feed queue information to a computing platform (102). The software code (120) analyzes the attraction data. A Cast Member (118) at the first attraction (152) has a mobile device (160a) that can also supply data to the dynamic queue management system.

Two other park fixtures are also represented here: a digital display board (134) and a ticketing kiosk (158), such as a FastPass kiosk.

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Fig. 2 provides a closer look at what happens on the guest’s mobile device. The computing platform (202) that runs the dynamic queue management software (220a) is able to “summon” the guest to enter the queue. The summons (234) can be shown as a notification on a display (266) with an accompanying audible alert (238). Note that the device’s RFID chip (278) is also used; that will allow the mobile device (272) to provide more precise location information, especially in queues. Dynamic queue management could be easily supported in the My Disney Experience mobile app via a software update.

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The flowchart shown in Fig. 3 gives a simplified view of the process used by the dynamic queue management system. After the guest requests entrance to the first attraction’s queue (381), the system checks to see if the guest is enrolled in a second attraction’s queue (382). It is important to note that the software will verify a guest’s eligibility to join a queue.

Examples of eligibility criteria may include how many virtual queues a guest can be enrolled in concurrently, whether the guest or guests are authorized to be present in venue 150, whether the guest or guests meet size or age requirements for admission to first attraction 152, and/or the physical proximity of the guest or guests to first attraction 152, to name a few. The eligibility checks described above serve to ensure that no individual or group obtains fraudulent or otherwise inappropriate admission to any attraction in venue 150.

US Patent Application 2021/0150421

In step 383, the system determines the guests looking to experience the first attraction. Once a group is filled, the dynamic queue management software looks for a time slot that can accommodate the group (384) and determines a return window (385). The return window is calculated using average wait times of earlier guests. Finally, the system assigns the guests to the time (386) and sends a notification.

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Few specifics are given regarding the expiration module (426). However, the expiration module would likely address two situations: guests who miss their virtual queue return time and extended attraction downtime. Park hours could also be used to expire and prevent additional guests from entering virtual queues near closing.

If implemented, the dynamic queue management system would fundamentally change the Disney Parks experience by eliminating the need for long standby wait times.

What do you think of Disney’s possible solution to long standby lines? Sound off in the comments.

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Emily
Emily
1 month ago

Does this potentially suggest Disney are moving away from fast pass and towards different methods like universal who use virtual queue already? I am hopeful not, fast pass seems to work so well and with Covid restrictions easing seems possible to return and so I am unsure as to why they would remove something that works well and is well loved!

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

A fancy fastpass. So long as you can still go to other rides and attractions in the park, ok. Went last week to magic kingdom and was able to get thru all but 3 rides, we didn’t want to go on them, before we left about 5:00.

melinda
melinda
1 month ago

This sounds fantastic! I hate standing in a queue for more than 20 or 25 minutes. I feel like I’m wasting valuable time that I could be shopping or eating or riding other rides.

Karen Porter
Karen Porter
1 month ago

I’m interested and it sounds like it would be very helpful, but I’ll have to wait until we see it actually brought to reality and how it’s implemented before making any final judgements on it. If it’s anything like Rise’s boarding groups then I’m out. I only want that stress for one attraction, not all of them thanks.

Charles
Charles
1 month ago

Sounds good, but troubling that disney feels this is patent worthy. 6 flags already does this with some vip tickets… where you don’t skip the line, you just wait in line virtually. Just because the device changes to a user’s phone, and is extended to everyone does not make this new.

In fact virtual lines have been perfected this, this past year. I worry Disney will cause some parks to not implement such a feature… even if already working on it, out of the expense of Disney bringing litigation.

Nathan
Nathan
1 month ago

It will most definitely change the theme park experience. How much better would it be to take the hours spent in theme park lines to enjoy many other aspects of the park’s experiences. Shows, restaurants, or even just enjoying the little details that they put into every part of the parks. I personally can’t wait.

