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How Technology Is Transforming Visitor Attractions

Around the world, attractions are constantly evolving and pushing the boundaries with modern state of the art technology. Not only to incorporate the latest and greatest attraction engineering systems, but to also help transport the guest into the fully immersive worlds and storylines of their favourite characters and intellectual properties. Leaving that very same guest with memories lasting a lifetime.

The use of technology incorporated into these attractions acts as a tool to complement the extra layer of storytelling magic, bringing the atmosphere within the attraction to life.

Whether it’s the ride system itself, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Character Animatronics, 3D Projection Mapping, Interactive Queue Systems or Theming Advancements, technology within the visitor attraction realm is constantly growing and expanding to new heights in every way, shape and form.

But how exactly is technology currently transforming in the visitor attraction industry?

Waiting in line has never been this much fun

Peter Pan Queue Line

Since the dawn of attractions, the guest experience has always been hindered by the thought and prospect of waiting in line, sometimes for hours at a time. However, due to huge technological advancements within the 21st century, waiting in line has evolved so dramatically that the guest experience now starts within the first few seconds that you enter the queue line and is known in some cases to extend until you leave the attraction location entirely.

Interactive queue systems bring forward multiple disciplines of technology to not only keep the guest entertained whilst waiting for the attraction but to also add a whole new level of immersive storytelling to the experience.

Over the past few years Walt Disney World, Florida have updated their beloved attractions from Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo: The Flying Elephant, The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – with interactive queue systems that expand the world of the attraction and keep families of all ages entertained during peak times at the resort.

These queue line systems incorporate multiple uses of technology from 3D projection mapping show sequences that use multiple surfaces to project, warp and introduce optical illusions right before your eyes. Infrared show control systems that allow the guest to interact with the environment around them, both physical and virtual. Touch screen based controls and childlike keeps families entertained as the story begins to grow and form towards the main attraction.

Future queue line tech

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride

Looking into the future queue line technology, we can also expect more of the interactive queue line systems becoming standard within the attraction industry – technology that provides guests with designated time slots through a smart device. Universal Studios Resort, Orlando introduced a “Virtual Line” based system in which guests can reserve their place in line whilst experiencing other sections of the resort without the need to be at the attraction.

This is all made possible with the Universal Orlando ResortThe Official App, once again integrating technology alongside attraction experience to tailor each guest visit. Guests simply log on to the app, select the attraction they would like to visit and are then presented with a selection of times in which they can experience the attraction.

This technology is very similar to Walt Disney’s FastPass+ system, however, guests can still expect to queue once they get to the ride. The future of virtual queue systems is still young and constantly working its way into more and more attractions across the world.

To infinity and beyond

Star Wars Millenium Falcon Ride

Digital worlds have always been a part of the attraction industry and they will continue to evolve with the most modern technological breakthroughs we see each day. Assisting in multi-sensory experiences we can now see, hear, touch, feel, smell, taste and even control the world created around us in a seamless attraction experience. Upcoming attractions are heavily introducing the use of a ‘choose your own adventure’ type narrative, which will not only increase the experience of the attraction as a whole, but also tailor each guest into their own personal storyline.

A great example of this comes in the form of not just an attraction but an entirely new world developed with this narrative in mind: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge set for both Disneyland Park, California and Walt Disney World Resort, Hollywood Studios, Florida will introduce a unique experience in which guests can seamlessly interact with attractions that alter, change and follow different narratives based on your actions throughout the land.

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will take you into the cockpit of the galaxy’s most famous ship, where you’ll be able to interact with over 200 programmed buttons, switches and levers which outputs multiple different scenarios in an attraction that is constantly changing and evolving.

Created by ILM Experience lab in partnership with NVIDIA and Epic Games, the attraction “Ride Film” is powered through Unreal Engine and grouped together with eight NVIDIA Quadro P600 GPU’s that output to five QuardoSync projectors offering a resolution higher than 4k. With this technology, attractions of the future will become fully interactive and the only limitation would be of the guest’s imagination.

Seamless guest attraction experience

The Hurricane 360 VR Ride

Following on from this interactive element, technology such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality based attractions have existed for decades, but it’s only recently that this technology has caught up to really be implemented into a seamless guest attraction experience. With companies like DOF Robotics, Front Grid, Simworx, Dynamic Attractions and many more exhibiting the world’s best in technology at last year’s 2018 IAAPA event, we can only see a glimpse into the future of how this technology will enhance the visitor attraction industry.

Whether it’s experiencing Odyssey Ocean New York the world’s first fully digital aquarium, Paratrooping around the mountains with Paradrop VR, embarking on a full immersive 360 degree journey with DOF Robotics – Hurricane 360, climbing aboard a complex trackless dark ride system, or, coming face to face with your favourite characters presented in the form of holograms. Technology is at its most exciting time.

It’s right at the forefront of attractions and I can’t wait to see what the future brings and how we will experience the attractions of tomorrow.  

About the Author: Dec is 3D Motion Designer at Katapult – A Creative England, Top 50 Company that creates physical and digital guest experiences that amaze and engage your visitors.

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Dec
O'Mara

Declan O’Mara, aka Deadskull, is Katapult’s 3D Motion Designer. He is a multimedia artist specialising in 3D Projection Mapping, Photorealistic 3D Animation and immersive live Performances. He has an extensive portfolio within the music industry creating content with millions of views.

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