For decades, theme parks have been offering pure escapism, allowing visitors to journey to distant lands and fantastical worlds. Places like Disneyland and Universal Studios have delighted generations and created countless memories.
With personal technology moving forward at an accelerated rate, theme parks must continue driving innovation in ways that no one else can to remain exciting. Ambitious companies are being urged to look through the commercial lens of new technologies headed up by Augmented Reality (AR). AR is the integration of digital information with the user's environment in real time using a smartphone or smart-glasses, such as in the game Pokémon GO.Top of Form
For true consumer-facing innovation, theme park designers are considering how using AR can create unmatched visitor experiences. Yet major amusement parks have been slow on the uptake. To date, official park apps serve as little more than opportunities to organise the queuing experience or purchase in-ride photos.
In other industries AR has proven its worth. On a large scale, the entirety of the UK was turned into an AR experience last year with ‘England’s Historic Cities’ app. Utilising specialised trigger points at a selection of English Heritage sites, activated by your phone’s camera, visitors could uncover AR displays, reconstructions and 360-degree panoramas telling the unique story of each site. It proved a great way to breathe new life into these ancient sites and raise awareness amongst new audiences.
So, imagine this being used in a theme park. Point your camera at a character, and let the app tell their story, provide details about them you might not know, and of course a link to the store to purchase merchandise. Gamification could also be added to make the AR integration more sophisticated. AR apps like this could extend the amount of time a visitor spends exploring each attraction or provide an entirely new attraction away from main rides. From a purely business standpoint, it keeps people in parks longer, and there’s a lot of potential for discovery, which encourages repeat visits.
AR allows us to write our own rules on how people see the world, and how they react to it. By bringing this technology to the stoic theme park industry, we can reinvigorate older rides, enhance the queuing experience, provide a practical way of providing ride info, and recapture the imaginations of guests. AR compliments exactly what a theme park was born to do – bring magic into the real world. It marries the physical and digital in unexpected ways, allowing a park to create unique shared experiences.
It won’t be long before AR is more widely adopted by theme parks, providing experiences like we’ve never seen before.