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Saturday, Apr. 19, 2014

Wait for it... wait for it...

Posted Friday, January 18, 2013, at 1:42 PM

"Please take a number. Your call will be answered in the order it was received."

It isn't as bad as a root canal or having the hot water run cold just as you are putting the conditioner into your hair, but it's no hot fudge sundae. Waiting. In line. On the phone. At the superstore. In school. Anywhere. No fun.

Unfortunately, the whole waiting experience is inevitable. It starts in preschool and is never-ending thereafter. Lines are a part of life -- and not just the ones creeping in around our eyes and forehead.

I often find myself face to face with the gauntlet of the checkout line. Because I am a (self-dubbed) super shopper, I've devised certain strategies to decrease waiting time. For instance, I give a visual once-over of the filled carts ahead of mine, mentally calculating the scan time involved with each customer. I'll take a cart filled with large packages of toilet paper and gallons of milk over one filled with tiny toiletries any day. When desperate, I've even sneaked through the express lane when my cart contained more than the allotted 20 items. I'm not merely a super shopper; I'm a daredevil.

I've got line savvy. I know how to avoid the wait, which is why I love going to national theme parks where waiting is a way of life.

Wait a minute. Did that make sense to anyone but me?

Cutting to the front of the line is frowned upon in normal society. If some daredevil super shopper were to try such a suicidal tactic at the grocery store, they'd run the risk of getting punched in the kidney by a guy with a 30-pound bag of dog food in his cart.

When you visit a mega theme park in Florida, however, feel free to throw the rules of normal society right out the castle window. You are, after all, visiting lands inhabited by thousands of princesses, a wizard named Harry and one very rich mouse. It is a magical place where cutting in line is not only encouraged, it is endorsed with a golden ticket of sorts. It is a line-beater's dream.

For our purposes, let's call this special pass the speedy-quick ticket (my own term; I don't want to be perceived as endorsing either the rodent or wizarding wizard).

A mechanized scan of your regular park ticket processes a speedy-quick ticket, which allows you to return to a popular ride at a set time and go right to the front of the line -- as long as you are willing to ignore the cold, bitter stares from hundreds of tired and impatient tourists who've been standing in the regular line for 93 long minutes, and counting.

The quick ticket operates under specific parameters. You can only use it on one attraction at a time, creating an inherent strategy with the waiting game. You want to get the most bang from your quick ticket buck, so which ride you access -- and when -- are key. Smart use of the speedy ticket involves assessment of ride desirability multiplied by current ride wait time. You might want to bring your calculator.

To complicate matters, some attractions are not eligible for speedy-quick ticket status. One of these is the restroom, so if you think you're going to need to ride the biffy, you better do so before entering the 70-minute line for the outer space anti-gravity coaster that beams you to the stars.

While a speedy-quick ticket decreases wait time for one ride at a time, it cannot eliminate waiting completely. The kingdom is magical, not perfect.

Waiting is part of the theme park package -- right up there with meeting and greeting characters and the proverbial princess breakfast. For their part, the parks are honest about wait times; each ride has a placard announcing the current length in minutes. Even kids under age 4 learn quickly that 90 minutes is a lot longer than an hour, and whining will most likely get them a turkey leg to chew on. Parental manipulation and math skills -- two unexpected perks of waiting in the Dumbo line.

The parks also do their best to make our wait less boring. They create long queues filled with interesting facts and information pertaining to each ride's storyline -- sort of like a beefed-up movie trailer. Some of the pre-game fluff is just as interesting as the ride itself, so in a psychological sense you aren't really waiting when you are waiting if it doesn't feel like you are waiting, correct?

Waiting. For the end of this column. You're nearly there. Unless you had a speedy-quick ticket -- in which case you were done five minutes ago. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Follow Slices of Life on Facebook and hit Like (please). Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" Email her at pertmn@qwest.net; or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.co....



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