Thursday, March 16, 2006

Keep the guests moving!

The Imagineers of the 60’s attempted to keep park guests on the move with huge and innovative new ride systems. As we think about Re-Imagineering Disneyland it would be good to take a look back at this phenomenon, not just for nostalgia's sake, but with the idea of improving today’s guest experience.

Part of the old magic of Disneyland was that, as a park guest, you felt you were constantly being masterfully moved throughout the park. Old Tomorrowland was probably the best example of how designers were able to keep park guests on the move. With the Carousel of Progress, Peoplemover, Adventure through Inner Space, Subs, Skyway, Monorail and Circlevision Theater all running at the same time – it had more capacity than any other land in the park! Today Pirates, Haunted Mansion and Small World still showcase some of the best capacity conscious ride systems ever designed, and they continue to successfully cycle thousands of guests per hour, day after day, year after year.

Recently, new additions have been smaller capacity attractions, like Pooh and Buzz Lightyear. At the same time Disneyland continues to get more crowded and attraction queue lines get longer. Personally, as a guest, I would much rather wait in a large queue line if I can see that it is moving fast.

As new attractions are developed today, it would be great to see much more emphasis on developing clever new ways to move people through them on a grand scale. New innovations such as motion bases, speed accelerators and the like are terrific additions, but I think capacity should be the primary concern for overall park guest satisfaction.

Even a return to some of those classic tried and true high capacity ride systems would be appreciated by park guests today.


Anonymous said...

I agree (mostly) -- bring back the Tomorrowland transportation... but I'd seriously rather wait an extra 15 minutes in line for Pirates instead of being rushed through bumper-to-bumper for the sake of keeping the queue short. Obviously the ride operators never ride Pirates themselves when it's that busy, but they need to concentrate more on providing a good ride experience and less on providing a short wait. My back can't take much more of my boat's constant smacking into all of the other boats fore and aft!

Klark Kent 007 said...

The omnimovers were a brilliant concept (in use in the Haunted Mansion, Spaceship Earth, Peoplemover, and formerly in Horizons). These days the designers are more concerned with the "thrill" ride, of which the down side few can be thrilled at a time.

This is the same thinking that has turned Disney in the "tween extereme" debacle it is now.

Keep us moving, and we will be happy. Don't make us stand in line for 65 minutes to ride Peter Pan's Flight (which is only a 10 minute ride.

Anonymous said...

World on the move was I believe the concept of an older Tommorrowland. I have many a time thought about movement as in around the park at Disneyland.
One the plus note I am one who uses the Main St vehicles not only for their ambiance but as a mode of transportation. If I need to go to a locker or somewhere up by the entrance to meet friends I use Main St transportation. No it dosent take away from my trips into the shops to spend spend spend, that is a Disney experience within itself, I view the shopping as a resort experience, I am also a great user of the train also for the ambiance of being able to travel from land to land comfortably with great entertainment and scenery along the way.The monarail has the same appeal to get to the hotel and more shopping and restraunts.
We need more themed transportation methods to get the foot traffic off of the ground and more of the omnivour system vehicles to move the crowds along but only when applicable to the ride experience and the park.
The last time I visited the park I really missed the trams as I do everytime I visit the park and the Mickey and Friends structure I always wonder why a company as innovative and progressive at Disney cannot start the guest experience with some sort of themed transportation method from each parking aisle to the elevators of beyond! to the existing trams! Even if its only character or park themed moving ramps . The elevators are a joke with the suv strollers and assisted vehicles trying to get in the elevators not to mention they are ugly elevators very ugly!A good transportation system with themeing that builds the anticipation of going to the park would have people begging to park on the top floor.
The Monarail stopping at DCA with of course an entry/exit turnstiles would make more people enter DCA. Heck people would probably flock there and consider it another land not even realizing they alread paid for it, how about those who dont have it included in their day , they hop the monarail and see a station to get off at , look out get a peak , open their wallets pull out their credit card and pay for admission.

Anonymous said...

