Is Faster better?


<font color=red><font color=navy>Rumor has it ...<
Jan 18, 2000
There's a new Jim Hill Article out that discusses Disney's contention that guests want faster & shorter rides and attractions - he cites the fact that WDW is considering cutting the Timekeeper attraction because it's too long @ 18 minutes. He goes on to discuss the rides & attractions at DCA - noting that nearly all of them fall into the short-attention-span category.

What all of this brings up is the debate over quick and dirty or something the imagineers actually have spent some time on. I think that it will be interesting over the next 2-3 years to see how DCA actually holds up with the quick and dirty mindset.

And strikes right to the heart of the matter:
Could it be the public knows something the Disney Co.'s current management does not? That a successful theme park isn't just a collection of carny rides but a mix of short and intense with long and painstakingly detailed?
Bravo!! Well said!!!

After all, the faster the guests get their thrill, the sooner Mickey gets a return on his investment.
A good quote is worth repeating!!!
I still feel that Hill's initial premise (and Disney's apparently )about Time Keeper is wrong. People think Time keeper is too long, because they have to stand in one spot and crane their neck for 18 minutes. PUT IN SEATS!:bounce: :p :bounce:
Excerpts from a recent post on the rumor board. I'm surprised this topic has got little debate. Maybe, because it was at the end of another thread?

When I read the article I was struck by this comment (faster is better). Seem to have big implications on future attraction designs.

I thought Disney attractions 101 was trying to tell a story, or trying to transport the participant to another place and time. Short ride times means little story development and little emersion in a new world. Gee, when I'm reading a good book or seeing a good movie I seldom hope it ends soon, so I can run off and read another book or see a different movie. Has the avearge run-time of books and movies gotten drastically shorter due to this change in attention span?

Yes, there is more risk in building longer running attractions. Bigger problems if they aren’t well received, but to me big rewards for the guest if they are entertaining. Also, a differentiating factor that makes the Disney experience different that the Six Flags experience.

From just a logistical stand-point why do I want to run from one 4 minute attraction line to another 4 minute attraction line. I’d rather be immersed in a longer story and not fighting thru exit gift shops, and past food carts. Hmmm, now I get it.

I find this whole 'faster is better' trend disturbing, yet it permeates our society. It shows in the way Disney built DCA - they plugged in the easiest, fastest rides they could & the ones that they actually tried to theme got the budget pulled on them (think Superstar Limo) so that they're not very entertaining. It also shows in the pacing of our movies, television shows, heck, even the commercials are shorter...

I think the KEY is the "More Thrilling", not the "shorter". If they could make a Rockin' Rollercoaster last 10-15 minutes, people would love it. Of course, the cost of that would be truely UGLYYYY.

I think that what poeple have lost is an innate fasination with animatronics. These may have been WAY cool back in the day of computers filling an entire room, but are kind of ho-hum when we all have computers on our desks. That technology doesn't thrill.

There was a time when the ony way to be immersed in a world of pirates was to get on PotC. Now, we can buy a computer game. With a big monitor and the right sound system, that can be pretty immersive. It can also last a hundred hours of play time, and be highly interactive.

As far as Timekeeper, it is one of the attractions I skipped on my trip to WDW. Why? I don't think 360 movies were ever all that entertaining. They make many people motion sick, and aren't all that more entertaining than a regular old movie. The audio-animatronics didn't seem like enough to change a movie into anything more than a movie.

So, don't blame lack of attention span. Blame lack of entertainment in animatronics and a 360 movie.

Also, I don't think Tiki Room was cut because that is what guests wanted. It was to increase capacity in what they hoped would be a crowd catcher.

Imagination's shortening was probably due to costs and a lack of ideas. I think the loading station was too long to hold the good ideas in that re-do.
Not data here it just seems that the length of books, TV shows, and movies are pretty much the same as when I was a kid. Feature movies about 2 hours, TV shows the same relative mix of 30 and 60 minute slots. Popular novels about the same length. The only thing that jumps to mind is the death of the mini-series. I don’t know if this is an attention span issue or just a too busy to commit to watching something for x nights in a row phenomenon? The advent of the 15 second commercial may be more recent, and maybe this is a sign, but I think people are still willing to be entertained for more than 5 minutes without getting bored.

Yes, animatronics are no longer cutting edge, but if they were putting in more rides like Splash Mountain, which has tons of animatronics, I would he a happy camper. Gee this also happened to be a pretty long ride. It can still can be done. Some part of the wow factor comes from being immersed in something for an extended period of time.

