How Does This Wimbledon Ticket Queue Thing Really Work?
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Camping Overnight or Arriving Early Morning
If you can manage sleeping in a tent overnight, DO IT! The entire experience is SO much better if you camp out. Not only will you be assured court tickets (hopefully the one you want if you get there early enough) but the whole morning waiting process is much quicker and more tolerable. If your goal is to see a favorite top player, this is a necessity. If you just want to watch tennis on the outer courts or hang out on Henman hill then arrive very early that morning.
If camping is simply not an option, get to the queue as early as possible in the morning. A rule of thumb is to arrive before the first tube because that is when the thousands of day-queuers start arriving and then you will be stuck in the line for 6 or more hours.
The Wimbledon 2018 draw will come out on Fri June 29. Roger Federer, as defending Champion, will play the 1st match on Monday July 2. The other male players on his side of the draw will play on that day while the others will play Tuesday. It is the opposite for the women, the defending champion and her half of the Ladies draw will play on Tuesday, with the other half playing on Mon.
The queue officially opens at 8am on Sunday July 1.
When the Park opens the stewards will direct everyone waiting in the line and sort out everyone’s place. It is a very time consuming process so try to have patience. Finally you will be told where to set up your tent. Hopefully you checked my packing list and didn’t forget anything! After the long wait and stress setting up your tent and getting organized, time to relax!
The wait for Queue cards now begins. Without that, there is officially nothing holding your place in line except for YOU so you really can’t leave your tent spot except for a quick trip to the bathroom. The minute the queue cards are given out you are free to leave for longer but its not worth risking it beforehand. Unfortunately there is no schedule for this and I’ve seen it happen anytime from 3p-8p. When you finally get your card, time to get some food!
At some point in the early evening the order of play for the next day will come out. For the best experience, do your research and see what matches on which courts you are going to target.
The queue officially shuts down around 10-10:30p when the stewards quiet people down and most head into their tents to go to sleep. However, it is still very loud with people talking, snoring, etc and earplugs are a total lifesaver. In addition to earplugs, check my packing list for the other item that will keep you from being miserable while you are camping overnight.
Morning Process or How You Actually Get Your Tickets
People start getting up around 5-6am and disassembling their tents. If you are a light sleeper you will probably wake up with all the noise but if not the stewards come around 6am to order everyone to get up and pack their stuff.
Without all the tents taking up space, everyone will be bunched together in the line and you will be further towards the front that it may have seemed before. At around 7:15am or so the stewards will begin leading the line through the entire queue route which is quite long and goes through a wooded area in the Wimbledon Park golf course. Just keep walking and following the person in front of you! The line will come to an abrupt halt when the front reaches the security checkpoint.
Now it’s a waiting game until security opens at 9:15am. Two things will happen so pay attention- very shortly after arriving at this point the stewards will come by with wristbands for the show courts. The 1st 500 will have the best choice. Usually these fans are here to see a particular player so they will snatch up Centre or Court 1 depending on the day’s schedule. The next several hundred fans will have to make their best pick, sometimes there will be Centre available or more likely Court 1. After that there are still another 500 for Court 2 so if you are in the first 1500 you should be able to get a court ticket. After that it is only groundspasses. Be careful & pay attention- this is not the time to go to the bathroom or be listening to music. If you miss the wristband hand-out you are pretty much screwed. Also be careful to pick the right court you can’t go back and change your mind because all the wristbands will have been handed out.
You can sit down on the grass and relax for a bit but very shortly after this the stewards will squish everyone together to make room for the thousands and thousands of morning queue’ers arriving. The queue which had been a single line up until this point is divided into 3 lines based on Centre, Court 1 and Court 2 all right next to each other. There is about an hour wait in this crowded space. I won’t lie- it is not too fun but if you can carve out a tiny space to sit on the ground that is better. It is still 100% better than arriving at the queue on the same day and inching along through the entire queue for hour after hour.
At 9:15 security opens and the stewards will call each of the lines individually. Be warned- up to now everything has been extremely orderly and fans are kept in queue card order (per court selection). The whole queue devolves into a free-for-all at this point. Try to get through security as quick as possible which can be a challenge since you have to put everything through the x-ray including caps, belts. At this point there is no line whatsoever, you need to quickly walk up the stairs, over the bridge above Church Rd and down into this cage right in front of the ticket office. Similar to the situation right before security, the lines are reformed by court selection but you are penned inside this cage and it can be a bit claustrophobic and crowded. This is the last 15 minutes waiting in line before you can buy your court ticket.
At 9:30 the ticket office opens and this is the most nerve-wracking, stressful part of the whole experience. After camping for hours and sometimes days, it all comes down to this. Check which booths are selling tickets for your court and preferred section and hope for the best. Make sure you have cash because that is the only thing accepted and the ticket employee will check your wristband to make sure you are entitled to that particular court ticket. If when you get to the ticket window there isn’t anything good, you can take a chance and rush over to another line but it is very risky. You just have to try to make the best decision in the moment. Bottom line, if you are in the first 100 or so the tickets will be amazing, just a few rows from the court.
Continue to "How Does This Queue Thing Really Work Part Two"