I love it mnmears the parking lot to DL entrance is an evil trip as we know it today! Yuk Yuk , untheamed , not efficient and smelly!
Disney come on show your muscle and inovativeness make the trip a prelude of things to come both in the park and for the future. Mass transit has evolved from the Monarail ( think SF bay area BART) show us the future of transportion, think green ( maybe a certain Frog as the narrator).
I know we will never see the Skyway as it was but there must be some inovative way to get guest from Tommorrowland to Fantasyland thats on the cutting edge, think mail air tubes that were used to transport documents from dept to inter dept, throw us into a tube, shrink us like Monsanto , air transport us and bingo we are in another land! As a guest I am really into the resorts transportation systems be it a horse and cart, a train , a monarail or a futuristic mode to me its all part of the experience. Any updates on making those flying saucers , really lift into the air and take off and land in another land? I trust that the creative minds that be will give the guest great new themed ways around the park, a new look at the future, expand on but not loose site that history is history and can not be rewritten for PC sake in the frontier, keep our fanstasys alive and be true to what hard facts America is made of. Preserve Walts fifth Freedom and GO FOR IT!

traci said...

My parents took me to disneyland every year, the last time I went there I was twenty, now 38 I can't even imagine how the place has changed, but the Disneyland I grew up with is how is should be, full of imagination, travel and adventures to places only Disney could find, and the prices too, think a family of 5 could get into the park for under $50.00? No way, maybe in the late 70's.

Anonymous said...

Yes! Since moving to Orlando, I've been able to visit a couple of the Disney parks (MGM Studios and the Magic Kingdom, Epcot's next), and what struck me the most was how small they felt. Some of this is no doubt because I'm much older than the last time I visited, but the sheer number of people coursing through the parks' streets definitely detracts from the magic. At times it feels much like a mall during Christmas season (all the stores doesn't help much, either). It seems the only innovation in moving people is happening in the parking lots, where they added a ferry to alleviate the stress put on the poor monorails.

Merlin Jones said...

One thing I loved about Walt Disney's vision of a World on the Move was that it embraced every posssible level of transoprtation: BELOW the surface (Submarine Voyage), ON the surface (Autopia, Motor Boat Cruise, Bobsleds), OVER the surface (Monorail, PeopleMover) and ABOVE the surface/in the sky (Skyway, Rocket Jets).

What an incredible parfait of differring travel experiences on what is essentially the same turf!

Now we have been completely reduced to on-and over-the-surface trips - - a way-dumbing-down of the whole concept (at least until the subs reopen).

We need to return to the skies and depths, both literally and metaphorically.

Will Robison said...

We have a peoplemover system here in San Francisco at the airport. I've always been tempted to just go to the airport so that I can ride it around and around and around... but the boys at Homeland Security might have a say in that matter ;)

The point is that the Classic DL experience to me had the skyway, the peoplemover, the train, the Main Street vehicles, etc... I didn't appreciate all of them at the time, but I'd sure appreciate them now. When Disney decided that only the opinions of teenagers mattered as to what stayed and what went at the themeparks they absolutely missed the entire point of Disneyland. Its a park for all ages - not just the ones with little kids and teenagers. There should be things there that appeal to everyone at some point in their life. That's how you get people to come back again and again and again - because the magic changes with them.

They need to bring back the transportation, but they also need to bring back a lot of the A, B, C, and D ticket items that filled out our day at Disneyland.

Roger Alford said...

I'd love to see the People Mover return to Disneyland. I hate that the empty track just hangs over Tomorrowland. We love the People Mover (TTA) at WDW -- it's a great way to kick back and relax for a bit while waiting on other rides. That's the beauty of the Skyway, the keel boats, and other smaller rides. They give people something else to do, rather than just stand around and wait.

The transportation system at WDW really disappoints me. When I went to WDW as a kid, Disney made all these promises of the future of transporation with the People Mover, Monorail, etc. Well, now the future is hear, and Disney didn't keep it's promises. Why no monorails to the other parks or the resorts? How about People Movers going between the resorts or from the TTC to MK? The buses are a pain and grossly inefficient. Don't worry, I know the answers to my questions. I hope now with new management we may get some improvement one day.

Anonymous said...

Imaineer in waiting:

I believe your $68,000,000 per track mile is way off.
The price - several years ago - was just over $1,000,000 per mile, exclusive of trains.

And if monorail trains cost $67,000,000 each, that's a business I want to get into!

MightySpork said...