Steve e Hogg
Steve e Hogg
1 month ago

I like it as long as you can be in multiple virtual queues. Anything is better than standing on queue. I also worry about capacity. ROR virtual queue is all filled up in seconds

Doug
Doug
1 month ago

It sounds nice. But we have never been able to ride Rise of the Resistance yet. I have clicked like a madman trying to get on that virtual line right before and just as it becomes available. Every time i get “not open” and then “full” notices. So i’m very skeptical of this right now

John Ford Jr
John Ford Jr
1 month ago

Too complicated. Disney, like any business, first and foremost wants to make things more profitable for them, not improve the guest experience. I do not want a mobile app dictating what attractions I can and cannot experience, particularly with Disney’s abysmal IT track record and experience with the Rise of the Resistance virtual que. What happened to spontaneity and a relaxing vacation experience discounting from the demands of the modern world? If you really want to be a slave to a mobile app enjoy but this not for me. I am sure that I am not alone and that Disney… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

What would this do to crowds in general at a park… Have you been to Disneyland on a day when the park is at capacity? You can hardly move at times. Now take all the people parked in lines and let them roam free? Omg. I don’t like waiting in line either but I wonder if they really have the space for this.

Susan
Susan
29 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

That’s a very good point!! The stores, restaurants, etc., will all be a lot more congested if no one is waiting in a line.

Bob Garrett
Bob Garrett
27 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

The solution to your comment is restricting compacity at a ticket premium with park pass reservations. Disney has been waiting to do this for years, and finally have the chance to roll the program out.

Brian Hester
Brian Hester
1 month ago

So combined this with the Genie app. and you’re basically getting an alternative to FastPass where an automated system manages traffic flow and wait times at attractions. No need for separate FastPass/Standby lines. Interesting.

Alan Griffin
Alan Griffin
1 month ago

I don’t like virtual que ‘s because like ROR attractions will become unavailable in seconds to minutes and for those that don’t have a attraction coming up in near future they have to do something, meaning walk around without purpose and still a crowd. I don’t want to walk around without hope or a purpose.

Alan

John
John
1 month ago

How are groups, such as a family handled?

Bernie Skoch
Bernie Skoch
1 month ago

This makes perfect sense. No one–not even Disney–benefits from having thousands of guests waiting in multiple hot, muggy queues all around the park. The crying kids, unruly people, and clogged walkways aren’t good for anything.

mashy
mashy
30 days ago

Sounds like this will just make standby lines worse and end up making everything that’s usually walk on with a higher wait .
Stuff like teacups will end up being longer wait since they want to balance it out.

After 3 trips without fast pass, I never want to see it return because standby lines moved so fast especially when an attraction was at regular/ full capacity

Christine Barry
Christine Barry
30 days ago

To get in the queue at stsr wars we had to be in the park at 5am. Will it be the same?

Natalie
Natalie
30 days ago

Now you can join the queue at 7am from your resort. Or you can join the afternoon queue from inside the park (if you have a park reservation and aren’t park hopping). So that has already changed.

Kat
Kat
30 days ago

Personally, I think it’s a great idea providing Disney IT can actually make it work correctly. Unfortunately, that’s where I have my doubts considering how they blundered everything else when it comes to technology I don’t have a lot of faith in this working very well.

Indy
Indy
30 days ago

Everyone seems to forget the obvious. Where do people go if they are not in a queue? Take everyone waiting in a queue and drop them into the already crowded pathways of the park and imagine the gridlock. Park capacity depends on people in queues. Get rid of FP, make it so you can be in one virtual queue, and a standby line, and it might work out

Sharon Wahlen
Sharon Wahlen
30 days ago

What about people that don’t have smart phones?

Patrick
Patrick
30 days ago

This effort has definitely taken some time to get working. I’m sure Disney had some difficulty with making sure that their patent doesn’t actually infringe on Universal’s virtual queue systems.
I’d guess that dispite what we’ve seen in the parks for Rise and Disneyland max passes, they’ve been tweaking the system quite a bit in the backend. Now they have something filled, they can start to build out infrastructure and get any other vendors they may need involved in the process. Or at least they can once they have the patent secured.