Virtual queues, in which guests have appointed ride times instead of winding through a tedious line, won't work in current configurations "because there's literally not enough room to put people elsewhere in the park," says Brian Morrow, owner of B Morrow Productions, an Orlando-based design studio that works on projects for theme parks, resorts and museums.
"However, in the near future, I believe the parks will not be operating at their full capacity nor will there be demand for their full capacity," he says. "Then virtual queues may just be fine because you don't have as many people to deal with."
The large operators already are set up to do that, he says.
Current big-space queues, such as inside Fast & Furious: Supercharged at Universal Studios theme park, could be reconfigured to create staggered waiting rooms for virtual queuing. The setup for that park's Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, where folks can spread out over a wide, multiroom space, could be a model for others, he says.
But a chief concern will be ensuring that visitors feel safe, and that may mean the removal of newly discomforting elements, Morrow says. He thinks the pandemic could prompt the end of 3-D attractions and their reusable glasses. Going 2-D has been an industry trend anyway, he says.
"I think things like 3-D glasses are an easy grab where people are going to go 'Uhhhh, I'd rather not,' " Morrow says. "We know they've been clean. They've been clean all along ... but OK, great, I don't have to put it on my face, I'm ready to go."
Some attractions might be just as good without 3-D, Morrow says.
"You might find it not coming back."