Editorial: How paid queue jumps can spoil a day

UploadMost of you who visit theme parks will be familiar with it in its various guises – Fastrack, Speedy Pass, Q-Bot, etc – but paid forms of queue jumping only serve to make everyone else’s time in queues longer.

The parks that have queue jumping schemes may claim that they are there for those who want a special treat, but if that were correct then the process could be executed in a better way.

Limiting Fastracks to 100 per day, and making them available for pre-booking up to a year in advance would ensure that parents could book for their children’s birthdays etc.

Overselling

The fact is that queue jumping tickets at Thorpe Park, and to a lesser extent Alton Towers, are greatly oversold, and with reports of the latter beginning to step up their selling of Fastracks at ride entrances, it’s clear where Merlin are heading with their approach.

The more queue jumping that takes place, the slower the queue is for everyone else, and with some already pretty dismal loading times on rides such as Grand National at Blackpool, you can imagine people’s frustrations when they finally make it to the air gate, the train rolls up and someone has already been pre-loaded into their seat.

Alton Towers are holding a 25% off Fastrack sale throughout this month. September is a time when we see queues at the park ease off – and it’s one of the first rules of business to discount something that won’t sell much at the moment.

Immoral

Questions have also been raised over the accuracy of the live queue times reported around the park – which if proven to be justified, is quite concerning if advertised wait times are in excess of reality.

Unfortunately the sale of queue jumping is a great source of income to many parks which they are unlikely to simply give up. Indeed, we can likely expect an escalation of the in-your-face selling, as well as prices, for a while to come.

I’m sure many of you will already know much of what I have written. Most enthusiasts know when to visit parks on the quieter days and get more form their day, but parks make a killing on the less educated casuals paying for queue jumps, whilst increasing the wait time for everyone else in the park.

The Fastrack (or equivalent) is largely a privilege of the rich and uninitiated – but most of the groups that buy them will not be aware how detrimental they are to everyone else’s day.

What are your experiences of paid queue jumping? Do you buy it? Can it be justified? You can leave your comments in the form below.

4 comments

  1. Chris Hill says:

    It’s very annoying although I’m grateful it’s not as bad as some of the fast track systems in the states.

    I’ve used it a couple of times and found it very handy but one particular ride at Alton Towers (I think it was R.I.T.A,)I could see the disgust on some people’s faces, as I was put in front of them. It made me feel very uncomfortable.

    I think Disney have the better idea, with a first come, first served, time stamped ticket.

    As for the Q Bot – i’ve not used it but my understanding is that you get you know queue advantage by it, as it takes the real time queue times into account and merely works out your time to ride, as if you were in the queue. I think is a good method but of course, not all would agree!

    Great debate topic btw :)

    Chris.

  2. Clinton says:

    I’m with Chris C on this. The only fasttrack I’ve ever bought in my 15 years of visiting parks is for the scare mazes – and for the same reason.

    The other queue jumping which REALLY annoys me is groups who head down the single rider queue then get put on together.

  3. Chris C says:

    I only ever buy fast tracks for scare mazes and that’s only a logistical decision as it allows more time for rides in the dark and it’s a rare occurrence. For rides I’m not fussed as at Towers I’ve ridden lots before and enjoy having a chat with friends in the queue. Obviously I also avoid the big parks during peak times. Even for new parks, I’m put off by the price, and would just rather visit at the right time of the season. The price is also what makes it somewhat exclusive rather than the quantity available. They won’t limit the number sold, unless they made it even more expensive.

  4. Sam Gregory says:

    I do think Fasttrack is absolutely outrageous. It’s a disgusting way to treat guests who have already had to remortgage their bloody house just to get in to the place…