How do they figure out queue times?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by cptcliff, 28th Mar 2019.

  1. Alsty

    Alsty TowersStreet Member

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    I don't think the queue time needs to accurate, just in the right ballpark.

    What Alton Towers have is still infinitely better then what Pleasure Beach have, i.e. diddly-squat.
     
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  2. DistortAMG

    DistortAMG TowersStreet Member

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    It would be easier than a turnstyle, you would just need to lay it under the block paving.

    They can usually work out from the weight pressing on it, how many people are standing on them. While not perfect it does work pretty well. They are pretty clever actually, they can even differentiate between two children standing on it rather than a single adult, by the amount of pressure being applied at any given area.

    The question is though, is there a need for such a thing? Probably not. Not unless they wanted to keep the data for something else.

    I do wonder however, if they artificially adjust que times to try and help spread the crowds around the park on busy days. As people may be put off by a long que time and go somewhere else. Seeing as the times are on boards around the park.
     
    Last edited: 29th Mar 2019
  3. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    Disney have an electronic version of this where a NFC card is scanned at the start and end of the queue.
    The Bluetooth system at AT is similar but I don’t expect there are that many devices actually connecting and reporting.
     
  4. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    Again, every 15 minutes or something Disney ask a guest to take a card to work out how long they actually waited in standby queue (so FP merge automatically taken into account).
    Can still be overridden but it is an accurate time as to how long that guest actually waited.
     
  5. imanautie

    imanautie TowersStreet Member

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    If you have the at app and Bluetooth enabled your tracking it.
    Sizable numbers, more so now mobile fastrack is a thing.

    Sent from my Swift 2 Plus using Tapatalk
     
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  6. JoshC.

    JoshC. TowersStreet Member

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    *blows dust off account, chokes, regains breath, and begins*

    I can't speak for Alton Towers exactly, but I can speak for Thorpe Park, and at least give some insight in some of the things tried there to improve queue time accuracy.

    Thorpe Park used to have a dedicated person to update queue times. Ride operators would call this person up to update queue times (which was very much an educated guess - based off how long the queue was, number of Fastrack/RAP people waiting, previous experiences, what guests would say, etc). In theory, this should be done at least every 30mins for large rides (but more regularly if necessary). Of course, ride operators have a lot of other things to do, can't always see the whole queue, etc - giving an estimated queue time is rarely a top priority.

    So, simultaneously, the dedicated queue time person would be walking round the park, looking at queues and queue times, working with ride operators to ensure they were on the same page, and so forth. This takes some pressure off ride operators. And ultimately, this is a good thing as queue time person will be able to give consistent queue time readings.

    It's still not without its flaws; estimates could be wrong, rides can become less/more efficient (due to staff or guests slowing operations down), you can't have an eye on the queue all the time, etc.

    One way in which Thorpe tried to combat was trialled on Saw. Basically, the cameras which oversaw the queue line had some software installed (I believe it was called Headmapper or similar). As the name might suggest, this maps people's heads as they go through the queue, and can log how long they're in the queue for. This can also take into account Fastrack and RAP systems, and work them into it. This can then throw up a very accurate estimated queue time based on how many people are in the queue. You may have seen this actually; the queue time for Saw was advertised to the minute (eg 53 minutes) during these trials.

    In my experience, this technology was largely accurate, but has some problems:
    -It struggled with giving queue times when it was short (I don't think it ever displayed anything less than 10mins, but anything under 30mins could be iffy)
    -If it was over-ridden, it needed reseting manually, which could be a pain
    -It is expensive
    -It needs constant, full coverage of the queue line (ie: cameras have to be in a fixed position and can't move, and can't have other things to focus on). Most cameras at any theme park will be focused on safety critical areas (parts of ride areas and pathways), with queue lines only in view at the side / background.

    The last two points are the major killer - an expensive system which would require an expensive and complex initial outlay (installing queue line specific cameras everywhere).

    There are other options out there which do similar things (I believe Phantasialand and Efteling have such systems), but again, the cost and maintenance of them can be very high. You can get cheaper options (one which literally count people in and out), but these have many more flaws and likely more inaccurate. The app / Bluetooth thing Towers do is probably on the cheaper side I'd imagine, and obviously has many flaws - not many people having the app and having Bluetooth always activated, I believe it's not always reliable, etc.

    There are other routes that can be explored. One way which was explored at Thorpe a couple of years back involved a lot of background mathematical calculations (something which can be explained more if people are interested..) which gave staff queue time cards which said how long a queue would be at certain points. This countered the need for expensive, costly systems, whilst still maintaining a good degree of accuracy. Sadly, this never got the time or drive behind it to fully take off.

    Queue times for theme parks is a complicated thing (anyone in any way interested, Google 'queueing theory', and enjoy the complicated maths the follows..). There's so many variables to consider, many of which aren't understandable to your standard theme park worker. This is why most places will just guess or not advertise queue times at all - there's no way to perfect the science without some serious mathematical work. Only a few places can really justify the expense of accurate systems.

    One reason that parks, in general, aren't willing to throw money at fancy queueing systems is because, broadly speaking, guests don't care about how accurate a queue time is that much. If a queue time is advertised as 110mins and it's actually 120mins, they don't care *that* much, because it's still basically 2 hours, and that's the bigger issue. Parks more care (or rather, should more care) about making queue times shorter in the first place, than accurately displaying queue times - and that's where their money goes first.

    To go back to the original question - Towers do have access to Bluetooth technology which can try and give queue times, but this is rarely accurate and usually over-ridden. Staff guestimate based on previous experience and asking guests.


