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My thoughts on theme park ticket purchase debacles – DePaoli on DeParks

by Jeff DePaoli

If you’re a Southern California theme park fan, chances are that you’ve been disappointed at some point lately if you’ve tried to purchase tickets to a theme park or event. With over a year of closure, the pent-up demand is extreme and it’s crashing the ticketing sites. This isn’t just one company’s headache; it’s pretty much across the board. But why is it so difficult to ensure that the ticketing process isn’t a lengthy nightmare for thousands of fans wanting to give their money to their favorite parks?

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Full disclosure: I have no knowledge about I.T. (information technology) or how these ticketing systems work. My questions and suggestions are simply coming as a fan and not as someone with advanced knowledge for this particular subject matter.

If you aren’t aware, when tickets became available for Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood and beyond, in order to purchase a ticket, you typically had to wait in extremely long virtual queues online. Then, the sites often crashed, causing them to be down for hours. I understand how thousands of people trying to connect to one website at the same time for the same purpose can overwhelm the system. The thing I don’t understand is how some of the biggest companies in the world can’t prepare better for this issue when they know to expect it. Is there truly not enough bandwidth on the internet to resolve the issue if desired? That’s a genuine question, if any of you happen to know the answer.

As far as I can tell, there are only two possibilities: Either the internet that exists in 2021 honestly can’t handle such large amounts of people all trying to do the same thing at the same time, or it doesn’t financially make sense for companies to invest in upgrades for a minimal number of days of potential site crashes.

My guess is the latter. I’m sure the corporations could afford to upgrade systems in order to stop this from happening over and over again, but it’s probably easier and cheaper for them to deal with some unhappy customers every once in a while. The fact is that if a customer is passionately angry about the ticketing problems, they’re also a die-hard fan who would go through a lot to get into the parks. I’m sure it’s a fairly minimal number of people who have a bad ticket buying experience and don’t eventually come back around when the traffic slows down.

Between special events, re-openings, conventions and more, this problem of trying to purchase tickets or make reservations without hiccups does seem to be happening more often. What can be done about it? I have an idea and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it: When we get into these virtual queues, your placement in the queue seems to be chosen at random. I say that after talking to people who have joined the queue at the same time, as well as folks who have opened multiple browsers at the same time. Even when logging in at the same time, your opportunity to buy can be hours apart from each other.

I propose that if a guest is interested in buying a ticket or making a reservation, there should be a website you can visit for a specified period of time (let’s say a week) to sign up. This would basically be like any landing page you’ve ever seen where you enter an email address. They should make it very clear that no matter when you sign up, it won’t change your likelihood of getting first dibs. For the weeklong period when you can sign up, everybody is on an equal playing field. In order to ensure there is no favoritism, this should probably be organized using an outside company. For those wondering about people using multiple email addresses, it’s no different than people opening multiple browsers on multiple devices, and therefore being in multiple virtual queues.

After signing up, you would receive an email stating that you’re on the waiting list. Once that signup week has passed, everybody who signed up receives a specific date and time to visit the site and make their desired purchase or reservation with an individualized link or code. This seems equally as fair as waiting in a randomized virtual queue, but visitors wouldn’t be wasting hours of their time sitting on the site, therefore preventing site crashes.

I like this idea and I believe it’s a more respectful guest experience as well as less stressful for the companies. When there’s technology, there’s always the chance of something going wrong. But I do believe there are ways to make the chance of site crashes and day-long waits less likely and less necessary.

What do you think? Do you like this idea or would you find it to be equally frustrating? If you have an idea of your own to resolve this issue, leave a comment and let me know.

If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.


Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.

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