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Ways to Eliminate Lines at Theme Parks

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Theme parks are exciting and thrilling for people of all ages. From roller coasters and fried food to games and souvenirs, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. The main attraction for your guests, of course, are the rides. Over time, you might consider expanding your theme park or upgrading your older attractions to keep things new for visitors.

However, these upgrades can be costly and create cluttered construction sites around your park that diminish the experience for your guests. While you want to keep innovating for your visitors, minor changes can make a significant difference without breaking the bank. Eliminating theme park lines is a fundamental way to encourage guests to go on more rides and maximize their time at your park.

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Importance of Improving Theme Park Guest Experience

Enhancing your guests’ experience is a critical component of your theme park’s success. If your guests are unhappy with their time at your park, they’re likely not to return or they may tell their friends and family that they were disappointed with their experience.

Guest experience is the foundation for repeat visitors, increased revenue and overall customer satisfaction. Improving this factor within your theme park can boost your park’s reputation, increase your loyal customers and drive sales that allow you to maintain a competitive advantage over other parks.

Studies suggest that companies who value customer experience drive revenue higher by 4-8% and 84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience say they have increased their revenue.

However, customer expectations and demands can be difficult to meet because they are constantly evolving. While many guests come for the thrills and sensation of the rides, many other factors play an important role in ensuring guests have a positive experience, such as:

  • Merchandise
  • Food and beverages
  • Age-appropriate and family activities
  • Entertainment and performances
  • Customer services
  • Wait times
  • Cleanliness and sanitation
  • Shortcuts across the park
  • Available Wi-Fi and phone charging stations
  • Level of crowding

While customers will have opinions about the priority of these elements, crowding is likely at the top of the list for most. In fact, research shows that the severity of crowding in a theme park significantly correlates with the level of guest satisfaction because it often leads to long wait times for attractions.

Long lines, particularly those that are outdoors, can make guests feel irritable and even complain about the long wait times. While you may rely on your staff members to provide wait-time estimates to guests at the front of the line, these can be hard to predict due to unexpected issues, such as a mechanical or technological failure. Parents and families can also find it difficult to stay in long lines or crowds as young children tend to get cranky or overwhelmed in these situations.

The earlier research also indicated that crowding plays a role in the visitors’ overall experience and, therefore, their loyalty. This loyalty is what brings guests back to the theme park again and again. Additionally, guests may be more likely to spend money around the park when they are happy with their experience.

Though driving revenue and sales is important to any business, you don’t need to drastically change your theme park. Enhancing the customer’s experience by controlling crowding and wait times is a great first step to making your theme park stand out among the rest. To recap, improving your guests’ experience is important because it:

  • Attracts new customers by word-of-mouth
  • Enhances your reputation
  • Makes customers feel valued
  • Improves customer loyalty
  • Increases guest satisfaction

5 Ways to Improve Lines at Your Theme Park

Because crowding and waiting in lines can significantly impact your guests’ happiness and satisfaction, it’s critical to develop tactful ways of eliminating lines as much as possible and getting visitors through the attractions faster. Learn how to eliminate wait times with these five creative theme park line ideas.

Virtual Lines

While you can’t eliminate wait times altogether, you can certainly find ways to make the waiting less boring. Virtual lines, or virtual queues, allows guests to reserve a specific time to ride the attraction with their party. Guests need to be present in the park to ‘enter’ the virtual line on their smartphones and receive a return time for the same day, but it’s much easier than physically waiting in a long, snaking line.

With a virtual line, every attraction will have reservation windows throughout the day for an allotted amount of people, allowing you to control the number of guests in line. This way, when guests come to the attraction at their assigned ride time, they will only have to wait with those who also have the same reservation. Once the reservation window passes, guests can go on their smartphone app and request a new ride time for a different attraction.

This feature gives guests something to look forward to and allows them to find better ways to pass the time until their reservation, such as walking around the park, watching live entertainment, getting a bite to eat or going shopping.

Express Passes

Express passes, or fast passes, are physical or virtual tickets that allow guests to enter through expedited lines at a certain time. On busy summer days, paying for an express pass can be entirely worth it to visitors who want to reduce their time in line as much as possible. Some theme parks allow guests to purchase express passes for individual attractions and one-time use, while others offer a more expensive, but unlimited, express pass.

Express passes are different from virtual passes because they charge a fee per person, but they generally allow guests to get to the front of the line, depending on the ride’s standard queue wait time. Presenting or scanning these passes at the ride entrance brings guests through a shortcut line where they eventually get mixed in with the general waiting queue towards the front of the attraction. Express passes also usually come with other perks, such as free digital photos.

Single Rider

Single Rider lines simply aim to fill up all seats in rides and attractions rather than making parties wait until their entire group can be seated together. For example, if a party only has four members and a ride has a vehicle that seats five people, a single rider will fill that extra spot rather than letting the vehicle go on with an empty seat.

The single rider line is especially convenient because it makes the entire line move a bit faster as more people will fill the empty seats rather than wait for their entire party to get their own vehicle. While first-time theme park goers will likely want to experience the attractions with their friends and loved ones, the single rider feature is perfect for repeat visitors who are willing to fill the extra spot for another party if it means they can get on the ride faster.

