Using the Queue Line

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I hate standing in line. Hate. It.

I imagine most people do. If I have to stand in line for an hour or more to get into a haunt, I'm already going to be less satisfied by whatever is in there than I would be if I could just walk right in.
In my experience as a haunt patron, the queue is not being used very well at all. I have heard of haunts where this is not the case, but I have not been to them.

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I personally think most haunt lines are unnecessary. Especially at pro haunts. Just give people timed tickets. It's not difficult to find a company that will let people buy tickets for specific times the haunt designates. At least then the haunt managers could control how many people are waiting to get in at any time. The patrons would be free to wander around participating in whatever activities and upsells the haunt offers. Heck, give patrons buzzers or take their cell numbers. I may have to wait to get into Outback Steakhouse, but at least I don't have to stand in line like a sheep awaiting slaughter.

I know a home haunt may not find those ideas reasonable. Even pro haunts that used time tickets may end up with at least a short line. If you simply cannot eliminate the line, why not at least use it?

For example - if you bring people into the first room to do the rules, why not move that part into the queue? It's one less bottleneck inside your haunt. I can think of a number of ways to do this. The most low-tech is simply to have staff telling the people the rules as they are standing in line. Sure, it's boring, but it will get the message out. Instead of regular staff, why not a character? Again, it will get the rules across. An imaginative haunt owner/manager/director might even use two or three actors doing a skit that tells people in line the rules through their interactions.

How about a more high tech approach? A 3-axis skull or other animated prop could do the job. "Radios" with MP3 players or Bluetooth speakers inside could broadcast them. Monitors could play a looping video.

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At least then, the queue is being used for SOMETHING!

Going a step farther, maybe the rules would be at the very end of the queue, and the rest would be used for exposition. Let's say you have a line and at the end there is a sign or actor or video doing the rules. Prior to that, maybe those Bluetooth enabled "radios" are playing "newscasts" about the maniac on the loose, or the riot at the asylum, or whatever your story is. This adds some interest to the line and gives people some entertainment. Of course, this can be done with videos, framed news clippings, etc. Essentially, you are moving the haunt into the queue.

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Hey! Why not add some queue entertainment? Now, I know this is not exactly a new idea. I know people who are "queue line actors". That said, it's not often done, or done well. Even having some fire dances or something for people to watch is better than nothing. If there are actual actors interacting with the patrons, laying the groundwork for the story, and generally making the line a fun experience, the haunt really starts there, right?

Of course, not everyone has the space or resources (human or monetary) to make a line into a full fledged show. However, this seems to be one area most haunts could really improve with more imagination and not much more in resources.

What do you do to reduce the lines or to make them more interesting? What is the best thing you have ever seen done?

Happy Haunting!