Cruise ships aren’t the only ones integrating new technology to attract customers, theme parks are getting in on the act too. We’re not talking about Epcot or MGM Studios, which have been renowned for their use of cutting-edge technology for quite some time. We’re talking about run of the mill amusement parks—the kind that at one point not too long ago resembled the county fair. They’re finding it more and more difficult to lure customers away from their home entertainment systems and the comfort of the couch, so they’re now integrating ideas generally associated with video games and virtual reality: immersion and interactivity.
Those were the key concepts highlighted by vendors and companies at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo. They essentially want to merge video games with rollercoasters and other rides. Six Flags in St. Louis and Texas will eventually showcase a new ride called Justice League: Battle for Metropolis that combines the usual adrenaline with laser guns, animatronics, and a 3D fog screen. Or customers can lower themselves into vehicles inspired by submarines and shoot 3D sea creatures in an attempt to save a drowning berry farm in Voyage to the Iron Reef. At the Expo, U.K.-based Holovis touted an interactive indoor attraction in which customers ride in vehicles that travel through tropical scenes enhanced with animation and CGI, special effects, and music as they fire away at pirates.
Social media has become an integral part of amusement parks as well. People can play games inspired by the rides or post comments about their experiences. A new ride called Slideboarding will soon come to some Wet ‘n Wild amusement parks. This one allows riders to control their own experience by adjusting the music and lights as they ride down a chute, as well as sharing scores with other customers.
As a kid who loved going to amusement parks, it never occurred to me that some people would actually prefer playing video games. Then again, video games weren’t anything like they are now. I know they continue to push movies and television in terms of graphics and world building, and vice versa, but I never considered that video games and amusement parks would have a similar relationship