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Village Roadshow app is broken


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I am a season pass holder. When the fast track system was first brought out, I purchased that on top of a season pass and had a blast - no problem paying extra to skip the queue. Visited movie world again today, fully intending to purchase fast track again because it's worth it. Find out that fast track has been completely nerfed - $99 just to skip the queue on 7 attractions just once. And keep in mind - one of those coasters wasn't even running today, and the other two (Road Runner Coaster + justice League 3D) are crap. Come on. 

So, I decided to see if I could fast track individual rides (as it had been just until recently). No, that is gone as well. On top of that, the app's virtual queue is broken. Joined the virtual queue for one of the rides and was told I could board - in FIVE hours. But visiting the ride itself obviously revealed that the wait was 50 minutes. Useless virtual queue, useless fast track, and sadly, useless season pass. So, to summarise, this park is ripping off its customers. 

There are not enough rides at MW to justify the cost of entry, especially since wait times are absurdly long and the app which is supposed to reduce congestion via virtual queueing doesn't even function. More than that, the Village Roadshow app doesn't even function properly.. Irritatingly, it doesn't tell you wait times for rides until it detects you are at the park. 

Gee, wouldn't it be great if the customers could tell beforehand if the park was going to be at capacity, so they could spare themselves the drive? It seems that the app is deliberately designed to create confusion for guests so that the park can entrap them into paying for their garbage, overpriced and useless Fast Track. Customer service at MW is also poor - when inquiring over the phone whether FT could be purchased in the park I was told no, that it had to be pre-booked. When I visited the park (that same day!), lo and behold, you can purchase FT at the gate, not that you would want to since it's such a waste of money. 

I cannot stress enough how broken the app is and how poorly it is being utilised. Since I could clearly see that Village Roadshow was trying to scam me, I walked out of the park without riding a single attraction. 

I'm a UX designer myself and the thing that gets me the most (aside from the money grubbing of VR) is how poor the user flow for the app is. You have to sift through different tiers of navigation just to find what you want. The copywriting is vague and just creates more confusion. The confusion exists for staff as well, as you may ask them questions about the app, virtual queueing and expiration of your queue tokens, and they can't answer you at all. 

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Nice rant.

unlimited fast track isnt available in peak season, which it is right now, for very obvious reasons. One front of line per ride is more than fair. 
 

The high cost of daily entry is to push people onto annual passes - which is better for both the consumer and Village. If you think $150 for unlimited access to 4 parks for a year is a rip off you have no ability to reason or calculate cost vs value. 
 

virtual queue times are often longer than the physical wait times. It’s about spacing out people, and whilst 5 hours is a crazy period and probably reflects an error, it is the busiest time of the year at present, summer holidays, weekend, open to all after lockdown last weekend, was the final day of DC superhero’s and late trade, and a beautiful 30 degree day - all adding up to a likely top 3 busiest day of the season. 
 

no one tried to scam you, in the slightest. 

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You're quite right in most respects here.  The UX does indeed suck.  The pricing on it is indeed inflexible.  The sad fact is Village is hardly what any of us would call a 'digital-first' (or second, or third) organisation, and this is ably reflected in things like their web presence over the last two decades.  These guys will always be chasing the train, but talking like they are driving it.  Their mates up the road are no better either, and that's a large part of why it doesn't get any better.

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Thanks Webslave, you are right, the UX on the app is terrible and the lack of competition/innovation is what is holding them back..
To you Brad I would say that even if I agreed with you that these 4 parks are worth visiting on an unlimited or even one-off basis (debatable  -they are low/average quality by international standards - few rides and poor theming), the major irritation is the lack of communication re: these peak/off-peak price fluctuations. Again, these things can be built into the app and communicated to users which would improve the experience. 

As to not letting users know wait times prior to arrival in the park (because the app locks these details until location detection), that is a dark UX pattern. It would have been simple enough to provide that incredibly useful functionality for users (which would actually help the park ease congestion) but it has been cordoned off. This is surely to manipulate customers. With virtual queuing often not working at all (check trip advisor recently - lots of complaints about this app, its performance and overall UX), it's such a lousy digital product.