I agree that it is more of a budgeting philosophy. No longer willing to take the risks. What are some of the common complaints your hear about recent additions like RnR and Kali “nice ride, but way tooo short!”.

I've long had a philosophy about theming. Theming can make a good attraction great, but it can't make a bad attracion good.

You can't take an 18 minute movie on history, slap on some animatronics for theming, and get a good attraction. You can't theme up a short and unthrilling ride like Dinosaur, and get a good ride.

You can take a good ride like Space, Splash, BTMRR, ToT, Star Tours, and the like, add some theming, and get a great ride.

Or vice-versa, a good ride, without any theming (or themed as an amusement park which is tha same as no theming) like California Screaming, isn't going to be a great ride.

You need a good story, a good experinece, and good theming to have a great ride.
The arguement 'shorter vs. longer' seems too simplistic to me. I think the basic imagineering philosophy may very well be that ideal attraction times should be shorter rather than longer but in practice it is obvious that they will still do whatever is necessary to put an exciting offering on the table. For proof, go no further than WDW's most recent offering "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" as this show is easily 30-45 minutes in duration...And is a LOT of fun, by the way!:) :jester: :)
I do believe people's attention span is getting shorter and rides/shows have to be more creative to get people to come back often to see the same show/ride. Im sure from surveys/attendence that wdw knew timekeeper wasnt attracting good crowds so if they put something better in its place it could be a big improvement(lets hope they dont goof it up like(JIYI at epcot). I would also agree that i dont like the standing part,escpecially when its warm and you have whiny kids who are tired. If you have a long attraction you have to make it compelling so people want to stay and see the end so if people were walking out it apparently didnt keep their attention or cause alot of people to see it numerous times.
The problem with Hill's perspectives and those related to them is that they're often strictly coming from a personal point-of-view, which is irrelevant for evaluating something in the broader context. Aficionados may prefer a certain type of attraction, even to the extent that that preference represents enough additional revenue to substantiate the added cost of such attractions, if that level of enthusiasm was held by the general public. However, the general public doesn't generally share such refined tastes in theme park attractions, and so none of the theme parks can justify many of those types of attractions.
I thought the inference was that this "shorter is better" concept was the new WDI design philosophy, based on their perception of what interests the general public.

I still argue that it is not the length, but the quality that is the real determinant. Does their research really show that people are losing interest in longer attractions like Splash and ToT? I doubt it.

Think of all the people who jump right back in line to repeat their favorite rides (how many more would do so if no wait). Do people really prefer repeating a short ride like RnR rather than having a RnR experience that is twice as long. I haven’t yet heard anyone exiting Spider-man saying, boy that was just right I’m glad it wasn’t any longer. No, they rush around to check and see if they can quickly hop right back on. I don’t see any attention span issues here.

Making these longer rides (i.e. Splash…) a hit takes a big investment. A risk that I no longer see them wanting to make. Safer to build two smaller rides with the same budget, but I think we lose some of the WOW factor in the process.
Originally posted by larworth
Does their research really show that people are losing interest in longer attractions like Splash and ToT? I doubt it.
While I agree with you on that, you're not digging deep enough. The question is whether their research shows whether the additional cost inherent in a longer attraction (typically in terms of added attraction-capacity needed to maintain the desired throughput) is justified by the incremental amount of satisfaction that extra capacity represents. I'm sure everyone would love to drop their mortgage payment by $300 per month, but if they have to pay 3 points to refinance in order to get that drop in their monthly payment, few people would be willing to do so.
I wish I had the data to dig deeper. It would be interesting to know what metrics they use to quantify attraction satisfaction. All I have ever heard referenced are guest throughput counts and exit surveys.

I’m sure survey results for attractions like Timekeeper, COP, HOP have their share of “too long and not thrilling enough” comments. This might be interpreted as an attention span issue. However, do surveys of Splash and ToT say they are also too long and not thrilling enough? My guess no. It's the execution that counts.

My kids tend to think POC is a little on the boring side. However, they love the Haunted Mansion. I don’t think this difference has anything to do with attention span, just subject matter. Some of the subject matter in their longer attractions may be a little dated.

It seems that a large part of the Disney WOW perception is created by these large scale, longer run time attractions. The Pooh ride is very popular, but this isn’t the ride I hear most people recommend first to their friends.

I can see that it might be more practical to make two smaller scale rides. Each can target a different segment of the population. One large ride has to appeal to many people to get it’s return, and if they miss the mark they have a big albatross to deal with.

Maybe it leads to better overall guest satisfaction, probably to better returns. I just think some of the WOW factor will be lost if they go to this short burst experience model.


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