Innovations move amusement parks into digital age
By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - The last time you visited an amusement park, did you stand in line for a popular ride? Pull soggy dollars out of your swimming trunks to buy a burger? Send photos to your friends when you got home?
That's all so yesterday, according to vendors at this week's amusement industry expo in Orlando who are launching new devices and apps to bring the park experience into the personal digital age.
"Guests are going more and more mobile, so you need to have a strategy in place to deliver content in a way your customers are demanding," said T.J. Christensen, director of business development for Accesso Mobile from Lake Mary, Florida.
The company offers a customized smartphone application 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.
The theme parks stand to increase profits through the new digital media, according to Leonard Sim, founding director of Lo-Q, a Henley-on-Thames, U.K., company.
Lo-Q has updated its virtual queuing system, called the "Q-bot" which allows guests to digitally stand in line for popular rides through a hand-held device.
The company's new "Q-credit," created for water parks, incorporates virtual queuing in a new waterproof bracelet that also stores credit card information, enabling guests to spend money even while their wallets are stored in a locker.
The devices can be programed with tiers of services and prices, allowing premium customers, for example, to wait shorter times in virtual lines. Continued...