Additionally, parties can stay together throughout the entire line all the way up until they’re seated for the ride. As long as guests don’t mind riding alone, single rider is an excellent way to move the lines along and fill up every vehicle. Sometimes, guests who wait in Single Rider lines can still ride together.

VIP Tours

VIP tours are a great way for guests to skip long lines throughout the entire park, but typically for a hefty price tag. However, the VIP tours often include many perks that make the expense worth it, including:

  • A personal tour guide
  • A guaranteed ride at every attraction in the park with short wait times
  • Behind-the-scenes experiences
  • Reserved seating at indoor shows
  • Discounts
  • Insider tips for future visits

Many first-time visitors to your theme park would be willing to pay the extra money to ensure they will have a great experience with their families. While your VIP tour guide doesn’t necessarily need to include all the benefits above, it’s a great package to offer and entice guests to avoid those long, winding lines.

Well-Designed Queue Lines

If longer waits are necessary for new rides or two-seater vehicles, the next best thing is to keep the line entertaining for guests. If they have to wait in a 45-minute line, it’s a good idea to get creative and entertain them with games, video clips, characters or live performances to make their waiting time feel shorter.

Put yourself in your guests’ shoes — if you were waiting through a long line, would you want to stare at blank walls or be able to touch interactive screens and explore more details about the attraction while you wait?

Effective line design can actually encourage positive emotions for guests waiting in line and create more anticipation for the attraction. This anticipation can be because of a psychological effect, in which unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time. If guests have various elements to interact with during their wait time, it will likely feel much shorter.

Adding Shade Structures to Queue Lines

If your theme park is still working to introduce more technologically advanced methods for shortening lines, in the meantime, you can focus on enhancing your traditional lines by providing more shade for your guests. It’s no secret that waiting in long lines can be boring, but it becomes miserable when excessive heat continues to bear down on guests for hours as they wait in line for their favorite ride.

Summer is a popular time for families to come to theme parks, but the weather can reach uncomfortable temperatures, even early in the morning. Not to mention, guests can easily become miserable and even get sunburned within a few minutes due to excessive exposure to UV rays, which can make them leave the park when they had planned to spend a full day there.

Adding shade structures in lines at your amusement park can increase the amount of time your guests are willing to wait in line for high-demand rides and allow them to pass the time more comfortably.

In addition to ride queues, you can also include shade structures over many different areas of the park, your:

  • Benches
  • Eating areas
  • Entrances
  • Outdoor shows
  • Rest areas
  • Merchandise and food carts

Shade structures provide sun protection, air circulation, weather resistance and are easy to install without taking up too much space.

Benefits of Amusement Park Shade Structures

While it’s easy to overlook features like site amenities, including shade structures, these elements of your theme park can make a drastic difference to your guests’ comfort. Let’s look at the significant benefits of adding shade structures in your amusement park.

Increase Guest Comfort

Though visitors will spend most of their day navigating the park and trying to experience every attraction, they will also spend some time waiting in line or sitting and relaxing while eating food. Adding shade structures to food courts, attraction lines and walkways keeps rest areas cool for guests.

Enhance the Waiting Experience

Shade structures can make the overall day more enjoyable for your guests because they allow visitors to stay in lines on very hot days in comfort and ride the attractions they came for. Some visitors may feel inclined to leave the park early or exit a long line before they’ve had the chance to ride an attraction due to the sweltering heat. When guests can cool off in the shade as they wait, they’ll likely have a much more positive experience and extend their visit.

Improve Your Amusement Park’s Aesthetic

Shade structures are an easy way to make your amusement park stand out and catch visitors’ eyes. You can add them in bright colors or unique shapes, such as a cantilever structure that are a perfect solution for lines and walkways in the park. You can also opt for a more traditional look, such as geometric shapes, and keep shade structures consistent throughout the park to help guests easily identify an area where they can relax.

Keep Equipment Looking Brand New

Protecting your tables, chairs and benches, from excessive heat and sun damage is important to maintaining its quality and upholding the aesthetic of your theme park. The color and material on your site amenities can fade or warp after long periods in the sun and diminish the visual experience for guests. Adding multi-sided shade structures over your amenities or playground will keep these areas cool and help meet guests’ standards for quality equipment.

Show Guests You Care About Their Experience

As with any park improvements, guests will take notice when you make subtle changes to enhance their experience. Your long-time guests will certainly notice the difference from previous visits once they experience your new shade structures and an even more relaxed, comfortable experience. Showing guests you value their comfort can also help boost your company’s reputation.

Increasing Visitor Numbers

With more places to sit and relax, visitors will likely lengthen their visits and come to your park even during the hottest of summer days, leading to increased attendance. When guests know there are plenty of areas to escape the heat and still enjoy themselves, they’ll want to keep coming back and even tell their family and friends to join them.

Get a Quote for Amusement Park Shade Structures From USA SHADE

Improving the guest experience at your theme park is essential to retaining customer loyalty and increasing profitability. One of the best ways to enhance customer satisfaction is by shortening long lines and making wait times more comfortable with effective, commercial shade structures. At USA SHADE, we provide quality custom shade structures for many amusement parks across the United States.

Our experts can bring your unique vision to life from the design phase all the way to installation. Our team is committed to helping businesses improve their outdoor spaces and provide functional and visual appeal. Request a quote today to learn how our commercial shade structures can keep guests coming back to your amusement park.