July 28, 2014

Amusement Parks: What is the customer paying for?

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So, it’s the busy summer season and many of us will spend at least one day in the regional theme park(s) for fun-filled day of rides, games, snacks and family fun.

Then again, maybe not.

When we go to amusement parks, what is it that we want?  Well, some of the snacks are fun and those midway games are a bit of fun, too – but for most people the #1 reason to e at the park is to enjoy the rides.  To enjoy the rides, they need to be safe and the park needs to be clean.  So, that’s what we want:  to go on safe rides in a clean park.

There are stories every year of horrible accidents when a ride, or an operator, fails – but for this exercise I’ll assume that the rides are well maintained and safe.  I’ll also assume the park operators are keeping the place clean.  So, from that point of view, we are getting what we wanted.  When it comes to actually going on the rides, however, we’re mostly paying just to stand in a line.

Consider this:  According to a recent article at dailyfinance.com the average admission price is about $50/person.  Now, if you arrive at 9:30 in the morning and then spend approximately 1 hour walking from ride to ride and waiting in line, just to spend 30 seconds on the ride itself, take a one hour break for both lunch time and dinner, by the time the park closes at 9:30pm, you’ll have gone on 10 rides – and spent 5 minutes total on the rides.  So, for the 720 minutes in your 12-hour day, you spent 99.3% of your time doing something other than what you paid for.  Namely – walking and waiting.

Now, I won’t profess to be such a genius as to have the instantaneou remedy for this problem, but it’s pretty clear that the family amusement park might be the epitome of batch-and-queue processing bottlenecks.  I wonder how we might begin to address this problem, such that any visitor to the park could enjoy an effortless flow from one ride to the next?

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