Universal Studios Launches VIP Ticket Program: Benefits Include Line Cutting

Theme park waiting line

Universal Studios Theme Park in Hollywood recently introduced a VIP ticket that will give those who can afford it the ability to experience the theme park in a way most average Joes can not. The tickets sell for $299 and include, among many other things, the ability to skip ride lines with the help of an employee escort.

So, my question is this: is it fair? We live in a capitalistic society where there are opportunities present for everyone to grasp. Isn’t this VIP ticket simply a tasty fruit of success; one which each of us may enjoy if we pull up our boot straps and grab the American dream? I’ll leave the politics aside and let you ponder that privately. I would simply like to take a look at this news from a queueing perspective.

Waiting in line is a universally loathed experience. Kristine Gutierrez of Jezebel.com calls it “enraging.” And she says, “Seeing people skip the line because they’re rich, famous and/or Justin Bieber is even more enraging.”

Universal Studios VIP Line-Cutting privileges

We at LineLogic are in the business of improving the waiting experience, if not eliminating it completely, with effective queueing and crowd management systems. Our approach is one of equality. We promote systems that shorten and improve the wait for every customer.

Sure, there are plenty of ways to create a system that favors those who are willing to pay for it, but in doing that, you’re breaking the golden rule of queueing, first come, first served. Further, this practice alienates and upsets a larger group of customers in an effort to please a much smaller group. Why not develop a way to improve the experience for every customer?

Universal isn’t the first to try something like this. Back in September of 2012, Heathrow airport in London implemented “fast-track” passport checks for “high-value” passengers and other frequent flyers. And of course, we all know about the VIP services given at nightclubs. So, Universal is not stepping into untrodden territory, however, every time it happens, there’s an uproar from the public.

I suppose it’s better than leaving the people to find their own ways to shorten the wait. Just think of the news in June about wealthy Disney goers hiring disabled tour guides to get them to the front of ride lines. When left to their own devices, people often find cunning ways to get what they want. But who’s to say that people won’t still use these methods as opposed to purchasing VIP tickets?

The question remains, and it permeates throughout the long rides at theme parks: is it fair to give wealthy, privileged visitors the right to cut ahead of the rest of us?