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52 minutes ago, cthulhus_lawyer said:

To you Brad I would say that even if I agreed with you that these 4 parks are worth visiting on an unlimited or even one-off basis (debatable  -they are low/average quality by international standards - few rides and poor theming)

No one put a gun to your head and told you to buy an annual pass to what you call “low quality” attractions. 

There is literally zero point whinging that our ride count or quality isn’t at the same level as that of some US/European parks. We have only a small % of their population, and an even smaller % of their tourism dollars.

if you have an issue with the app - sweet - no one is gonna debate that it could be much better - but to throw your toys out of the cot bagging every element of the park operation and quality is just juvenile. 

5 hours ago, cthulhus_lawyer said:

I walked out of the park without riding a single attraction. 

I love when people make this type of comment. Do you want a clap?? A “good on ya”? “You really stuck it to them man!” 

I’m sure that Bikash and Clark are crying in their coffees that you didn’t take up 1.5m of social distanced space in a queue today.  

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Brad, I'm venting, critiquing and sharing an experience. What's the problem with that? It's a theme park forum. And I'm also alerting you and others to issues with the app which may affect your experiences in the park - you seem to agree with me that the app should be improved. In fact that is the whole point of my post, that this app is taking value away from paying guests. You seem to be getting really riled up

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@Brad2912 chill bro. 🍻

Welcome to the forums  @cthulhus_lawyer - I think @webslave perfectly encapsulated what I wanted to say - so many UX choices at every level aren’t made with the guest in mind - both company’s maps are a perfect example of it.

Village would benefit from two things - a culture change and more money. The fact that Adventure World, a single Perth theme park sells season passes that are more expensive then Village’s passes to four parks says a lot. 
 

In regards to culture, where Disney has the “you can never say no” rule for cast members, it feels as though Village has a “try and find a way to say no” rule for its team. Better, clearer processes for staff that aren’t guest antagonistic (thus not making employees’ lives dreadful to enforce) would be a good start.  

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5 hours ago, Slick said:

 

@Brad2912 chill bro. 🍻

 

Fair call. 

i was a bit fired up. Guess I get my back up a little when it appears someone just joins the forum to bag the parks. Everyone has a right to be critical, but I think the general gist of this place is it’s a collective of enthusiasts that love theme parks, so some balance or perspective is generally given when pointing out failures or inadequacies 

Edited by Brad2912
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I visited the park this week and used the app. Some bits are clunky but the UX doesnt SUCK. 

I touch the park, I select rides or shows and I instantly see the info I desire...

 

What is awful is the Covid checkin which you still need to do at any dining facility. It doesnt remember you, isnt setup to autofill from your contact details and is just slow and clunky as. 

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Regarding the single-use fast track - when i last visited SFMM, I bought an upper tier flash pass. It included the usual unlimited rides on xx attractions, plus one ride on X2, Luthor's Drop and I think maybe one or two others. One of those others were down, and the flash pass automatically allowed us to substitute one of the 'one only' rides as an alternate. Luthor's drop went down due to high winds just as we arrived to use our flash pass on it, and the staff grabbed the flash pass ID, made a phone call, and we suddenly had a second 'X2' we could book.

If Movie World sells a product that includes '9x single rides' and any of those are down, guests holding that pass should be permitted to use that on any of the others that are open, period.

As for the location-restricted info about wait times - there are ways around that I believe, however - I believe the location restriction is enabled by default as the system can't cope with too much traffic - i'm sure they've specc'd it to handle park capacity levels (ok, it's village, maybe i'm not sure about that), but if every tom dick and harry in SEQ was checking it multiple times a day to see if it was worth going to the park, it could impact performance for those who are in-park.

22 hours ago, Slick said:

The fact that Adventure World, a single Perth theme park sells season passes that are more expensive then Village’s passes to four parks says a lot. 

