Eddie –

In the interview you mentioned that walk-through attractions are very difficult to make successful. I was wondering why you think they are more difficult to make work than attractions with ride systems? What must happen to make a walk-through have that edgy appeal we all crave?

I can think of some examples of what I consider successful walk throughs are: 1) The Swiss Family Tree House 2) Haunted Houses…e.g. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal (especially when you have a lady friend clinging on you!) 3) The Sleeping Beauty Dioramma in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle 4) The Tom Sawyer Island caves 5) Arguably, even the Indiana Jones queue at Disneyland or the Dueling Dragons queue at Islands of Adventure could be considered a walk-through attraction before the actual ride.

However, it still seems like these attractions lack the draw that even a “C” ticket dark ride garners. Why is this? Do you think there are solutions or is that just the way it is?

I welcome your comments. – Nate

Nate
I happen to like walk-thrus, but they lack the predictible capacity and ability to pulse guests through. They’re great when you can do 150 an hour. At 1000 THRC they suck. If you need to have groups go through and tell a story in scenes, it is really difficult. You can end up with this choppy continuity of “walk a while, load, do a scene, then stop the action to walk some more.”

The pacing is kind of sluggish and the scenes end up having to be of equal or double length (with twice the guests) for the capacity to work.

In a single file linear, “Continous event” walk through (haunted maze) where it is important to just attack the guest in zones, then you need to create ways separate the guests as to not give away what is ahead. Do the gags intermittently.

The issue always is, if it is really entertaining, people will stop and watch and never move on. A good problem to have until you need more people to see it. So you end up with a “Nice B” Attractions that have a passive appeal like the Tree House. Cool, but the scenes quickly satisfy most guests, they move on.

The cool part of walk-thrus is the intimacy. The “one on one” aspect. The high capacity walk-thru that is my fave is the Haunted Mansion, as you never think of it that way. The ride sucks the guests out of the walk through.

My guess is that guests are more drawn to rides as they are physical experiences that are visceral as you move thru spaces. (no one like marketing walk-thrus) The Halloween walk thrus are perfect as they really violate your personal space and allow live talent to intrude on it. They deliver on your expectation and can be loaded with live talent for short run events.

You also have issues controlling point of view in WT’s. It can be hard to entertain the third person in the back row of a group and give them the big effects. You end up elevating the show to play above the guests just to make the sightlines work. Walk-thrus can be awesome, but there are more pitfalls. Let’s all “crack the code” and do the ultimate walk thru! At WDI I proposed a number of them related to either big theatrical finale scenes (monsters, dragons) that emptied the line. It can be done, it is more difficult.

Good Q Nate, thanks for the interest.

Eddie Sotto

CEO Sotto Inc.
Former Senior Vice President
Walt Disney Imagineering