I stumbled onto your blog and I have really enjoyed it. I have been a fan of Disneyland since I was little. it was always magic for me. Now that I am grown it feels like it has lost a lot of that magic for me. I feared it was because I was older, but reading your blog and remembering the way it used to me, in the distant corners of my memory tell me that it's not me, it's them. I also love to see the way it used to be, before I was born. Thanks, I will continue to read!

Casey said...

You ever read a book by E.L. Doctorow called _The Book of Daniel_? There's a great digression near the end about the people-managing systems at Disney.. it's a bit of a political rant, I suppose, but even as self-contained analysis it's pretty cool. Good blog. Carry on.

Anonymous said...

Capacity is Disneyland's Number 1 biggest problem - and not just from an aesthetic or guest experience standpoint. It’s a huge business problem for them. Here's why:

Disney is, after all, a publicly traded corporation and therefore Disneyland - like all other major parts of the company - must continue to increase profits year after year. And there are only 4 ways to do that: either get more customers, get more money per customer, cut expenses, or some combination of the above.

The problem is that Disneyland has been pretty much filled to its practical capacity much of the time, so without more capacity it can't get more customers easily. This leaves only getting more money per guest and cutting costs, both of which the previous couple of management regimes pursued with much zeal. Now I don't think there's a lot more Disney can do on those two: How much more can they raise ticket, food and souvenir prices - $100 a day and $5 for a Coke? And how much lower can they go with Cast Member salaries - like turnover and low-quality hires isn't a problem already? So for Disneyland to grow financially, they *absolutely* need to add capacity.

Of course, Disney’s California Adventure was supposed help out by adding more capacity. The lesson there is that extra capacity doesn’t help if nobody wants to use it. Personally, I’ve always thought that DCA should come free with Disneyland – every DL ticket should be a no-extra-charge Park Hopper. That way, guests will feel free to go across the Esplanade to DCA’s E-tickets when Disneyland fills up, freeing up room for more total visitors. (I’m guessing this didn’t happen because some exec had a wet dream about getting people to buy two full-priced tickets in a single day - one for DL and one for DCA. Yeah, right.)

Anyway, my point is that Disneyland can’t cost-cut their way to long-term financial growth – only by adding more capacity is that level of growth possible.

Rebecca said...

I agree that they need to keep people moving. I'm a mother of 2 toddlers and their patience wears very thin. We went to Magic Kingdom last summer and really the lines weren't too bad. I'm terrified of the crowds when we go to MGM's Star Wars weekend. I'm hoping that they have a good system in place so that people can meet the characters and such, but I doubt it. Mainly because we waited an hour and a half for the kids to meet the winnie the pooh characters. I doubt that it will be any better for Darth Vadar.

pariartspaul said...

Hey Dan,
I think you've got a good suggestion there that DCA ought to be included in the Disneyland admission price. Who knows? They might sell twice as many tickets to Disneyland if people knew they'd be getting both parks for the price of one. And they'd have the extra capacity to handle it. All they'd need is some good stuff in DCA to draw people into it.

Anonymous said...

You know, I loved the concept of "The Rocket Rods." I know it was flawed because of the budget cuts of the previous regime. And it wasn't as fun as it looked.
But, if they did it right, there could be a cool attraction there.

Maybe they can add a small show building with some cool futuristic effects, and It would definitely need banked turns. Another possibility would be to rip out the current track and construct two seperate tracks to address the capicity problem it had.

You gotta admit, when it was working, it sure was cool to look at while walking through tomorrowland. Tomorrowland needs another "E" ticket family-thrill ride.

Edward An said...

I'm not a big fan of standing in lines, especially long ones in theme parks that don't move.

However, if there's any place I'd stand in line, it would be Disneyland.

I think part of the appealing attraction for any attraction should be the line. You see and experience a lot going thru a line. And the longer you stand in one spot, the more you can appreciate the details. Indiana Jones Adventure, Star Tours, and Splash Mt., and A Bug's Life are a few rides where the experience begins at the start of the line.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree wholeheartedly with this post. The visual aspect of things that move is definitely much more interesting than static objects. And not only was Tomorrowland filled with transportation, Main Street had it's various antique vehicles, and Rivers of America was filled with all sorts of boats and canoes.

As for idea of moving people through attractions on ride systems, I had always thought that the ride-thru attraction was refined not only for capacity issues, but also because it presented an experience much superior to a theater show. In a theater, the best experience is only achieved for those in the optimal seats, in a ride-thru attraction, everyone gets to be put right in the center of the action.!!