I don't think this is as simple a comparison as you're making it. Adventure World doesn't have the competition the GC has for tourism dollars, AND they don't get the same level of passholders. They can charge more because there aren't many other convenient and cheap options nearby, but they also need to charge more to cover their costs as they have lower attendance and capacity.

I don't deny Village needs both culture and money - although hopefully BGH has plans to change at least one of those.

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53 minutes ago, AlexB said:

Regarding the single-use fast track - when i last visited SFMM, I bought an upper tier flash pass. It included the usual unlimited rides on xx attractions, plus one ride on X2, Luthor's Drop and I think maybe one or two others. One of those others were down, and the flash pass automatically allowed us to substitute one of the 'one only' rides as an alternate. Luthor's drop went down due to high winds just as we arrived to use our flash pass on it, and the staff grabbed the flash pass ID, made a phone call, and we suddenly had a second 'X2' we could book.

If Movie World sells a product that includes '9x single rides' and any of those are down, guests holding that pass should be permitted to use that on any of the others that are open, period.

I understand why parks limit fast passes on their most popular attractions, but I intensely despise when they provide x rides on x attraction. SFMM is the perfect example of this. I don't like freefall drop rides (Giant Drop, Lex Luther etc.) so I'd much rather use the fast pass on something else.

What @AlexB has said above makes sense, give people x number of rides on the popular rides, say 1 fast pass per popular ride, then unlimited on the less popular rides. That way it covers downtime, not wanting to ride a particular ride etc. 

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2 hours ago, AlexB said:

They can charge more because there aren't many other convenient and cheap options nearby, but they also need to charge more to cover their costs as they have lower attendance and capacity.

Dreamworld's Annual Pass in 2004 was roughly $160 and adjusting for inflation that's $227 in today's money. And yet, the most expensive annual pass to Dreamworld in 2021 is $179. Now that's ignoring a myriad of variables that contribute to the reasoning of that price, all of which i'll ignore because this is a thread about the app, but tldr; the price GC parks charge is definitely not right and is a big contributor to why things everything theme parks continue to be so "meh".

 

17 hours ago, rappa said:

Some bits are clunky but the UX doesnt SUCK. 

Well that's a little wee oxymoron isn't it? Jokes aside, the bit you're referencing is really more UI (design) and less UX (experience) - geofencing park information so you can't see what rides are down like what @cthulhus_lawyer said is super, super user hostile and i'm sure would tick off many folks trying to plan a family day out - that's terrible UX.

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1 minute ago, Slick said:

geofencing park information so you can't see what rides are down like what @cthulhus_lawyer said is super, super user hostile and i'm sure would tick off many folks trying to plan a family day out - that's terrible UX.

I really have to disagree. You can tell from the car park, the majority of people going to the parks plan this day and get the before, on or just after opening.

Opening the ride times up to people to plan a family day just doesn't work since if you're leaving from Brisbane, you're leaving before the park is even open. Yes I concede that for GC locals and possibly Logan it would work but if you're a park regular, you can make some pretty safe assumptions on ride wait times. If you're not a park regular more than likely your trip to the parks will be a full day outing and you plan to get there at opening.

 

Also the virtual queue, yes its super super clunky but its never not worked for me. Even the extreme 5 hour wait time suggestion thing I've only seen when its busy and everyone else has taken the virtual queue spots (and the park was open after 5pm).

@cthulhus_lawyer you may not know this but VQ is only available on some rides and VQ pauses when the ride has a stoppage. If the VQ exceeds the park closing time, it stops accepting bookings and anyone booked in better hope there is no stoppages or they lose their spot.

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2 hours ago, Slick said:

the price GC parks charge is definitely not right and is a big contributor to why things everything theme parks continue to be so "meh".

Absolutely, and i've said many times here i'd like them to increase it. many of the variables keeping the price down (apart from status quo) start with K and end with aren. Bottom line - the parks are the ones at fault for their race to the bottom, but it is incredibly difficult to dig up.

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3 hours ago, Slick said:

Well that's a little wee oxymoron isn't it? Jokes aside, the bit you're referencing is really more UI (design) and less UX (experience) - geofencing park information so you can't see what rides are down like what @cthulhus_lawyer said is super, super user hostile and i'm sure would tick off many folks trying to plan a family day out - that's terrible UX.

