Virtual Queues vs. FastPass
There are rumours of a new virtual queuing system being added to both Smugglers Run and Jungle Cruise attractions at Walt Disney World. The real question is why.
For Rise of the Resistance and Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, the reason for a virtual queue was to allow all guests access to the newest attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios. FastPass, as currently designed, would not allow the opportunity for non-resort guests to have the same level of access as those with resort reservations, due to the 60-day and 30-day rule (resort guests can book FastPass 60 days out, non-resort guests can book 30 days out).
With these other attractions, it's about space and optics more than equity. The fact these attractions have long lines that stretch out through a substantially large part of the park quite frankly looks bad (makes crowding look like a serious concern). Virtual queues allow that crowd to disperse throughout the park while they wait for their boarding group to be called and clears a crowded area for better guest traffic flow.
There is, however, an drawback with this that is important to remember. That is, crowds will gather at the entrances of the park within the geofencing used to control access to the virtual queue when it opens up. As a result, this will just move the crowds from the ride queue to the entrance of the park. It partially solves the issue but it creates others.
What is the solution? It's simple....restore the FastPass system.
Here is a system that is proven to work, already in place for every attraction, and will allow for guests to book a slot without the need for crowding at gates inside the geofence. In fact, that would solve many of the crowding issues since most guests would book a FastPass slot and if they wanted to ride again, it would be smaller standby queue.
There is much debate over FastPass effectiveness and the future of the system with the proposed Disney Genie app, but the fact of the matter is, if Disney wants to space out guests without having large crowds in the queues, the solution is to simply re-introduce FastPass (and maybe close standby lines on popular attractions during peak times of the day).
The virtual queue system is effective on new attractions to restrict operating capacity in the event of downtime (which is common with new attractions). The issue with lines is not downtime or capacity, it's a social distancing issue. Attraction queues were never never designed to space guests 6 feet apart and there isn't enough space to reasonably do that. Therefore, the best option is really to go with FastPass to space guest flow throughout the day.