Welcome to InPark’s annual Technology issue, exploring visible and invisible realms – such as binary, electronic, electrical, audiovisual, digital, engineering, networking, storage and control – associated products and processes, and their application to storytelling for visitor attractions.
You can hardly build an attraction or put up a structure without these ever more sophisticated products and processes. They are critical to telling the stories, realizing the concepts, building the buildings and running the show. Appreciate your great new storytelling tools and appreciate the technical specialists who are there to harness those hardware and software components to help deliver a seamless storytelling experience.
Just as the movie sector is remaking many classic pictures with the new tools of cinema, theme parks are re-inventing visitor attractions with the new tools of interactivity, immersion and media production.
It’s not just a matter of staying on the level of tech the average visitor now expects, but a matter of differentiation. The features of specialty cinema are being incorporated into the multiplex and that’s a clear signal to theme parks to up their game when it comes to media based attractions. Transmedia has been embraced, with IP owners holistically visioning their properties rolling out in many platforms. The theme park platform must bring something unique to its dimension of the unfolding story. • • •
There is one thing I greatly admire about Las Vegas: the city is able to reinvent itself constantly. While the city rose out of gambling fortunes, the 2013 Visitor Profile Study commissioned by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority shows that only 71% of visitors gamble during their visit, part of a downward trend spanning several years. Only about 15% of visitors come for the purpose of gambling. Roughly 20% arrive for a convention, and 41% (the largest group) come purely for a vacation.
Vegas is responding to these trends much as it did 20 years ago when it began building theme parks and themed resorts. While that trend wasn’t long lasting, the city didn’t flinch. Properties doubled-down on their core business: promoting gambling and providing cheap everything else. More recently, a wave of luxury experiences and high end venues have taken over, catering (wisely) to that large chunk of visitors who are either in town seeking a pampered getaway or impressing clients on a corporate expense account.
Today, Vegas is starting to feel more balanced. The introduction of media-enhanced visitor attractions, such as the High Roller observation wheel, is able to provide the entertainment options and excitement that any visitor to a vacation destination expects. Downtown is catering to local entrepreneurs and visitors alike; the city is beginning to recognize its own cultural identity in the context of the bigger Las Vegas destination image.
While Vegas is only one town, it is a model for reinvention. Right now, Sin City is experiencing another renaissance, driven by demand and powered by technology. Every themed entertainment and cultural attraction professional should take note. • • •
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