Review: Absolute Efficiency theme park book

Absolute Efficiency book
4 star review

Absolute Efficiency is described as the first-ever book on theme park operational efficiency, and this will be the first book in a series.

Author Neil Wilson is well-versed in the industry, having held a number of operational roles at parks in both the UK and abroad.

The international influence – often American – is made much stronger in part due to the editing of veteran Disney expert Bob McLain.

So expect mentions of ‘strollers’, ‘lines’ and ‘sidewalks’. But while the US influence is strong, there is much consideration on European and Asian parks.

Coming in at 260 pages of what is small text, the book is somewhat heavy-going due to its high level of detail and in-depth discussion of each issue raised.

A guide for professionals

The introduction might leave the reader thinking that the book is going to state the obvious, but it soon becomes clear that it is a detailed guide intended for park professionals – a guide to park operations.

That’s not to say its discussion points will not appeal to theme park enthusiasts, who are acknowledged for their “eccentric fascination” with queues.

Wilson effectively argues that the length of queues is critical to park operations and, crucially, guest satisfaction levels.

The book draws on a wide range of sources and gives countless examples, incidents, successes and failures from various companies and countries.

We also get numerous figures, for example who knew that Disney’s visitors spend about 15% of their time shopping?

Absolute Efficiency also provides historical context, discussing the Great Exhibition’s visitor management and outlines the concept of “prohibition”, which was seen as far back as the 1920s.


Wilson shows that he is well-versed in his subject matter, discussing detail from Thirteen’s “wet tyre slip” to issues of managing a workforce over 12-hour-plus days usually seen at Disney but also in the UK during the Halloween period.

There’s also an excellent point about Disney being hard to benchmark against due to how heavily shopping, parades, characters and its distinct Fast Pass system play a part in guest satisfaction at Disney parks.

Although the book is heavy-going, each section is nicely introduced with what will be discussed in the words ahead. This makes it easier to break up reading sittings.

In the book’s conclusion, there’s an acknowledgement of the long read and an insightful personal sign-off from the author at the end.

With its compiled detail of operations unlike anything else before, Absolute Efficiency and its expected follow-ups are certainly required reading for any theme park manager.

RideRater is giving away its editorial copy of Absolute Efficiency on Instagram. Simply follow our page and leave a comment on this post, and we will pick a winner at random after 2 January.