Yeah that was my point. Some parts of the interface are a little clunky, but really it's pretty good and a huge way from when first launched...

But overall my experience of using it has been reasonably pleasant.

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16 hours ago, DJKostya said:

I understand why parks limit fast passes on their most popular attractions, but I intensely despise when they provide x rides on x attraction. SFMM is the perfect example of this. I don't like freefall drop rides (Giant Drop, Lex Luther etc.) so I'd much rather use the fast pass on something else.

Heh, don't ever go to Universal Japan then :)

They sell fast passes in bundles of specific rides – between 3 and 7 of them – so if you want a pass for something popular like Flying Dinosaur you end up having to pay for a pass for something you probably wouldn't have bothered to ride otherwise.

Also, their top tier fast pass only limits a couple of the key rides to one use only.

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11 hours ago, Noxegon said:

Heh, don't ever go to Universal Japan then :)

They sell fast passes in bundles of specific rides – between 3 and 7 of them – so if you want a pass for something popular like Flying Dinosaur you end up having to pay for a pass for something you probably wouldn't have bothered to ride otherwise.

Also, their top tier fast pass only limits a couple of the key rides to one use only.

I think in the end the Express 7 Backdrop one worked out the best since that's the most limited capacity attraction and it included the Potter Attractions (Flying Dino and Space Fantasy having single rider anyway made it seem pointless to fork out to skip those)

But yeah you are stuck with rather pointless fast tracks like Jurrassic Park / Terminator and Jaws / Spiderman

Only hiccup was I wasn't paying attention for the part where you pick between Hollywood Dream Vanilla / Backdraft, and accidentally wasted it on Backdraft 😮

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14 hours ago, troll under the coaster said:

not a waste, my wife would disagree, but as a fan of practical film effects and the film backdraft, that attraction was a highlight of my trip.

For some reason I thought it was a choice between Terminator and Backdraft, both had a short wait so I was just using it for the sake of it, except all I ended up doing is bypassing a 20 min wait on Backdraft instead of a 1h wait on Hollywood Dream I should have.

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On 18/01/2021 at 10:06 AM, Naazon said:

I really have to disagree. You can tell from the car park, the majority of people going to the parks plan this day and get the before, on or just after opening.

Opening the ride times up to people to plan a family day just doesn't work since if you're leaving from Brisbane, you're leaving before the park is even open. 

Also the virtual queue, yes its super super clunky but its never not worked for me.

Even if it were true (which it isn't) that 100% of people visiting from Brisbane/elsewhere are setting off before the park even opens, there is no reason not to provide ride wait information in real-time. I'm a professional UX designer and I've actually showed the app to other software developers on my team. No one can wrap their head around why they are locking that information, beyond a) performance issues - not good  b) obscuring information from users deliberately (also not good). As you yourself say, the VQ is clunky. While it may have always worked for you in spite of that, it has failed for me and others. Given the frequency/scope of the failure I'd say the app needs serious improvements so that it doesn't detract from the visitor experience. 

One thing which I found interesting was perusing reviews online and the number of people who resent having to be on their phones all day when they expected to have a phone-free time at the park. It just feels to me like VR rushed the app out (probably because of Covid) without doing a lot of user testing. Hopefully they can take the feedback they are undoubtedly getting on board. 

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I do love reading the arguments on here about why they Village roadshow should let us know how busy they are before we go so we can decide if we go or not, does everyone forget this is a Bussiness if they have 2 hour long lines and the park is full they don’t care their happy they did their job and got people into the park, we as consumers want no lines and an empty park which is not viable and then we’d have no parks to visit. 
 

I’m a fan of the virtual queue and relate it similar to Disney fast pass, you can line up for 1.5hours or get a fast pass time that maybe 6 hours away depending on numbers same as virtual queue the more people who use it the longer the virtual queue is, your complaint should be to the people using it to stay home rather then village for letting us use the service. 
 

