May 30, 2017 Joe Kleiman #68 Going Global: Technology on the International Stage, 2017, Asia, Attractions, Europe & Middle East, Features, Latin America & Mexico, North America, Technology & Media, Theme Parks, World markets 0
Once upon a time, an attraction had just one story with a fixed beginning, middle and end. Not anymore! The advancement of real-time media is making multiple experiences possible for rides that become a personal adventure for each guest and have the ultimate ride repeatability.
Our experiential design firm, Holovis, has been at the cusp of this, using the digital platform accompanied by multisensory techniques not just to immerse people in media, but to offer a multi-variant approach. These adventures might take place within a virtual reality (VR) setting where each individual guest can have a completely different journey compared to someone else on the exact same attraction, or in a group experience where collective decisions can trigger a variety of ride profiles and storylines.
The most advanced example of this from Holovis is a new, realtime robotic arm experience. Holovis has collaborated with Kuka Robotics and BEC Engineering to transform Kuka’s existing two-person KukaCoaster system into a four-person capacity, mechatronic, immersive and interactive solution ready for launch later in 2017.
“VR technology is advancing at a rapid pace and is already delivering manageable experiences when used in limited-capacity and -throughput attractions and experiences,” says Amy Steele, VP of Development at Holovis. “By adding in the extreme motion delivered from the Kuka robot, along with deeply immersive multisensory technology, we have created something unique.”
A demonstration version will launch to the industry at the 2017 IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo in Singapore. The experience will envision what AAE and the host city might be like in the year 2031. Within the story, guests board the QuadCopter taxi service and launch out of the exhibition hall to weave precariously on a thrilling journey among some futuristic and existing sights of Singapore before eventually landing at a mysterious destination.
Interactivity is embedded into the overall design using Holovis Interact™ technology which tracks guests’ hands – so each person can view their hands within the virtual world displayed on their headset and interact naturally with the game content. Head tracking supports the allessential group experience, enabling each person to be represented incharacter and in-location to their friends, ensuring a seamless experience connected with the creative gameplay design.
“Real-time rendering, real-time motion control and content personalization will allow guests an unprecedented level of control over their immersive journey,” says Steele. This takes ride repeatability to a whole new level.”
Even the venerable roller coaster is being transformed by this media revolution. An example is Mystic Timbers at Kings Island, voted the most highly anticipated new attraction opening in 2017 by USA Today. It combines VR with a traditional wooden coaster designed by Great Coasters International. “This proves that a good idea never gets old – but can be made even more compelling,” says Steele. “It’s great to see technology of the future being applied to greats of the past to reinvigorate and evolve these methods of entertainment. The VR experience on Mystic Timbers lets people feel involved in the story.”
Kings Island has run a very effective marketing campaign focused on ‘What’s In The Shed’ – which has sent park and coaster fan sites into speculation overdrive with some seriously well-thought-out theories. Once on the actual ride, before discovering the answer to that question guests will first pass through a queue line preshow (delivered as a turnkey production by Holovis) giving them the chance to delve deeper into the story and speculate over why the Lumber Mill, which is the setting of this attraction, was suddenly abandoned in 1983.
“The preshow gives guests a series of media-based clues,” says Steele. “Nothing that you see or hear when in the queue line is random – everything is a crucial part of a deliberately scripted and designed puzzle, from the 1980s talk radio blaring from a crashed truck in the queue line, to mysterious CCTV footage warning guests to turn back before it’s too late. Those wanting to find out what is in the shed will have to find out for themselves, and they’ll want to ride it more than once.”
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi places a great importance on the story throughout the park, and General Manager Jesse Vargas is a firm believer that “a good attraction tells a story; a great attraction is a story.” Take Turbo Track, for example – a coaster-based ride that launches guests vertically up out of the center of the park and through its iconic red roof. This is an adrenaline-packed experience in its own right but it is made even better with a dynamic preshow to set the scene, place visitors at the heart of the story and provide a full immersion of the senses.
Holovis scripted and show-produced all aspects of the preshow entertainment, which includes extensive media throughout the facility and a live, actor-led show within the attraction. Guests are invited to show that they’ve got what it takes to join Ferrari’s world-class racing team. The attraction, which is set in Ferrari’s Abu Dhabi testing facility for new test drivers, features several challenges that test their reflexes and precision, culminating in a High Speed Brake Test, the launch coaster, that tests their courage.
What might be next? Holovis has some ideas about that, too. “The next level of this for us is to use multimedia pre-shows to determine the journey that the guests will go on when they board their coaster or dark ride,” says Steele. “For example, score brackets can be defined so the story takes a different route depending on the level of success in completing the tasks. This has the potential to create a show that keeps guests’ energy levels and excitement high throughout, while also adding the unique and memorable element of live audience participation throughout the attraction.” • • •
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