OneThing7: taking stock of a queue

Just another regular Day at Heathrow

This is Britannia’s idea of a line.  “S’cuse me, mum.”  It’s enough to drive someone barmy.

At least at Disneyland there are smiling people directing you politely to turn your car here, go that way, pull in here, walk over there, stand in that line, pass through here, stand by the yellow line, wait for a complete stop.  And we’re not out of the parking lot yet!  All these Toy Story illustrated little stocks opening up for us to flow in.  Batched in a traveling stock, we Dream-Come-Truers idly chat until the rolling, air-conditioned stock comes to a full and complete stop. We flow out and join a thoroughly un-Disney stock of crowded, hot, confused people, ballooning in size by the minute – dropped there in large batches of buses and trams and yet served only via single-file conduit where bags are checked. But the checkers were a lot like the archetypal Brit sidekick buffoons – wouldn’t take much to walk right on by.

Disney clearly cannot bring itself to systematically check bags they way they park cars or move people.  Why would the Happiest Place on Earth ever need to worry about a bomber or a shooter?  There was a decidedly Heathrow aspect to this part of Disneyland.

Nevertheless, everywhere we went, stocks of various sizes accumulated: short queues – cotton candy, Mickey balloons that lit up, $3.50 bottles of water; medium queues – Tiki Room, Canoes, Adventure Island (reminded me of the conveyors in STELLA – one raft after another ferried a set amount of people from the mainland to the island at regular intervals); large queues – Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted House; and congested queues – the Matterhorn, Splash Mountain, Autopia, and Indiana Jones.  Of course, the whole facility is itself a giant stock – about 40,000 people a day flow in and out of the park.

Simple model for customer wait time

Just the other day, I lit upon this simple Vensim diagram in John Sterman’s Business Dynamics.  The fit to Disney queues is maybe not perfect, but one can sure begin to understand the forces that slowed “departure rates” – actually getting into a ride and leaving the queue – or sped them up. There were limits everywhere and that’s why it all seemed like a queue to perdition.

For a time, the Happiest Place on Earth didn’t seem to have an exit. Got us all feelin’ a bit like grockles, then.


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