Theme Park Technology Essay

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Introduction New technologies that theme parks utilize or may consider using in the future can help manage crowds, improve child safety, and create thrilling attractions. Theme parks must decide which technologies it should adapt in order to attract the most consumers and increase consumer spending. Innovative technologies improve consumer safety and enhance customer satisfaction. Technologies used in theme parks today include smart phone applications, fast passes or flash passes, RFID tracking systems, 4D attractions, and LED powered wheels.

If a theme park considers adapting any of these technologies, it must decide if the technology meets customer needs and if the benefits outweigh the costs. Crowd Control: Theme parks implement measures to control crowds so that certain areas of the parks are not overcrowded while other areas of the park do not have large crowds. Crowd control measures include the use of surveillance cameras, monitoring ride occupancy rates, issuing fast passes for people to come back to rides later in the day and not have to wait in line, and smart phone applications.

Theme park technologies that assist with foot traffic flow also enhance customer satisfaction and safety. Surveillance Cameras Disney takes the lead in theme park crowd control. Disneys Magic Kingdom has a security epicenter underneath Cinderellas Castle which is equipped with surveillance cameras, video screens, digital park maps, and computer programs to pinpoint where there are traffic backups or problems with rides. Employees monitor to see where crowds are the largest and deploy parades to divert traffic and lead guests to areas of the park that are less crowded.

(Brooks) Surveillance cameras also help employees monitor and track suspicious persons, which helps keep parks safe. If parks did not have surveillance cameras, there would need to be a lot more security personal stationed around the park and monitoring the park on foot. Ride Occupancy Theme parks monitor crowd control by ensuring that all seats on rides are filled. If seats are left empty, it takes longer for visitors to get through the lines. Shorter wait times equal happier visitors, and shorter wait times provide visitors with the opportunity to spend more time at restaurants and gift shops which generate more revenue for the parks.

FASTPASS® / Flash Pass FASTPASS® is a ride scheduling system invented by Disney which allows guests to visit an attraction and receive a ticket to come back to the ride at a later time and not wait in a long line. Attractions that utilize the FASTPASS® system have the time displayed for when guests can come back without waiting in line. Guests insert their park ticket into the FASTPASS® machine, and they receive ticket with the time when they can come back to the attraction and not wait in a long line. Disney does not charge guests to use FASTPASS® machines, but other theme parks do charge for similar services.

Many people are willing to spend the extra money in order to avoid long lines at popular attractions. (Disney FASTPASS Service) Theme parks also help manage crowds by displaying estimated wait times for rides. If the wait is too long for a ride, people will go to other rides throughout the park and come back later. Other parks, such as Six Flags Theme Parks , have versions of fast passes that allow visitors to wait in shorter lines, schedule when they will go on rides electronically, and to ride the same ride twice in a row without waiting in line a second time.

Six Flags Theme Park visitors can purchase Flash Passes and schedule when they will go on the ride via an electronic scheduling system. Six Flags Flash Passes are more advanced than Disneys Fast Pass since visitors can schedule when they will go on rides electronically from anywhere in the park instead of having to go to each attraction they want to ride and receiving a time to come back when they turn in a FASTPASS® ticket. (Flash Pass: Six Flags Magic Mountain) Six Flags allows visitors to purchase Regular, Gold or Platinum Flash Passes which have greater reductions in wait times.

The Regular Flash Pass provides guests with a limited number of Flash Passes that allow them to wait in a shorter line. The Gold and Platinum Flash Passes allow visitors to electronically schedule when they will visit an attraction. Visitors are given an electronic device called a Q-Bot, which guests use to check electronically schedule when they will be able to visit the ride without waiting in line. (Q-Bot) The Platinum Fast Pass provides the added benefit of being able to go on the same ride twice in a row without getting off and waiting in line again.

Flash Passes bring in additional revenue to parks and prices vary depending on the park. For example, Flash Passes range from $31 $86 per person at Six Flags Over Georgia and $41 to $99 at Six Flags Magic Mountain. (Flash Pass: Six Flags Magic Mountain) and (Flash Pass: Six Flags Over Georgia) Mobile Magic APP Theme Parks are innovative and have technologies that help them learn about customer preferences while making consumers experiences at the park more enjoyable. Walt Disney World has a mobile application for Verizon Wireless customers called Mobile Magic.

Mobile Magic allows customers to view line wait times, make restaurant reservations, play games while waiting in line, view the weather forecast and events taking place in the park, and find Disney characters for children to get autographs. Disney receives information from Mobile Magic users that allows them to analyze which restaurants and rides are the most popular and can help Disney gain insights as to how to make consumers experiences at its parks more enjoyable. (Mobile Magic Application) Child Safety: RFID Tracking System.

Theme parks such as Dollywood, Legoland, and Wannado use RFID bracelets to keep track of guests and to protect lost children. RFID bracelets transmit a signal to computer system which keeps track of each persons location. If a child wearing a RFID bracelet becomes separated from his parents, then the parents send a text message to guest services stating, help. Parents receive a text message in response with the location of the lost child and directions to get to the childs location. If a lost child gets too close to park exits, authorities are contacted to ensure the child does not exit the park.

(Sturgen) RFID bracelets provide increased safety for children, and they allow groups of people to locate each easily if they are separated. The bracelets also track and store information about what foods people eat, what rides they visit first or most frequently, and what items they purchase. The information helps theme park management tailor the parks to best meet consumer preferences. Some guests may view the RFID bracelets as an invasion of privacy, but others feel that the benefits outweigh the risks. (Sturgen) At Wannado and Dollywood, the RFID technology is taken a step further than at Legoland.

