Wait Time 30 Minutes From This Point

Visitors to Disney theme parks are familiar with the wait time signs posted outside many attractions. They are used by Disney to give guests an idea of how long the wait is for a particular attraction. One of the smart things Disney does is to overstate the wait times a little bit. If the wait time is running 25 minutes, they’ll adjust the sign to read 30 minutes. If the wait time is running 10 minutes, they’ll have the sign say 15 minutes.

Is Disney lying to its guests? Not really. Disney is setting an expectation for the guest that can be exceeded. We’ve all had the experience of waiting less time than we expected—at a restaurant, at the auto repair shop, in line at Disneyland. When the wait time is less than we expected, we immediately think “hey, that was pretty good and didn’t take as long as I thought it would.”

Overstating the wait times a little bit is a classic example of under-promising and over-delivering. This is an easy concept for lawyers to apply. If you think it will take you a week to get a project done for a client, tell the client you think it will be done in ten or fourteen days. When you get it done in eight, you look terrific and the client has had her expectations exceeded.

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