With the increasing attendance across amusement and theme parks worldwide, it is not surprising that minimizing the impact of large crowds and long attraction waits on the guests' experience has received much focus by park operators in recent years. Although effective in the short term, attempting to eliminate or reduce wait times by simply increasing capacity cannot be sustained long term. A recent trend in amusement park design is to theme the queue with interactive elements to engage guests and occupy their wait time with the intent of making the wait queue part of the attraction itself. Much of the research on the topic of waiting in line focuses on improving the customers' experience while waiting by altering the wait queue. Very little research to date empirically tests the impact that queue characteristics have on a customers' perceived wait duration with the research pool void of any applications to an interactive amusement park queue. This dissertation study tested five hypotheses to determine how playing an interactive math skills game while waiting to ride a virtual roller coaster affected the participants' perceived wait duration. The first hypothesis tested if the participants' perceived wait time decreased as the mental workload of the game increased. The results did not find that this effect of mental workload on perception of time was significant. The second hypothesis tested whether participants who experience higher levels of game immersion estimate perceive wait time to be lower. The results indicated that this effect of game immersion on perceived wait time was significant. The third hypothesis tested whether participants' experience higher levels of game immersion when the perceived mental workload of the math skills game was higher. This effect of mental workload on immersion was found to be significant. Hypothesis 4 tested whether the participants' perceived wait time was indirectly effected by the mental workload of the math skills through immersion. This indirect effect was found to be significant and the results support complete mediation by immersion because the direct effect was not significant with the indirect effect in the model. Hypothesis tested whether the mediated effect of mental workload on time perception via game immersion was moderated by participants' levels of sensation seeking and extraversion. Individual differences of extraversion and sensation seeking were not found to moderate the indirect effect. This study demonstrates that research in the area of time perception can be applied to amusement and theme park queue design. Furthermore, it shows the importance of providing guests with an immersive queue experience to positively impact their perception of wait time, the number one complaint of many amusement and theme park visitors. Future research in this field should examine the individual elements of the queue environment to determine the optimal design to increase the level of immersion for park guests.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Human Factors Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Ledbetter, Jonathan, "Interactive Amusement Park Queues: Examining the Indirect Effect of Task Work Load on Guests' Perception of Wait Duration Through Task Immersion" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 4935.