Theme parks are ramping up visitor personalization by integrating AR and VR technologies, providing more immersive and interactive experiences, and offering individualized promotions and services informed by wearables and preferences. The continual merging of physical and digital realms enables customization and allows visitors to experience a new level of storytelling. Meow Wolf is an art collective offering several unique interactive installations, including “House of Eternal Return” in New Mexico. Visitors roam around the “house,” filled with wormholes to the multiverse, as they hunt for clues regarding what happened to the family that lives there. Technology such as RFID cards, laser-based puzzles, and reactive projection mapping allow visitors to have unique experiences every time they hunt for clues. Disney’s “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser” provides a totally personalized experience for guests, who actively participate in and can even alter the events and narratives during their two-night stay in the “Star Wars” world. The experience includes a hotel, restaurants, and shops, in addition to the intergalactic locations where the narrative unfolds. Disney’s patent for a “virtual-world simulator” was recently approved. This technology facilitates headset-free AR in which visitors’ moving perspectives are tracked throughout a ride and trigger the projection of personalized 3D images and virtual effects onto nearby physical spaces. Lucasfilm Entertainment just filed a similar patent. Illumix has partnered with Disney to create personalized AR experiences throughout its theme parks: As visitors look at their surroundings through their phones or tablets, they can see and interact with their favorite cartoon characters. Consumers are increasingly expecting tailored experiences. Theme parks must find ways to integrate personalization, as it will drive organizational fiscal performance and improve customer relationships. Upping the number of novel opportunities for visitors should correlate with revenue growth potential for parks and organizers. As visitors repeatedly interact with personalized encounters, parks should use the captured data to create evermore targeted offers and experiences. This cycle promises to generate long-term customer loyalty, as satisfaction increases with the feeling of being singularly catered to. Personalization will make fantasy worlds feel more realistic and truly bring visitors into the story. As with all new technology, increasing the usage of personalization could have ramifications for the workforce and local economy. If a virtual-world simulator or a personalized AR experience allows park visitors to interact with virtual characters, costumed cast members could no longer be needed, leading to layoffs.
Catering amusement experiences to an audience of one