In the Waiting Line

Between airports and Black Friday bargain hunting, November is a month for waiting in line, so we took a look at the science behind creating a better line.

Lay It On The Line

People deal better with lines when they know exactly how long the line really is - a reason why theme parks announce wait times. Even then, though, there's a limit: "The average guest is happy to wait only 22 minutes per attraction, "says Davis Younger, author of the book Theme Park Design.

Party Line

Younger says theme park line designers have three proven methods of filling your time: "Receding" (when guests are immersed in the world of the ride - think of the spooky visuals while waiting to enter a haunted house); "Spectatoship" (where you're up close to a ride and can see the riders' excitment); and "Previewing" (dropping hints of what to expect on the ride to build intrigue and keep people interested.

Ass On The Line

Lines with no consequences for cutting drive people nuts, so having someone to oversee them is vital. Without this, more than 50% of line-cutters go unchallegend, according to psychlogist Stanley Milgram. Why? We worry the resultingdispute will cost more than time than letting a jerk cut to the front.

Line Of Least Resistance

We humans always prefer occupied time to unoccupied time. For instance, a study at one Houston airport, per the New York Times, saw customers complain about the eight-minute wait for their luggage. The solution? The gate was moved an eight-minute walk further away. Complaints disappereard.

End of the Line

"Some theme parks have implemented 'virtual queueing' systems to avoid lines where possible." says Younger. "These include things like Disney's FASTPASS+, which allows you to pre-book riding times, and pager-based queues, like a restaurant.