Reframing Problems: How Disney re-envisioned the “Waiting Queue” problem
For anyone who has been to amusement parks or huge retail outlets must have experienced the dreaded “waiting queue” where you stand one-behind the other, in anticipation of getting-in and going back to leading your everyday life. But when the weather isn’t in your favour or if the “waiting queue” just doesn’t seem to be moving at any pace, even the excitement of what’s to come slowly starts fading (and probably when customers decide to move out of the line).
For years, this was the problem with the Waiting Queues in Disney’s Theme Parks which happen to be billion-dollar business for Disney. Yes, I said the B-word, a “Billion” dollars. With thousands of Disney fans inside the Theme Park itself, many hundreds line up in queues for their fun rides. And if you think making die-hard Disney fans wait even for a minute is easy, then you are wrong (and obviously not a Disney fan either).
I got to experience this first-hand on my visit to the Walt Disney World in Orlando back in 2015…
This was my second visit to a Disney Theme Park, the first being the Disney Land in Hong Kong. However, you will have to excuse my little 8-year-old brain which remembers nothing about that DisneyLand apart from the awesome parade. For my 2015 Disney World trip to Orlando, I have enough memories (captured on my iPhone) and enough friends to help me recollect the experience.
While there is no doubt, Disney makes all the rides and restaurants/cafes inside their theme-park extremely interactive and exuberant. it is the queue outside these restaurants and rides that can be exasperating. And with bad weather, this could be soul sucking for some die-hard Disney fans. Disney must have thought about this extensively too and one of their solutions like increasing the number of rides could definitely do some good but won’t stop bigger crowds from showing up. Cutting down on number of people allowed in the park/ride queue won’t help much in their favour of building a amiable brand-name. However, increasing rides involve a lot of behind-the-scene work including maintenance and operations which could eat up a huge chunk of time and money. But this is not what Disney did. Not at least what I saw in my 2015 trip and yet it was a pleasant experience of what I remember from the top of my head.
How Disney re-visualized the “Waiting Queue” problem?
Disney approached their problem with a slightly different perspective. Instead of thinking about how they could reduce their problems with the choleric waiting queue they decided to step in to the shoes of their patrons and did the necessary. They simply made the “waiting queue” experience more pleasant and intercative. By bringing out their famous and most-loved Disney characters to entertain the people waiting in these queues, Disney did what they do best: entertain their audience. The only difference here being that they could see through this issue only when they chose a different perspective. But this is not all that they did. There is some obvious being the work that goes on too. I read this only years later in a news article about how employees sitting in a command-centre room monitor the waiting queues and to send-in required Disney characters needed to entertain the fans. It’s almost like a a theme-park sized stage performance. And it’s magical.
These are some of small interactive quirks I noticed while waiting in Disney World’s queue. First, for those waiting in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride queue there was a loudspeaker shouting on stupid jokes in Jack-Sparrow’s voice. Second, I noticed posters like the ‘WANTED’ poster above all over the place. These small quirks are difficult to ignore and are sure to instantly catch any Disney Fanatic’s attention.
So what does Disney teach us about solving problems? Well for once, if you are done thinking about your problems yourself, get a second or third person’s perspective. What might seem to be a problem on the surface for you might be a pin-point for someone else looking from above the surface. In Disney’s example, they stepped into their customer’s shoes and thought about what they could make more exciting for themselves (as Disney fans) and obviously the solution (entertaining the audience) came from within the company itself.
In a nutshell, reframe your problem so that it may sound exciting to solve, if not for you then, for someone else who works for you or someone who you trust.
Takeaway: Most problems need a reframing to understand them from a different perspective.