I for 1 never check wait times before I go I use my head and think school holidays yep it’ll be packed. 
 

I would agree on fast pass 1 ride per ride is a bit to tight and some have long lines while others are 10min unlimited rides on the older ones and maybe a limit of 1 on dc I think is fair 

 

has anyone else noticed the new addition to the queue with a ride option and price???? I only noticed today after checking ride time 

B50845E0-CC02-4B06-AF56-6F9C81861782.jpeg

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57 minutes ago, cthulhus_lawyer said:

Even if it were true (which it isn't) that 100% of people visiting from Brisbane/elsewhere are setting off before the park even opens, there is no reason not to provide ride wait information in real-time

That's not what @Naazonsaid. The original post said 'the majority of people going to the parks plan this day and get the before, on or just after opening'. This =\= "100% of people from brisbane/elsewhere".

And, there is a reason not to provide ride wait time information in real-time. In fact, I've already said it above.

On 18/01/2021 at 7:28 AM, AlexB said:

I believe the location restriction is enabled by default as the system can't cope with too much traffic - i'm sure they've specc'd it to handle park capacity levels (ok, it's village, maybe i'm not sure about that), but if every tom dick and harry in SEQ was checking it multiple times a day to see if it was worth going to the park, it could impact performance for those who are in-park.

I would have thought one of the key and critical points you note at the design phase on a project like this is your expected loads, average and peak, and then you design the backend to deal with that.

(In this case, we know the VRTP is an off-the-shelf product that was used previously by Knott's Berry Farm due to some placeholders that weren't changed when they essentially rebranded the knott's version as their own)

I imagine the planning meeting went something like this:

Dev: "You'll need X to support the peak load of XX,XXX users at a cost of $XX"
Village: "We don't get that many guests on a daily basis! We only get XX,XXX max!"
Dev: "ok, we could do that and it would save you $XX, but if you get a higher load, it will crash, unless we restrict the user base"
Village: "Yeah do that. We don't want to pay $XX, we'll never need it!

1 hour ago, cthulhus_lawyer said:

Given the frequency/scope of the failure I'd say the app needs serious improvements so that it doesn't detract from the visitor experience. 

Given it was essentially off-the-shelf \ borrowed from another park that is happy with the product, the chances of Village spending money to improve something that isn't "broken" (sure, it's not the best experience, but it has (eventually) let me do everything i've needed to do with it) are probably nil.

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33 minutes ago, AlexB said:

That's not what @Naazonsaid. The original post said 'the majority of people going to the parks plan this day and get the before, on or just after opening'. This =\= "100% of people from brisbane/elsewhere".

And, there is a reason not to provide ride wait time information in real-time. In fact, I've already said it above.

I would have thought one of the key and critical points you note at the design phase on a project like this is your expected loads, average and peak, and then you design the backend to deal with that.

(In this case, we know the VRTP is an off-the-shelf product that was used previously by Knott's Berry Farm due to some placeholders that weren't changed when they essentially rebranded the knott's version as their own)

I imagine the planning meeting went something like this:

Dev: "You'll need X to support the peak load of XX,XXX users at a cost of $XX"
Village: "We don't get that many guests on a daily basis! We only get XX,XXX max!"
Dev: "ok, we could do that and it would save you $XX, but if you get a higher load, it will crash, unless we restrict the user base"
Village: "Yeah do that. We don't want to pay $XX, we'll never need it!

Given it was essentially off-the-shelf \ borrowed from another park that is happy with the product, the chances of Village spending money to improve something that isn't "broken" (sure, it's not the best experience, but it has (eventually) let me do everything i've needed to do with it) are probably nil.

While you might be right in every aspect you're forgetting 1 thing.

@cthulhus_lawyer put out his position on village initially and clearly nothing is going to change his mind so you're wrong.

 

 

 

Also it would be interesting to see the % of park apps that let you see the ride queue times vs that don't (and specifically Knott's app).

I would do it myself but I also don't care enough. Village app does all I want it to do and functions well on my (admittedly new and powerful) phone (Note20 Ultra).

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