Disney World – The Crowd Control Capital of the World

Walt Disney World Castle

In an age where information is given to us faster than we can absorb it, our patience has grown thin. When we want something, we want it instantly, and if we have to wait, we better be occupied. That’s why crowd control and line management improvement should be a top priority for any business that necessitates customer wait times.

With over 30 million visitors each year, Disney World has become a pioneer in this arena.  In the 1970s, their main method for minimizing customer wait times was adding more attractions. That quickly became expensive. Phase two of that same plan involved studying the habits of the people waiting. About two years ago, though, Disney World propelled itself into a new domain of crowd control execution.

The “Disney Operational Command Center,” built in 2010, is Disney’s crowd control hub, located directly underneath Cinderella’s castle pictured above. The center uses computer programs, video cameras, digital park maps, and specially trained personnel to identify congestion and deploy preventative actions accordingly.

Employees monitor screens that highlight different rides and attractions in the park using a three-color system (green, yellow & red) . Somewhat self-explanatory: if the attraction is highlighted in green, it’s good, if in red, it’s dead. If any of the attractions appear in yellow, the center alerts the appropriate staff, and Mickey Mouse may be sent out to entertain people waiting, or perhaps they’ll re-route a parade in the direction of the ride. What’s important is that they’re applying the control aspect of “crowd control.”

There are 40 different rides at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. At the end of 2010, the average visitor was only able to make time for 9 of those rides, but since the building of the Control Center, they have increased that number to 10. It may not sound like much, but this seemingly small change results in a 10% increase in ride revenue.

Disney also utilizes signs that tell waiting riders approximately how long their wait times will be. Sign frames and brackets for your posts and stanchions – although not as pretty – can be employed for the same purposes.

Snow White's Scary Adventures

While your business may be very different from a place like Disney World, one simple fact remains – crowd control and line management strategies, when executed properly, will not only keep your customers happy, but will keep them coming back.