Theme parks are the epitome of fun and nostalgia.
From your first experiences as a child to taking your own children and experiencing the magic of themed entertainment into your golden years, theme parks offer the ultimate vehicle for innovations in storytelling technology and immersive experiences that keep us all coming back for more.
Even in this uncertain era and as the technological landscape reshapes, there is much to celebrate about the innovative and impactful nature of themed entertainment – and the powerful moments and memories that lie at its core.
Let’s explore some of the industry’s biggest leaps forward with an eye toward how they’ll continue to deliver excitement and engagement for years to come.
Leveraging Powerful Storytelling Technology to Leave a Lasting Impact
Intellectual property has had a key impact on themed attractions and their design since the 1950s, and, over the past decade, it’s once again become a critical factor. Park visitors look for great storytelling they can relate to, whether it’s about movies they saw, brands they know or even places they have visited.
Finding a reference that resonates with the life of your visitors is your key to success as an operator. Attraction design, brand experience design, overall theme park design and more all play a role, but it’s really the technological leaps in narrative experiences that are forging the path forward.
Narrative is at the heart of human experience, and no amount of thrill will get guests through the doors again and again without a story to tie it all together.
Whether you’re adapting an existing story to the themed entertainment setting or crafting a wholly original narrative, getting it right and making the way it’s presented through technology feel authentic are critical.
Here are some strategies to keep in mind when considering how best to craft a truly memorable experience through storytelling:
- For both existing IPs and original narratives, flesh out the entirety of the story and setting and consider how technological innovations can bring it to life in a way that feels holistic.
- Think about the narrative in layers of engagement. From visitors just passing through to the most obsessive of fans, everyone needs to identify with and understand the story you’re looking to tell.
- Use technology, but don’t let it become the star. Exciting AV solutions support and craft narrative but shouldn’t drown it out.
- Consider your location and region. If a particular audience might need more information to truly be immersed in the story, give it to them. Don’t assume anything.
Crafting Truly Immersive Themed Entertainment Experiences
No narrative or memorable experience reaches its full impact without immersion.
When guests take in themed entertainment or visit a theme park, they want to be transported. They want to be fully immersed in the world you’ve created, not feel like they’re an outsider looking in at the fun.
And that focus on experience isn’t going anywhere – according to a Harris Group survey, 72% of millennials would rather pay for an experience than a material item.
The quickest way to ensure immersion is to engage and surround the guest with the experience, not have them simply watch it unfold on a screen or in person before them.
At the same time, however, immersion can also be broken by technology that’s too overbearing and in the guests’ face. The goal should be to integrate technological solutions into the world you’ve created in such a way that the guest never knows it’s there, yet feels its impact at all time.
To achieve this, it’s critical to work with an AV integrator with a proven history of success in delivering end-to-end, holistic strategies and plans that result in powerful experiences. It isn’t enough to simply throw technology into a space – it needs to be thoroughly integrated into the very bones of the physical location and narrative atmosphere.
The Future Is Now: XR, Projection Mapping, Dark Rides and More
We’ve examined the importance of narrative and immersion – but which technological innovations and advances are currently helping you make that possible in your own park?
The future of themed entertainment and theme parks is an exciting one, and it will be driven by powerful AV technology solutions like:
- Dark Rides
Dark rides can make the most of smaller, more compact spaces, delivering the same impact as larger-scale rides through the innovative use of AV technology. Carefully place screens, dome projection technology, immersive, high-quality audio solutions and effects, and more come together with characters, settings and more to craft a holistic, big-budget-feeling experience in nearly any space.
- Flying Theaters
On the other end of the spectrum are flying theaters, which, according to Blooloop, function as a “hybrid between the once-popular motion simulator attractions [and] a large-format projection screen system showing off the more natural landscape-oriented content typically shown at Imax/Omnimax theaters.” Essentially, these installations “fly” visitors through an immersive scene, and they’re scalable to some truly impressive sizes.
- Extended Reality (XR)
Augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality (which combine to form extended reality, or XR) are more practical and accessible than ever, offering ways to quite literally put guests inside a virtual or augmented experience. These technologies are blurring the lines between the virtual and physical worlds like never before, overlaying digital information over physical spaces to control users’ perception and elevate the entire experience. Imagine putting on a headset and being face-to-face with a character or entering a ride that looks, feels, smells and interacts with guests exactly how they imagine their favorite fictional world would – that potential already exists.
- Projection Mapping
Projection mapping can turn almost any surface or 3D model into a dynamic display, integrating imagery with the surface, itself, to create a truly unique end result. The possibilities of projection mapping for transforming spaces are nearly infinite, and it’s become a key tool in the themed-entertainment designer’s arsenal.
Looking Ahead to the Post-COVID Future of Themed Entertainment and Theme Parks
Through navigation and adaptation to COVID-19, the role of digital media and experiences in our lives, coupled with an acceleration in technological development, has come to the forefront. This shift will help you, as an operator, develop even more immersive experiences and lands for your facility.
In short, themed entertainment is primed to leverage the technologies and innovations that have been created over the past several years to engineer renewed growth and success.
To learn more about how Electrosonic is prepared to help drive that progress, contact us today.