Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to go to an amusement park to have some much needed fun that I should have had on my birthday – not much of a big deal quite honestly. Luckily, I live less than four miles away from the very popular Worlds of Fun located in Kansas City. This was my second trip there with the main difference being that I had a ticket that allowed me to go to the water park as well. After having a lot of fun (no pun intended) – which was overshadowed by the sickening wait times, I headed to the other side of the park to enjoy some rides. That is where I met this guy.
They rightfully named it the Octopus. You can probably guess why they did that. There are eight arms/legs – what are they anyway? That is not important for this case. What is more important is what followed an attempt to ride this monster. Being a software developer and an aspiring designer, I started thinking of ways I could improve this octopus if I owned it(haha!) or was given a slight chance. This post explains my thoughts.
The Main Problems
There are quite a few problems I noticed while waiting to ride the octopus on Saturday. Here are just a few that were obvious, in no particular order:
- The amount of time it takes to switch riders is almost double. This is one of the main reasons why I couldn’t help but think of an alternative – will explain below. That being said, there is a need to make the process more efficient.
- Secondly, the level of frustration – especially among the riders who have to wait twice as long before riding the octopus. Standing up for almost 30 minutes only to experience a ride for less than five minutes might not be the best feeling; at least not for me.
- The cost of operating the octopus, in the long run, can be high. This might be negligible but still, there could be a significant improvement in efficiency if some measures are taken in that regard. Since every time you have to start the machine to lower down the riders it takes electricity to start it up, I can see this being a substantial energy use.
The first main problem (bad design) as mentioned above is whenever a ride is completed by a given number of people, there is no way to unload all of them at once. The reason is that when one side of the ride is on the ground, the other side is suspended in the air – I actually had this happen to me. Once the first group – normally 3/4 of the riders is out, the operator must start the octopus (I do not know how much power it takes to start it) in order to lower down the rest of the group.
One Solution For All
My proposed solution to this problem is very simple. The best thing about it is that it will help either eliminate or reduce the other problems to insignificant levels.
Let us see if you have the same idea as me. First things first;
Redesign the octopus to allow all riders to get off the ride at once. Here is why this solution will eliminate the other issues associated with this ride:
- It will almost slash the wait time in half because all the riders will be able to get off at once. Nobody will be left dangling up in the air doing nothing. Secondly, as a result of wait times being slashed in half,
- More people will get to experience the thrill of the ride. With that happening, the levels of frustration will also be cut drastically; making the park more friendlier and entertaining for everybody. Think of the contrary for a second here: Imagine someone who has been on the octopus before – let us say it took almost 30 minutes to get through the gate and then an additional 10 minutes to actually board the ride – that is 40 minutes of frustration. How likely are they to encourage their friends at home to visit Worlds of Fun?
- Finally, since the operator has to only start the octopus once for each ride and another to stop the ride, the number of switches are reduced by half. As I mentioned earlier, it might not be a significant change in energy consumption but in the long run, it can quickly add up.
In life, there are things that are easier to dismiss as unimportant. There are also those that we deem worthy of our times and efforts. Perhaps the fun part is being able to find a middle ground. If you are able to improve something, do it. The most important part of design though, is being able to do it right – thinking of the end user. Ask yourself questions like how will they feel about this feature? How long are they willing and able to wait for something before they give up? Is this my best work? What can I change, remove, hide, displace?
Being able to answer questions like those can make a huge difference in design. One final thought, we have the freedom to think. That is powerful. We should do more of it.
And yeah, those tickets are not cheap; considering you have to pay for parking too! LOL. Now, go have fun redesigning your remote control – it is too crowded with too many buttons you rarely use.
Thank you and please let me know what you think. Got questions? Let me know through my contact page or comments section. Please also consider sharing this post with your friends. Be awesome!