    Sorry, I've reallllllly rambled on here. If you've read through all this, you can probably tell this is something which I've dabbled in in the past and am passionate over. Always happy to give more info if people so desire...
     
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  7. RicketyCricket

    RicketyCricket TowersStreet Member

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    Thanks for sharing, how long ago was this out of interest?

    My one visit to Thorpe last season had by far the most inaccurate queue times I've ever experienced in any park - ever.

    Don't get me started on my 'deliberately overstate queue times to push Fastrack sales' theory ;)

    Alton generally seem to get it right in my experience, it's only every 5-10 mins off if anything.

    Europa Park seem to get it 100% spot on, but then it's easier to estimate with no Fastrack.
     
  8. imanautie

    imanautie TowersStreet Member

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    If you have any more nerdy info please share it!

    Sent from my Swift 2 Plus using Tapatalk
     
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  9. JoshC.

    JoshC. TowersStreet Member

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    A lot of the focus on queueing has been since just before Reserve n Ride was introduced. RnR came from the right place, but was imo too ambitious, and it was a bit too early in terms of technology.

    I imagine it's the same across the whole of the Merlin, but for Thorpe in particular, those who update the queue times are frustrated by Fastrack as much as people on here. It always makes things more difficult, and striking up a balance can be very difficult. It's also usually the case that less experienced staff are batching (since more experienced staff are usually operating rides), and on busy days batching properly can be one of the most difficult things to do.

    But yes, just to re-iterate: the parks do not inflate queue times to boost Fastrack sales. However, over-inflated queue times do lead to an increase in Fastrack sales, which is why it's important to get it right (because then people lose out on value for money, etc)

    Europa Park is, as always, one of the few exceptions to the rule. They always manage to get everything pretty much bang on. I don't know how they do their system, but they do massively benefit from consistently quick operations, guests not faffing and a lack of 'other' queues.


    There's not really any more theme park nerdy info I can share really. More just maths nerdy stuff, which I appreciate most people wouldn't be interested in unless they're that way inclined!
     
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    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #49
  10. rob666

    rob666 TowersStreet Member

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    What evidence do you have that parks do not overestimate queuetimes to boost queuejumper pass sales?
    On a few moderately busy days in the past, I have gone round just about every ride in less time than the queue time screens have suggested.
    By rights it should average out overall.
    I have little faith in any park not enhancing sales of such passes by slowing operations by reduced train service and estimating queues incorrectly.
    It isn't just Merlin that plays this game...Mingoland and BPB come to mind.
     
    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #50
  11. imanautie

    imanautie TowersStreet Member

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    I think it's more there's a slight peak in queue times then they just can't be bothered to update it

    Sent from my Swift 2 Plus using Tapatalk
     
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    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #51
  12. Alsty

    Alsty TowersStreet Member

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    The rides used to get phone calls periodically from operations control who would ask what the queue time is. They then used it to update the electronic signs (these were the red LED ones pre-RideTimes). Perhaps now that the station staff can update the queue times themselves, they no longer get the regular calls and it's just expected that they will do it frequently without being asked... in which case, depending on the diligence of the team, it might not get updated regularly at all?
     
    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #52
  13. cptcliff

    cptcliff TowersStreet Member

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    Isn’t it weird how such a simple topic has become real interesting. I bet when people are there at these resorts they’re not thinking about queue times (well, maybe how long they are!) and what goes into predicting.



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    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #53
  14. cptcliff

    cptcliff TowersStreet Member

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    @Alsty and @ihaveaspergers - thanks for the input on this by the way! Been interesting to read


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    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #54
  15. RoyJess

    RoyJess TowersStreet Member

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    I used to like the old fashion way, where in certain point of the queue-line you have signs saying that your wait is approx "X" minutes from this point. Obviously these signs do not take in consideration the number of cars running, and RAP, Fast Track merge.
     
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    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #55
  16. evilcod

    evilcod TowersStreet Member

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    Except that in the case of most rides the queue times are provided by ride operators and the trains in service decided by a combination of ops and techies.
    Tech services could not care less how many fasttracks get sold and ride ops usually want as few fastracks as possible because they are a pain so neither have an incentive to try to sell more.
     
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    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #56
  17. spinba11

    spinba11 TowersStreet Member

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    When I was last at Disney (start of the year) I didn’t see any of the red tags so they must of changed.
     
    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #57
  18. JoshC.

    JoshC. TowersStreet Member

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    There's no way I can provide any sort of evidence to say that would convince that (Merlin) parks do not overestimate queue times to boost Fastrack sales. It's something you'll just have to take at face value.

    I don't deny that there's situations where queue times are overstated and this does cause an increase in sales of Fastrack, but this isn't why they are overstated. As others have said, 99% of the time its an oversight by staff.

    Yes, this is always a nice thing, but requires a level of consistency which is rarely achieved. I don't see many parks use them any more (I haven't visited Europa - do they have them?). Either way, I imagine that for any park which isn't Europa, they'd rarely be consistently accurate.
     
    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #58
  19. Log Flume's Dennis

    Log Flume's Dennis TowersStreet Member

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    How has this thread gone on for three pages when that incredible Minecraft one where the guy who started it went full Adolf Hitler inside three posts got locked
     
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    Posted 1st Apr 2019
    #59
  20. imanautie

    imanautie TowersStreet Member

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    Erm no one has gone full hitler, that's why.
    Generally going full hitler is considered bad.

    Sent from my Swift 2 Plus using Tapatalk
     
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    Posted 1st Apr 2019
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