Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Adam Is Wrong

For those of you who haven't been paying attention to the heated debate taking place in the `comments' section, Adam Bee would like you to believe that paying for rides individually at amusement parks is a good idea. The alternative, which Matt and I have proposed (along with the help of the inimitable John Schaefer) is that you make a it possible for people to schedule seats on rides for specific times. This effectively eliminates lines. If you miss your seat, there is a standby line so people who don't want to bother with scheduling can still get on. I won't bother going through the numerous reasons why this idea is better than most current systems (where you pay a flat fee at the gate and have to wait in line all day) and better than Adam's plan (where you pay by ride and the price varies depending on demand). I'll simply state that Disney uses our system, almost exactly.

Adam, if I've misrepresented you, please let me know. Mostly, I'm just louder.



Brian said...

I didn't realize that there was more than one amusement park situation. I thought the assignment was to identify a problem and then propose a resolution.

So everyone in the class had the same problem? Interesting I guess.

And Seth, Disney already uses the kiosk idea? When was that implemented?


AdamB said...

Not so fast!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but your solution was to require people to schedule all their rides when they first enter the park.

My team actually thought of that possibility and dismissed it as being too rigid--people go to have fun, not to rush from ride to ride according to some preset schedule.

My team's solution was for each rider to have a card with cash loaded on it, which is debited every time you get on a ride. The prices are adjusted to keep lines low.

The system Disney uses is quite different in that you have to actually visit the ride to get the Fastpass, and then they schedule the time you're supposed to return. You don't get to pick and there's nothing to keep two Fastpass times from conflicting with each other.

Matt Grosso said...

Look, our ride allowed for both scheduled riding and spontaneous decisions. While all patrons were asked to create a schedule it was not expected that everyone would make it to every time slot. To fill the slots that were missed we had the stand-by line. This is a crucial element to our design. the stand-by lines allow people to be spontaneous and hold the illusion that they can ride as many rides as possible in the day.

AdamB said...

Whoops, I guess Disney only lets you have one Fastpass at a time. Bogus!

The central problem is rationing a scarce, fixed supply of rides. Long queues are one way of doing that--you allocate valuable time to wait in line.

But it's inefficient. Luckily, there's already an allocation mechanism guaranteed to work. It's called the "free market".

AdamB said...

I don't remember the details at all, but how is the stand-by line going to get used up if all the slots are filled up?

If all the slots aren't filled up, then either 1) the rides aren't running at full capacity or 2) a lot of people are missing their scheduled rides, so they have to spend time waiting.

Both are inefficient outcomes. Our system runs all the rides at full capacity all the time, acheiving Pareto optimality. No one can be made better off without making someone else worse off.

Our solution stretches the limits of what can be considered a Fastpass system, though.

Seth Hopper said...

Heh, I'm glad we could reopen this debate.

Disney implemented the FASTPASS in 1999, which is odd, since we worked on the problem in 2004. Of course, I didn't know about it until 2007. They must have some sort of time machine.

Who cares if you have to go to the ride or not to make your reservations? The general idea is the same. You can reserve a spot and there is a standby line in case you don't show up. Disney is doing this for the same reasons we pointed out: They'll make more money if you aren't standing in line. This is a prediction we made through research into expenses of setting up the system and numerical modeling, which I'm sure Disney did. They wouldn't be using this system if it weren't making them money.

I really like the fact that Adam and Shaharyar Khalid (for those of you keeping score at home, he's the sexy one), two economists, came up with the idea of using the free market would be the best idea.

Lastly, I just want to point out the fact that we're getting lost in the details here. The important fact, that we must not overlook is that Adam is wrong and Matt and I are right. :-)

Brian said...

This was fun. Matt, make another post so I can try to incite another debate.

Love this blogging stuff.

On-On, Cheers, etc...


AdamB said...

Jawad Habib was also on our team. He's the one everyone likes, if you're confused.