Visitors are provided with a bracelet containing a RFID tag. Then, groups of visitors register their names in the SafeTzone Real-Time Locating System which links each groups bracelets together electronically. Visitors can then track the location of people in their group by scanning their bracelet at SafeTzone kiosks. (Sullivan) According to the New York Times article, Disney Tackles Major Theme Park Problems: Lines, Disney may start to use bracelets and take the technology one step further. Bracelets would store consumer credit card information so park guests can purchase items with the swipe of the bracelet.

Also, the bracelets would store information such as the customers name, when they last visited the restaurant, how frequently they visit the restaurant, and the customers preferences. This technology would lead theme parks to be the best in class in customer satisfaction. However, it may not appeal to some people who may view it as an invasion of privacy and like there is someone watching over them at all times. Ride Technology: 4D Attractions Theme parks have implemented a new level of technology to make attractions seem like they are in 4D.

For example, Dollywood has a Polar Express ride during the winter that combines a 3D movie with seats that move like you are actually riding the Polar Express train, different smells and temperatures and other effects to make 3D movie scenes seem more realistic. (Dollywoods Polar Express Creates 4D Viewer Experience) Islands of Adventure also employs 4D technology with its Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. Visitors watch a 3D movie screen while riding on magic benches that drop, lean back, spin, twist, and turn to make it feel as if visitors are flying through the world of Harry Potter.

(The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universals Islands of Adventure) Kuka Robot Group developed the magic benches which are also known as Robocoasters. (Kuka Arm) Theme Park Technology Summary: Theme parks utilize leading edge technologies to improve customer safety, better understand customer preferences, and make customers experiences at the park more enjoyable. RFID bracelets improve customer safety and provide parks with information about customer preferences.

Investment in RFID technology would pay for itself, because many parents would be willing to pay extra to rent bracelets in order to keep traffic of their children and people in their group. Traffic flow and ride wait times are improved through video surveillance, ensuring each ride is at maximum occupancy, fast passes, wait times posted by each ride, and wait times and park information transmitted to peoples smart phones via applications like Disneys Mobile Magic. Disney was able to create a smart phone application in conjunction with Verizon wireless by charging customers to purchase the application. Customers are happier when there are shorter wait times and the park is not as crowded.

Theme parks improve customer satisfaction through the use of 4D technology on rides. Theme parks work to improve business by utilizing and developing new technologies. Theme park technology constantly evolves. In addition to the technologies mentioned above, Maurer Rides is in the testing stages of LED-powered wheels for roller coasters. The wheels are powered by light emitting diodes (LEDs) and rotation of the wheels creates a generator principle with the rotating movement being converted into energy, and thus light. The key benefit is that, apart from saving power, no batteries or excessive wiring is needed.

(Theme Park Post Amusement & Theme Parks Industry Business News) The LED wheel lights will show up during the day and night and create an interesting visual effect. Maurer plans to install the first firewheels, which can travel up to 80 mph, at a theme park in Germany. If this technology works, it may be adapted by other theme parks since it creates visual appeal and uses less energy. (Theme Park Post Amusement & Theme Parks Industry Business News) The most important technologies for theme parks improve customer satisfaction and the likelihood that guests will return to the parks again or recommend the parks to other people.

4D Technology, RFID tracking bracelets, Flash Passes, and smart phone applications are leading edge technologies for theme parks that accomplish the task of improving customer satisfaction. Technology is constantly evolving, and theme parks are destined to invent more advanced technologies that improve business operations and customers experiences. Works Cited Barnes, Brooks. Disney Tackles Major Theme Park Problem: Lines. The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 28 Dec. 2010. Web. 22 May 2011. . Disney FASTPASS Service. Walt Disney World Resort. Disney. Web. 30 May 2011. .

Dollywoods Polar Express Creates 4D Viewer Experience Amusement Parks. Amusement Park Industry-Theme Park Business Directory Amusement Park. Blooloop, 18 Feb. 2009. Web. 31 May 2011. . Flash Pass: Six Flags Magic Mountain. Six Flags. Web. 30 May 2011. . Flash Pass: Six Flags Over Georgia. Six Flags. Web. 30 May 2011. . Kuka Arm. Harry Potter Wizarding World Theme Park in Orlando, Florida. Web. 31 May 2011. . Mobile Magic Application | Verizon Wireless | Disney Parks. Mobile Magic | Disney Parks. Web. 22 May 2011. . Q-Bot. Web log post. Theme Park Review. 17 Mar. 2010. Web. 30 May 2011. . Satchell, Arlene.

Wannado City Moves up Closing to Jan. 2 Sun Sentinel. Featured Articles From The Sun Sentinel. The Sun Sentinel, 21 Dec. 2010. Web. 22 May 2011. . Sturgeon, Will. RFID Chips on Kids Makes Legoland Safer | Protecting Your ID | Silicon. com. Silicon. com | Technology Strategy for CIOs and Business Executives. Silicon. com, 24 June 2004. Web. 24 May 2011. . Sullivan, Laurie. How RFID Will Help Mommy Find Johnny ” InformationWeek. InformationWeek | Business Technology News, Reviews and Blogs. Information Week, 15 Sept. 2004. Web. 22 May 2011. . Theme Park Post Amusement & Theme Parks Industry Business News. Web. 22 May 2011. .

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