Anonymous said...

I am posting this on the newest post since its at the top of the list. I love this site and have noticed that throughout the numerous thread there are cross messages. Most threads refer to comments / opionions that are inter related: theming, magic, vision . Posters are screaming for the Disney magic. It dosent matter if reconstrusting the weenie of the raised orbitors in Tommorrowland or the rebirth of the Tahitian Terrace or the usefulness of a closed plaza in the hub. It is apparent in they wish for once again tommorrowland to become the world on the move , and for the Golden Horseshoe to revert to its historic can can , slapstick value.Not a second park though its what guest wanted for so long they want it to be a meaningful unforgetable experience that only Disney can offer, not paramont, not universal and not Busch but signature Disney. Its so obvious that guest are looking for the Disney magic: not odv carts, and mdse sales opps, or for a simple C-D ticket attraction to promote the latest flick. Guest want substance something they will return to experience, something to tell their neighbors and friends , something on the cutting edge of technology , something to dream about, be in awe of and get the warm fuzzies over.

Anonymous said...

As for the previous comment about the $68 million/mile monorail price, I think the main cost is the right-of-way you mentioned. But if Disney already owns the property, the cost should be a bit less than that.

Granted, a million per mile seems too cheap, $68 mil/mile seems extravagent if there are limited or no right-of-way issues.
And given that, I'd like to see the monorail perform a nice loop all the way around DCA to show off that park to more guests. And yes, a station would be ideal.

Anonymous said...

I would never argue againist shorter lines, but in Disneyland's defensive, Disneyland can handle HUGE crowds and it not feel like there are HUGE crowds.

For example, I was at DL yesterday and the Timon parking lot was full, the parking garage was full (I parked in Minnie near the back), they had opened the overflow lot off of Disney Way AND there were cars all along the road from Timon to the parking garage.

However, INSIDE Disneyland, it didn't feel THAT crowded. I was with a 3 year old, so I stayed away from the BIG stuff like Space Mountain. But we never waited for more than 30 minutes for anything and we went on the Matterhorn (twice), Buzz Lightyear, Jungle Cruise, and Winnie the Pooh, among others.

Now with HALF that crowd Magic Mountain would have 1 hour+ lines on EVERYTHING!!

Anonymous said...

Monorails to DAK and Disney/MGM would help Disney and I'll tell you why. I know of three families off the top of my head, one of which is mine, that take their cars around for one reason: transportation to the other two parks SUCKS! It's horrible. And when a guest is in their car, a guest might leave property.
The busses are inefficient, cumbersome and none-to-fun. The monorail would keep more guests from turning on the ignition and risking the chance of spending their dollars away from the Flametree BBQ. The Monorail from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom is so much fun and so easy I do it gladly. If I could take it to the other two parks I guarantee Disney would have more of my money.

Which is ironic, since they pay me. . .

Epcot82 said...

The biggest irony to me has always been that Disney's Animal Kingdom uses "conservation" and love of the earth as two of its key themes ... but it's not connected by the pollution-free, efficient Monorail.

The conservation park is serviced instead by a massive asphalt parking lot filled with polluting, noisy, jam-causing cars.

Sadly amusing.

Cynthie Thomas said...

I agree with the irony about AK and transportation. However, I do not think the monorail is efficient, cost-effective, and pollution-free.

We DO need better transportation for all of the parks, and less pollution.

Last year at the 2005 World's Fair Expo in Japan, the theme of the show was minimal environmental impact. They had 22 million in attendance over 6 months. They used next-generation transportation - buses and rails with updated fuel options.

Disney could use these options, or design their own. The technology is out there.

My favorite is the Linimo - Japan's first Maglev train.

Read more about them at:

Anonymous said...


A Peoplemover system from the main gate area to the Mickey and Friends parking structure was in the plans when WESTCOT was being envisioned. As was a long monorail system that would connect more hotels. When WESTCOT was canned in favor of DCA, all of this transportation was cut also. The result? Loud, smelly trams, or a sidewalk.

Cynthie Thomas said...

At the last World's Fair Expo in Aichi, Japan, they had 22 million people attend in 6 months. They installed new buses and trains that were "more" energy efficient and moved masses through the Expo, and into/from the next major city.

