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Amusement park analytics: increasing both fun and ROI

Will analytics help amusement park dinosaurs survive the 21st century? My recent experience at Disneyland in California makes me think that a lot of simple things can be done to improve revenue and user experience. Here are a few starting points:

  • Optimize lines. Maybe charge an extra $1 per minute for customers who need more than 5 minutes to purchase their ticket.
  • Offer online tickets and other solutions (not requiring human interactions) to avoid the multiple check point bottlenecks
  • Make tickets more difficult to counterfeit, assess and fight fraud due to fake tickets (these tickets seem relatively easy to forge)
  • Increase prices, find optimum prices (obviously it must be higher than current prices due to the extremely large and dense crowds visiting these parks, creating huge waiting lines and other hazards everywhere - from the few restaurants, bathrooms to attractions)
  • Make waiting time for each attraction available on your cell phone to optimize user experience (allowing users to choose attractions based on waiting times - I've seen attractions where fun lasts 5 minutes but waiting time is 2 hours, creating additional problems such as people who need to go to the bathroom after a 90 minute wait) 
  • More restaurants, and at least one upscale restaurant (my wife claims that the crowds visiting these parks are mostly poor people - a vast number of them obese and on a wheelchair - making it impossible to sell upscale food; yet I found the ticket price to be incredibly expensive, but I guess Walt Disney has found a way to extract tons of money out of dozens of millions of the poorest people - a remarkable marketing success)
  • Create more attractions where you join "on demand", something like a gondola or ferry wheel where you can enter when the gondola or ferry wheel is in action (in short, attractions that don't need to get stopped every 5 minutes to get everybody out, get new people in, but attractions where people are continuously entering and exiting: this of course reduce waiting times)
  • Recommend users when are the best days to visit to avoid huge crowds based on historical trends (and change ticket price accordingly - cheaper on "low days")

What do you think?

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Comment by Gerard Crispie on January 17, 2013 at 5:30pm

One could also incorporate queueing theory algorithms based on average wait time, and service time to predict how many (potential) customers 'balk' i.e. turn away from lines at entrance and rides, restaurants  to develop a more comprehensive model for profitability

Comment by Stephen Crosbie on January 11, 2013 at 12:41pm

Great call, Vincent. Here's a popular story I read a couple days ago--indicating that Disney is starting to gather data.

Comment by Cordell Wise on January 8, 2013 at 9:43am
They're not Disney apps. Just apps created by fans.
Comment by Vincent Granville on January 8, 2013 at 8:42am

@Cordel: I think they should do a better job at marketing these apps. Not sure how few people use them.

Comment by Cordell Wise on January 8, 2013 at 8:34am
Some of this exists. I used an app call Disney Wait Times at Disney World last week. It's all self reported - not analytically driven unfortunately. However I have seen seen seasonally adjusted optimized ride itineraries based on historical wait times.

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