New Disney Patent Details Dynamic Virtual Queues That Could Replace Lengthy Standby Lines

Disney patent applications often provide a glimpse into how the company may address what it sees as operational issues. A patent application published May 20, 2021 addresses something theme park visitors dread: waiting in a standby queue. “Dynamic Management of Virtual Queues” provides a possible solution.

The patent application clearly explains why Disney wants to reduce wait times.

One drawback of requiring guests to wait in a queue is the psychological and physical toll that a prolonged wait can impose on those guests. As common experience will testify, waiting in line is at best tedious and, depending on the length of the wait and environmental conditions, may be physically uncomfortable.

US Patent Application 2021/0150421

In addition to the psychological and physical concerns, long queues can also lead to guest dissatisfaction and loss of revenue for the theme park.

Another drawback of physical queues is that they prevent a guest waiting in line from enjoying other attractions available in the same venue, which may further frustrate the waiting guests while also depriving other attractions of traffic and potential revenue. Depending on the length of the queue, a physical queue can also have unpleasant consequences for other users of the venue, for example, by congesting public spaces and restricting freedom of movement for non-queueing users of the venue.

US Patent Application 2021/0150421

The dynamic virtual queue management system uses data from across the theme park to determine when a guest is able to return to an attraction. The scenario described in the patent application mentions a guest that has a virtual queue reservation for a second attraction. The guest would like to ride the first attraction before his return time. The dynamic queue management system would take all available data, including average wait times at the first attraction, and attempt to find a return time for the first attraction. This return time will not interfere with the guest’s virtual queue at the second attraction.


Fig. 1 shows how the system (100) works in a venue (150). The venue is the entire theme park. Four guests (116a-d) are shown, but the patent explains that the virtual queue management system could support up to “millions of guests” at a venue. Note that guest 116b has a mobile device (160b) such as a smartphone.

In this example, two attractions (152, 154) feed queue information to a computing platform (102). The software code (120) analyzes the attraction data. A Cast Member (118) at the first attraction (152) has a mobile device (160a) that can also supply data to the dynamic queue management system.

Two other park fixtures are also represented here: a digital display board (134) and a ticketing kiosk (158), such as a FastPass kiosk.


Fig. 2 provides a closer look at what happens on the guest’s mobile device. The computing platform (202) that runs the dynamic queue management software (220a) is able to “summon” the guest to enter the queue. The summons (234) can be shown as a notification on a display (266) with an accompanying audible alert (238). Note that the device’s RFID chip (278) is also used; that will allow the mobile device (272) to provide more precise location information, especially in queues. Dynamic queue management could be easily supported in the My Disney Experience mobile app via a software update.


The flowchart shown in Fig. 3 gives a simplified view of the process used by the dynamic queue management system. After the guest requests entrance to the first attraction’s queue (381), the system checks to see if the guest is enrolled in a second attraction’s queue (382). It is important to note that the software will verify a guest’s eligibility to join a queue.

Examples of eligibility criteria may include how many virtual queues a guest can be enrolled in concurrently, whether the guest or guests are authorized to be present in venue 150, whether the guest or guests meet size or age requirements for admission to first attraction 152, and/or the physical proximity of the guest or guests to first attraction 152, to name a few. The eligibility checks described above serve to ensure that no individual or group obtains fraudulent or otherwise inappropriate admission to any attraction in venue 150.

US Patent Application 2021/0150421

In step 383, the system determines the guests looking to experience the first attraction. Once a group is filled, the dynamic queue management software looks for a time slot that can accommodate the group (384) and determines a return window (385). The return window is calculated using average wait times of earlier guests. Finally, the system assigns the guests to the time (386) and sends a notification.


Few specifics are given regarding the expiration module (426). However, the expiration module would likely address two situations: guests who miss their virtual queue return time and extended attraction downtime. Park hours could also be used to expire and prevent additional guests from entering virtual queues near closing.

If implemented, the dynamic queue management system would fundamentally change the Disney Parks experience by eliminating the need for long standby wait times.

What do you think of Disney’s possible solution to long standby lines? Sound off in the comments.