I would call these the next generation Mono-rails and Buses. My favorite is Linimo, Japans first Maglev train.

I'm sure transporting mobs of people is always a huge concern of Disney. And though we would like it to be a fun and scenic pleasure ride, they do have to think of all of the costs. Manpower, maintenance, installation, long-term 20+ years of usage, depreciation, etc.

These new trains and buses still might be too expensive for consideration. Cost Engineering is most likely the glass ceiling for all of these wonderful ideas. If it weren't, we would be flying from DL to DCA. Parkhopping from FLA to CA??

Nick Zegarac said...

The Disney theme park experience (both in Anaheim and Florida) has gradually being dumbed down for the consumer age over the course of the last 30 years. Instead of being assimilated into the experience (which was Disney's hope and dream) today's ticket holders are merely being placated with a variety of expendable diversions.

While I am not opposed to change, per say (and in keeping with Walt's edict that Disneyland will never be completed) it does seem as though most of the 'upgrades' or revisions to the original plans have been downgrades to that quaint and very tangible beauty for a simpler time that was the hallmark of all the attractions that Disney himself touched.

Even those that came later (after Walt) - as say - the Main Street Electrical Parade have gradually been replaced with attractions that share none of Disney's zeal for establishing an ulterior reality and cultural permanence. Instead, Disneyland is slowly becoming a theme park of disposability.

One vaguely recalls, for example Michael Jackson's Captain EO or Journey into Imagination with that loveable - yet largely forgettable purple dragon, Figment at EPCOT.

In Tomorrowland, the upgrades have been particularly obvious and damaging to the overall appeal of that themed land. The Tomorrow of Disney's era was on the go - a tangible symbol of progress and a culture swiftly on the march.

In contrast, today's Tomorrowland is more obviously a postmodern epitaph vaguely retitled "whatever happened to tomorrow?" The land and our culture are no longer on the move, but mired in a stagnation of creative thought while thumbing through the daydreams of yesteryear and looking upon them in quaint - perhaps bittersweet - reflection.

The loss of the traditional People Mover and attractions like the nuclear sub ride (or 20,000 Leagues at WDW) have stripped much of the timeless allure and magic from the Magic Kingdom. Such 'rides' were elevated from the moniker of 'mere attraction' into a sort of main event for the patron.

One, for example, continues today to look forward to a trip through the Pirates of the Carribean or It's a Small World. Yet, even such stoic main stays as the Matterhorn have been revamped - not as a means of improving upon an old idea, but rather removing all essence of its originality.

The net result is that Disneyland today and in totem has increasingly gathered the flavor of just another Knotsberry Farm or Six Flags - this one inhabited by a mouse.

Disney's California Adventure park is painfully close to that abysmal amusement enterprise that Disney himself deplored and sought to eradicate with his "some place where parents and children could have fun together."

Hence, what is being lost in this revising of Disneyland is not merely an allocation of space for another fantasy ride but a reallocation of that space to just another glorified and temporary side show that will never become the main event.

Unknown said...

I never saw Disneyland with the sky buckets running, but after having been there a few times with a son whose two favorite attractions are on opposite ends of the park, I say BRING BACK THE SKY BUCKETS!! They have them at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and man are they great for getting across the park when your feet are dead tired. I look whistfully up at the now overgrown station near Pinocchio's restaurant and my feet silently scream to me "WHYYYY!!!"

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone else has mentioned it, so I just wanted to comment that the Buzz Lightyear Astro-Blasters loads ridiculously fast. The cars are constantly loading. I was amazed how quickly they could burn through a line. That was great.

But I'd also like to agree with the poster above who mentioned the experience of the lines being important. I remember as kid, when Star Tours was the newest ride, my siblings and I ran straight there when the park opened and were able to go straight in. We loved it, but were far more impressed when we went back and had to wait in the line first. (I sure miss the intergalactic travel posters that are now replaced by the gawd awful Energizer advertisements.)

Indiana Jones has an even better queue.

And back to Buzz Lightyear - I like how the line is crucial to the plot (with Buzz briefing you and telling you to rendezvous with him later, referring to the climax of the ride).

Anonymous said...

Well Disneyland is getting new Monorails, the return of the submarine Voyage (but as a nemo tie-in UGH!) and hopefully WDI will create a new form of Peoplemover. So I hope Disney realizes the problem.