Blog: Take queuing to the next level

When queuing at events, why wait to start the experience, says Ed Daly, managing director of digital arts collective Seeper.

Smiler: the experience starts in the queue
Smiler: the experience starts in the queue

Brits take a particular pride in their queueing etiquette. In shops, airports, bus stops, the pub. Cut in and you risk the (unspoken) wrath, the furrowed brows and tutting. That’s not to say we enjoy standing in queues – wasting half an hour of your life you’ll never get back shuffling along to get into a gig, or hours in line for 90 seconds on a rollercoaster.

Let me repeat that. An hour, maybe two, waiting for a 90-second experience. Anyone who has visited a theme park will be familiar with that. But the biggest sin is not the waiting time – if the end goal fulfils the promise, we can get over the wait. No, the biggest sin is that this captive audience is not being engaged and entertained – whether that’s a welcome diversion from the boredom, or extending the experience beyond the main attraction. Get this wrong and the indelible memory will be the hanging around and not the main event. 

Let me entertain you 

Some event organisers understand this. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, for example, includes rollers and spinning platforms to entertain visitors waiting for rides. As a distraction it works, if only as a purely analogue solution.

A digital solution however can be infinitely more engaging and entertaining. Recently, theme park operator Merlin Entertainments has been developing ‘queue line’ experiences for its attractions; technology that has succeeded in both entertaining the consumer and engaging them in a brand. 

When Alton Towers first launched the Smiler rollercoaster, Merlin commissioned a pre-ride experience to extend the concept and build excitement during what could be a long wait. Smiler disorientates and discombobulates its riders with its 14 loops, so the goal was to create an environment designed to disorient guests and enhance the ride. This was achieved with 3D sculptures featuring projection mapped optical illusions and sound design. The effect was to distort senses, extending and enhancing the Smiler experience for the park’s three million annual visitors.

Merlin has since installed a technology-led queue line experience for the new Ninjago ride at Legoland Denmark, which includes an interactive feature to entertain kids waiting for the ride. A large display features thousands of tiny motion-controlled Lego bricks which take the form of the guests, encouraging them to become digital Ninjas before entering the main attraction. This is also a great opportunity for guests to take and share pictures. The feature has been a hit with park goers and is now being rolled out across the Legoland parks in Malaysia, Germany and Windsor. 

Queuing is dead time

Attractions are just the start, though. Digital installations such as these can be used in any space where people congregate, and are perfect for events large and small. Queueing is dead time and, understandably, it can lead to people becoming agitated and annoyed, which will affect their overall enjoyment of the experience. So it’s time event organisers and brands woke up to this opportunity. There’s no longer any excuse to lose their audience in a queue, when it’s so easy win them over.

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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