To Queue or Not to Queue: A day in SW19!

July 14, 2017

Wimbledon, known for the strawberries and cream, Pimm’s, crowds, celebrities like Andy Murray, Tim Henman, and more... has one more phenomenon that stands out from the rest of the experience, which is the queuing.

4.30AM – Tringgg... [imagine the sound of your alarm]…

Sunglasses [check], water [check], phone & power bank [check], food [check], enough cash [check]..

Sunblock [please double check as we forgot this] *

Once in the train, the excitement started as more crazy people were awake at this irrational time of the day and on their way to one of the most elite, remarkable, prestigious and longest running Grand Slams in the world: Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

This re-occurring event attracts approximately 500,000 spectators every year, travelling from all over the world to witness their heroes hit a yellow ball from one player to the other player.

Wimbledon, known for the strawberries and cream, Pimm’s, crowds, celebrities like Andy Murray, Tim Henman, and more... has one more phenomenon that stands out from the rest of the experience, which is the Queuing.

Over a period of two weeks, every day, thousands of exited fans from all over the world are joining ‘The Queue’ to purchase a ticket to Centre Court, No.1 Court or to enjoy the tennis as a ground pass holder.

We at Movement Strategies are known to “help owners and operators of venues, facilities and other busy assets to enhance security and safety, operationally and by design while maintaining efficiency and user experience” and… part of this includes observing and solving queue related problems. As a member of the team at Movement Strategies I frequently attend sporting events with my ‘consultant hat’ on, however, this time I wanted to experience the queue as a spectator. 

Curious to find out: Is the queue at Wimbledon a great visitor experience?

5:00AM  “Welcome to Wimbledon”, says the nice lady giving out queue cards and a guide to queuing.  Once you have a queue card, it is acceptable to leave the queue to buy food, drinks or visit the toilet, without losing your spot in the queue.

5:05AM The queue stopped moving, time to spread out our rug and the waiting started. We were given queue card 6,930. I started calculating: 7,000 people in the queue, 8 security lanes, throughput rates…is it possible to get in before 1pm, when play in Centre Court & No.1 Court kicks off?

6:00AM After an hour of waiting and drinking bottles of water, it was time to use the toilet and to join the second queue, as I could count at least 30 guys waiting in line to use the toilets. Golden tip: if you are a guy, not all people are queuing for the urinals. Walk to the front of the queue and have a peek inside if the urinals are empty. This will save you a lot of time [sorry ladies].

7:00AM It was time for Coffee & Tea – waking up that early is not for everyone and I clearly was not the only one who felt like that, as I joined the third queue that day Unfortunately, due to security, flasks are prohibited from the Grounds.  If you do bring one, be prepared that this will be confiscated.

9:00AM My friend had brought a big bag and did not want to carry this around the Ground, therefore we were invited to join the fourth queue that day, behind other spectators that queued overnight and had to queue to store their camping gear in the left luggage facility. There is space for left luggage at the Car Park, the cost for this is only £5.

10:30AM The main queue started moving and we slowly walked into Wimbledon Park, with all sorts of entertainment such as video screens, live interviews with celebrities and opportunities to play tennis. People were happy, and amused by the engaging and hospitable stewards. If you are lucky, they give out free coffee.

12:00PM Still queuing and moving towards the security check. Be aware that they are very strict with the security process these days and that it will take a bit longer than usual. Make sure you check what is not allowed to bring on site, to avoid any dissatisfactions. For those that are less mobile, there s a separate security area.

12:05PM Once through security checks we were pumped up and ready to queue to purchase our ticket and explore the Ground. Tip: if you don’t need to bring a bag, don’t bring a bag!

12:10PM First Stop: the queue for the strawberries and cream! If you are a HSBC member, you can get these for free!

And the rest of the day we enjoyed watching tennis on the outer courts. Although we had to queue longer than we watched tennis, it was definitely an enjoyable experience. Food, drinks, tennis, great weather, to conclude: a nice day out.

If this has encouraged you to go and visit Wimbledon over the weekend, here are some tips:

  1. ‍You must set your alarm – the later you wake up, the longer you must wait.
  2. Make sure you bring a picnic rug or something comfortable to lay on for a couple of hours.
  3. Upon arrival, make sure you get a queue card, if you don’t have a queue card you will not be able to re-enter the queue if you go to the toilet or food & beverages.
  4. Make sure you bring a power bank – where are we without our phones these days?
  5. Expect heatwaves, thunderstorms, rain and cold temperatures all in one day – it is still Britain, the weather can change at any time: therefore, bring sun blockers as well as an umbrella.
  6. Do not bring luggage or big bags if it can be avoided – this will save you money as most of the items will not be allowed on site.
  7. Make sure you bring good friends with you – 7 hours of queueing with people you do not like is not recommended.
  8. Water, Water, Water – it is essential to keep hydrated.
  9. Food, Food, Food – especially because the queues for the food and beverages are very long.
  10. Games, Books, iPod – anything to kill the time really.    

Most importantly, don’t forget to bring a smile and to enjoy the experience. After hours of queuing, tennis is waiting and it is worth it, if you are a tennis fan or not.