It’s not every day you get approached to have a second attempt at a failed school history exam. But, after we were appointed to work on a Viking experience in Ireland’s biggest theme park, I had the chance to redeem my Viking knowledge, instead of drawing metal band logos on my GCSE history notebook cover…
Katapult, together with Tayto Park and Fáilte Ireland (the country’s tourism development authority) teamed up to produce an enthralling experience for the Viking Voyage at the Park log flume ride.
Tayto Park needed someone to bring the history of the Vikings’ journey to Ireland to life. This was my chance, finally, to earn an A* in history!
Viking Voyage, being one of the most exciting rides in the Dublin-based park had all the splashes and spills but lacked the anticipation and narrative to make a guest feel like a young warrior on their way to the Battle of Clontarf on the Ancient Ireland coastlines. So we relished the opportunity to put our mark on the park’s iconic ride.
Working alongside the project team (Kelly Herrick, Jonathan Bonner and Robbie Jones), we first created a narrative that fit with the history of the area, seamlessly integrating with the current queue-line theming, which built anticipation for the ride itself.
We broke the area into three sections, this way we could build a narrative for the beginning, middle and conclusion of the story, or for this scenario, how you would become a Viking, train and ultimately get on the longboat to your warrior’s destiny in Ireland!
With this completed, we developed experiences to evoke emotions for the guests to feel at certain parts of the story, therefore building an immersive queue-line to keep the guests engaged throughout.
For us, it was important to stay true to the historical facts, but also inject challenge, anticipation and more excitement into the queue-line. We chose a design style that reflected the era – distressed font, weathered wood and natural elements to give a handcrafted look and feel. We also introduced technology to enhance the mythological appearance of the Viking god Odin, but also more low tech solutions so guests could get hands-on.
Characters were also really important to our narration, and writing authentic scripts for both the voice actors and wall graphics were critical to achieving a sympathetic yet entertaining tone.
We designed our concepts through a series of sketches and 3D visual mockups to deliver our vision for the project.
It’s so important when the turnaround of a project is tight to have partners and suppliers that you can trust. And we did on this project. Through the work of everyone involved on this project, the process was really smooth. So smooth you wonder whether the mythical god of Odin was watching over us!
From the installation of the animatronic Huginn and Muninn (Odin’s Ravens), the ‘Viking yourself’ AR (augmented reality) unit, the weathered wall graphics and of course the Odin mist projection the whole project came together really well.
I am incredibly proud to have been part of this project coming together, to produce an experience of this quality in such a tight timescale.
A thoroughly enjoyable project to work on, working closely with Tayto Park and Fáilte Ireland to achieve the most accurate and enjoyable experience the ride deserved. Most importantly, working as a team was key in delivering an authentic project experience for the client and our suppliers.
I may have failed my first attempt at understanding the Viking God all those years ago at school, but hopefully, my old history teacher Mr Martin will forgive me for the work I’ve done on bringing Odin to life in 2019.