The pandemic has been challenging for many amusement parks that struggled between furloughing staff, park closures, and addressing safety concerns from COVID-19.
The focus of IAAPA 2021 was to bring park owners and leaders within the attractions industry to share their best practices of navigating a post-pandemic world while envisioning how the future of entertainment will evolve.
Here are some of the major takeaways from the event and what is on the horizon.
Going digital was a common theme among owners and operators who wanted to streamline their park operations. Hedgehog Tech, Rockwell Automation, Happyland, and Mobaro held a session to outline solutions for going digital. Moving from paper-based documentation to cloud-based creates more robust management of rides and maintenance schedules with automated alerts as to when to check and replace parts.
Another benefit is Mobaro’s platform to digitally manage inspections using mobile devices and gather data in a secure place where all parks and stakeholders can access it. Data visualization is another component that allows more detailed reporting. This can be accomplished by using a mobile device such as tablets or smartphones.
Improving Guest Experiences
Amusement parks have also considered the experience of guests moving forward and how to not only improve quality but also safety. The shutdowns–as a result of the pandemic–provided an opportunity to reorganize teams, create new safety mandates, and perform maintenance on existing rides.
Some amusement parks have abandoned cash in favour of going cashless. This reduces the need for ticket stands and hiring extra staff during a time of increasing labour shortages. Guests purchase tickets online and scan into the park using facial recognition which not only improves their experience but eliminates crowding of ticket booths.
A growing concern in the attractions space is the impact of furloughing staff during shutdowns in 2020. Now during the reopening process, many amusement parks are finding difficulty rehiring staff and are continuing to find new ways to manage the shortage. Digitization and cashless payment systems are among the methods of curbing this issue, creating more autonomy for the park to continue operations.
Dark rides and Immersive Technology
Dark rides and other VR/AR applications are finding new ways to thrill guests. Entertainment and popular media are using technology to enhance immersion as they transport ride-goers into themed adventures and other environments. These rides offer benefits such as customizable themes, lower cost to implement than a traditional attraction ride, and more flexibility in physical space requirements. As technology advances, so does the ability to create exciting multi-sensory attractions.
IAAPA Expo 2021 has been a tremendous success and a gleaming hope for the future of theme parks and attractions. This continued collaboration will only benefit the customers in the form of fun and safety.
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