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Arlington Parks and Rec hopes virtual waiting rooms prevent another registration meltdown

The cover of the summer ENJOY Arlington program guide (via Arlington County)

Perhaps virtual waiting rooms will solve the woes of the parks department’s registration meltdowns.

Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation has tried it all before — staggering registration times, limiting user search capabilities, increasing transaction throughput and closely monitoring its registration site’s performance. But none have yet met the demand of Arlingtonians’ determination to snag a spot for its programming.

When registration for the Arlington summer recreation programs opens May 17, online users will be put into a virtual waiting room, which the department hopes will help prevent the timeouts experienced in the past and provide a more equitable overall experience for registrants, a press release said. It is also staggering the registration schedule, separating signups by class type, over a few days.

“Additionally, [the department’s software vendor] Vermont Systems has conducted a series of tests and improvements for its registration software,” county spokesman Ryan Hudson told ARLnow.

On registration day, login to the site as usual — all users logged in will automatically enter a virtual waiting room where they will receive a spot in line. You will keep your place in the waiting room line even if your phone goes to sleep, you lose your internet connection or you close the virtual waiting room page, provided you log back in on the same device using the same browser.

Once it’s your turn to register, you will be redirected to the registration site where you can browse the site and complete your transactions at your own speed.

This past February, when summer camp registration opened, parents again experienced slow registration and site crashes, if they got through at all, despite the department’s efforts to beef up its systems after repeated issues over the years. The spring program registration was a repeat of timeouts and frustrated residents.

The department committed to a full review of the registration process amid calls from residents for a lottery system. Parks and Rec projected at the time that they’d be able to complete and implement changes by next year’s summer camp registration.

The timeline for DPR’s review of registration (via Arlington County)

Parks and Rec offers programs, which range from gymnastics to woodworking, over the summer. Registration will open on a rolling basis each day May 17 through May 19 starting at noon. Residents can also call 703-228-4747 (voice) or 711 (TTY) to register. The registration schedule is:

  • Tuesday, May 17 — Nature, History and General classes
  • Wednesday, May 18 — Aquatics
  • Thursday, May 19 — Gymnastics

Walk-in registration will begin on Friday, May 20, at noon, at Lubber Run Community Center (300 N. Park Drive). Registration for non-Arlington residents will open on Wednesday, May 25, at noon.

The department noted on its website that its programming is not immune to staffing shortages felt across the country, so offerings reflect reduced staffing levels.

“We share your disappointment and are committed to returning to full staffing — and class offerings — in the future,” the website says.

The department shared some tips for residents hoping to snag a slot in one of the summer classes and programs.

Tips for Successfully Registering
Single Household Login

Your Household account can only have one active session at a time. Multiple Household account “logins” (i.e. logging in via multiple devices) will slow the system and cause items to drop from your cart if attempting to register at the same time.

Additionally, some devices work better than others (i.e. desktop with wired internet is better than phone on Wi-Fi).

Login Early

If possible, login before the 12:00 p.m. registration time. If you arrive early, you will receive a random spot in the virtual waiting room line when the registration event begins. If you arrive at the site after registration begins, you will receive the next available spot in line.

Need a tutorial on how to register? Check out the How to Register Online guide.

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