As more and more services are designed to provide interactive experiences that you can control, it makes going places and doing things easier and quicker. You know what to expect and you can plan things better.
The theme park is one recent example where I feel the digital service provided made a significant improvement to the overall experience. For me, theme parks are like buses. I don’t see the inside of one for quite a while and then I wind up on a rollercoaster in three different ones in quick succession. And wow have things moved on...
Last month I went to Disneyland Paris and the highlight of the trip was the Disney Dreams! spectacular celebrating the 20th anniversary of EuroDisney Paris. The show was far from your typical fireworks display and featured projection mapping onto the castle, water fountains, fire, music, lasers, lights, mist screens and other special effects. It’s a wonderful visual experience of some of Disney’s classic stories.
Theme parks are certainly not like they used to be and being digital has opened up a whole new way of experiencing what used to be quite a long and uncertain day. When it comes to digital services provided by theme parks around the world, some of the things you can now expect include:
A customised app that allows theme park guests to buy tickets, find rides and keep tabs on friends through a GPS map system, and post real-time updates about their day on Facebook and Twitter.
A virtual queuing system which allows guests to digitally stand in line for popular rides through a hand-held device.
An updated old style photo booth where customers get both a strip of pictures and an email of the images ready to upload to social networking sites.
A video system that tracks individual guests and records their experiences throughout the park so they end up with a 30-minute highlight recording of their visit.
A 4D avatar theme park which brings together real and virtual experiences.
So much has changed from when theme parks first came on the scene (since the 1600s apparently). It used to be about enjoying pretty staid rides; and now it’s all about downloading the theme park app to check out information about rides. You can see which ones are the most popular and what the waiting times are, so that you can really plan your day. Some allow you to use interactive maps, book restaurants, plan your itineraries, book shows etc.
You can also upgrade and buy fast track tickets to jump the queues. There is also a free fast pass service available in some theme parks where you can scan your entrance ticket and pick up a return time. You can go off and buy a drink or wander around and come back at your specified time and avoid queuing.
Photos are more and more frequently being replaced by video footage of you and yours on the rides. Though if you do want to stick with the happy snaps, there are plenty of options to personalise your photos and have them saved onto a memory stick or have it emailed to you. There are even a select few theme parks theme parks which have on-ride video systems which offer a short audio/video film, several photos, and a downloadable link sent to your email to share with friends, family and social networks.
The digital age brings theme park fun to a whole different level, and provides a range of opportunities to get multimedia and interactive where you can capture and share the experience.
So, in short digital can improve the user experience by providing:
accurate and up-to-date information (letting people know what to expect)
options for alternatives (giving people choices to make informed decisions)
elements of interactivity and customisation (giving people control of the experience).